Foster Care

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is a process in which state governments and agencies license parents to care for children in need of a temporary home. Foster parents go through background checks and special classes to become licensed. State governments usually pay foster parents a fee associated with the living costs of the children they care for.

Children are often taken into the foster care system to protect them from physical or sexual abuse, drug use, neglect, and/or abandonment. Other times, they come into the foster care system because they have been orphaned and have no one to temporarily care for them. In some limited circumstances, refugees who do not have caretakers may be placed in foster homes. When children are taken out of an unsafe or neglectful home, the state often works with the children’s biological parents, if available, to make their homes safer so that the children can eventually return home. Biological parents go through counseling, drug testing, and take classes so that they might be able to properly care for their children again. At times, it takes months for children to be reunited with their biological families after being taken into foster care. Other times, it takes years. There are times when children are never reunited with their biological families because a court determines those homes to be permanently unsafe.
When children come into the foster care system, there is a preference to place them in a home they will feel comfortable in. Being in a foster home can be very scary for children and placing them into a somewhat familiar home where their caretakers speak the same languages as them, share the same culture, and/or share the same religion may make the transition easier. There are very few licensed Muslim foster homes currently. This means that when Muslim children come into the “system,” state child placement agencies are often unable to place these children in Muslim homes. If you are Muslim, please consider becoming licensed to foster so that Muslim children who come into the foster care system might have an option of being placed in a Muslim home.

What is the difference between refugee and domestic foster care?

Foster families are needed for both Unaccompanied Refugee Minors and Domestic Foster placements. The following table lists the key points of the Refugee and Domestic Foster Care programs:
Refugee Foster Care Domestic Foster Care
Youth born abroad; Fled home due to fear of persecution Youth born in the U.S.; Removed from home due to abuse and neglect
Youth generally 15-17 years old when they come into care


What criteria do I need to meet to become a foster parent?

To become a licensed foster parent, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be able to read, write and speak English or be able to effectively communicate
  • Have adequate income to meet the basic needs of the household
  • Be free of physical, emotional or mental conditions that would endanger a child or seriously impair the ability to care for a child
  • Have adequate bedroom space
  • Pass criminal background check
  • Complete reference check
  • Complete a home study to assess strengths, skills, behaviors, and attitudes for dealing with foster children
  • Attend ongoing training


What support do I get from social services if I foster a child?

The work for the Foster family begins the day the Foster child moves into their home in order to nurture him/her.

  • Monthly Reimbursement: Foster parents receive a monthly reimbursement for care, clothing and personal allowance for each child placed in their home.
  • Health Insurance: Foster children are covered under their own state health care plan. All approved health care costs are paid by the State (varies State to State).
    Day Care: For foster parents who work full-time, day care costs are covered in full or in part through the DES day care program (varies State to State).
    Respite Care: Foster families are provided parenting breaks and time away.
  • Post Placement Coordinator (provided by some non-profit organizations) Provides access to valuable resources, including informative family training, monthly mentoring and support groups, 24-hour assistance and therapeutic referrals.
  • Developmental Assessments:  For all foster children under age 3 by early intervention programs in your area.
  • Community Donations: Access to donations such as handmade quilts, clothing, diapers, toiletries and baby food/formula.

What are the steps to become a foster parent?

  • Attend an informational session
  • Complete the hours of training required by your county social services
  • Complete home study for foster care
  • Get the Foster Care license
  • Keep your Foster Care license by taking continuing educational classes.

How do I start the process?


What can I do besides foster care to help?

You can sign up to be an interim or respite foster family to provide short term relief and support to the long term placement families. You can also be a part of the Big Sister/Brother by being a mentor. For a few hours, a couple of times a month, you can give the invaluable gift of your friendship. It’s as simple as playing sports, going to a masjid, cooking a meal together, or just hanging out. This is especially important for Muslim children placed in non-Muslim foster homes. The mentoring and community participation may be the only time for them to connect with their faith, and practice their belief system with someone who shares it.


FAQ’s for Refugee Foster Care

Who are the children?

Children eligible for the URM Program are unaccompanied, and are refugees, entrants, asylees, or victims of trafficking. They come from Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Burma, Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Libya.

URM can only come through 2 licensed agencies, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service (LIRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). These agencies conduct several important functions for the URM program.  They identify eligible children in need of URM services; provide technical assistance in the reclassification process; determine appropriate placements for children among their national networks of affiliated agencies; and conduct training, research and technical assistance on URM services.

Typically the refugee children are 14-18 years old.

Are the refugee children orphans?

No, the youth who flee from war, violence or persecution in dozens of countries often get separated from their families. By the time they get to the United States, they’ve lost contact with parents and other family members who can care for them. ORR shelter provides a safe and stable environment for these refugee youth who do not have parents or adults who can provide care. The Providers then place the youth with foster families when they arrive in the United States.

Can we adopt the children?

No, refugee foster children are not eligible for adoption because there is no consent from the birth parents. The birth parents are either “missing” or dead.



Make a Gift Today!

Children are waiting for their ‘Forever Families.’

You could be the one to make a difference.

*The donations that go towards our work placing Muslim children with Muslim guardians are considered sadaqa. If you indicate your donation is a zakat donation, that donation will go towards other charity programs that are zakat-eligible.