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 with any child placed in your home

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, attitudes and other qualities 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.

State Support

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?

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

Who Should I Call to Start the Process?

The following link lists the Foster Care and Adoption Resources by state:

http://www.adoptuskids.org/for-families/state-adoption-and-foster-care-information

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Are There Any Muslim Organization or Network for Muslim Foster Parents?

We are currently in the process of developing Faith Based Foster Care Support groups for Muslim families in various states. One of the resources is the Muslim Foster Parents group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/5784224998/

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 Youth can come into care at any age 0-17
Goal is to have a long term placement to help youth develop independent living skills until they are ready to transition into independent living Goal is always family reunification with biological parents when safe.
Youth are rarely up for adoption If reunification is not a safe option, youth may come up for adoption
Only 22 Agencies across the country provide refugee foster care services Generally, there are many different agencies that provide domestic foster care services in any given state or county.

Contact Children’s Ambassadors for Foster Care Advocacy Program in your area:

California: Afshan Hashmi and Wafa Bennani or

http://newstarfoster.org/home.aspx

Texas: Huma Hussain and Sarah Haider

Virginia: Amina Shams

Illinois: Yusra Goma or Muslimadoptionnetwork.com

New Jersey: Jill Gregor

New York: Imran Khan

Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) Program

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.
Big Sister/Brother, positively impact a child 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 basket ball games, 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.

This content is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice. The information presented on this website may not reflect current laws and/or legal developments in your particular state. Please contact an attorney in your state to obtain any legal advice and/or information about the topics provided on this site.

FAQ’s for Refugee Foster Care

Who are the Children?

Children eligible for the URM Program are unaccompanied, and are:

  • Refugees
  • Entrants
  • Asylees
  • Victims of Trafficking

What Countries do the children come from?

Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Burma, Iraq, Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya

How are the children coming into U.S.?

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.

How old are the children?

Typically the refugee children are 14-18 years old.

Are there any babies in the program?

No, it’s a priority here in the US, and abroad, to keep children with their family members. Young children and infants are usually cared for by a relative during their journey, and remain with that relative. It is not anticipated that any referrals of infants or young children to be placed in adoptive or foster homes. Unaccompanied refugee children who are in a refugee camp, go through a process with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Chapters of the Red Cross, where there is extensive family tracing completed to reunify any child who is separated from family. By the time this tracing, and extensive family reunification efforts are complete, most youth (over 90%) referred for placement in the US are adolescents.

Can I choose the gender?

Yes, but please note, that mostly boys are in Foster Care.

Why do I have live within a 1 hour radius of the Foster Care Provider?

The Foster Care Providers accommodate post-release case management to all children upon release or as the need arises. Post release case management services are services provided by a social worker who meets with the child individually and the family to develop an individualized service plan. These services allow children to successfully transition into their communities by assisting with school enrollment, acculturation, locating medical and therapeutic services, making referrals to area legal services, and navigate new family settings and other individual needs. Not all initial placements are successful or safe for the child (just as occurs in the domestic child welfare system). Thus, some entity must take responsibility for monitoring children’s safety post-release.

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.

How do I get a Foster care license?

Contact your local Foster Care Agency.

What can I do besides Foster Care to help?

Sometimes children get displaced from the original foster family identified for placement, or some programs invite children to U.S. before they have foster families identified for placement. 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.

Tutoring Foster care children that are here in the U.S. This position helps a foster care youth build social skills and friendship by participating in community activities and common interests. If tutoring is needed, this position can assist with school subjects such as math and English.

Big Sister/Brother, positively impact a child by being a mentor. For a few hours, a couple times a month, you can give the invaluable gift of your friendship. It’s as simple as playing basket ball games, going to a masjid, cooking a meal together, or just hanging out.

Ask your local URM provider how you can get involved.

Where are the URM programs located?

Phoenix, AZ; Southern California; San Jose, CA; Denver, CO; Washington, DC; Miami, FL; Boston/Worchester, MA; Lansing, MI; Grand Rapids, MI; Jackson, MS; Fargo, ND; Rochester, NY; Syracuse, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; Houston, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; Richmond, VA; Tacoma, WA; Seattle, WA.

I’m ready to foster a Refugee Child. Who do I contact?

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