It’s always a good time to consider becoming a foster parent, as thousands of children in Tennessee are in need of foster families.
What does it mean to be a foster parent?
Being a foster parent means providing a safe and stable home for a child or teen in the custody of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS). The state defines foster parenting as “assuring that children feel safe and heal from trauma, have positive role models in their lives, and have a parent who takes care of their physical and emotional needs while supporting and preparing them to achieve permanency.”
What is a therapeutic or treatment foster care parent?
Many children in need of foster parents have had traumatic experiences, are emotionally challenged, or have special needs. Foster parents who care for and provide for these children can be described as therapeutic or treatment foster care parents.
Why foster a child?
At Omni Visions we have always believed that every child deserves a safe, supportive home, and there are thousands of children across the state that need a nurturing family to help them grow, develop, and succeed.
Steps to becoming a foster parent
The first step to becoming a foster parent—or a therapeutic or treatment foster care parent—is to express interest by filling out an information request form for DCS or a private foster agency. A foster parent support worker or agency representative will work with you throughout the application and approval process.
Qualifications for becoming a foster parent in Tennessee
Fostering a child is a big commitment, but the basic qualifications for becoming a foster parent are simple and straightforward:
- You can be married, single, or divorced
- You may have children of your own
- You can own or rent your house or apartment
- You must have a valid state driver’s license
- You must be a citizen of the United States
- You must have reliable transportation
- You must be financially stable; employed or retired
- Your home or apartment must have a bedroom to accommodate a foster child (or children)
- You must meet the minimum age requirement, which for DCS, is 21
A private agency may have additional or slightly different requirements than the state. For example, an agency may require you to be at least 25 years of age.
At the same time, you must also be in reasonably good health and have a physical exam performed by your primary care physician. In addition, you must be able to pass all required background checks along with a drug screening.
Last but not least, all applicants in your home must complete a training program called Parents as Tender Healers (PATH).
Once you complete the licensing requirements and training you are eligible for a child (or children) to be placed in your home. The state or a private agency will work to find a good match between you and a child in need of a foster family.
Support Services for Tennessee Foster Parents
After a child is placed in your home, you’ll continue to receive training, support, and guidance, and all therapeutic foster care parents receive financial assistance, which covers the child’s food, housing, clothing, transportation, and treatment needs.
At Omni Visions we provide our foster parents with a diverse array of support services, including 24/7 on-call support, as well as a resource coordinator who provides guidance and assistance.
Can foster children be adopted?
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Omni Visions is whether foster children can be adopted? While the ultimate goal of most foster placements is to return the child to his or her birth family, as a practical matter, foster care is often a step toward adoption, hence the term foster to adopt.
Want to become a foster parent?
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent—in particular, a therapeutic or treatment foster care parent—we encourage you to complete our information request form or to contact the Omni Visions office nearest your home. Since 1991 Omni has specialized in providing training and support to caregivers so foster children can reach their fullest potential. Together we can provide a brighter future for our children. Give us a call toll-free at (800) 851-6108.