The Scotland County Department of Social Services will begin foster parent training later this month at its offices in Laurinburg.
Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent is encouraged to attend an orientation meeting on Oct. 18 beginning at 6 p.m. The training will be held at the Social services office. Attendees are asked to drive to the back of the DSS building for parking and entrance into the building at 1405 West Boulevard in Laurinburg.
To become a foster parent, one must first pass a list of criteria established by the agency, according to DSS licensing worker Debra Webb.
“There is a great need for foster parents in our county,” Webb said.
To qualify, a foster parent must be at least 21 years old and be financially stable. They must also submit to a background check, a criminal record check and be able to pass a physical exam.
Prospective foster parents must complete a Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting Training course to receive licensure. That training begins Oct. 25.
“Anyone interested in fostering a child must participate in a 30-hour course in order to become licensed as a foster parent,” Snead said. “It is not a pass/fail course, but it is designed to give potential foster parents the information necessary to decide if that commitment is something he or she wants to undertake.”
Classes meet in 10 weekly sessions at three hours each. Licensure is good for two years, with renewals possible pending a review.
“I wouldn’t call it rigorous, but reading assignments, paperwork, and participation are a big part of the process toward becoming licensed,” Snead said.
One of the important things foster parents learn on the way to licensure is that a top goal of the MAPP program is reunification of the child with his or her birth parents.
Participating individuals or families receive a stipend to help with expenses, depending on the number of children in their household and their ages. A maximum of five children is allowed under the program.
“That number includes a family’s birth children as well,” Webb said. “For instance, if you have three children and are interested in providing foster care for more, you would be allowed two children provided you completed the course for licensure. An exception might be made in the case of siblings; we don’t want to separate them, and would let them go into a household exceeding five children in order to keep them together.”
Webb encourages anyone interested in fostering, or in supporting a foster parent, to attend the orientation meeting.
“If you are unsure whether or not you want to foster a child, you might want to consider becoming a support person,” Webb said. “For example, perhaps you know someone with an ability or a hobby that the child is interested in, but that the foster parent doesn’t do. This would be a great opportunity for you to volunteer your time and interest to a very worthy cause.”
Single or married persons are eligible to foster a child.
For information call 277-2525 for Licensing Worker Debra Webb at extension 3370 or Foster Care Supervisor Jennifer Byrd at ext. 3392.