At any given time, there are more than 3,000 youths in foster care in Clark County. Many of these children come from abusive or neglected homes and are in need of temporary shelter and care from an individual or family.
While there may be adults who are willing to help, it can seem like a daunting and long process.
“It’s not difficult to complete. It just depends on the motivation of the applicant,” said Tara Donohue, assistant manager of licensing for the Clark County Department of Family Services.” Applicants who are eager can get through the process fairly easily. We’re looking for foster parents who can provide safe and loving homes for children.”
The first step is to attend an information session, which describes the foster care system. Next, a pre-screening of the prospective foster parent or parents’ background is done.
Once approved, fingerprints are checked, and families are required to attend a 10-week, 30-hour training course.
Then, families must complete a home study and fill out an application that describes the family and the reasons why they would like to foster or adopt a child.
If a home doesn’t meet a certain requirement, applicants then have a chance to change the setup of their home.
After successfully finishing these requirements, families are licensed to provide foster care.
It typically takes 90 days to become a foster parent, according to Donohue.
“When somebody decides to become a foster parent, it really is their opportunity to support a child from our community and provide them with a very nurturing, stable and secure environment to help them grow and learn,” Donohue said.
Foster and adoptive parents need to be Clark County residents and 21 or older. Those interested in adopting must have a 10-year difference between their age and the child’s.
Additionally, married couples, non-married couples and single women and men, individuals with disabilities and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and couples can apply.
Foster parents must be willing to work with the youth’s biological families and the Department of Family Services to reunify them with their families. It is critical for parents to participate in case planning and attend court hearings. Foster parents must also be available to meet with the caseworker at least once monthly to discuss any issues.
For children who cannot return home, being a foster parent may lead to providing a permanent home through adoption of a child.
“If a person wants to become an adoptive parent and be involved in the lives of children, then being a foster parent is a good place to start,” said Michael Knight, assistant director of Clark County Family Services. “However, our primary goal is to always reunite the child (if possible) with their biological family.”
There are 100 children in Clark County who are legally available for adoption, according to Knight. They range from infants to 18.
Those interested in adoption are referred to an adoption recruiter.
Foster and adoptive parents are needed for teenagers, sibling groups, infants and toddlers, newborns, drug- and alcohol-exposed infants, children with special health care needs and developmental needs and teen moms and their children.
In addition, people are needed to provide short-term care for other foster families as respite providers and to accept immediate placements 24 hours a day.
Foster parents are provided with a monthly reimbursement to assist with the children’s expenses based on the child’s age and any behavioral or medical needs. In addition, there is a personal allowance and monthly clothing allowance. The basic reimbursement rates are:
Age 0-12 years: $682.94 ($11 of which is for personal incidentals, $37.50 for clothing)
Age 13 or older: $773.17 ($22 is of which is for personal incidentals, $56.25 for clothing)
Financial assistance may be available to adoptive parents who adopt from the foster care system. This subsidy can be up to the basic reimbursement but depends on the special needs of the child.
Potential fosters must have CPR training if they have a swimming pool or a body of water in the housing development, tuberculosis testing, financial stability and live a lifestyle free from drug/alcohol or law enforcement difficulties.
“We’re always recruiting for diverse families that are quality parents willing to work with children and their biological families,” Donohue said. “The service they provide is invaluable.”
For more information, visit clarkcountynv.gov or call 702-455-0181.
To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email email@example.com or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.