There are currently 1,976 children in foster care within the state of Maine and 1,240 foster parents. The need for parents to provide care is great. Many of the children who wait for permanent loving homes are older than 11 years old; some of them are in sibling groups that want to remain together. A number of children reside in group homes and could move to a foster home if there were more appropriate resources available.

Children who come into foster care do best when they can remain within their communities. Continuing in their schools, places of faith, clubs, sports and organizations improves their ability to cope and manage while their families get the services and supports needed to be reunified.

Denise and Bill Gove have provided foster care for 10 years. They enjoy being available to support and assist their children to become responsible, caring and loving people. They state that children who are in foster care need what all children need. As foster/adoptive parents, they always consider what is in their children’s best interest. They acknowledge that parenting children who have been harmed or who have special needs is hard at times, but they would do it all again. They believe that providing care for foster children has strengthened their family as they are united in their approach to meeting their children’s needs.

Denise and Bill encourage others to consider becoming foster/adoptive parents so that children will have the best possible families to grow up in. Bill and Denise’s philosophy is “never say never until you have tried it.” They remind people that there are numerous supports for families who are parenting children within the foster care system. The help for children and families includes counseling, in home supports, school personnel and your DHHS worker.

Foster/adoptive parents can be single, partnered or married. They can live in apartments or in their own homes. They can work full or part time. They do not need to be wealthy, they just need to have financial resources to meet their obligations.

When youth do not obtain permanency, they “age out” of the system; often at age 18 without connections to people who can support them as they learn skills that lead them to success as adults. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 22,718 children aged out of the system in 2004 and that number continues to rise. Of those youth who leave care without forever families, only 50% of them obtained a high school diploma and 46% of the girls were pregnant compared to 20% of their same aged peers who are not in care.

Families who are interested in finding out more about providing foster or adoptive care can call A Family For ME at 1-877-505-0545, or visit www.afamilyforme.org

A Family for ME: Frequently asked questions about foster care

Below are answers to common questions about foster care in Maine. For more information, call 1-877-505-0545.

How many foster parents are in Maine? As of December 2008, there were approximately 1,238 foster families in Maine.

Does my spouse or partner have to attend the informational meeting with me? No. However, spouses are encouraged to attend. For most informational meetings, it is not appropriate for children to attend.

Does my spouse or partner have to attend the training with me? Yes, spouses are required to attend the pre-service training with CWTI.

How long will the process take? Foster Care Licensing will usually be at least a six-month process.

Can single people provide foster care? Yes, single people can provide foster care.

What supports are available for foster parents? Each foster family has a DHHS foster care licensing caseworker, as well as a children’s services caseworker for each child in their home. The Department has the ability to refer for various services, such as therapy, case management, special education, and speech and occupational therapy. Many children in foster care have a team of professionals who work with the foster parents to meet the needs of the child.

Is there a stipend? Yes, the stipend the foster family receives is based on each individual child’s need.

How much does foster care cost? Minimal, as DHHS pays the majority of the expenses.

How old do you have to be to provide foster care? 21 years of age minimum.

What are the first steps? Call A Family for ME, receive and read the information packet, then attend an informational meeting in the district in which you live.

Do you have more questions? Please let us know! Call 1-877-505-0545 or visit www.afamilyforme.org.


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