In the state of Nevada there’s 4,748 children in foster care and 900 of those children are located in Clark and Washoe counties. The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) works in the other 15 counties — other than Clark and Washoe — to find foster homes for the children needing placement.
“The program is seeking potential foster parents,” said Lori Nichols, Foster Care Recruitment director for DCFS. “Potential parents must be understanding, flexible, have a heart for children and open to responsibility of a child in the home, however, it may present itself.
“Foster parents don’t have to be married, or own their home to be licensed,” Nichols said.
DCFS works with families to ensure their time fostering is as comfortable as they can provide. DCFS suggests parents keep an open age range for the children they bring into their homes. When family groups are in need of placement, and there’s not a home available to house all siblings, they are moved outside the community to a home that’s available. Nichols said this causes disruption in the visitation of their immediate families.
“When a social worker takes a child into custody they are wearing two hats: One hat is to reunify that child with their birth family — because ultimately children should be with their families; the other hat is that the social worker has to be thinking about permanency, because if the family cannot pull it together or make things come together to provide a safe environment for their child, then we have to think about permanency through adoption,” Nichols said, adding it’s a difficult decision, “but it’s necessary because we can’t have kids sitting in foster care.”
The process for becoming a potential foster parent starts with a phone interview, and a prescreening packet as part of a background check. DCFS conducts FBI background checks on all applicants and residents 18 years of age or older living in the home. After the initial license is issued, resource families must complete four hours of advanced training per year in order the keep the license. Licenses are renewed annually and an on-site visit to the home is made for each renewal to ensure a safe environment is being kept.
There are nine three-hour training sessions that are required to obtaining the initial license. The Division of Child and Family Services will hold its next training March 21, 22 and 28 at the Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, Valley View Room on the third floor.
“These kids are yours and mine; these kids are the community’s children. Probably nine times out of 10 you would not even know that these kids have been through what they’ve been through,” Nichols said, “They are resilient, amazing kids. They deserve the very best that the community can give them. They deserve the support of the community… and that trauma damage doesn’t get healed overnight, it takes years, but they’re worth that. They’re worth the work.”
For more information contact Nichols at 888-423-2659 or visit www.dcfs.state.nv.us.