Frequently Asked Questions: Becoming a Foster Parent

FAQs: Becoming a Foster Parent

What are the requirements to become a foster parent?

All of Kaleidoscope’s foster parents must be licensed by the State of Illinois. (Learn more about their requirements on the DCFS website.) To help families meet licensing standards, Kaleidoscope hosts free orientations on a regular basis, where our expert staff give an overview of the requirements and answer questions. See our upcoming orientation dates.

Why might a child be in foster care?

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will take custody and guardianship of a child when there is indicated evidence of abuse or neglect that necessitates the removal of the child from their caregiver.

What has to be in my home for a foster child to live with me?

A home must comply with the state licensing standards outlined by DCFS, including having appropriate sleeping arrangements, nutrition and meals as well as physical requirements of the home including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  The complete review of all licensing standards, including background and qualifications of the foster parent(s) is confirmed by the licensing specialist in order for a home to be licensed by the state.

What would my responsibilities be as a foster parent?

In addition to meeting the day-to-day needs of a child, foster parents are partners in helping the youth in their care to heal from their traumas. In addition to providing, safety, supervision, support, and structure, we ask foster parents to be playful, accepting, curious and empathetic toward the youth in their homes. Some additional responsibilities include:

  • Provide full time care for foster children placed in the home.
  • Provide or ensure all transportation needs for the foster children, including family visits and appointments.
  • Provide the foster child with their own bedroom.
  • Meet licensing standards as defined by DCFS.
  • Abide by rules and procedures as defined by Kaleidoscope policy.
  • Respect and maintain confidentiality of the foster children and their families.
  • Meet training hours that are required of licensure.

The complete list of foster parent responsibilities will be reviewed through orientation, training and licensure.

How long will a foster child remain in my care?

It is the hope that once a child is placed into your home, the child remains with you until his/her permanency goal is completed. This goal could be returning home, being adopted, or having a guardianship. The time frames for these goals are different for each child.

Will I have contact with the birth family of my foster child?

Yes, unless restricted by court, Kaleidoscope encourages and facilitates communication between a child, his or her foster parent, and his or her biological parent. We believe that co-parenting between the foster parent and biological parent ensures the best outcomes for a child.

Will I have multiple children or siblings placed in my home?

The number of children placed into a home depends on the physical capacity, or sleeping space, the clinical capacity, including the diagnoses and needs of the child plus the current makeup of your family and the interest of the foster family.

What are the kinds of services a foster child in my home might need?

Youth in foster care can have a wide range of needs. Kaleidoscope works with youth that have special needs.  As a result, they may need therapy or counseling services, psychiatric services for possible medication as well as special educational services.  Some children may also work with a Mentor or Educational Tutor.  There also may be other community services that can be beneficial.

Is raising a foster child like raising my biological child?

There are some common responsibilities, such as providing a safe, nurturing environment, integrating a child into your family and providing transportation to important events.  There are also some different responsibilities, such as being an active member of the treatment team for a child, participating in a child’s therapy plan and cooperating with a child’s permanency goal. These dynamics and others are discussed during foster parent training.

If I have a problem or question about a foster child in my home, who do I ask for help?

Kaleidoscope believes in a team approach to caring for our foster children. Foster parents will work closely with an assigned Foster Care Specialist, as well as with the Specialist’s supervisor, our Licensing Staff, and support specialists such as our therapists, vocational specialist, and agency nurse, as needed.

How long will it take to get licensed?

Once an applicant applies, Kaleidoscope will complete the interview process within 14 days. Our goal is to complete the licensing process within 3 to 4 months of application submission.

How long can I expect to wait until a child is placed in my home?

The process to match a child is different for every family. Our staff will work closely with you to ensure that your family’s strengths match with the child’s needs. Like all aspects of being a Kaleidoscope foster parent, placement is based on ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the foster parent and our staff. The time frame for a placement will depend on variables such as comfort of age-range, clinical issues of a youth as well as strengths of a foster home and family.

How old are the foster children that may be placed in my home?

Kaleidoscope serves foster youth from birth to age 21, but teenagers are the most in need of foster home currently. The average age of a youth in care with Kaleidoscope is 12 years old. Foster parents provide Kaleidoscope with their interests regarding children’s age and special needs during licensure, and we will match children with families based on the strengths of the child and family as well as the comfort of the family.  Kaleidoscope may contact a family regarding a child that is older or has different presenting issues if we feel that family can be a strong source of support and nurturance for the child or youth.

I’m already licensed or have been licensed in the past. Do I still have to go to training?

You do not have to repeat DCFS PRIDE training if you have completed it within the past two years. You will need to complete Kaleidoscope Pre-service training, which is four clinical training modules, a total of 18 hours.

What is the process for transferring my license? How long will this process take?

Kaleidoscope will work with you to gain access to your current licensing file and make sure that all documentation and references are current. Additionally, applicants will need to complete Kaleidoscope Pre-Service training and any Kaleidoscope consents or procedures. Kaleidoscope works to complete this process within 2 months from the submission of the application.

Will you tell me everything about the foster child being considered for my home?

Kaleidoscope provides full disclosure to a foster home when considering a child or youth for placement.  With the exception of some confidential information on family members, Kaleidoscope will share all the information that we have on a child and assist the foster family in understanding, based on this information, what to expect when that child is placed with them.

What is the difference between DCFS and a private foster care agency?

Kaleidoscope is a nonprofit private foster care agency that is contracted by DCFS to provide foster care, among other services. All of the youth in our foster care program are referred to us through DCFS.

Can I be a foster parent if I work full time?


How can I get my training hours if I work full time?

Kaleidoscope has monthly foster parent meetings and trainings. If a foster parent cannot attend due to work schedule, Kaleidoscope works with the foster parent to develop alternative methods of completing the needed trainings. It is the agency’s responsibility to identify appropriate trainings for the foster home. Join us today by registering for an upcoming foster parent orientation.

If you have further questions or would like more information about becoming a foster parent with Kaleidoscope, contact us or call (773) 292-4462.