1. Question: What is foster care?
Answer: Foster care is a social service program where families open their homes for a child to live until it is safe for the child to go home or other plans for permanency are made. Foster care is a temporary placement for a child.
2. Question: What do foster parents do?
Answer: Foster parents provide care for children who are removed from their homes for specific reasons such as abuse or neglect. Foster parents serve as temporary parents to a child or children placed in their home. Foster parents love and nurture the children and provide for their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and safety. Foster parents help the children maintain their social and cultural connections and customs.
3. Question: What are the basic requirements to become a foster parent?
Answer: Both couples and single persons can become foster parents if you are in good general health, have enough income to adequately support the people currently living in your home, consent to a criminal background check, have adequate room in your home for an additional child or children, attend training for foster parents, and most importantly are willing to work as a part of a team to meet the needs of any child placed in your home.
4. Question: Is there an age requirement to be a foster parent?
Answer: Cherokee Nation requires foster parents to be at least 21 years of age before applying for foster care certification. Cherokee Nation welcomes foster families of all age groups. Cherokee Nation encourages elders in good health to become foster families and be a positive force in our Foster Care Program.
5. Question: Do foster parents have to be married?
Answer: No, foster parents can be single, married, widowed or divorced. What's important is that you are able to give a child the love, care and respect they deserve.
6. Question: What is the process to become a foster parent?
Answer: The first step is to contact the Cherokee Nation child welfare office and let us know you are interested! You may contact us at the numbers listed on this website under CONTACT US. Once you call, the foster care program will assign a worker to your case to assist you with the documentation and do a home study. Your worker will contact you to schedule the first home in order to meet with you and your family.
7. Question: What is a home study?
Answer: A home study is a document developed from the information you have given to Cherokee Nation through your application, home visits, interviews and references. This document gives our workers greater insight into the types of children that you can care for in your home. Your home study will identify your strengths and tell us how many children your home will accommodate, what gender would be most acceptable and with what ages you are willing to work.
8. Question: Is there training available for foster parents?
Answer: Yes, your worker will provide PATH (Parents As Tender Healers) Training in your home or in a group setting. This training helps you understand your role as a foster parent. It will increase your knowledge about children in the child welfare system and help you understand the issues faced by children who have been traumatized by abuse or neglect. There will be other trainings offered periodically that will help you in your understanding and care of the children placed in your home.
9. Question: Will we receive any financial help?
Answer: You will receive a monthly reimbursement to help with the expenses of the child. A medical/dental card is issued to each child while they are in your care to meet any medical expenses the child may incur. You will also receive a seventy-five dollar clothing voucher on a quarterly basis.
10. Question: What if all the adults in the household have employment, can the home still provide foster care?
Answer: Parents can have fulltime employment and still be foster parents for children. Cherokee Nation looks at the whole picture in determining what is the best placement for a child. There are some children who will need a full time parent in the home but each case is evaluated on the needs of the child or children. In some instances when you work outside the home, daycare can be provided. Be sure and ask your worker if you need day care.
11. Question: Do I have to live in the Cherokee Nation boundary to be a foster parent?
Answer: No you do not. We have foster homes across the state of Oklahoma. There are times we may ask a tribe in another area of the state to complete a home study or we may refer you to your local Department of Human Services to complete the home study process. There is a great need for Native American foster families statewide.
12. Question: Do you approve foster homes out of state?
Answer: Not as a general rule, but there are exceptions for family and long-term foster care placements. If we are unable to approve your home due to location, Cherokee Nation will be glad to refer you to another tribe or state agency in your area that provides foster care for Indian children. There is a great need for Native American foster parents all across the United States. We would encourage you to apply to become a foster parent wherever you live.
13. Question: I know Cherokee Nation certifies families that are Cherokee but what if you are a member of another tribe, can you still become foster parents for Cherokee Nation?
Answer: YES. If you or your spouse are a member of another federally recognized tribe, you can become a foster parent for Cherokee Nation. Also, if you are not a member of any tribe but are related to a child who is in the legal custody of the state or tribe, you may qualify to be a foster parent for the child to whom you are related.
14. Question: I know someone who is a foster parent for Cherokee Nation but they are not Indian. How did that happen?
Answer: The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 addresses foster care placements. The act states that in any foster care placement, preference shall be given to a member of the Indian child's extended family. So, if you have a child who has one parent that is Indian and the other is not, extended family includes the relatives that are Indian and it also includes those that are not. In other words if you are related to a child who is in the legal custody of the state or the tribe and you are non-Indian, you may be able to become a foster parent for your relative.
15. Question: Why should I become a foster parent for Cherokee Nation?
Answer: Children really are the heart of Cherokee Nation. Many have been displaced from their homes and families. Some do not even know of their rich heritage and culture. By becoming a foster parent, you can enrich the life of a child even if it is just for a short time. It is challenging but when you see a child's life changed in a positive way what better gift can you receive?