This article will give you every small detail on the guidelines of adoption and foster care program of Georgia. Let us first assure you that becoming an adoptive parent or foster parent is not at all complicated, as against the popular belief. The most important step of this process is to take the decision of adopting a child and taking on the responsibilities as a parent/s. So, when that challenging decision is taken, other things fall into their place naturally.
Nowadays, we find too many orphan kids who are growing up without the love, support and care of their families. They lack the parental guidance to help them grow up as responsible adults. There are children who are unfortunately born into such families that are not able to take proper care of such children. But for a healthy growth, a child needs unconditional love and nurturing guardians.
After you have taken the decision of adopting a child, the second step involves attending a session on foster care and adoption. This session is extremely informative – it gives you an insight on the entire process of adoption and foster parents and also informs you about the children that DFCS serves.
We on behalf of the whole of DFCS want to thank each one of you for taking out time to seek information on the foster care and adoption. We are proud of you for understanding the importance of a loving, nurturing and responsible family in a child’s life; it is not only vital for their development but is a right of every child.
Licensing requirements for adoption and foster care
The first and foremost thing is the desire and willingness to accept a child as his/her own family and welcoming the child into one’s home with an open heart. This adoption and foster care process involve a thorough evaluation of the prospective families. A foster or adoptive parent does not require to be wealthy in order to be eligible to adopt a child. However, he/she should be able to earn enough to meet his/her basic needs. A person need not be married in order to become a foster parent. He/she can own a house or rent it out to others. Additionally, a prospective foster parent should meet the following criteria.
- In the case of a single parent, the age of the individual should be minimum 25 years and should be 10 years older than the adoptive child.
- If married, he/she should be a minimum of 10 years elder to the child in question.
- Checking criminal records of the prospective parent/s, if any
- Medical examination
- Safety checks of the foster parent’s home
- Drug screen
- If you are in Georgia, then your Georgia driver’s license will also be checked
- Attending a 2-hour long Information session
- Successful completion of twenty-three hours pre-service training
- Home evaluation to be completed successfully.
Home evaluation and training requirements
There are home evaluations carried out for all the prospective and adoptive families. The evaluation is a documentation process whereby all the above requirements have to be fulfilled by such families. The evaluation process also involves visiting a minimum of 2 homes by the case manager to collect additional information and assessing the requirements of home safety.
If you are interested in additional information then log on to the website of Georgia Division of Children and Family Services. There are both ‘General Information’ and detailed information on adoption and foster care on the site.
Costs to the foster parents
If one adopts or becomes a foster parent through Georgia’s DFCS, then the expenditures of drug screens and medical exams are typically borne by the prospective parents. However, these costs are later reimbursed.
In case one works in a private organization, then the prospective parent might be charged.
Information on the abandoned children of Georgia
Last year, there were approximately 11,000 orphan children in the foster care. Out of these, 2,370 children have a goal of permanent adoption. Out of those, 250 children are currently available for prospective parents to adopt; these children are in dire need of permanent, caring homes.
When you try to gauge the importance of adopting a child for yourself, try to assess what it means to a child to have a family of his/her own. Some of these children were given up voluntarily by their parents to the state. However, most of these children were taken away from their families by the state on account of neglect, abuse and maltreatment. In spite of facing such abandonment, you will find loving and hopeful faces.
- Is there any specialized rate provided by Georgia (based on the child’s extraordinary needs or the need for additional parenting skills to raise a child)?
In case, a specialized rate is given to a child when in the family foster care, then an application needs to be submitted by the respective adoption worker to the SSAU (Social Services Administration Unit) appealing for a specialized adoption allowance per day on the basis of the special needs of the child. These specialized adoption allowances are dependent on the present functioning level of the child.
The payments of the adoption assistance can be as high as hundred percent of the DFCS/DHS family foster care (per day) that the respective child was getting prior to his/her adoption. (The specialized rates for family foster care of DFCS/DHS can be lower than the rates of any private foster care organization.)
- When do the payments for adoption assistance begin?
For children of DFCS, Georgia, the payments can start from the time of the placement of adoption. For children of independent/private adoption, the benefits are given after the finalization of the adoption.
- Does any of these benefits continue after the child attains 18?
The following criteria apply for availing adoption benefits for children over 18 years of age. Note, that a youth is eligible for such assistances only till the age of 21.
Those who are above 18 and are in high school:
- The child needed to be in the permanent custody of the DFCS (whereby the parental rights of the biological parents were terminated and the custody belonged solely to DFCS at the time of adoption) or the child was placed with the fictive kin/relative from the DFCS’s temporary custody (TPR initiated by DFCS) for adoption purposes.
- After meeting any of the above requirements, the child must provide quarterly verification on the school letterhead validating that he/she is a full-time student in school (not Job Corp or GED)
- The assistance will end when:
- The child graduates
- The child abandons high school
- The child attains 21 while in high school
For above 18 years youth attaining technical school or college:
- The child was adopted along with an adoption benefit agreement; the child has to meet either of these criteria: (1) adopted prior July 1998; (2) adopted post-July 1998 after his 13th The child also has to meet the above (i) criterion.
- Along with the above requirements, the child must also validate as given above in point (ii).
- The assistance will end if:
- Full-time enrollment verification is not provided by the youth on a quarterly basis
- He turns 21 (can receive assistance till the birth month if he is in school)
- He drops out of his school
Is there any deferred adoption benefit agreement offered by Georgia (where initial maintenance is zero, but is given later to children with chances of developing any special need later)?
The answer is yes. This is applicable for children who were under the DFCS’s permanent custody or for whom DFCS has terminated the parental rights and has transferred the legal custody of the child to an individual or a relative for adoption purposes.
Before the adoption finalization, if the child does not fulfill the requirements of being considered as a special child, the documentation of deferred agreement is completed by the foster parents for zero amount. It is not given alongside Medicaid. Later on, if the child is diagnosed with a medical, mental, physical or emotional condition by any private provider, then a request for special needs determination can be made to the local office of DFCS. The denials/approvals are completed by the SSAU. Also, the assistance amount will not exceed the amount that the child was receiving in the family foster care previously. The Medicaid coverage begins after the approval of adoption assistance by SSAU.
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We are always looking for new ways to help families and welcome all comments and suggestions. But, over time, the feedback we have received again and again is that the most valuable contributions actually come from you guys.
If you are able to, please share your own experience on our site so that others can benefit from what you are going through.
~ The DFCS Help Team