Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

How to Become a Foster Parent

August 18, 2021 Creating a Family Season 15 Episode 34
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
How to Become a Foster Parent
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster parent but didn't know where to begin? This is the show for you! We talk with Vicki Ochoa, State Director for South Carolina MENTOR, an organization that provides an array of child and family services, on the ins and outs of becoming a foster parent.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Why should you become a foster parent?
  • What is the role of a foster parent?
  • What are the expectations of what a foster parent will do?
  • How to become a foster parent.
  • How do you get licensed to be a foster parent?
  • How much training is required?
  • What type of ongoing training is required?
  • Do you have to own your home?
  •  How big does your house need to be?
  • How many kids can you have already in your home?
  • What agency can you work with to become licensed?
  • Who places the child with you?
  • What are the needs of kids in foster care?
  • How is the decision made as to which child or children should be placed in your home?
  • Can you specify the age, gender, # of kids, and degree of special need of the child you want to foster?
  • What type of help should the agency provide for you after the child is in your home?
  • If you have a choice, how do you choose a foster agency to work with?
  •  How much voice do foster parents have on what happens to the child?
  • Do foster parents get paid?
  • Can you adopt your foster child?

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Welcome everyone to creating a family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport, the host as well as the director of creating a And our website, creating a is your go to place to get all types of information on your adoption or foster care journey? Today, we're going to be answering a question that we get a lot and that is how to become a foster parent. We will be talking with Vicki Ochoa. She is the state director for South Carolina mentor, an organization that provides an array of Children and Family Services. Welcome, Vicki to creating a family. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you for having me today. It's a pleasure. Okay, now, one of the difficulties when talking about a topic is general is how to become a foster parent. And quite frankly, one of the reasons that I have avoided wanting to talk about it is because it is controlled by state law, and each state has their own and state written not just law, but rules and regulations. So each state is slightly different. However, there are a lot of generalities. And so what we're going to do today is is answer in generalities. And we'll also probably have to direct you to say it periodically that you would need to check with your state to see exactly what the rules are in your state. But this will be a good introduction to the to the to the topic. All right. So first of all, I really want to, I want to encourage people who have a heart for kids to become a foster parent, there is such a need. And the need goes from infancy up to age 18 and beyond. So Vicki, let me ask you, why should someone become a foster parent?

Well, there's such a need, certainly in the state of South Carolina for individuals that are, um, have a passion to, to serve children to be able to open up their home, their hearts, to provide, you know, a loving home an ability to grow, to be able to heal from past experiences, past traumas, you know, it's it's wonderfully enriching work to do and, you know, to support children, help them develop a better quality of life moving into the future, we have many children in the state, more than 4000 children and counting that are in need of a loving home.

Yes, and everything you just said would be directly applicable to every state, there is not a single state in the US that is not in need for foster parents. So what is the role? I do think there's some misunderstandings of what the role of a foster parent is. So can you address that for us, Vicki?

The role of a foster parent is to welcome a child into their home. You know, certainly foster parents have preferences, they may be you know, depending on where their work situation is home life situation, you know, we are able to, you know, speak to them about, you know, their passions, their willingness to open up their home, their willingness to help, support, build relationships, help a child to really heal from maybe past experiences, or work to be able to to reunify with a family and get them back to their next role in their life, to help them become more functional as adults going into adulthood.

Yeah, I totally agree. And we stress to parents, foster parents, or potential foster parents, that their first role and they need to go in with the understanding that their role is to help the birth family heal. And the goal is to get the child back into their birth family, if that's possible. And of course, we know it's not always possible, but that their role is to be a soft landing place and for that child, while their family gets their act together and heals, and I'm sure you see that in your practice as well.

Yes, so, you know, certainly, you know, there are many different models, you know, looking into foster care and how to help treat children and care. One of the most significant, oftentimes for children that are in foster care is to help them work through past traumas or reasons for why they had left their home of origin. And we certainly help to support our foster parents, as well as the family of origin in a shared parenting practice, to be able to teach skills to work through the past traumas to be able to work together and, you know, honor the family of origin. So that they can develop and heal together as the child is, you know, stabilizing and working within the foster home setting. Ultimately, their goal is to return back to the home. Most of the children not all children, some children that enter foster care are going on into more of a permanent placement of independent living, their aging, you know, aging out, we're working towards, you know, job readiness skills. You know, you know, if they're older, older age teens moving into adulthood.

Sure, and there is a huge need for foster parents for tweens and teens. And it's not something that everybody is was able to parent. So we are, there's a huge need for that as well. Can you describe some of the expectations that a foster parent would be asked to do to help with the reunification process?

Well, let's see expectation. So, you know, first and foremost as the, you know, the there is time allotted that the child when entering into foster care, there's a stabilization process, assessment process, helping the child to reassess, receive treatment of what was happening prior to entering foster care if that was abuse, neglect issues, you know, traumatic events, couldn't be, you know, some developmental issues going on, or simply the, you know, parents of origin, needing some parenting skills, working through maybe their past trauma. So that process is sort of the beginning. And as there's a readiness and appropriateness for the families to start working together, it is certainly, you know, there's supervised visitations, there's phone conversations, there can be communication via, you know, some, you know, through phone conversations, computer webinars, you know, many of the children also are involved in treatment, family, parenting skills, therapy, mental health counseling, to help the reunification process. And it's, you know, and then in organizations also there is the availability for continued shared commitment and shared parenting processes through the life of the child returning home.

Some of that can look like taking a child on regular visits with their birth family, of course, taking a child to their therapies, be the occupational or emotional health therapy, advocating for the child in school, I mean, you're a parent. So you are doing much of what parents are doing. But you're also potentially mentoring their birth family and showing them the strong parenting skill. So it's, it's a parenting role, but it's also a reunification support role.

Absolutely. It's a true support role and engagement with both sets of parents as it is appropriate.

Correct? Exactly.

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Well, there are many options for fostering children, certainly within the areas of the states that they reside there our ability to reach out to many agencies that on websites that do the initial recruitment and development and introductions to fostering children's so that they know what they're getting into. There is certainly specific requirements based on state requirements to become a foster parent. But the first question is really about, you know, parent thinking really thinking through what their commitment what their passions are in regards to fostering a child. There are many agencies that provide information sessions that are very specific to the state about training, what kind of information would be needed and required from the family if they are considering fostering, there is certainly requirements of background checks and things about the family home about the family members that are interested in fostering, you know, who resides in the home, there are certainly understanding health and safety and the environmental, the home in which the child would be residing. So there's, there's requirements, you know, necessary for the home environment. And so all of that there's a list of requirements that would be explained by the agency, in these particular states of what the requirements were specific for this day. But ultimately, it is about, you know, your will to wanting to provide for a child or an adolescent, there is such a need for children in our nation, to have a loving home, and to be able to have individuals to open their heart and home to provide development for these children. Do you have to own your own home to be a foster parent? No, you do not have to own your own home. There are there are requirements, again, based on state requirements, you know, things like, you know, making sure that a child has has enough room in their bedroom, and that there's passing a fire inspection and health and safety inspection of the environmental conditions of the home. But you do not have to have your own home, there are many children that have resided in different settings. So apartments are appropriate, you know, condominiums, and, you know, you do not have to have your own home.

So How big does your house need to be? And does each child need to have a separate bedroom?

Well, there's, there's of course requirements on that as well, children. As we know, this is a bureaucracy. So there are requirements in every state, you know, as far as size and enough room of the, of the bedroom where the child with sleep. You know, there are exceptions to rules in different states about siblings. There are many children in foster care that are siblings and siblings being able to share a room together. There are age requirements to things to children sharing rooms as well. You know, there are requirements based on you know, most children will have their own individual bandwidth in the bedroom. And or a crib for young, you know, younger children, of course, there's allowances for bunk beds, but there's requirements, you know, making sure that you have, you know, it's only two tiered and not, you know, six bunk beds. So things like that. I mean, it's every state, there are different nuances about some of those specific requirements. But for the most part, most children have their have an individual room unless they are siblings, or relatives, and then it's appropriate, there's always the appropriateness what is the child needs must be honored first.

And keep in mind, as you mentioned, that each state has their own requirements. There, there is a lot of similarity between them. And whatever agency you're working with can explain those, they usually have a handout they can give you that gives you this specific information that you need. Can you have children are of your own that either adopted or are by birth, that are already in your home, that are living with you can you have children in your home and still be a foster parents? And if so, how many kids? Can you have?

That, of course, also, is something specific that states do have requirements for I do know, you know, South Carolina has? I mean, certainly the answer is yes, you can have your own biological children in the home. You know, certain states have certain requirements about how many biological children combination, versus how many foster children, you know, South Carolina is specific to a total of eight children, five of which could be foster children up to and that, again, is about, you know, the approach, you know, as far as living space, the appropriateness of the children and the needs of each of the children. During the beginning process, there is a home study that is also part of the requirement and there's no you know, one of the responsibilities in the beginning of the licensing process is to be able to interview all family members and make Making sure that they're all committed to fostering and understanding that their home life that they're committed to bringing in another child or children into their home setting. So these are all conversations that occur during the licensing process as as one would become a foster parent.

And you mentioned South Carolina is a total of eight I know of some other states have a total of six unless it's a sibling group. Again, it would depend on the state. But all states allow you to have children already in the home, the only issue would be, what number and something and often that depends on the size of the home and your ability to provide and meet the requirements of the specifics. Okay. So what type of what agency? Can you work with to become licensed? Do you have to work with the county agency that you're the county you live in? or perish? If you're in Louisiana? Do you work with the state that the county public agency or can you work with private agency? Or does it depend?

We'll ask you a question, you know, you know, certainly, you know, through the nation children, you know, it's a licensing bodies. So usually, it's under children, Family Services, Department of Social Services that are actually the licensing body, however, to become a licensed foster parent. States have the ability, there are private providers in states that are considered child placing agencies that can help to go through the licensing process. Certainly some states also have state entities. So you know, if it's not the Department of Social Services or children Family Services, there may be I'm not even sure all nationally, but you know, within South Carolina, there are private child writing agencies. Yeah, that can help to assist in foster care. The Department of Social Service does as well. Yeah. But they pride primarily there the licensing body, ultimately. But it is the private providers that often do most of the licensing these days,

we have seen a bit of a shift and like the last 1015 years towards encouraging private agencies to be involved in the recruitment, training, support, licensing emplacing, even. And it This is, again, one of those issues that we said at the beginning, you will have to check with your individual state. Generally, in my experience, most states now allow private agencies to do placing some states however, we'll say that private agencies are only going to be able to place either the hardest to play skits, or the easiest to play skits, or they only run therapeutic homes, or they will only run basic homes, that basic licensing homes. So it really does depend on your state. That is an easy question to answer. If you just Google your state name, state foster care agency, you will get to the website for whatever it's called in your state. And it will be called different things. Depending on what your what state you are, whatever the agency is going to be called. And then you will relatively easily be able to search for private agencies that have a contract with the state to train licensed, recruit whatever, foster parents. So in that, and they would also tell you if you don't don't have that option, the other option would be to call your county agency or Parish, if you're Louisiana, and ask if they're a private agency that is working in your county to support foster families? Or is it only the end you may choose to work with the the county agency. So all those are things you'll have to check out. But it's usually very easy to find out who to work with. And that would also depend on whether that agency places the child with you. Sometimes they the actual placing is taken takes place on the county level. And sometimes it takes the agency themselves has the ability to do that. And this is the question that you will have to you'll have to ask and get good answers to. Are you enjoying today's podcast as much as I am? If you are or if you have friends, you know, who are interested in fostering? Would you take a minute to share this episode with them and tell them about our weekly creating a podcast? We love strengthening and inspiring more families to raise strong and healthy kids. And your word of mouth recommendations to friends and families are what really helped us get this kind of great content to more families. So thank you. So how much training is required? You've mentioned the home study process. And you've described it that it's it's a it's a multi tiered process. One part is as you described the act home visit home inspection, making sure that you meet the specific requirements for Have you had a fire review? Do you have a fire extinguishers? do you have? Are your medicines locked up? Do you have child safety latches, depending on the age of the child things like that. So that's that is certainly part of it. But training is another part. So how much training is required? And what do we mean by training?

So the requirements for training and our you know, specific hours of training is very much so contingent on the state that you are looking to be licensed. There's a lot of training, you know, certainly you mentioned, you're right, there's kind of a checklist of all kinds of information that is required and necessary for the health and safety of the home information about the family members in the home setting. You know, all of that. But there is also a tremendous amount of training at the point of the initial licensing process, and then ongoing training at the renewal process. And that, of course, is contingent on some of the state requirements. But things like really understanding health and safety needs of the child is included in and not only are we talking about the environment of the home, but the needs of the child's medical needs, understanding developmental needs childhood, you know, childhood adolescent development, men type trainings, understanding confidentiality, human rights, the child rights, parent rights, there is training offerings on cultural diversity and inclusion. In the world we live in right now, certainly majority of the organizations to which recruit and prepare families to become foster parents and licensing, are also working with models that are trauma informed, and trauma specific to meet the needs of these children that are coming into their home. And understanding how in which what are the messages that your child is is providing, you know, is dealing with with their own past traumas, and how to work with them. So most organizations today would be providing training on trauma, trauma specific training, how to deal with certain behaviors, that are in symptoms that are manifested based on some of the past histories, there's also the CPR and first aid trainings. That is, I would say, 100% is is a training expectation in all of our states. And then there's, you know, things on ethics and understanding, you know, the laws within child serving agencies and child protection laws within the state. And then child specific training. So there's understanding, you know, children and care have many, many needs. I talked about trauma, and on trauma specific interventions, but things like de escalation techniques, you know, understanding how to navigate the schools. Yes, you know, that, you know, what is when you have a child with special needs, or child with some learning issues? Or even one that does not? How do you navigate through the school system? How do you get the services that a child would need that are specific to them? You know, how do you look at your community in regards to daycare centers? And what are you looking for, and, and how, you know, how responsive will they be to the needs that you have in in working with a specific child. So there's a lot of specific child specific trainings that are also part of the repertoire. Now, a lot of these are mixing, what is initial requirements versus what are ongoing trainings. You asked me about hours, and that is also a state specific requirement. Some, you know, initially would be, you know, roughly 14 hours to 20 hours of specific training to become licensed. And then there's requirements like 15 a year or something like that, depending on each state requirement.

Yeah, let me interrupt here and mentioned that a lot of states require 30 to 35 hours. That is, that is also a standard requirement for many states. So the for initial training, and then as you point out the ongoing training, in service training, see training depends. I just looked it up anywhere from I think six hours to 15 hours a year, depending on the state. So yeah, I'm certainly glad you mentioned that. But keep in mind that there are lots of options for you're not on your own for finding those. There's lots of options for it and you Usually the training is relevant to your parenting in general. So it's, it's quite helpful.

And you mentioned something, something that you said earlier in regards to many private providing agencies, child placing agencies are also, you know, the world is sort of changing in private providers, recruiting, training, developing licensing foster families. And there's, there's a real reason for that is that the that the child placing agencies ever working with children in foster care, are the, you know, the, the experts in some of the in these trainings, they are treating the family, in their practices. And so melding the two together, there's a rich training platform that is provided to parents that, you know, wish to become foster parents, from the clinicians, from the clinical coordinators from case managers that are actually providing the services on an ongoing basis. So, you know, most of the agencies, this is, these are programs that are, you will find through many of the agencies that are treating foster children.

Well, and and we encourage families, we have resources for questions to ask and how to choose a foster care agency to work with. And one of the questions we encourage families to ask is what type of ongoing training and support the agency provides, I cannot overemphasize how important that is, you want an agency that is in your court, you want an agency that wants to support you, that is there to answer your questions, and to provide ongoing trainings that will help you be a better parent? So that is a really important question to ask when you're making the choice as a potential foster parent, and who you want to get licensed with and who you want to work with. So I'm really glad you you mentioned that. And it's something you said that I wanted to come back to, I really think it's important for everyone to realize that children end up in foster care through no fault of their own. But most of these kids have experienced some form of trauma, just the act of being removed from their home is traumatic. So these kids have experienced trauma, but it is not their fault. these are these are not troubled or bad kids. These are kids who sometimes have behaviors that are challenging, but their behaviors are often a result from their life experiences from the trauma that they faced in the past. And there are techniques and ways that you will be trained in that will help you be had know how to parent these kids to help them reach their potential. Is it possible? Okay, so you're a foster parent? Can you specify the age, gender, number of kids and the degree of special needs of the child that you want to foster? Or that you feel like you would be able to be the best parent for that child?

Absolutely. And I stress the importance from the very beginning, if you're considering foster parenting, to be able to really articulate what it is, you know, all parents, you know, if you have a family, if you have family members, and you're looking for girls of certain ages, you know, certainly state that all agencies, you know, it's important that preferences are honored, and all ages of children are in need of foster home. You know, certainly I suspect throughout the entire nation that we are looking at high need for teens 12 and above 13 and above is certainly what agencies that are recruiting for foster parents are looking for me to specify that that's the reality. But they're certainly of all ages, all genders. agencies will also be looking for families that don't have many, many specifics, but their interests and they are inspired and have the passion to serve any child, that they can open their home to help reach their potential. But certainly families absolutely have the ability to identify preferences, and that's going to be best for them for their family for their home.

And that's one thing that as you work with your agency and the licensing that they should be encouraging you to think through and helping you make those decisions. Exactly. I have said this before, but I really mean it. This show as well as everything we do here at creating a family truly depends on agencies that believe in our mission. And that mission is to aid and support and help families foster adoptive and kinship families thrive. One such agency is hopscotch adoptions. They are a Hague accredited international adoption agency, placing children from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia. Ghana, Ghana, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia and Ukraine. They specialize in the placement of children with Down syndrome and other special needs. And they also do kinship adoptions. They offer home study services and post adoption to residents of North Carolina and New York. So what type of help? Should the agency provide for foster parents after the child is in their home? What type of help should foster parents be expecting?

Well, I can speak, you know, certainly from my own experiences, and, you know, foster parents should be expecting that they will have 24 hours, seven days a week, support from the agency, the child placing agency, being able to coordinate or provide, you know, services, obviously, to meet the needs or needs of the child and the families. So things like, you know, is it mental health or substance abuse counseling is it, you know, certainly looking at parent, helping the foster parent to gain access to or improve their ability to teach skills, problem solving skills, conflict resolution skills, things, helping a parent to meet the needs of the child, what is understanding what, what what those needs are, and then how to respond to them through, you know, variety of different communication interventions, you know, things, things of that nature, being able to make sure that they understand what the child needs for schooling and more effective learning in the classroom, or whatever that situation may be. It could be things, being able to have resources for children with specific developmental delays, or medical medical needs, that maybe the child placing agency is not the sole provider of all of these needs that I'm addressing, but a resource to be able to have a referral, or an entity that's going to collaborate and coordinate these services for them in the home setting. But absolutely, when looking to become a foster parent and an agency to be working with, it is very important to have the support of the agency to be able to contact them to be able to have, you know, you know, their workers, visitations multiple times during the week or to manage any type of situation that may come up. That is absolutely important.

How much voice do foster parents have on what happens to the child that they're fostering?

In many states, there are, you know, they're called a variety of different things, you know, Child and Family treatment teams reviews, there's certainly all type of treatment planning meetings for the child, I encourage all foster parents to be the strongest advocate for the for the child that's in their home, and be able to attend those meetings, their voice needs to be heard, they are working with the child helping them to get to the next, you know, place, is that returning back home, is that going on to college is that going into independent living, you know, whatever the next setting may be, it could be remaining with them for adoption. But the foster parent is the strong is a incredibly strong advocate for the child and can talk about the day you know, ins and outs of the day because their their child is in their home. And so I absolutely any opportunity to be participating in child reviews or treatment planning meetings for the sake of the child is

absolutely important. And that is actually a good question to ask when choosing an agency. How much will you be included in the planning meetings? Will you be notified when their court hearings, things like that? Yes. Our foster parents expected to bring children to parent visitations to therapy appointments to all the different things all the running in ins and outs Is that something that foster parents should be expecting that they will be doing as well. It's important to think through what your abilities are, your work schedule, the number of children you have that type of thing.

There you know, because the foster parent has such a voice and is the strongest advocate during that period of time. I highly encouraged them to think through being as involved in participatory in the life of the child and that does mean participating in therapy sessions or counseling session. It does mean participating in educational type forums you know IEP meetings or educational meetings. It does mean being able to take them to medical appointments. Certainly there are, there's specific, you know, there are state specific requirements on some of those, and you want to be able to ask those questions openly, when you are in the process of becoming a foster parent, I would highly recommend if the availability allows, in a shared parenting process to be able to participate in home visitations or supervised visitations that occur with the family of origin, when that's appropriate, and in some cases, that may not be an appropriate activity, or it may be something that's further down the road, you know, to plan forward to be involved. Nonetheless, it is, you know, from my standpoint, and I highly encourage our foster families to be as involved with the child and the child's life in all of these activities as possible. And it is something to consider when you are working, you know, there we have many foster parents that are working. And it is hard to go through go into some of the daytime programming, and that's where the agencies are able to assist. If there are appointments that are crying during the daytime, and a parent can't attend. There's ways in which their voice can still be heard, through the case manager or therapist or coordinators, and certainly in letter fashion as well, if they can't attend, but they want, they want to be part of the conversation. And when we know this ahead of time, there is flexibility in some of these. Now, of course in court hearings, those are, you know, during the daytime, they're not in the evenings, but some of the sessions visitations supervised visitation, some appointments, a child would need to meet their needs can be at times outside of a typical work day. So evenings or weekends where it's allowable. And that's, that's important to note as well, that it's not, it's not 100%. But it's certainly something that can be discussed based on the need of the child placed in the home.

And many foster parents do work. So outside the home, and they all work inside home. Many foster parents work outside. Yeah, absolutely. And so that is not a deterrent. So do foster parents get paid?

Yes, they do. There is a modest, you know, statement, you know, of meeting the needs of the children, that is very variable across all states. And it depends on, you know, certainly what the requirements again, you know, I feel like a broken record, but it really depends on, you know, each of the states, those are specific questions that can be asked, you know, to the placing agencies or the agency that is going through the licensing with an individual, that they will be able to give you what the rates are for children and care. But basically, it really depends on the level of need of care for the child.

But you know, I encourage people to think of it not as the foster parent is getting paid, but at the state is providing support for the child that you are caring for. So that is some of the costs associated with adding another child to your to your family will be covered through the subsidy. Would that be a fair statement?

That would be an absolutely fair statement? Yes. You're not going to get rich as a foster parent?

No, you will never get rich, becoming a foster parent. And you're right, you know, when you caught me a little bit off guard when you said paid, because certainly, there is payment for fostering children, but it is to meet the needs of the child. So things like you know, helping with activities and food and clothing and supports that the child will need. That's, that's where those subsidies come from and what they're used for.

So, you know, hopefully, you're not going to pay, although I know a lot of foster parents who say that ultimately that, that they end up spending more than the subsidy, but the goal is for the subsidy to cover the needs of the child so that you're, you know, that it's a net, it's a net even for your family.

Yeah, I mean, children can be expensive, certainly the substitute, you know, dollars, do assist in the care of the child. Your right you know, fostering children is about a passion and will to support children to a better quality of life, for the time being that they need it. And it is it is not seen as an income for the family necessarily. It is supporting the child in your in your care. Exactly. Okay.

And here's a question that we get a lot. And that is can you adopt your foster child? Let's say you're a family that well first, let me just ask that. So just Is it possible to adopt your foster child?

So I don't? Well, let me say, you know, yes to the question, it is very possible there is practices and procedures in each of the states regarding adoption. And so you know, certainly the agency to which you may have become a foster parent, and even if they could have placed the foster child, they may not be responsible for the adoption itself, but they can certainly support your wishes to adopt a child. And many children that come into the foster care system are actually I hate to say slated, but you know, most of them are coming into, you know, you hear it referred to as foster fostering to adopt. And so there are a lot of children that are able, because parental rights have been terminated are able to be adopted, not all children. So, you know, there are certainly regulations on that as well based on the child and years within care in a foster caring system. But the answer, yes, and many agencies are able to support in that process.

Yeah, and we, the way I often say this is that you need to go in realizing that the goal is to reunify the family, and you have to be willing to accept that and, and accept your role in that process, which means you have to support and help that family heal and reunify, that is the goal. But if you look nationwide, about a fourth of the kids who enter foster care will end up not being able to be reunified with their family or extended family, and will need a home to be adopted are to have a permanency placement outside of their biological family. And usually, the foster parents are the ones who are asked if they are willing to be that parent to building to be and to adopt the child. So yeah, that's a very that that's a that's a nationwide statistic, which makes it not terribly useful in the specifics, if you're talking about a but but it has actually held true for me, when I when you look across the board, about if you were a foster parent, and you really want to adopt and you're willing to keep fostering, it may be one, if you have four kids, it may happen with one of them. It's it's not of course, you may end up fostering 10 children and not any of them become available. But I have found across the board, if you're looking if that that national statistic kind of holds true. So if what you ultimately want to be is a adoptive family, keep in mind that there are many children who are already legally free and simply waiting for parents, they tend to be older kids are part of larger sibling groups. But there are absolutely children in our foster care system, over 100,000 of them nationwide, whose parental rights have already been terminated. And they're actively seeking an adoptive family. But if you're willing to go in as a foster parent, and accept your role, and work wholeheartedly and helping the family heal, ultimately, over the years, if you continue, you will likely have the opportunity to adopt a child, will that hold true with what you say and your practice?

Absolutely. We've had a number of children that, you know, certainly you are correct, I do want to, you know, highlight the fact that, you know, if you're becoming a foster parent, you know, there, there are many children that are in the system, you know, and are legally free to be adopted, and that you don't need to go into fostering children. With that in mind that you are going into to adopt that. One doesn't equal the other necessarily, but there are many children. And in our practice, certainly, we have many, I mean, I couldn't even count how many families that were foster families with us for many years. And, you know, certainly that one or two children that have come into their home, specifically adopt, you know, they may have served, you know, 50 children over years, but they have come to adopt, you know, one or two children. Exactly. And that is possible. And then they many, you know, some foster parents continue to foster other children, even though they have adopted children out of the foster care system already. Yeah, because others don't, you know, they maybe they're at capacity or, you know, they're going to spend the rest of their time, you know, working, meeting the needs of the the child or children that they've adopted. So there's there's choice in that as well, and certainly is honored based on what the family needs. Well, thank

you so much. Vicki Ochoa, state director of South Carolina mentor for being with us today to talk about how to become a foster parent and let me just end by encouraging It is a great way to make a difference in the life of a child. So thank you and join us next week. I can't wait to talk with you then as well.

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