TFC Frequently Asked Questions

What is “therapeutic” foster care?

To qualify for therapeutic foster care a child must be in DHR State custody and receive a mental health evaluation recommending placement in an environment without other foster children. This allows the child to receive intensive supervision and assistance.

How do I know if foster parenting is the right choice for me?

Deciding to foster is a big decision. Caring for a child who in not only a victim of abuse or neglect but is also experiencing emotional problems is a big commitment. Successful foster parents must be patient, flexible, and unconditional. Foster parenting requires a great deal of time. Not only will the children require day to day attention that comes with parenting, but they will have additional needs such as counseling appointments, school meetings, court dates, and family visits.

How do you decide what child will be placed in my home?

Each client undergoes an initial screening to determine suitability for our program. Once this has been determined, our staff meets to discuss the referral. We look at our open homes and determine if one would be an appropriate match. If we do not have an appropriate home, then the child is placed on our waiting list. If we determine that one of our homes is appropriate, then we contact the potential foster parent and set up a time for placement. Factors that are considered include but are not limited to:the client’s emotional and behavioral needs, the foster parent’s strengths, and cultural background.

Can I pick the age?

Staff will make recommendations on the best fit for the foster home.  Foster parents can share preferences but we encourage everyone to keep an open mind to various ages.

Can I foster as a single parent?

Yes, due to the special needs of our children, we need both single parent and two-parent households. However, single parent foster homes must be prepared to take on challenges without the support of another adult in the home.

Why does the training program take 10 weeks?

Children who have been abused or neglected are emotionally fragile. Our foster parents must be prepared to respond to their needs therapeutically. We have prepared a thorough training program that identifies possible areas of need and educates parents how to respond. Our program is based on 12 skills: Know your Family, Communicate Effectively, Know the Child, Build on Strengths; Meet Needs, Work in Partnership, Be a Loss and Attachment Expert, Manage Behaviors, Build Connections, Assure Health and Safety, Assess Impact, & Make an Informed Decision.

What kind of background check do you complete?

Every adult (19 & older) living in the home must receive clearance through: the State’s Child Abuse & Neglect Registry (CA/N), FBI/ABI fingerprint, and a criminal history check. Additionally we check the driving record.

Can I foster if I have children in my home?

Yes. However, due to the therapeutic needs of the children we serve, the use of your home will be limited to children who appropriately match the composition of your home. For example, we would not place teenage males in a home with teenage females.

Can the foster child share a bedroom?

Yes, same sex children can share bedrooms as long as there is adequate space & they have separate beds. However, if sharing a bedroom, we will match for compatibility. For example, we would not place a teenage female in home that she would have to share a room with an elementary school age child.

I am married; does my spouse also have to attend the training?

Yes. All adults in the home are required to attend the training.

Do I have to attend the entire training program?

Yes. Each class offers a different and equally important aspect of foster parenting. Under special circumstances, we offer a make up policy of up to two classes. Conflicts such as work schedules, lack of childcare, or not enough time may be indicators that foster parenting is not the right choice for you at this time.

Can I start the training program if I am not sure I want to foster?

Yes. In fact, we encourage participants to use the 10 weeks as an opportunity to clarify their motivations and make an informed decision. Class members can select out of the program at any time or wait until the end of the training to make a decision.

If I have already completed foster parent training with another agency, do I have to do the training again with Gateway/Alliance?

If you have completed the GPS training with another agency, our staff will meet with you to determine our training requirements. You will be required to complete part of our training in order to become acquainted with our program and so that our staff can become familiar with your strengths and needs.

Is compensation provided?

Yes. Foster parents receive a monthly difficulty of care payment from Gateway and a board payment from DHR.

1401 20th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35205
Gateway Family Resource Center
Fax: 205-510-2621