Call your state Department of Human Services (I think that is the name in WA) and sign up for the informational meetings. These are required anyway, and the best source of info on how the system works in your area. Some areas have private agencies as well as state foster units. How that works (and the licensing process, and more) will be covered in those meetings.<br><br>
See if there is a foster parent organization in your area, and if they welcome new folks. That would be a great source for less official questions - which agencies are easiest to work with? Which are more open to out-of-the-mainstream parents? Which agencies offer the best support?<br><br>
Check out the forums at <a href="http://www.fosterparents.com" target="_blank">www.fosterparents.com</a>. Not very crunchy, but many VERY experienced foster parents, in all possible varieties - foster, adoptive, therapeutic, infants to teens.<br><br>
Read, read, read! I'd suggest reading everything you can find about fostering and adoption. Many of the issues (kids who experienced trauma, etc) are the same, and there is much more written about adoption. You won't agree with every author, but it is good to hear various viewpoints.<br><br>
Good luck on your journey!
the Dept of Social and Health Services website is a good place to begin gathering information<br><a href="http://dshs.wa.gov/ca/fosterparents/index.asp" target="_blank">http://dshs.wa.gov/ca/fosterparents/index.asp</a>
We are currently lincensing through Amara. They contract with DSHS. I've found them extremely supportive and they have a lot of resources and the ability to talk with other adoptive/foster parents. We're doing the foster to adopt route though.<br><br>
If you are in the greater Seattle area, Childhaven has a great energency care program that is short term, like 3 days-ish. Children are often voluntarily placed by their parents when they're in crisis. These are families that are already working with Childhaven usually so there is a lot of support services in place and the parents are active in taking parenting classes.<br><br>
In addition, respite care is also a great way to meet other local foster parents and gain insight and support from that community.<br><br>
Feel free to PM me, I also have a dear friend who is a manager at CASA for 10+yrs and she has gifted me with a ton of insight..she also came from a great household with 3-5 foster siblings at a time + her bio sibs. So she's seen it from a couple of sides.<br><br>
Good luck on your journey!
Thank you all so much for the support and links! I've had spotty internet the last few days due to storms rolling in our area. I will follow up and checking out these links.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
We just finished up the Pre-service training here on the east side of the state. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br><br>
if you're on this side of the state I'd be glad to set you up with the folks/resources I know about here.