Besides regular foster care, what are the other foster parenting options open to families in Connecticut?

Private foster care agencies in CT have contracts with the Department of Children and Families to provide foster homes for children ages 6-17 with more moderate to acute needs. These foster care programs are called Therapeutic, Therapeutic-Enhanced level foster care, Multi-Dimensional Treatment (MTFC) foster care and Family and Community Ties (FCT) foster care. These additional programs are designed for children and youth who have extraordinary psychological and/or special medical needs. A higher rate of monthly reimbursement is provided to these foster parents since the care, expectations and training exceed the expectations of general foster care home providers.

Therapeutic Foster Care is a more intensive level of care than “regular” DCF foster care.  Therapeutic foster parents care for children ages six and older who have moderate to severe behavioral and emotional needs.  Families are provided weekly visits from their social worker/case manager and have more community and agency supports quickly available/provided to them. Therapeutic foster parents also attend classes for an advanced level of training and maintain a very close relationship with their agency to support their family and their foster child.  In general, youth remain in these homes for six months to two years, preparing to either return home to a now-healthy biological family, or preparing for adoption by another family or the foster family. Many agencies mandate monthly support group attendance, and most agencies offer monthly trainings.

Multi-Dimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) is an evidence based program that provides short-term, specialized foster care for children with emotional and behavioral challenges ages 12-17. Skilled, specialized licensed foster families provide a stabilized and structured environment to maintain children in the community with the intent to return the child home to an identified aftercare resource. While in MTFC, each child receives intensive individual counseling and skills training. The foster family acts as part of the treatment team, working directly with the youth and the MTFC team to decrease identified barriers to reunification. Simultaneously, a family therapist works with the biological family or other identified aftercare resource to prepare them for the youth’s return home. MTFC provides the foster family with 24 hour support, weekly support groups and ongoing training. The expected length of stay within the program is 9-12 months.

Family and Community Ties (FCT) is a new Connecticut program begun in 2012, providing clinical support services to children with special needs who are in the care of the Department of Children and Families. These children are in need of supports beyond the level of Therapeutic Foster Care.  The purpose of the program is to integrate them back into a home setting with wrap services. The children in this program have spent a great deal of time in residential settings and therefore know more about being a “client” than being a part of a family. FCT is a model of foster care which trains families to professionally care for these children on a long term basis by offering intensive support systems both at their home and in the community.  Generally speaking, this program requires two adults and prefers that there be no other children in the home.

FAM partners provide additional training and support services to families who choose to provide any of these higher levels of care, including twenty-four hour on-call support. Please visit our Partners Page to see a list of partners and access links to their websites or contact FAM for additional information.

What is a “legal risk adoptive placement?”

Legal Risk Adoption placements allow children whose parental rights have not been terminated to be placed into a pre-adoptive home. Although it may be the permanency plan to have this child adopted, the child is not free for adoption until the court rules in favor of the termination of parental rights. Connecticut agencies offer support to the pre-adoptive family during this time but cannot guarantee the outcome of the court proceedings. Connecticut agencies make every effort to place children into a permanent home once adoption is the goal, even if there are pending court proceedings. We believe that we should help lessen trauma and reduce moves for the child. Sometimes a biological parent may still have visitation rights to the child. The pre-adoptive family would need to work with the court orders and the social workers in meeting legal obligations. The largest challenge of legal risk placements is the uncertainty for the pre-adoptive family.

What is meant by “special needs adoption”? Clarify the difference/definition between uses of this term relating to children waiting to be adopted versus a more technical term used in eligibility for an adoption subsidy.

A Special Needs Child is defined in CONN. GEN. STAT. 17a-116 as a child who is difficult to place in adoption because of one or more conditions including, but not limited to:

  • Physical or mental disability
  • Serious emotional maladjustment
  • A recognized high risk of physical or mental disability
  • Age, racial or ethnic factors which present a barrier to adoption
  • Is a member of a sibling group, which should be placed together
  • The child and the prospective adoptive parents have established significant emotional ties while the child was in care as the family’s foster child.

Are there subsidies available for adoptive families?

Yes, any family adopting a special needs child in Connecticut may be eligible to receive a medical and/or financial subsidy for their child. Children who have special needs include children with physical, intellectual or emotional disabilities, sibling groups, older children, children with complex medical needs and children of color of all ages.

How much does it cost to adopt?

There are no fees involved in adopting through the State of Connecticut.  In fact, families who adopt through foster care are entitled to free legal help with Open Adoption Agreements through our partners at CAFAP.

What children are waiting for adoption through the State of Connecticut?

Children of all ages with various physical and emotional disabilities are waiting. Brothers and sisters need families willing to adopt them together. The majority of our children are over five years old.  Children of color of all ages are in need of adoptive family resources.  Older youth, in particular, are in need of permanent families.  Click here for a partial listing of CT children and youth available for adoption.  Most children and youth cannot be photolisted due to privacy concerns.

Are there certain health requirements for adoptive parents?

Agencies will require a physical examination report from a doctor for the primary caretakers and all members of the household. This does not mean that you must be in perfect physical condition. Foster and adoptive families must be physically and mentally capable of providing care to a child and free from communicable disease.

Must an adoptive parent be a homeowner?

No, nor must you provide a separate room within your home for each child in many cases. You can own or rent your home or apartment or live in public housing. Any living situation must be a safe and suitable environment for the child. Families seeking to parent a child who is physically challenged must have appropriate home accommodations suitable to meet his or her needs. All families must meet regulatory standards related to their living unit.

Is there an income requirement for adoptive families?

You must have a stable source of verifiable income, sufficient to meet the needs of your family. Most forms of income will be considered.  Unemployment cannot be used as income to meet requirements. You cannot rely on the foster care reimbursement as a source of income.

Can I adopt if I already have a child or children?

Yes, you can. Families who have parenting experience are a great resource for waiting children. Some families adopt children while their biological children are still in the home. Many families who have grown children may experience the “empty nest” feeling and will become adoptive parents, most often adopting an older child or sibling group. Connecticut agencies’ regulations allow up to six children under the age of 18 years in a home. This includes your own children, adopted children and day care children.

How long does it take to adopt a waiting child?

The timeframe varies given the criteria you prefer and the needs and availability of waiting children. After placement, the average length of time from placement to finalization is a year. Connecticut agencies are making a concerted effort to shorten the timeframe.

Can single parents and/or same sex couples adopt?

Yes, adoption by single parents as well as same sex couples is permissible and encouraged.  The individual circumstances and needs of the child are considered when making a decision about the make-up of the household where the child will live.

Is there an age requirement for adoptive parents?

You must be at least 21 years old. It is difficult to generalize about upper age limits for adoptive parents, since agencies have differing policies.  Usually, as long as an older adult is physically and mentally capable of caring for a child age is not a barrier.  Connecticut has licensed foster parents in their 60’s and 70’s.

Do I need to have an empty bedroom to take a foster child?

Only sometimes. Often you only need to have an available twin bed in a child’s bedroom with children of the same sex who are close to the same age. An available double bed can be used for one child or biological siblings of the same sex. Cribs can be placed in the foster parent’s bedroom or in a bedroom with children close to the age of the infant/toddler. Children under 5 years of age must sleep on the same floor as parents. Some foster care programs require that youth have their own bedrooms.

Do I need to have an empty bedroom to take a foster child?

Only sometimes. Often you only need to have an available twin bed in a child’s bedroom with children of the same sex who are close to the same age. An available double bed can be used for one child or biological siblings of the same sex. Cribs can be placed in the foster parent’s bedroom or in a bedroom with children close to the age of the infant/toddler. Children under 5 years of age must sleep on the same floor as parents. Some foster care programs require that youth have their own bedrooms.

Does the state pay foster parents? What about health insurance?

Foster parents receive a Foster Care Reimbursement per Diem stipend for the care of children. The rate varies by agency. The payment reimbursement structure is based on the USDA expenditures for care of a child in the Urban Northeast; and includes costs for food, clothing, shelter, childcare, education and transportation. Children are also enrolled in subsidized health and dental insurance through the Connecticut Husky (Healthcare for UninSured Kids and Youth) Managed Care Program. Your pediatrician or dentist can see children, providing they accept the Connecticut HUSKY plan.

Do the children’s parents visit in the foster home?

Yes, it is preferred but only in cases where there is no safety concern. Visitation most usually is held in an agency office or in the community – such as a park or restaurant. The goal of foster care is to help the child accept his situation and handle it the best way possible. We hope that children can return to the biological parent’s home as soon as possible and this means that the child(ren) need to maintain a relationship with their parents.

Why does the State of Connecticut need foster homes?

At any given time, approximately 4,100 children and youth need a secure home to live in while parents work on creating a stable home to which children can return. Social pressures and stress can create unhealthy situations in families and children occasionally need to be removed to a safer home temporarily.  Currently, our most pressing needs are for families to foster sibling groups, medically complex children and youth of all ages and youth ages twelve and above.  We also need families to foster infants straight from the hospital.