Children come into the custody of the Lake County Department of Job & Family Services due to a crisis which resulted in the child being a victim of abuse, neglect or dependency. If the child cannot be placed safely with a relative, the Lake County Department of Job & Family Services is responsible for providing a safe environment for that child. It is the philosophy of the Department that children grow better in families therefore our primary goal is to find foster care providers who are willing to provide temporary care to children while their families are in crisis. Foster parents provide care until reunification with a family member can occur. If reunification is unable to occur children would become eligible for adoption and either remain with their foster parents who make a permanent commitment to care for the child or an adoptive home is secured.
The Substitute Care Unit is responsible for recruiting and licensing foster parents and approving adoptive parents. There is a specific need for people who are:
- able to provide a caring environment for children until they are able to return home;
- able to accept children as they are;
- stay at home parents who can provide care to a child under six weeks of age;
- able to parent a sibling group of two or more children;
- or willing to parent teenagers.
The Lake County Department of Job & Family Services provides support to their foster parents by providing the following services:
- Personal support from an assigned Substitute Care Social Worker
- Ongoing training and conference attendance
- Foster Parent Association of Lake County
- Respite care
- Daily per diem rate to reimburse for the cost of providing care
- Medical, dental and vision care for children
- Transportation reimbursement (on a limited basis)
- Foster Parent Handbook
Report Suspected Child or Elder Abuse or Neglect
24-Hour Child and Elder Abuse Hotline
(440) 350-4000 or (440) 918-4000
Become a Foster Parent
Foster Parents: Who are they and how can I become one?
Foster parents are caring people who have opened their hearts and homes to the children of Lake County who are in need of temporary care after having been removed from their parent’s custody. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
- They must be at least 18 years of age.
- They may be a married couple, single person or co-parents.
- At least one foster parent must be able to read, write and speak English to effectively communicate with any child placed in their home.
- They shall have an income sufficient to meet the basic needs of their household.
- All members of a foster caregiver’s home shall be free of any physical, emotional, or mental condition which would endanger a child or seriously impair the ability to care for a child.
- They shall submit to a criminal background check with fingerprints through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- They shall not operate their home as an adult boarding house nor shall they provide child care in their home without the Department’s consent.
- The home shall have a Safety Audit from Lake County Job and Family Services and a fire inspection through their community fire department.
- They must agree to abide by the discipline policy of the Lake County Department of Job and Family Services.
- They must have sufficient room to provide care for foster children without displacing any family member.
Foster Parent licensing begins with a 36-hour Pre-service training which is scheduled 3-4 times per year. The sessions are held evenings or weekends. During this training you will learn about the special issues inherent to children in foster care. We will review issues of abuse, neglect, child development, attachment and separation issues and concerns regarding the effects of providing foster care on your family. The training is followed by a home assessment during which there will be required paperwork and multiple interviews with the Social Worker assigned to your family. During this process, the agency Social Worker will assist applicants to determine the age, gender and number of children appropriate for placement with a family. Documentation of the home assessment process is then submitted to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to issue a license. Once a family is licensed as foster parents, they are required to complete 40 hours of ongoing training every two years. The agency will assist foster parents by providing a per diem stipend for the care of the child. Day care assistance is also available for working foster parents.
Become an Adoptive Parent
Adoptive Parents: Who are they and how can I become one?
Adoptive parents are caring people who have opened their hearts and homes to the children of Lake County who are in need of a permanent home after reunification with their birth families is no longer possible or not in their best interest. Adoption is a legal process which creates a lifelong commitment between parents and children who are not born to them. The Lake County Department of Job and Family Services will conduct adoption only home assessments for residents of Lake County only. Potential adoptive parents must be interested in providING care to “special needs” children.
“Special Needs” are defined by the Ohio Administrative Code as a child who:
- is six years of age or older;
- is in a sibling group who should be placed together;
- is a member of a minority or ethnic group;
- has remained in permanent custody of a public children services agency or private child placing agency for more than one year;
- has a medical condition, physical impairment, mental disability or developmental disability;
- has an emotional disturbance or behavioral problem;
- has a social or medical history/background or the child’s birth family has a social or medical history which may place the child at risk of acquiring a medical condition, a physical, mental or developmental disability or an emotional disorder;
- has been in the home of his/her prospective adoptive parent(s) as a foster child for at least one year and would experience severe separation and loss if placed in another setting due to his/her significant emotional ties with these foster parents as determined and documented by a qualified mental health professional;
- has experienced a previous adoption disruption or multiple placements.
A child needs to only fit one of the criteria listed above to be considered to have “special needs”. Some children may fit into more than one category.
*** If you do not have an interest in adopting a “special needs” child the agency will refer you to another adoption agency for completion of the home assessment process.
Children, especially younger children, in the permanent custody of the Lake County Department of Job and Family Services are often adopted by their foster parents. The goal of the agency is to decrease the number of placements for children therefore potential adoptive applicants are encouraged to also become licensed as foster parents.
Foster Care & Adoption Open House
Lake County Department of Job and Family Services is looking for community members who are willing to step forward and help children who are facing abuse and neglect issues in their young lives. Kids need you…consider becoming a foster parent to help a child through a difficult time in their life or to support them into the next chapter of their life.
We also hold an informational Open House for community members. This is an information session where you can come and receive information about foster care and adoption as well as meet with Social Workers and Foster Parents to answer any questions you might have about the process.
Due to the current pandemic, Lake County has no Community Open Houses scheduled for 2021 but if you have any questions or would like information about foster care and adoption, please contact our Foster Care and Adoption Hotline or email us at the information listed above and we will contact you to talk about the process and provide you with the information you need to begin the foster care and adoption approval process.
Children in Need of Forever Families
If you have a family who is interested in being considered as a permanent placement for any of these children, please contact the Lake County Foster Care and Adoption Hotline at 440-350-4218 or fax 440-350-4010.
Foster Parent Ongoing Training