Resources for Foster Families

Parent Q&A

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  • Seeking Foster Children Benefits/Resources

    (4 replies)


    I will soon be a fost-adopt parent to a 2+ year old.  As I prepare for her to come live with me I am wanting to identify all the benefits/resources that are available to her as a foster child in Alameda County and CA as well as federally.  From asking around (including my assigned worker) there is no central place to identify these resources.  I live in Alameda County.  I understand that my foster daughter will have Medi-Cal and WIC and that I will be receiving a stipend to support her needs through the FFA I work with.  I know that A Home Within is a good resource for psychotherapy.  I just wanted to know if there are any additional resources that I can access on her behalf to support her transition and development.  I will also be looking for resources to support my ability to optimally support her in this transition and beyond.  My FFA has a support group and I am looking into resources through PACT as well.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    I highly recommend this clinic, which is a part of UCSF Children's Hospital Oakland. All of our foster children and our adoptive daughter have been patients in the clinic and we have relied on them understanding the particular psychological and medical issues that tend to come with foster children. We have been under the care of Dr. Diane Halberg. She has a social worker that follows her patients, Elizabeth Jensen, who is equally wonderful. Although you will probably have enough social workers in your life initially, if you are able to adopt, it is nice to have someone that knows the system to offer some continuity. They have a good sense of what resources are out there and what is covered by Medi-cal, they are also always willing to make appropriate referrals and advocate for my family.

    We were Contra County foster parents before we adopted and we have used PACT extensively for support around trans racial parenting. I know this may be hard for some people to hear, but it is important to root for the birth mom as much as you can during the fostering process. We did not get to connect with our child's birth mom who left the scene before we got there, but I always felt like, despite my overwhelming love for our child, that until the adoption was finalized, that the birth mom still had a chance to work her way back to being able to raise her child. I really wanted that for her, as much as I wanted to keep my child.  It is a hard space to hold both realities. From what you wrote, it sounds like you may be treading lightly on assuming you will be the child's forever parent, which, in my perspective, is a good place to be. What outsiders don't realize is that the blessed event for one family, is likely a tragedy for the birth mother. It sounds like you are going to be an amazing parent, and so clearly have a heart full of love! You are already doing such a beautiful job preparing for this little being to be in your daily life!! 

    The couple of resource notes I have for you:

    We tried WIC early on, but what they required in terms of documentation vs. what they actually provided, was not worth it.

    Medi-Cal has been great, although it was hard to find a pediatrician who takes it, but Kiwi Pediatrics in Berkeley does, and they have great doctors! We use Dr. Elizabeth Salsburg.

    We haven't used as many other services as we probably could have via the county or state and we pay for most things out of pocket. With therapy, it was important to us to invest in paying out of pocket for a therapist who could stick around for a long time, vs. therapists at clinics who can rotate out frequently. That can be extra hard on a child with a foster/adoption background since they attach to the therapist who then leaves somewhat suddenly. So if there's anything where you might consider paying out of pocket, I would say therapy is it.  (if you are able to!)

    We asked for an increase in our monthly stipend to pay for private therapy, and they readily gave us more money - not nearly enough to cover what we pay for, but it was an extra few hundred dollars a month which helped.

    Good luck to you and this sweet baby!!

    She will also be eligible to get priority enrollment in Head Start as a foster kiddo.

    Hello,  I adopted my son through fost/adopt.  He joined our family at age 2 and the adoption was finalized at age 6.  Lots of luck, starting your journey!!

    Here are some benefits:

    Head Start & Early Head Start:  Free childcare for working parents for children in foster care (0 to 5 years old).  You may not get the location closest to your home, but you should be moved to the top of the priority list.  

    ECE/CDC:  Free childcare through the school district for ages 3 -5 (must be toilet-trained) for working parents.  Do not be swayed by the income eligibility guidelines.  For this purpose, the child in foster care is considered to be a family of one, with no income.  

    Free lunch/breakfast:  Children in foster care are eligible for free lunch & breakfast through the school district.  They are considered to be a family of one without income on the eligibility application.

    Free diapers:  ages 3-4 and up.  Free diapers through Medi-Cal as long as normal developmental milestones are not being met and doctor is willing to ascertain that the issue is being followed medically.  

    Regional Center:  If child has been documented to have been exposed to substances in utero, you can get enrolled in the Regional Center from 0 to 3 years of age.  This can provide many services currently and down the road.

    Mental Health ACCESS:  there is an 800 number for every county.  You can call this number (probably when she is older) to request many types of mental health services through Medi-Cal.  Over the years, my child has received a neuropsych eval, a comprehensive psych eval, EMDR, therapy, in-home behavior services, and psychiatry services.

    Foster Youth Advisory Committee:  For parents of school-age kids, through the school districts.  Especially right now, foster parents can ask for almost any service to help their child's learning, due to special Covid funding from the state:  technology, 1-on-1 tutor, enrollment in a reading center, in-person help with executive functioning.  Easier to request straight from the committee right now, rather than going through IEP process.  But either will work.

    Childrens Hospital Center for the Vulnerable Child:  medical treatment and family support for children in foster care.

    Foster Family Support:  Join Alameda County Foster Parent Association (or your own county's).  They provide clothing exchange, equipment, diapers, events, resources, training, and of course, support.

  • Hi everyone!

    I'm a single woman who would like to adopt a child via the foster & adopt process. I've done some research (spoken to several parents who took that path, read books, watched, been to orientations) so I'm pretty familiar with the ups & downs of the process. I'm reaching out for advice on:

    1) Choosing an agency: Can someone who fostered & adopted recently share their experience with the various agencies? I see other posts on this topic but they're from 5-10 years ago. I went to an orientation at Family Builders, which I loved because of the transparency and eagerness of the staff. My sense was that they would be pleasant to work with and true advocates for everyone in the process, including me. I also went to an orientation at A Better Way, which I was less impressed with: the person running it didn't really answer questions we asked, and generally seemed harder to work with. But is it really valid to judge an agency based on whoever is giving the orientation? Ultimately what matters most is the agency's ability to work effectively with the county & the social worker's ability to support me & the child & the birth parents in the best way possible, right? I'm also planning to go to an orientation at Alameda County but other parents who recently went there said they ask that we go through an agency if our primary interest is adoption.

    2) Support for single moms: I'd especially love to connect with other single moms who fostered & adopted, or resources for such women.

    Thanks so much!

    Hi, I don’t know about the foster care to adoption system, but I can make a couple of suggestions about choosing to be a mom as a single woman. Check out the national Single Mother’s by Choice (SMC) organization:

    when my daughter was young there were local SMC groups that met which were not aligned with national SMC; you might google around and see if those still exist.  Meeting face to face was wonderful. The national organization has discussion areas where you might find other Mom’s who took (or are taking) the same route you did, and would help with questions and support.  Best of luck to you.  

    Hi - I’d like to connect with you. I am a 45 year old single mom to a baby recently placed with me through foster-adopt in San Francisco, which uses Family Builders. I’ve been interested in connecting with other single foster to adopt moms but after 3 years of slow roll to certification (1.5 years and a hole renovation later) and placement (1.5 years) it’s been a whirlwind winter. I don’t really know how this network works. :-) But If you can connect with me directly I am happy to share my experience so far.

    For the group, there are some process details that I won’t share in an open forum to protect the identify of my foster kiddo. Mara

    Our younger son is through fost-adopt in Oakland and we are familiar with two agencies. I am happy to talk to you about a couple of considerations about agencies and our experiences with placements, what questions to ask, etc. Stuff I wish I knew at the outset. Good luck!

    I replied directly, but just for the benefit of the larger community....

    I'm a single mom of a 1.5 year old who I adopted through Family Builders. I had a fantastic experience with them and we actually have a single parents group that formed out of a Family Builders training. As an agency I've seen them have some pretty high staff turnover but I've found their staff to be helpful and direct. It's a wild ride and good to be realistic about timelines and complexities. Having a support system (both through agency staff and social) is really important. I spent almost a year exploring for myself what felt like the right path to parenting and Family Builders was hands down the most real, diverse and transparent (i.e. trustworthy) agency I encountered. I'm happy to talk more with anyone exploring this path. It's been hard and wonderful for me. And of course, it led me to my daughter.