Fostering FAQ

What does the word "Koinonia" mean?
"Koinonia" (Koy-no-nee'-ah) is a Greek word that means to communicate relationship and fellowship. It means that our staff and resource parents relate to placed children and transitional youth (nonminor dependents) from a position of trustworthiness, dependability and a deep moral commitment to nurture every aspect of their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

What is a "resource parent?"
A resource parent is a person who wants to foster, adopt or provide certified respite care.

How long does the Koinonia foster parent certification process take?
The length of the certification process really depends on you. If you are conscientious about attending trainings and completing paperwork, you could be certified for foster care in as little as 12 weeks.

What types of placements are available through Koinonia?
Foster Care: individuals and families who want to provide foster care only; have a foster care approved home study on file; be placed on the county open-bed list (if applicable) to take only foster care placements; support the reunification process and/or independent living program (older teens).
Nonminor Dependent (extended foster care)
A Nonminor Dependent (NMD) is:
  • 18 or 19, meets the requirements of Welfare and Institutions Code section 11403, and continues to be provided with care and supervision by a resource parent, or
  • 18-22 as specified in the definition for "child with special health care need" and continues to be provided with care and supervision by a resource parent.
Concurrent: individuals and families who support county reunification efforts and are open to adoption should the placement become adoption available; have an adoption approved home study on file and are placed on the county open-bed list (if applicable) to take foster care placements; if reunification fails, they are open to adopting the placed child; also, are open to taking adoption-ready placements.

Matching: individuals and families who want to adopt and have an adoption approved home study on file; adoption placements occur through "matching efforts" made through a collaborative effort of Koinonia's regional matching coordinators, adoption social workers and district administrators; not placed on the county open-bed list.

Certified Respite Care: individuals and families willing to become certified to provide respite/emergency care.

Am I obligated to continue in the certification process once I submit an application for foster care?
Submission of an application for foster care does not commit you to the certification process. On the other hand, application submission does not guarantee you will be certified for foster care. Certification approval or denial is based on the suitability of the family for placements whom Koinonia Family Services has responsibility.

Can I work full-time and be a foster parent?
Yes, although caring for placed children does not always work well if both partners work full-time and the placed child spends most of his/her free time in alternative care. Resource parents must provide care and supervision as necessary to meet the needs of the children. For further information regarding supervision, please review the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard with your Koinonia representative. Please speak with your Koinonia representative regarding NMD requirements.

Will I receive financial assistance for being a Koinonia foster parent?
Yes, you are reimbursed an amount each month which sufficiently covers the expenses incurred to care for the placed child. All placed children and NMDs are eligible for Medi-Cal insurance, which will generally cover their medical and dental care and specialized counseling, if needed. Foster parents are not employees of Koinonia; according to tax laws they are considered a "volunteer." For additional information, please review Koinonia's Care Rates Budget form.

Can I be single and become a Koinonia foster parent; is there a minimum age requirement?
Yes, you may be single although you need to have a certified respite care provider or other approved supervision. Foster parents must be at least 21, and certified respite care providers must be least 18 years of age.

How long can the children and NMDs stay in my home?
The length of stay will vary depending on the individual circumstances. It can vary from less than one week to several years.

How will fostering or adopting affect my birth children?
Koinonia will assist you in determining which placements best fit your family dynamics. For most families it is usually a rewarding experience. Comments from other resource parents have included that their birth children learned to appreciate the life and family that they have as they discovered there are many children who do not have a healthy family life. Your Koinonia social worker will help you navigate any challenges you may encounter.

Do I have a choice of the type and ages of placements referred to me; will I meet the children or NMD prior to placement?
You can always request a certain age group and gender; however, the more narrow the selection, the longer your wait may be for a placement. At times we can arrange for a "pre-placement interview" for a child or NMD to come to your home for a few hours, or even overnight, as part of a "pre-placement visit." This is ideal as it allows you and the child/NMD a chance to get to know each other. However, it is far more frequent that the referring county worker is working with time constraints. Therefore, we will give you all the information we can get from the county worker about the placement initially and as it is received. You may need to make a decision about taking in a placement based solely on information we provide you over the phone.

What if there is a child/NMD placed in my home with certain issues or disabilities that I am not able to handle, or I don't think the child/NMD is compatible with my family?
Your preferences on age, gender, number of placements and other issues will be discussed at length with your Koinonia social worker during the home study process. Once you are certified, your assigned social worker will work with you to match a placement to your family dynamics. If a child/NMD is not compatible with your family, we ask you to thoroughly discuss your situation with your Koinonia social worker and if nothing changes, we ask the foster parent to give a 7-day notice in order for your social worker to find another home. For placements from San Diego County, a 10-day notice is required.

How many placed children can I have, can my birth child share a room with a placement, and do I need to own my home?
The number of placements you can have depends on bed space and family dynamics. Typically, Koinonia places no more than two placements per home. This number may increase depending on the parent's experience, and their ability to meet the need for sibling and transitional youth placements. You cannot have more than six children, including birth children, unless approved by Community Care Licensing. A placed child can share a room with your birth children as long as each child has their own bed. Normally, there are to be only two children in each bedroom and they must be the same sex to share a room, unless they are under the age of five. Please speak with your Koinonia representative regarding specific bedroom exceptions or NMD requirements. You do not have to own your home; however, if you are renting, it is highly recommended that you get the landlord's approval and obtain renter's insurance. Homeowner's or renter's insurance is required in Orange County.

Can I take my placements on vacation with me?
In most cases, you can take placed children on vacations with you. Generally, overnight stays require approval from your Koinonia social worker and out-of-county stays may require the county social worker's approval. Out-of-state stays might need court approval. Please speak with your Koinonia representative regarding NMD shared living agreements, if applicable.

How does Koinonia receive its placements, and what types of needs do they have?
The majority of the placements we work with are referred to Koinonia by county social services, child protective services, adoption services, probation departments and regional centers. The needs could include behavioral and emotional challenges or special medical needs. Some children are orphans whose only need is to find an adoptive family. Placements from juvenile probation have been arrested, but are not "hard-core" criminals and will benefit from a caring home environment. NMDs need support transitioning to adulthood.

Once certified, is there any ongoing training or support available?
Yes, each Koinonia district office offers ongoing training. There is a minimum of 12 hours of parent training required annually to retain certification. A minimum of 15 hours is required if you take placements from Los Angeles or Orange counties.

What costs and steps do I have to take to become a certified foster parent with Koinonia?
Costs that a foster parent may incur are located at the end of these FAQs. The following list includes an overview of the steps:
  • Complete phone screening
  • Complete application (provide five character references)
  • Complete Out-of-State Disclosure & Criminal Record Statement
  • Submit fingerprints for DOJ/FBI
  • Open your home to an informal home safety review
  • Attend required trainings
  • Complete SAFE Questionnaire I & Meeting the Expectations
  • Obtain general medical examination(s) & TB clearances(s)
  • Obtain DMV printout(s)
  • Complete/provide various documents
  • Complete home study (free of charge) which is comprised of interviews with assigned social worker
Adult residents living in your home or on your property and certified respite care providers must also complete specific requirements. Alternative caregivers, who care for placed children 24-72 hours in the resource home on an occasional basis, are required to submit fingerprints.

What costs are incurred for foster care and respite care certification and adoption approval, if applicable?
TB Screening* & Medical Examination(s): personal health insurance may assist in cost.

Household items required by Community Care Licensing/Koinonia: such as first aid kit, fire extinguisher, locks for cabinets, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors (Central CA only), pool fencing/covering, additional furnishings, etc. (to be discussed with your Koinonia representative at the initial home safety review visit).

The fees listed below are for each person: Fees:
  • DMV printout(s)
  • Foster Care Live Scan** (fingerprinting) - DOJ/FBI/Child Abuse Central Index Clearance
Trainings to be completed by each foster care and foster to adopt applicant:
  • Orientation Training: This training will orient you with the history of Koinonia and its programs. You will gain an understanding of the heart of Koinonia. In addition to an overview of the certification/approval process, requirements and roadmap of choices, you will be provided an introduction to the home study process. The Koinonia staff will be there to help you walk this journey.
No fee
  • Pre-Certification Training: These training modules will focus on California's regulatory requirements, overview of the home study, foster care and adoption process, child development and behaviors, attachment and bonding, crisis intervention, financial benefits, and the child's journey from detention to reunification or adoption. You will hear many stories and experiences that you will be able to relate to when dealing with placed children and their issues, including important principles useful in parenting. To become certified, each applicant must complete 16 to 24 hours (dependent upon county requirements) of pre-certification training provided by Koinonia. Training materials will be provided. Your district office training information flyer will give you the specific details for completing your hours. Information regarding meals/snacks will also be provided on the training flyer.
No fee
  • CPR/First Aid Training: This blended course consists of 5 hours of total training--3 hours online and 2 hours hands-on. The fee is applied toward your online training, materials and instruction at the hands-on training. Upon completion of the training, you will be certified in infant, child and adult CPR/first aid.
  • Nonminor Dependent (NMD) Training, if applicable: This training is currently under development. For details, please speak with your Koinonia representative.
Additional Live Scan*** (fingerprinting) to be completed by each foster to adopt applicant:
  • Adoption Live Scan - DOJ/FBI (includes the Child Abuse Central Index Clearance)
    Please note: If there is a FBI criminal record, a second adoption Live Scan will be required. Your Koinonia representative will notify you if this becomes applicable.

* Required for adult residents living in the home and on the property of applicants.
** Required for adult residents living in the home, certified respite care providers and alternative caregivers.
*** In some cases, this live scan may be requested for adult residents living on the property of applicants going through the adoption approval process.

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FFA License: 310305193     Adoption License: 317003143