Recruiting and licensing new foster parents is an ongoing mission for the Missouri Children’s Division. While many couples and individuals have considered becoming foster parents, they often lack the information needed to pursue their interest. The licensing and education may take time, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
In order to fulfill licensing requirements set by the state, foster parent candidates must participate in STARS training (Specialized Training Assessment Resources and Support). This training consists of 27 hours of classes which are taught in each individual county (Newton and McDonald county share) in an effort to give participants the information they need for their local court system, or circuit. Since these classes are taught weekly, it takes several months to complete the process. During the training period, participants must also complete a homestudy, provide references and medical records, undergo criminal background checks, and have their homes agency-approved.
Says Karla Hurrell, a STARS trainer in Jasper County, “While the process isn’t difficult, it is somewhat intrusive. These children have been through enough abuse and/or neglect. The state and court need to have enough accurate information to ensure the safety of children in foster homes.”
Once approval has been given for foster parenting, families may then take classes for the opportunity to be licensed as an adoptive home. In addition, there are also continuing education classes available for foster and adoptive families throughout the area. STARS training sessions also provide foster families an opportunity to meet and network with other foster families who are eager to offer ongoing assistance when needed.
New classes are currently being formed for 2011, so it is not too late to contact your local foster care licensing coordinator.
In Jasper County, contact Sarah Dunn, (417)629-3065.
In Newton/McDonald Counties, contact Regina Huffman, (417)455-5100