All children need a safe and caring home with a loving caregiver to grow and thrive. For children suffering from neglect and abuse, a foster home is a bridge to love and security at a time when they need it most. At CCS, our mission is to provide a caring family for every child we serve. To do that we need families like yours who are willing to open their hearts and homes to a child who desperately needs it.
CCS is an innovative foster care service provider who can license your home for any type of foster care offered in Washington State including: community based, pediatric interim care, international and therapeutic. There is an urgent need for foster homes in your neighborhood right now and we want to partner with you as your child placing agency to be a part of a child’s healing journey.
When you make the decision to provide foster care through CCS, we know that it’s a joint commitment and our responsive and dedicated staff will provide you with all the tools and support you need 24/7 to be successful. Join us in our mission by sharing your love and home with a child in need!
Join us at 2 pm on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month for a virtual introduction to Catholic Community Services Foster Care programs. This meeting includes a foster parent orientation, a chance to meet the CCS foster care team, and a Q&A to help guide you on your foster care journey. Register HERE!
Check out more stories from staff and parents!
This Is Why We Foster
Our family has been fostering for almost three years now. We have had around 30 kids in our home, some of them in sibling groups. It has been a fun, tiring, challenging, and rewarding journey. We look back at each child with great fondness. We love and miss even the most challenging ones. We have been lucky enough to keep in touch with some of the kids we have had in our home. We have found it so much easier if we establish a relationship with their parents. It puts their parents at ease when they understand our goal is reunification and this relationship makes it easier on the kids.
We once had a child who really pulled on our heart strings. She was a fifteen year old girl who grew up with her parents who suffered from substance abuse. She was responsible for taking care of her much younger sibling who had special needs. She felt alone and isolated, which lead her to make the difficult decision to report her parents to CPS. She struggled with the guilt of reporting her parents, however she felt that she had to do it for her sister and herself. This is when she came to us.
Foster care gave her and her parents a chance to heal. Now she is a straight A student and dreams of college and what her future holds. Her plan is to keep straight A’s and to do running start and graduate with an associate’s degree.
Her resiliency and determination have inspired us so much. To see this young woman face what she has been dealt in her short life and having the strength, determination, and desire to make a better life for herself by reporting her parents just does something to our hearts I cannot explain. We are so proud of her and so glad we were given the chance to be a part of her life and help to change her story.
While she was placed with us we were in good communication with her parents as they started their road to recovery. We let them know that we wanted to support them and their reunification. We established a good and lasting relationship that lead to them asking us to be an emergency contact for their daughter when she returned home. We are so thankful that we get to be a part of her life forever and cannot wait to see what is in store for her future.
Caring for Medically Fragile Foster Care Children
The medical condition wasn’t expected, they rarely are. She didn’t expect her child to need around the clock care. And then when her husband left because the stress was too great to bear, she was the only one caring for their child. Her support system dwindled because she could barely manage her own life, let alone keeping up with anything else. She couldn’t hold down a job because she had to care for her daughter 24 hours a day. Soon she couldn’t pay rent and found herself homeless, living out of her car and wondering how her child was going to survive, how she was going to survive.
Thankfully she found Catholic Community Services.
Not all children come into care because of abuse. In some situations, when a child is born medically fragile, circumstances arise where a parent can no longer take care of their child and they have to be placed in foster care.
“Medically fragile” is defined as a chronic physical condition which results in a prolonged dependency on medical care for which daily skilled intervention is medically necessary. These children require specialized care and caretakers who understand and can handle providing that care.
Does this stir something in your heart? Although some foster parents who open their home to medically involved children may have professional training in the medical field, all do not, when they begin this journey. Some families may do this because they know that this population is more vulnerable than others or because they have experienced a family member or friend who needed this extra level of care.
There is a special compassion needed to care for a medically fragile child. If you are feeling this stir in your heart to pursue foster care for this vulnerable population, start by asking us your questions. Catholic Community Services has experienced case management support to help families navigate caring for a child with complicated medical needs. Please reach out and call today. Discover where you fit into the foster care story. Together, let’s change the future for these children.
Answering the Call
It’s July 2019 and my husband and I are anxiously awaiting news of our approved foster care license. Sometimes we look up at each other in disbelief at how we arrived to this moment. It’s been an unexpected journey and one that we know is just barely beginning. We feel humbled, nervous, excited, and grateful.
Deciding to Become a Foster Parent
I heard recently that a “calling” is simply a thought that won’t leave you alone. For me, becoming a foster parent started with the single thought, “I wonder what it would be like to be a foster mom.” One day this was weighing on my mind, and I ran into a foster mom at the park. I did not know anything about fostering or the people who did it, and talking to her opened my eyes to an amazing work going on right in my own community.
I called my husband that day and told him about the tugging I was feeling in my heart. We already have three biological children of our own and didn’t know what the next chapter was for us. We both decided to keep an open mind. A month later we timidly took the first step, enrolling in the foster parent orientation course. I will never forget the feeling we had as we walked to the parking lot after the course was over. “It’s strange,” my husband said. “I wasn’t sure what to think going into this, but I just feel really good about moving forward.” I felt the same.
A month later we enrolled in the Caregiver Core Training (CCT) course. Still feeling cautious, we figured that the information we learned in the course would help us make a decision either way. At best, it was completing one of the biggest requirements of becoming licensed. At worst, it was a great way to obtain additional skills for working with our own or others’ children.
Once we had completed the course, our decision was made. We saw the need in our community, we felt that we had the capacity to help, and we felt that God was in the work of fostering and would guide us along the way.
Choosing Catholic Community Services
One of the benefits of taking the CCT course before selecting an agency was that we met a lot of people already in the licensing process and were able to ask questions about others’ experiences. The nonprofit organization, Fostering Together, helped us identify the licensing agencies in our county and gave us contact information. I called a few agencies and asked some questions. Some agencies have their own licensing course and do not accept the CCT course, so that eliminated one or two possible agencies for us. In the end, we selected Catholic Community Services (CCS) because we love the strong support they provide to their families. CCS has created Mockingbird Family, which sets up groups of families in geographic locations who act as an extended support network and community for one another. We really liked the idea of connecting with other families who are also in this journey, and learning from and supporting one another in this work.
Completing the Licensing Process
Obtaining our license has been a smooth process overall and far less stressful and less work than I first imagined. By the time we decided to work with CCS, we had already completed our First Aid/CPR course and completed the CCT course, which took care of the most time intensive pieces of the application. At our first home visit, we got to know our licensor and submitted our paperwork, including background check forms. At our second home visit, our licensor interviewed me and my husband, and, very briefly, our 8 and 6 year old. At our third home visit, she walked through our home and made sure we met all the requirements on the home checklist such as having locked medicine, working smoke detectors, and extra beds. Our CCS licensor has been incredibly responsive, helpful, and patient throughout the whole experience and let us determine the pace.
My husband and I are regular people. We have three kids, two jobs, a house to take care of and many other family and community commitments. Sometimes life feels full to the brim already and I think to myself I don’t know how I can add one more thing. But when my heart and mind are still, I can feel that tug at my heart. That tug helps me remember and know this is where we are supposed to be. CCS has been instrumental in walking with us as we start our journey, and I know they will be with us as we step fully into what feels like the potentially life-changing unknown.
If We Can Do It, You Can Too!
“I’m not sure we can do this,” I confess to our foster care program manager over the phone. We have been licensed for all of three days, and I’m already second-guessing our family’s ability to be everything a child needs when we receive our first placement.
Even though our hearts, minds, and rooms are prepared, it has been a particularly hectic week caring for our two school-age children, working full-time, and juggling the demands of my husband’s active duty military career. I feel simultaneously overwhelmed by our to-do list and guilty about bringing another child into our less-than-ideal lifestyle.
The director assures me a little bit of panic is completely normal. I would guess it’s something like gathering up the courage to climb up to the highest diving board and then looking down at the final moment to realize just how deep and far away the water is.
As I hang up the phone and set off to tackle the day’s agenda, the weight of the words she leaves me with settle into my stomach: It’s important to do what’s best for your family. I frown as I realize what’s best is often not ideal.
The same afternoon, we receive the call we’ve been waiting for: “There’s a newborn that needs placement. It’s okay to say no, but I want it to be your choice.”
“We can take them!” I respond without hesitation, surprising myself.
Knowing next to nothing about the case, I pick up a baby boy from the hospital the following morning. He is tiny, hungry, and beautiful beyond belief. As I look into his face for the first time, the trauma and loss he is going through is not lost on me. It occurs to me that ideal is not an option for this child, and I release a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. What he needs most is love, care, and safety – and a wave of relief washes over me as I realize our family can certainly give him these necessities.
In the first week, every need we have is filled, plus some. We pick up onesies, swaddle blankets, and even a few cans of formula from a local clothing bank; friends drop off diapers and bring baby equipment for us to borrow, and colleagues round up a meal train for our family. A few items on our to-do list are left unchecked, but we survive.
We are exhausted yet rejuvenated and inspired by the community of support that has rallied around us overnight. When we offer up our meager fish and loaves, they truly are multiplied in beautiful, mysterious ways.
It turns out, not only can we do this, but we can do it with gratitude and joy – how thankful we are to have this baby boy in our life!
And if we can do this, I assure you – you can, too.
Be a Light
I have been aware of foster care since I was young. My parents were foster parents and my husband’s father was a social worker. My four younger siblings are all adopted, so we understood and were not afraid to begin our foster care journey.
We wanted to bless and love our city, and went into foster care with eyes and hearts wide open. We have a family value of being all-in together and helping our community so foster care was an easy decision.
Making the Sacrifice
When your life revolves around other people and keeping them safe, there is sacrifice. It is worth it! While we may not get all the vacations we want, doing foster care has a deeper and longer lasting meaning than those fleeting things.
I won’t say it hasn’t impacted our lives or our children’s lives. There have been times it has been hard for our biological children. We cared for two preschool brothers for almost two years. They went to a pre-adoptive home and my children still miss them.
Providing a Safe Home
We talk a lot with our children about how this is what our family does. We tell our kids that children need safe families and we can be that safe family. As they’ve gotten older they’ve realized not every family is a foster family. Learning to share is hard, and they don’t necessarily like that, but children need to learn that they are part of the bigger community and sharing is part of what makes our community healthy. As parents, we make sure they are safe and build intentional time with each of them. I’ve been asked why we didn’t wait until our children were older but there are children without homes right now. They don’t need a perfect home, just a safe home. A safe home with loving people inside of it.
The Lifelong Impact
Each child has impacted us differently. Personally I had a lot of pride going into foster care, and felt I was such a good person and so patient. Our second placement was a two year old who stayed with us until he was four and he was pretty challenging. He helped show me what I still need to work on myself. There is a term, sanctification, which means the act of becoming holy. Most of our placements have helped us work on our personal sanctification and shown how we need grace and growth just as much as they do.
Supporting the Birth Family
Working with the child’s family is important too. I’ve been humbled as I learn about the parents of the kids we have opened our home to and now understand that I’ve been blessed to have support that many parents have never experienced. I grew up with siblings who were adopted by my family and I have seen firsthand that kids need to hear and see their birth family respected. A child’s birth family is so interwoven with who they are and when their family is respected it builds their own feelings of worth and value. We always strive to be respectful to birth family and reunification is our goal. We want the parents to feel supported and not feel as if we are trying to steal their children. Every small effort helps. Even if they just feel welcome to call at any time it could mean the difference between them being successful or not.
You Can Become a Foster Parent
If you want your life to have meaning and not just live for yourself then open your eyes to the world around you. You will see the world isn’t that great, and there are people suffering in our communities. It can open our eyes and show that in the end we are no better. We can’t blindly walk through life and we can’t shut our minds off to the needs around us. Even the hardest children are precious and valuable, and we will keep making every effort to show every child we can that they are loved and wanted.
We are all given a chance to step into their darkness and be a light.
Caring for Foster Children During a Pandemic
The pandemic may still be happening, but life goes on.
After five long years, one of our foster families was able to adopt their foster child. This was a long road filled with hardship and stress. So we felt it was worth a celebration!
During the summer of 2020 a few staff from CCS were able to take a small part in the celebration of this child’s adoption. It was a treat to see him surrounded by so many people who love and support him. It has been an absolute joy to get to watch him grow over these past five years. Over this five-year journey, our foster family has shown us why we do this work. We have often felt inspired by them and their determination to provide for this child and all of their children with every opportunity to be happy and successful.
This story highlights the amazing qualities of our foster families. Our foster families are just people like you from many different communities and backgrounds, but they have seen the need and chosen to act. They decided to do something about these vulnerable children who need a safe, stable home. They come forth and chose to do this work knowing what it will entail. There will be frustrations and heartache, but there will also be love.
If you are nervous or hesitant that is okay! We understand this is a big step, but this is where Catholic Community Services comes in. Our staff are here to help make your entire foster care journey easier.
The mission of CCS comes out of, and is rooted in, Catholic Social Teaching that goes back 2,000 years. CCS is committed to serving those individuals, children, families and communities struggling with poverty. We believe every child should grow up in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment, and in a healthy family life and we are committed to helping children and families succeed. CCS is an innovative foster care provider who can license your home for any type of foster care offered in Washington State including; community based, medically fragile infants, international and therapeutic.
Hope in a World of Uncertainty
Right now in our world there is a lot of uncertainty. But here at Catholic Community Services we are still moving forward in our mission of helping vulnerable children. There are still children needing homes and therefore we are still licensing homes. The process involves paperwork, background checks, trainings, and home visits. All of which is now done virtually because while we do want to license more foster homes, we also want to keep everyone safe. The most important step however is to make that first call. Call CCS and find out how you can get started helping foster children in your community today.
As of last year there were over 8,000 children in out-of-home care. That is a large number, but many of that number come from your very own community. Could you help one? Could you help one infant? One first grader? Or possibly two brothers? That is the reality. That these children from infant up until age eighteen are from your very own community and need your help.
Our staff at Catholic Community Services are here for whatever your family might need. We are here to teach and guide and help your family start their foster care journey. The mission of CCS comes out of, and is rooted in, Catholic Social Teaching that goes back 2,000 years. CCS is committed to serving those individuals, children, families and communities struggling with poverty. We believe every child should grow up in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment, and in a healthy family life and we are committed to helping children and families succeed. CCS is an innovative foster care provider who can license your home for any type of foster care offered in Washington State including; community based, medically fragile infants, international and therapeutic.
How the Foster Care Process Works
The words foster care often evokes a variety of thoughts, concerns and questions, such as:
- Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that, “I don’t have what it takes.” Fear of stepping out of your comfort zone.
- Questions. Questions about how to get started. Questions about the level of support you will receive. Questions about how it will affect your life.
- Hope. Hope that YOU can make a difference. Hope that a child will have an opportunity to heal and continue on with their childhood while their family works to stabilize.
What thoughts, concerns and questions do the words “Foster Care” create for you?
Foster care can seem so big and vast when you hear of the many children in need. It can make you feel overwhelmed and unsure of how you can make a difference. That is why Catholic Community Services is here. Our staff is ready and waiting to answer your questions, help you and your family navigate the process of becoming a licensed foster family and support you through your foster care journey.
Here are some of our most common questions and concerns.
Why do children enter foster care and for how long?
There are many different reasons a child comes into care, but no matter the reason every child still deserves a safe, loving, and stable home for the duration they are in foster care. The average length of stay in a foster home is 15 to 18 months.
How do I begin the process? How long does the licensing process take?
Before you are licensed we provide free trainings to help expand your knowledge. This training is called Caregiver Core Training. You will learn about the foster care system and learn more about children’s needs when they enter foster care. Some agencies require that families pay for the licensing and adoptive process. Our agency offers all of this at no charge. At CCS our average time to license a home is 90 days, but like most things, sometimes there are things we cannot control and the process may take a bit longer.
Are there different types of foster care?
In Washington there are three different types of foster care, and at CCS we license for all three.
- Receiving Care. Receiving care homes support a child when they first enter care. Children stay in their receiving care home for a maximum of 30 to 60 days while reconciliation or family is sought.
- Long-term Care. In long-term care children could be in your home anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years as their family stabilizes and participates in services.
- Respite Care. Respite care is a licensed home that provides breaks for long-term families, so if a long-term family has an emergency or goes on vacation the respite home will watch the child for them.
We want you to succeed! Our staff is here and ready. Our job is to provide one on one support to your family as you are getting licensed. After you are licensed you will continue to receive ongoing 24/7 support. Call us today at 253-502-2745 or visit us online.
If you feel the tug in your heart to investigate becoming a foster home, simply start by asking your questions. We will help you discover where you fit into the foster care story.