The Path to Resource Parent Licensure

Hello and welcome back! Let’s pick up where we left off – what are the next steps when you decide to pursue resource parent licensure? Let me tell you how it goes and what that experience was like for me, working with LSI to obtain my license. LSI Foster Care and Adoption recruits, licenses, and supports families in 30 western Iowa counties, and Four Oaks covers the remaining counties of Iowa.

1. Attend information session – First up was the information session, or family orientation. I actually attended two of these about a year apart from one another. (That’s a story for another day, but shows how long I’ve had this journey on my heart). My first information session was in-person in my community, and my second information session was via Zoom due to COVID. This session is mandatory in the process. These sessions are listed on the LSI Foster Care and Adoption training calendar. During this session, you can expect to learn about what children who are entering foster care have experienced, what your role as a resource parent will look like, and the process to get licensed, and you have the opportunity to ask questions. This was the day that everything started to feel more real.

2. Paperwork – Next up, paperwork on paperwork. No, it’s not really too bad, but you certainly will fill out your fair share of paperwork during this process (and rightfully so – a lot of self-reflection is done, as well as making sure the potential resource parents are safe and able to care for these kiddos). You will fill out the initial application and get fingerprinted so the LSI staff can check records. I went to my local police station and got fingerprinted. It’s quite easy and they were very friendly! Then, you submit your paperwork and send in your fingerprints, and wait to be approved.

3. TIPS-MAPP – Once you get the all clear, you’re ready to register for a TIPS-MAPP course! TIPS-MAPP stands for Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting. TIPS-MAPP is a 10-week, in-person class. Each class is three hours long, so you end up putting 30 hours into the class alone, plus additional trainings and homework. LSI works to place these TIPS-MAPP classes in centralized areas for the participants. As we know, rural Iowa is pretty spread out, so most have to travel. My TIPS-MAPP class was in Emmetsburg, which was about a 20 to 25-minute drive for me. Totally doable. I completely lucked out with my TIPS-MAPP instructors. Now, I have no doubt LSI seeks the best instructors for every class, but I felt like I hit the jackpot. Both of the instructors were foster parents themselves, so they were able to teach the specific curriculum while also sharing real life experiences. Each week, homework (or “roadwork,” as they call it) was assigned. Much of what was assigned for homework was a lot of self-reflection activities to help us decide first if foster care/adoption is right for us and our families, but then also to narrow down what we feel most comfortable with in regards to age, gender, etc. There was also lots of trauma-informed information weaved throughout the course, which, as a therapist, I was a huge fan of. My class started with about 12 prospective resource parents/couples. Throughout the 10 weeks, sometimes prospective resource parents would not return and decided now was not the best time for their family for this journey, and I so respect that. One of the main takeaways from the TIPS-MAPP course is how important it is to know your family. I could go on and on about what was all discussed and learned during this class, but know that some weeks feel difficult on your heart, and some weeks feel so reassuring. I valued those 10 weeks so much.

4. Trainings – During the 10 weeks of TIPS-MAPP, you are required to complete several other additional trainings. Some of these are done virtually on your own, and some will need to be scheduled outside of class time. Reasonable and Prudent Parenting, Universal Precautions, Mandatory Reporting, and Medication Management are all offered virtually. CPR/First Aid is a training that needs to be done in person. LSI helps coordinate this class for you.

5. Profiles – The profiles also are a part of the TIPS-MAPP 10 weeks that you complete on your own. These are a tool to provide a detailed written description of yourself, in your own words. They are structured to help you focus on specific areas important to your fostering and/or adoption decision. Your licensing specialist (we’ll get to that soon!) will also use this to assess your strengths and needs.

6. Home Study – You first meet your licensing worker around three or four weeks into the TIPS-MAPP class. They estimate the home study process lasts about 100 days. I had a wonderful licensing worker who made me feel so at ease. This was probably one of the areas I felt most anxious about, as I really didn’t know what to expect. It was much more relaxed than I imagined! Your licensing worker will come to your home three times – once around three or four weeks into TIPS-MAPP, once around six or seven weeks in, and once shortly after TIPS-MAPP classes are finished. You will be given a list of all things they will be looking for – outlet covers, fire extinguisher, smoke/CO2 alarms, etc. They will also get to know you and understand your strengths and needs. They will review the references you submit (four are required right off the bat, with one being family). Then, they compile all information they’ve collected, and type up the official report. This is the report that gets sent to DHS to approval.

Then you wait! DHS takes about 30 days to approve or deny your application. In my opinion, it felt like a long 30 days. After all of the classes, training, paperwork, homework, and home visits, I was beyond ready. I felt like I was as prepared as I could be to tackle my journey of becoming a foster parent. Then, a few days before July hit, I got my license in the mail. I was a licensed foster parent as of July 1. I had my orientation (this time) on Feb. 9, so my process from start to finish was just about five months long. It’s a time commitment full of self-reflection and education, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s just getting started. July 1 started a brand-new chapter, and it’s already off to a great start. Stay tuned.

By Anne Peters, LMFT

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