Getting a placement
Now that you are ready to care for a child in your home, what happens next?
We understand that you became a licensed foster family because you want to foster a child that very much needs your care and the safety and stability of your home. The match process is a critical step to ensure you'll be successful!
Both Iowa KidsNet and the Department of Human Services (DHS) staff have a role to play in making the best placement match possible for each child. Here's the way it works:
When DHS or Juvenile Court Services determines that child needs to be placed into family foster care, they make a referral to the Iowa KidsNet matching department, located in Cedar Rapids. These staff (match specialists) take referrals and work with families in every Iowa county.
"Matching" refers to the process where Iowa KidsNet locates foster families who would be the best possible "match" for the child in need of foster care. At referral, Iowa KidsNet uses the referral form to ask DHS questions about the referred child and enters this data into a database. Iowa KidsNet uses this database, and also communicates with our local staff, to match your strengths to a child's needs with the goal of creating a stable placement for the child while he or she is away from his or her birth parents. When you are licensed, we put your family's information into our database so we can "match" you to a child who needs foster care. Our matching staff will review the age range and gender of child you're willing to foster, the location of your home relative to the child's birth home and your ability to accommodate a child's special needs or behaviors.
If you're a "match" for a child, we'll contact you by phone. We'll give you all the information we received about the child so you can make a decision regarding whether you would like to be a foster parent for the child. You can accept or decline the placement. If you're not available, we'll leave a message and ask you to contact us back as soon as possible.
Once you agree to care for a child, Iowa KidsNet will notify DHS that you are a potential match. It's important to understand that DHS makes all final placement decisions. DHS will determine whether or not the child will be placed in your home and will follow up to make the arrangements. We'll follow up with you to let you know if you are not selected as the child's foster home. If you cannot accept a placement, that's okay! We keep calling other families until we find an appropriate match, and we'll call you the next time a child's needs "match" your strengths and skills.
- Once DHS notifies Iowa KidsNet that a child is placed into your home, your Iowa KidsNet support specialist will check in with you within three days to see how things are going. You can call this person any time you need assistance.
That's just a quick summary of the matching process! To learn more, we encourage you to read the Quick Reference Guide for new families.
Still have questions? Please contact your support specialist. He or she would be a great person to answer any questions you may have.