How to Become a Foster Family

How to Become a Foster Family

What happened?

Today in Armenia, there are 3,500 children in various institutions of care outside the family. The Republic of Armenia is adopting a foster care system so that the children have an opportunity to be raised in families.

If a child doesn’t have a family or cannot live with his or her biological family, coming to help are foster families, the establishment of which the state encourages.

The foster care concept has already been accepted. Until 2018, 80 children from orphanages and boarding institutions will be relocated to foster families.

This way, the state will also save money, since each child in an orphanage is allocated US$3,800 annually, whereas in the case of foster families, this amount is US$2,800. With the adopting of the foster care system, in five years, the state will save up to US$1 million. And children will have the opportunity and the right to live with families.

What is foster care?

Foster care is providing a child who’s had a difficult living situation with care and upbringing in another family. 

A foster family assumes the child’s care and upbringing for a specific period, until the child is reunited with his or her biological family or the child turns 18, or until the child’s recognized but missing parent appears and assumes care of the child.

Now being clarified is the foster parent–foster child relationship, and the types and length of foster care are being defined. The review of foster parent candidates has begun.

What types of foster care are there?

Foster families, according to nature and timeline, can be

  • general
  • specialized
  • critical
  • holiday

According to timeline, short-term and long-term.

Is the foster family remunerated?

The monthly payment is 130–140 thousand AMD (about US$270–290), taking into consideration the child’s age, health, and so on.

The amount must serve to pay for the child’s living expenses, personal hygiene products, everyday items, clothing, any medication, and other purposes.

Also calculated for the foster parent is accrued employment service [which counts toward future pension amounts allotted].

If the child has health issues, which cannot be covered with the allotted amount, the state will cover also those expenses. 

The foster family and the child living there will be constantly reviewed by a social worker. The visit to check the child’s comfort can be at any time of day and without advance notice. Everything will be taken into account: the child’s weight, diet, hygiene, clothing, and behavior.

The money provided for care under no circumstances should be the family’s only source of income.

Who can be a foster parent?

Republic of Armenia citizens who live in the country — with some exceptions. Aspiring foster families must undergo training courses, possess skills to communicate and raise children who’ve lived in orphanages and experienced difficult situations. 

Participating in the selection will be local bodies who have information about the family’s reputation and stable income.

Citizens who don’t have children can also become foster parents. But not the child’s relatives; an exception can be made only in the case of a child with a disability.

Under what circumstances may a child be put in foster care?

Only a child under 18 years of age left without parental care whose parents

  • have passed away
  • have been deprived of their parental rights
  • have been recognized as incapable
  • avoid fulfilling their parental duties adequately
  • have been recognized as incompetent, dead, or missing by the court
  • or are deemed actually to be without parental care

Foster parents don’t chose the child; rather, suitable parents are chosen for the child. In this matter, the intermediary are the social experts.

Are foster care and adoption the same?

No. Foster care is neither adoption nor custody. In the case of foster care, the child is considered a foster child, and the biological family continues to hold parental rights. Adoption is the fundamental (permanent) solution of relocating a child with a family; foster care, a temporary solution.

What happens when a foster child turns 18?

If necessary, care and upbringing can be provided also after the foster child turns 18, in the form of follow-up support provided by the state. 

And if not, then the child must return to the family or care centers. 

Can the contractual agreement to put a child a foster care be terminated early?

Yes, but for good reasons: by the foster parents, or upon the initiative of the custody and guardianship authority.

Where should the application to become a foster parent be submitted?

Anyone who wants to become a foster parent can submit an application to the staff of the regional council (marzpetaran) where they live, city hall if they live in Yerevan, or visit the Children’s Support Center.