Social Services

Parenting Program

Genesee County Department of Social Services Foster Care/Adoption Program

One of the components of Genesee County's services to children and families is the Foster/Adoptive Parenting Program. Designed to identify safe, secure, and loving homes for children of all ages (many of whom are considered "hard to place" because of their age, ethnicity, emotional and/or medical needs, or because they are a part of a sibling group that should be placed together in the same home), the Foster/Adoptive Parenting Program certifies individuals, couples, and families who are interested in being a temporary foster home, adoptive home, or both to children in need. Participants in the program are afforded the opportunity to learn about the many aspects of foster and/or adoptive care and to have a certified adoption homestudy (for use while certified through Genesee County) completed at no cost.

The  Foster/Adoptive Home Certification Process

The first stepping stone of the Foster/Adoptive Parenting Program is completion of a state-approved pre-certification program entitled "Deciding Together."  This program is comprised of a series of six workbooks that contain information and scenarios designed to educate the adult learner about the foster care/adoption experience from the perspective of the agency, the foster/adoptive parent(s) and family, the birth parent and the child.  The program is designed to be completed individually, with periodic meetings with the foster/adoption homefinder to review and discuss key information.  The program provides the adult learner with information regarding:

  • an interactive foster care and adoption experience
  • losses and gains - the need to be a loss expert
  • helping children with attachments
  • helping children learn to manage their behaviors
  • helping children with birth family connections
  • working in partnership with birth families
  • gains and losses - helping children leave foster care
  • understanding the impact of fostering or adopting on your family and life
  • perspective in adoptive parenting and foster parenting
  • teamwork

The purpose of the Deciding Together program is two-fold:

  • to help the participants understand the issues involved in foster/adoptive parenting so that they can identify their own strengths and needs that will impact on their ability to act as effective foster/adoptive parents.
  • to allow the participants and the agency facilitators to make a joint decision about the best way that the participants can help children.

Deciding Together provides guidelines to prospective foster/adoptive parents for assessing their own strengths and needs, based on twelve skills that have been identified in successful foster/adoptive parents. These skills are:

  1. Know your own family
  2. Communicate effectively
  3. Know the children
  4. Build strengths; meet needs
  5. Work in partnership
  6. Be loss and attachment experts
  7. Manage behaviors
  8. Build connections
  9. Build self-esteem
  10. Assure health and safety
  11. Assess impact
  12. Make informed decision

In conjunction with completing the Deciding Together program, those participants who feel that they are ready to undertake the role of resource (foster and/or adoptive) parent can begin the actual certification process.  This process has three main components:

1.  Applicant's Completion of a Certification Packet, which includes:

  • Application form
  • Medical reports on all household members
  • Consent to contact personal references
  • State Central Registry for Child Abuse and Maltreatment clearance form
  • Criminal history check (by fingerprinting) on all household members over age 18
  • Proof of marriage (if applicable)
  • Proof of divorce (if applicable)
  • Proof of household income
  • Individual Autobiography

2.  Agency Processing of Certification Packet

3.  Final Home Assessment and Individual Consultation by Agency Staff

  • Completion of fire and safety inspection
  • Completion of Resource Home Study

Once the applicant submits the certification packet to the agency, it generally takes an average of three to four months to complete the certification process.

     There is a great need for foster and adoptive parents in Genesee County. For more information on how you can become a parent for a waiting child, contact Cheryl Stenger at
585-344-2580 ext. 6414.

Other Available Resources:

Non-Parent Caregiver Benefits (Spanish version)