You’ve got questions about our Therapeutic Foster Care Program. Here are the answers.
Q. What is a Mentor?
A. A Mentor is a person who makes a difference in the life of a foster child by opening their heart and their home, providing the child they care for with the support they need to thrive. With the help of our specialized team of health and human services professionals, Mentors become trusted caregivers, friends and advocates for the children they care for. This special relationship between the Mentor and the child in the foster home is the foundation of our program's success. Our Mentors are our greatest resource and enable us to help children across the country live rich, meaningful lives in the communities they call home.
Q. What do Mentors do?
A. The services Mentors provide are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the children who live with them. The actual level of support, supervision and active assistance varies, depending on the needs of each child. During our comprehensive matching process the needs and preferences of both you—the Mentor—and the child are considered to help find the very best pairing.
Q. Who can become a Mentor?
A. Mentors do not conform to any standard profile. They represent a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels. They may be stay-at-home moms, empty nesters looking for companionship and a way to give back, retirees looking for extra income, or social services professionals with experience caring for children with special needs. Mentors may be married or single, men or women and represent a wide range of ethnicities and religions. One constant among our Mentors, however, is their commitment to care for and make a positive difference in someone's life.
Q. Do Mentors earn money for services provided in their home?
A. As a Mentor, you’ll have the opportunity to earn money at home by opening your heart and your home to a foster child. The stipend varies based on the state and the needs of the child or children you support. As part of our matching process, we will work with you to determine the level of needs you are best prepared to support.
Q. What do I have to do to be a Mentor and how long does it take?
A. The first step is to sign up to learn more information on this website. After you sign up, a representative from your local MENTOR office will contact you within 3 business days to share more information with you and answer any questions you may have.
While it varies from state to state, the entire process for preparing to welcome someone into your home generally takes eight to twelve weeks. During this time, our team of staff is there to support and guide you through the process.
Q. What kinds of care will I be responsible for?
A. Mentors are responsible for basic home care and related responsibilities to each foster child. This includes providing nutritious meals, transportation to school and all appointments and recreational activities, and supervision appropriate to the child’s age. Mentors are also required to maintain records and documentation regarding the services and supports being provided. As part of the process for preparing to welcome a child into your home, our staff will work with you to make sure you have all of the information and materials you need to be successful.
Q. What kind of background do the children have?
A. The children we serve come from all walks of life. Some may have medical, emotional or behavioral challenges, while others may have experienced abuse or neglect at some point in their lives. Like all children, the young people we serve need a warm, caring home where they can feel valued and loved.
Q. How long does the matching process take?
A. Once you are ready to accept a foster child into your home, the matching process may vary from a few weeks to several months. Proper matching takes time and is well worth the investment to make that “perfect match” between you and the child or children you'll serve. As a result, many of our matches have yielded long-term, meaningful relationships.
Q. Would I be matched with a boy or girl?
A. The matching process is designed to assure that you, your family and the foster child who comes to live with you are comfortable so that you can live together as a family and develop a meaningful relationship. Ultimately, you will have the final say over who you choose to welcome into your home and family.
Q. What if the child misbehaves or acts out?
A. Like all children, the young people we support have good days and bad days. Sometimes they may act out or exhibit difficult behaviors that they have learned in past living situations. While these behaviors may be challenging, we’ve found that a supportive, nurturing environment can make a world of difference and often times these behaviors subside. Our staff is available to help you around the clock, offering moral support and additional expertise whenever you need it.
Q. Who do I call if I have an issue or need help?
A. At The MENTOR Network, you’re never alone. Ask any Mentor who they rely on most, and you’ll probably hear, “My coordinator!” Our coordinators and clinical staff are available 24/7 to ensure that you have the support you need—every step of the way.
Each home is assigned a coordinator who provides case management services. Our coordinators are human service professionals responsible for overseeing the day-to-day success of a child's home. The coordinator ensures that the child's needs are being met in the home and that their plan of care is being followed. They will visit the individual and the Mentor in the home regularly. There is also an after hours coordinator on call 24/7 to respond to any urgent matters that arise outside of office hours.
Q. How long is the commitment to have the child live with me?
A. Our goal, through our comprehensive matching process, is to ensure that you and the foster child who comes to live with you know each other well and will be able to live together comfortably. Some of our most successful placements have lasted until the child turns 18 and even beyond, while others have lasted a few years. Some of our Mentors have even adopted their foster children.
Q. How many children can I (or my family) have living with me (us) at one time?
A. The number of people one Mentor can accommodate differs by state regulation and individual situation. Generally, Mentors can care for no more than two children at a time and each child must have his or her own bedroom. To find out more information about your state’s specific offerings, fill out our form.
Q. Can I have a job and still be a foster parent?
A. This depends on the state in which you are providing care. Some states require that a foster parent have an independent source of income from a job that they or their spouse hold, social security or pension, while others require that foster parents be stay-at-home foster parents. Fill out our brief form to find out more information about your specific state.
Q. Am I responsible for transportation?
A. Just as most moms and dads ensure that their kids get to school and other activities and appointments, Mentors are responsible for transportation for the children in their care.
Q. What am I responsible for buying for my foster child?
A. Generally, the Mentor is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks, basic personal care and hygiene supplies, clothing, as well as linens, bedding and, furnished bedrooms.