Becoming a Foster Parent
WhimSpire is always looking for loving foster parents throughtout the state who are interested in caring for children of all ages and with a range of emotional, behavioral and medical needs. The greatest need is for families to care for teenagers, children with special needs and sibling groups.
WhimSpire offers extensive training and excellent support to our foster parents, as well as competitive reimbursement. Some of the many benefits of certifying through WhimSpire are the respite and training banks as well as renewal bonuses that we offer to foster parents.
WhimSpire provides quality foster care services directed to the specific needs of youth. We accept emergency, long term and adoptive placements. We pride ourselves on having understanding, responsive and professional staff.
Why Become a Foster Parent
What is WhimSpire?
WhimSpire is one of several private, licensed child placement agencies in Colorado. Our license is issued by the Colorado Department of Human Services and authorizes WhimSpire to certify foster homes and place children and youth in foster homes. We are required to provide services consistent with standards and regulations of the Colorado Department of Human Services. WhimSpire specializes in providing foster family care; we concentrate our efforts to provide high quality foster care in our homes.
What are foster families?
Foster families are families who have been certified by WhimSpire to provide foster care. Provision of care within families is in the best interest of most children who cannot be cared for by their own parents or kin. This is a valuable service provided to society by our families.
What types of children does WhimSpire place with foster families?
We place children of all ages with a wide variety of needs. WhimSpire strives to match the needs of the child with the strengths and interests of the foster family provider. WhimSpire staff will discuss with you the types of youth and behaviors with which you will be most successful. The need is greatest for families who can care for teenagers, children with special needs, or for a group of siblings.
How long will a child or youth stay in my home?
The length of placement varies depending on the needs of the child and the permanency plan. Some placements may be as short as a few weeks and others may be long term. Whenever possible, efforts are made to reunify the child with his or her birth family; when this is not possible courts will be asked to terminate parental rights so the child can be considered for adoption. If no appropriate adoptive home can be found, the child may remain in long term foster care until he or she is able to assume adult responsibilities.
Will I be expected to have contact with the birth parents?
Most likely, unless this will create an unhealthy situation for you or the child, or if parental rights are terminated. The permanency plan for many of these children will be family reunification; contacts with the birth parent are important to help accomplish the permanency plan. Further, the birth parents are important to children and youth even in situations where you may not be asked to have contact with them. In these situations you will still need to maintain a positive attitude towards the birth parents and to assist the youth to come to understand the nature of his experiences with his parents. Knowledge about birth parents is essential for a child to develop a sense of identity and answer the question, “Who am I?”
Will I be required to take a specific youth?
No. You will not be required or expected to take any youth with whom you are uncomfortable. You and WhimSpire staff will discuss referrals and you will ideally have the opportunity to meet the child/youth before a placement is made. At any time during this pre-placement process you may indicate that you are uncomfortable with the placement. Your views will be respected and you will not be pressured or expected to take the youth into your home.
Are there reasons for me not to become a foster family?
Yes. Here are a few things that are likely to lead to unhappiness and interfere with your ability to care for foster children in your home:
Difficulties in your marriage. Foster care adds a complex dynamic to an existing intimate relationship with your partner. The success of the placement depends heavily on the stability of your primary relationship with your partner. Both partners should have equal interest in the prospect of foster care.
Providing a playmate or companion for your own child. Children do need playmates and companions but this is not likely to be a useful motivation for becoming a foster parent.
Discomfort working on a team with other people who may have varying opinions on the best interest of the child. Serving foster children successfully requires a group of people working together on behalf of the child. If you do not like to work as an equal team member in decision-making, you may find this a difficult experience.
Giving up quickly. Foster parents work hard with challenging youth.
They need to be persistent in finding ways to work with youth and not give up early.
Financial Gain. The primary purpose of becoming a foster parent is to care for youth, not financial wealth. This is not paid employment but rather a reimbursement which may help with monthly expenses in your household such as rent, groceries, utilities, etc. All foster parents should have the resources to meet their financial responsibilities aside from their foster care reimbursement.
“I was familiar with a few agencies in our region and when having to re-license due to the closing of the agency we were already licensed with we were given the name of WhimSpire. I checked out their home page and researched them on line. I liked what I saw, the caring needs of the foster children and the foster parents so we took a chance that WhimSpire were who they portrayed to be. Seven years later we are still with WhimSpire and they have continued to be who they portray to be.”
– Wyndie J. (Northwest region)
“People that know what is really going on... not just guessing or taking only the info off the paper. People that really care about you the foster parent and the kids. Not just a company a family of people to help with difficulties.”
- Sonya K. (Northwest region)
“Well it was quite simple for us. We had agreed it was something we were being led to do. So Rod, my husband was talking about it at work and someone there recommended WhimSpire. So we called and met with Janis, and she convinced us to jump in. We are still swimming after over two years. We love these kids. It's been a grand adventure.”
– Nancy P. (Northwest region)
"When I started my journey to adopt a child I had no idea what to expect or what would happen. I learned that adoption is complicated, emotional and challenging. Whimspire was recommended to me and the entire process has been very positive. Working with Whimspire gave me the tools and support I needed to have a successful and positive journey adopting my daughter. I knew that anytime I had a question or a problem there were people just a phone call away ready to help."
-Jill S. (Front Range region)
“I have been a foster parent with WhimSpire for several years and have fostered over 60 children in that time. I feel lucky to work with staff that is so supportive, caring and available to me and my family. My foster home coordinator is really a part of my family. I call her when I have specific questions or concerns, or when I just need to talk – she is always there for me. WhimSpire makes me feel appreciated and supported and I can’t imagine working with another agency.”
– Deb Y. (Southwest region)
“My partner and I never parented before becoming foster parents and we didn’t really know what to expect. We have had the same foster youth in our care for more than 2 years and, although we have had some challenges, working with WhimSpire hasn’t been one of them. All I have to do is pick up the phone and I have someone to talk to and process things with. I feel like I always have someone on my side.”
- Shannon W. (Southwest region)
“In the field of social work it seems as though workers are constantly changing and moving on. In choosing to work for WhimSpire I took into consideration how long an employee stays with the agency and have found that the average years with the agency among current employees is eleven years. This showed me that WhimSpire is a great agency to work for. Upon being hired I immediately felt that everyone within the agency has a passion for helping and supporting our foster parents in the best ways possible. Agency staff is always supportive of each other and this creates a great work environment. I personally have been with the agency almost eight years and have no intention of leaving. A positive work environment and staff helps create new ideas and positive ways to support our families and help our kids.”
– Krystal M. (Front Range Regional Director)
“After 9 years of marriage, 8 years of teaching, and no children of our own we made the decision to adopt. We took our time and explored many great adoption/child placement agencies (international, domestic, DHS, etc...), but ultimately chose WhimSpire to build our family. Not only did they best fit our family’s goals and needs, but the idea of adoption through foster care was appealing to us. After only a short two months of being certified, our foster home coordinator called and asked if we would be willing to take in a 20-month-old boy. We did, and ultimately adopted him 16 months later. Those 16 months were a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. Luckily for us, we had our foster home coordinator there every step of the way to help guide and support us. We have now been with WhimSpire for three years. During those three years we have not only adopted our charismatic and fun-loving son, who is now 4-years-old, but in a month we will finalize the adoption of our strong-willed and beautiful 2-year-old daughter, who has been with us since she was 3 weeks old. We also had the privilege of fostering an adorable 2-year-old boy for about 6 months before he was reunified with his birth parents. Throughout our time as foster parents, we have also provided respite care for other foster parents for various age groups of children who needed a temporary place to stay. Our foster home coordinator has always looked out for the best interest of our household. She realizes the importance of the foster child’s need to fit well within the established home environment, including how they interact with the other children and the adults in the house. We have always felt at ease with foster care, knowing that our foster home coordinator is advocating for everyone involved, including us. Today, our home is full of the energy and excitement that only children can bring. We will be forever grateful to WhimSpire for that!”
- Garrett and Tina O. (Front Range region)
How many foster children can I have in my home?
The number of placements will depend on the size of your home, the number of your own children at home, and your level of energy and enthusiasm in taking on this work. There are also State guidelines that determine the number of children who can be in the home.
Can a single adult be certified as a foster family?
Yes, WhimSpire has one-parent homes. We carefully consider the time the parent has available to care for a foster child and to meet obligations as a foster parent.
Can both adult foster parents work outside of their home?
We have some families in which both of the foster parents work outside the home. We consider the amount of time these families have available to care for a foster child.
How do I become certified as a WhimSpire family?
You can submit an inquiry formthrough our website and a WhimSpire staff person will contact you to arrange a home visit and discuss the certification process. In summary, you will need to do these things:
Submit an application.
Arrange for three references.
Complete fingerprint cards for state and federal background checks.
Complete a health appraisal for all members of your household.
Complete CPR and First Aid courses.
Participate in home study interviews and process with your WhimSpire staff.
Complete 12 hours of pre-service core training.
Assist WhimSpire staff in a home inspection in accordance with state
How long will it take to complete certification process?
WhimSpire can usually complete your certification within two to four months from the receipt of an application. The length of time depends in large part on your timely completion of requirements. A longer time may be required if there are any delays in securing your fingerprints, CPR/First Aid certification, health appraisals, or completing pre-service training.
Will a criminal record disqualify me from being a WhimSpire foster parent?
It may, depending on the record. Convictions for child abuse, child sexual abuse, family violence, or violent felony offenses will disqualify you from being certified as a WhimSpire foster parent. Convictions for other offenses may also disqualify you depending on the nature of the offense and how long ago it occurred. If you have a criminal history, we encourage you to discuss this very early in your contacts with your licensing worker.
What are the benefits of being a foster family with WhimSpire?
The most important benefit is making an important contribution to the welfare of a child. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping a child grow into responsible adulthood. You will be working together with other colleagues and treated as a valued member of a service team. You will have the enjoyment of seeing young people grow and develop and you will learn to handle the frustrations of seeing them have difficulty growing and developing.
You will also receive modest compensation for your services. In addition, WhimSpire is proud to offer our families training banks, respite banks, renewal bonuses as well as excellent support.
How are foster families reimbursed?
You will be reimbursed on a monthly basis for each youth in care. The amount can vary depending on the special needs of a particular child. The staff person working with you to complete your home study can share specific information with you about foster family rates currently being offered in your area.
What kind of support will WhimSpire provide as I carry out my services as a foster parent?
WhimSpire staff and foster parents work together to provide the best quality care for children. No one works in isolation. You will have regular contacts with WhimSpire staff both by telephone and visits in your home. Your assigned Foster Home Coordinator is available for consultation, collaboration and encouragement by telephone and email. They will also visit your home at least twice monthly and attend meetings in the community. Emergency crisis service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What training can I expect to receive?
You will be expected to participate in monthly foster family support meetings so that you can share experiences and learn from other families caring for WhimSpire children. You are encouraged to participate in a variety of educational opportunites offered by WhimSpire and available in the community. All WhimSpire foster parents are required to complete 47 hours of education in their first year to help strengthen their services as WhimSpire foster parents. For ongoing years, the primary foster parent will need to complete 32 hours, and the support parent 25 hours. You will receive a modest training bank that you may use to purchase some of the educational services you require.
The children and youth referred to WhimSpire Child Placement Agency are between the ages of 0 and 18 and come from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. They might be referred individually or in a sibling group. Referral sources vary depending on region, but include county Departments of Social Services throughout the entire state of Colorado, as well as from other states, Native American Tribes and the Division of Youth Corrections. Some kids come to us with developmental, physical, educational or emotional disabilities. We also serve kids who are medically fragile or have complex health issues. All kids have experienced trauma in some form and are in need of safe, stable and loving foster homes.
The needs of each child vary greatly depending on the situation and WhimSpire staff strives to connect foster families and children who are a good match.