Requirements, Benefits & Certification Process
Frequently Asked Questions
Becoming a foster parent is one of the most purposeful and rewarding choices you can make in your life. Seneca Family of Agencies seeks stable, responsible and responsive foster parents to meet the needs of some of the Bay Area’s 6000+ foster children. Becoming a partner with Seneca to bring traumatized children the care, love and support they need makes a huge difference in the lives of the children we serve and in our communities. In addition, it will transform your life!
Seneca welcomes individuals who:
- Are at least 25 years old.
- Are single or married, straight or gay/lesbian.
- Have a pre-existing, sustainable income.
- Are renters or homeowners with enough room for at least one foster youth.
- Are not parents or are parents to children over the age of 3.
- Are able to pass a health screening and rigorous criminal background check.
- Are not currently certified as a foster parent or relative caregiver with another agency or county.
- Reside in a county served by Seneca’s foster care programs.
Seneca Family of Agencies provides excellent support and compensation to foster parents. You are not alone in caring for Seneca foster children. Seneca offers whatever it takes to help you create stability and healing for foster youth. Some of the benefits we offer include:
- Weekly home visits from Seneca behavior specialists and clinicians.
- *Generous tax-free monthly stipend
- 24/7 on-call crisis support from Seneca experts
- Free respite care
- Monthly foster parent support meetings for foster parents and their foster children
- Ongoing, free training and skills development
*Professional parents receive two weeks paid vacation following each six-month placement, or an accrued amount if the placement goals are met and completed in less than six months.
Becoming certified as a Seneca foster parent takes approximately three to six months. Here are the steps involved:
- Step 1: Attend An Orientation: Seneca foster parent orientations are held regularly in Sonoma, Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties. You can also schedule a personal orientation that matches your schedule. Check Attend An Orientation for a list of options, or use our Foster Parent Inquiry Form to request information. (Note: Please be sure to RSVP for orientations by calling 510-495-9289 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Step 2: Schedule A Preliminary Walkthrough: Seneca staff will come to your home to be sure it has the capability of meeting Seneca and state requirements for a certified foster home. This takes approximately 1 hour.
- Step 3: These activities will take place simultaneously:
- Trainings: Seneca requires that all foster parents receive 40 hours of training. We provide four 6-week trainings per year that meet once per week on Saturdays. You may complete courses over more than one six-week training to accommodate your schedule.
- Health Screenings & Background Check: Seneca requires that all prospective foster parents pass a health screening and rigorous criminal background check with the Department of Justice, the FBI, & the California Child Abuse Index. We have a “no-exemptions” policy for those with criminal histories or DUIs.
- Application: Seneca’s application requires you to complete a number of documents, including a budget demonstrating your ability to live on your current income, DMV report, and other items. When this is successfully completed and accepted, we begin the home study.
- Home Studies: You will have three visits from Seneca social workers who will review your lifestyle, personal history, family dynamics and home setting.
- Step 4: Final Walkthrough: Finally, your home is re-visited with the goal of making sure that it now fully complies with state regulations to be a Seneca-certified foster home.
- Step 5: Certification: Once all of the above requirements have been met, you may be certified as a Seneca foster parent, and begin receiving phone calls to tell you about the children we have ready for placement. Certification allows you the option of accepting or declining children who come from several counties in the Bay Area and beyond
- San Francisco Bay Area (all counties)
- Central Coast/Kinship Center: San Luis Obispo & Area
- Monterey/Kinship Center: Monterey, Salinas, Santa Cruz & Area
- Southern California/Kinship Center: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside & Area
Seneca’s Intensive Treatment Foster Care Program in the San Francisco Bay Area serves children between the ages of 6 and 18 who have been abused and/or neglected and have been removed from their biological families through no fault of their own. In many instances, our children have been in the foster care system for quite a while and have had multiple prior placements before entering our program. As a result of past trauma, they experience behavioral and emotional challenges that necessitate a higher level of care from committed, well-trained foster parents.
Kinship Center, a member of Seneca Family of Agencies, places children from infancy through age 18 in Southern California, Salinas/Monterey, and San Luis Obispo and also provides adoption options for parents who wish to build their families and provide permanency to a child or sibling group. Kinship has a broad range of foster care and adoption programs for children of all ages, backgrounds and care requirements.
This depends on the goals for the child and the foster care program for which you become certified. In both Seneca and Kinship foster care programs, some children require less than six months of care, and some children are available for adoption and legal guardianship. If we know you have a goal of adopting, we will try to match you with a child who is expected to be available for adoption. If you prefer to provide care to children who need shorter term care, we will be more likely to place children with you who have other permanency plans, from reunification with bio parents to kinship care from relatives.
Seneca always seeks permanency for its foster children, either through reunification, adoption or legal guardianship. Many children in the foster care system are available for adoption when biological family rights are terminated. Seneca can either facilitate or oversee adoptions.
No, Seneca’s foster care certification process is free; however you will need to cover the cost of transportation to and from required trainings and also any required cost to have your health care provider examine you, if necessary and fill out the health care form, which is part of the application process.
Seneca trains foster parents to be well-prepared for the challenge of taking care of children who have experienced significant trauma and loss. Our 40-hour ”Pre-certification Training “ classes for potential foster parents are held at the Seneca Training Institute in Oakland four times per year. Full-day classes are held on six Saturdays over the course of two months. You may take all of the classes in one two-month session or complete the course work over more than one training session.
For more information, please fill out our Foster Parent Inquiry Form