Foster Care Services - Amara

Foster Care Services

Foster (v.): To promote the growth or development of

At Amara, we believe in the power of community – a network of people coming together to support one another through all the highs and lows. Together, we can transform foster care into a system that builds resilience and relationships, so all kids and families thrive.

Foster care exists to provide safe, temporary homes for kids who the state decides cannot live with their families. The goal is reunification – that means children return to their home after their family has received the services, resources, and support they need to get back on track. It’s about the restoration of families.

A Network of Family: Katie and Caitlin’s Story

“I feel like our lives have been really enriched, but it was always in the purpose of keeping the girls connected to their people. That has felt like we’ve forged really amazing relationships with their birth families and it’s been incredible.”

See Their Story

Amara’s Commitment

Supporting child and family well-being starts with connection. When kids enter foster care, we help keep them connected to their families via supportive partnerships between parents and foster & kinship caregivers to build a strong community that works together to best support child(ren) while in foster care. 

We aren’t afraid to be the first – the first to try new ways of supporting families, to find innovative solutions to long-standing challenges within child welfare by listening to families directly impacted by foster care. That’s why we partnered with Pierce County Juvenile Court to pilot the Pierce County Early Childhood Court program that supports families who have infants and toddlers in foster care by meeting more frequently to promote greater support for families and children. 

And while kids are in foster care, we promise to provide safe and affirming homes for as long as they need by providing quality support and training to foster and kinship caregivers. Kids do best when they have a team of people loving them and meeting their needs – together.

Interested in Fostering With Amara?

Amara is here for you every step of the way.

Thank you for your interest in making a difference in the lives of kids experiencing foster care by fostering with Amara. We know that choosing to become a foster caregiver, and deciding what organization to work with, are important decisions. We are honored to be on your list. 

Choosing to parent kids in foster care as an Amara family is the first step in a profound journey that will change their lives—and yours. As an Amara family, you’ll receive high-quality training, services, and ongoing support.

Learn more by attending an Amara Information Meeting (AIM) which will address all your questions and help you determine if Amara is the right organization for you.

 

Amara believes in an inclusive definition of family. We welcome families into our program regardless of marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, home ownership, income, or education.

We are also happy to answer any questions you may have by phone or email! Fosterinfo@amarafamily.org. 206-260-1708.

 

If you decide to foster with Amara, we may occasionally text you to best coordinate our services. By agreeing to receive services from Amara, you agree to receive individualized communications from us via text. Clients can always opt out of receiving texts by contacting us at amara@amarafamily.org.

Questions? We've got answers.

Find your question below, or contact us.

What’s the process for becoming a foster caregiver with Amara?
    1. Attend an Amara Information Meeting (AIM) – virtual meeting
    2. Complete an Application
    3. Attend Caregiver Core Training (CCT)
      CCT is a competency-based training required for all licensed foster parents in Washington State. Sign up here: CCT Training opportunities
    4. Family preparation and home study
      This phase will educate and prepare you for foster caregiving, certify your home for a foster home license, and complete the home study document. Find out more about the home study process by listening to this podcast episode where we dive deeper into what a home study is and why this is required by the state.
    5. Child and family matching and placement
      Our Placement Coordinator and your Foster Care Specialist will work together to support you in reviewing referrals and determining which children to welcome into your home.
    6. Support throughout your time fostering
      Amara Foster Care Specialists support you through in-home visits, personal contact and a supportive relationship. They will also help you navigate the end of a child’s case – whether it’s reunification, being placed with another family member, guardianship, or adoption. We will be there to support you through all of these transitions so that you can be there to best support the kids who have been in your care. Amara also offers ongoing learning opportunities through monthly family support groups.

    Have you fostered with Amara before? Email us for how to get started again.

What areas does Amara serve?

Amara’s foster and kinship care programs serve King and Pierce counties. Click here to view a map and zip code list of our foster/kinship care service area. 

Who can be a foster caregiver?

Amara offers our services to families and individuals inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, religion and marital status. In addition:

  • You can be single, married, or partnered. 
  • You must be 21 years old or older.
  • You can live in an apartment or a house and must have at least two bedrooms.
  • You can have other children living in your home or adult children no longer living with you.
  • You must pass a child abuse and criminal background check.*
  • You must be able to physically care for a child.
  • You must commit to living in Washington State for a minimum of 3 years.

*While there are some crimes that permanently disqualify an applicant from foster care or adoption, a past criminal charge or conviction will not necessarily preclude you from moving forward. We will assess criminal history as we do all other aspects of your individual and family background – in terms of its relation to your ability to provide a safe and nurturing home for children. Please call us at 206.260.1700 with any questions.

Is there a need for more foster caregivers?

Yes! There are more than 6,000 children in foster care in Washington State.

  • We need foster homes that keep siblings together. Nearly a quarter of brothers and sisters in foster care are separated.
  • We need foster families of color. In Washington state as of 2016, 16% of children in foster care were Black/Multi-Racial Black. But only 6.5% of foster parents identify as Black.
  • We need foster homes that reflect the diverse community of children we support. Amara families come from a diverse range of ethnicities, belief systems, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and economic circumstances.

We invest in supporting families who have a passion for supporting children and families. We seek people who are flexible and curious. We are partners with these families throughout their foster care journey, providing expertise and support every step of the way. Children need families who come from and understand their community and culture, so we actively seek diversity in our foster parents.

How long do children stay in foster care?

A child may stay in foster care for a few days, a few months, or a few years; however, the median length of time is 18 months. Parents with children in foster care are offered supports, services, and visits with their children so their child may be returned to their care. The majority of children are successfully reunited with their parents. When that is not safely possible, other outcomes include living with a family member (kinship), guardianship, emancipation, adoption or “aging out.”

How long does it take to become a licensed caregiver?

This will vary based on your unique circumstances, but generally it takes families 3-6 months to complete the home study and licensing process once they have completed all the associated paperwork.

Can I adopt a child I’m fostering?

The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth families or extended family whenever possible. Regardless of the outcome, we support foster families as they transition children into permanency whether that’s reunifying with their family, moving to an adoptive home, or becoming an adoptive family or guardian themselves.

Each child’s and family’s case moves through a legal process. If the court decides to terminate parent’s rights to their child and a relative placement is not found, foster parents are often the first family considered for adoption. There are some youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted because their parents have already lost their rights to their child. These kids usually have been in foster care for an extended period of time already.

You will receive support from your caseworker and from Amara’s Child Placement Coordinator in making an informed decision about the child you welcome into your family. If adoption becomes an option, your Foster Care Specialist will support you in navigating this process.

If I am already a licensed foster caregiver through the state or another private agency, do I have to go through the licensing process again with Amara?

The state currently requires that a family have a new home study completed when they transfer their foster license between the state and a Child Placing Agency, or between Child Placing Agencies. If you are already a licensed foster home through the state or another local agency, you may continue to have children placed in your home while you are working on your home study with Amara. We will work with your previous licensor to utilize any documentation to simplify your process and reduce as much repetitive paperwork as possible.

Are there fees?

There are no fees for any of Amara’s foster care services, including becoming a licensed foster parent.

Resources for Families

Find resources to support your family’s journey.

Related Pages

Become a Foster Parent

Foster parents have an important role in supporting kids and families experiencing foster care. Amara provides training and support to prospective and licensed foster parents every step of the way.

Learn More

Learn More About the Foster Care System

Learn more about foster care, challenge what you think you know, and find your role in supporting kids and families across the Puget Sound region.

Learn More