Common Questions

Fostering Questions

  What does the word "Koinonia" mean?

“Koinonia” (Koy-no-nee’-ah) is a Greek word that means to communicate relationship and fellowship. It means that our staff and resource parents relate to placed children/youth and nonminor dependents from a position of trustworthiness, dependability and a deep moral commitment to nurture every aspect of their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

  What is a "resource parent?"

A resource parent is a person who wants to foster, adopt or provide respite care.

  How long does the Koinonia resource parent approval process take?

The length of the approval process really depends on you. Your fingerprint, background and medical clearances must be received and all trainings, required paperwork, and the written assessment must be completed. If these items are completed in a timely manner, the approval process can be completed in as little as 3-4 months.

  What types of placements are available through Koinonia?

Koinonia accepts male and female placements from birth through 21. These placements may include sibling groups, minor and nonminor dependent parents and their infants, or children/youth placed in intensive services foster care. Special health care needs children/youth may continue in placement through age 22.

  Am I obligated to continue in the approval process once I submit an application?

Submission of an application does not commit you to the approval process. On the other hand, application submission does not guarantee you will be approved. Approval or denial is based on the suitability of the family for placements for whom Koinonia Family Services has responsibility.

  Can I work full-time and be a resource parent?

Yes, although caring for placed children/youth does not always work well if both partners work full-time, and the placed child/youth spends most of his/her free time in alternative care. Resource parents must provide care and supervision as necessary to meet the needs of the children/youth. For further information regarding supervision, please review the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard and nonminor dependent requirements with your Koinonia representative.

  Will I receive financial assistance for being a Koinonia foster parent?

Yes, you are reimbursed an amount each month which sufficiently covers the expenses incurred to care for the placed child/youth. All placements are eligible for Medi-Cal insurance, which will generally cover their medical and dental care and specialized counseling, if needed. Resource parents are not employees of Koinonia; according to tax laws they are considered a “volunteer.” For additional information, please review Koinonia’s Care Rates Budget form.

  Can I be single and become a Koinonia foster parent; is there a minimum age requirement?

Yes, you may be single although you need to have an approved respite care provider or other approved supervision. Resource parents and approved respite care providers must be least 18 years of age.

  How will fostering or adopting affect my birth children?

Koinonia will assist you in determining which placements best fit your family dynamics. For most families it is usually a rewarding experience. Comments from other resource parents have included that their birth children learned to appreciate the life and family that they have as they discovered there are many individuals who do not have a healthy family life. Your Koinonia social worker will help you navigate any challenges you may encounter.

  How long can the placement stay in my home?

The length of stay will vary depending on the individual circumstances. It can vary from less than one week to several years.

  Do I have a choice of the type and ages of placements referred to me; will I meet the children/youth or nonminor dependent prior to placement?

You can always request a certain age group and gender; however, the more narrow the selection, the longer your wait may be for a placement. At times we can arrange for a “pre-placement interview” for a child/youth or nonminor dependent to come to your home for a few hours, or even overnight, as part of a “pre-placement visit.” This is ideal as it allows you and the child/youth/nonminor dependent a chance to get to know each other. However, it is far more frequent that the referring county worker is working with time constraints. Therefore, we will give you all the information we can get from the county worker about the placement initially and as it is received. You may need to make a decision about taking in a placement based solely on information we provide you over the phone.

  What if there is a placement in my home with certain issues or disabilities that I am not able to handle, or I don't think the placement is compatible with my family?

Your preferences on age, gender, number of placements and other issues will be discussed at length with your Koinonia social worker during the assessment process. Once you are approved, your assigned social worker will work with you to match a placement to your family dynamics. If a placement is not compatible with your family, we ask you to thoroughly discuss your situation with your Koinonia social worker and if nothing changes, we ask the resource parent to give a 7-day notice in order for your social worker to find another home. For placements from San Diego County, a 30-day notice is required.

  How many placements can I have, can my birth child share a room with a placement, and do I need to own my home?

The number of placements you can have depends on bed space and family dynamics. Typically, Koinonia makes no more than two placements per home. This number may increase depending on the parent’s experience, and their ability to meet the need for sibling and transitioning youth placements. You cannot have more than six children/youth, including birth, adopted, and guardianship children, unless approved by Community Care Licensing. A placed child/youth can share a room with your birth children as long as each child/youth has their own bed. There are to be only four children/youth in each bedroom. Children of different sexes shall not share a bedroom unless: each child is under eight years of age; a minor parent may share a bedroom with his or her child; or a child/youth is permitted to share a bedroom consistent with the child’s gender identity regardless of the gender or sex listed on his or her court or child welfare documents. Specific bedroom exceptions must be discussed with your Koinonia representative. A nonminor dependent (NMD) and a minor may share a room when one of the following exists: NMD and minor have been sharing a room before NMD turned 18; NMD and minor are siblings: and the NMD is sharing the room with their own child. An NMD may share a room with another NMD (even an NMD of the opposite sex) as long as both remain compatible and the NMDs’ health, safety, and best interest are taken into account. You do not need to own your home; however, if you are renting, it is highly recommended that you get the landlord’s approval and obtain renter’s insurance. Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance is required for all applicants receiving Orange County placements.

  Can I take my placements on vacation with me?

In most cases, you can take placed children/youth on vacations with you. Generally, overnight stays require approval from your Koinonia social worker and out-of-county stays may require the county social worker’s approval. Out-of-state stays might need court approval.

  How does Koinonia receive its placements, and what types of needs do they have?

The majority of the placements we work with are referred to Koinonia by county social services, child protective services, adoption services, probation departments and regional centers. The needs could include behavioral and emotional challenges or special medical needs. Some children/youth are orphans whose only need is to find an adoptive family. Placements from juvenile probation have been arrested, but are not “hard-core” criminals and will benefit from a caring home environment. NMDs need support transitioning to adulthood. Your Koinonia representative can provide additional information regarding the needs and requirements for special health care needs and NMD shared living agreements.

  Once certified, is there any ongoing training or support available?

Yes, each Koinonia district office offers post-approval training. Ongoing annual training hours will vary depending on the placement types you accept or your county’s requirements.

Adoption Questions

  Is adoption right for me?

Adoption is forever and a lifelong commitment for everyone involved. It is extremely important that adoption is pursued for the right reasons. Anyone who plans to adopt must be prepared to properly deal with the significant challenges and commitments that will be necessary. Before deciding to adopt, a person must be certain they are ready and able to give a child/youth all the love and attention they need and deserve. In the end, adoption can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.

  What is the age requirement for adopting?

Koinonia works with adoptive parents who are at least 18 years of age and demonstrate the maturity and responsibility necessary to adopt a child/youth. California requires that you are at least 10 years older than any child/youth you adopt. (An exception may be made if the adoptive parent is a stepparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, or first cousin of the child/youth and, if that person is married, is adopting jointly with his or her spouse.)

  Can I adopt the Koinonia foster children/youth placed in my home?

Thousands of placed children/youth have been adopted by Koinonia resource parents. Koinonia provides a full range of services including adoptive family assessment, guidance, and finalization.

  Will I receive financial assistance when a foster to adopt child/youth is placed in my home?

Yes, you are reimbursed the same amount as a placed foster child/youth until the child/youth becomes an adoption placement. All foster to adopt children/youth are eligible for Medi-Cal insurance.

  Is there any additional financial support or tax credit available?

Families who adopt foster children/youth qualify for the Adoption Assistance Program which is a federally funded, state administered, subsidy program for the adoption of special-needs children/youth. There are various federally aided and state funded adoption assistance programs available for eligible children/youth. Detailed information is available at Koinonia’s orientation and pre-approval trainings. The Adoption Tax Credit is applied to federal taxes and allows adoptive parents to deduct certain adoption-related expenses from their federal tax bill. Please visit: http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html for additional tax information.

  I just want to adopt; how does Koinonia's foster to adopt process work?

Koinonia works within the foster care system to assist children/youth in finding permanent homes. Families wishing to adopt with Koinonia must receive their Resource Family Approval.

  How long does the adoption home study process take and what does it involve?

In order to become approved with Koinonia, a comprehensive assessment must be completed. The comprehensive assessment, which Koinonia offers free of charge, is an overall evaluation of a family and the types of children/youth they are interested in adopting. Once the application paperwork and trainings have been completed, it normally takes 60 to 90 days for the social worker to complete the assessment. In some cases, it may take longer if more interviews are required or more information is needed. In general, the following information is included in the written assessment:
– Personal and family background – including upbringing, siblings and key events
– Significant people in the lives of the applicants
– Marriage and family relationships
– Motivation to adopt
– Expectations for the child/youth
– Feelings about infertility (if this is an issue)
– Parenting and integration of the child/youth into the family
– Family environment
– Physical and health history of the applicants
– Education, employment and finances – including child care plans
– References and criminal background clearances
– Summary and social worker’s recommendation

  What costs are incurred for foster care and respite care certification and adoption approval, if applicable?

Please reference our Applicant Process Overview and Training Overview for further details.