Frequently Asked Questions
What is a foster family?
A foster family opens up their hearts and their home to a child who has been removed from his biological parents’ home due to an extreme threat to the child’s safety. The length of the foster period is not known in advance and can be anywhere between one-18 years (or until age 21 in the case of special needs children). In foster care, the children experience a healthy and supportive family environment, and they become an integral part of a value-oriented, normative family. They stay in touch with their biological families as much as is feasible, and when possible, they may even return to live with them.
What is the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster care is defined as a temporary measure by which a child is removed from the custody of the biological parents for a limited time, while remaining the child’s legal guardians. The child stays in touch with his/her family and, if possible, will return to their care upon their rehabilitation. Adoption is a permanent and irreversible procedure, when it has been decided that the child’s parents are unfit and will not ever be able to raise him/her. The adoptive parents receive full guardianship and become the child’s parents in every way. When the child stays in touch with his biological family after adoption, the visits are infrequent and are supervised by the relevant authorities.
What are the criteria to become a foster family?
The Ministry of Welfare has established five criteria that the families must meet to pass the first phase of the selection process:
- Age 25-55
- No criminal record
- Minimum of 10 years of education
- Possessing a basic source of income
What is the selection process to become a foster family?
Families that meet all of the basic criteria undergo a screening and selection process to determine their suitability for foster care. The family is required to fill out forms and questionnaires that provide information, and they must agree to additional background checks, medical exams, etc. In addition to the paperwork, the families must meet with a social worker. These meetings have a dual purpose, to better acquaint the family with foster care and to enable the social worker to get to know the family on a deeper level. There are a total of four meetings; one of which takes place in the family’s home to learn more about the family members. The discussions in the meetings will go in-depth to understand the family, what their strengths are, and where they will need assistance. The process includes the social worker contacting references provided by the family to learn even more about them. The aim is to make a joint decision regarding the family’s suitability for foster care. At the end of the process, the social worker will write a thorough report with a recommendation to approve or disapprove the family for foster care. The report will be submitted to the authority at the Ministry of Welfare responsible for licensing foster families, and after the main points of the report have been shared with the family.
Do foster families undergo special training before placement?
Yes, of course. A family who completed the selection process and has been approved as a foster family will need to participate in a training course for foster families. This intensive course is held in a hotel for two days. The course aims to teach the families more about foster care and help them gain a deep emotional understanding of what the foster kids and their biological parents go through when the children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care. The course also focuses on the parenting skills essential for foster families. The children of the foster families also participate in a separate workshop that aims to help prepare them to receive a new child at home. During the waiting period after receiving confirmation, the family will participate in group sessions that will meet once a month and address different foster care topics.
Emergency Foster Care
What is Emergency Foster Care?
Emergency Foster homes provide an immediate refuge for young children at extreme risk removed from their homes by welfare authorities, from infancy to age six years. The Emergency Foster homes provide safe shelter and warm, loving care for six months or until a more permanent and secure placement is found.
Does the entire responsibility fall on the shoulders of the Emergency Foster family?
Not at all. The care for the children in Emergency Foster care is provided by an entire support team comprised of a foster family, a home director, social workers who provide ongoing training and guidance for the foster family, developmental psychologists who evaluate the children, and National Service volunteers who help the family provide the support, warmth and dedicated care the children need.
What do you need to do if you are interested in becoming an Emergency Foster family?
Contact us at the following email address email@example.com
or fill out this online form
. Shortly after submitting the form
, an Orr Shalom representative will contact you.
Therapeutic Family Group Homes
What is a Family Group Home?
A Family Group Home provides a warm, supportive, and therapeutic environment for 12 children and teens ages 8-18 who have been removed from their homes. Each home is run by a couple who live there with their biological children, and situated in a residential neighborhood, as close as possible to the children’s communities of origin, making it easy to visit their families and to access various community services. The children are surrounded by professionals in the Family Group Home and provided a model of normative family life in a warm and protective environment.
Does the entire responsibility of the care of the children at the Family Group Home fall on the shoulders of the house parents?
The house parents receive ongoing supervision and support from a professional team at Orr Shalom: a program director, social worker, psychologist, National Service volunteers, counselors, a private tutor, a cook, and a housekeeper. Every other weekend some of the children visit their families or host families, allowing the house parents to recharge and spend quality time with their biological children.
Are siblings accepted at the Family Group Home?
Of course. We even prioritize the placement of siblings in the same home. Our therapeutic tenet is that the right way to treat siblings is together and within a family model. With that in mind, siblings are placed together in our Family Group Homes with only a few exceptions.
How many Therapeutic Family Group Homes does Orr Shalom operate?
Today, Orr Shalom operates 20 Family Group Homes throughout Israel, offering focused care tailored to the specific needs of the children, such as homes for teen girls at risk and homes for ultra-Orthodox teen girls in Jerusalem.
Who do you need to contact if you and your spouse are interested in becoming house parents at a Family Group Home?
Please write to us at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens to the foster children when they reach the age of 18 and wish to stay in foster care?
In most cases, formal foster care ends upon high school graduation, and the foster care alumni need to decide how to continue their lives. In Israel, many foster children continue to live with their foster families with whom they have forged a meaningful relationship, even after the formal foster care period is completed and although the family is no longer receiving a stipend from the Ministry of Welfare.
What happens with the teens who do not stay with their foster families or in their family group homes when they turn 18 and don’t return to their biological families?
Understanding how difficult it is for one to go out in the world and live independently, Orr Shalom founded a unique Graduate Program. This program provides a continuum of support and services to the alumni of Orr Shalom’s foster care and Family Group Homes from high school graduation until age 27. This comprehensive guidance is designed to help them achieve their goals and live healthy and fulfilling lives. The program is comprised of three main sub-programs: Looking to the Horizon (for 11th and 12th graders in preparation for graduation), Graduates for Life (for young adults 18-27), and Bridge to Independence (a housing program for graduates). All three sub-programs provide a support net and significant guidance, whether they continue to live with their foster families, return home to their biological families, or live in independent housing.
What are the primary activities of Orr Shalom’s Graduate Program
The program provides our alumni with assistance, including housing in 12 apartments throughout Israel (Bridge to Independence), educational guidance and support, vocational training, tutoring for driving theory exams, financial workshops, etc. The goal is to create a continuum that will allow them to continue to develop as adults who will integrate into Israeli society from a place of personal strength and equality, and become productive, contributing citizens.
Can participants who are not Orr Shalom alumni join the Graduate Program?
They most certainly can. Of the three sub-programs, Bridge to Independence accepts applicants who are not alumni of Orr Shalom homes. This is a housing program for all graduates of out-of-home placements. Alumni from therapeutic boarding schools, youth villages, and foster care who have no familial support can join the program. When they enter the program, they receive full benefits, and no differentiation is made between them and Orr Shalom’s alumni.
Young adults or professionals who would like to become part of our graduate housing program, Bridge to Independence, should contact us at the following link.