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Jan 25, 2017

Q&A with Erin Alderman, Licensing and Placement Specialist, Bethany Christian Services of Michigan, Kalamazoo

Child care is a common need for working parents, and working foster parents are no exception. Assistance is available to help cover the cost, but there are other considerations you’ll want to think through when first setting up care. The following information and tips can help get you started.

How can I get on a child care waiting list if I don’t know when I have a placement or the child’s age?

I encourage foster parents to start immediately to research child care options as many day care centers have a waiting list. Talk to several providers, and tell them when you anticipate the child will be in your home and the age range you’re licensed for.

I also recommend that families line up at least one substitute care giver (they will need to pass a basic criminal background check). These could include family members or friends who would be willing to provide care in the interim between when you get the call and when you find a day care provider with openings.

Talk to your employer. If you have time off you can use, is it flexible? It’s best that everyone involved knows what to expect and that you are prepared with contingency plans.

What should I discuss when interviewing day care providers?  

  • How they handle payment issues and DHHS reimbursements (i.e. do you need to pay up front).
  • Let them know you’re a foster parent, and you don’t know when the child will be placed in your home.
  • Sometimes children in foster care have special needs or are developmentally behind. Ask what they can provide for kids who need extra help.

What kind of information can/should I share with a day care provider about the child?

Share information about the child on an as-needed basis. Some essential information might include:

  • Medical information and allergies (available from your foster care specialist).
  • Context for delays in speech or motor skills, sensory issues, or difficult behaviors.
  • Whether your foster care specialist will be transporting the child from day care to a parent visit.
  • If there is a safety concern with a biological parent (on a case-by-case basis).
  • Any known triggers for the child.

The following online resources can help you explore more child care options:

  • In Michigan, use this website to find child care centers and licensed home providers in your area. The site includes quality ratings. During licensing process, helpful to have a start point. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. and

  • Young children in foster care (ages 3–4) qualify for Head Start. In Michigan, they also qualify for Great Start, a kindergarten readiness program for children who are 4 years old at the beginning of the school year. Other states have similar initiatives. Both are federally funded programs, and both provide bussing.

  • This website has childcare resources listed by state.


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