The purpose of this training module is to give advocates a better understanding of the placement options that may be available to children who have been permanently removed from their parents. The training module is intended to be informational and should not be used for case planning, nor should it be used to replace information that can be attained in case planning meetings and discussions with Child Protective Services caseworkers. To learn specific information about the options in your area or for a case you are associated with, contact a CASA coordinator, FCRB program specialist, or CPS caseworker.
According to a report from the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES)1 as of March 31, 2006 there were 9,902 children in out-of-home care in Arizona. The number of children placed with relatives equalled 3,417. Two thousand three hundred forty-five (2,345) children had a case plan goal of adoption. There were 2,118 children placed in an adoptive home but the paperwork had not been finalized and 4,897 children had a case plan goal to "return to family".
As an advocate for children in out-of-home placement, you may find yourself involved in an adoption process. You may also encounter questions from foster parents who are interested in pursuing adoption of their foster child(ren).
To become either a foster or adoptive parent in the state of Arizona, here are some criteria to know.
- You can be single, married, divorced, or widowed.
- You can rent or own your residence, and children may share bedrooms.
- You must be over the age of 18.
- You do not need to be wealthy! It will cost you little or no money to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent.
- A home inspection and family assessment, including fingerprinting and a physician's statement, must be completed.
- You must be economically stable, but you do not need to have a full time job.
To receive certification for adoption, whether for a specific child or for a child unknown to the applicant, an individual must complete and submit a formal application for adoption, along with a certification investigation and report. The applicant will incur a fee of $800 (unless waived).
Arizona Revised Statutes 8-105 (A) requires an individual to be certified by the court as acceptable to adopt a child before filing a petition to adopt a child. An adoption certification is the judicial determination that a prospective adoptive parent is a fit and proper person to adopt. This application process includes submission of:
- A completed Family and Home Application (DES Form ACY-1004AFORNA) which includes a financial statement.
- A request for licensing/employment information, (DES Form J-709) for each adult member of the household.
- A physician's report of Foster/Adoptive/Day Care Parent/Adult Caretaker (DES Form FW-009) for each parent (refer to ARS ¶ 8-105).
- FBI Fingerprint Clearance (DES Form FD-258).
- Requests for waivers or deferments of certification investigation and report fees must occur prior to the filing of the formal application to adopt. This may be done by completing the "Application for Waiver of Adoption Certification Fee" (DES Form AN-058), or the "Application for Deferment of Adoption Certification Fee" (DES Form AN-060).
Once you have obtained the certification, CPS will review the application and make a recommendation in the case plan and to the court. Court certification remains in effect for 18 months and can be extended for additional one-year periods.
The DES's priorities for accepting and processing certification applicants and for providing services are as follows (in order of priority):
- Applicants seeking to adopt a particular adoptable child with special needs.
- Applicants who wish to adopt a child with special needs.
- Applicants who have indicated they would consider adopting a child with special needs.
- Applicants for whom the court has ordered the department to do a certification investigation and report.
- All other applicants
To be considered a special needs child, the child must have one or more of the following factors, which may impede the adoption of the child:
- Physical, mental, or developmental disability
- Emotional disturbance
- High risk of physical or mental disease
- High risk of developmental disability
- Age of six or more years at the time of application for adoption subsidy
- Sibling relationship
- Racial or ethical factors
- High risk of severe emotional disturbance if removed from the care of foster parents or relatives [ARS ¶ 8-141 (A)(14)]
1"Child Welfare Reporting Requirements Semi-Annual Report For the Period of October 1, 2005 Through March 31, 2006", Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).
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