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Welcoming a child with special needs into your home

Specialized Foster Care

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The Specialized Foster Care program at Rainbows is small, but it serves an important role in serving a special population of Kansas children.

Historically, most states struggle when it comes to finding foster families who are willing to accept into their homes children with significant needs due to their IDD diagnosis. Rainbows has been committed to doing what we can to ensure that we can make sure that there are homes to serve children who need this special care.

Families who serve as Rainbows’ Foster Families have experience working with children who have special needs. They may have worked in another program at Rainbows, served as a teacher or aide in a local school district, or they may have a child of their own who has special needs. One thing is for sure, the Rainbows’ Foster Families are loving, generous, and fill a special place in the hearts of the children they care for.

In order to become a licensed foster family through Rainbows, one must complete a process that includes completing a questionnaire about their interest in becoming a foster parent. Then a visit with Rainbows’ Foster Care Team is scheduled to talk about the desire to move forward with the process. The applicant will be asked to complete MAPP classes, a requirement for all Kansas foster families. Next, the Foster Care Team completes a walk-through of the potential foster family home, and information about safety is discussed. Then, the potential foster family will work with Rainbows’ Foster Care Social Worker to complete DCF foster home licensing paperwork and Rainbows United Foster Care Home paperwork.

Kerri Dixon, Rainbows’ Foster Care Social Worker, visits with the family twice per month, at minimum. Regular home visits (video-conference visits during the time of COVID-19) are required by the state. During this time, Kerri visits with the foster children placed at the home as well as debriefs any areas of concern expressed by the foster families. Foster families can rely on Kerri to help with their needs during these visits, on phone calls, and in emails. Kerri has been a Social Worker with Rainbows’ Foster Care program for 20 years and she has a depth of experience that our Foster Families find valuable.

Foster families are paid on a monthly basis for their services. Their pay is tied to the level of care necessary for the child(ren) in their care. The state sends the funds to Rainbows who issues checks to the family. Funds can be used for anything necessary for the care and wellbeing of the children they care for.

Currently Rainbows has 3 Specialized Foster Care Homes who serve a total of 6 Foster Kids.  The need for additional families to serve children with special needs is great.

If you would like more information on how to become a Specialized Foster Family at Rainbows, you can contact Kerri Dixon at kdixon@rui.org or call her at 316.558.3439. Also, follow our Rainbows’ Facebook page for information about upcoming Specialized Foster Care Informational Meetings.

By Audra Kenneson, LMSW, Specialized Foster Care Coordinator, and Kerri Dixon, LBSW, Foster Care Social Worker