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Foster Care and Adoption

Adoption creates a parent-child relationship with all the rights and responsibilities a birth parent has to a child. The Schenectady County Office of Children & Family Services offers a full range of adoption services that can help "Make a difference in a child's life". The Schenectady County Department of Social Services is looking for qualified foster parents to help take care of some of Schenectady’s most vulnerable children. Currently, there are approximately 300 foster families who are part of Schenectady’s foster parent network. However, more foster parents are needed to provide temporary homes for brothers and sisters being placed together, for babies, and for school-age children, including teens.

Training Dates for Prospective Foster Parents

To begin the home study process, you will be required to attend an Information session and attend 11 training sessions. The upcoming information and training sessions will be held at the Schenectady County Department of Social Services office building at 388 Broadway, Schenectady.

View Upcoming Training Dates            Register for an Upcoming Information Session

Adoption FAQ

What is adoption?

It is a legal process whereby you take a child into your family to be raised as your own. Unlike foster care, adoption is permanent. When a child is placed in your family, a caseworker supervises the placement for a period of not less than six months. A court hearing is then held, which transfers custody and guardianship to the adopting parent.

What is a home study?

A home study usually consists of a series of interviews between a family and a social worker to help applicants think through their ability to adopt a child with "special needs". It is important that people considering adoption be stable, sensitive, patient, and capable of giving a child love and understanding. Social workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they adopt, and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Interviews with prospective adoptive parents are conducted by case workers. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.

What information is available to adoptive families and adoptees?

Medical information (with identifying information deleted) is available at any time to parents who adopt a foster child and to the adoptee when he/she reaches 18 years of age. The New York State Department of Health also operates an Adoption Information Registry which allows adult adoptees to obtain non-identifying information on such things as background information on birth parents. The Adoption Information Registry also provides New York adoptees and birth parents with a vehicle through which they can register if they wish to be identified to one another.

Can the biological parents come back to take the child?

When a child is placed with the adoptive family, the parents have previously relinquished the child to an agency, or their parental rights have been terminated through a formal court procedure.

To begin the adoptions process, or for more information, please call 518-388-4570 or 518-388-4399. You can also call or contact the New York State Department of Social Services State Adoption Service. The New York State Department of Social Services also issues Adoption Albums which contain photographs and descriptions of children who are available for adoption. These can also be found in local libraries or can be viewed at our office at 388 Broadway, Schenectady, NY  12305 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday each week, except holidays. 

What will it cost to adopt?

If a family is adopting a child who is in foster care there are no fees charged. Subsides are available to assist with the child's day-to-day care and medical needs. In addition, parents who adopt children with special needs are eligible to receive a one-time payment of up to $2,000 as reimbursement for non-recurring adoption expenses related to the legal adoption of the child.

What is subsidized adoption?

Families adopting handicapped or hard-to-place children are eligible for benefits regardless of the own income. Medical subsidy (under New York State Medicaid) is also available for some children. Under certain circumstances, subsidies can remain in effect until the children’s twenty-first birthday.

What about infants?

Healthy children from infancy to ten years of age are available in extremely limited numbers at this time Those who can only consider such a child are placed on a waiting list.
  • A large percentage of waiting children are African American or Hispanic. An attempt is made to place children in families with similar racial and ethnic backgrounds.

How long does the certification process take?

The certification process, including training and completion of the home study, generally takes from 3-4 months.

What children are waiting for adoption?

Children over the age of ten. Sibling groups of two or more, with one child being ten or older. Children with physical, mental, or emotional handicaps. Most children waiting for permanent families live in foster homes, group homes, or institutions.

How do you become an adoptive parent?

By attending an orientation meeting and 30 hours of training with other applicants. By providing personal references and current medical reports for all family members. By participating in individual interviews with the Home finding caseworker. By arranging for us to speak with all family members during visits in your home.

What are the requirements to be an adoptive parent?

Must be at least 18, but there are no maximum age restrictions. Can be single, married, widowed, divorced, or legally separated. Couples are required to be married a minimum of one year. Proof of marriage, legal separation, divorce or death of a spouse is required. Need an income sufficient to meet your family’s needs. Accepted sources of income include pension, disability, or public assistance. Must be in good health. Applicants are asked to have a physical examination to document that their health permits them to care for a child. Must be able to provide a child with his or her own bed although children can share a room.
Foster Care FAQ

What is foster care?
Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to live with their birth families.

Who are the children in care?

Foster children represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers. When siblings come into care, we try to place them together. Some children may have conditions that require special care. Teenage mothers also need homes for themselves and their children. Foster children, like all children, need love affection, and guidance.

What is a home study?
A home study usually consists of a completion of precertification training and a series of interviews between a family and a case worker to help applicants think through their ability to foster parent a child. It is important that people considering foster care be stable, sensitive, patient, and capable of giving a child love and understanding. The case workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they foster parent, and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.

Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, however, each child in foster care must have his or her own bed.

Can I afford to do this?
Foster parents receive a monthly care allowance to feed, clothe and meet the material needs of the children placed in their care. Extra compensation is available for special needs children.  All children in foster care are covered by Medicaid.

Can I work and still be a foster parent?
Yes, as long as you provide adequate child care arrangements while you are at work. The Office of Children & Family Services will reimburse your day care expenses on an individual basis for parttime and fulltime employment.

Does my spouse/partner have to participate in the group process and the home study?
Yes, because you are both being certified to provide foster care.

Where are the children requiring care?
They may be at home with their families and may be placed immediately; they may be in short-term foster homes, group homes, residential treatment centers, or hospitals.

Can I choose the age, sex, race, and the number of children I want?
Yes. You and your Home finder will work together to determine what types of children will best fit into your home.

What if my foster child gets sick?
Medical and dental coverage is provided through the New York State Medicaid program.

How many foster children can I parent?
You can care for up to 6 children, which include your own children under the age of 13, and no more than 2 children under age 2. You and your case worker will determine how many children you will be certified to foster parent.

How do I begin the process?
For more information, or to attend an orientation session, please call 518-388-4439 or email

Attend an orientation session. attend our training classes. participate in a home study. complete an application, a child abuse clearance form, be fingerprinted, and complete some other paper work. provide personal references and current medical reports.

How do I become a foster parent?
To become a foster parent with the Schenectady County Department of Social Services, you will need to ...

Who can become a foster parent?
You can apply to become a foster parent if you…

are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit. are married, single, or living with a partner. have sufficient income to meet your own family’s needs. are able to provide each child with his/her own bed although children can share a bedroom.

What is a foster parent and what do they do?
A foster parent is someone who can provide temporary care and love for children who are unable to live with their birth families. A foster parent should be someone who…

wants to make a difference in the life of a child. can make room in their home and heart for children who need temporary care. is flexible and capable of handling stressful situations. can work as a member of a team with case workers and other professionals. can help prepare a child for return to their birth family, to live independently if old enough, or to be adopted.