Foster Care

LSSI provides placement and casework services for children who have been removed from their birth families because of abuse and/or neglect. The goal of LSSI's foster care services is to return the child back to his or her birth family. Services include training and licensing for foster families. Foster parents, working with LSSI, support the child’s connection to his or her birth family by providing transportation to or hosting sibling visits, and visiting with birth parents when the child welfare team mutually agrees upon this.

LSSI is the largest provider of foster care services in the state. Approximately 10 percent of Illinois children under the guardianship of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are served by LSSI.

For more information about foster care, please call 888.322.5774.

LSSI is an Illinois Licensed Child Welfare Agency - License #013005

  • Foster Care for Special Needs Children

    LSSI provides placement services for special needs children who have been abused or neglected and offers intensive training to prepare foster parents for meeting the children’s needs. The training addresses the needs for one of the following types of specialized foster care:

    Medical specialized foster parents care for children with conditions such as diabetes, shaken baby syndrome, HIV/AIDS, cerebral palsy, or children who are equipment-dependent. In the Chicago area, LSSI also works to provide emergency foster homes when needed.

    Behavioral specialized foster parents are “teaching parents” who help children and families learn new skills and express their feelings appropriately. They help children and youth who have behavioral and emotional needs that stem from traumatic experiences, such as abuse and neglect, or separation and loss. For more information, please call 888.322.5774.

  • Support Services for Teens in Foster Care

    “Steps to Life” is a special program that assists teens in foster care with their transition to adulthood. Youth meet weekly and participate in a program with a life-skills curriculum based on motivational principles such as inspiration, perseverance, competence, responsibility and integrity. Participants enjoy enrichment/life skills seminars, group sessions, field trips, motivational speakers, overnight retreats, movies and music.

    For more information, please call 312.949.4786.

  • Frequently Asked Questions About Foster Care
    What is foster care?

    Foster care is the temporary placement of a child in a new home away from his/her family due to abuse or neglect. Placement in a foster home protects the child while working with the birth family towards the ultimate goal of returning the child home. When it is not possible to return a child home safely, a new goal of adoption may be sought.

    What are the different types of foster care?

    There are two kinds: regular/relative foster care and specialized foster care.

    • Regular/relative foster care provides placement and case management for children who have been removed from their birth families because of abuse or neglect.
    • Specialized foster care serves children who have been abused or neglected and also have serious medical, emotional and/or behavioral problems.
    How do I become a foster parent?

    Call 888.322.LSSI (5774) or email CCS@LSSI.org to talk to a resource worker. You will be referred to the LSSI office closest to your home. Also, many LSSI offices hold orientation meetings for prospective parents to learn more about fostering or adoption. Ask the resource worker about attending one.

    What are the qualifications of being a foster parent?

    To qualify to be a foster parent, you:

    • Must have a desire and commitment to care for and work with children.
    • May be single or married.
    • May rent or own your residence.
    • Must be stable, understanding, caring and in good health.
    • Must be able to work as part of a team.
    • Must have sufficient financial resources to provide for yourself and your family.
    • Must be able to support children’s ties to their birth families and support reunification efforts, when applicable.
    • Do NOT have to be Lutheran.
    What is the foster parent licensing process like?
    • A resource worker will guide you through the application packet, which includes information about you and your family, background check forms and medical evaluations.
    • Adult members of your household will need to be fingerprinted to check for criminal history (minor criminal history in the past does not necessarily prevent you from fostering).
    • A resource worker will make one or more home visits to ensure that your home meets licensing standards.
    • A resource worker will have several discussions with you and your family to understand your interest in foster care.
    • You (and your spouse, if applicable) will need to attend pre-service training about the needs of children in foster care.
    • A resource worker will discuss the stipends available to assist you in caring for a foster child.
    What about adoption?

    If efforts to reunify children with their birth families are unsuccessful, foster parents may be asked to consider adopting their foster children. However, it is important that all foster parents realize that the first goal for almost all children is reunification with their birth family. Foster parents must be able to support those efforts.

    LSSI has other adoption programs, including infant, inter-country and special needs adoption (children who have been abused and/or neglected and present emotional, medical, educational or behavioral challenges).

    Many children in need of permanency through adoption are older or are siblings who need to be placed together.

    LSSI believes in openness in adoption. This allows birth parents and adoptive parents to share information about each other and have the option of establishing some level of personal relationship.

    Adoption support and preservation services are offered to families following the legal completion of all adoptions.

    For information on LSSI’s adoption programs, call 888.671.0300 or visit AdoptionIllinois.org.