Become a Shelter Parent

Become a Shelter Parent

Open your home. Open your heart.

You can help a child in need by becoming a shelter home parent and opening your home to help a child need of a safe place to live. Shelter home parents are special people who provide a temporary home, along with guidance, love and stability to children and teens in need of a safe place to live.

Are you interested in becoming a shelter home parent? Call to find out how you can provide temporary shelter care (up to 30 days) for a child in need of a temporary home.  Call today to find out more:

  • To become a shelter parent in a bilingual (English & Spanish speaking) home, call 856.651.9633
     
  • To become a shelter parent (English only speaking home), call 856.881.6100       

All youth need a caring home environment to reach their full potential. The Helping Hands Shelter Home program places children and teens (newborns to age 18) in temporary shelter homes with the goal of family reunification.  Shelter homes provide a provide a nurturing, safe, and encouraging temporary home (up to 30 days).  Shelter home parents create an environment that helps children to heal from the trauma they experienced and encourages personal growth, instills family values, and celebrates successes. 

Shelter home parents receive ongoing help and support from our staff. Helping Hands trained staff are there every step of the way to guide shelter home parents to become the best caregivers they can be. The Helping Hands Shelter Home program offers: 

  • an excellent training program
  • a coach to support shelter home parents
  • case management for each child
  • education for each child
  • a competitive stipend

We are especially in need of shelter home parents that are bi-lingual, English and Spanish. 

Not sure if becoming a Shelter Home Parent is right for you? Continue reading for our Frequently Asked Questions or to take our short questionnaire.

 

Frequently Asked Questions - Sheltering Children and Teens

You need to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to become a shelter home parent. The application process involves background checks, scheduled visits to your home, and trainings. During the application process staff members gather paperwork, interview all family members, inspect the home for safety, and fully explain the responsibilities of being a shelter home parent. It takes total commitment on the part of the entire family. Our careful screening process helps you to determine whether shelter parenting is right for you. Only those applicants who meet all eligibility criteria become shelter home parents.

Our most successful shelter home parents are open-minded, dependable, honest, patient, culturally sensitive, and willing to learn new parenting styles for children with different needs. Having a flexible schedule, being tolerant of change, and demonstrating the ability to follow our guidelines are all important qualities for success. Being able to accept the temporary nature of being a shelter home parent will better prepare you for the transitions that will occur. If you are a creative problem solver, a good listener, and have a sense of humor, you will develop strong connections to our youth.

Yes, you will be required to be licensed, and we will provide everything you will need including orientation to the program, ongoing trainings, regular in-person support, 24-hour on-call support availability and other tools to help you learn and develop your skills along the way.

As a shelter home parent, children will stay in your home for up to 30 days.

Children are placed through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) from across the state of New Jersey. They may enter your home directly from their family’s home, another safe home, or from a more restrictive setting such as a residential facility.

Children range in age from 9-18, including pregnant and parenting teens. Some children are stepping down from residential treatment, some have developmental delays, some have suffered severe trauma. Children will be connected with additional supports while in your care.  As a shelter parent, you will receive extensive training on how to provide trauma-informed care and how best to handle the specific needs of each child.

Sometimes, if time permits, we can arrange for a pre-placement visit. In most cases, however, a child’s need for a safe and caring home is urgent, and you may not be able to meet the child until he or she arrives at your home.

Yes, shelter home parents receive compensation to cover all the needs of the youth, including but not limited to: food, clothing, shelter, medical co-pays, transportation, recreation, and allowance. Based on IRS laws the compensation funds should not be considered income. There is no minimum income requirement to become a shelter home parent. However, your income must be earned and should be sufficient to meet the financial needs of your family.

All children are influenced by behaviors and attitudes of other people, whether these individuals are friends at school, neighbors, or children receiving care through our program. If your children understand your expectations and have a sense of appropriate behavior and values, then it can be a positive experience for all involved.

Yes, an extra bedroom is needed in order for you to be a shelter parent. The children placed in shelter homes can share a bedroom with other children in our shelter homes program as long as they are the same sex. For example, you provide shelter care for two females placed through our shelter homes program, they can share a bedroom. 

When the goal is to eventually reunite the family, visits are crucial to help the child maintain a sense of belonging and identity. Visitation schedules vary and may be scheduled once a week or once or twice a month. Visits are generally held in a supervised location. Your involvement in these visitations is completely optional beyond assisting with transportation.

Our staff maintain frequent, consistent contact with shelter home parents. As a shelter home parent, you will have weekly in-home visits with your case manager. During those visits, you will discuss the child's/children's progress in the home, at school, and address any concerning behaviors. We have a therapist on staff for youth who need individual therapy. For emergencies, we are available 24/7 to support and guide you. Life skills are taught to the youth in a group setting monthly. Staff also provide regular trainings to the shelter home parents.

We provide ongoing communication in order to help our shelter home parents to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We provide ongoing training and 1:1 support to address any areas of need you may have. We also provide respite care as needed.

Your current parenting style will determine how much of an adjustment you will need to make to follow our guidelines. Our policies and guidelines are designed to protect both you and the child. We only allow appropriate, non-physical methods of discipline such as removing privileges, giving timeouts, using rewards, and encouragement and praise for good behavior. Some of our discipline rules include: • No physical punishment • No withholding meals, clothing or shelter • No verbal abuse or name-calling • No threats to have a child removed • No physically strenuous work or exercise solely for punishment • No allowing other children to punish the shelter care child • No withholding family visitations If staff discover any of these methods are being used, the shelter home family will be re-evaluated as a member of our team.

Yes, we encourage you to make your friends and family aware of your decision to become a shelter home parent and respects the privacy of the child/children placed. We require all frequent visitors complete background checks and the fingerprinting process for the protection of the children and your family.

Yes, most of our shelter home parents work. However, it is important to remember that you must have flexibility in your schedule and be able to provide adequate time and support to each child. Like your own children, you will be responsible for attending teacher conferences, medical appointments, and transporting the children to recreational activities. Sometimes our children have difficulty adjusting to the new situation. This may display itself as negative behaviors in school. You need to have the flexibility to go to school for emergencies such as that.

All school-age children must be registered in school. Home schooling a child is prohibited.

Frequently Asked Questions - Sheltering Children and Teens in Bilingual Homes

You need to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to become a shelter home parent. The application process involves background checks, scheduled home visits, and trainings. During the application process staff members gather paperwork, interview all family members, inspect the home for safety, and fully explain the responsibilities of being a shelter home parent. It takes total commitment on the part of the entire family. Our careful screening process helps you to determine whether this is right for you. Only those applicants who meet all eligibility criteria become shelter home parents.

Our most successful shelter home parents are open-minded, dependable, honest, patient, culturally sensitive, and willing to learn new parenting styles for children with different needs. Having a flexible schedule, being tolerant of change, and demonstrating the ability to follow our guidelines are all important qualities for success. Being able to accept the temporary nature of being a shelter home parent will better prepare you for the transitions that will occur. If you are a creative problem solver, a good listener, and have a sense of humor, you will develop strong connections to our youth. 

Yes, you will be required to be licensed, and we will provide everything you will need including orientation to the program, ongoing trainings, regular in-person support, 24-hour on-call support availability and other tools to help you learn and develop your skills along the way.

As a shelter home parent, children will stay in your home for up to 30 days.

The children crossed the southern border into the United States as unaccompanied minors, seeking asylum in the United States. Children are placed through the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Children range in age from newborns to age 17, including pregnant and parenting teens.  Some children have suffered severe trauma. The children will be connected with additional supports while in your care. As a shelter parent, you will receive extensive training on how to provide trauma-informed care and how best to handle the specific needs of each child.

The children in our program are in urgent need of a safe and caring home, so you will meet them when they arrive at your home.

Yes. as a shelter parent, you will receive compensation to cover the needs of the youth, including but not limited to: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, recreation, and allowance. Based on IRS laws, the compensation funds should not be considered income. There is no minimum income requirement to become a shelter home parent. However, your income must be earned and should be sufficient to meet the financial needs of your family.

Yes, an extra bedroom is needed in order for you to be a shelter parent. The children placed in shelter homes can share a bedroom with other children in our shelter homes program as long as they are the same sex. If you provide shelter care for two females placed through our shelter homes program, they can share a bedroom. 

Helping Hands Shelter Homes maintains frequent, consistent contact with all shelter home parents.  You will have weekly in-home visits with your case manager. During those visits, you will discuss the child's/children's progress in the home and address any concerning behaviors. We have a therapist on staff for youth who need individual therapy. For emergencies, we are available 24/7 to support and guide you. Life skills are taught to the youth in a group setting monthly. Staff also provide regular trainings for shelter home parents.

We provide ongoing communication in order to help our shelter home parents to avoid becoming overwhelmed. We provide ongoing training and 1:1 support to address any areas of need you may have. We also provide respite care as needed.

Your current parenting style will determine how much of an adjustment you will need to make to follow our guidelines. Our policies and guidelines are designed to protect both you and the child. We only allow appropriate, non-physical methods of discipline such as removing privileges, giving timeouts, using rewards, and encouragement and praise for good behavior. Some of our discipline rules include:

  • No physical punishment
  • No withholding meals, clothing or shelter
  • No verbal abuse or name-calling
  • No threats to have a child removed
  • No physically strenuous work or exercise solely for punishment
  • No allowing other children to punish the shelter care child

If staff discover any of these methods are being used, the shelter home family will be re-evaluated as a member of our team.

Yes, we encourage you to make your friends and family aware of your decision to become a shelter home parent and respects the privacy of the child/children placed. We require all frequent visitors complete background checks and the fingerprinting process for the protection of the children and your family.

Yes, most of our shelter home parents work, however, a parent must be at home at all times when a child is at home. Like your own children, you will be responsible for attending teacher conferences, medical appointments, and transporting the children to recreational activities.

There are two schooling options for our bilingual shelter homes. Children can be brought to the Juntos Success Center for education or can choose to be home schooled by their shelter home parent. Home schooling will be monitored through your weekly meetings with your case manager.

Contact Us

Interested in speaking with someone about becoming a shelter home parent? Contact us today!

Phone: 856.651.9633        

Email: helpinghands@centerffs.org  

Shelter Home Parent Criteria

Potential shelter home parents must meet the following criteria to be considered:

  • Must be 25 years of age
  • Bi-lingual English and Spanish (if accepting youth immigrating from outside the United States)
  • A legal US citizen or legal US resident
  • Possess a valid NJ driver's license, with an insured vehicle
  • Complete an extensive background check (be clear of convictions for crimes or disorderly person offenses)
  • Have income sufficient to meet your family's needs
  • Be in good general health
  • Have stable housing
  • Successfully complete interview screenings
  • Successfully complete home study
  • Successfully complete extensive training program
Take our Shelter Home Parent Hero Quiz!

Helping Hands Parent Quiz

Every child needs a space to call their own. If you are interested in becoming a shelter home parent you must have a private bedroom available for our youth.
Children and teenagers are exploring and learning about the world around them. Most importantly, they're trying to find out how they fit in. Could you see yourself guiding them on that journey?
We're not looking for computer science majors or programmers. But being a Helping Hands Serenity Homes shelter parent means using a computer to communicate with our team.
Youth you'll work with need help learning how to pick themselves back up after a setback. Sometimes that means breaking down a goal into smaller, achievable steps, or changing an expectation so they can be successful.
What works for one child may not work for another. We're looking for individuals and families who can think creatively to help a young person become their very best.

Sounds like you may be a great fit!

The decision to become a shelter home parent is an intensely personal one. Being a parent means welcoming a child into not just your family and home, but also your heart.

Helping Hands Serenity Homes parents take all forms – from those that have finished raising their own children to individuals who want to give back to their community by helping families of all types stay together. We want to help you explore when your vision is and see if being a foster parent is right for you.

You probably have many questions and, perhaps, some hesitations. Take the next step by filling out the last few questions below. We’ll set up a conversation with one of our team members. 

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