Trial Court Foster Parenting

Berrien County Trial Court
Hope Leach, 269-983-7111, ext 8407
Jeanine Ernsberger, 269-983-7111, ext 6218

811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Email:  Foster Parenting 
Hours: 8:30 - 5:00

Mission Statement
To provide a safe, secure, structured environment for male and female youth within a family setting, that will nurture them and enable them to reach their highest potential."

A Brief Explanation of Berrien County Trial Court's Foster Care Program:
Berrien County Trial Court Family Division, places court wards into Foster Care Homes; these youth range in age from 12 to 17 years-old. Some youth are in need of short-term placement ranging from 6 months to 1 year, and other youth will need long-term placement (more than one year).

  • Berrien County Trial Court has implemented a comprehensive assessment process to better allow our Foster Parents to "know" the youth prior to that youth being placed into their home.
  • Our Foster Parents are allowed an opportunity to interview the youth prior to the youth being place in their home.
  • Berrien County Trial Court does not place any youth into foster care in the middle of the night.
  • Every foster youth will meet with a foster care specialist at least twice a month.
  • All foster youth attend counseling.
  • All the foster youths' medical expenses are covered by Medicaid.
  • Our Foster parents will be given a purchase order to purchase clothes for the youth.
  • Foster parents are also reimbursed for the care and custody that they provide foster youth.

Reimbursement for the care and custody provided by a foster parent(s) is based on the needs of the foster youth. A Difficulty of Care Assessment is conducted to determine the rate of the foster youth's level of care/need. Reimbursement is calculated by the Court on a per day basis. Checks are mailed once a month. The current rate of reimbursement is at a minimum of $30.00 per youth, per day; and the maximum is $50.00 per youth, per day.

Reimbursement is non-taxable and not considered income. Each foster family must, "have a defined source of income, and be capable of managing that income, to meet the needs of the foster family." In other words, a foster family must be able to meet their financial obligations without receiving the foster care reimbursement.

What Does the Initial Licensing Process Involve?

Inquiry Phase:
Call us at (269) 983-7111 ext. 8407 and let us know that you are interested in gathering information about becoming a foster parent. Or email us at Foster Parenting.

Attend Orientation:
Berrien County Court presents an orientation to fully explain the entire foster care program. This orientation allows a prospective foster parent to learn what is expected of him/her as a foster parent, and what services Berrien County Court can provide to foster parents. You will receive a copy of Berrien County's Foster Program's policy and procedures. A prospective foster parent must attend an orientation prior to being given a Foster Home License application. All adult caregivers in a household must attend an orientation to receive an application. By attending an orientation you are not obligated to become a foster parent, you have nothing to lose - just information to gain. If you or anyone you know have thought about fostering youth please call to schedule an orientation.

Application Phase:
Following the orientation an application must be filled out in order to continue the process of becoming a foster parent. The application must be signed by the adult caregivers in the household.

Initial Evaluation/Home Study Phase:
After you have returned your completed application, the Licensing Worker will schedule 2-3 home visits to complete the following:

  1. Criminal Record Clearance Request/background investigation
  2. Three non-relative references
  3. Medical Statement for each member of the household
  4. Rule Compliance Record form
  5. Miscellaneous agency forms
  6. Written Foster Home Evaluation
This process will take anywhere from 2-4 months.

Certification Phase:
Based on the information gathered during the evaluation/home study phase the Licensing Worker will send his/her recommendation to the Bureau of Regulatory Services in Lansing. The Bureau of Regulatory Services in Lansing will issue or deny a foster care license based on the information provided by the Berrien County Trial Court.

Training Phase:
After the Bureau of Regulatory Services issues your foster care license, each foster parent must complete 6 hours of training (not including the orientation) prior to any foster youth being placed into in a foster home.

Foster Parents will be provided with on going training and support. Foster Parent training is scheduled on various dates and times, a notice of the upcoming training is mailed to each foster parent.

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Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Berrien County Administration Center
701 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
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Last Updated 4/22/2016   
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