State or Private Agency
In our home state, Washington, and in most states for that matter, there are 2 ways to become a foster parent.
You can work directly with the department of state government that deals with foster care. In Washington it's called the Division of Children Youth & Families, or DCYF for short. It has an initialism because it's the rule.
EDIT: Washington re-organized this in the summer of 2018, that’s why I say DSHS/CA in the video.
That's the way that my wife and I became foster parents. We googled until we found the list of paperwork required to become a foster parent and the date/time of the next new foster parents class—which is called Core Caregiver Training or CCT (see? it's the rule).
Plenty of people do it that way, and you can certainly become a foster parent that way. But it's a little like traveling by yourself in a country where you don't speak the language. You can do it and some people prefer to, but most people would much rather have a guide.
There's a lot of little quirks and oddities in the foster parenting community, and not everybody wants to figure that stuff out on their own. Hence: the second way to become a foster parent—with a private agency.
A private agency, sometimes called a Child Placing Agency or CPA (rule!) is designed to do that—to help folks navigate this strange, heavily acronymed world.
The goal of a private agency like Skookum Kids is to help folks who want to become foster parents, find their way through the licensing process and then to help facilitate the placement of the right children in their home.
The state social workers get assigned to kids. As each child moves through the child welfare system, wherever that journey might take them, their social worker is supposed to follow, providing some stability to the movement of the case and thus for the child.
The social workers at a private agency are intended to provide the same kind of stability for the foster parents.
Since they stay with you throughout your foster parenting career, a private agency social worker, has a chance to understand you and your family, what you like and don't, which kinds of children thrive in your household, and maybe most importantly, what your voice sounds like when you need a break.
A private agency's job is to know you, to watch your back, and of course to translate all the acronyms.