Foster families

Prospective foster families are carefully and thoroughly screened. Before the screening starts they are extensively informed about all aspects of fostering and about the conditions of the cooperation with the OPZ Geel in the care for a boarder. Those rules of cooperation are outlined in a contract.

Foster family and boarders

If a family wants to apply to become a foster family, home visits are planned to investigate if they meet all the requirements. Their motivation, living conditions and willingness to cooperate with the OPZ Geel are evaluated. A background check is performed. A certificate from the family doctor is requested to validate the medical suitability of the foster family. Foster families should provide emotional support and guide boarders in everyday life. Hence, a stable living and housing environment is an important prerequisite. A lot of attention goes into clarifying the type of care the foster family is able and willing to offer: “How does this family live today and what type of care can be added without disturbing the family’s equilibrium too much?” We are not looking for a non-existing, “ideal family”. Diversity in the pool of foster families broadens the matching potential. All of the foster families are also interviewed by a psychiatrist of the foster care team.


Foster families are not employees of the hospital. Nor do the families need any prior training or knowledge in dealing with a mental vulnerability. But the OPZ Geel and its team offer a lot of support to the families. To be able to offer this support at the families’ home quickly, we limited the region in which we operate. All our foster families live in a region limited to Geel and the neighbouring municipalities. There are 88 families living in Geel and 12 in neighbouring municipalities. The average age of the families is 67 years of which 79% are two-parent families, 18% single-parent families consisting of a woman and 4% single-parent families consisting of a man. Non-traditional families can also become foster families, as long as there is a willingness to share life with someone with a mental illness.