Foster Parent Information

‘Foster Parenting 101’

Basic Requirements

Basic requirements to become a foster family usually include:

  • Completion of an application for family home license
  • Background check, criminal history check and finger printing of each adult member of the household
  • Family stability
  • Home inspection and personal interview
  • Character references
  • Minimum age of applicant: 21

Foster Parent Training Requirements

You should be aware of the fact, that when becoming a foster parent, each state has different rules, regulations, and procedures to follow. Most states require that the foster parents be licensed by the state, others simply approve the home for placement of children.

You should contact your local department of family services and ask them for the foster parent requirements.

Foster Parenting FAQs

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What is Foster Care?

Foster care is the temporary placement of children and youth with families outside of their own home due to child abuse or neglect.  The goal is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment.

What is a Foster Parent?

A foster parent is a person who cares for children/youth who are not in their custody, children and youth who have entered the foster care system. Foster parents care about children and are willing and able to provide care and nurturing for the duration of the child’s stay in foster care. Foster parents are asked to complete an application, submit to home assessments and attend training. Foster families must demonstrate financial and emotional stability, responsibility and a willingness to work with the agency that supervises their home.

What is the First Step in Becoming a Foster Parent?

You are encouraged to be informed. Gather information about foster parenting, talk to other foster parents. Then contact your local social services office to sign up for their next foster parent orientation session. There are a number of ways to get information about orientation schedules:

  • Contact your state foster parent association
  • Contact your local department of children and family services
  • Visit the state foster parent association or state/county web site

Should you decide that you do not have sufficient room in your home or that you are unable to provide full time care for another child in your home, we encourage you to explore alternative ways to support foster care.

What are the requirements for becoming a Foster Parent?

Although foster care regulations vary from state to state, there are some universal requirements:

  • Age 21 or older
  • Criminal background check
  • Family stability
  • Character references
  • Regular source of income
  • Home safety inspection
  • Family home study/assessment
Can I choose the age of the child that I'll Foster?

Yes. However, be aware that there are many children needing out of home care and that through experience and training, you may find that you are most effective in caring for a specific age group or a range of ages. Families for children and youth between the ages of 11 and 16, sibling groups and teen moms are currently in the greatest need.

How long will foster children remain in my home?

That depends on the family case plan. The length of stay, however, is influenced by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. The goal is to seek a permanent placement for the child as quickly as possible, be it reunification with the birth parents, kinship care, or adoption. Placement is for as long as it takes to achieve a permanent placement for the child, whether the plan be for reunification with the child’s family, placement with relatives, or adoption.

I am a single person. Can I become a Foster Parent?

Yes. Single persons and married couples are generally accepted as foster parents. Some states do not license/certify homes in which unmarried adults are living together unless they are relatives.

What type of support do Foster Parents receive?

Each family or child is assigned a case manager who is responsible for providing support to each family. Supportive services (respite care, training, crisis lines, etc.) are provided by the licensing agency. Support is also available through state and local associations.

What about medical insurance for foster children?

In most states foster children are eligible for Medicaid cards which cover medical, dental and counseling services.

As a Foster Parent, can I work outside the home?

Yes. However, if the foster child requires day care, the foster parent often is responsible for that expense.

Who pays for the clothing for the child in Foster care?

Foster parents receive a reimbursement which is intended to cover the cost of food and clothing. Some states provide a clothing voucher at the time of the child’s first placement. Others provide clothing vouchers at the beginning of each school year.

Do I need to own my own home to foster?

No, however you do have to have space for a foster child, according to the requirement of your state.

Do Foster Children have to have their own bedroom?

In most cases, foster children can share a bedroom with another child of the same sex.

Can I adopt a child that has been in Foster care in my home?

The goal is to reunify a child with his/her family. In the event that the child cannot return home or placed with other relatives, foster parents may be considered as adoptive parents.

Can I take a child in Foster care with my family on vacation with me?

Yes, with permission of the child’s social worker.

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