The foster care system helps connect abused, neglected or abandoned children with a new temporary or permanent place to live. To help ensure the safety and well being of each child, potential foster parents must pass several evaluation measures before being approved for this responsibility. Familiarizing yourself with the procedure and your state’s requirements can help you determine whether anything will prevent you from becoming a foster parent.
1. Home Study
In some states, a home study is required of potential foster parents. During this study, the evaluator will look at the safety, health and physical condition of the home. Each person in the home will be interviewed and the character, motivation and willingness to cooperate with agency requirements will be considered. If your home is not up to the state’s requirements or you score badly on your interview, it might prevent you from becoming a foster parent.
2. Background Checks
You and anyone in your home older than 18 years old will be required to have a background check. The foster care agency needs to know whether you or any other adult in the house had any child abuse or maltreatment reports filed against them. The agency also looks at criminal history, including charges or conviction of any crimes. Depending on the types of crimes found, your foster care application might be rejected or, if you already have a foster child in your home, the child might be removed from your home or you might have your foster home approval or certificate revoked.
3. Classes and Certifications
Foster parents need to be familiar with the issues associated with abused and neglected children, and with basic safety procedures. Depending on your state and the foster care agency you’re working with, you'll face some required or recommended classes. The topics covered in these classes can include child and adolescent development and behavior, domestic violence, emotional effects of child abuse and neglect, universal safety precautions, nutrition or home fire safety training. CPR and first aid training might also be required. If you haven’t completed the required classes or obtained the required certificates, you can’t become a foster parent.
Each state has an age requirement for prospective foster parents. In some states, you must be 21 years old or older to qualify to become a foster parent, while other states only require you to be 18 years old. If you are younger than your state’s minimum age, you can’t apply to become a foster parent until then.
- New York State Office of Children and Family Services: Requirements to Become a Foster Parent
- Texas Department of Family Protective Services: Requirements for Foster/Adopt Families
- AdoptUSKids: Completing a Foster Home Study
- AdoptUSKids: Applying to Foster
- Foster Parent Pre-Service Training; National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning
- Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services: Becoming a Foster Parent in Montana
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