How do you become a foster parent?

How do you become a foster parent? 

Best Answers

  • Answer ✓
    This is a great question! As of the most current estimate, over 430,000 kids are in the foster system in the United States--and that number has grown every single year. Lots of people feel pulled to help children, and becoming a foster parent is a great way to do this. In order to become a foster parent, the first step is to talk to the agency in your community that serves children in the foster system. They will more than likely give you some basic forms and refer you to an orientation meeting. (Most agencies have them monthly.) At that initial orientation they can give you an overview of the process and the specific criteria that you will need to meet in order to become a certified foster parent. They will explain the difference between being simply a foster parent, wanting to foster-adopt, and becoming a respite care-giver. You will most likely be required to attend several meetings, as well as child care classes--but these will prepare you for fostering!
    After your orientation you will have lots of paperwork and meetings in order to become approved. You will fill out medical records, receive a police background check, submit copies of financial records, and consent to have a social worker inspect your home. Different states have different home requirements--some require each child to have his own bedroom, may refuse homes with trampolines or swimming pools, or may require bars on windows. Your state agency can tell you exactly what you need--they want you to succeed! Every person living in your home will be required to also undergo background checks and things in order for you and your household to become approved.
    As you are completing the home study approval process you will meet with the social worker assigned to you and discuss the types of cases you would like to be matched with, such as special needs or sibling groups, infants, teens, or only children who are ready to be adopted. 
  • Answer ✓

    The rules vary state to state, but the process is pretty similar for each state.  The first step you'll want to take is to search out local foster/adoption agencies in your area.  The best way to do this is to do a google search to see what agencies are available where you live.  Once you have created a list of agencies, seek them out, make appointments with each one.  Sit down and discuss what your expectations are in being a foster parent, what kind of support you're looking for, want what benefits each agency offers to you as the foster parent for being with their agency.  Ask what qualifications you must have to be licensed with each agency as well.  Some agencies do not license same sex couples or single parents, or those who do not have a religious affiliation.  Others will license anyone wanting to foster as long as the meet the state guidelines for providing a safe home.

    Once you have decide what agency is best for you and your family, discuss the training process with that agency and what paper work will be required.  Most agencies/states require valid driver's licenses, FBI finger print background checks, criminal background checks, verification of employment, verification of residency, home inspections (fire and health) (these may cost a little), and a home study of all members of your home.  A home study is an in-depth interview of each member of the home as to what their life is like now, what their parenting style is like, what their family life was like as a child, etc.

    Once all paper work is completed then the training usually begins or often times the paper work can be processed at the same time that training is taking place.  Those wishing to be foster parents will attend mandatory training normally 40+ hours in the areas of: Trauma and Informed Care, CPR/First Aid, Methods of Discipline, Psychotropic medications, etc.  Each family will have to maintain a certain number of hours each year in order to maintain their license with their agency.  Often times much of the training can be done online.

    Once training is complete and all other documents and checks are passed, than a license will be issued for the amount of and age of children the family is willing to accept into their home.  Families do have the rights to define what children they feel comfortable taking, and which ones they do not feel comfortable with.

    Becoming licensed really is not that difficult or time consuming.  If a family is diligent in becoming licensed it can take as little as 4-6 months from start to having your first placement.  The experience is difficult, but rewarding at the same time.
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