If you’ve found yourself wondering how to become a foster parent, this short list will help you realize this goal.

1. Make the decision. Becoming a foster parent begins with making a clear decision to move forward. All good, worthwhile endeavors have some difficult aspects. Foster parenting is no different. So do your research, be aware, then make the decision.

2. Choose an agency or organization. Whether it’s a state-run agency you choose or a private organization, there are children in foster care who will benefit from your choice. And both private and public organizations have many of the same requirements.

3. Apply. Applications are straightforward. On the application you must list your age (each state has legal age requirements); your citizenship (must be a U.S. citizen); your income (income must be adequate to support a foster child); specifics about your home (adequate space is required); and more, depending on the agency or organization you choose.

4. Complete a Home Study & Background Check. To make sure the child is matched appropriately with a family, and to ensure the child’s safety, the home studies and background checks are required.

5. Get Training. Foster parenting is a huge commitment. Proper training will ensure success for both the caregivers and the children and youth in your home. Training varies, depending on the agency/organization chosen and the state’s requirements.

6. Look into Additional Qualifications. These vary depending on the state in which you live as well as the organization/agency you choose.

Choosing to be a foster parent is an unselfish act that will bless the lives of children and bring joy and satisfaction to you as well.