I’ve wanted to be a foster parent since I was 12 years old. As I got older, I wondered if I could still be a foster parent even if I didn’t get married, or chose never to have biological children. I did end up getting married, and when my husband and I decided to get our foster care license, we still wondered if our age or decision not to have biological kids first was going to inhibit us from being able to be foster parents.
There are a few requirements for those looking into becoming foster parents, but they are not as restrictive as we had originally assumed. The requirements that are in place serve to ensure that individuals are able to care for children placed with them, and that the children will be safe in the home of foster parents.
Basic requirements for becoming a foster parent:
Age: All states have an age requirement for foster parents. Ages range from 18 to 25, with the most common age requirement being 21.
Citizenship: In order to be a foster parent you must be a US Citizen, legal permanent resident, or legally residing in the US.
Relationship/Family Status: There is no relationship requirement for foster parents. Potential foster parents can be single, married, divorced, or living with a partner. However, if you share a resident with your spouse or partner, you must both become licensed foster parents. There is also no requirement regarding previous parenting experience. You can become a foster parent whether you have children in your family or not.
Residential Situation: You may rent or own your residence. The only residential requirement is that you have adequate room for a foster child to live with you.
Financial Status: Potential foster parents must be able to support themselves and their current family financially in order to become licensed. Copies of recent paychecks are required to be on file for foster parents periodically. This is a safeguard that helps to ensure that foster parents are not becoming licensed to take the state-provided aid and use it for themselves.
Heath Status: Foster parents must be healthy enough to care for any children placed in their home. Before receiving a license, foster parents must get a physical.
There are no requirements regarding religion, race, or ethnic background.
Other than these few requirements, foster parents must get a background check and receive several hours of training to become licensed, as well as take several hours of continuing education classes each year to keep their license current.
The basic requirements may seem surprising to some. Many people assume one has to be married or older to become a foster parent. But really, kids in the foster care system need support and love, and they need someone willing to put the time and effort into giving them that, those qualities are not exclusive to a certain age, religion, or relationship status.
Find out more about the specific licensing requirements for your state here.