Becoming a Foster Parent Guide

Make a lasting difference in a child's life.

Rachel Skousen September 02, 2023

Amidst the complexities of the foster care system in the United States, over 400,000 children find themselves yearning for a glimmer of hope, stability, and a place to call home. These young souls come from diverse backgrounds, often scarred by neglect, abuse, or the heart-wrenching loss of their caregivers. They’ve weathered storms that would shake the most resilient adults, and now, they seek refuge. Becoming a foster parent is more than a noble endeavor; it’s a profound journey that can illuminate the lives of these children and transform their futures.

This article serves as a comprehensive guide for individuals considering the pivotal role of a foster parent. Before taking this life-altering step, it’s crucial to delve deep into self-assessment, understanding that a child in the foster care system is a whole human being with multifaceted needs. While qualifications may not align with rigid checkboxes, patience, a willingness to learn and adapt, and an open heart are paramount. We’ll dispel myths surrounding the financial aspects of fostering and emphasize the true purpose of the reimbursements—supporting the child’s needs.

This guide will also touch on the educational aspect, encouraging prospective foster parents to educate themselves about the unique challenges posed by children with histories of trauma. Attending orientation meetings, submitting applications, completing educational classes, undergoing comprehensive home studies, and awaiting the pivotal call are all pivotal stages in the foster parenting journey. Join us as we embark on this transformative voyage, one that holds the promise of mending hearts, nurturing souls, and making a profound difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Becoming a foster parent is one way that you can make a real and lasting impact on a child’s life.  It can also be a bridge to foster adoption. (For more information about how to adopt a child from the foster care program, click here.)

Step 4: Complete a Home Study
2. Step 4: Complete a Home Study

A home study is a very detailed background check. A social worker will work with you to gain more detailed information about you, anyone else living in your home, your neighborhood, and your friends. Your social worker will also ask you to provide information about your reasons for wanting to foster a child, ask for references and follow up with them, interview you (and your spouse, if you’re married), and look over your home to make sure it’s a safe place with adequate room to house a child.

The state foster care program you’re working with will have one of its staff social workers complete this evaluation.

Many states provide the option of either

(1) Completing a basic foster-care-only home study or
(2) Completing a “dual” home study that would enable you to adopt a child in your care, should the opportunity arise. (Please note that you can complete an adoption home study later if you don’t choose this option in the beginning. If you want to learn more about foster adoption, visit our Foster and Adoption page.)

Click here for some great tips on surviving your home study.

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Rachel Skousen

Rachel has a long-held passion for adoption that was sealed through her work as the content manager at She currently works as a content specialist at, finding and sharing amazing adoption content from across the web. She is a mom of three and loves reading and napping in her spare time.

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