If it’s your goal to add to your family through foster care, you may wonder what you have to do to become a foster parent. While it’s not a complicated process, it does take time, and it’s helpful if you know what you’re getting into before you begin.
Find an Agency
Your first step is to find a licensing agency to help you get your license as a foster parent. It may be through the state’s children’s services or a private agency. You’ll be assigned a licensing worker to your case. They will work with you through the process and even be your support once you’re licensed and caring for kids.
You’ll have to go through special training to become a foster parent. Each state has its own requirements, so you’ll want to ask your licensing worker what is necessary in your area. This training usually takes several weeks, and you’ll learn about many aspects of foster care and what is expected of foster parents. You’ll also need to get CPR trained, and other training may be required.
The licensing worker will conduct background checks on you for a criminal record. They may ask for references and talk to your employer and others to determine if you have the right support for being a foster parent. This task is done at the same time as training, but it can take a few weeks to complete. You will most likely need to have a fingerprint test, which will be sent to a government agency to check for a criminal background. This test can take three to four weeks to come back or even longer, depending on each state’s timelines.
One of the big requirements for getting licensed as a foster parent is to have a home study completed. This is a large document with in-depth information about you and your family. The licensing worker will come to your home and ask a series of questions. It often takes more than one visit to complete, and you should be prepared to answer honestly. Some of these questions will be based on the information you’re learning in your training, so the visits will be conducted during your training sessions.
Once you have met all the requirements of the state where you will be licensed, your packet is reviewed and approved. You will now be a foster parent, though it may take a while to get your certificate. If you are interested in fostering a family member, you will have to go through much of this same process, but you may be able to have the child in your home during that time.
Becoming a foster parent doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lengthy process to ensure that these children in care are going to stable, loving homes that have the financial, physical, and emotional means to support them. If you’re willing to go through the process, you’ll discover how rewarding being a foster parent can be.