12 Requirements for Housing Foster Care Children

foster mom painting with a child

12 Requirements for Housing Foster Care Children

From emotional personal service advertisements to inspiring success stories, there's more attention on fostering and adoption these days. Maybe it was an ad that inspired you or a question from your spouse, but now you're interested in helping youth within the foster system. 

If you're considering housing foster care children, you should know about specific requirements for eligibility. These are in place to ensure every child finds the right home and that you're a good fit for each other. 

Here are twelve prerequisites to understand and consider. 

1. Minimum Age

Most states have a minimum age requirement to become a foster parent; in many cases, the minimum age requirement is 21.  FosterVA looks at parents above 25 years old your CPA may have different age groups.

In Virginia, foster parents need to be at least 18 years old. That said, foster parents need to consider their levels of development and maturity. Taking care of a foster child takes time, sacrifice, and responsibility. 

2. Income Levels

A common myth is that you can't care for a foster child if your income is below a certain level. The only requirement for housing foster care children is a steady income source.

In most states, you need to make enough to support your family's needs, including making rent or mortgage payments and covering bills. You also must have enough to pay for basic needs, such as food and clothing. 

Foster parents receive a monthly maintenance payment to help care for foster children in their care. 

3. Housing Size

Another myth is that you must live in a large house or own your home. Renters can also provide foster care housing if residences meet all safety requirements. 

You also need enough room for the number of foster children living there. Factors to consider include having enough space, furnishings for the child/children, and enough room for recreational activities. The number of youth and the age and sex of the kids you wish to serve will make a difference to your licensed capacity for your home.

Rooms need to be heated in the winter, well-ventilated, and dry. Also, children must have easy access to an exit in an emergency. 

4. Bedrooms

You must have a separate bed and bedding for each child. Bedrooms cannot be passageways. 

Children over age two of the opposite sex can't share a room in Virginia, and they can't share a bedroom with an adult. There also has to be sufficient space for them to move and at least three feet between each bed. 

No more than four children can share a bedroom. 

4. Bathrooms

Before providing housing for foster children, you need working indoor bathroom facilities. You must have a toilet, sink, and tub or shower for every eight people, including the foster children. 

You must store hazardous materials such as medications and cleaning chemicals in a location inaccessible to children. 

Every home should also have basic first-aid supplies in an accident or injury. 

5. Firearms and Weapons

Every day in the United States, an average of 19 children are killed or receive emergency treatment for gunshot wounds. Talking to all kids in your house regarding gun safety and locking up your weapons can help reduce these instances. 

Individuals providing foster care housing must keep firearms, ammunition, and weapons stored in a cabinet or locked closet unless lawfully carried. Store the combination or the key in a separate location out of reach of any children in the home. 

Possession of firearms and weapons must comply with local, state, and federal law. 

6. Smoke Detectors

Foster care providers must have at least one installed and approved working smoke detector. 

Families interested in fostering children should contact the local fire marshal. State fire marshals may also be contacted for a list of specific requirements. 

7. A Clean Home

It's a well-known fact that children are messy, so having an immaculate home without a single spec of dust or object out of place isn't always a good sign. Your home may not stay spotless, but you should keep it clean. 

The grounds of your home need to be free from litter and debris and pose no hazard to a child. 

Your home should also be in good repair without any safety hazards, such as exposed wires, leaks, mold, etc. 

8. Is a Single Person Able to Be a Foster Parent?

One question that often comes up is whether a single parent can foster. Yes, single parents can foster, and there is no requirement related to relationship status. Domestic partners can also foster. 

The only requirement is that a foster parent has enough time and energy to dedicate to caring for a child. 

Most states require applicants to be healthy enough to support the needs of the children but don't have specific requirements regarding medical conditions. So, even individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., can still foster.

Certain states prohibit smoking in a foster child's presence. 

9. Is a Foster Parent Able to Hold a Job?

Can a foster parent hold a job while providing housing? Yes, there are no requirements about a foster parent needing to stay at home or being unable to work outside the house. 

Many families work while also fostering. The only requirement is that you have enough time to dedicate to caring for the child, such as spending time with them and getting involved in their life.  

10. Parenting Experience

Although it will undoubtedly be helpful, you do not need parenting experience. That said, you must attend parent training classes that teach you how to foster children and what you need to know about the process. 

The training sessions are free and required if you want to complete the certification process. If parents cannot make a training session, they can take make-up training

11. Complete a Home Study

One of the most important requirements is to complete a home study. 

During this part of the process, an assessor comes to your home to visit with you and talk with the family. The assessor will ensure your home is safe for a child and perform interviews with family members. 


Another requirement is to have access to reliable transportation. Foster children need to attend appointments, head to school, etc. As such, foster families need to have a valid driver's license and access to a vehicle or other form of transportation. 

While access to a train or bus is generally acceptable, it's often preferred that foster parents have their own vehicle. 

Housing Foster Care Children

If you're considering housing foster care children, you'll need to meet these twelve requirements. You may already be qualified to apply. 

When you're ready to learn more about how to foster, or if you have questions about the requirements, contact our parent advocate. Whether this is your first time considering fostering or you've given it much thought, the first step is to reach out!

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