Top Questions From Aspiring Foster Parents

Foster Parents teaching a child how to cook

Over the past several years, we've recognized some excellent and commonly asked questions emerge in our first conversations with families who wish to foster.  We've decided to write this blog to help you get the answers you need and make a more informed decision about taking your first steps toward becoming a foster parent:

Can I foster or adopt a baby? 

  • Many families we speak to have the impression that most children in foster care are three years old and under. The reality is that although some babies may come into care, there are far more teenagers or children under 12 with siblings. 
  • Just as there is a specific impression about babies in foster care, we also know there is an impression about teens in foster care. Let us reassure you that it is not what you think and that our team is with you for 24/7 support with any placement you have in your home.
  • You can foster a baby, but not many babies in foster care are fostered or adopted, but most do not come without siblings.

How long will the foster child stay in my home? 

  • On average, children are in foster homes for six to 18 months. Many children will stay in your home for only a few months as the 18-month average is boosted by the youth that will age out of foster care.

Is there a cost associated with the training sessions and the home study?  

  • There is no cost to the family for the training sessions or the home study completion. It is FREE! This is also for all foster to adoptive families. Adoptive parents have the same journey as foster families to become licensed.

How long does it usually take to complete the certification process?  

  • Families typically complete the process within 90 to 120 days. Some families complete this process much quicker; however, some may take longer.

Is there an age requirement to foster?  

  • Foster parents must be a minimum age of 21. Many agencies have an internal policy about the age they will train.

Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?  

  • Foster parents can reside in homes they own or rent, including apartments, condos, townhomes, duplexes, etc. However, the space intended for the foster child should allow for privacy, such as a bedroom to themselves.

I live in subsidized housing; could I still become a licensed foster parent?  

  • Individuals receiving government assistance (i.e., TANF or food stamps, Section 8, or HUD housing) are not eligible to foster. Child support or Alimony cannot be counted as income. Dependence on these sources of funds is not considered financial stability.

I have pets; will that be a problem?  

  • Having pets does not prevent you from fostering; they can be an asset to a foster family. However, every animal is different, and your pets will be assessed as part of becoming a foster parent, considering factors such as their temperament and behavior. Licenses and vaccinations may be required as well in some localities.

Do I have to be married to be a foster parent?  

  • All families, including single-parent and two-parent homes of all races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, etc., are welcome to apply.

Does my spouse/live-in partner have to train? Do we have to train at the same time?  

  • Your spouse/live-in partner does have to complete the training modules. However, training modules can be completed at different times. You will not be licensed until both parents have completed all training and licensing requirements.

I will be unable to attend one of the training sessions; how will I be able to make up the training?  

  • After our monthly sessions, there are times when make-up training sessions are offered. However, missed training sessions can also be made up during the sessions scheduled in the next month.

What is the difference between the Local CHILD-PLACING Agency and the Local Department of Social Services?  

  • Many people have heard of foster care, but few know the public and private agencies serving foster families. A private foster care agency, also known as a Child Placement Agency (CPA), is licensed by the state to provide services in conjunction with the state's Department of Social Services (DSS). Private agencies can place children wherever they have approved families, while the local DSS can only place children in the district/locality they serve.

What would disqualify me from becoming a foster parent?  

Five factors could be considered disqualifiers for becoming a licensed foster parent:

  1. The applicant does not meet the required training, experience, or family income regulations.
  2. The applicant or any person in the household is unsuitable for providing safe and appropriate care.
  3. The applicant's home is unsafe or inadequate to provide for the need of the children in care.
  4. The applicant is found to have provided false or misleading information to the Child Placing Agency (CPA).
  5. The applicant or any household member has a criminal conviction of a nature that could put children at risk of harm.
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