What to Expect During a Potential Foster Parent Home Study

Social worker meeting a foster parent at front door

Last year in six months, 162 kids slept in hotels, emergency rooms, and offices simply because of a lack of permanent housing. Virginia desperately needs foster parents, and we need foster families like yours. 

So, are you wondering what to expect during a potential foster parent home study? If so, we'll go through the process here. Keep reading to learn what all prospective foster parents need to know about the home study, including requirements and more. 

What Is a Home Study? 

A home study aims to give the foster care agency, court, and home study writer an accurate idea of your family life, living conditions, lifestyle, and readiness to care for a foster child. 

The goal is always to find a good match for both the foster family and the children. 

The process and assessment include several parts, including interviews and a home visit. This part of the foster and adoption process makes many parents nervous, but you don't have to be if you know what to expect! 

What to Expect During a Potential Foster Parent Home Study

After orientation and training, interviews, background checks, and home visits come next. It's a long process, but vitally important to ensure the foster care agency and the court make the best decision regarding the foster family. 


Expect to be interviewed by a specialist several times. These interviews aim to give the specialist a more accurate picture of you and your family, which is why honesty is critical. 

If you're married, in a domestic partnership, or are part of a couple, expect your significant other to undergo the interview. Depending on whether you have children in the house and their ages, your kids will also have to answer questions. 

You can likely expect questions about your experience with children and parenting approaches. However, don't worry if you have no parenting experience. While having some experience is beneficial, orientation and training will help you prepare

You'll likely get questions about how you deal with stress, grief, and crisis. Expect to answer questions about your family life, close relationships, daily schedule, and other responsibilities. 

The home study specialist will also ask you questions about preferred age ranges, whether you plan to adopt, if you'd consider a sibling group, etc. 

If you are a potential adoptive parent working with an adoption agency, This interview is the same if you wish to adopt a child or a teen. Foster to adoption is the same process.

Health Statements and Coverage

Expect to have a physical exam and provide a note from your doctor that you're healthy and able to care for a child. 

Medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure aren't usually a concern if you take medication and see your doctor for a treatment plan.

Additionally, expect an assessment of your mental health. If you have a family history of mental health, you may need to provide further reports and information. Remember, each foster parent's situation is unique, and having a condition may not prevent you from fostering or adopting. 

You'll also get questions about your insurance policies, such as a health coverage plan. 

Proof of Income

Foster families must make enough money to care for themselves and their foster children. As such, prospective parents have to provide proof of income. Paycheck stubs, tax forms, or W-2 forms are all acceptable forms of evidence. 

You'll also have to show that you can manage your finances adequately. Expect to answer questions concerning your savings, debts, investments, and insurance policies. 

Your spouse will also need to gather these papers if you're married. Getting all these statements in order prevents any holdups and delays. 

Background Checks

All potential foster parents must undergo a background check and examine local, state, and federal criminal records. The background check process also looks for red flags, such as any history of child abuse. Some states require a fingerprint record. Virginia is one of these states, and your social worker will help you complete the paperwork in the home study process during the home study interview.

It's also up to the applicants to follow through with any necessary steps. 

The information gleaned during a background check may or may not affect eligibility. Agencies have to comply with all laws regarding background checks and licensing requirements. 

Agencies consider past history, how an individual dealt with the situation, and how they would use that knowledge moving forward.

Autobiographical Statement

Prospective parents may need to write an autobiographical statement, a story of their lives, including past events and current situations. 

People can create these as letters, scrapbooks, or social media pages. These statements help the home study writer learn more about you and your family. 


Potential foster parents should have a list of references to provide the agency. The reference list should contain names and contact information. 

References create a picture of your support network and give an idea of your personality. Most agencies state references can't be from family members. Some good options include close friends, church members, neighbors, etc. 

Home Visits

Home visits aim to ensure that a prospective family can provide a safe environment for a foster child. Homes must meet state licensing standards, including working smoke detectors, safe water, covered pools, etc. 

During the home visit, inspectors look for any hazards. Generally, this means an unsanitary environment, toxic chemicals, unsecured firearms, etc. 

Thankfully, it's easy to prepare a home for foster children. Ensure your home meets all safety standards for the age group you plan to foster. That may mean buying and installing child locks, outlet covers, firearm cabinets, and other safety equipment. 

How Can I Prepare for My Foster Care Home Study?

While the foster care home study may seem daunting at first, there's plenty you can do to prepare. For instance, read up on home study requirements, ask your agency for advice, and talk to other foster parents. 

The point of the home study is to ensure a great match, which means being honest about your situation. Read up on possible foster care home study questions to better understand what to expect. Prepare your spouse and kids for the entire process but don't "coach" them on what to say. 

Sometimes, you may need to take further steps before you qualify. 

Foster Care in Virginia 

Now you know better what to expect during a potential foster parent home study. It's not as scary as it might first seem, and each step plays a vital role in determining the ideal match between foster youth and families. 

If you're ready to learn more about Virginia foster care, contact us. Our parent advocate will be happy to tell you more about the process and answer your questions. 

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