5 steps to become a licensed foster parentGO Project
Have you ever wondered what’s involved in the process to become a foster parent? Perhaps fostering has been on your mind (and heart) for years, and now you’re ready to open your home to a child in need of care. The licensing process varies from state-to-state, but the basic requirements remain relatively the same: you must be at least 21 years old, complete a background check and training, and be willing to partner with the child’s family and professional team to help the child safely achieve permanency.
Here are 5 steps that will help you along your journey to becoming a licensed foster parent:
1. Do your research and find an agency in your state
Conduct some online research to first find out if you meet the requirements to become a foster parent in your state. If you check the boxes, your next step is to find a licensing agency. If you’re not sure where to start, you can search the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s foster care and adoption directory or type “Become a foster parent in [Your State Name]” into your web search engine. You can also reach out to other foster parents who have already gone through the process to get some help and advice.
Once you’ve found an agency that seems fits your needs, give them a call or send them an email. Once they contact you, be ready to share some basic information and a bit about your interest in becoming a foster parent. If there are multiple agencies in your area, consider contacting more than one to find the best fit for you.
2. Schedule your first meeting
Following your first conversation, your agency might ask you to attend an informational meeting in a group with other potential foster parents. Alternatively, they might set up an initial meeting between you and a caseworker. During your initial meeting, you’ll likely receive information about your state’s laws and requirements, along with an application to start the foster care licensing process.
3. Work with your caseworker
The agency will assign a caseworker to help you on your journey to becoming licensed. You’ll get to know one another and determine whether fostering is the right thing for you and your family and which children you might best be able to serve. There will likely be a series of home visits, background checks, health screenings, financial discussions, requests for references, and a home safety check. Depending on your state’s requirements, you may need to make some changes in your home to ensure it’s as safe as possible for a child placed in your care.
4. Complete orientation and training
The amount and form of training needed will vary state-to-state, but you can expect to complete around 20-50 hours of formal training. For example, the state of Texas requires all potential foster and adoptive parents to go through their PRIDE course, which covers topics like child attachment issues, loss and grief, discipline, behavior intervention, the effects of abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, working with the child welfare system, and effects of fostering and adopting on the family. You may also need to complete CPR and first aid training.
5. Obtain your licensure
Finally, after you’ve completed all the requirements, the licensing caseworker will submit the appropriate forms for your licensure. They’ll also make a recommendation for which children (considering age, gender, trauma, behavioral, medical and sibling situations) might be the best fit to be placed in your home.
On average, from the initial inquiry to becoming licensed to accept placement, the process can take 3-6 months or longer. It’s important to remember that this experience looks different for everyone and there is no such thing as a perfect foster parent or family. These steps do not address the many emotional, mental, and spiritual questions, conversations, and prayers that should be part of this journey and decision for you and your family.
Not everyone is called to be a foster parent, but everyone can do something to support a foster family and the children in their care. Here are 10 meaningful ways you can support a foster family!
You can also learn about the urgent needs of vulnerable children and families in your community through CarePortal! Your family, church, or business can respond to needs and provide hope and care to a child.