How to become a foster parent

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How to become a foster parent

A foster parent is an adult who cares for children that the state has removed from the biological parents’ home. These children are removed from the birth parents’ custody because the state has determined that it is not safe for the children to remain there. The goal of foster care is to work toward family reunification.

The state hopes to return the foster child to the biological parents when parents are equipped to care for their children in a safe, loving environment. Despite this fact, foster children are eligible for adoption if the state feels that parental rights should be terminated. A foster parent takes care of foster children on a temporary basis until the children are reunited with parents or a permanent home is found.

Basic requirements to become a foster parent include a training class, a background check, a stable family life with regular income, an interview and home inspection, personal references, and application for a family home license. Foster parents must be at least 21 years of age, but both single and married people can become foster parents. All foster parents must agree to cooperate with the agency that places a child into their care.

Caring for a child can be expensive, so a foster parent receives financial assistance from the state in order to properly care for the child placed in the home. Foster parents receive funds to help purchase food, clothing, and other necessities for the child. To offset medical costs, foster children are eligible for Medicaid, which pays for their health and dental insurance needs.

A person who is interested in becoming a foster parent should first obtain information about it. Speak with other foster parents about the pros and cons of caring for foster children in the home. The next step is to attend an orientation to learn more about the foster care process. Interested individuals should contact their local department of children and family services or their state’s foster parent association.

During orientation, adults learn about what it’s like to take care of foster kids. They have the opportunity to ask questions and determine whether foster parenting is right for them and their families. Such meetings are relaxed, low-pressure environments where agencies explain how foster care works. No one has to make a decision to care for a foster child at that time; it’s merely an informative meeting.

Once a family decides to pursue foster care, each adult in the household must attend classes. Classes last from several weeks to several months. This training teaches potential foster parents about how to become successful at raising foster children. Two common training courses are Model Approaches to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) and Parent Resource Information Development Education (PRIDE). CPR and first aid training are also required courses.

After the training program, families must submit to a home study. This is to ensure that each household is safe to raise a child. Every foster home must pass fire and health inspections. Potential foster parents learn the requirements during training so they can conform to these stipulations before the home study is conducted.

Once the home study is successfully completed, applicants receive official certification as an approved foster home. This is the point when adults decide which types of foster children they wish to accept into their family. Foster parents can review a child’s particular history before allowing him into the home. If foster parents do not believe the child would be a good fit for their household, they have a right to reject the placement.

How to become a foster parent

What is Foster Care?

When children are not able to stay safely in their own homes and there isn’t a relative who can care for them, they often have to come into state custody. The department’s first goal for children is to work toward a safe return home to their families. Foster parents provide nurturing and supportive homes in which the children’s emotional, physical and social needs can be met, while issues and concerns in the immediate family can be addressed.

What is a Foster Parent?

A foster parent, in many ways, is just like any other parent. Their job is to love, protect and nurture children to help them reach their full potential. But a foster parent’s role is unique in that it is sometimes only for a season. A foster parent may care for a child only until they are able to be reunified with their birth family. This could be for a few days or a few years. For children who do not have the option of being reunited with their birth family, their foster family may be the next best option and given the opportunity to adopt. However, the most important role of a foster parent is to keep the child’s best interest in mind – whether that means reunification or adoption.

Being a foster parent no doubt requires a great deal of patience and sacrifice. It asks people to open their hearts and homes. It requires empathy and understanding. Children in foster care have experienced great loss and trauma, and need someone who is willing to walk with them through their pain to help them heal. Someone who will love unconditionally, and have compassion for their difficult background.

Fostering does not come without its difficulties, yet many say it is the best, most rewarding thing they have ever done.

If you would like to become a foster parent, please fill out the inquiry form and a DCS staff member will be in touch.

You Must be Able to:

  • give without the expectation of immediate returns
  • have room in your home and in your daily life
  • learn and use proven behavioral management skills
  • love and care for children with problems

Foster Parents can be:

  • single or married
  • with, or without, children of their own
  • able to financially meet your own needs
  • in sufficient good health
  • at least 21 years old

Requirements:

  • must be fingerprinted and pass a background check
  • must complete a training program called TN-KEY (Knowledge Empowers You)
  • participate in a Home Study
  • must provide five references
  • DCS carefully assesses all applicants and the department also provides the opportunity for prospective Foster Parents to work with a case manager to assess themselves before they accept the role of Foster Parent.

Learn More

Visit the full Foster Care section on the DCS website.

Learn More about Adoption

If you are interested in adopting from foster care, please visit our adoption informational page.

Foster parents provide tender care for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. A foster parent works with a team which includes the child, the child’s family, the foster care agency and the Family Court. Most children are able to return home safely to their parents. When that can’t happen, some foster parents become adoptive parents or kinship guardians.

Become a foster or adoptive parent, and help a child feel safe and loved.

Here’s How You Get Started

Get the Information:

Attend an Orientation and Complete the Application

Attend an orientation with one of ACS’ foster care providers to get an in-depth explanation of the certification process. At the end of the orientation, complete and return the application to the foster care agency.

Get Certified:

Once the agency approves your application, they will contact you to begin the certification process, which includes:

  • Foster Parent Training
    Foster parents are required to attend a 30-hour Model Approach to Partnerships and Parenting (MAPP) training to help you assess your strengths as a parent and develop the special skills to meet the needs of a child in foster care. You will learn how to work with birth parents and help a child adjust to their temporary home. You will also learn about your rights and responsibilities as a foster parent, as well as the supports available to you, including financial subsidies.
  • Medical Clearance
    Foster parents must be healthy enough to care for a child and are required to submit medical clearances signed by a licensed and registered physician. All other household members must also submit medical clearances.
  • Background Check
    All adults (age 18 and older) who live in your home must be fingerprinted and cleared through the State Central Register for Abuse and Neglect (SCR).
  • Home Study
    The home study provides the foster care agency and, in some cases, the courts with the information needed to determine that your home is safe and that you will be able to care for the child. You will be asked to provide supporting financial, emotional, and mental health documentation about your ability to be a competent foster parent. The agency’s social worker will meet with you several times during the home study process which generally takes several months to complete.

After the successful completion of your training, medical clearance, background checks, and home study, you be­come a certified foster parent.

A Child is Placed in Your Home

Once you’re a certified foster/adoptive parent, your Agency can place foster children in your home. Before a child is placed in your home, the caseworker will tell you about visitation schedules with birth parents and siblings, and give you information that will help you provide the best care for the child. If the match is right, the child will be placed with you on either a short-term or longer-term basis.

Looking to Adopt?

If you wish to adopt a child, there are additional steps you must take after being certified as a foster parent.

  • Matching
    Your agency will help you begin the adoption matching process. The New York State Family Album and the Meet Our Kids database is a good way to begin your search. Once a match is made, you and the child can begin visiting each other.
    • New York State Family Album
    • Meet Our Kids
  • Pre-adoption Placement
    During this pre-adoptive phase, the child will come to live with you on a temporary basis which will allow you to learn more about each other. If you decide to move forward, you will sign an Adoptive Placement Agreement confirming your intent to adopt.
  • Filing the Adoption Petition
    When you are ready to finalize the adoption, your agency will assist you with finding an attorney to help you file the adoption petition in Family Court. It will take approximately 6 to 8 months — and in some cases longer — before the adoption can be finalized. The agency will remain involved with both you and the child during this time.
  • Finalize the Adoption
    When the Family Court judge approves the adoption, you and your child will go to court to sign the final adoption papers.

LGBTQ Affirming Foster and Adoptive Families

  • Affirming families are those that welcome all LGBTQ young people and encourage them to be themselves in all parts of family life, where all children are treated with dignity and respect, and where parents work to meet their children’s individual needs.
  • You do not need to identify as LGBTQ yourself to be an affirming family for an LGBTQ youth!

Meet Foster Parents who make a difference in the lives of children and youth

Foster families provide a home for children who have been abandoned, neglected or abused and who temporarily are not able to live at home. During the time that children live in a foster home, the foster parents provide the same care that the children’s own parents would provide. Foster parents also help the children understand that they will be either returning to their own families or adopted, whichever is the case. Foster parenting is a commitment to make a meaningful contribution to a child’s life, although it may not require a lifetime commitment to a child.

Being a foster parent is a big responsibility that brings with it great rewards. The requirements for becoming a foster parent are not complicated, and DCF’s Child Protection and Permanency, CP&P (formerly the Division of Youth and Family Services, DYFS), will help you through the steps to become a foster parent and provide training to help you understand the special needs a child in care may have. While a child in care is in your home, CP&P provides many supports to assist in their care.

CP&P will not preclude a person from being a foster parent based solely on their culture, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, affectional orientation, or marital/civil union or domestic partnership status.

As a foster parent, you will experience the joy of parenting, even if it is temporary. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing you have made a positive difference in the life of a child.

Contact for Apply to become a DCF foster parent

DCF Foster Care/Adoptive Recruitment

Phone

The Details of Apply to become a DCF foster parent

What you need for Apply to become a DCF foster parent

You must meet standard eligibility requirements to be considered as a Department of Children & Families foster parent.

Are you just starting to explore the idea of becoming a foster parent? Click here to introduce yourself, and a team member from the Department of Children and Families will contact you.

How to apply Apply to become a DCF foster parent

Online

If you have questions and would like to be contacted by the DCF Foster/Adoptive Parent Recruitment Unit, you can fill out a request to be contacted.

By mail

If you are unable to complete the online process you may print the foster/adoptive parent application and mail it to:

DCF Recruitment Unit
600 Washington St., 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02111

By phone

You can contact the DCF Foster Care/Adoptive Recruitment Unit at (800) 543-7508.

Next steps for Apply to become a DCF foster parent

Pass a safety check.

DCF will visit your home for a physical standards check for room and safety and conduct a background check on everyone in your home.

Attend the Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training.

Eligible foster parents will be registered for 30 hours of training. There are several training opportunities offered across the state.

A social worker works with you to complete a License Study.

A social worker will visit your home and interview you and the household members, as well as check personal references.

DCF approves your home placement.

Congratulations, you are ready to foster! DCF will work to find the most suitable match between your family and a foster child.

Foster Care

In Michigan, there are approximately 13,000 children in foster care and 300 children who still need an adoptive family. We need your help to provide a safe, nurturing home for these children until they can be returned to their families. When children cannot be returned to their homes, foster parents are often asked to provide permanent homes.

5 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

Contact a Navigator

Our Foster Care Navigators are experienced foster parents who can answer all of your questions – Call them today at 855-MICHKIDS to get started.

Navigators can help you find an agency near you and provide guidance along your journey to becoming a foster parent.

Use our Agency Checklist as a guide to choosing an agency that’s right for you.

Attend an Orientation

The comprehensive orientation will not only review guidelines, but help illustrate what you can expect as a foster parent. Agency representatives will be happy to answer all your questions during the orientation.

Complete the Application

  • After orientation, the agency you selected will provide you with a licensing application packet. In general, the application steps are:
    • Schedule fingerprinting with your licensing agency.
    • Complete the foster home licensing application.
    • Submit your application and fingerprinting clearance form to your licensing worker.
    • Complete medical records for the entire family.
    • Complete any other requested paperwork with your licensing worker.

Attend Free Training

PRIDE, or Parent Resources for Information Development and Education, offers valuable information to make sure you are ready to become a foster parent. Every licensed foster parent needs to complete 12 hours of PRIDE training. Once you are licensed, you have 18 months to complete an additional 12 hours of PRIDE training.

Participate in a Home Evaluation

  • Before welcoming a foster child into your home, you must pass an on-site home evaluation performed by the licensing agent.

The agency you selected will meet with your family several times for on-site home visits and interviews. After you attend orientation and submit your application, your agency will schedule your first home visit.

What it Takes to be a Foster Parent

  • What it Takes to be a Foster Parent

Foster children need caring individuals who can provide a safe and nurturing home. The primary goal during foster care is to reunite the child with his or her parents. This can take some time – we need caring adults who are willing to provide stability and safety for children in their care.

Foster parents should be committed individuals who are:

  • Willing to work with the child’s birth parents.
  • Supportive of efforts to return the child home.
  • Able to work with children who have emotional and behavioral needs.
  • Able to encourage teens toward independent living.
  • Willing to provide a permanent home if necessary.

Understanding the Foster Care Program

Foster Care identifies and places children in safe homes when they cannot remain with their families because of safety concerns. Foster families provide these children with the consistency and support they need to grow.

Our main goal is to return children back to their homes when it is safe. If a return home is not possible, adoptive families are needed.

Other Ways to Help Children in Your Community

  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Raise Awareness about Becoming a Foster Parent – Download & Share
  • Make College Dreams Come True – Fostering Futures Scholarship

Michigan Education Trust scholarships benefit young adults who have experienced foster care.

Foster care is a protective service to children and their families when families can no longer care for their children. There are many reasons and circumstances that make it difficult for biological families to meet the needs of their children, which include poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, loss of a job or lack of support from extended family and community.

In foster care, the children are provided with a safe, nurturing, loving family for a temporary period of time. There are many types of foster care, including traditional care, emergency/shelter care, medical/therapeutic care, relative/kinship care, respite/short-term care and tribal care. However, foster parenting is not a lifetime commitment to a child and his or her family, but a commitment to be meaningful in the child and family’s lifetime.

What foster care is:

  • a chance to make the world a better place — one child at a time
  • one of the most challenging experiences you will have in your life
  • one of the most rewarding opportunities you will ever volunteer for

What foster care is not:

  • it is not simple: emotionally, socially or in terms of your time
  • it is not something you do for yourself – it’s about the child
  • it is not a way to make money

How to Become a Foster Family

Foster Parent Qualifications

Becoming Licensed/Certified

Step 1: Find a Phone Number or an Email Address

The Child Welfare Information Gateway – State Resources is a great place to find contact information for your state. Look for the Foster Care & Adoption Directory.

In addition, your Department of Human Services or Department of Children and Family Services will have a listing of approved agencies. You can find foster care agencies in your area through an Internet search. A typical Internet search may involve key phrases, such as “becoming a foster parent Minnesota” or “foster care Minnesota”.

There are also a websites that can help you find county and local agencies, such as AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Step 2: Make the Call

Once you have identified an agency or agencies, the best way to start the process is to make a phone call. The agency will ask for personal information such as your name, address and phone number so they may send information about the agency and the licensing/certification process. They may also discuss your motivation and their need for foster families.

If there are multiple foster care agencies in your area, be sure to contact several. It is important to find an agency with which you are comfortable. In many states you can chose to become a foster parent with the public agency (state or county) or chose a privately run foster care agency.

Step 3: Initial Meeting

Some agencies offer information meetings. At an information meeting the agency presents an overview of the role and responsibilities of foster parents. Information is also given about the agency’s need for foster parents and the type of children they serve in foster care.

Other agencies will schedule an appointment in your home for the initial meeting. Similar introductory information will be provided and the agency may begin to gather information about you.

Whether you attend an information meeting at the agency or meet in your home, the first meeting will likely end with the licensing worker giving you an application and forms to complete. The worker should also give you a copy of the state foster care licensing rules and regulations.

Step 4: Exploring Your Interests and Capabilities

Step 5: Family Assessment

The family assessment is sometimes referred to as a “home study.” It involves gathering information about each member of your family and formally assessing your capability to care for children. The agency will likely ask you to complete a social history and several questionnaires. In addition, the licensing worker will ask you many questions about your childhood, relationships and interests. The assessment is extensive — but usually not difficult — and gives you an opportunity to think about yourself, your interests and your motivations.

Many agencies conduct the family assessment in group sessions and combine it with orientation and training. There are several curriculums, such as Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education (PRIDE) or the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP), which provide a formal process for the assessment. Other agencies may conduct the assessment and initial orientation on an individual basis.

Foster Care

In Michigan, there are approximately 13,000 children in foster care and 300 children who still need an adoptive family. We need your help to provide a safe, nurturing home for these children until they can be returned to their families. When children cannot be returned to their homes, foster parents are often asked to provide permanent homes.

5 Steps to Become a Foster Parent

Contact a Navigator

Our Foster Care Navigators are experienced foster parents who can answer all of your questions – Call them today at 855-MICHKIDS to get started.

Navigators can help you find an agency near you and provide guidance along your journey to becoming a foster parent.

Use our Agency Checklist as a guide to choosing an agency that’s right for you.

Attend an Orientation

The comprehensive orientation will not only review guidelines, but help illustrate what you can expect as a foster parent. Agency representatives will be happy to answer all your questions during the orientation.

Complete the Application

  • After orientation, the agency you selected will provide you with a licensing application packet. In general, the application steps are:
    • Schedule fingerprinting with your licensing agency.
    • Complete the foster home licensing application.
    • Submit your application and fingerprinting clearance form to your licensing worker.
    • Complete medical records for the entire family.
    • Complete any other requested paperwork with your licensing worker.

Attend Free Training

PRIDE, or Parent Resources for Information Development and Education, offers valuable information to make sure you are ready to become a foster parent. Every licensed foster parent needs to complete 12 hours of PRIDE training. Once you are licensed, you have 18 months to complete an additional 12 hours of PRIDE training.

Participate in a Home Evaluation

  • Before welcoming a foster child into your home, you must pass an on-site home evaluation performed by the licensing agent.

The agency you selected will meet with your family several times for on-site home visits and interviews. After you attend orientation and submit your application, your agency will schedule your first home visit.

What it Takes to be a Foster Parent

  • What it Takes to be a Foster Parent

Foster children need caring individuals who can provide a safe and nurturing home. The primary goal during foster care is to reunite the child with his or her parents. This can take some time – we need caring adults who are willing to provide stability and safety for children in their care.

Foster parents should be committed individuals who are:

  • Willing to work with the child’s birth parents.
  • Supportive of efforts to return the child home.
  • Able to work with children who have emotional and behavioral needs.
  • Able to encourage teens toward independent living.
  • Willing to provide a permanent home if necessary.

Understanding the Foster Care Program

Foster Care identifies and places children in safe homes when they cannot remain with their families because of safety concerns. Foster families provide these children with the consistency and support they need to grow.

Our main goal is to return children back to their homes when it is safe. If a return home is not possible, adoptive families are needed.

Other Ways to Help Children in Your Community

  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Raise Awareness about Becoming a Foster Parent – Download & Share
  • Make College Dreams Come True – Fostering Futures Scholarship

Michigan Education Trust scholarships benefit young adults who have experienced foster care.

What does it take to be a successful foster parent?

Successful Foster Parents…

Are patient, committed, and caring

Like to teach, mentor, and learn

Ask for help and support when it’s needed

Enjoy seeing children grow, and thrive, and achieve

Provide a consistent and structured home

Want to meet the needs of the child, not their own personal needs

Love a challenge and have a sense of humor

Now you’ve decided you want to be a foster parent….do you meet the qualifications?

At least 21 years old

Single, married, divorced or widowed

Own or rent your home

Have adequate financial resources to maintain the home

Can provide for the child’s physical, mental, and character development

Able to pass mandatory background checks

The certification process for foster families that each agency provides may vary; however, here is a general overview of the basic steps to becoming a licensed foster home:
  • Attend a foster care orientation meeting
  • Complete and submit an application
  • Attend foster parent training classes sponsored by the county departments,
    private child placement agency, or the State of Colorado
  • Participate in a comprehensive foster family assessment (SAFE Home Study)
  • Become licensed and receive placements

Testimonials

“We have been a member of a private Child Placement Agency for 30 years as foster parents. We became foster parents through friends at our church and driven by our love of caring for little ones. We can only attribute our long association with our agency to their high level of support not only for the children in care but also the foster parents. Someone has always been available to us day or night for any problem or concern that has come up. We would highly recommend our agency for anyone who is considering foster care and wants to be a part of the agency that does it best.”

– a CPA foster family

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