Becoming a Foster Parent
Every county in the US is actively seeking good foster parents. And each county has a specific process for becoming a foster parent. Your first step should be to contact your county child welfare/foster care agency (they go by different names in different states) to ask for information on how to become a foster parent. You should also ask if your state has a contract with private foster care agencies to place foster children.
If your state allows private agencies to recruit, train, and support foster families, you can choose whether to work with the county public agency or a private agency. There are advantages and challenges to either type of provider so it is important to research what will be the best fit for your family. Creating a Family offers many resources for how to choose a foster care provider, including an entire section in our multi-media guide called Choosing an Adoption Agency or Attorney.
Once you have chosen your agency, you will work with them to complete your home study. This is a requirement for every foster parent and will give you and your agency a chance to work out what you can do to further prepare and what your agency can do to match you well. You should ask for a written list of requirements for your home (fire alarms, fire extinguishers, bedroom requirements, etc.) at the beginning so you can start getting your home prepared.
Another part of the home study is specific training to prepare you to meet the needs of the child(ren) who will eventually be placed in your home. While each state has its own requirements for that training, you should expect an average of 25-35 hours of training prior to placement. That training will range in topic, including how to manage a child’s behavior, how to navigate sibling relationships, parenting skills, and the various needs that are common to kids in the foster care system. Creating a Family offers a wide range of courses through our FosterEd for Foster Parents/Kinship Providers on-line education program. Your agency will be able to guide you as to what specific training they require.
When you are choosing the path of foster care that is right for your family, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the steps and choices. Creating a Family has many resources for the other factors upon which you will be deciding as you progress toward your first foster placement. A couple of the more recently published resources that we think will be particularly helpful are these:
- Family First Prevention Services Act (1 hr. radio show with guest expert)
- Surviving The Home Study (1 hr. radio show with guest experts)
Scroll to the bottom of this page to see the other resources Creating a Famiy has available on Becoming a Foster Parent in the form of blogs/articles, radio shows/podcasts, tip sheets, fact sheets and expert Q & A’s.