Foster parents occupy a vital role in the child welfare system, providing a temporary and safe home for children who are in danger. However, with this important role foster parents must fulfil a strict set of requirements. In order to provide foster care, foster parents must go through a rigorous background check and provide proof through a home study conducted by a child welfare agency or adoption agency that the foster home is a suitable environment. Further, foster parents often must go through training to address a number of issues that they may encounter as foster parents such as behavior management, family issues, independent living, and other.
General requirements for foster care
Foster parents must meet the following basic, general requirements in order to provide foster care. However, it is important to note that these requirements may vary by location and agency involvement. Generally foster parents must:
- Be at least 25 years old
- All household members must pass a criminal background check.
- Have a regular and adequate source of income.
- Have a safe car, valid car insurance and a clean DMV report.
- Meet your state’s minimum home safety requirements
- Complete a health screening and verify that immunizations for all household members are up-to-date.
- Complete CPR and First Aid training
- Show that the they have stable physical and mental health as certified by a physician.
- Ability to provide a private living space for the foster child’s belongings.
Related: Types of Foster Care
Additional requirements for foster care
- In addition to the formal requirements foster parents must also display in the interview process and through their home visit the ability to:
- Be flexible considering the change and disruption in the home environment that comes with foster care.
- To have in place a social support system around the family that can make foster parents more effective in their duties.
- Keep accurate records and complete required documentation for oversight and funding on time.
Offer physical and emotional care consistent with a foster child’s needs. The level of care a foster child requires can vary widely depending on a child’s medical and behavioral needs. Therefore foster parents must be flexible and able to provide a wide variety of support.
Although the requirements foster parents must meet may appear strict at first glance, it is important to note these requirements as put in place to ensure the safety of foster children and also allow foster parents the best possible chance for a successful placement.