The approval process to become a foster parent is not difficult, but it can be lengthy & time consuming. The following are the steps Blake & I took to become an approved & open foster home (there may be new steps/requirements that I’m unaware of). I found it difficult to find information online on how to become a foster parent in our area, what was required, who to contact, and when trainings were offered. I recommend locating & calling your local DCBS office for direction/information. OR if you know someone that is a social worker or works for a foster care agency, they can be a wonderful resource.
- Attend an informational meeting
At this meeting they give a brief overview of the approval process and answer any questions the group might have. At our informational session they had a current foster parent come and speak about their experiences as a foster parent.
2. Attend live training
There are several training classes you must attend; they may be broken up into two-part sessions on different days, or they can be combined into all day trainings on multiple days. The month we attended classes our schedule was as follows: informational meeting on a Wednesday night, first training class Friday night, trainings all day Saturday, and again the following Saturday. That sounds like a lot, but that worked best with our work schedules.
3. Complete online training
A few trainings must be completed as online modules instead of in person. These courses are pretty quick to go through & then have a quiz at the end to obtain your training credit
4. Paperwork/Background check
During the in-class training, they will obtain fingerprints for background checks. There is also a small mountain of paperwork that must be completed and turned in by the end of training. The paperwork collects basic information like names of everyone in the home, address of the home, if there are pets, if there’s a pool/body of water nearby, etc. You also fill out a questionnaire that helps determines what types of placements you will accept into your home. There is a list of potential behaviors/scenarios that you say yes/no you would accept into your home. There is a second questionnaire that asks about your personal history, family history, and about how you were raised/disciplined as a child. They also obtain financial information (credit report) and personal references (yes, they do really contact them)
5. Home visits
After your paperwork, training, and background check is completed, a R&C worker (recruitment & certification) will be assigned to your home. This person is a social worker that is assigned to foster families, they are not assigned children’s cases. The R&C workers are typically who handle placements into homes. You will work with the R&C worker through (usually) three home visits. During these home visits you will be advised of certain safety precautions that are required for your approval, the worker will go over your placement & history questionnaires and they will then submit a report to their supervisor for approval of your home.
6. Prepare your home
As previously mentioned, there are several safety requirements
-all medications must be secured
-guns must be secured in a safe
-if there is a pool at your home there must be a gate
-if there is another body of water near your home you must have an action plan as to how you are going to keep children safe while outside
-you must have proper functioning fire & carbon monoxide detectors
-must have a functioning fire extinguisher and know how to use it
-must develop (& practice) a fire escape plan
-must have a bed for each child, same sex children cannot share a room.
It’s important to note here that you may be willing to accept a wide variety of ages into your home, this does not mean you have to have a baby bed, toddler bed, twin bed, etc. However, you must prove that you have a plan and financial means to obtain proper bedding when a placement is received. Same goes for car seats/booster seats.
7. Final Approval
When the home visits with R&C worker have been complete and their report has been approved (must be reviewed by supervisor & a person above the supervisor), you will be notified that your home is open for placements. At this point the R&C worker typically reverifies with you what age range & gender you are willing to accept. Regardless of what parameters you set, you may get calls for any type of placement, but you ALWAYS have the choice to accept or decline a placement. Placement calls may begin as early as the day you are deemed approved & open.