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July 6, 2022

Becoming a Foster Parent

Becoming a Foster Parent
Becoming a Foster Parent

Foster care, also known as out-of-home care, is a temporary service provided by states to help children who cannot live safely with their families. Foster care can also refer to placement settings like group homes, residential care facilities, emergency shelters, and supervised independent living. Children in foster care may live with relatives or with unrelated foster parents. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 423,997 children were in the foster system in the U.S. in 2019, and 46% of those children were living with nonrelated foster families. If you are interested in helping children in need, visit your state’s foster care website for more information.

Foster care is essential for providing a safe, stable, and supportive environment until a child can return home or until a long-term family is found. To become a foster parent, sometimes referred to as a resource parent, you must be approved by your state. It can be a lengthy process to get approved, but fostering is rewarding and allows you to make a difference in a child’s life. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent for your community, keep reading for general requirements.

Each state has different requirements to be eligible as a foster parent. Categories for eligibility include:

  • Age: most states require foster parents to be at least 21 years old, but some allow younger.
  • Marital Status: many states have no preference on marital status. Single adults can apply. If applying as a couple, you may have to demonstrate that you are in a stable and healthy relationship.  
  • Residence: a stable home or apartment. Some states have stricter requirements on what this means.

Once it’s determined you meet all the requirements, you must go through your state’s foster care program to become licensed and approved. Depending on your state, this can include:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Fingerprinting
  • Medical exams to determine physical and mental stability
  • A training course or orientation
  • A home study to make sure your home is safe for children
  • Proof of residency and financial stability

These measures are in place to make sure children enter a safe and stable environment. It’s important for children in foster care to feel safe as they may have gone through a traumatic experience.

If you are interested in learning more about foster care or becoming a foster parent, check out the Foster Care program page to get started, then contact your local foster care office. Services provided by states can include payments to care for children you foster, training for foster parents, and access to social workers for support during the fostering process. Browse the Family and Children Services category of benefits to find more helpful resources.

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