Becoming a Foster Parent

There are a number of reasons a child may have entered foster care. A child may have come from an abusive home life that lacked the meeting of many emotional needs. There may have been threats of or acted out physical threats of violence. Or perhaps a lack of provision of basic necessities such as food or shelter.

Every year, over 400,000 youth and children will be in the foster care system. The system is in need of foster families who are able to provide safe and nurturing environments.

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, we have compiled a guide of what to expect from the qualifications and process for becoming so.

To become a foster parent in the United States, one must be licensed or approved in order to provide care for children. There are state-to-state variations of processes, however we will outline several to expect:

At the beginning, you will need to make contact with a foster care agency. Foster care is provided by both private and public agencies, the latter of which can be sectionalized further into state, county, and tribal levels. A simple search online for say “foster care Illinois” will prompt you to local agencies. Or you can search through the Foster Care & Adoption Director compiled by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, link available at the end of this section. Contact any of the local agencies in your area so they can send you information specific to their organization as well as the licensing and certification process.

This may happen at the offices of the agency or in your home. You will be given an introductory overview to the responsibilities and role entailed as a foster parent. In these meetings, the agency may begin to gather information on you.

As part of the licensing, you will be assessed in several ways. You will undergo a family assessment or “home study” which involves gathering information about each member of your family and formally assessing your capability to care for children. You should expect to be asked questions regarding among other things your social history, childhood, relationships, and personal interests. Agencies will also require references, background checks, and home safety checks.

Most states require a range of 10 – 30 hours of training prior to your licensing. In Illinois, the requirement is 27 hours. Some states may include additional time for training in CPR and first aid. Expect these training sessions to include information about how best to work with your state or private agency, as well as information about caring for children with special needs.

When the study process ends, the licensing worker will complete a written report with recommendations and submit the appropriate forms to the licensing agency in order to have the license issued. You should be provided with a copy of the report. The report is expected to cover which children you would be suited for your family as well as additional training you might need.

Providing a child with a safe, secure, and loving home is one of the noblest things a family can do. Fostering is a rewarding opportunity that can forever improve the life of a child. If you have the means, capability, and desire to foster, consider taking that first step today.

Further Reading:

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