Have you considered becoming a foster parent? Are you looking to help children who are in need of a good, safe home environment? If so, there are a few things that have to be set in place prior to applying and opening your residence into a foster care home. Here are some highlights of what you may need to partake in prior to having a foster child in your home. Keep in mind rules and regulations vary slightly depending on where you live.
Go Through a Thorough Evaluation
Part of the initial consultation with a social worker or foster care specialist is to determine if you even meet the basic criteria for being a foster parent. This means a one-on-one interview to help determine if you and your spouse will be a good fit. Questions can get extremely personal, but be sure to answer honestly and to the best of your knowledge. In addition, you must also prove the following:
- You have a valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance
- Have sufficient income to support a child or children in the home
- Be in good support a child to care for children
- Be free of communicable diseases that could get a child sick
- Not have a disability that would affect you caring for the child
- No history of a mental health condition or psychological instability that would prevent providing safe and consistent childcare
Part of the application will be a complete criminal background check for every adult member of the household. This will also be part of the initial determination process. Once the interview is conducted and your background check has been completed, you can move on to training and a house inspection.
One of the very first things you’ll have to do in order to become a foster parent is to complete a training program. This mainly consists of studying about state rules and regulations regarding the foster care program that you’ll be participating in. Some topics that may be covered include:
- Home and child safety precautions
- Appropriate methods of discipline
- Dealing with loss
- Roles and responsibilities
- Child development stages
- Licensure requirements
Training is often spread out over a few different sessions. You’ll learn the basic fundamental skills needed to become a foster parent. Many states require you to complete the training in order to acquire final licensure. If your foster child has needed any specialized counseling or training through behavioral programs like those offered at Youth Villages, you will have to be familiarized with their background before final foster placement.
Pass a Home Inspection
The main goal is to provide a safe and nourishing environment for children in your home. Once you’ve filled out the application and all of your personal information is gone through and verified by a social worker or another professional, it’s time to move on to a home inspection. This is a process of minimum standards set forth by the state that you live in. Your home must meet all local building, fire, safety and zoning codes. You must show that your entire property is clean and in good repair. Any hazardous materials, as well as firearms, are placed in a locked, safe location. In addition, the home must have working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and portable fire extinguishers. A working phone along with adequate heat and plumbing is a requirement. Every person should have their own bedroom and access to their own personal space.
State Whether You Wish to Adopt in the Future
One thing you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind during the entire foster home setup process is if you ever wish to adopt your foster child into your family down the road. Sometimes foster parents are in the position where they grow attached to the child they’ve been caring for and the birth parent signs off all rights to the child. It’s important to let the social worker interviewing you what your intentions for the future are. In some cases, it may help with placing you with the right age and sex of the child. This can help make placement a better situation for everyone involved. Deciding to adopt after being a foster parent is a big step, be sure to talk with a counselor and your family members before making a final decision.
Adoption and foster care are both very rewarding. If you have decided you want to check into it more, contact your local social service agency to be connected with the right department.
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