Preparing Your Home for Foster Care

Are you looking considering foster care but don’t know where to begin? Find a wealth of Tips for Foster Parents including what to know when preparing your home for foster care here.

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One of the first steps in becoming a foster parent is completing a foster care home study. This can be a process filled with anxiety for many potential foster parents as the home study writer will look at not only you personally but also at your home to determine if you can be approved as a foster parent.

There are steps you can take to make sure your home is prepared for the home study before the visit of the home study writer. Remember, you can always ask for a checklist before the home inspection. You can also find a general checklist here.

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Preparing Your Home for Foster Care

The primary goal in assessing your home before you are approved as a foster parent is to insure that you have a safe and supportive space for a foster child.

The more prepared you are, the more at ease you will be. Remember to relax! It is the goal of the home study writer to approve you and your home if possible. Foster parents are needed in every state.

Do I have enough space to foster a child?

Most states do not have a specific square footage per person guideline, though it is generally accepted that a home should be large enough to provide a foster child with adequate room for living, eating, study and play safely. You can find more information specific to setting up a foster care bedroom here and foster care bedroom requirements here.

Make Sure Your home is Safe for a Foster Child

The first concern, once you are certain you have the space for a foster child, is to make sure the home is safe for foster children.  Foster homes must comply with all state and local zoning, building and fire safety codes. So if you know something needs fixing, now is the time before your foster home inspection. In addition to codes and housing regulations you should also thing about:

  • Ensure all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly and are up to code.
  • If you have stairs, make sure there are gates to provide safety measures.
  • Make sure firearms and medications are properly locked up and well out of reach.
  • Confirm your home is free of lead paint.
  • Child proof your home as if you were preparing for an infant or toddler with proper electrical covers, corner protectors and cabinet and drawer safety latches.
  • Find a detailed list of Foster Home Monthly Safety Checks here.

Prepare a Bedroom for a Foster Child

Inspection of bedroom space is a key component of a home inspection to ensure that there is adequate, safe bedroom space available for a foster child. To demonstrate you are ready for a foster child:

  • Take time to set up the bedrooms you plan to use so that they are not just empty rooms. 
  • Set up an appropriately sized bed.
  • Have a plan and space for storing clothing in the bedrooms.  
  • If you are open to a wide age range for foster care, demonstrate that you have the ability to set up an appropriately sized bed.  This might look like having a twin bed in the room but having a pack-n-play or crib ready to assemble should a younger child be placed in your home. 
  • Get plenty of detailed information about Foster Care Bedroom Requirements here.

Reduce the clutter in your home.

Your home does not have to be immaculately clean for an approved home study. You should, however, make sure your home is free of excessive clutter. Decluttering your home make the space feel warm and inviting and less overwhelming to a child in a new place. You can find a home decluttering planner here.

Make sure your home is in the condition you prefer when company comes for a visit.  Home study writers may get a little nervous when things are seemingly too perfect, but they don’t want to walk into an episode of hoarders either.  Make sure your home is clean enough that you feel comfortable so you won’t be distracted by it during the visit. 

Does a foster home have to have a home phone?

Foster children must have access to a phone for emergencies and contact calls with family unless otherwise agreed upon with the case worker. Essentially, a foster home is required to have a phone that is accessible to foster children. Many agencies still require that phone to be a landline phone, but others allow a house cell phone instead.

Provide Safe Internet Access

Make sure your home internet access is set up in such a way that adult sites, adult videos, and other such adult materials are inaccessible to children. This may include purchasing screen accountability software such as CovenantEyes or some other service.

Have a Written Fire Evacuation Plan Posted

A written fire evacuation plan is a drawn out map of your house (pictures are better to account for foster children who are non-readers) that labels all exit routes from every room of the home. This plan should be posted in an obvious and visible place in the home and reviewed regularly with everyone in the home.

Have a Safe Space for Your Pets

You can have pets in the home and be an approved foster home, however, it is important to remember that pets are a temptation controlling and harmful behaviors presented by some foster children. Be sure you have a safe space and a plan to separate your pets from your foster children if necessary.

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