Qualifications to Be a Foster Parent

There are qualifications to be a foster parent in every state. Find a general list of qualifications here and many tips for foster parents.

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Foster care is a protective service to children and their families when families can no longer care for their children. There are many reasons and circumstances that make it difficult for biological families to meet the needs of their children, which include poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, loss of a job or lack of support from extended family and community.

All types of foster parents are needed in every part of our country. Being a successful foster parent is hard work and it requires opening yourself and your home. Foster parenting is not only working with children and their families.  Foster care also involves partnering with social workers, schools and community resources to meet a child’s needs.  Though manyl types of people make good foster parents, foster parenting is not for everyone. 

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What is a foster parent?

A foster parent cares for children/youth who have entered the foster care system.  Foster parents provide a home for the child as well as care and nurturing for the duration of the child’s stay in foster care.  The foster parent is responsible for providing a safe, stable, nurturing environment for the foster children in their care.

How hard is it to become a foster parent?

Becoming a licensed foster parent is a lengthy process with many steps including:

Legal Qualifications to be a Foster Parent

Although foster care regulations vary from state to state, there are some universal requirements:

  • At least 21 years of age;
  • Must be fingerprinted and pass a background check;
  • Participate in an Informational Meeting;
  • Must complete a training program required by state;
  • Participate in a Home Study;
  • Provide documentation of a sufficient income;
  • Complete a health exam;
  • Family stability
  • Character references
  • Home safety inspection

Emotional and Logistical Qualifications to be a Foster Parent

  • Give without the expectation of immediate returns;
  • Have room in your home and in your daily life;
  • Learn and use proven behavioral management skills;
  • Love and care for children with problems;
  • Support birth families and help a child return home.

Foster Parents can be: 

  • Single or Married 
  • With, or without, children of their own.
  • Renters/Lessors of their home
  • Workers outside or inside the home
  • parents of other children

What disqualifies you from being a foster parent?

Foster parenting is not for everyone. There are certain specific requirements that must be met in order to become a licensed foster parent in your state. Though there are some that specific states may have that disqualify a person from being a foster parent, there are some that are generally universal:

  • Insufficient income to support yourself without the stipend
  • Unable to pass a background check
  • Not enough physical space in your home for a child (see bedroom requirements here)
  • Unable to meet health requirements to care for a child
  • Someone living in your home is unable to pass a background check

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