Becoming a foster parent is a rewarding experience for both you and the foster child. Foster children have often experienced neglect or abuse and by providing a stable home with a safe environment you can play a pivotal role in their lives.
However, not everyone is able to become a foster parent. There are many rules and regulations that must be met before the state allows you to foster a child. Many of the requirements vary from state to state, with some states being more strict than others due to their previous experiences within their foster care system.
General Foster Parent Requirements
While there are requirements that vary from state to state, most laws require potential foster parents to meet the following requirements:
- You must be over the age of 21.
- You must have a stable income source that is able to provide for the financial needs of your foster child.
- Your home must be suitable for a foster child including having enough bedrooms. In most states, foster children are allowed to share a bedroom with another child of the same sex.
- You must have no criminal record concerning sexual abuse or child abuse.
- You must attend all mandatory training sessions for potential foster parents put on by the state, county, or non-profit foster care agency.
- You must go through a home study to assess the suitability of your home and other family members.
- If you work outside of the home, you must be able to provide daycare for foster children who require it.
You can become a foster parent if you are a single adult or a married couple. If you are living together and unmarried, make sure to check with your state (or individual foster care agency) requirements, as some states and agencies won’t certify homes with unmarried adults who live together and are not related.
Other Things to Consider When Fostering
The goal of foster care is to provide a temporary, safe, and loving environment for children in the foster care system. This means that the state tries to find a permanent placement for the child as fast as they can. This can include adoption (by the foster parents or another family) or reunification with the child’s birth parents or other family members.
With this in mind, there are other factors to consider when being selected to become a foster parent. Agencies will look for potential foster parents who are stable and mature — not just financially, but also emotionally. Can the foster parent be dependable while also extremely flexible as they are adding a new person into their home and routine? Do they have any experience with children who have emotional or special needs?
Ultimately, the agency wants to know if the potential foster parent can be an advocate for this child while also being able to work with child services, the agency, the child’s family, and any other people who are involved in the child’s life.
Fostering can change a child’s life forever. It’s a big decision to foster a child, especially if you already have children of your own. It’s important to have someone on your side you can talk to about all the details and trials that come with working with the foster care system.