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Why Does Licensing Take so Long if There is Such a Need for Foster Parents?


Question: Why Does Licensing Take so Long if There is Such a Need for Foster Parents?

If you’ve been interested in becoming a foster parent for your state and made contact with a foster care agency to get started, you probably have been told that the required training and licensing involved will take several months. Most people find this very shocking based on the high need for foster parents, especially for older children and teens.


There is a reason that licensing takes time. Consider the following steps required to become a foster parent:

Required foster parent training takes time. Even if you’re an experienced parent you will be required to complete foster parent training. The children in foster care have experienced a lot of loss and most of these children have been abused or neglected. It’s important to learn how to best meet the needs of these children and how to manage their behaviors. Most required foster parent trainings take several weeks. Learn more about required foster parent training and what to expect from these classes.

Licensing of the prospective foster family. There is a lot of paperwork to complete in order to become a licensed foster parent. Background checks and fingerprints will also be completed on those living in the foster home. Your state and agency workers will want to make sure that they are placing children in homes where they will be safe from further harm. Learn more about the requirements on families interested in fostering. It takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for all background checks and clearances to go through the system due to the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act of 2006.

Licensing of the prospective foster home. The prospective foster parent's home will be inspected for safety and cleanliness. The home will also be checked to see if it meets other state regulations, like bedroom sizes and the safe keeping of firearms, cleaners, and medications. It’s important that children living in the home have a safe and clean environment to call home.

A Big Decision on a Short Time Frame

The time needed to meet these requirements, usually takes about three months, but each agency and state is different. This delay is often a surprise to most families due to the advertised high need for more fostering families.

Consider this different bit of perspective: If someone had to choose a stranger to parent their own child or a beloved child that was a close family member or friend - the amount of time it would take to make sure that the right parenting choice was made. Most people would want to know a lot about each prospective parent.

Some questions might include:
  • Why do they want a chance to parent this child?
  • Have they parented before?
  • How do they discipline?
  • What are their religious beliefs?
  • What are their core values?
  • Will the child have an extended family network of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins?
  • Are they financially secure?
  • Do they value education?
  • Do they have children at home?
  • Are they married, single, divorced, or dating?
  • What are their relationships like?
  • Will they take care of the child and keep the child safe?
  • Will they treat the child kindly and make sure the child has everything needed to have a happy and healthy childhood?

Agency workers, staff members, and leaders of these trainings are doing the same thing for the children in the custody of the state foster care system.

Would twelve weeks be enough time for you to make this kind of a decision for a child you loved or cared about?

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