A foster care license is a document that states that this home and individual or couple has been through a rigorous screening and training process as outlined by their state of residence and have been found suitable for providing foster care.
The Foster Care License
The foster care license states the name and address of the family foster home. It also states how many foster children are allowed to be cared for in the home and the ages of children the foster parents are allowed to parent. Know that each state has a limit on the number of foster children each foster home can care for at one time. This is based on the size of the home and the number and ages of children already in the home. The license will also state the level of care that foster home is allowed to provide. Level of care refers to the needs of the foster children. Some foster children are considered to need more therapeutic care, due to behaviors, mental health issues, or medical needs. The foster parents who care for these children require more training and supervision from their foster care agency.
Some states may not allow a home or person to hold more than one licensure. Meaning a person can't be a licensed day care provider and a licensed foster home. Check with your foster care agency for more details.
Steps Required for Becoming a Licensed Foster Parent
When a family or single person is interested in becoming a foster parent there is a licensing procedure that must be followed. Each state varies a bit as to what the foster parent licensing process entails, but the following is a list of items that are usually a part of the application process no matter where one resides.Part of the licensing process includes:
Complete an application. The interested couple or single person must fill out an application with the foster care agency. It means answering standard questions about your work, health, finances, and home.
Criminal background checks to see if there are any violent crimes or crimes against a person. Some states do have restrictions regarding DUI's and drug and alcohol charges. These background checks are completed on everyone in the home who is over the age of ten, this may vary by state. Know that some families have hit barriers to licensing due to one of their minor children having criminal charges.
Submit a current physical for each member of the family.
Submit a current TB test for everyone in the foster home over the age of 16.
Home visits from the licensing agency.
Pass a home inspection by the state's Health Department. Some states also require a visit from the Fire Department.
3 Positive references.
Agreeing to keep confidentiality of each child placed in your home.
Agreeing not to use corporal punishment on children placed in your home.
Complete foster parent training as required by your state. Hopeful foster parents also must complete training such as PS-MAPP or PRIDE. Check with your selected agency to see which training your state requires and how to get into the next available class. Be prepared to spend anywhere from seven to ten weeks taking these foster parenting classes.
The prospective foster parents as well as the foster home are being licensed. The application and background checks ensure that the foster parent is a stable and safe person who is able to provide a home for children in state's custody. The foster care license also ensures that the home is safe for children and meets the state's standards. Check with your foster care agency to learn more about your state's regulations.
The regulations on the foster home may include a few of the following:
- Railing on stairs
- Adequate bedroom sizes
- Knives and other sharps placed in a safe location
- Guns in a safe or with trigger locks
- Basements have egress windows
- Medication locked or stored up high
- Cleaners locked or stored up high
- The home is clean, in good repair, and uncluttered
- Pets have current vaccinations
- Fire alarms are installed properly with fresh batteries
- Carbon monoxide detectors are installed properly with fresh batteries
- Check with state regarding regulations on pools
- Know that some states have restrictions regarding trampolines
All of this is part of the process to become a foster parent.
Maintaining a Foster Care License
Being a licensed foster parent is not just a one time process. Foster parents are expected to maintain their foster care license.
Know that foster parents receive help in filling out the needed paperwork and will be notified when it's time to renew a foster care license.
Other yearly expectations of foster parents in order to maintain a license may include:
Fill out renewal licensing paperwork each year.
Keep pets up to date with vaccination shots.
Keep current on training as required based on level of care. To maintain a foster care license foster parents are required to obtain a certain number of hours of training a year. The number differs between agencies and is based on the level of foster care the home provides. Foster homes that care for more therapeutic foster children or children with special medical needs are usually asked to receive more training each year.
Keep children up to date with visits to the doctor for yearly physicals.
Maintain proper records on past and current foster children.
Maintain the home in a manner as directed by state regulations.
Maintain proper upkeep, insurance, and safety on family vehicles used for transporting foster children.