While each state is different in the trainings offered and requirements mandated for foster homes, the starting point is basic enough that we can come up with a quick list of steps to take toward becoming a foster parent.
Contact your state social services office regarding fostering.
Find out what your state requires for foster parents and foster homes. Most anyone can foster, but each state has differences regarding age of foster parents and size of home.
Get enrolled in the training program required by your state. Whether it's PS-MAPP or PRIDE, the training will take about 30 hours to complete over a ten week course. Again, this may vary depending on the curriculum. These classes will help you understand and prepare for some of the challenges of being a foster parent. There will be a lot of paperwork required from your classes. If reading or writing is a problem for you, let your trainers know.
Your state will conduct background checks and you will be fingerprinted. If there is anything that may come up on your background check, be upfront and honest about it to your agency and trainers before the checks are complete. It makes everyone's job easier, and you won't look like you're trying to hide something. Crimes of violence against a person, especially children is usually what they are screening for. DUI's could be a problem if they are recent. Again, be honest.
Complete licensing paperwork for your chosen foster care agency.
Your home will be inspected by the foster care agency and/or by a state agency. They are looking for safety hazards. Ask your foster care agency for a list of safety requirements for foster homes. There are usually concerns regarding:
- pools or ponds near the home - ask about fencing requirements
- stairways need hand rails and baby gates may be needed if fostering young children
- need smoke and possibly carbon monoxide detectors
- medication may need to be kept locked or on a high shelf
- household cleaners may need to be locked or on a high shelf
- fire arms need to be stored in a safe manner