One of the questions I get most about foster care is, “How do I become a foster parent?”
Disclaimer: This is our personal experience with our agency. Everybody’s experience will vary depending on which agency you choose if you even choose an agency, and in which county or state you reside.
Here is a timeline of how we became foster parents. The process will look different for everyone, but I thought it would help to share our personal experience.
July 23rd – I sent the first email to an agency inquiring about the next steps. We heard back within an hour because our agency is just that amazing!
August 14th – Informational meeting
August 28th – First night of foster parent training
October 4th – Last night of foster parent training
October 18th – Physicals for medical statements
October 22nd – Fire inspection
October 24th – Home study
November 28th – We officially become licensed foster parents.
January 17th – Our first official placement
The two most time-consuming parts of this process were the classes and preparing for our home study. Our training was 6 weeks long, 12 classes, 3 hours each. In addition, we had to take a CPR and First Aid class, which is around 8 hours. I’m not going to lie, training is rough. It pretty much lays out every situation you could possibly see which is not for the faint of heart. Foster care is messy. However, training confirmed for us that this is what we were meant to do.
In addition to that timeline, we got our FBI/BCII fingerprints and background checks done (this is a childcare specific background check) and filling out the massive foster care application and the form that states what exactly you’re looking for in a placement.
The application process consists of turning in the following:
- Basic information
- Income information including pay stubs and tax information
- Work information dating back 10 years – also, if you ever worked or volunteered in a childcare setting you must provide contact information for your direct supervisor for each position you held
- Copy of fire escape routes and plan
- Pet information including proof of vaccinations
- A copy of each utility bill we had
- Vehicle and car insurance information
- Copies of driver’s licenses, social security cards, and marriage license
For the fire inspection, you must have a fire extinguisher accessible near the kitchen, and a working smoke detector on each level of your home. They also check for basic fire hazards like older heaters, and outlets. Your local fire department can do this.
The Home Study
The home study was much more extensive and nerve-wracking. Here is a brief checklist to follow:
- Draw out a map of your house with a plan in case of a fire or other emergency. We put this by our front door and in our hallway.
- Chemicals and cleaning products must be locked or put up out of reach of children.
- Prescription medication must be in a lockbox and the key kept separate from the box.
- Emergency numbers must be posted where they are easily viewed.
- Beds must be ready and available for each child we wanted to be licensed for.
- Firearms must be kept in a locked safe unloaded with ammunition stored, locked up in a separate place.
The home study was pretty extensive.
Our licensing specialist was here for a few hours. She made sure our windows worked and our toilets flushed. She also checked to make sure everything was locked up that needed to be and that we had everything posted appropriately. After the walkthrough, we had the interview portion of the home study. We were asked all kinds of questions from family history, to why we want to be foster parents to how we handle disciplining our kiddos.
After our home study, it was basically a waiting game.
A little over a month after our home study, we were officially licensed foster parents. And guess what, y’all, that very same day, we got two calls for placements. TWO.
The need is real.
Without even having our license in hand yet, we were called two different times. We said yes to both, but the placements didn’t work out.
The process to get licensed is such a small part of your foster care journey.
It took some serious thinking back and sifting through old emails to remember everything we did to get licensed. Foster care has been such an incredible part of our lives and everything we did to get here was so worth it. We have had three placements, done respite for four kiddos, and gotten attached to every single amazing child whether they were here for 24 hours or 365 days. Each one has a special place in our hearts.
If you have any questions about foster care and/or adoption, please reach out to me. You can find me on Instagram @alli.cooley or you can email me at [email protected].