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Becoming a Foster Parent 101: Learning the Process and First Steps to Fostering a Child


Becoming a foster parent means providing a safe and loving home to a child in need for a temporary amount of time. Children in foster care often come from an abusive or neglectful household where the birth parents were not able to meet the needs of their children. While fostering a child is not a lifelong commitment, you do have the option to adopt a foster child should you form a strong emotional bond with the child and wish to add them to your family permanently.

How to Foster a Child

In order to foster a child, all prospective foster parents must become licensed or approved to care for children. Review the steps below to begin your fostering journey:

  1. Begin the research process. Foster care is provided by private and public agencies. Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway for fostering information specific to your state.
  1. Set up an initial meeting with your agency of choice. This initial meeting will likely end with the licensing worker providing you with an application and forms to complete.
  1. Family assessment or home study. Your agency will gather information about each member of your family and formally assess your capability to care for children.
  1. Provide references. Your agency will request three or more references to assess your capabilities and interests.
  1. Background checks. Your agency will conduct a formal review of your criminal and child protection history.
  1. Home safety check. The agency is required to assess your home and determine it is safe for children. The licensing worker will have a checklist that needs to be completed, and nearly all problems identified by the checklist can be fixed.
  1. Complete pre-service training. Most states require 10-30 hours of training before a foster child is assigned to you.
  1. Earn your license. At the end of this study process, the licensing worker will submit a report with recommendations to the licensing agency to have the license issued. In most states, the foster child will not be placed in your home until the license has been issued.

Understand Your Rights as a Foster Parent

Foster parents have specific rights in court proceedings involving their foster child. In 1997, Congress passed the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), which gave foster parents the right to be heard in certain court hearings about the foster child in their home.

This means that the child’s current foster parents must be given the chance to let the child’s judge know information they believe will help the court in making decisions about the child. This law recognized that foster parents often have valuable information that will help the court in making decisions for the child.

How to Adopt Your Foster Child

Quite often, foster parents feel so attached to their foster child they wish to adopt them into their family. Adopting a foster child involves the steps below. Our team of family law attorneys can help you fully understand this unique adoption process:

  1. Select an adoption services provider. Once you have decided to adopt, select an adoption agency or an attorney to assist in the adoption process. Our adoption attorneys in Folsom offer high-quality representation and compassionate legal counsel to help your family grow.
  1. Complete a home study. All prospective adoptive parents must have a home study or family study. This involves education, preparation, and gathering information about the prospective adoptive parents.
  1. File necessary legal documents. For a domestic adoption to be finalized in court, a social worker will visit several times in the first few months to ensure the child is well-cared for. Your attorney involved in the adoption process will submit a written recommendation of approval of adoption to the court. You or your attorney may then file with the court to complete the adoption process. 

The Difference between Private and Dependency Adoption

Before undergoing the adoption process, it’s important to know the difference between a dependency adoption and a private adoption. While a private adoption involves going through an adoption agency or an attorney, a dependency adoption is when someone who has assumed the role of a parent to a child who is not biologically their own is granted parenting rights. This can occur when the child’s biological parent is abusive, neglectful, or otherwise unable to properly care for their child.

Choosing to foster a child is a noble act and a way to provide a family for a child in need. The Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C. can walk you through the process and assist you every step of the way. If you have any questions, call (916) 794-4576 today.

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