How to become a foster parent

How to become a foster parent

What is Foster Care?

When children are not able to stay safely in their own homes and there isn’t a relative who can care for them, they often have to come into state custody. The department’s first goal for children is to work toward a safe return home to their families. Foster parents provide nurturing and supportive homes in which the children’s emotional, physical and social needs can be met, while issues and concerns in the immediate family can be addressed.

What is a Foster Parent?

A foster parent, in many ways, is just like any other parent. Their job is to love, protect and nurture children to help them reach their full potential. But a foster parent’s role is unique in that it is sometimes only for a season. A foster parent may care for a child only until they are able to be reunified with their birth family. This could be for a few days or a few years. For children who do not have the option of being reunited with their birth family, their foster family may be the next best option and given the opportunity to adopt. However, the most important role of a foster parent is to keep the child’s best interest in mind – whether that means reunification or adoption.

Being a foster parent no doubt requires a great deal of patience and sacrifice. It asks people to open their hearts and homes. It requires empathy and understanding. Children in foster care have experienced great loss and trauma, and need someone who is willing to walk with them through their pain to help them heal. Someone who will love unconditionally, and have compassion for their difficult background.

Fostering does not come without its difficulties, yet many say it is the best, most rewarding thing they have ever done.

If you would like to become a foster parent, please fill out the inquiry form and a DCS staff member will be in touch.

You Must be Able to:

  • give without the expectation of immediate returns
  • have room in your home and in your daily life
  • learn and use proven behavioral management skills
  • love and care for children with problems

Foster Parents can be:

  • single or married
  • with, or without, children of their own
  • able to financially meet your own needs
  • in sufficient good health
  • at least 21 years old


  • must be fingerprinted and pass a background check
  • must complete a training program called TN-KEY (Knowledge Empowers You)
  • participate in a Home Study
  • must provide five references
  • DCS carefully assesses all applicants and the department also provides the opportunity for prospective Foster Parents to work with a case manager to assess themselves before they accept the role of Foster Parent.

Learn More

Visit the full Foster Care section on the DCS website.

Learn More about Adoption

If you are interested in adopting from foster care, please visit our adoption informational page.

The processes of becoming a foster and or adoptive parent in North Carolina involves a thorough assessment and mutual selection process that includes home visits, interviews, and criminal background checks. North Carolina does not have a dual licensure process. This means that there are two separate approval processes for foster care and adoption. Some agencies streamline those two processes as much as possible, while others maintain two distinct tracks. North Carolina law requires that foster parents are licensed by the NC Division of Social Services with families working through their local county DSS or a licensed private agency. Adoptive parents are approved through their local county DSS or a licensed private agency.

In North Carolina families who desire to become licensed foster parents are required to complete TIPS-MAPP (Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) or an equivalent training and assessment process. This is a minimum 30 hour course designed to inform participants about the child welfare system, the role of foster and adoptive parents, develop participants’ skills to become successful foster or adoptive parents and assess families to determine if fostering or adopting is the best fit for their family. While TIPS-MAPP is mandatory for foster parent licensure, it is strongly encouraged for families who desire to adopt from the foster care system as well. Parenting a child who has been in foster care is very different from parenting a child born to you. The information and skills you will gain from TIPS-MAPP or an equivalent are invaluable.

In an effort to guide families through this process, below are specific steps to get you started.

Foster Parenting Steps:

1. Watch the mandatory Foster Parent Orientation video
2. Choose an agency, local DSS or private foster care placing agency. Links are provided below.
3. Attend an orientation with your chosen agency.
4. Complete TIPS-MAPP course.
5. Completion of Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing. This is not the same as an adoption home study.
6. Your agency will complete your Foster Home Application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
7. Once licensed by the NC Division of Social Services, consider and accept foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.
8. Relicensure of foster parents is required every 2 years.

Adoptive Parenting Steps:

1. Choose an agency, local DSS or private adoption agency. Links provided below.
2. Attend an orientation meeting with your chosen agency.
3. Complete TIPS-MAPP course. This is optional for adoptive families but strongly encouraged and mandatory through some agencies.
4. Completion of Pre-Placement Assessment (PPA) This is your adoptive home study and is different from the Mutual Home Assessment that foster parents receive. If you want to adopt you must have a PPA. PPA’s must be updated every 18 months or when a significant change occurs within your family or household.
5. Once you have an approved PPA, you can register with AdoptUSKids to make inquiries regarding children available for adoption.
6. Once you have obtained an approved PPA, you may also register with the NC Kids office. You will then be added to a database of approved families and waiting children that is used to find potential matches for waiting children. To register with NC Kids please complete the Family Registration Form and return it along with a copy of your approved PPA. Please note that registration with NC Kids is optional and does not guarantee that you will be matched. It is simply one option available to you in your adoption journey. We encourage you to search for children on your own through the AdoptUSKids or NC Kids’ websites.
7. Submit your PPA for children in need of an adoptive home or be matched for adoption with a child you are already fostering.
8. Once matched, engage in a meeting and transition plan to move the child to your home.
9. Complete the legal adoption process, culminating in a final decree of adoption.

Please note that if you are interested in fostering and adopting some of the above steps may be combined by your agency. Agencies may also have additional requirements above the minimum guidelines.

“Recommended Questions to Ask” is a list to assist you in selecting an agency that is a good fit for your family.

Select a Foster Care and or Adoption Agency

The agencies listed below can provide you with information regarding upcoming meetings, training sessions, potential fees for services and answer any questions you have about the process. There are differences between a county agency and a private agency in terms of services and trainings offered as well as potential fees for those services. Selecting an agency to represent you during this process is an important decision. We suggest that you contact several agencies to discuss your fostering and or adoption goals to make an informed choice.

Children’s Home Society of North Carolina
Phone: 800-632-1400
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 14608, Greensboro, NC 27415
Counties Served: All counties

Crossnore School and Children’s Home
Phone: 336-721-7600
Address: PO Box 249 Crossnore, NC 28616-0249 and 1001 Reynolda Rd. Winston Salem, NC 27104
Counties Served: Western Counties

Methodist Home for Children
Phone: 888-305-4321
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 10917, Raleigh, NC 27603
Counties Served: All counties

Another Choice for Black Children
Phone: 800-774-3534
Address: 2340 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216
Counties Served: All counties

Boys and Girls Home of North Carolina
Phone: 910-646-2241
Address: P.O. Box 127, Lake Waccamaw, NC 28450
Counties Served: All counties

Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas
Phone: 919-861-2802
Address: P.O. Box 12287, Raleigh, NC 27605
Counties Served: All counties

Seven Homes Foster Care and Adoption Agency
Phone: 336-542-3307
Address: 1312 Hamilton Place, Suite 101, High Point, NC 27262
Counties Served: Call for county-specific information

Children’s Hope Alliance
Asheville Office
Phone: 828-236-2877
Address: 38 Garfield Road, Suite D, Asheville, NC 28803
Counties Served: Call for county-specific information

Foster parents provide tender care for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. A foster parent works with a team which includes the child, the child’s family, the foster care agency and the Family Court. Most children are able to return home safely to their parents. When that can’t happen, some foster parents become adoptive parents or kinship guardians.

Become a foster or adoptive parent, and help a child feel safe and loved.

Here’s How You Get Started

Get the Information:

Attend an Orientation and Complete the Application

Attend an orientation with one of ACS’ foster care providers to get an in-depth explanation of the certification process. At the end of the orientation, complete and return the application to the foster care agency.

Get Certified:

Once the agency approves your application, they will contact you to begin the certification process, which includes:

  • Foster Parent Training
    Foster parents are required to attend a 30-hour Model Approach to Partnerships and Parenting (MAPP) training to help you assess your strengths as a parent and develop the special skills to meet the needs of a child in foster care. You will learn how to work with birth parents and help a child adjust to their temporary home. You will also learn about your rights and responsibilities as a foster parent, as well as the supports available to you, including financial subsidies.
  • Medical Clearance
    Foster parents must be healthy enough to care for a child and are required to submit medical clearances signed by a licensed and registered physician. All other household members must also submit medical clearances.
  • Background Check
    All adults (age 18 and older) who live in your home must be fingerprinted and cleared through the State Central Register for Abuse and Neglect (SCR).
  • Home Study
    The home study provides the foster care agency and, in some cases, the courts with the information needed to determine that your home is safe and that you will be able to care for the child. You will be asked to provide supporting financial, emotional, and mental health documentation about your ability to be a competent foster parent. The agency’s social worker will meet with you several times during the home study process which generally takes several months to complete.

After the successful completion of your training, medical clearance, background checks, and home study, you be­come a certified foster parent.

A Child is Placed in Your Home

Once you’re a certified foster/adoptive parent, your Agency can place foster children in your home. Before a child is placed in your home, the caseworker will tell you about visitation schedules with birth parents and siblings, and give you information that will help you provide the best care for the child. If the match is right, the child will be placed with you on either a short-term or longer-term basis.

Looking to Adopt?

If you wish to adopt a child, there are additional steps you must take after being certified as a foster parent.

  • Matching
    Your agency will help you begin the adoption matching process. The New York State Family Album and the Meet Our Kids database is a good way to begin your search. Once a match is made, you and the child can begin visiting each other.
    • New York State Family Album
    • Meet Our Kids
  • Pre-adoption Placement
    During this pre-adoptive phase, the child will come to live with you on a temporary basis which will allow you to learn more about each other. If you decide to move forward, you will sign an Adoptive Placement Agreement confirming your intent to adopt.
  • Filing the Adoption Petition
    When you are ready to finalize the adoption, your agency will assist you with finding an attorney to help you file the adoption petition in Family Court. It will take approximately 6 to 8 months — and in some cases longer — before the adoption can be finalized. The agency will remain involved with both you and the child during this time.
  • Finalize the Adoption
    When the Family Court judge approves the adoption, you and your child will go to court to sign the final adoption papers.

LGBTQ Affirming Foster and Adoptive Families

  • Affirming families are those that welcome all LGBTQ young people and encourage them to be themselves in all parts of family life, where all children are treated with dignity and respect, and where parents work to meet their children’s individual needs.
  • You do not need to identify as LGBTQ yourself to be an affirming family for an LGBTQ youth!

Meet Foster Parents who make a difference in the lives of children and youth

What does it take to be a successful foster parent?

Successful Foster Parents…

Are patient, committed, and caring

Like to teach, mentor, and learn

Ask for help and support when it’s needed

Enjoy seeing children grow, and thrive, and achieve

Provide a consistent and structured home

Want to meet the needs of the child, not their own personal needs

Love a challenge and have a sense of humor

Now you’ve decided you want to be a foster parent….do you meet the qualifications?

At least 21 years old

Single, married, divorced or widowed

Own or rent your home

Have adequate financial resources to maintain the home

Can provide for the child’s physical, mental, and character development

Able to pass mandatory background checks

The certification process for foster families that each agency provides may vary; however, here is a general overview of the basic steps to becoming a licensed foster home:
  • Attend a foster care orientation meeting
  • Complete and submit an application
  • Attend foster parent training classes sponsored by the county departments,
    private child placement agency, or the State of Colorado
  • Participate in a comprehensive foster family assessment (SAFE Home Study)
  • Become licensed and receive placements


“We have been a member of a private Child Placement Agency for 30 years as foster parents. We became foster parents through friends at our church and driven by our love of caring for little ones. We can only attribute our long association with our agency to their high level of support not only for the children in care but also the foster parents. Someone has always been available to us day or night for any problem or concern that has come up. We would highly recommend our agency for anyone who is considering foster care and wants to be a part of the agency that does it best.”

– a CPA foster family

Start the Journey

We will reach out to confirm the next step!

How to become a foster parent

Foster parents play a critical role for children, families, and agencies. The foster parent’s primary task is to temporarily care for a child until the child’s permanence goal is achieved. The foster parent’s role is also unique and involves much more.

Foster parents are expected to comply with:

  • agency requirements
  • meet foster home licensing standards
  • communicate any important information about the child to the caseworker and the court.

Foster parenting also means working in partnership with:

  • the child’s family
  • the agency
  • as applicable, the child’s tribe to support the child during placement

Foster parents make sure the child’s basic needs are met and include the family in as much of the child’s life as possible. As the child’s family case progresses, foster parents prepare the child to go home or to reach another permanence goal, such as adoption or guardianship.

How do I become a foster parent?

Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.

  • To learn about becoming a licensed foster parent contact the foster care coordinator in the county you live in.
  • If you live in Milwaukee County, go to Foster Care in Milwaukee County for more information.
  • To learn about becoming a licensed foster parent through a private Child Placing Agency, view the Child Placing Agency Directory for more information.
  • To learn about becoming a tribal foster parent , contact the tribal foster care coordinator for your tribe.

The foster care coordinator will give you more information about becoming a foster parent with their agency, such as:

  • licensing requirements, policies, and standards
  • what to expect as a foster parent
  • the foster parent application for their agency

During the application process, you will fill out paperwork and meet with social workers who will license your home.

Are there requirements to become a foster parent?

Successful foster parents come from a variety of backgrounds.

Foster parents are:

  • all different ages
  • races
  • income levels
  • occupations
  • single or married
  • own their own homes or rent apartments
  • work in or outside of their homes
  • have their own children, or are caring for children for the first time

But, foster parents have two things in common: they want to help children, and they have the ability to roll with the punches. Most importantly, foster families need to provide safe, stable and caring homes for children.

To become a foster parent, you must meet all of the following:

  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Be a responsible adult
  • Completion of a criminal background check including:
    • review of law violations
    • other background information as required
  • Your home must meet all physical environment requirements

There is no minimum income requirement for foster parents, as long as they can take care of family expenses outside of the reimbursement received for fostering.

Complete foster home licensing requirements are listed in Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter DCF 56.

Indian tribes are sovereign nations, which means they can create their own laws and regulations for certain programs or services. While some tribes use state licensing requirements, others have their own standards and policies. Foster parents licensed by or working with a tribe should contact the tribal agency to learn about the tribe’s policies.

Foster care coordinators work most closely with the foster homes licensed by their agency. Foster care coordinators will make sure foster families follow the foster care rules and policies.

How to become a foster parentNew Hampshire needs to increase its pool of foster and adoptive families who are ready and able to care for children in need. We need families who can provide emergency care, short-term care and those looking to adopt from foster care. Most children entering foster care as a result of abuse and neglect in their home are able to successfully reunify with their family thanks to the hard work and commitment of their parents, their foster parents and the support from professionals.

By law you must have a Foster Care license in order to be a foster parent, or adopt from foster care.

RSA 170-E: 27 License Required: Prohibition Against Child Endangerment: “No person shall establish, maintain, operate, or conduct any agency for child care or for child-placing without a license or permit issued by the department under this subdivision. RSA 170-E: 25 Definitions II. “Child care agency” means any person, corporation, partnership, voluntary association or other organization either established for profit or otherwise, who regularly receives for care one or more children, unrelated to the operator of the agency, apart from the parents, in any facility as defined in this subdivision.”

Foster parents are asked to provide a safe, stable, temporary, and caring atmosphere for a child placed in their home. Foster parents become part of a team effort to support the child and implement the plans made for the child. This will involve working with biological parents, courts, DCYF, and other involved agencies.

Any New Hampshire resident, aged 21 or older can apply to be a licensed foster parent. Singles and/or couples must have the time and energy to give to a child, complete the application and approval process, meet the rules for foster care and attend an orientation and mandatory training.

Foster parents are licensed to care for unrelated children and must:

  • Complete an inquiry packet
  • Submit fingerprint-based Criminal Records and Central Registry Checks of child abusers for household members over 17 years of age
  • Provide medical clearance statements on all family members
  • Submit the names of five references
  • Provide local fire and health inspections of the home
  • Participate in at least two home visits with a social worker
  • Successfully complete Foster & Adoptive Care Essentials (FACES) training
  • Complete a home study with a DCYF Resource Worker

Foster Parents receive monthly board and care reimbursement when a child is placed in their home. These payments help pay for food, clothing, and other costs associated with caring for a child. The amount of the monthly payment varies depending on the age of the child and any identified special needs.

Fostering is both rewarding and challenging. Foster Parents can expect assistance and support from DCYF staff and other community agencies.

If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent you may now begin the process at our web portal. You’ll find information about foster care and adoption, frequently asked questions, and an opportunity to fill out some initial information, which is required for all foster and adoptive parents.

Of course, if you wish to contact the foster care unit first, or at any point along the way, you may still do so.

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Become a foster parent

Every child deserves to be loved, and to grow up in a safe and healthy environment. Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to remain in their own homes. Most children enter foster care as a result of abuse or neglect.

Over 5,000 children and youth are in foster care at any given time in this city. People who care for children in foster care are called resource parents because they help parent a child, and act as a resource and mentor to that child’s family. Resource parents provide children with love and support while they are separated from their families.


The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their families. When this is not possible, as determined by the courts, many resource parents choose to adopt the children that are in their care.

Resource parents as part of the team

Resource parents play a central role in helping children in foster care reunify with their family of origin.

Resource parents are key members of the child’s permanency planning team. This team can consist of the child’s social worker, birth family, and other caring adults. As the person who lives with the youth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, resource parents bring important perspectives and information to the team meetings.

Successful resource parents:

  • Work with all members of the team.
  • Share information .
  • Give and receive support.
  • Ensure that the child feels safe and is free from threats of harm or danger.

Resource parents can help in the reunification process in many ways. They should:

  • Be a role model and mentor for the parents of origin.
  • Support the child’s relationship with their parents.
  • Share information with the parents, such as health care and educational progress.
  • Provide emotional support for the child as they prepare to return home.
  • Be available to both the child and their parents after they return home.
  • Include parents and other family members in important holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions (such as school plays).

Financial assistance

Resource parents receive money for the cost of caring for a child. The amount changes depending on the level of care the child needs. All children receive medical coverage through Medicaid.

Foster parents can be single, married, divorced, any gender or sexual orientation. Foster care agencies may not discriminate (PDF) in the recruitment or certification of foster parents.


To care for children in foster care, you must:

  • Pass child abuse, criminal history, and FBI clearances.
  • Be physically able to care for a child.
  • Have space in your home for an additional child.
  • Be at least 21 years of age.

Here’s how to become a resource parent

DHS works with many state-licensed agencies to provide foster care. Browse the list of foster agencies to find the best fit for you. You want to feel confident and comfortable with the agency you choose. This agency will be a big support to you during your resource parent journey. Once you’ve found one that you like, call them to find out how to begin the certification process. Each agency has slightly different requirements, specialties, and training programs.

The certification process will take approximately 3-6 months to complete.

As part of the process you will have to:

  • Fill out an application.
  • Attend an orientation .
  • Complete at least 6 hours of training.
  • Get a medical examination that proves you are physically able to care for children and are free from contagious diseases.
  • Pass child abuse, criminal history, and FBI clearances.
  • Have a social worker come to your home to help determine if it is safe for a child.

Relatives, family friends, trusted teachers, coaches, or others who have a close connection with the foster child may become kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers are allowed to have foster children placed more quickly into their homes. This is often better for the child, as it limits disruption and prevents the need for placement in a foster care center.

Kinship caregivers go through an initial review that includes clearances of their home. Once they have been cleared, the foster children connected to them can come live with them. Kinship caregivers still need to go through the rest of the process of becoming a foster parent, but they can do this while they serve as foster guardians.

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      There are more than 9,500 Kentucky children and teens in foster care, and you can change a child’s life by becoming a foster parent! Fostering provides a child who has experienced abuse or neglect with a safe, loving environment. On top of this, it gives you the opportunity to show a child the love and care they deserve while growing emotionally, mentally and spiritually as you teach life skills and give support.


      The requirements for becoming a foster parent vary from state to state; however, to meet general requirements in Kentucky you must:

      • Be able to provide a nurturing and supportive home to a child in need
      • Be at least 21 years of age
      • Be either single or married
      • Be able to meet basic income guidelines
      • Be able to provide adequate bedroom space and a separate bed for each foster child
      • Have reliable transportation
      • Be willing to complete 30+ hours of free Therapeutic Foster Care Training which includes nine in-person classes and six online classes. This course can also now be completed entirely online. Click here to get started.
      • Agree to use non-physical discipline for children
      • Be willing for everyone in your household to undergo complete background checks.

      Click Here to Learn More About the Training Class, Which Can Now Be Completed Virtually.

      What Can you Expect from KVC Kentucky?

      Before and after a child is placed in your home, KVC gives your family the tools and training needed to ease the transition, ensure a positive stay, and help the child adjust to life changes. Pre-Service and continuous training is provided to make sure you have the skills necessary to meet the child’s needs.

      Throughout your foster parent experience, we provide in home therapeutic and case management support services. Our Foster Care Clinician Specialists work hand in hand with you and other important people in the child’s life to create an individualized plan with the goal of increasing the child’s well being and helping them during difficult transitions.

      Visit our Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Foster Parent page.

      Support for Foster Families includes:

      • 24 hour access to In Home Therapeutic and Case Management Services
      • Unparalleled pre-service and continuing education
      • Support groups
      • Respite Services
      • Parents night out!
      • Organized Foster Parent and Children Activities and Events
      • Annual Foster Care Conference
      • Financial Compensation for Children in your care

      KVC Kentucky provides basic foster care as well as these specialized foster care services:

      Therapeutic Foster Care – Foster parents provide services to children that have been abused, neglected or have experienced serious traumatic events. These children often have difficulty regulating their emotions and may present challenging behaviors. These children have often had multiple placements and need extra support in making a successful transition to foster care and ultimately a transition into a permanent placement. .

      Respite Care– These foster parents serve children who are currently placed in another KVC foster home but need a temporary placement. This service is designed for foster parents to help each other when circumstances in their home temporarily make it difficult to give the child the care that they need.

      We understand that the decision to foster a child is complex and important so we work with our Foster Parents at a pace they are comfortable with. KVC KY provides individual consultations in your home or at our offices to provide support in helping you decide if Foster Care is a good fit for you and your family. Together, we carefully identify your strengths and needs and place children in your home collaboratively to ensure the best chance of success. Ready to learn more? Click here to request more information.

      KVC serves its families equally, without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.

      Click here to view our KVC Kentucky Foster Care Brochure.

      Want to speak to a foster parent recruiter? Click here!

      Foster to Adopt

      In some cases it is possible to adopt a child through foster care. When a child is removed from the home, every attempt is made to return that child to their home or with a relative. When a parent’s rights to the child are terminated, the Department for Community Based Services will seek out an adoptive home. We collaborate with state agencies to move the child into adoption when a family is willing to become a forever family for the child.

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