What Are the Requirements to Become a Foster Parent?


Quick Answer

The requirements to become a foster parent vary by state. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Children's Bureau, adults of any background and profession who are in legal age and citizens of the United States may apply as foster parents. Most states also require applicants to complete a course of orientation and training sessions before the licensure.

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Full Answer

The District of Columbia and about 36 states require foster parent applicants to be at least 21 years old. In five other states, the legal age to become a foster parent is 18, while in Nebraska and Alabama, parents must at least be 19 years old to qualify. The minimum age requirement may also vary by organization and may be higher than the minimum age required by the city or state.

Most states allow couples and single persons to apply, while in some states, couples must be legally married prior to the application. Some states require applicants be U.S. citizens, legal Permanent Resident of the United States or lawfully present in the country. Applicants must also be able to read, write and communicate in English.

Some of the basic characteristics needed to become foster parents are the ability to provide a safe and nurturing family environment for a child, have flexible coping skills in dealing with the needs of children, have a strong support system and willingness to cooperate with the social services agency. Both foster parent applicants and other members of the household must pass the background check.

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