Each state has different guidelines for fostering licenses. The basics are pretty much the same across the country, though.
- You cannot be a convicted felon with a conviction of crimes such as rape, child endangerment, molestation, and such. Some criminal is permitted depending on the charge and the severity. When you complete a background check they will go over the results with you. Anything (felony or misdemeanor) that appears you will need to fill out a report explaining the case. Then it will be reviewed.
- You do NOT have to be married. You can be single, single with children, divorced, widowed, etc. If your state recognizes civil unions than you cannot be denied based on that either. Every adult that lives in your house must complete a background check.
- You must show financial proof that you can support yourself/your family. They will likely want a tax return or copies of pay stubs. They will also ask for you to make a list of your monthly expenses (not actual bills). Even though foster care provides a stipend, that is to cover the cost of care for the child, not to supplement your income. If you can’t keep your head above water financially foster care is not going to help.
- You must have a physical to show you can physically care for a child. If you have a back condition and cannot lift 20 pounds, then fostering a toddler is out of the question. It is things like this that help everyone get on the same page. Oh, it will more than likely not keep you from getting licensed, just lets people know what an appropriate age range would be for your household.
- Your house must have enough actual living space to accommodate another person. They will not allow you to cram as many kids as you can in one bedroom. Each state/agency has different guidelines for bedroom size and square footage per person. Room sharing is allowed (with some restrictions).
- Every state requires some form of training class. I live in Illinois and they use the PRIDE training. Illinois requires a 9 week course that covers 3 hours of training per week. They have a consolidated course, too. But both require the 27 hour PRIDE Foster/Adopt training series.
There are MANY other regulations and stipulations in there, but that really is the core. Each state varies, so don’t hold me to that too much. At the end of this series I will have a list of each state and links to help your find resources to learn about foster care. I just thought you might want to know some of this stuff before you start contacting people.