The Department of Children and Family Services maintains several requirements that must be met by persons interested in the foster care program:
- You must be 21 years of age. Age requirements are flexible as long as your health, energy and desire are appropriate.
- Caregivers must provide proof of physical health and insurance. (Foster children are provided with health insurance through Medical Assistance.)
- You must have enough income to financially support your own family without relying on the foster child’s care payment. The care payment is designed to cover the essentials of room and board for the foster child.
- You must be willing to give us permission to check social service records and conduct a criminal record check.
- Minimal personal, safety (environmental and fire) and space requirements are required by law (safe home, adequate meals, clothing and a separate bed, though not necessarily a separate room).
- For working parents, appropriate childcare arrangements must be made by the foster parents. Foster parents can access the state's daycare assistance so that daycare costs are minimal or nothing.
- The home must have a working telephone.
- The foster family must have access to transportation and be willing to provide the necessary transportation to meet the needs of the foster child.
Beyond these technical licensing requirements, persons considering becoming foster parents should also ask themselves the following:
- Do you have the desire to open your heart and home to a child in need, even if that child has a troubled background?
- Could you help that child feel a sense of belonging in your home even though the stay is only temporary?
- Are you confident about your parenting skills? Are you able to set clear limits, be consistent and adjust your parenting style to meet a child’s individual needs?
- Are you emotionally able to tolerate some failures or only small successes?
- Could you maintain a positive attitude toward birth parents even though the child may be experiencing problems because of their parents' actions?
- Could you love a child with all your heart and then let go?