The process of becoming a foster parent can be scary and full of unknowns, but we’re here to help. Here are the steps to become a foster parent:
Step 1 – Express Interest
The process of becoming licensed as foster parents can seem long and daunting, but you already have the first thing checked off the list! By reading this today you are expressing interest in foster care, which is fantastic! If you’re interested in learning more and possibly starting the process today, contact us and you can meet with a recruiter to get all your questions answered.
Step 2 – Complete intake packet
Once your ready to begin the process, a foster care family specialist will meet with you in your home to complete the intake packet. The intake packet consists of an initial application, background check forms, and information about fingerprinting. We want to get those background checks started as soon as we can to ensure that they do not hold up the process at all. If you have lived in another state in the past 5 years, we need to do background checks in those states as well. There is no cost for any of these background checks or fingerprints. After your interest packet is completed, you will get an orientation packet.
Step 3 – Complete orientation packet
The orientation packet contains, among other things, a foster parent autobiography – an in-depth form that covers your own family history and your motivations for foster care. It also includes a child factor checklist, which lists many different behavioral, physical, and emotional needs that kids in foster care may have. On that form you are able to state your comfort level with those different behaviors and needs so when you are licensed we can find the best possible match to ensure successful placement. If at any point you have questions during that paperwork, you can contact your family specialist, who will help you through completing it all.
Step 4 – Trainings/Inspections
The orientation packet also contains information on getting your home ready for fire and DHEC inspections. Your family specialist will schedule all of the needed inspections and trainings, and will provide training on the Teaching Family Model and Trust Based Relational Intervention on top of the required DSS foster parent training.
Step 5 – Home Study
When those are all done the family specialist, who is also a certified investigator, will conduct a home study – a final review of all the paperwork and inspections, to ensure that everything is ready to be sent to the state licensing board.
Step 6 – Get Licensed
The state licensing office will review the licensing packet, and approve the license or let us know what else needs to be added or corrected. This is not a pass/fail process. Everybody involved wants you to become foster parents, so we do everything we can to get it done!
Step 7 – Get kids!
Once you have your license, you’ll be ready to accept a child! The family specialist that helped you through the licensing process will also be available to you 24/7 for support and encouragement while you have a child placed in your home. They will also visit with you in your home every 4-6 weeks to do some to check in and do some individualized training with you and your family.
The whole process can take 3-4 months. It can seem like a long and scary process, and it can feel frustrating and discouraging at times, but as Jason Johnson reminds us: A child is always worth the process and more valuable than the costs. Always.