How to Volunteer for Being a Foster Parent

Requirements for Being a Foster Parent

Each state has different requirements for becoming a foster parent. You can call your local Department of Health and Human Services or search for foster parent services using a national database search engine [source: Child Welfare Information Gateway].

To get an idea of basic requirements, let's look at the state of New York. There, you must:

  • Pass an evaluation process that shows you meet the requirements for the child's mental and physical health and safety
  • Be 21 or older
  • Be healthy (includes a physical examination)
  • Provide three references who can discuss your judgment, moral character, finances and ability to form and maintain good relationships
  • Discuss your motivation and ability with the organization and be interested in the permanency plan (a return home or adoption)
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete training courses 

[source: NYSOCFS]

Depending on your state, there may be additional requirements. These can include first aid/CPR classes and training on blood-borne pathogens and HIV/AIDS [source: WSDSHS]. There also could be requirements based on your status as a single, married or partnered person. In Montana, for example, couples will have to have been together for 24 months [source: MDHHS]. Check with your local resources to learn more about specific states.

Read on to learn about the benefits of becoming a foster parent.