Idaho has a critical need for foster families so children have a safe and nurturing place to live and go to school while their parents get the help they need to provide a safe place at home. But becoming a foster parent is a big decision, and many people have lots of questions. Here are some of the most common ones.
More information on how to become a foster parent is available on the department’s website or interested people can call 2-1-1 and a foster care representative will contact them.
What does a foster parent do?
When a child cannot live safely at home, temporary foster care is needed. Foster parents are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing living environment while working with the child’s social worker and parents so the family can be safely reunited.
Who can become a foster parent?
Foster parents are as varied as the children needing homes. Successful foster parents are everyday people from all races, religions, incomes, and educational backgrounds. They can be single, married, or divorced, but they must be at least 21 years old.
How long does the licensing process take?
It is our goal to help potential foster parents finish the licensing process in 90-120 days. The length of time it takes to finish the assessment and licensing process depends on how quickly the application, personal and medical references, and background checks are received, and when the potential foster parents are able to complete PRIDE pre-service training.
Once someone has been approved for foster care, the time it takes to receive a child depends on many factors that may include the age, gender, race, or health of the child you are willing to accept and the number and type of children in need of placement.
The department typically works with the child’s family toward reunion for 12 months. If reunion of the child with their birth family is not able to occur in that time, the court may terminate parental rights, which means the child is available for adoption. The department looks for relatives for a more permanent placement in that 12 months, with the goal to identify and select a permanent family after a child has been in foster care for six months.
Are there fees for the application, home study, or criminal history background check?
There are no fees for the application or home study process for prospective parents who are becoming licensed and approved to provide foster care for children placed by Child and Family Services.
There is a fee for processing background checks through the criminal history unit. However, these fees are waived for prospective foster parents who are becoming licensed and approved to provide foster care for children placed by Child and Family Services.
Can foster families adopt?
Yes, they can. However, adoption is rarely the goal at the time a child is placed with a foster family. Children continue to be involved with their parents and extended family while they are in foster homes, and most children are eventually returned to their birth parents. Others are placed with relatives. The department prioritizes preserving connections and placing children with extended family.
Families who have experienced fostering are a great resource for children who are not able to return home safely or be placed with a relative. In more than half of foster cases that end in adoption, relatives or non-relative foster parents adopt the child.
Cameron Gilliland is the administrator for the Division of Family and Community Services in the Department of Health and Welfare.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.