If adopting is not for you, but you would like to care for a foster child, you may want to become a licensed foster parent. Like the process for adoptive parents, you begin by attending an orientation, submitting an application and taking the 30-hour MAPP training course. After a successful home study assessment, you are issued a license and may care for foster children on a temporary basis in your home.
Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent
In Broward County, foster parents are trained and licensed by individual agencies that directly supervise the children. For a list of these agencies, click here. If you do not live in Broward, contact your local government to find out how the process works in your area.
At the start of the MAPP training, potential foster parents are given a participants’ manual that contains all of the required homework and forms. Upon completion of the training and submission of the MAPP homework, family profiles and brief life stories, prospective foster parents are issued a MAPP certificate. A licensing counselor will then give each family a packet that contains licensing forms required by the state and local licensing agency. Staff will be available to assist in the completion of any required paper work.
During your MAPP training, you will begin the process of being fingerprinted and completing a thorough background screening. All adults living in your household and any potential babysitters for your foster children must be successfully screened.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the requirements to become a foster parent?
Foster parents must be at least 21 years old, have sufficient income to support the household, have a clear background check and be in good physical and mental health. A foster parent can be single or married. Being a foster parent can be demanding. You must be physically and emotionally healthy to care for foster children.
Foster parents are part of a team to provide stable, loving care for children in foster care and to determine what is in the child’s best interest. Foster parents must be willing to work with other parties involved in the child’s case and participate in court proceedings by attending hearings, when possible, and providing statements to the court.
Foster parents must be willing to support foster children’s contact with their biological parents and cooperate with the agency’s efforts to reunite them with their families or prepare them for permanent homes through adoption.
Can foster parents adopt their foster children?
Yes. If the biological parents of the foster children do not complete their Case Plans in a timely manner, the court may terminate their parental rights and the child will be free for adoption. The foster parents are usually the first choice for adoption of a child that has been in their care. The biological parents will not be able to regain custody of the child(ren) once their rights have been terminated and they have exhausted their appeals in the Dependency Court system.
Do foster parents have a choice on the child that they take into their home?
Children are placed in foster homes by matching their needs with the foster parent(s)’ or family’s situation and strengths. A foster parent will never be asked to accept a foster child that he/she is not prepared to help. The foster parent selects the level of need (traditional, enhanced or therapeutic) and age group of the children that he/she would like to foster.
How many rooms do I need to have in my home to become a Foster Parent?
It’s important for the child to feel that they have a space to call their own. Each child must have their own bed and must be in a separate room from the foster parent. Foster children may share a bedroom with another child of the same gender, but no child may share a bedroom with anyone over the age of 18.
What compensation will I receive as a foster parent?
Foster parents are given a monthly board rate based on the age of the child and the level of care provided. The board rate payment is not meant to be a source of income. You must have enough income to meet your own family’s needs and you will be asked to provide proof of income.
How long do foster children stay in foster care?
The amount of time a child spends in foster care varies by each case. The law requires, in most circumstances, that every effort be made to reunite children with their parents as soon as it is safe for the child. If the child cannot be reunited safely within a certain period of time (12-15 months), the law requires that another permanent home be found for the child.
Can foster parents work outside of the home?
Most foster parents do work outside of the home since one of the requirements of becoming a foster parent is financial stability. Daycare or aftercare is provided for all foster children at a subsidized rate. This means that the cost is nothing or is minimal and is covered by the monthly board rate that the foster parent receives for the care of the child. A child under the age of six weeks requires a stay-at-home foster parent since he/she is not old enough for daycare.
Do foster children see their biological parents during the time they are in foster care?
Most children in foster care visit their biological parents on a regular basis, usually once a week, as part of the court-ordered plan to reunite the family. If the visits are to be supervised per court order, they are usually supervised by the Child Advocate (caseworker) or a professional supervisor at various locations such as ChildNet offices, a visitation center, public park or restaurant. Foster parents are expected to cooperate with the foster child’s visitation plan. This does not mean the foster parents have to meet the parents or even have their identity revealed. Foster parents are expected to assist with transportation to and from visits. If there is difficulty with this, assistance with transportation to and from visits can usually be arranged.
Is it true foster parents cannot use corporal punishment (spanking) to discipline the foster child?
Yes. Foster parents are prohibited by law from using any form of physical punishment. Positive discipline, combined with understanding and love, should be used to educate the child to conform to the standards of your family and our society. Positive discipline will be covered at length in MAPP training.
What kinds of problems do the children generally have?
Children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect often exhibit behavioral problems, developmental delays, learning delays, sleep disturbances, bedwetting, and emotional instability. Some may have symptoms of prenatal alcohol or drug exposure such as irritability, extreme sensitivity to stimulation, distractibility or an inability to learn from consequences. In most cases, these symptoms are mild to moderate and will diminish in time with love and counseling. Each child will receive individual counseling, physical, occupational and speech therapy, as necessary.
Can we take the foster child with us on vacation?
Yes. However, you must have prior arrangements approved by the Child Advocate and approval by the court for out of state travel.
Can we leave the foster child with a baby-sitter?
Yes. The person employed to baby-sit needs to be at least 18 years old and be background screened. Twelve days of paid respite care is also available through the foster home management agency. Respite care is when a foster child stays with another foster family for one or more nights, usually when foster parents must go out of town and cannot bring the child with them.