Becoming a foster or adoptive parent is a daunting and often confusing process. We want to provide resources and support for anyone considering opening their home to children in need, whether temporarily or permanently.
Are you interested in becoming a licensed foster/adoptive home? The process can be confusing, and there is a lot to consider. Please review our recommended next steps below.
* This list is an excerpt from our Resource Guide for Prospective Foster/Adoptive Families.
1. Assess your motives.
There are a variety of reasons to foster and/or adopt, and to be honest, some reasons are better than others. Maybe you have always wanted to foster and/or adopt. Maybe you first considered it after having struggled with infertility. Maybe you have a particular burden to care for vulnerable children. Or maybe, having had a number of biological children, you’re looking to continue growing your family.
As you begin to ask whether fostering/adopting is for you, you may identify with several of these motivations. It’s important to recognize, consider, explore, and discuss your expectations and motivations, because foster care is challenging. Children who have experienced significant loss need loving adults who are willing to shoulder heavy burdens. They don’t need perfect families, but they do need families who have counted the cost and opened their homes for the right reasons. The document below will help you to process your expectations and motivations.
2. Read the FAQ for Prospective Parents.
3. Connect with other foster/adoptive parents.
We highly encourage you to discuss foster care and/or adoption with wise and humble people who are further along in their foster care/adoption journeys. Ask questions, gain insight, and learn from their experience. Good mentors can help you to manage your expectations, provide ongoing support, and answer the multitude of questions not addressed in the FAQ below.
Some certified placing agencies (CPAs) have a process for connecting prospective foster/adoptive families with seasoned mentors. If your agency does not, we would love to help you find a mentor in your area.
4. Select a placing agency.
The city of Houston is home to a number of certified placing agencies (CPAs). All CPAs contract with the State of Texas and adhere to the State’s Minimum Standards, but they may differ in their approach to licensing, training, and support. CPAs who partner with Fostering Family’s Babysitting Collaborative have taken an important step toward ensuring that foster/adoptive parents have the support they need.
There’s no such thing as a perfect agency, but it’s important to do some research and find the best fit for your family. Scroll down to see a map of our partner agencies, and please review our list of recommended questions to ask an agency (coming soon).
5. Begin the training and application process.
Once you have narrowed down your list of CPAs, register to attend an orientation class (or several). This class should give you a feel for the organization and help to answer your lingering questions.
Your agency will provide you with a list of trainings and documentation that will need to be completed during the licensing process. Be patient, take your time, and keep copies of all documentation! Please follow the button below for more helpful information and resources for completing your licensing requirements (coming soon).
6. Grow a support system.
Foster/adoptive families do not thrive in isolation. As you begin your journey, it’s important to identify and enlist friends, family, and/or neighbors who can provide ongoing support for your family. We highly recommend that the members of your support system get certified to babysit so that you can have the time and space to rest and receive ongoing training.
7. Prepare your home and heart.
After you submit your application and complete your trainings, you will be scheduled for a home study. Your agency will have further instructions on to prepare.
In addition, begin preparing your heart to show love and compassion no matter what comes your way. And if you have children in your home, begin having conversations about love, patience, selflessness, and hospitality. Your entire family will be called upon to make room, both physically and emotionally.
8. Wait for a call.
As you wait for your first placement, we encourage you to continue learning and preparing. If you pray, it’s never too early to start praying for your foster/adoptive child(ren) and their biological family. They are somewhere in the city, and they need your love even now.
Find an Agency
The following certified placing agencies (CPAs) participate in our Babysitter Certification Collaborative. Each agency is different, but we recommend these because they have taken an important step towards caring for you, their foster families.
Click a link below to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Foster/Adoptive Parents
What are the requirements for becoming a foster/adoptive parent?
Requirements differ depending on the agency (CPA), but generally include the following:
At least 21 years old
1 bed and 40 sq. ft. per child in the home
No more than 6 children in the home, including biological, adoptive, foster, and children for whom you provide childcare (exceptions may apply)
Agency application: references, home study, fire safety inspections, CPR/First Aid certification, TB testing, background checks and fingerprinting for household members 14 years+
Annual training hours
Non-physical discipline agreement (no spanking)
How long does it take to become a licensed foster home?
The process could take a few months or up to an entire year, depending upon how quickly you move through the trainings and documentation. However, some trainings are required annually, so it makes sense to try and complete the entire process within one year.
What is a child placing agency?
If the court deems it necessary, children are removed from their homes and placed under the care of the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS or CPS), which then works alongside private child placing agencies (CPAs) to find temporary foster/kinship homes. CPAs contract with DFPS to provide safe, nurturing foster homes. There is no cost to getting trained and licensed through a CPA.
Why are children placed in foster care?
Children are placed in foster care in response to allegations of severe neglect, physical/emotional abuse, and/or sexual abuse. Children may be placed with relatives (kinship) or emergency placements while an investigation is pending. Others are placed in foster homes. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of licensed foster homes, older children may temporarily stay at CPS offices or get admitted to residential treatment centers (RTCs) or group homes in the area.
What is the legal process for children in foster care?
Having placed a child in foster care, DFPS will continue to assess what is in the best interest of the child. Children may be reunited with their biological families (usually following a “service plan,” whereby the biological parents demonstrate the ability to provide safe and nurturing care). Alternatively, an extended family member or close friend may be willing to assume responsibility for the child (this is called kinship care). Otherwise, the child will remain in foster care, becoming adoptable if/when the court terminates biological parental rights. Typically, a child’s case will last 15-18 months, but any number of factors may prolong or abbreviate the process.
Do I have any control over which children are placed in my home?
During the licensing process, prospective foster parents are permitted to submit preferences with regard to age, gender, ethnicity, and level of care (basic, moderate, or specialized). Once licensed, your agency will match children based on your preferences. And ultimately, the foster home makes the final decision before each and every placement.
Do I have to be married or a stay-at-home parent to foster?
No. There is no requirement that a foster parent be married or stay-at-home. However, as with any other parenting circumstance, arrangements must be made for taking children to daycare, school, medical/dental appointments, etc.
Do I have to own a home to become a foster/adoptive parent?
No. There is no requirement that foster parents own a home. However, moving to a new home while fostering requires an update to your home study. Foster children must have adequate living space as required by the DFPS Minimum Standards.
How much does it cost to foster?
Aside from miscellaneous costs during the licensing process (background checks, fingerprinting, TB testing, fire inspection, CPR certification, etc), foster care is inexpensive. Licensed foster families are given a monthly stipend based on their foster child’s level of care. Children are also provided with medical and dental insurance through Medicaid and qualify for nutritional assistance through WIC. Additional resources may be available depending upon the needs of the foster family (i.e. day care, transportation, etc).
How much does it cost to adopt through foster care?
The cost to adopt through foster care is minimal. In most cases, the adoptive family will qualify for State subsidy, which covers all legal fees, grants health care coverage, and offers a monthly stipend.
What is the likelihood that I will be able to adopt through the foster care system?
The primary goal for children in foster care is family preservation and reunification. When reuniting with biological family is no longer an option, there may be an opportunity to adopt a child through the foster care system. If you are considering foster care as a means of growing your family through adoption, we gently recommend examining your motivations. Children in foster care need loving families who will support them and put their needs first, even if it means reunification with biological family. In other words, foster families are called upon to assume a degree of unpredictability, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt your foster child.
That said, at any given moment, there are hundreds of children in Houston’s foster system who are awaiting adoption.
What are the responsibilities of a foster parent?
Foster parents are expected to provide daily care, nurture, and support to children in your home. This includes advocating for children in their schools and communities, acting as a positive role model, and helping children to learn the life skills necessary to thrive in adulthood.
Foster parents are required to keep up-to-date documentation for the children placed in their home, informing caseworkers of progress, adjustments, and any problems that may arise, including illnesses, accidents, or the need for some sort of therapy.
In addition, we encourage foster parents to pursue relationship with biological family members (if/when wise and appropriate) and work with caseworkers to see families preserved and children reunited with their biological parents.
What ongoing support or training is available for foster/adoptive parents?
Most CPAs provide ongoing support and training for their foster families. In addition, some nonprofits and faith-based communities in Houston are committed to making sure families are well-supported and thriving. There are a growing number of support groups, parents’ night outs, resource closets, TBRI trainings, and other helpful resources. Email us, and we’d be happy to get you connected to resources in your area.