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.
1. Examine your expectations and motivations.
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. Learn from other foster/adoptive families.
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.
3. Find an agency.
As you can see from the map below, the city of Houston is home to an overwhelming 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 for families. There’s no such thing as a perfect agency, but it’s important to do some research to find the best fit for your family. In the meantime, please review our list of recommended questions to ask an agency.
Scroll down to see a map of our partner agencies.
4. Attend an orientation class.
Once you identify one or two agencies that might be a good fit, attend an orientation class to hear more about the organization. This class can help you answer more of your questions and hear more about the organization. From there, you’ll learn how to get started on the licensing process.
5. Begin the application/training process.
Your CPA will give you a list of all the items that will need to be completed during the licensing process. As you move through the process, be patient, take your time, and be sure to keep copies of your documentation! Please visit www.fostering-family.org/resources for additional information about local resources who may assist you in getting your licensing requirements completed.
6. Grow a support system.
Foster families cannot thrive in isolation. As you begin your journey, it’s important to identify those who can provide ongoing care and support for your family. This team may include members of your extended family or church community, neighbors, or friends. We highly recommend that the members of your team become certified as babysitters for your family to be able to provide support for your family and give you adequate space to get ongoing training and rest. See page __ for more information about Babysitter Certification. (link to BCT trainings)
7. Prepare your home and heart.
As you put the finishing touches on your paperwork and complete the last of your training, you’re on your way to your homestudy and completing the licensing process! In addition to the training you’ve received from your CPA, it’s important to spend some time equipping your family for the journey ahead. See page __ for a list of additional resources to help you prepare and to reference after placement.
8. Wait for a call.
Waiting isn’t easy! As you wait for a child, use this time to continue to prepare and, we’d also encourage you to pray for you child and your family as you wait.
The list above is an excerpt from our Resource Guide for Prospective Foster/Adoptive Families. Click the button below for the full resource.
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.
DFPS / CPS
Arms Wide Adoption
Arrow Child & Family Ministries
DePelchin Children's Center
Homes with Hope
Houston Serenity Place
Methodist Children's Home
Presbyterian Children's Homes
Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Foster/Adoptive Parents
What are the requirements for becoming a foster/adoptive parent?
Requirements may differ depending on the CPA, but generally include the following:
- be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults
- have adequate sleeping space for each child (a bed and 40 square feet)
- no more than 6 children in the home (includes biological, potential foster children, and children for whom you provide childcare) *There are some exceptions to this requirement.
- all pets must be vaccinated
- complete application and all appropriate documentation, including references
- agree to non-physical discipline policy
- background check and fingerprinting for all household members 14 yrs old and older
- complete fire safety inspections of the home
- complete home study, including interviews with all household members
- CPR/First Aid certification
- TB testing for all household members
- complete annual trainings are required by agency
- attend trainings required by agency - seems redundant with the above point
How long does it take to become a licensed foster home?
The timeline depends largely on how long you decide to take to complete the application process, submit documentation, and attend all necessary training. The process can take as little as a few months, or can be completed over the course of a year. Some trainings are required to be completed annually so it’s generally recommended that you complete the training process within a year.
What is a child placing agency?
When necessary, the court will remove children to protect them and authorize the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS – or Child Protective Services) to place the children with private child placing agencies (CPAs). CPAs have contracts with DFPS to provide safe, nurturing foster homes with the goal of promoting growth and healing in these children. There is no cost to using a CPA and they provide compliance, training, and support to foster families and children.
Why are children placed in foster care?
In response to allegations of severe neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and/or sexual abuse, the State of Texas is given authority by the court system to remove children from their homes. Children may be placed with relatives or emergency placements while an investigation is ongoing. Others are placed with a foster family. Unfortunately due to a shortage of equipped foster families, older children may temporarily stay at CPS offices or are admitted to residential treatment centers or group homes in the area.
What is the legal process for children in foster care?
Once placed in foster care, DFPS continues to assess what is in the best interest of the child. Children may be returned to their biological mother or father once the family proves they can provide appropriate and nurturing care, usually by completing a service plan. If a responsible and caring adult is found within the extended biological family children may be placed with relatives. If these two situations are not available, a child may remain in the foster care system. A child becomes adoptable if the courts terminate the biological parental rights. A typical foster care case takes about 15-18 months from placement to trial, but many factors may cause the case to be prolonged. Children could be placed for only a few weeks or they could stay through the entire process.
Do I have any control over which children are placed within my home?
During the licensing process, the foster family is able to give preferences with regard to a child’s age, gender, ethnicity, and level of care (basic, moderate, specialized). Once licensed, the agency matches children based on your preferences. Ultimately, the foster family makes the final decision before a child is placed in their home.
Do I have to be married or be a stay-at-home parent to foster?
No. There is no requirement that a foster parent be married or stay at home. However, arrangements must be made for taking children to daycare, school, necessary medical/dental appointments, etc.
Do I have to own a home to become a foster/adoptive parent?
No. There is no requirement that a foster parent own a home. However, any move while a child is placed in your home will require an update to your family’s home study. The child will need to have adequate living space as required by the DFPS Minimum Standards for foster home licensing.
How much does it cost to foster?
Aside from minimal costs during the licensing process (background checks/fingerprinting, TB testing, fire inspection, CPR certification, etc), there are little to no financial costs required to foster a child. While a child is in foster care, licensed foster families are given a monthly stipend based on the 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 on the needs of the foster family (i.e. day care, transportation, etc).
How much does it cost to adopt through foster care?
For safety, security, and efficiency reasons, we ask that each participant have a preexisting relationship with a foster family. We want to ensure that foster families are supported by babysitters they know and trust, and we want to ensure that those intending to babysit have already taken steps to connect with the family. If you would like to become a babysitter, but you are not connected to a family, we ask that you reach out to a church, neighborhood community, or one of the participating agencies. You can also reach out to us and we can do our best to connect you to a family in your area.
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 or relatives is no longer an option, there may be an opportunity to adopt a child in your care. It is important to examine motivations for fostering and adopting prior to starting the process. Children in foster care need loving families who will support them and put their needs first, even if that means a foster family may endure a degree of unpredictability.
What are the responsibilities of a foster parent?
- provide daily care, nurture, and support of children in your home
- advocate for children in their school and community
- inform caseworkers about adjustments to the home, school, community, as well as any problems that may arise, including any serious illness, accidents, or serious occurrences involving foster children or their own families
- make efforts as team members with children’s case workers toward reunifying children with birth families
- provide a positive role model to birth families
- help children learn life skills
What ongoing support or training is available for foster/adoptive parents?
CPAs should provide some degree of ongoing support and training for foster families under their care. Other nonprofits and churches throughout the city are also working hard to make sure families are well-supported and thriving. There are a growing number of support groups, parent’s night outs, resource closets, TBRI trainings, and other supportive tools that are available to foster families. Email us at email@example.com, and we’d be happy to get you connected to resources in your area. Or do you want to include the map here?
I’m interested in fostering. What’s my next step?