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How do I become a foster parent?

Child Welfare
Foster Care


The goal of foster care is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment until a child is able to return home or until a permanent family is found for the child. Foster parents are approved by the State to provide care for children, including their home needs to meet basic standards of safety set by law and regulation; foster parents also receive a stipend or reimbursement for the care they provide. Each State provides its own criteria and licensing requirements for foster parents.

Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, offers a section on its website titled "How Do I Become a Foster Parent?". This web page includes links to frequently asked questions, preparation and training, and additional topics such as foster parents' role in supporting permanency and raising foster children. Local child welfare agencies typically offer resource guides and orientation classes for prospective foster parents. Information Gateway also connects viewers with State websites offering contact information for local and county child welfare agencies.

Information Gateway maintains the following relevant resources for prospective foster parents:

In most States, some private foster care agencies also provide child-placing services. You may locate a list of State-licensed private foster care agencies through a search of Information Gateway's National Foster Care and Adoption Directory.

For additional information on foster parenting, you may be interested in viewing these additional resources:

  • National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) provides information on their website, including basic requirements for becoming a foster parent, frequently asked questions, a history of foster care in the United States and more.
  • AdoptUSKids, a project of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, illustrates basic requirements on its website.
Last Reviewed: August 3, 2016