Jeff Marshall is a board certified specialist in Family Law

Become a Foster Parent Requirements

Contact Us Today

Become a Foster Parent Requirements Image

Opening your heart and home to a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Thousands of children in the foster care system are waiting for a loving family to provide them with stability, nurturing, and a sense of belonging. If you are considering becoming a foster parent, Marshall & Taylor PLLC is here to guide you through the legal requirements and process.

What Is Foster Care?

Foster care provides a temporary haven for children who cannot live with their birth parents due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other challenges. The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth families whenever possible. However, when reunification is not an option, many foster children become available for adoption, offering them the chance to find a permanent, loving forever family.

As a foster parent, you play a crucial role in a child’s life during a difficult and traumatic time. You provide food, shelter, safety, emotional support, guidance, and advocacy. Foster parenting comes with challenges and immense joys as you watch a child grow, heal, and thrive under your care.

To become a foster parent, you must meet specific requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of children in your care. These requirements include:

  • Age – In North Carolina, you must be at least 21 to be a foster parent. However, there is no upper age limit as long as you are physically and emotionally capable of caring for a child.
  • Marital Status – You can be single, married, divorced, or widowed and still foster. You may need to apply individually if you are part of an unmarried couple living together.
  • Health – You must be physically and mentally healthy to care for a child properly. The agency may require a doctor’s report confirming your health status.
  • Income – You don’t have to be wealthy to foster, but you must have a stable income sufficient to meet your family’s needs. Foster parents receive a monthly stipend to offset the cost of caring for the child.
  • Home – You must have adequate bedroom space to accommodate a foster child. The child needs their own bed and closet or drawer space, but can share a room with another child of the same gender and compatible age. Your home must pass a safety inspection.
  • Background Check – All adult household members must pass criminal background checks and child abuse registry checks. Minor offenses may not disqualify you, but felonies or crimes against children generally will. Be upfront about any history, as the agency will find out anyway.
  • Training – Most agencies require foster parents to complete a training program that covers topics like child development, trauma, behavior management, and working with birth families. The training helps prepare you for the challenges and rewards of fostering.

The licensing process will typically include an orientation, application, home study, training, and background checks. The process may take several months to complete. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the requirements and advocate for you during the home study and licensing process.

How to Adopt from Foster Care

Become a Foster Parent Requirements Image 2Many foster parents ultimately decide to adopt one or more of their children, providing them with a loving forever home. Children may become available for adoption if their birth parents’ rights are terminated due to failure to resolve the issues that led to removals, such as substance abuse, mental illness, or incarceration.

To adopt from foster care, you must complete the requirements to become a licensed foster parent. Once a child is placed with you, their caseworker will inform you of their permanency plan. If the plan changes from reunification to adoption, the case worker may ask if you want to adopt the child.

If you decide to proceed with adoption, you will need to complete an adoption home study (which is less involved than the initial foster home study since you are already licensed). You will also need to terminate your foster care payments and switch to adoption assistance payments, which may be slightly lower but continue until the child is 18.

The adoption process includes termination of parental rights, completing post-placement visits and reports, and finalizing the adoption in court. An experienced adoption attorney will help the process go smoothly and ensure your rights are protected.

Adopting through foster care is generally much less expensive than private domestic or international adoption. You may be able to access state-level adoption assistance to help with legal fees, and you may be eligible for tax credits and employee benefits.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent or adopting from foster care, contact the compassionate family law attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC. We can guide you through the legal process and requirements to help you achieve your goal of providing a loving home for a child in need. Contact us today at (919) 833-1040 to discuss your situation and learn how we can help your family grow through fostering and adoption.