Foster Care is temporary care for children who have the ultimate goal of returning home to their birth parents or other relatives. The length of stay in foster care varies from a few days to much longer. Foster parents play a vital role in understanding the needs of the children during these difficult times, and their help, intervention and nurturing can make all the difference to a child in need.


Wake County foster parents represent all walks of life and all races, economic backgrounds and religions. Foster parents need to be caring individuals who understand the special needs of children who have been separated from their families. You do need to have extra time and extra patience to help a child adjust to your home and to the changes he or she is experiencing. Please call 919-212-7474 for additional information and to complete an initial screening assessment.

Agency Requirements

  • You must be a legal Wake County resident.
  • You must be at least 21 years of age and in good health.
  • You can be single or married.
  • You must have a stable home and be able to show you are financially stable.
  • You must have adequate sleeping space for a child.
  • You must be able to read and write.
  • You must have a telephone.
  • You must be willing to submit to criminal checks, fingerprints and provide references.
  • You must attend 30 hours of preparation group training sessions.


Prospective foster parents need to attend a preparation group. We will only license Wake County residents. This training is designed to help you learn more about foster care and the needs of the children. This information will help you decide whether you are ready to make the commitment to be a foster parent. If you are a couple, both adults must attend the group. The meetings are generally held one night a week for 10 consecutive weeks (from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.). Saturday classes may also be offered. Please note you must be approved to attend the training session, which is by invitation only.

Wake County Human Services
220 Swinburne St.
Raleigh, NC 27610
For additional information, please call or email: 
Foster Inquiries:919-212-7474 
Adoption Inquiries: 919-212-7878
Steps to become a Foster Parent
You can expect the following during your path to becoming a foster parent. Please keep in mind that there is no way to guarantee a family will be approved to be foster parents. Because the stakes are so high for the children we place, it is important for you and staff to resolve any concerns about application before approval can be made.

First Step: The Information Meeting

Information Meeting Schedule
Please note that the Foster Parent Information Meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, from 6:30–8 p.m. This meeting will focus on Targeted Recruitment of Foster Families to serve children ages 6–17, sibling groups, children with special needs and children who need short-term emergency care. To request a link to join, email Registration deadline for this event is Feb. 5, 2021.
This informal meeting is designed to present information about foster care in Wake County. At this meeting, we discuss the definitions of foster care and adoption and talk about the specific needs of the children in our community. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers, as well. By the end of this meeting, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you want to continue with the process to learn more about becoming a foster parent.
Prospective foster parents should plan to attend a Foster Care/Adoption Information meeting. These meetings will be held prior to each training, and prospective foster parents should attend the information meeting that aligns with the training they would like to attend.
Due to the sensitive content discussed during the Information Meeting, we ask that you please not bring children to the meeting.

Second Step: The Foster Parent Information Form

You need to complete this form so that we will have some basic understanding of how best to work with you. You will be given this form at the information meeting. There are some regulations in North Carolina about foster care. The information you give us on this form helps to indicate whether there are any regulations that need to be discussed further.

Third Step: Preparation Groups Training (MAPP)

There are 10 meetings after the Information Meeting. These meetings are designed to give you an opportunity to make a well-informed decision about participating in our program. The meetings are relaxed (no tests!) and we discuss in-depth information that should help you in your role as a foster parent. You will also have an opportunity to meet with experienced foster and adoptive parents. The preparation group meetings are usually held once a week for a period of about two months. If there is a conflict with your work schedule, please talk to us beforehand.

Fourth Step: Individual Meetings

After the preparation group, a social worker will be assigned to help you with the rest of the process. You and that worker will get to know each other through individual meetings in your home. We will also be meeting with your children and anyone else who is living with you.

Fifth Step: Making a Decision

Besides your social worker, other agency staff will be looking at your interest in foster care. This will include the Foster Family Resource Unit supervisor and other social workers who will make a decision about your application.

Sixth Step: Medical Examinations and Inspections

After successfully completing Step 5, foster parent applicants need to schedule and complete the following:
  • Medical examination for every member of your household and
  • Inspection by the Fire Department (no cost)
Many applicants tell us they worry about the inspections. No one expects your house to be perfect, and most homes pass these inspections without much preparation. The inspector will be looking for conditions that might be dangerous. You will have an opportunity to correct any problems.

Final Step: Approval

The social worker will write an assessment (including information about your family's strengths and needs, background information, etc.). After your review, it is sent to the state office for approval. The state office will then review the information; when the application is approved, a license is issued. Children can be placed with your family after this license has been issued.

Please keep in mind that there is no way to guarantee a family will be approved to be foster parents. Because the stakes are so high for the children we place, it is important for you and staff to resolve any concerns about the application before approval can be made. This is true throughout the application process and all the steps listed above.