At times, children who have been abused or neglected must be removed from their homes for their own safety. Foster Care (now called Permanency Planning) is a temporary removal while parents can work on getting back together (called reunification).
How Do I Become a Foster Parent?
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. Children entering foster care maintain strong connections to their birth families and it is important for children to see that foster parents and birth parents can work together to support and maintain their connections. This is called Shared Parenting.
Wake County relies on our community, faith, business and civic partners to help us identify diverse foster parents who represent all races, age groups, economic backgrounds and religions. Foster parents need to be caring and flexible 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 email us at [email protected] or call us at 919-212-7474 for additional information.
In addition to foster parents, children may be placed with relatives (also called Kinship Care). Parents are given an opportunity to identify family who may be able to provide a safe home and care for their child. Identified family and their home will be assessed to determine if placement is in the best interest of the child. Relatives may choose to be licensed as foster families. Even if relatives are unable to provide a home for the child, they are strongly encouraged to participate in their care.
Requirements of Potential Foster Care Parents
- 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 living & sleeping space for a child.
- You must be able to read and write.
- You must have a telephone.
- You and all household members age 18 and older must pass an SBI/FBI fingerprint clearance.
- You must participate in 30 hours of preparation group training sessions and successfully complete and submit homework.
Training/Review of Applications
Foster Parent training is designed to help you learn more about foster care and the needs of the children. This process will help us get to know you and your family and to determine if your family can meet the needs of our children. It will also help you decide whether you are ready to make the commitment to be a foster parent. Fostering involves the entire family. If you are a couple, both adults must participate in the training and the licensing process. Foster Parent Training is generally held one night a week for 10 consecutive weeks (from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.). Saturday classes may also be offered for five consecutive weeks (9:00 am to 3:30 pm). Please note you must be approved to participate in the training session, which is by invitation only.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 Foster Parent Training is offered virtually and dates and times of training have been modified.
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 primary goal is to ensure safety, well-being and to support the permanency plan for the children we place, it is important for you and staff to resolve any concerns before your home can be licensed.
First Step: The Information Meeting
This informal meeting is designed to present information about foster care in Wake County. At this meeting, you will learn core values of foster care, the reasons children come into care, the specific needs of the children in our community as well as the types of families that can best meet their needs. There will be an opportunity for answering any questions you may have. By the end of this meeting, if you decide that want to continue with the process, you can request and complete a foster parent application.
Prospective foster parents should plan to attend a foster care information meeting prior to requesting an application. Information meeting dates are typically the 2nd Tuesday of each month 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Due to the sensitive content discussed, we ask that you please not bring minor children to the meeting.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19, Information Meetings are being held virtually the 2nd Tuesday of each month 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Email [email protected] to request a link to join the meeting.
Second Step: The Foster Parent Application
You will need to complete the foster parent application so that we will have a basic understanding of how best to work with you and your family. You will be given this application upon request after you have attended an information meeting. The information you provide us on this application helps us to determine any licensing regulations that may need to be discussed further. Wake County must remain compliant with all North Carolina Licensure Regulations.
Third Step: Foster Parent Training (TIPS-MAPP/DT)
Foster Parent Training is generally held one night a week for 10 consecutive weeks (6:30 to 8:30 p.m.). Saturday classes may also be offered for five consecutive weeks (9:00 a.m. –3:30 p.m.). Please talk to us beforehand about your work schedule and any other potential scheduling conflicts because attendance at all sessions is mandatory.
Training is interactive and fun. Most participants are pleasantly surprised at how much they learn both from the trainer and from each other. Training will provide 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 parents.
Because we need quality foster homes for our children, we have implemented an accelerated timeline for licensing families. This means that we strive to license families as quickly as possible. However, you play a huge role in how quickly we can license a family by making sure that you complete and submit the following in a timely manner:
- Written homework assignments
- Medical examination for every household member & required medical form signed by medical provider
- Fire inspection by your local fire department
- Water safety plan
Many applicants tell us they worry about 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 and you will have an opportunity to correct any problems.
Fourth Step: Individual Meetings
You and your social worker will get to know each other through individual meetings. We will also meet with your children and anyone else who is living with you. During these meetings the social worker will continue to assess both your home and your family for readiness to welcome and care for a child in foster care.
Fifth Step: Making a Decision
Besides your social worker, other agency staff will be looking at your interest and eligibility to foster. This will include the Licensing Supervisor and other social workers who will make a decision about your application.
Sixth & Final Step: Review & Decision Making
The social worker will write an assessment (including information about your family's strengths and needs, background information, description of your home, etc.). After review, a final decision will be made regarding whether your family is approved to foster. You too will have an opportunity to decide if you wish to continue or opt out based on what you learned during this process. When a decision is made to approve your family, your licensing application is sent to the state office for approval. The state office will then review the information and; if 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.
Shared Parenting is a partnership between foster families and birth parents to maintain important relationships and connections to their culture, routines, and traditions. Shared parenting activities range from hosting family/sibling visits, sharing updates regarding the child’s school functioning or discussing bedtime routines. Children in families that engage in shared parenting have better outcomes related to emotional, behavioral and social functioning. When parents partner there are fewer placement disruptions and reunification rates increase. Overall, shared parenting benefits everyone.