We are so excited you’re thinking of becoming a resource parent, also known as a foster parent, for a child in need! It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time, home, and love. But we also understand it’s a process to become one and you have questions about how long it takes to become a foster parent.
- Complete the general orientation
- Family Social Worker provides paperwork for fingerprinting
- Fingerprint clearance
- Set up access for and begin trainings
- Begin interview process and home study
- Submit paperwork
Typically, it takes 60 to 90 days to certify a family to become foster parents, but we’ve also been able to certify some within about a month. Keep in mind, each situation is unique and will have varying factors that will affect how long it takes to gain certification. The main parts include a home study and interviews, paperwork, finger printing, and trainings. All these pieces have their own components that can shorten or lengthen the process.
Fingerprinting is a part of the background check in the certification process and can take more or less time depending on the family. We don’t move forward with trainings and interviews until all fingerprinting is cleared because you can’t become a foster parent without that clearance.
Each adult that will be caring for the foster child, including backup caregivers, must be fingerprinted. The speed of approval will be affected by how quickly the adults can be fingerprinted and if there are any notifications from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or FBI databases on a set of fingerprints. An alert from either of these organizations is not an automatic disqualification in the process, but it will need to be addressed to move forward.
Criminal Background Checks
Sometimes a potential foster parent’s background check will raise a flag that the foster agency will need to investigate. An example of a situation that may cause a flag on a background check is driving without a license 20 years in the past. Typically, instances like these can be waived with a “self-exemption”. Usually, they take four to six weeks, sometimes longer, to process and the potential foster parent may need to communicate their case with the DOJ or FBI to get the approval needed. Victor FFA can help walk you through this if needed!
Some examples of the paperwork necessary to become a certified foster parent are, housing documents like homeowners’ insurance, or if renting, a letter from the landlord stating it’s okay for the family or resident to become a foster parent. Identity related documents like driver’s licenses and social security numbers are standard. Financial documentation is very important to show for proof that the foster parent can support themselves without the stipend provided from foster care. There is more paperwork, but these are a few of the main ones.
Again, Victor FFA will assign you a social worker to help you get through this process. If you believe any of these may be an issue for you, please talk with us as we’ve been able to provide resources that have helped people become foster parents when they previously thought they wouldn’t be able to.
The home study is the largest part of the process generally taking about 30 days to complete the interview portion. Victor FFA, in particular, does anywhere between two to four interviews with our prospective foster parents. We interview them as individuals, a couple if applicable, and then also interview any other adults, adult children, or children that are currently living in the home. The interviews themselves can last anywhere from a couple to several hours depending on which one it is.
To help maximize the use of time, we simultaneously try to have prospective foster parents involved in their pre-approval trainings while interviews and the home study are occurring. All the steps are interconnected and sometimes the home study results in changes needing to be made to the house. All changes will be communicated to the prospective foster parents and we at Victor FFA help troubleshoot any problems and provide resources depending on what is needed.
Here is one example of having to update a home to be ready for foster care. This home had a power box in one of the bedrooms. For safety reasons, that box needed to be moved from the potential foster child’s room or the foster child would have to stay in a different room. The resource parent was an electrician and was able to move the electric box to another room.
The changes are not always this large. The length of time it takes to become certified as a foster parent will be dependent on how quickly any changes can be made, as well as how quickly fingerprinting is completed for us to be able to conduct interviews.
Some of the required trainings are connected to the home study and some are done on the prospective foster parent’s own time. For example, the home environment assessment is the evaluation that their physical home meets all the requirements of the Interim Licensing Standards Regulations. However, this can’t happen until after the First Aid and CPR trainings have been completed.
There is a total of 28 hours of training both in person and online. Victor FFA has a hybrid training structure called Foster Parent College where potential foster parents can work through the trainings at their leisure. We have a 4-hour orientation, 4 hours of CPR and First Aid training, and 20 hours of general foster parenting training. Victor FFA’s training is thorough and above state requirements. We want to make sure our resource parents are trained and prepared for their foster care journey.
We also make sure you stay up to date on trainings and education while you’re a resource parent. The state requires 8 hours of annual training per year and we at Victor FFA require 15 hours. We offer in person trainings where the social worker can come to you, or you come to us, and online trainings. Keep in mind different counties require different training subjects and we are in multiple counties.
We Work with You
Paperwork, interviews, fingerprinting, and home studies can sound like an overwhelming process, but we make it as smooth as possible and walk alongside you the entire process. We do it at your speed and comfort level while making sure we are providing safe homes for foster children. Keep in mind, once you are done with the certification process, you only need to do a few hours training a year to maintain your status.
We’re very thorough in this area because we aren’t just approving for foster care but also adoption. Victor FFA is a foster to adopt agency so when someone becomes a resource parent, we are also approving them for potential adoption. We’ve made the process of becoming a foster parent or adoptive parent the same to help smooth any transition if the opportunity arises.
The rate at which we are able to get a certification will mostly depend on how quickly the potential foster parent wants to move through the process. Luckily, after fingerprinting is approved, trainings can happen simultaneously with interviews, the home study, and any adjustments that need to be made.
We can’t promise it will be the easiest road, but it is a very rewarding one. To be able to see a child from where they start to where they grow to be, makes all the paperwork worth it. These kids need understanding. They need role modeling. They need love. They need people to be concerned about them. If you are interested in being that person, we invite you to learn more about becoming a foster parent by downloading our ebook linked below.