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Foster Families

On this page are resources for Ohioans interested in becoming foster parents and information on how to become a foster parent.

About Foster Families

When events place the safety and well-being of children in jeopardy, it can become necessary to remove them from their homes. If at all possible, public children services agencies strive to place children with family members or friends. When this is not possible, however, placement in a foster home is necessary. Currently, there is a great need for both foster and adoptive parents, and an even greater need for those who are willing to accept placement of teenagers, special needs children, sibling groups, and minorities.

Foster parents are expected to care for children until a court decides that they can return home safely or that they should be placed with adoptive parents or legal guardians. Foster parents often work directly with the child’s parents — teaching them skills and encouraging them. They also are expected to be active and involved in the child’s case, which means attending court hearings and school functions; providing routine transportation; and communicating regularly with caseworkers and service providers.

Most children return to their parents or another relative within a year, but sometimes it takes longer. A foster parent must agree to care for the child as long as necessary. Foster parents often continue to encourage and support the child and family after the child returns home.

A foster parent receives a sense of fulfillment for caring for a child in need. Foster parents receive subsidies to help meet a child’s daily needs, including medical coverage for the child through Ohio Medicaid.

Foster Family Duties

The goal of foster care is to fulfill the child’s physical, emotional, and social needs until the child can be reunited with family or placed for adoption. In doing so, it is necessary that a foster parent:

  • Encourage school attendance, monitor progress, and note special needs and accomplishments.
  • Provide appropriate clothing.
  • Attend to medical and dental needs.
  • Help the child through the grieving and adjustment process that accompanies such a transition.
  • Cooperate with visitation and assist the child in preparing to return home or be moved to another foster or adoptive home.
  • Maintain a “lifebook,” a record for the child of his or her time in foster care, including, for example, developmental milestones, photographs, and report cards.
  • Provide consistent, realistic discipline and guidance that is age appropriate and abide by the agency's policy on discipline.
  • Be part of a case review and meetings when asked, or attend court when needed.
  • Provide transportation to visitation, counseling, and other appointments.
  • Comply with state regulations and agency policies and procedures as outlined in the foster parent manual.
  • Provide recreational and enrichment activities that will provide the healthy development of children.

How to Become a Foster Parent

To become a foster parent, complete the following steps:

  1. Contact the agency for which you would like to serve as a foster parent.
  2. Complete the agency’s application process. Most agencies will conduct a home study, which could include:
  3. Personal interviews; home visits; a request for health records, financial statements, a personal statement, and character references; educational training; a search of the statewide automated child welfare information system; a safety audit; and a water test.
  4. Complete a background check. Prospective foster caregivers can request expedited processing of their background check from the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) by sending an email to FosterCheck@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov. (Expedited processing is available to prospective foster caregivers at no additional charge.)
  5. Have a licensed medical professional fill out a medical statement for each member of your household. To print the statement, visit www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/file.asp?id=495&type=application/pdf
  6. Arrange for a home safety inspection by a certified state fire safety inspector or the Ohio Fire Marshal’s office. To reach the fire marshal, visit www.com.ohio.gov/fire
  7. Take part in a home study, performed by your licensing agency. 
  8. Complete preplacement training (a minimum of 36 hours). The training is offered by your licensing agency or through a regional training center. To find the closest training center, visit http://ocwtp.net/RTCs.htm. To find out more about training, visit http://ocwtp.net/Trainee%20Resources.htm#Preservice.

Requirements to Be a Foster Parent

A checklist for anyone who wants to be a foster parent:

  • I’m at least 21.
  • I have sufficient income to financially support children and pay for shelter.
  • I do not have physical, emotional, or mental conditions that could impair my ability to care for a child.
  • No one residing in my home has a physical, emotional, or mental condition that would endanger a child.
  • At least one person in my home can read, write, and speak English or communicate effectively with a foster child and the child welfare agency staff.
  • No adult (person 18 years or older) living in my home has been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, any of the offenses listed in Ohio Administrative Code 5101:2-7-02(J), with some exceptions.
  • In the case that there is a child (person between the ages of 12 and 17 and 364 days) living in my home that has been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, any of the offenses listed in Ohio Revised Code 5103.0319, I have notified the child welfare agency.
  • I have not had my foster care license revoked in Ohio or another state within the past five years.