How to Become a Foster Parent in California

Making the decision to become a foster parent (also known as resource parent) can be life changing for you and the rest of your family. If you decide that you’d like to foster children, you’ll need to go through a comprehensive application process.

To improve your odds of correctly completing the application process and being successful beyond that, it’s important that you partner with a Foster Family Agency that is ready to offer all the support you need. There are several stages to complete and you need to have in-depth knowledge of what to do and what is expected of you.

However, before beginning the process it’s a good idea to speak with a specialist who can help you decide whether you want to be a foster parent, or a host guardian (to provide respite care).  This decision might significantly impact the number of days per month you’re able to help one or more children. Which will also impact the amount of money you are reimburse on a monthly basis. 

Having more than 25 years’ experience as a licensed adoption and foster family agency, Knotts Family Agency has specialists on stand-by to walk you through the pros and cons of each possible path (fostering, adopting, or becoming a host guardian).

What Are the Requirements to Become a Foster Parent?

To qualify as a foster parent, you need to complete a formal application which covers basic information about your household environment.  Additionally, you’ll need to go through a background check, and pre-approval training. 

Here are the primary steps in the process:

  1. Complete the application (we’ll help you through the questions)
  2. Background checks are scheduled
  3. Submit supplemental documentation
  4. Complete the required pre-approval training (12 hours). May be in the comfort of your home or at the office.
  5. Complete the family assessment (an in-depth interview with family members).
  6. The application is reviewed for ‘agency approval’
  7. Congratulations you have received agency approval
  8. Your agency-approved packet is submitted to your home county for final clearance.
  9. Our specialists are in contact with the county during this process to answer any questions they may have
  10. County clears home to begin receiving children
  11. You can begin helping one or more children in need!

Will I Be Disqualified if Someone in My Home Has a Criminal Record?

There may be a need to process an “exemption” if there is an issue with your background check. That being said, some general rules of thumb are:

  1. No resident in the home can have a history of domestic abuse
  2. No resident in the home can have a history of child abuse
  3. Most other offenses can be cleared via a state waiver on a case by case basis so they do not prevent a caring / qualified person from becoming a foster / adoptive parent

How Much Does The Application Process Cost? Is This Per Adult?

Applying is free but there may be some costs. For example, applicants will need to complete LiveScan (background check) which may cost up to $75 per adult in the home. Some families may need to equip their home with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.

However, Knotts Family Agency offers a special reimbursement program to return up to $450 per household in application expenses.  Contact us for more details.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Becoming a Foster Parent?

When selecting an agency, we recommend that you identify one that is willing to “hold your hand” and guide you throughout the process, including assisting in preparing your packet if you or someone in your household needs an “exemption”.

There’s a high possibility that, as one of our applicants, you can make it to the approved foster parent list. We will work closely with you so that you are successful. We are mostly interested in your willingness to bring up kids in a loving, nurturing, environment. 

Contact us today for a free consultation.  

We’ll answer your questions and give you one-on-one help throughout the process.