Steps to Foster Care

Do I have the qualifications to become a licensed foster parent?

Most people who can provide an adequate and loving home are eligible to foster. As a foster parent you:

  • may be single, married, divorced, or separated and living apart from a spouse for 12 months or longer.
  • may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or questioning.
  • may or may not have birth or adopted children.
  • must be at least 21 years of age.
  • must be able to financially manage the addition of a child or children to the family, although there are no specific income requirements.
  • must have no criminal history that will prevent you from being licensed to adopt.

Licensing Process

Becoming a foster parent in the State of Illinois requires a license. This license is obtained from the state, either through DCFS or through one of the private agencies that provides foster care and child welfare services. Obtaining a foster care license takes an average of 3-6 months and involves several components including, but not limited to:

  • an orientation meeting during which you will learn about DCFS and the needs of children who require a foster home. You will also learn about the foster care licensing process. In Illinois, families must receive a license before foster children come to live with them. Licensing ensures that children are placed with nurturing families and in homes that meet the standards set by DCFS.
  • an application for licensure.
  • criminal background check with fingerprinting.
  • training classes (an average of 9-30 hours) provided by the agency.
  • home study and interviews. Before issuing a license, the agency will make sure that your home is a safe place for children. Generally, a foster home will:
    • be clean, well ventilated, properly lighted and heated, and free of fire hazards.
    • have a safe water supply.
    • provide protection from poisoning and injury.
    • have room for a child.
    • have an operating telephone or quick access to a telephone.
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