Becoming a foster or adoptive parent is a process. That’s why your agency of choice will work with you closely to complete each step. The State of Arizona requires the following steps to become a foster parent:
Step 1: Meet Basic Requirements
Successful foster and adoptive families come in many forms, from a wide range of ages, cultures, and backgrounds. There is no requirement to be married in order to qualify. Single parents can foster and adopt.
In order to become a foster or adoptive parent, you must:
- Be a legal US and Arizona resident
- Be at least 21 years of age (and at least 18 to adopt)
- Be able to pass a criminal background check and obtain a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card (applies to everyone 18+ in your home or on your property)
- Be able to show proof of ability to care for children, including sound physical, mental and emotional health as well as financial stability
- Have a safe environment to care for a child (note that home ownership is not required)
Step 2: Meet Us!
Our informational meetings will help you determine if fostering or adopting a child is right for you and your family. You’ll also be able to ask any questions about the process from seasoned foster/adoption professionals who work for KIDS agencies. Informational meetings are available in English and in Spanish, and typically last 90 minutes.
Attending a meeting is free of cost and designed to help you decide if you should take the next steps.
Step 3: Choose an Agency
The KIDS Consortium is made up of agencies that are contracted with the State of Arizona to provide foster and adoption services in Maricopa County.
Choosing an agency that is the best fit for your family is vitally important. Speaking to representatives from partner agencies before, during, and after orientation events is a good first step, as is reviewing their websites.
Here are some questions to consider as you research possible agency partners:
- How is this agency different from others?
- Does the agency have any requirements beyond state requirements?
- What kind of support does the agency offer in terms of support groups, advanced training, etc?
- Is the agency responsive to your calls and questions?
This is a very personal process and you should select an agency you feel comfortable with, not necessarily the closest agency to your home or by their training availability.
Step 4: Complete Paperwork and Training
Your licensing agency representative will help you through the process of filling out paperwork, and explain all the requirements of the Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR), the State agency responsible for licensing foster parents in Arizona. If you have chosen to adopt only, your licensing agency representative will assist you with the certification process through the courts.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety (ADCS) requires all potential foster and adoptive parents to take Foster Parent College. These courses are designed to help you learn more about what to expect as a foster or adoptive parent, provide you with strategies for parenting a child who may have suffered from trauma due to abuse or neglect, and understand how you can create normalcy for children in foster care.
Agencies may require additional training.
Prior to beginning training, the agency will help you with the following:
- Get fingerprinted for a Level 1 Fingerprint Card
- Submit a 10-year address history
- Conduct a Department of Child Safety background check
Step 5: Complete a Home Study
Welcoming a licensing professional into your home may feel daunting, but it’s a critical part of the overall process of becoming a licensed foster or adoptive home.
Your licensing agency will provide you with the paperwork necessary to complete licensing. Copies of many personal documents will be required such as Arizona Drivers License, Marriage license and/or divorce decree, pay stubs, etc.
Your agency partner will conduct a minimum of 3 home visits. The purpose of the home visits are to:
- Prepare you for the life safety inspection.
- Interview everyone living in your household.
- Assess the appropriate age range and number of children to place in your home.
- Gather information and agreements necessary to complete your home study.
After completing your home study, your licensing agency representative will submit it to The Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR). OLR will determine whether or not you will be licensed based on that home study. For adoption certification, your licensing agency representative will submit your home study to the juvenile court.
Step 6: Get Licensed and Have a Child Placed in Your Home
After you become licensed to foster, your agency partner will help place a child, or children, in your home. Children, from newborns to teenagers, are in need of foster homes. Your agency will consider the age range, gender, ethnicity, and needs of the children when recommending you to the Department of Child Safety Case Manager.
After you become certified to adopt, your agency submits your home study to the Central Registry. If the characteristics of your family meet the needs of a child awaiting an adoptive family, the Department of Child Safety Adoptions Case Manager will contact your agency to obtain more information and provide you with information about the child. The goal of Department of Child Safety and your agency is to identify the family that will best meet the needs of the child.