How to Become a Foster Parent in Indiana
Serving as a foster parent is both challenging and rewarding. A foster parent is someone who cares for a child when the state has removed the child from his or her natural family because of safety concerns. The foster parent may care for the child for years or for as little as a single day. Although the process for becoming a foster parent in Indiana differs somewhat depending on county, the general process is the same.
Understanding Foster Care
Understand the responsibilities of a foster parent.Foster parents provide a safe, stable and loving environment for children who can no longer stay in their own homes due to risk of neglect or abuse.Foster care can be provided by relatives or licensed non-relatives. A foster parent in Indiana must:
- Participate in team meetings or case plan conferences.
- Support the goals of the case plan.
- Participate in court hearings when notified.
- Provide for a child's basic needs, such as shelter, food, and clothing.
- Support the visitation plan and support the child's identification with the natural family.
- Maintain confidentiality.
Check to see if you qualify.Foster parents must meet a variety of requirements in order to be licensed. For example, you must:
- Be at least 21 years of age.
- Pass a criminal history and background check (including a fingerprint-based national history).
- Demonstrate financial stability.
- Own or rent your own home and have this home meet safety standards and pass a home visit.
- Be in good health and secure medical statements from physicians for all household members.
- Provide positive personal reference statements.
- Successfully complete pre-service training (such as CPR, First Aid, and other programs).
- Complete all required forms and assessments.
- Have a stable relationship of at least one year (if cohabitating).
Understand the disqualifications.You will be disqualified from being a foster parent if you have certain criminal convictions:
- Murder, voluntary manslaughter, or reckless homicide
- Felony, sex offense, or incest
- Child selling
- Neglect of a dependent
- A felony involving a weapon or controlled substances
- An offense related to material or any performance that is harmful to minors or obscene
Learn the financial benefits.In addition to the benefit of knowing that you are providing a service to the community and to the child's family, the state of Indiana also provides “out of pocket” reimbursement on a daily (“per diem”) basis.The rate varies depending on the needs of the child and the child’s age.
- As of 2015, a parent providing foster care for a child aged 0-4 will be paid .17 a day. For a child aged 5-13, the reimbursement rate is .90, and for a teen aged 14-18, the rate is .27.
- If you are providing kinship care, then you do not need to be licensed. If you are not licensed, then you are not eligible for the per diem reimbursement.
Applying to Become a Foster Parent
Contact the Indiana Department of Child Services.To talk about fostering and potentially making arrangements for you to complete an application, please call the Department at 888-631-9510.
Gather necessary documents.You will need to provide the Department with certain documents in order to complete the application to become a foster parent. You should gather these materials as soon as possible:
- A copy of a birth certificate for every member of the household.
- A copy of a driver’s license for every member in the household who drives.
- Financial records, such as W-2 forms, that show how much you made in salary or wages. Also include records of any other income, such as Social Security or Disability, pension income, or child support.
- Monthly living expenses, such as utilities, groceries, insurance, automobile expenses, and alimony or child support payments.
Pick up the packet of forms.The Department of Child Services has an application packet with forms that prospective parents can get. Many of the forms are also at this . Forms that you will need include:
- Application for Foster Family Home License
- Initial Licensure Checklist for Foster Family Homes
- Initial Inquiry Regarding Foster Family Home Licensure
- Application for Criminal History Background Check
- Consent to Release of Mental Health and Addiction Records
- Medical Report for Household Members
- Medical Report for Caregivers
- Foster/Adoptive Family Inventory
- In-Service Training Log
- Request for Personal Reference Statement for Foster Family Home License Applicants
- Financial Verification for Foster Family Homes
- Water Agreement
Undergo a criminal background check.Every household member 18 or older must have a criminal background check performed.You can initiate the check by filling out the "Application for Criminal History Background Check." The Department will fill out the first two parts. You will be required to fill in Parts Three and Four.
- As part of the background check, you will have to have fingerprints taken so that a national history check can be performed.
Undergo a Child Protective Services History Check.Every member of the household will need a Child Protective Services History Check done, regardless of their age.You will need to have a search done to see whether or not you have ever been subject to actions for child abuse or neglect.
- The Department will fill out Sections A and C.
- You must complete Section B, which requires a signature, date of birth, race, gender, address, and last four digits of your social security number. You will also have to list the Indiana counties in which you have lived, as well as any aliases or other names you have used.
Request your medical history.The Department requires that the physical and mental health of household members not be detrimental to the welfare and health of the foster child. To that end, you must present a medical history form that is completed by a physician or other certified health practitioner.
- Take copies of the “Medical Report For Caregivers” and “Medical Report For Household Members” to your physician to be completed.
- These forms ask about your medical history, including alcohol screening, communicable diseases, and general health.
Get positive personal references.You should ask at least four people if they can speak positively to the Department about your parenting abilities and your character.You will give the Department the names and the licensing worker will send a “Request For Personal Reference Statement For Foster Family Home License Applicants” to the reference, who then fills it out. The form asks for:
- How long and in what capacity the reference has known you.
- What the reference thinks about your personal character, emotional stability, financial management, and physical health.
- Whether the reference knows if you have been convicted of a crime.
- Whether the reference thinks you would be an effective foster parent.
Complete required training.Before you can be licensed as a foster parent, you must take sufficient training. Your training requirements will be specified by the department. To obtain a license for a child without special needs, you will need to take 10 hours of Pre-Service training and 15 hours of In-Service training to maintain the license.
- Applicants must also complete a current course in first aid and submit evidence of completion.
- You must also complete a current course in infant, child, and adult CPR.
- You also need to take a course in universal precautions and maintain continuous certification in this area.
Undergoing a Home Study
Download a copy of the checklist.From the list of forms, download the “Resource Family Home Physical Environment Checklist” and review it. This form will tell you everything that the licensing worker will be looking for when he or she visits your home.
- Foster parents providing kinship care are also required to undergo a home study.
- If anything is deficient, then you will need to develop a plan of correction or safety plan.
Check that you have enough space for the child.Each child must have a dedicated bedroom. He or she cannot sleep in living rooms, dining rooms, or other areas (such as the basement). The bedroom must allow at least 50 usable square feet for each child.
Clean the home.The house must be maintained to provide for health, safety, and moral welfare. The home should have working utilities, adequate light, as well as heating, cooling, and ventilation.
- Go through the home and dispose of any accumulated trash, magazines, clothes, etc. Then clean the house, vacuuming carpets and sweeping floors.
- Check all lamps and lights and replace lightbulbs if necessary. Also replace any cracked or soiled lampshades.
- Check your heat source and air conditioners (if applicable). Make sure that they work.
Pay attention to bathrooms.Make sure that the bathroom is especially clean. Scrub toilets, sinks, showers, and bathtubs. Replace missing tiles and dirty shower curtains.
Fix hazards.You must attend to exposed wiring, chipped paint, and other hazards.Fix loose or broken steps, bannisters, and railings.
- Make sure that poisons, cleaning detergents, and medications are out of reach. Move them into cabinets high up from the ground.
- Each home must also have a smoke detector that is within 10 feet of every bedroom, with at least one smoke detector on each level. You also will need at least one two-and-a-half pound fire extinguisher on each floor of the home.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector unless you solely use electricity for cooking and heat.
- Lock all firearms and lock ammunition or other items in another area separate from the weapon.
- If you have a pool, then you will need to sign a pool safety plan.
- Children cannot be exposed to secondhand smoke in either the home or vehicle.If you smoke, try to quit.
Vaccinate your pets.All household pets must have current vaccinations. Keep records of vaccination; the licensing representative wants to see them.
- You also may not keep any pets that are “vicious” or that have communicable diseases.If you have an aggressive or very sick animal, then you may need to place it with friends or family.
QuestionCan I have a pit bull?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI think so. A pit bull can be a powerful dog, but if the dog is friendly and trained you can have one as long as you stay safe.Thanks!
- In April 2010, the average number of days a child was in foster care was 363 days.
Video: 5 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Foster Parent
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