Can you become a licensed foster parent as a single person? Yes you can!! Here’s a fun graphic.
What does it take to become a licensed foster parent? In the State of Texas you must meet the following requirements:
- be at least 21 years of age, financially stable, and responsible mature adults
- provide relative and non-relative references
- home study which includes visits with all household members [This is a DEEP dive on your family history. Be prepared to share EVERYTHING including traumatic events and broken relationships. The person conducting the home study could be at your house for a few hours.]
- criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household
- adequate sleeping space (they need to have a room)
- agree to a nonphysical discipline policy
- fire, health and safety inspections of the home (fire extinguishers are required on all levels of the home, tagged yearly)
- CPR/First Aid Certification
- TB testing as required by the local Health Department for household members
- attend 20 hours or more of training each year to learn about issues of abused and neglected children
I would personally add to this list:
- Select a foster agency. You have a choice whether to be licensed through CPS or to be licensed through a foster agency. At the end of the day it’s the same license but with a third-party foster agency you have the added benefit of resources, support, and a case manager to help you navigate the process.
- Emotional, mental, physical and spiritual stability and maturity. You gotta deal with any past traumas and work through any lingering emotional issues. If you don’t, they are going to rear their ugly heads during this process. Kids know how to get under your skin and push every button. Get a therapist on standby! 🙂
- Community. This journey is going to be much harder than you expect. If you think you have people, get more people! This could be family or friends. In my case I had no family interested in being a part of my journey so my church community was essential. I kept people informed and updated throughout the process and my community really rallied around me in the beginning. I used social media to share my experience and had people way back from high school donating items to my boys and offering to help! It was amazing!
- Drop any expectations. The process is completely unpredictable. You truly have to be ready for anything! You’re going to get burnt out. You’re going to get frustrated. You’re going to feel like you’re the only person advocating for your foster kid(s). You can’t expect to adopt. You must stay reunification focused until the goal is changed. You can do this!
How long does it take to become licensed? The answer to this question lies mostly within your control. How fast do you want to get licensed? I think there have been people who have done everything above within a few weeks because of their immediate need to take on a placement (such as a kinship placement). Generally, I would say a few months. I took my time to make sure I was fully prepared and walking within God’s will for me. Also, I had an international business trip which delayed the start of my training until the following quarter and I decided to buy a new car which stretched the process out across 6 months.
Wow, that sounds like A LOT. How did you do all that? I’m a Do-er, an INTJ, and an Ennegram 1 and 8 so if you know anything about those personality types you know this type of thing is right up my alley. I like challenges, I like accomplishments, and I like winning. 🙂 Becoming a licensed foster parent can be a lengthy process but if you think the licensing process is a lot you’re going to be way over your head when your first placement arrives. There’s a lot of paperwork and upkeep that is required when you have a foster child (along with caring for the child(ren) with trauma). So think of getting licensed as the training ground needed to prepare yourself for a life-changing experience not only for you but for another life. It’s a good thing the process is so thorough.
I am interested, what should be my first step? If you’re reading this you already have a good start (and are much better prepared than I was)! Secondly, attend a free DFPS Foster/Adopt Information Session. You can find one here. Also start to let people know that you’re becoming a foster parent to begin building your community.
The final step in my licensing journey was to purchase a new vehicle. I was driving around a Honda Element which I loved and served me so well for 8 years but I knew that infant car seats were tricky with the clam-shell doors. My search for the right, used Toyota Highlander lasted much longer than I expected thus my foster licensed came through and I still didn’t have a car! But on the very next day the perfect one finally popped up at a San Antonio Lexus dealership. With Lexus service they drove the car up to Austin and I purchased it on the spot! I called my foster agency that night and they activated my license in the system which means that you’re ready to get a call. Four days later the call came!
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