10 Steps for Preparing to Become a Foster Parent 

I live in Illinois but every county/state is different. Below are my experiences. 

  1. Decide this is the journey you want to take. Talk to other people and do as much research as you can. You can also call your local DCFS to see if there are any support groups or classes they offer. 
  2. Research foster agencies. Do you want to work with DCFS directly or a private agency? I would call the local agencies and ask them questions. See what the differences are and decide what works best for you. Some agencies work only with older kids or only kids free for adoption. I decided to work with dcfs since they transport kids to parent visits and therapy. Since I am a full time single parent that was a necessity for me.  The best best fit for you truly depends on your needs and your purpose for fostering. 
  3. Contact the foster agency and set up your first visit. This first visit is always nerve racking but it is important to remember that the licensing worker just wants to meet you and give you more information on fostering. I would make a good impression by having your house clean and presentable. I would also have a list of questions ready.
  4. Decide how many kids/what ages you want to foster. This will be important because for the different age ranges their are different requirements. For example in Illinois  children under 7 they have to sleep on the same floor as an you.
  5. Find out the requirements for your agency. How many kids can you have per room? What temperature does your water heater have to be set at? Can you have bunk beds? Can babies sleep in your room? What do you need to do with medication? How securely do you need to lock up your guns? It is probably best to ask these questions to your licensing worker but you can also research these questions online. 
  6. Begin readying your house for the next inspection. You will need to make sure you have beds/cribs for the number/ages of the children you have on your license. You will also need to make sure medicine is correctly stored, there is a fence around your pool, your water heater is set to the correct temperature, among other things.
  7. Start telling people you are fostering. There are many ways you can do this. However, it doesn’t have to be a big announcement. Let your close friends and family know that you are starting this journey. They will probably have a lot of questions but they will also probably want to know how they can support you. 
  8. Take your pride classes. Pride classes are very informative. Take lots of notes. Ask lots of questions. And make friends. The people you meet in pride class can be a great support system S you go on this journey. 
  9. Get licensed. Your licensing worker will probably have to do one last walk through after your pride classes and fill out more paperwork. It might take a while but eventually you will get the license in the mail.
  10. Wait. Once you are licensed what you have to do is wait by the phone for that call. While you wait though I would search garage sales and resale shops for clothing, toys and other supplies that you might need for your age range. One thing I have found helpful is having different size bikes/scooters so that we can go on a lot of walks and bike rides that first week. 

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