Disclaimer: I am not a social worker, nor a city worker. This is just a sample of the types of paperwork that COULD be required to become a foster parent. Your city, county, and state may require all of this and more, or none of this and something different. Always check with your local Foster Care Department to learn more about becoming foster parents. I am posting this, because I would have loved to have found a list of possible paperwork that is required for foster parents to fill out….just to better prepare myself.
When we attended the orientation class for becoming foster parents, our teacher, who is also a social worker, was very clear on a few things. First and foremost, if my husband and I were ever convicted of a ‘Barrier Crime’, we need not apply as foster parents. It wasn’t her decision, it was our state’s decision. I am not listing all of the barrier crime’s because that list is very easily accessible on the internet. Each state may have a different view on what is a barrier crime, I am not sure, so it would probably be best to search ‘Barrier Crimes in such-and-such State’. Furthermore, you might want to research barrier crimes in your state for foster parents, if you are worried about a particular crime.
So, the first piece of paperwork that you and your spouse will most certainly fill out is:
1. Criminal Background Check. Any and all barrier crimes, or any other crimes for that matter, will show up on this report.
The following forms are things that my husband and I had to fill out. Remember though, you may or may not have to fill these out, and you may have other things to fill out that are not listed here:
2. Finger Print form. We had to go down to the Police Station in the city that the Foster Care Agency was located. Obviously, your finger prints will show whether or not you have been convicted of a crime, etc. This is not just a local search but a world search. Nowadays, there is no where to hide folks, if you’ve done something in once corner of the world, the opposite side of the world will know about it in a nano-second!
3. City Department of Social Services, Application for Department Approved Provider. Most of the time, when you apply to become foster parents, they will do a Dual Approval, which approves you for Foster, Adoptive, or Resource Provider. This form asks for the names of you and your spouse, the children living in your home, and any other person living in your home, whether they are minors or adults. They might also ask for three references at this point.
Now would be a great time to point out a very important fact. IF YOU ARE LEGALLY MARRIED, YOU MUST LIVE TOGETHER IN THE SAME HOUSE!!! The reason I bring this up, is this poor woman had gone through almost all of the foster care classes, before this subject was brought up. Imagine her surprise to find out that she would not be approved to be a foster parent, because she and her husband had been separated for many years, did not live together, but were not legally divorced! It may be different in your state, but mine will not allow separated couples, no matter if it is a legal separation, to become foster parents.
4. Sworn Statement or Affirmation. This form just asks whether or not you have been convicted of any crime, or pending crime. It also asks if you have ever been the subject of a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect. When you sign the form you are ‘swearing’ that what you said was true.
5. Resource Family Background and Home. The background form is usually long, and set up like a questionnaire. It asks all manner of questions pertaining to your childhood, how you raise your children, your marriage, how you would handle being a foster parent, etc. The Home form is set up the same way, and it asks questions like the type of home you live in (DO NOT WORRY, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RICH, JUST HAVE A CLEAN HOME WITH ADEQUATE SPACE FOR EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY AND FUTURE FOSTER KIDS), whether you own or rent (AGAIN, DO NOT WORRY, IT IS OK IF YOU RENT IN MY STATE, BUT YOU MIGHT WANT TO RESEARCH YOUR STATE), if you have dogs, if you have guns, what type of cars you drive, the name of your car insurance, a sketch of your home with square footage, etc. Just answer everything as honestly as you can, because all of these questions and answers will come up again during your Home Study.
6. Foster Care Classes Homework Pages. Here is where each state might differ. We were already enrolled in our foster care classes when we began to fill out the mountain of paperwork. After each class, we were required to complete a sheet of homework, one for my husband to complete, and one for me to complete. These were due by the time we turned in all of our paperwork. You may have homework after your classes, or you may not.
7. Safety Questionnaire. My husband had to fill one of these out, and I had to fill out one as well. It asked us about our mothers and fathers and siblings, and all of our extended families. It asked about all of our children. It asked when we left home and why, how we were disciplined, how we discipline now, ours and our families medical history, etc.
8. References. If they haven’t asked you on a different form, they will probably want a sheet stating who your three (it may be a different number depending on your local agency) references are. It must include their full names, addresses, and phone numbers. Whomever you list will receive a packet of questions to fill out, all about you and their relationship with you. It is probably best to pick people who know your parenting style, your kids, or at least your work ethic.
9. Financial Statement. This form asks about your bills, your income, whether or not you have filed bankruptcy (my state allows you to foster if you have filed before, but as long as it has been discharged. Again, if it is something that you need to worry about, check with your local agency). It also asks about savings, life insurance, and health insurance. Just answer honestly.
10. Income Verification. This form must be filed out by your employer. It asks about payroll, employment history, wages, hourly rates, deductions, etc. It will also ask for pay stub amounts for the past month.
11. W-9 Form. This form will include your full name, your address, your taxpayer ID number (your social security number), and your principal business activity (which will be foster care).
12. Certificate of Verification of Coverage. This comes from your car insurance. The certificate states that you have car insurance, what your coverage is, and when it will expire. We just went to our car insurance’s website, logged in, and were able to print the certificate right there.
13. Car Inspection. You will need to provide a receipt stating that your car was inspected, or a copy of your actual car inspection (in my state it’s a tiny little pink slip). I provided both, just to be thorough.
14. Copy of your Driver’s License. One copy of yours, and one of your spouse’s. Enough said!
15. DMV Driving History. You can obtain a copy of your DMV Driving Record at the DMV for about $8.00 (may be higher or lower in your state). Some states will let you print it right online. Again, one copy of yours, and one of your spouse’s.
BIOLOGICAL OR LEGALLY ADOPTED DRIVING-AGED CHILDREN ALERT!!!! I just thought I would add a bit of information that we were not aware of until AFTER our first foster care child arrived. Never, let your driving-aged child drive with a foster care child in the car. Doesn’t matter if they have a learner’s permit or an actual driver’s license. I asked my social worker about this, and she said it is best not even to take this risk. Who knows, if there was an accident, you could be sued by the foster child’s family. That is so not something that I want my teens saddled with, even though it would be my husband and I who would be sued (because our son is underage). My son drives to the store with his dad or me, when Coconut doesn’t go, etc. He only has his learners permit, so he has to drive with one of us. It is a sacrifice for your teen, but hopefully they are on board with fostering, and will be willing to make it if they know ahead of time what the deal is. This might not even be a ‘rule’ but I thought I would put it out there for your consideration, because it is a pretty heavy subject when you think about it!
16. Marriage Certificate. Like I mentioned before, if you are married, you have to be legally married and living together in the same house. You cannot be two partners ‘living together’, separated (even legally), or almost divorced. Check your state if this pertains to you, because it might be different in your area. As always, if an issue, check with your local agency.
17. Divorce Certificate. If you have been married before, you need that Divorce Certificate. If you are divorced period, you need the Divorce Certificate.
18. Fire Evacuation Plan. You must come up with a plan if there was a fire in your home. If you find that you struggle with this, I have posted a sample Fire Evacuation Plan, that might help you. Also, I have a post on how to get prepared for your Home Study, which will tell you what fire safety equipment that you may need.
19. Pet Vaccinations. If you have pets, they must have a rabies shot. That is all my local agency requires, but yours may require more, so it’s best to check.
20. Confidentiality Agreement. This says that you are working together as a team, you and the agency, so confidentiality is a must. It also states that you MAY NOT post pictures or information pertaining to the case of your foster children. If you notice, we only put pictures on this blog of the back of Coconut, you will never see his face posted. We also do not post any information about Coconut’s case. We do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts, so we do not post any photos or information pertaining to Coconut on these types of sites either.
21. Corporal Punishment Agreement. This form states that you will NEVER use corporal punishment on a foster child…..EVER. NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Did I mention…..NEVER?
22. Firearm Policy. This states that you will keep your firearms under lock and key with trigger locks. All assault and semi-automatic weapons are banned (good grief, I thought only military and people in the movies used those!), agreement to an inspection of your firearms and locks every six months, and that all ammunition must be stored separately from the firearms and in a locked box.
23. Tasks & Responsibilities. This is a list of all the things that you must do as a foster parent, for the agency and for the foster child. Each agencies list will differ. Ours list things like, provide food, clothing, and shelter, provide information about the child to the agency, provide family members with copies of the child’s Life Book (to learn what goes in a Life Book, check out my post on the subject) at visitations, contact the agency immediately if there is any problem, etc.
24. Change in Status Agreement. This states that you will inform the agency of any changes in your family, your financial status, your home, etc.
The following are medical forms. It is best to make an appointment with your family doctor or primary physician as a family. Every member of your family will have to have these forms filled out, and we found it so much easier to go all together. I just called our doctor’s office and told them that we all needed physicals and what-not for an approval process to become foster parents. They did not mind at all accommodating us all in one big appointment. Made it easier on the doctor and on us! Of course, my children are teenagers so we all go see a family doctor now. If you have young children, you will have to make a separate appointment to see their pediatrician.
1. TB Test. The foster care agency will usually provide you a form for you and each member of your family to be filled out by the doctor. It simply states whether or not you have Tuberculosis. The test takes a couple of days, so you will have to go back to the doctor to have the site on your arm checked for a reaction. It doesn’t hurt!
2. Physical Examination. The foster care agency will usually provide you a form for you and each member of your family to be filled out by the doctor. It has medical history, hospitalizations, accidents, psychiatric history, professional counseling, handicapping conditions, contagious diseases, lab work, etc.
Well, this should be enough information on paperwork to completely overwhelm you! Just kidding, it should be enough to give you a very good understanding of the type of paperwork that you may be asked to fill out. Just remember, it is a process that takes time. Anything worthwhile usually does!