Children in foster care are legally the responsibility of the state or foster agencies that place them in approved homes. Home studies are therefore conducted by the agencies during the screening process to ensure state requirements are met and that the home is a safe and stable environment.
These home studies are standard and require a look into the applicant’s finances, lifestyle, and household which can feel somewhat invasive. But it is important to know that the child is the focus of the home study, that the agency is seeking stability and safety in the home, and that the agency’s efforts and interests are in qualifying the home rather than having to disqualify the home.
Applicants find that they can relax through the process when they’ve prepared for the home study.
Suggested preparation includes making a checklist of all documents needed and making them readily available upon request by the agency. Applicants must be willing to share with the agency personal information, family history, and other information that helps assess suitability for the family as well as for the child.
Benchmark Family Services works closely with its applicants to ensure all questions are answered timely and thoroughly and provides technical assistance throughout this important screening process.
Home Studies are Required for All Foster Care Approvals
No one can legally become a foster parent without a successful home study. Home studies vary by state, but every applicant must submit to a home study to be considered for foster parenting licensure.
Benchmark Family Services walks the applicant through the entire licensing procedures to make the process efficient and to help reassure confidence in the prospective foster parent’s decision to accept the challenge and make a difference.
The Home Inspection
Part of the home study includes inspecting the physical living environment to ascertain the condition and location of the home that meets state requirements and poses no risk to the child. At a minimum, each state requires:
- adequate space and a separate bed for the foster child
- the home is clean, in good repair, and hazard-free (medicines, chemicals, and weapons are secured)
- functioning alarms for fire emergencies
- potable water
- at least one fully functional bathroom within the house
- the home has adequate and safe heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation
We also inspect for the following items, to name a few:
- overall cleanliness
- working telephone
- hot and cold running water
- functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- properly secured medications/firearms/cleaning solutions
- electrical hazards
- secured doors and windows
- working appliances
- pools enclosed
- pets (temperament)
While these are the basics, each state will have additional stipulations for the home that must be met before licensure is granted.
Some agencies charge the applicants for home studies–Benchmark Family Services conducts these studies free of charge and provides clear guidance on all safety requirements for each home we license. We further encourage applicants to ask questions whenever clarification is needed.
Foster Parent Qualification and Training
Once you meet all the initial qualifications for becoming a foster parent, you will be able to move forward in the training process. At Benchmark Family Services we specialize in foster parent training in Kentucky and Indiana. As a Therapeutic foster care agency, we value the ongoing relationships with our network of foster parents.
It is our goal that the foster parents we work with always feel supported and equipped to offer the best care to the youth in their homes.