Become a Foster Care Parent

Who can become a foster parent?

  • Single men and women, married couples, and couples co-habitating.
  • Gay, lesbian, and heterosexual families.
  • People who speak only Spanish.

You must be able to provide for your family, and ensure that children of opposite genders will not share a bedroom (if one child is over 5) and have no more than two children per bedroom. Foster parents are selected for their ability to provide a mature, healthy, nurturing and therapeutic environment.

Families wishing to make a difference in the life of a foster child must first complete the foster care certification process. Upon certification, a TLC social worker will begin the child search and placement process with your family. Many families are also interested in the fost-adoption process and offering a child permanency. TLC offers assistance through certification, placement and post-placement of a foster care child.

In 2009, TLC provided foster care for 116 children in 86 foster and fost-adopt homes. There are many more children who need our help. Please consider the rewards of becoming a foster parent.

 Foster Care Certification 

Before anyone can adopt a child in the foster care system, they must complete the Foster Parent Certification process. Through the application and licensing process, a TLC social worker will assist you in meeting the regulations. Once your application has been submitted it takes approximately 90 days to become a foster parent.

Some of the basic licensing requirements for anyone applying to be a licensed foster parent are:

  • Must be at least 21 years old;
  • Must not have been convicted of a crime of violence nor have been found to be a perpetrator of child abuse;
  • Applicants must have sufficient income to support themselves without relying on foster care payments. In two-parent households, both parents may work outside the home if the child’s care will not be adversely affected.

The certification process requires completion of:

  • Application packet
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Fingerprinting & child abuse clearances
  • Parent questionnaire
  • Home inspection
  • Home study (multiple visits)
  • Current physical exam & TB test
  • First aid, CPR, & water safety classes
  • DMV printouts & auto insurance verification
  • Foster home safety checklist (completed with social worker)
  • 18-22 hours of parent training

 Child Placement Process

While the process leading to foster child placement can be detailed and lengthy, it gives assurance that the foster parent and foster child match is successful. The county social worker has the final decision to place a foster child in a particular home. Extensive coordination with the county social worker continues throughout the placement period. Parents are selected on the basis of TLC’s extensive home study process. Of primary importance in the selection criteria are the following:

  • Desire and capacity to parent a child not born to them
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Willingness to seek help
  • Openness to self-exploration and change
  • Commitment and stability
  • Social support systems
  • Willingness to be a concurrent planning home

Once a family’s certification is approved. TLC will contact the foster parents to discuss potential placement. If the foster family wishes to proceed with a specific child, an initial visit is arranged for everyone to meet. Several additional visits are often made to assure that the placement will be beneficial to all involved. When we contact you, TLC will provide as much information as we have regarding the child:

  • Reasons why the child was removed and current assessment.
  • Medical history of the foster child.
  • Visitations with birth family members.
  • Counseling or other services the child is receiving.
  • School grade and any educational issues.
  • Any behavioral problems or other concerns.
  • Parental history of the birth father and mother.
  • Other information that has been provided regarding the child and/or birth family.

If the decision is made to move forward, a pre-placement visit may be arranged or the placement may be immediate. Finally, if everyone agrees, placement is made. Care is taken to insure that the foster child’s therapeutic treatment is carefully coordinated in a nurturing, stable, home environment. Many children have suffered from abandonment, neglect, and physical and/or sexual abuse. As a result, they may exhibit a variety of behaviors. Treatment plans are developed to assist children in healing from the trauma and emotional issues around family separation, future reunification, long-term placement or adoption.

Recertification and Quarterly Reports

Foster and fost-adoptive parents are evaluated for recertification on an annual basis. Constructive in format, this process is used to strengthen skills. TLC social workers also prepare quarterly reports on the foster child’s overall progress in the home. Treatment team members review the child’s progress every quarter and update the treatment plans.

 Home Study Process

The home study is a written biography of your family. A foster care home study is less in-depth than an adoption home study. A home study describes your family dynamics and communication style; openness to change, family stability; family history; exploration of marriage and/or relationship history; lifestyle; expectations of children’s needs and development, motivation in undertaking parenting and former parenting experience.
TLC will conduct the home study process in a way that will allow the prospective foster and adoptive parents to go through a phase of self-discovery and self-study rather than simply an investigative process on the part of the agency. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the children available, the child welfare system, and the process of matching. A TLC Social Worker will review questionnaires and/or adoption autobiographies you filled out previously and conduct interviews individually and as a couple if applicable.

Our staff review many factors before determining if a family can be approved for foster care or adoption. Areas reviewed include:

  • Family background and social history
  • Criminal record review
  • Family dynamics & communication skills
  • Experience with parenting
  • Relationship and employment history
  • Motivation for becoming foster or adoptive parents
  • Religious preferences
  • Physical environment of home and safety features
  • Physical/psychological health of prospective parents
  • School, childcare, enrichment resources available to the foster child
  • Support system of individual/family
  • Significant others likely to have foster/adoptive child contact
  • TLC policies and California State requirements

TLC can also provide a domestic adoption home study for an individual/family who is working with another adoption agency or attorney and wishes to adopt a newborn (non-foster child). There are higher fees for this type of adoption home study, as well as fees for the post-adoptive placement supervision and reports, and assistance with finalization paperwork.

Fees and Reimbursement


Adoption Fees

TLC requests a $500 fee from adoptive families, which can be reduced or waived for financial reasons. Expenses incurred during the application process-adoption fee, fingerprinting, medical exam, etc.-are reimbursable up to $400 per adopted child by the adoption office (county or state) which placed the child.

Foster children who are adopted are eligible for the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) (PDF). This program provides financial and medical care assistance to families who adopt foster children. AAP continues until the child reaches the age of 18, or age 21 if the child has a mental or physical handicap that warrants continuation of benefits.

Adoption care reimbursement

All foster and fost-adoption parents receive monthly reimbursement (prorated for partial months) for the board and care of their foster care children. This reimbursement is not considered income and it is not taxable. Therefore, the child is not listed as a dependent on your tax rate form.