There are many misconceptions about who is qualified to be a foster parent. Often people assume that simply because they are single, under the age of 25, or don’t own a home, they won’t be considered. This could not be further from the truth. At Koinonia, we are incredibly thankful for the diversity of our foster parents, as it gives us the opportunity to match a youth with a family who will be able to connect with them in a unique way. We believe the most important prerequisite to becoming a foster parent is having your heart in the right place. In fact, our agency was founded on this premise.
Our founder, Miriam Golden, may have lacked education and financial resources, but this was no match for her passion of helping abused and neglected children. She had a gift for working with challenging youth and was a foster parent with Placer County for 16 years. After fostering 37 children, Miriam was approached by the county as they were impressed with her results. They encouraged her to form a non-profit organization and train other families to care for children like she did. And thus, Koinonia was born.
So, if your motivation is to help a youth in need, you are in the right place. If you’re wondering what the qualifications are to be a foster parent, look no further. Here, we’ve listed the most common questions people have about foster parent requirements, and answered them all for you.
Do I need to be married to be a foster parent? No, you do not need to be married in order to qualify. In fact, many of our foster parents are single or in a domestic partnership. However, we do require our single parents to have an approved respite care provider or other approved supervision in order to care for the child in their absence or during an emergency.
Can I have a full-time job and be a foster parent? Yes, you absolutely can. As long as you can provide the necessary care and supervision for a placed youth, that is what we are looking for. In our experience, we have found that caring for a foster child does not always work well if both partners work full‐time because the placed youth ends up spending most of his/her free time in alternative care. It is ideal if only one partner works full-time.
Is there a minimum age requirement to be a foster parent? You must be at least 18 years of age. In the cases of younger applicants, they will need to demonstrate a certain level of maturity and responsibility in order to be considered. But don’t think of yourself as disqualified simply because you haven’t quite reached your mid-twenties. Over the years, we have witnessed many younger foster parents make a lasting impact on the children they have fostered.
Do I need to be a homeowner to be considered? No, home-ownership is not a requirement for foster parents. If you are currently renting, all we ask is that you have renter’s insurance.
Is there an income requirement? There is no minimum income requirement; you must have a stable and verifiable source of income to take care of your family. California State Regulations require that foster families must be able to meet all their family’s financial needs.
How many bedrooms do I need to have? If you are solely fostering infants, you could potentially qualify with a one-bedroom house/apartment. Up to two infants are permitted to share a bedroom with a foster parent. If you are fostering children of all ages, you will need at least a two-bedroom house/apartment, since any child above the age of two is not permitted to share a bedroom with a foster parent. Typically, we don’t allow more than two children to share a bedroom.
Am I still eligible if I have a big family? You cannot have more than six children/youth residing in your home; this includes birth, adopted, and guardianship children (and children of a minor or nonminor dependent parent residing in the home). There is an exception that can be granted if Koinonia can obtain an approved Documented Alternative Plan, as specified in FFA ILS Section 88347, to allow a resource family to care for more children. Typically, Koinonia does not place more than two foster youth in a home. This number may increase depending on the parent’s experience and their ability to meet the need for sibling and transitioning youth placements.
If you have additional questions about foster parent requirements or other aspects of foster care, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff. We would love the chance to connect with you and help you determine if fostering is right for you and your family. You can find our directory here, or simply fill out this form and our staff will contact you with more information.