Is Foster Parenting For Me?

foster-parentWhat is Foster Parenting?
Foster Parenting is:

  • An opportunity… to make a difference in a child’s life
  • Caring for a child… who has been abused/neglected until his/her parent(s) can resume the responsibility, or a permanent home can be found
  • A commitment… to help children and their families through a difficult period; a foster parent must be able to provide love and guidance and then let go
  • Learning and developing… the parenting skills needed to meet the unique needs of each child.

Who Can Be A Foster Parent?
You Can:

  • Be single, married, divorced or in a partnership
  • Have children
  • Rent or own your residence
  • Have a modest income
  • Be a working parent
  • Have a disability

…foster parents are people from all walks of life, with various life experiences.

Foster Parent Requirements
You Must:

  • Be at least (21) years of age
  • Pass a medical appraisal by a licensed physician
  • Pass screening requirements related to child abuse and criminal history clearances

Who are the children that need Foster Care?

  • Foster children are often siblings, who need to be placed together.
  • Babies through teens, who are any race or religion.
  • Like other children, some may have medical needs.
  • Most have been physically or sexually abused or neglected.

As a result of difficult life experiences, some of the children’s behaviors may be challenging and may require ongoing counseling/therapy!


  • A foster parent shall participate annually in a minimum of six hours of approved training. Requirements may vary by agency and type of children.
  • A foster residence is inspected annually to assure compliance.

Assessment of Foster Parent Capability
The Agency will consider the following when assessing the ability of applicants:

  • The ability to provide care, nurturing and supervision to children.
  • A demonstrated stable mental and emotional adjustment.
  • Supportive community ties with family, friends and neighbors.

Foster Family Residence Requirements
Your Residence Must Have:

  • At least one flush toilet, one wash basin and one bath or shower with hot/cold running water
  • An operable heating system
  • An operable telephone

Sleeping areas shall meet the following criteria:

  • No unsuitable area such as hall, stairway, unfinished basement or attic, garage, bathroom, eating area, closet, shed or detached building
  • Foster children of the opposite sex who are 5 years of age or older may not share the same bedroom
  • Each foster child shall be provided with a clean, comfortable mattress and clean linens, blankets and pillow

Other Things to Consider

  • Be willing to work with social workers and other community professionals, advocate for the child’s needs in school, counseling and medical community
  • Have energy and time enough to give foster children the attention they need.
  • Have family, friends or other support systems that you can call on for support.
  • Be able to ask for help and not be embarrassed.

Safety Requirements

  • Medication and containers of poisonous, caustic, toxic, flammable or other dangerous material shall be distinctly marked or labeled as hazardous and stored in area inaccessible to children under 5.
  • Emergency telephone numbers, including fire, police, poison control and ambulance, shall be conspicuously posted by all telephones.
  • Fireplaces, inserts, wood and coal burning stoves and free standing heaters shall be installed, equipped and operated according to manufacturer’s specifications.
  • An operable smoke detector shall be placed on each level of the residence.
  • A portable fire extinguisher, suitable for Class B fires, shall be available in the kitchen and other cooking areas. The extinguisher shall be tested yearly.
  • Protective safety caps shall be place on electrical outlets accessible to children under the age of 5.
  • Exposed electrical wires are prohibited.
  • Drinking water from an individual water source shall be potable as determined by an annual microbiological test conducted by a laboratory certified by DER.

What is the Process?
Call a licensed agency to express your interest. Agency listings can be found in the Yellow Pages section of your phonebook under Human Services. You may also contact us: Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association (1-800-951-5151 in PA) for a listing of member agencies.