How do I become a foster parent?

First, call 1-800-KIDS-508 to talk about your interest in becoming a foster parent. We will answer any questions you have, and will begin the process when you are ready to proceed.

A social worker will visit your home or upon your request, send you a Registration of Interest form. You must fill out this form and return it to the Department of Children and Families.

Your home must pass our Physical Standards Check. We verify that your home has working safety equipment; such as smoke detectors, and that the living and sleeping quarters in your home provide adequate space, privacy and safety for all family members. If your home does not meet one or more of our standards, you are given time to comply and we will do a follow-up visit.

Background Record Checks are completed on each household member over age 14. We seek to ensure that your household is a safe environment for placing a child. Once this process is complete, we will schedule a home visit.

When your home has passed our Physical Standards Check, we will send you a foster care application form. You fill out the application, and send the completed form to the Department of Children and Families.

After we receive your completed application, you are invited to attend the Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training program. MAAP training sessions are approximately three hours per week over several weeks. You will learn about the difficulties faced by the children in foster care, and how your family life will be impacted with the addition of a foster care child. MAPP covers topics such as communication, building self-esteem, child guidance and discipline.

One of the MAPP Social Worker will visit you in your home, meet you and other household members, and will request references from you. Following the visits and reference checks, the Social Worker prepares a Home Study document. This document details your family's strengths as well as its challenges and limitations.

When you have successfully completed MAPP, a Department of Children and Families Supervisor will review the homestudy, and will approve you and your family for one or more children. When your family is approved, your home becomes licensed. Placement decisions are based on matching the needs of the children and the extent to which a licensed home can meet those needs.

What is licensing?

By law, all adoptive and foster homes in Massachusetts must be licensed, effective October, 1999. A licensed home is one that meets the requirements and standards set by the Department. The Department of Children and Families conducts homestudies and verifies that household members meet the ten hours per year training requirements to maintain licensing. To meet your annual training requirement, you may take classes sponsored by the Department or you may attend approved classes from other sources.

This information is provided by the Department of Children and Families.