Becoming a Foster Parent
While the process of becoming a foster parent is often a long road, the steps themselves are fairly straightforward.
Choose Regular or Therapeutic
Choose a Licensing Agency
Research Your Options
Find a licensing agency in South Carolina:Click on your county to see a full list of foster care agencies that serve your area.
Your Questions About Fostering… Answered!
Foster care can vary state-by-state. The answers we provide below should be verified with a licensed agency in your own state.
Who Can Foster?
You are required to be transparent during the foster parent application process. You will be asked to disclose information about your medical history, your finances, your childhood, your employer, your family relationships, your neighborhood, and so on. It can be a very intrusive process, but the information that is being requested of you is required to ensure that the children placed in your home will be safe and cared for.
Remember: You may know that you are able to care for and meet the needs of a child in foster care, but Social Services is legally responsible for the child while they are in foster care. The information is all intended to protect the child’s safety and well- being.
Home & School
You have some control over the children who enter your home. When you go through the application process, you can specify the age range, gender, and number of children that you would like to help. That information will be used by your licensing agency to place children in your home.
It is important to know that when children are entering foster care, often times your licensing agency does not have a lot of background information on the child. You may be part of the process of helping Social Services gather information about the child as you actively take care of the child and learn his or her needs, patterns, and behaviors.
You should also know that you always have the opportunity to decline placement of a child. Once you are an approved foster family, you will receive phone calls about potential children who need a place to stay. Your family can then decide if you are willing to accept placement of that child.
Each child in foster care will be assigned a foster care worker from Social Services and a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem. These individuals are required to visit the child regularly throughout their stay in foster care. The child may also be assigned an adoption caseworker. If this is the case, that individual is required to visit the child as well. How often people visit your home can depend on many factors, but you should expect professionals to be visiting your home every month. You will schedule these visits with the individuals coming to your home.
Your family also has a worker at your licensing agency who is responsible for maintaining your file as a registered foster home. If you are a standard foster parent, your licensing worker is required to visit your home quarterly. If you are a therapeutic foster parent (caring for children with more special needs), your licensing worker is required to visit your home more than once per month.
Cost & Responsibilities
The Application Process
Every child’s situation is unique. A child could live with you for as few as a couple days or a week (if you are doing respite foster care) or as long as they are in foster care, which could be several years depending on their family situation. There is a large variation in the length of stay and number of placements for each child who enters foster care, which is dependent on a variety of factors.
At any time, you have the option to ask a child living with you to be moved. This does happen on occasion, for example, if families have unexpected emergency situations with other family members or they feel they are unable to manage the behaviors of the child in their home. However, this is strongly discouraged, as a movement within foster care is traumatic for a child. If concerns occur, you are encouraged to notify your licensing worker.
Corporal punishment (including spanking) is not permitted to be used on any children who are in foster care. No exceptions.
It is up to each family to decide how to discipline their own children when they begin fostering. It is recommended that families consider other discipline methods on their own children, as a child who has been abused/neglected can be traumatized by watching another child in the home receive corporal punishment and may not understand the difference. However, this decision is up to each individual family.
Still have questions?
For more answers to your questions about becoming a foster parent, contact any of the licensing agencies in your state. Or, click the button below to reach out to us.