Frequently Asked Questions

We hope these will help empower you to find the best way to personally get involved in Arizona’s foster care crisis.

Why should I consider fostering or adoption?

There are over 15,000 kids in Arizona’s foster care system with 1,700 kids in group home placement. Every year over 800 kids are aging out of foster care without a forever family and kids 7 and older face an increased risk of aging out of foster care without a family. The greatest need is for families willing to take in older children and sibling groups.

What does it cost to adopt a child?

Adoptive families initially pay for the home study and are reimbursed those costs once they have adopted a child. All legal fees for the adoption process are paid for by the state. Ongoing financial subsidy is based on the adopted child’s needs.

What does it cost to become a foster parent?

There is no cost for becoming a foster family and, once a child is in your home, the state pays a monthly subsidy to help cover expenses for room and board, clothing, and other supplies. The child’s medical and dental expenses are covered by a state medical plan. Counseling and therapy needs are also covered by the state if the child is eligible and funds are available.

What are the age requirements to foster or adopt?

You must be 18 to adopt and 21 to foster.

Do I need to make a certain amount of money?

No, however, you must be able to meet your family’s financial obligations.

Can single or divorced adults foster or adopt?

Absolutely! There are children in care that do better in a one-parent household. Single or divorced adults just need to meet the same requirements as married adults.

Do I need to own a home?

No. You can own or rent. You will need to have a bed and personal space for a child to put their belongings.

Can I foster or adopt if I work full time?

Yes. Each agency has unique policies and some will restrict the age you can foster or adopt. After the initial orientation, you will select an agency that best fits the needs of your family. This is a great question to ask during the selection processes.

Can I specify what child I would like to foster?

After you finish training, you will communicate through a questionnaire the age, sex, and number of children you are interested in. You will also be asked about the emotional and physical challenges you would be willing to tackle. Before a child comes into your care, you will be given information on a specific child in need of placement.

Do I get to pick the child I want to adopt?

After you finish training, you will communicate through a questionnaire the age, sex, and number of children you are interested in. You will also be asked about the emotional and physical challenges you would be willing to tackle. Before a child comes into your care, you will be given information on a specific child in need of placement. Families are matched with children instead of children matched with families—the best family is selected to match a child’s specific needs.

How long will it take for me to get a child?

The licensing process usually takes 4 to 6 months. You will need to be fingerprinted and participate in 30 hours of special training to prepare you to better understand the issues and problems facing foster children. A home study will be done by your licensing agency and the Arizona Office of Licensing & Certification will do a home inspection. After your license is issued, foster placement usually happens within a few days. Adoptive placement takes a little more time as they match families to children with a case plan of adoption.

How do children come into care?

Children come into the care of the Department of Child Safety when there is a safety risk to the child. Currently, the number one reason children are coming into care is neglect. Once a child is removed from their home, Arizona foster care agencies work with DCS placement unit to help match foster parents with children. Placements are made according to needs of the child.

What age group represents the greatest need for foster homes?

About 7% of children in foster care are under the age of 1; about 30% are between the ages of 1 and 5. There are around 27% between the ages of 6 to 12. Approximately 32% are over 12 years old. The majority of children come into care with siblings. Currently, the greatest need is for homes able to take in siblings of 2 or more school age children and teens.

What if I only want infants?

There is a need for families to foster infants. Many of these infants have siblings that are also in care. Many infants are drug exposed and have been born prematurely. They may need lots of attention and holding, or may have medical needs and complications. You will need to be prepared with a crib, infant car seat, swing, etc. if you want to foster infants. You should be open to receive the placement 24/7 without much information on the child’s history.

How long do foster children usually stay in the foster home?

A child can be in your home for a few days or for a few years. There isn’t a blanket answer for this because every child and every case is different.

How much does the foster family interact with the birth family?

Co-parenting is encouraged. As children are in care, it helps them to see the different parental figures working together. As foster parents, the primary goal is helping the children make the transition back to their home. Safety for your family and for the child will come into play as you decide boundaries in co-parent with the birth family.

How much does the adoptive family interact with the birth family?

DCS and agencies encourage adoptive families to support contact with family relationships that are safe and in the best interest of the children. This can include birth parents and birth siblings placed in another home, grandparents, foster parents, etc.

What happens to foster children when they leave my home?

While children are in foster care, the Department of Child Saftey works with the birth family to rectify the problems that caused their children to come into care. There are services offered to the parents such as alcohol and drug rehabilitation, anger management counseling, and parenting classes. If the parent shows progress in working their case plan and safety concerns are resolved, children will be returned home. The state will continue to monitor the family to insure the child’s safety. If the parent cannot overcome the barriers to parenting, the case plan will change to severance and adoption. The case manager will actively work to identify a relative or an adoptive home. There are many children in foster care adopted by their foster families.

Is there emotional and behavioral support for foster and adoptive children?

There are resources offered through the state to help you care for the child in your home.

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