Are all members of your household supportive?
Are you flexible and willing to adapt to the needs of a child?
Will your work allow flexibility to meet appointment needs?
Are you willing to be committed even in challenging times?
Do you have a circle of support around you that is committed to being with you in your foster or adoptive journey?
Can you provide stability?
Are you willing to learn and grow through new experiences?
Do you have love to share?
The world of foster care can be really overwhelming to step into. There are so many questions and unknowns as you get started. We encourage you to not let that stop you from making a positive impact in the life of a child. Here are some questions to consider as you decide if foster and adoption is a good fit for you.
Married, single, divorced, or widowed
At least 21 years of age to foster/At least 18 years of age to adopt
Legal U.S. and Arizona resident
Apartment dweller, renter, or homeowner
Able to pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check
Able to meet your household’s financial needs
Physically and mentally healthy
You are eligible to foster/adopt in Arizona if you meet the following criteria:
Every day, children come into Arizona’s foster care system through no fault of their own. Foster and adoptive parents play a vital role in creating safe spaces for kids to heal from their traumas and loss, support opportunities for kids to be kids, and encourage kids to thrive instead of just surviving as they work to reach their full potential.
The first step toward getting your license for fostering is learning a little bit more about the differences between fostering, adoption, and kinship care, and what you might expect with each level of care.
is the first step in the foster and adoption journey.
Do you have any breed restrictions or other pet restrictions?
Do you have events for foster/adoptive families or kids in care?
Are you a not-for-profit or for profit agency?
What size is the agency?
Do you license both foster and adoptive families?
Do you support LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents?
Will the agency be flexible and meet your schedule for required home visits?
Here are some bonus questions given by other foster parents that you might want to consider:
How far are they from your home? Will it be inconvenient to go to their office when needed?
What is their policy for working parents fostering young children? (Some agencies require a stay-at-home parent or are limited on the time a child in foster care can be in day care or after-school care).
What sets them apart from other agencies?
Do they have an after-hours line that offers support in crisis or emergency needs?
Do they offer any direct support or resources to their foster/adoptive families?
When do they have foster/adoptive training classes beginning? How many weeks is the training? (Some agencies have additional training above the state mandated training that increases the time to complete)
What rules do you have in addition to the rules set by OLCR?
Does the agency have any religious affiliation or religious requirements of families?
Due to inspections delaying the licensing process, when in the process does the agency submit for a home inspection for new families?
Will the agency be flexible and meet your schedule for required home visits?
It’s an intimidating moment. You finish orientation, are handed a packet of agencies, and are told your next step is to pick one. Now what? Your agency plays a vital role in your foster care journey. Their role is to support you, help you get needed resources, run interference when issues arise, and encourage you. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to what agency is best. One of the great advantages of having several agencies to choose from is that, as a potential foster or adoptive family, you have the ability to choose what agency you connect best with. We cannot express enough how important it is that you connect with your agency. Changing agencies mid-course is doable but not always quick or easy. Before starting to call the agency list, think about what matters to you. What do you want from your agency? Here are some things to consider:
We hope these will help empower you to find the best way to personally get involved in Arizona’s foster care crisis.
There are over 12,000 kids in Arizona’s foster care system with 1,500 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.
Adoptive families focused on adopting a child from Arizona Foster Care 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.
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, dental, and behavioral health expenses are covered by a state medical plan.
You must be 18 to adopt and 21 to foster. All ages require a home study and background check.
No, however, you must be able to meet your family’s financial obligations.
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.
No. You can own or rent. You will need to have a bed and personal space for a child to put their belongings and be able to pass a home safety inspection.
After you finish training, you will communicate through a questionnaire the number of children, age range, gender, and ethnicities of the children you are able to support. You will also be asked about the emotional and physical challenges you feel equipped to take on. Before a child comes into your care, you will be given information on a specific child in need of placement. Be ready to ask questions when the phone call comes.
After you finish training, you will communicate through a questionnaire the number of children, age range, gender, and ethnicities of the children you are able to support. . You will also be asked about the emotional and physical challenges you feel equipped to take on. 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.
The licensing process usually takes 4 to 6 months. You will need to be fingerprinted and participate in special training to prepare you to better understand the challenges and needs of children in foster care. 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 can vary based on your criteria of what children you feel equipped to foster/adopt, where you are located, and what times you are available for placement. Adoptive placements typically take additional time as they work to better match kids and families for long-term connection.
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 the DCS placement unit to help match foster parents with children. Placements are made according to the needs of the child.
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.
There is a need for families to foster infants. Many of the infants that come into care have siblings also in care. The Department does their best to keep siblings together whenever possible. Many infants come into care drug exposed or premature. They may need additional attention and holding, or may have medical needs that require additional training. Families will need to be prepared with a crib, infant car seat, swing, etc. when fostering infants.
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.
Co-parenting is encouraged. As children are in care, it helps when they see the different parental figures working together. As foster parents, the primary goal is helping 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.
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, birth siblings placed in other homes, grandparents, previous foster parents, etc.
While children are in foster care, the Department of Child Safety 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, housing support, 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.
Children in foster care have state insurance to cover their behavioral health needs including but not limited to emotional and behavioral support. Children adopted from foster care are given the option of continuing to receive AHCCCS to support their medical, dental, and behavioral health needs. Families need to speak to their adoption attorney and the adoption case manager to assure the proper documentation is in place prior to adoption.