Typically, licensing takes about 6–9 months. While the process can vary slightly based on the agency you choose to work with, here are the core steps involved.
1) Attend an Information Meeting - Most agencies offer an information meeting to help kick off the process of getting licensed. At this meeting, you’ll get an overview of your agency’s licensing steps.
2) Complete an Application and Background Check - Applications help determine your foster care eligibility and include questions about your background, as well as your home.
3) Attend Caregiver Core Training (CCT) - Washington State requires CCT, a competency-based training, for all licensed foster parents.
4) Family Preparation and Home Study - During this time, you’ll receive training to help you prepare to be a foster parent, have your home certified for a foster home license, and complete your home study.
5) Child and Family Matching and Placement - Depending on your agency, this phase will help match you with a child and place them in your home.
6) Fostering Support - Private agencies offer continued support with in-home visits, ongoing training, and family support groups.
Click here to learn more about the process of becoming a foster parent in Washington State.
Most foster parents who don’t make it through the licensing process typically drop out due to one of these common pitfalls.
Time - It takes a lot of time and patience to become a foster parent, and even more to actually be a foster parent. Plan on 6-9 months to get licensed. Once a child is placed, caring for them is just as time-consuming as having your own child.
Background - Part of the licensing process includes asking about a foster parent’s background and upbringing. Potential parents who aren’t comfortable answering these questions should think seriously about this commitment.
Personal Family - Foster parents are committed to their foster child. If you have plans to add to your family through adoption or getting pregnant, it may not be the right time for you to become a foster parent.
Home Setup - Children over the age of one must have their own bedroom separate from adults. Foster parents with studio apartments or one-bedroom apartments are limited to caring for infants.
How To Prepare
Preparing yourself and your family is key to success in becoming a foster parent. Here are a few things you can do to get started now:
- Familiarize yourself with as many agencies as possible
- Talk to each agency to find out what their requirements are
- Choose an agency that’s a good fit for you
- Meet with other foster parents to learn about their experiences
- Attend meetings of foster families