FOSTER CARE PROCESS & REQUIREMENTS
Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster or adoptive parent. Your personal journey towards becoming a licensed foster or adoptive parent is unique. Some people want to complete the process quickly while others proceed slowly, finishing each requirement one at a time. Regardless of the details of your journey, we know you will find yourself so grateful to have the opportunity to deeply influence the life of a child. Below you will read the steps to licensing, what you must first do is decide where to complete these steps. There are many licensing agencies located throughout Palm Beach County your decision could be based on location, faith based, traditional, therapeutic or other specialized program.
STEPS TO LICENSING:
- Orientation – To better answer any preliminary questions, an orientation is required. This brief meeting will give you all the information you need to be certain that you want to proceed with the licensing process. We know that being a foster or adoptive parent is not for everyone; it is a very specific calling. The decision is not to be made lightly, you are encouraged to ask as many questions as you can before you begin.
- TRAINING – Palm Beach County has begun to implement a new training for foster parents. Licensing agencies can either teach MAPP, Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting class or Partnership in Parenting, PIP. MAPP is a 30-hour class and PIP is a 21 hour class. Both are offered in a variety of formats to accommodate different schedules. In this class, you will not only gain the tools necessary to successfully parent a foster or adoptive child, but you will also get to know and interact with our staff in the process.
- Homework and Profiles – At the beginning of the MAPP Class, you will receive a packet containing homework and your family profile. Your trainer will make sure that you successfully complete all of the paperwork. At the completion of the class, you will receive a MAPP certificate.
- Home Visits – After you begin the MAPP or PIP classes, your licensing agent will complete two one-hour home visits with you. The initial meeting will give the licensing agent an opportunity to go over your licensing packet and answer any questions that you might have. You do not need to be prepared to accept a child at this time, as we will thoroughly explain how to get your home ready and what changes might need to be made. If you are married, we ask that your spouse attend this meeting as well. The second home visit will be scheduled after we have all of your paperwork and screenings and are ready to finalize your home study for submission. This will be another opportunity for you to clear up any remaining questions about the process of licensing. At this visit, it is important that all household members are in attendance.
- Paperwork, Screenings and Inspection – At the initial home visit, you will receive a licensing packet that contains most of the paperwork that must be completed to continue the process. We will be here if you have questions along the way. After the initial meeting, we will request an inspection of your home as well as local, county, state and national background screenings for you and your family. When all of these items are completed, we will return for our second home visit to have you sign the final paperwork and sign off on the narrative home study we have written on your family. Your file will then be submitted to DCF for approval after which you will receive your Foster Parent or Adoptive Parent License.
To receive more information please call Maria Bond at 561-352-2501. Inquiry forms should be mailed to Maria Bond, 4100 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33409.
More About the Home Safety Inspection
Foster homes are inspected and approved on an annual basis by the Health Department. Home safety standards for licensed out of home caregivers are referenced in detail within FS65c-13. A Palm Beach County Health Inspector will schedule an appointment to evaluate and ensure that the following criteria is being met as it relates to home safety:
- Each child must have their own bed/crib and clean, appropriate bedding.
- Hot water temperature must not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit at the faucet.
- Guns and ammunition must be kept separately and locked.
- All medications, poisonous chemicals, and cleaning materials must be kept locked in a cabinet or closet
- Alcoholic beverages should be stored out of the reach of children.
- Children’s access to potentially dangerous animals must be restricted.
- Pets must have current vaccinations. Vaccination records must be provided to the inspector.
- Transportation and access to telephones must be immediately available for use in emergencies.
- All combustible items must be stored away from sources of heat.
- The home must not be heated by unvented gas heaters.
- An evacuation plan must be posted in a highly visible area and explained to the children.
- All bedrooms must have two means of escape. If windows have bars, they must be able to be released to allow exit, otherwise known as “breakaway bars”.
- The home must have a safe outdoor play area as part of the property or within reasonable walking distance.
- Kitchen must have a fire extinguisher, size 2A10BC or larger. If the home has a second floor, a second fire extinguisher must be readily accessible in a general area of the second floor.
- Smoke detectors must be in the halls and children’s bedrooms.
- Bathtubs/showers must have non-skid surfaces or mat/decals to prevent slipping.
- The home must have working battery-operated flashlights.
- The home must have a first-aid supply box readily available and stored out of reach. First-aid supplies must be kept in one box.
- Swimming pools should have a four-foot high fence surrounding the pool.
- If the home is located on a canal, lake or has a swimming pool, every door in the home leading to the outside area must be secured by a standard lock as well as a lock on the top of each door frame, making access to the outside area impossible for a child without an adult’s assistance.