Foster Care Services

Many Indiana children need a safe home and nurturing family. A foster parent is someone who provides a stable, supportive living environment for a child who cannot live with biological parents due to family disruption, abuse or neglect. Some children stay in foster care for weeks, some for years.

There is no “ideal” foster family. Foster parents help children heal and find stability while acting as role models for the biological family. Some foster homes become adoptive homes, and sometimes they help children achieve independent living. There are specific requirements for Indiana foster parents, but most important is the desire to love a child in need.

Why Children’s Bureau Foster Care?

• Our skilled professionals work side by side with foster families.
• We’re a local social service agency with a great community reputation.
• We specialize in serving children who have faced trauma and disruption.
• We’ve been around since before you were born! (And probably your grandparents, too.)

Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent

Step 1 - Orientation & Training

You'll receive the documentation to apply for a foster family license with explanations of each form and how to complete them. Pre-service Training - Twenty hours of training will introduce you to the child welfare system and give you the base knowledge to start caring for children who may have been abused, neglected or otherwise mistreated. Medical Training - First Aid, Adult/Child/ Infant CPR and Universal Precautions certification is required of all foster parents and is provided free of charge by Children's Bureau.

Step 2 - Application & Documentation

During this step, you'll complete your application paperwork and provide copies of needed items such as driver's licenses, insurance and proof of income. Once your application is completed and signed and each family member has had their doctor complete a health verification form, you'll return them to our office for processing

Step 3 - Background Checks & References

Upon receiving your documentation, we will start the necessary background checks and request responses from your references. The following checks will be completed: Local, State, National/ FBI, Sexual Offender Registry and Child Protective Services. We may also have to obtain background checks for previous counties or states where you have lived.

Step 4 - Foster Family Assessment

This final step is commonly known as the "Home Study." Your family will meet with an interviewer who will evaluate your preparedness to be a licensed foster family and will conduct an inspection of your home.

Step 5 - License Approval

The entire pre-service file and the foster family assessment is reviewed to ensure completeness. If the file is in order, the family is licensed and is ready to accept children into your family.

The Foster Care Experience

Children's Bureau provides many supports and services to our children and families.  Each family and individual child is assigned a Children's Bureau Foster Care Case Manager (FCCM) who will visit with the family on a regular basis to ensure that their needs are met. FCCMs provide support in person during home visits or via phone, text or email. Home visits are provided based on the needs of the child and family as assessed by the Department of Child Services and the child's treatment team. Upon placement of the child, the FCCM will be available right away and can visit with your family in your home within 48 hours.

We provide 24/7 crisis intervention service because we know concerns don't just arise during business hours.

Children's Bureau employs specialized therapists who are extensively trained to work with foster and adoptive children and families. Therapists are trained in attachment-focused therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, TheraPlay, individual and family counseling. Therapists work with the children, foster families, biological families, FCCMs and treatment teams to meet the individual needs of the child and family. Our counseling services empower children and families regardless of where they are on their journey. Psychiatric and medication management services are also offered.


  • Management of foster family licenses
  • Training provided at no cost to parents
  • 24/7 placement referral for placing agencies
  • Case management services to meet the individual needs of each child and family
  • In-home visitation by professional staff
  • Individual therapy (home-based or out-patient)
  • Client Centered practices
  • Supervised visitation
  • 24 hour Emergency on-call & crisis intervention
  • Staff caseloads maximized to address the individual service needs of the children/family
  • Competitive per diem rates
  • Paid respite offering up to 1 day each month (maximum accrual of 12 days annually).
  • Funding available to reimburse for structured summer camps or activities
  • Monetary assistance for holiday & birthday gifts
  • Mileage reimbursement for treatment related transportation and family visitation
  • Trauma-Informed Care training for foster families
  • Psychiatric assessment and medication management available in our office
  • Case representation at court & monthly reporting of progress to referral source
Requirements Checklist

To be licensed with Children's Bureau, a foster family must meet these minimum requirements:

  • The whole household will be impacted by fostering in some way; therefore, all members, including children, must agree to become a foster family.
  • Parents must be at least 25 years old to be licensed with Children's Bureau Inc. (21 years old to be licensed through your local County Office of Family & Children or some other private agencies.)
  • Must have stable income. Applicants cannot be on public assistance or subsidized housing.
  • May be single, married, non-married couple or divorced. (May not be "in the process" of a divorce or separated.)
  • Cannot have anyone in the home with any felony or some misdemeanor convictions.
  • Must have sufficient space (50 square feet for each child in a bedroom and personal storage space).
  • Each child must have his or her own bed (not a futon or pull-out couch), and a foster child cannot displace a biological child from his or her bed.
  • Children may not be assigned to a bedroom located in a basement.
  • Must have valid driver's license and reliable, insured transportation.

Give us a call to talk about the process. We'd be happy to answer any questions for you!

Foster to Adopt

Often children in foster care need a permanent, adoptive home. Children's Bureau specializes in special needs adoption, including teenagers, sibling groups, children with medical needs, and children with behavioral or emotional challenges. We offer additional training and 24-hour support throughout the adoptive process.

Click here to learn more about adoption services.


Annual Review Forms for Foster Parents

Application Renewal for Foster Parents

Medical Forms for Children in Placement

Training for Foster Parents

Other Forms

Parent FAQ

Can I adopt my foster child?
The primary goal for a child placed in foster care is to be successfully reunified with his family of origin. In cases where children are unable to return to their family, their permanency plan may change to adoption. When this happens, the foster parent has the right to be considered as a pre-adoptive family and the opportunity to file for adoption.

Do I need to own a home to be a foster parent?
No, but you must have a stake in the residence, such as a rental/lease agreement, mortgage or other similar legal interest. Apartments, duplexes, condominiums, single-family homes of various sizes, and mobile homes are all acceptable dwellings, as long as they meet state safety standards. You must also have sufficient additional bedroom space for children.

How old do I have to be to become a foster parent?
The state minimum age to become a foster parent is 21 years old. Because of the older population of youth generally referred to Children's Bureau for placement, we prefer individuals or couples to be 25 years or older.

Can people who identify as gay or lesbian be foster parents?
We welcome and affirm all sexual orientations as long as you meet all the minimum qualifications and comply with licensing requirements. Like every foster family, you will need a strong network of support from family and friends. We will be glad to discuss any unique characteristics your family may have and how they may impact your role as a foster family.

I have a criminal record. Can I become a foster parent?
Depending on the nature of the crime, you may be disqualified from obtaining a foster family license. Please contact us to determine the effect your record will have on your application.

Why are children placed in foster care?
The Indiana Department of Child Services may sometimes find it is necessary to place children/youth with a temporary caregiver in order to protect them, prevent further harm, or because they have been abandoned. There are also times when it is necessary to place children into temporary care because the child has needs which their parents are unable to meet. The resources used to care for children who are taken into foster care may be relatives, non-blood kin, foster families, or emergency shelters. Children may be placed into care by the Department of Child Services or the Probation Department.

Will I have to interact with the child's parent(s)?
There may be cases where you will interact with and have ongoing contact with your foster child's family of origin. This contact may range from authorized phone communication between the child and their family, arranged visitation & parenting time, or in rare cases acting as a mentor for the child's parent(s). The level of interaction you will have with the family will depend on the needs of the child. In some cases, foster families have little or no contact with the child's family. If you desire limited or no contact with a child's family, this will reduce the number of children who can be considered for placement in your home.

Where can foster children sleep?
Foster children must be assigned to an individual bed for sleep. Children of the same gender may share a bedroom as long as suitable space and storage is available for their use (closet and drawer space). The bedroom must be constructed for the purpose of a bedroom, and no household children can reside in bedrooms located in a basement. Beds must have a frame, box spring, and mattress, except for beds which substitute platforms for box springs (i.e. cribs, toddler beds, bunk beds, or platform beds).

I am single, can I be a foster parent?
Foster parents may be married, coupled/partnered, single, widowed, or divorced.

How many foster children can I have at one time?
The capacity of a foster home depends on various factors, including: available space and bedding, children already residing in the home, the level of care a foster child needs, the parents' capabilities, and other considerations. Most foster families licensed through Children's Bureau, Inc. accept anywhere from one to three children. Families who are willing to care for larger sibling groups are needed and encouraged to apply.

Can my foster child travel with me?
Children in foster care may travel with their foster parents as long as permission is obtained from the DCS county office. The child may not always be able to accompany the family on trips due to various reasons, especially if a youth has restrictions on travel or important appointments to occur during the planned travel. If your travel is business related and/or occurs frequently, please discuss this with a member of our Licensing Dept., as this may not be a situation that is favorable to your being a licensed foster parent at this time.

Who are the children most in need of foster care?
We currently have the most need for teenaged youth (both males and females) and for sibling groups or varying age ranges. Homes are needed for all ethnicities, but especially for children who are Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, and bi-racial. Foster families who are capable of communicating with Spanish-speaking children are also in demand.

I am currently unemployed. Can I be a full-time foster parent?
Foster Parents must have a self-sustaining, stable income. If you are not employed, but have a stable income source (such as retirement, SSDI benefits, Social Security, trust fund, etc.) you may apply to be a licensed foster parent. The household income should be sufficient to cover all of your family's financial expenses. If you are receiving temporary aid, such as unemployment, TANF, or other welfare assistance, then you should delay your application until you have a steady income from gainful employment or another source of non-assistance income. Additionally, you will need financial reserves which will allow you to absorb the cost of caring for a foster child or sibling for up to six (6) weeks before receiving a maintenance payment from the agency.

I use public transportation. Do I have to own a car to be a foster parent?
Because of the volume of transportation needs for foster children, utilizing public transportation is challenging. The use of public transportation does not allow foster parents to efficiently and quickly respond to urgent transport needs of foster children (such as ER visits, calls from school, etc.). Even the use of taxi cabs prohibits the efficient, timely arrival of foster children to visitations and appointments. Children's Bureau, Inc. strongly recommends the foster parent have access to personal transportation for which they are licensed and insured to drive.

Who pays for childcare/daycare?
Many children require an adult nearby at all times. In the foster parent's absence, finding a substitute caregiver (babysitter, daycare, etc.) is the responsibility of the foster parent. The cost of substitute care is also the responsibility of the foster parent. Foster parents may apply for CCDF - a state program that assists with daycare costs, however there may be a waiting period before assistance begins.

How long will a child stay in my home?
Information available on Indiana Department of Child Services' website indicate that the average length of stay for a child in a non-relative foster home is roughly 1 year. However, the actual length of stay for any particular child is unpredictable as the amount of time children remain in foster care varies greatly. Once placed in your home, the child could remain for as little as one night, a few weeks, into the months, or even a year or longer. Some children may eventually become adoptable opening the opportunity for the child to become a permanent part of your family!