Foster Care FAQs

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, you probably have a lot of questions! We’ve gathered some of the most common questions we get asked by prospective foster parents below. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, please contact us!

Why are children placed in foster care? How long do they usually stay?
Often, children who experience abuse or neglect are placed in foster care to protect them and prevent further harm. Sometimes, a child is placed in care if they have needs that their parents are unable to meet.

The average length of stay for a child in a non-relative foster home is greater than 1 year. That doesn’t mean that any foster child placed in your home will stay for a year, though. In some cases, the child may remain only for a night or two; in other situations, they may need a foster home for a year or more. We need committed foster parents who are able to provide a loving, safe environment for the child, regardless of how long they are in your home.
Who are the children most in need of foster care?
Right now in Indiana, there is a great need for foster homes for teenagers and sibling groups of all ages. Bilingual (English/Spanish) foster families are also in demand, as are families willing to consider children with acute or ongoing medical needs.
How long does it take to become licensed? What will it cost me?
On average, around 3-6 months. This can vary, though, depending on a number of factors, including how quickly you complete the paperwork and training, how quickly references are returned, and the type of background checks required.  If you have lived in multiple states, this may extend the process.

Most of the cost is covered by Children's Bureau. You will be responsible for the cost of medical appointments to have your doctor complete health screening forms for all household members. There may be a fee to obtain a criminal background check if you have resided outside of Indiana. Although you will need to pay for a national background check, Children’s Bureau will reimburse that cost upon licensure.
Do foster parents get paid?
Foster families receive monthly payments for the care of children placed in their home. The amount paid is based on a daily rate that is determined by the child’s age and other factors required to provide care and services to the child.

We expect foster parents will use their monthly payments for expenses such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, recreation, allowance, gifts, day care, and other necessities. These monthly payments should not be considered income, and cannot be used for sustaining financial obligations of the household or securing loans.
Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, but you must have a stake in the residence, such as a lease agreement. You can be a foster parent if you live in an apartment, duplex, condominium, single-family home, or mobile home. It just needs to meet state safety standards, and have sufficient additional bedroom space for every household member, plus foster children.
How old do I have to be to become a foster parent?
The minimum age to become a foster parent in Indiana is 21. Because there are many older youth in foster care, Children’s Bureau prefers foster parents be at least 25.
Can people who are gay or lesbian be foster parents?
Yes! We are happy to discuss any unique characteristics your family may have and how they may impact your role as a foster family.
I am single. Can I be a foster parent?
Yes! Foster parents may be married, single, in a relationship, widowed, or divorced.
I don’t have biological children, but want to become a foster parent. Is that allowed?
Yes! Even people who have never parented before can provide stable, nurturing care for foster children. Don’t worry about not knowing how to be a parent – you will receive plenty of training prior to licensing, and Children’s Bureau will assign each child a foster care case manager you can consult with and get advice.
If I have a disability or illness, will that prevent me from being a foster parent?
This depends on your condition and its impact on your ability to parent children with special needs. Having a disability or illness will not necessarily exclude you from being a licensed foster family. But, because each disability or illness may impact individuals differently, it is best to consult with our licensing department to determine if fostering is an option for you at this time.
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.
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. It could be up to six weeks from the time you accept a placement until you receive payment, so it is important to have financial reserves to cover the cost of caring for a foster child or sibling group.
Do I have to own a car to be a foster parent? I prefer public transportation.
Relying on public transportation as a foster parent can be challenging, because it does not allow you to efficiently and quickly respond to urgent transportation needs of foster children (such as ER visits, calls from school, etc.). Because foster children need a lot of transportation to visitations and appointments, it can be difficult to rely on public transportation, even if it is supplemented with taxis or ride shares. Children’s Bureau strongly recommends that foster parents have access to personal transportation that they are licensed for and insured to drive.
Do foster children have to have their own bedrooms?
Foster children must have an individual bed for sleep. Beds must have a frame, box spring/suitable platform, and mattress. Children of the same gender may share a bedroom as long as suitable space and storage (closet and drawer space) is available for their use. The bedroom must be constructed for the purpose of a bedroom. No child in the home – foster or not – can reside in bedrooms located in a basement.
We are animal lovers! What are the restrictions on pets in a foster home?
If you have dogs, cats, or ferrets, you are required to keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Other pets are also allowable, but only if they are not known to be vicious or potentially harmful to children (or workers entering the home). If you have a vicious pet in your home and you are reluctant to remove them, you should delay becoming a licensed foster family.
I sometimes have to travel for work. Will this prevent me from being a foster parent?
We understand that some jobs require travel. If you travel frequently for work, you will want to discuss this with a member of our licensing department. You may find that it is not a situation that lends itself to you being a licensed foster parent. There may be other ways for you to positively impact the life of a foster child that are better suited to your travel situation at this time.
How many foster children can I have at one time?
The capacity of a foster home depends on a number of things, including available space and bedding, number of 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 accept anywhere from one to three children. Families who are willing to care for larger sibling groups are needed and encouraged to apply.
Who pays for child care/daycare? And where should I start to find a child care provider?
Finding a substitute caregiver (babysitter, daycare provider, etc.) is the responsibility of the foster parent. However, there are online directories and other good resources that can help you identify a substitute care provider for your foster child.

The cost of substitute care is the responsibility of the foster parent. Foster parents may apply for CCDF, a state program that assists with daycare costs, but please be aware that there may be a waiting period before assistance begins.
What kind of support does Children's Bureau offer its foster families?
Every family receives support through respite, maintenance payments and other financial reimbursements, training, 24-hour crisis support, and logistical support. We assign a Foster Care Case Manager (FCCM) to each child, who will be able to provide support to your family and the foster child. Other planned supports may be available based on the specific child’s needs.
I’ve heard it’s more difficult to foster a teenager than a younger child. Is this true?
Just as with biological children, every age will bring challenges and accomplishments. Some families will find younger children easier to parent; believe it or not, some foster parents prefer older children and teens! Teens need love and guidance as much as younger children, and most are eager for a stable, supportive home with a responsible parent and positive role model. No matter what the child’s age, every child deserves the opportunity to live in a safe, loving environment where they can thrive.
Will having foster children in my home impact our family dynamic?
Yes, your family dynamic will be impacted by foster children – but this is not necessarily a negative! Integrating a foster child into your home for any period of time may require your family to adjust their daily schedules, weekend plans, method of communicating, and expectations for behavior. We cover this extensively in foster parent training, as it is a concern for many prospective foster parents.  Remember, you will have the support of your child’s FCCM as well.
Can I adopt my foster child?
The primary goal for a child in foster care is to be successfully reunified with their 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. However – and we cannot emphasize this enough: foster parents are expected to support the goal of reunification and work with the child’s team for the best possible outcome for that child. Adoption is not usually the goal from the outset.