While Indiana foster parents must be licensed by the Department of Child Services (DCS), the requirements match those of the average law-abiding citizen. The process sounds more complicated than it actually is.
First of all, let’s clear up some possible misconceptions. Foster parents in Indiana do not need to be married. They may be single. Or they may be living with a partner. A live-in relationship with a significant other or same-sex partner should be established for at least one year to demonstrate stability.
The first step is to contact your local county DCS office and indicate your interest. If you don’t know the number, check the state website at IN.gov or call their hotline at 888-631-9510.
After some initial paperwork, the county DCS will begin a home study. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, and pass a criminal history check that shows them to be free of felonies that involve violence and children. The background check includes a fingerprint-based national history search.
They must demonstrate financial stability. Verifying a bank balance and/or regular rent or payment of utilities should be sufficient.
They must provide a safe home and be able to offer reliable transportation. This means owning or renting a home or apartment that meets physical safety standards and has adequate bedroom space.
All family members must be in reasonably good health and free of disabling addictions. A statement from a physician for all household members is usually sufficient.
Some pre-service training sessions are required. This may include successful completion of First Aid, CPR, and Universal Precautions training.
At least three personal references are usually required. These may be in writing.
A Regional Licensing Specialist will make one or more home visits.
Then try it out. For those interested in making a more permanent commitment, foster care can be a first step toward adoption.