People often wonder what foster homes are like especially if they have never known a foster family personally or spent any time with a foster child. There’s no simple answer to that question because every home is different. Just like no two people in the world are the exact same, no foster home will be identical to another.

There is no specific model of what a foster home should look like; however, there are laws, rules and policies every foster home must follow. Every foster home must meet the licensing guidelines. Caseworkers should visit the homes regularly to ensure that these protocols and standards are maintained. You can always check with your specific state, county, and agency to see what specific laws and policies they have in place.

In general, all adults in the home should have passed a background check prior to being licensed as a foster home. Homes should be safe and clean with an adequate supply of safe drinking water, running water, electricity, etc. Each child in the home should have his or her own bed and a bedroom. Foster children will not necessarily have their own bedroom, but there are rules as to how many kids can share a room.

One specific guideline, for example, states no more than four kids can be in a room and children age five or older can only share a room with children of the same gender. There may also be guidelines as to the total number of children allowed in a foster home at any given time to ensure the safety of the kids and that their needs can be met. For example, some foster homes may not have more than six kids at a time, and no more than two kids under the age of two, and no more than four kids under the age of four.

Some foster families have been taking care of children for years while other families are newly licensed. Some children will stay in the home for a very short time, sometimes even less than twenty-four hours. Other children may stay for years. Some foster homes will have only one child, and others will have many. Foster homes can have any combination of biological, adopted, and foster children, and sometimes even stepchildren, grandchildren, or other extended family members. Foster homes can have younger or older parents, married or single parents, working, retired or stay at home parents, and parents of various personalities, characteristics, social class, religious beliefs, ethnicities, race, etc.

You may even live next door to a foster home and not even know because they look just like a family. Obviously, some foster families are noticeable because they suddenly have a bunch of extra kids. Maybe their kids don’t look like each other or their parents, but they should still look and function like a family. They should love and respect each other. The parents should be providing a safe environment for the children to learn and grow.

No two foster homes will be the exact same, but hopefully they all share the same goal: to love and care for children in need.


Sherri Eppley is a wife and mother to two amazing children. As a foster and adoptive parent, she strives to raise awareness of all issues related to foster care and adoption. Her passions include her family, church, MOPS, and helping people in any ways she can.