The time it takes to become a foster parent varies for everyone. Typically, the licensing process can take anywhere from three to six months or longer. It would be difficult to complete everything in less than three months, but it’s not necessarily impossible. The length of time will also depend on how motivated you are and how quickly you complete each step of the application process.

Starting the Process

To become a foster parent, you must fill out the application and a checklist of various other items, which may include references, fingerprints, background checks, medical exams, financial information, fire inspection, and a specific number of approved foster-parent training hours (which varies by state).

Some agencies will offer the training classes one or two nights a week for several weeks, while other agencies may offer longer weekend sessions, which allow you to complete the full course over a shorter time span. Sometimes the classes are only offered a couple times a year, so you may have to wait a couple months to even start the training. In between classes, or while waiting for the classes to begin, you can work on the other application requirements.

Expediting the Process

There are some things you can do to help move the process along quicker. The fingerprints and background checks should be completed as soon as possible, since they can take several weeks to come back. If a physical is required, contact your doctor sooner rather than later, as their next available appointment may be several weeks away. If references are also needed, send those out early in the process. Some people may take a while to return their letters, so follow up with them. Ideally, you could have everything else completed by the time the training classes are done.

Home Study

Even after you have turned in all the required documentation and attended the classes, you still must wait for the assessor to visit your home for the home study. These visits can be delayed depending on conflicting schedules or how busy the agency is with other home studies. Its best to be flexible with these visits; otherwise, you may be waiting longer. Generally, once the home study is submitted, you could receive your license in less than a week, if everything is approved.

It’s Worth It

The journey to become a foster parent can seem like it takes forever, especially to an eager new parent. But once you receive your license and your first child comes through your door, you’ll realize it was well worth the wait, however long it took.