Become a Licensed Foster Parent

Why become a foster parent? Every child deserves to be safe, loved, and healthy, and the best place to heal from abuse or neglect is in the care of a caring family. Foster parents uniquely contribute to the success of a child’s life by providing temporary, loving, and stable care while working towards the child’s reunification with biological family or new forever family.

What to Know about Foster Care

  • Through no fault of their own, more than 13,000 children in Missouri, and 7,400 children in Kansas have entered foster care after suffering abuse and neglect.
  • Foster families understand that reunification is the goal in almost all cases and that they will be required to work towards that goal for the duration of the case, unless the goal is changed.
  • Families wishing to adopt are pursuing a beautiful thing for their family. Adopting from foster care works best once a family has first focused on fostering.
  • The average age of child in care is 9 years old with brothers and sisters. There is a drastic need for foster parents willing to care for older children, sibling groups, and children with special needs.

Missouri Foster Parent Requirements

KPARC 2023 2

FosterAdopt Connects helps with navigating the steps to becoming a foster parent and maintaining licensure with the support of a resource development advocate (licensing worker) and ongoing training. To become a foster parent, you will be required to:

  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Meet background check eligibility requirements for any applicant and/or household member age seventeen (17) and older.
  • Have adequate income or employment.
  • Have sufficient room in your home to accommodate additional children.
  • Complete all required pre-service training hours.
  • Participate in an in-depth home study.
  • Complete a health physical.
  • Provide personal, adult children and employment references.
  • Acquire needed safety items for the home, such as smoke alarms, a fire extinguisher, and beds (our team can help with this).
  • Provide appropriate transportation and have a reliable telephone.
  • Complete in-service trainings and renewal requirements and paperwork every two years.
  • Stay in compliance and up to date on all licensing rules and regulations.

Ready to Become a Foster Parent in Missouri?

It typically takes 4 - 6 months from the first call to be fully licensed and ready for placement of a child. As a subcontractor of Cornerstones of Care in West and Northwest Missouri, the initial intake takes place with them. To get the process started call 855-778-5437 or visit Cornerstones of Care. Cornerstones of Care will complete a phone intake, send initial paperwork, and then assign you to either FosterAdopt Connect or to Cornerstones of Care to complete the licensure process and training.

For licensing information in Southeast Missouri, contact Jessica Jones-Watkins at Jessica.jones-watkins@fosteradopt.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of children are in State care?

Most children enter foster care because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. If their parents are able to get the help that they need and the issues leading to removal are resolved, children may be returned home. If not, children may become free for adoption. Children in state custody rage in age from birth to 18 and have a wide variety of backgrounds.

Are there different levels of foster care?

There are various levels of foster care which may require more or less training. All are valuable, and we encourage you to find the best fit for yourself or your family.

  • Respite — Temporary, short-term care that gives other foster parents a break from foster care responsibilities.
  • Traditional — Care for a child in state custody for an indefinite period of time.
  • Emergency — A 30-day maximum placement that provides caseworkers an opportunity to identify a long-term home.
  • Medical — Care for children who require extra support because of disabilities or elevated medical needs.
  • Elevated-needs (levels A and B) — Care for children with moderate to severe behavioral/emotional needs.
  • Treatment (or Career) — Care for children with severe behavioral/emotional needs.
How long will a foster child be in my home?

There is no set length for a foster placement. It depends on the circumstances of the child and their birth family. When a child is placed in your home, there may be an estimated length of time the child is expected to stay.

What is the process for placing a child in my home?

Multiple children enter state custody on a daily basis and need quick placement in a home. Child placing agencies begin looking for placements immediately. Here are the steps.

  • The child’s placing agency searches a database for available foster families.
  • If you match some basic criteria needed for the child, the agency will call you.
  • After careful consideration, you decide whether to accept the child into your home.
  • If you accept, the caseworker calls you to set up a meeting location and you inform your resource development advocate of the change.
  • If you decline the child’s placing agency simply calls the next person on the list.
Do I have a say as to which child is placed in my home?

Foster parents specify the race, age, gender, and number of children they wish to care for. You have the right to ask questions about the child’s history and have the option to decline any placement.

How many children can I foster at once?

You can have no more than six children in your home at one time, consisting of any combination of biological, adopted, or children in foster care. For example, if a family has four biological children, they can only be licensed for two children.

Where will the child go to school or day care?

Children attend the local school in your community and this must be discussed with the child’s caseworker. If the child is not of school age, working foster and adoptive parents may choose a daycare home or facility for the child as long as it’s state licensed and contracted. The state may also reimburse for before- and after-school care until the child is 13.

What types of support services are provided after a child is placed in the home?

When a child is placed in your home as a foster placement, you will receive a monthly stipend and bi-annual clothing allowance. The reimbursement rate depends upon the child’s age, level of care required, and placing agency. Medical and dental insurance is provided by the state. If counseling or therapy services are needed, the state may also provide for those services. FosterAdopt Connect also provides online and in-person support groups, advocacy, training, clothing closet, food pantry, and more to all foster families in Missouri and Kansas. You won’t be alone!

Do I have to own my home?

No. Foster parents may own or rent. Families who rent must have their landlord’s permission to become foster parents. Your local municipality may also require an occupancy permit.

Do I have to be married?

No. You can be single, married, divorced, or legally separated. If, at some point you choose to begin a relationship, you must inform your resource development advocate. For the safety of the children, a criminal background check and an abuse and neglect background check is required on everyone in close contact with them.

Can I become a foster parent if I’m LGBTQ?

Yes. Per Missouri Children’s Division policy, “a license will be issued to either married couples or a single individual. Only one license can be issued per household, so the license will be in one adult’s name. All adults in the household who will have child care responsibility will be required to attend state approved foster parent training”.

What’s the difference between foster care and adoption?

Foster care is meant to be a temporary arrangement until a child can either be reunified with their birth family or placed with a permanent caregiver if reunification is not possible. Adoption is making a lifelong commitment to a child.

What does it cost to foster or adopt?

There is no fee associated with becoming a licensed foster parent. You will have to purchase items such as a fire extinguisher and pay for your medical exam which are necessary to become licensed. Foster parents receive a monthly payment to help cover the cost of the child’s food, clothing, and personal allowance. The first check will not come until a month or so after the child does, so foster parents need enough money in the budget to support their family and the new child/children until the first reimbursement is received.

Have More Questions? Contact Us Below!