Foster parents provide tender care for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. A foster parent works with a team which includes the child, the child's family, the foster care agency and the Family Court. Most children are able to return home safely to their parents. When that can't happen, some foster parents become adoptive parents or kinship guardians.
Become a foster or adoptive parent, and help a child feel safe and loved.
Attend an Orientation and Complete the Application
Attend an orientation with one of ACS' foster care providers to get an in-depth explanation of the certification process. At the end of the orientation, complete and return the application to the foster care agency.
Once the agency approves your application, they will contact you to begin the certification process, which includes:
Foster Parent Training Foster parents are required to attend a 30-hour Model Approach to Partnerships and Parenting (MAPP) training to help you assess your strengths as a parent and develop the special skills to meet the needs of a child in foster care. You will learn how to work with birth parents and help a child adjust to their temporary home. You will also learn about your rights and responsibilities as a foster parent, as well as the supports available to you, including financial subsidies.
Medical Clearance Foster parents must be healthy enough to care for a child and are required to submit medical clearances signed by a licensed and registered physician. All other household members must also submit medical clearances.
Background Check All adults (age 18 and older) who live in your home must be fingerprinted and cleared through the State Central Register for Abuse and Neglect (SCR).
Home Study The home study provides the foster care agency and, in some cases, the courts with the information needed to determine that your home is safe and that you will be able to care for the child. You will be asked to provide supporting financial, emotional, and mental health documentation about your ability to be a competent foster parent. The agency's social worker will meet with you several times during the home study process which generally takes several months to complete.
After the successful completion of your training, medical clearance, background checks, and home study, you become a certified foster parent.
A Child is Placed in Your Home
Once you're a certified foster/adoptive parent, your Agency can place foster children in your home. Before a child is placed in your home, the caseworker will tell you about visitation schedules with birth parents and siblings, and give you information that will help you provide the best care for the child. If the match is right, the child will be placed with you on either a short-term or longer-term basis.
Looking to Adopt?
If you wish to adopt a child, there are additional steps you must take after being certified as a foster parent.
Matching Your agency will help you begin the adoption matching process. The New York State Family Album and the Meet Our Kids database is a good way to begin your search. Once a match is made, you and the child can begin visiting each other.
Pre-adoption Placement During this pre-adoptive phase, the child will come to live with you on a temporary basis which will allow you to learn more about each other. If you decide to move forward, you will sign an Adoptive Placement Agreement confirming your intent to adopt.
Filing the Adoption Petition When you are ready to finalize the adoption, your agency will assist you with finding an attorney to help you file the adoption petition in Family Court. It will take approximately 6 to 8 months — and in some cases longer — before the adoption can be finalized. The agency will remain involved with both you and the child during this time.
Finalize the Adoption When the Family Court judge approves the adoption, you and your child will go to court to sign the final adoption papers.
LGBTQ Affirming Foster and Adoptive Families
Affirming families are those that welcome all LGBTQ young people and encourage them to be themselves in all parts of family life, where all children are treated with dignity and respect, and where parents work to meet their children's individual needs.
You do not need to identify as LGBTQ yourself to be an affirming family for an LGBTQ youth!