Do I Qualify

Foster care is a system in which a child is placed in the temporary custody of a state-licensed caregiver, known as a foster parent. The foster parent provides the child with a safe and nurturing home environment until the child can be reunited with their birth family or, if that is not possible, adopted by a permanent family.

The most important qualification for a foster parent is a loving and patient heart! But to ensure the safety of our foster children, Youth Villages has some simple requirements to make sure the home is appropriate.

To qualify as a foster home, you must meet many standards. You must be able to provide a safe and loving home for children who need it, and you must be able to pass a rigorous background check. This process can seem daunting, but it’s worth it if you’re interested in helping a child in need.

Eligibility Requirements for Foster Parents

To become a foster parent, you must first meet the requirements set forth by your state’s foster care system. You must be at least 21 years of age, have a stable income, and pass a criminal background check. You will also need to complete several hours of training on child development and the foster care system. Once you have met all the requirements, you can apply to become a licensed foster parent. Foster parents must complete a rigorous application process and undergo regular home inspections. They must also participate in training courses and meet all state licensing requirements.

Youth Villages foster parents must live in Tennessee and meet these simple eligibility requirements:

  • Be legally employed or have verifiable monthly income above the poverty line
  • Be single or legally married for at least one year or co-habitating for at least 3 years
  • Have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance
  • Have a current driver license, reliable transportation, and car insurance
  • Be at least 25 years of age
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Be tolerant of differences in racial, ethnic, religious and educational backgrounds

Once you are deemed eligible, you will have to complete a training course and an in-home interview before you are certified to receive a foster child.

Eligibility Requirements for Your Home

Youth Villages foster children must be placed in safe and comfortable environments where they can best complete their healing. Homes must be:

  • Generally clean and in good repair.
  • Adequately furnished.
  • Have a medication lock box, and the box must be under a second lock. (All medications for the child and family must be kept in the lock box.)
  • Have an A-B-C rated fire extinguisher (at least 2 pounds)
  • Have a hot water heater equipped with a safety release valve
  • Not contain a licensed day home or daycare center
  • Not be home to more than four minor children or more than two children under the age of 2
  • Equipped with a land–line telephone or a mobile phone that stays in the home at all times
Eligibility Requirements for the Child’s Room

Foster children need adequate space they can call their own. That means either their own room or a room shared with child of the same gender and similar age.

  • The child must have his or her own bed.
  • The child should have adequate space to keep his or her belongings (closet, drawers, etc.)
  • The child’s room must have a smoke detector in the room or in an adjacent hallway.
  • The child’s bedroom may not be above the third floor.
  • The child’s bedroom must have two exits: a door to the hallway and a window that opens. The window must not be barred or be painted or nailed shut.
The In-Home Interview

The job of a foster parent is to provide a safe home that meets children’s needs until they can go to a permanent home. They have round-the-clock close contact with very vulnerable children, so Youth Villages completes a home study to ensure the health and safety of children. Some things we’ll ask include:

  • Autobiographical Questions – Youth Villages’ staff ask questions to learn about the foster parents’ personalities, what growing up was like for them, how they were parented, and how they make decisions. This will include information about marriages and divorces and descriptions of children
  • Income Questions – Foster parents must have enough income to meet the family’s needs. Foster care reimbursements from Youth Villages are to support the child, not to provide income for the foster family.
  • Health Questions – Foster parents must be sufficiently healthy to meet the needs of the child being placed in the home.
  • Family Impact Questions – How will a foster child will affect a family.
  • Safety Questions – Does your house and the child’s room meet requirements?
What Are a Parent's Rights When a Child Is in Foster Care?

When a child is placed in foster care, their parents’ rights are suspended. That means the foster parent has the legal authority to make decisions about the child’s care, including medical treatment, schooling, and religious upbringing. While this can be difficult for parents to accept, it is usually in the child’s best interests. By placing the child in foster care, they will have access to stability and resources they might not otherwise have. Additionally, the foster parent can provide individualized attention and care.

What Is the Foster Care Process?

The foster care process begins when a child is determined to be unable to remain in their current home due to abuse, neglect, or other circumstances. A caseworker will then work with the child’s family to determine if the child can be safely placed with another relative or family friend. If not, the child will be placed in the foster care system.

At What Age Does a Child "Age Out" of Foster Care?

In the United States, the average age of a foster child is 8.5 years old. However, there are also many older children in foster care, with 12% of the foster care population between the ages of 13 and 18. These older children are often called “aging out” of the foster care system. When a child ages out of foster care, they are no longer eligible to receive certain benefits, such as financial assistance or housing. In addition, they may also face criticism from their peers and adults for being in foster care. As a result, aging out of foster care can be difficult for many young adults.

Fortunately, there are now many programs and organizations dedicated to helping youth make a successful transition to adulthood. With the right support, aging out of foster care can be a positive experience.