When children in Indiana are at risk for abuse or neglect, or their biological parents are unable or unwilling to care for them, foster parents play an important role. Foster parents not only provide basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, but also offer a safe and secure environment for children. Indiana residents who wish to provide foster care for children can apply for a license either through the Department of Child Services or through an independent licensing agency.
Meet the eligibility requirements. Foster parents in Indiana must be at least 21 years old, financially stable and own or rent a home that meets the safety standards established by the Department of Children Services (DCS). Also, you and anyone over the age of 14 living in your home must undergo a criminal background check.
Attend an orientation. In some counties, orientation is offered on a regular basis, while in others, you can call the local DCS or placement agency office to schedule an individual meeting.
Submit an application. The application includes information about you and the other people living in your home. You will need to provide four personal references with the application.
Participate in a home study visit. A representative from the DCS will visit your home and interview you and other family members.
Have a home inspection. A DCS or agency representative will make sure that your home meets safety standards and fire codes, and has enough space to accommodate foster children. If you have well water, it must be tested for contaminants.
Take a physical exam. The exam will make sure that you do not have any physical ailments that could prevent you from fulfilling your role as a foster parent. You will also need to have a tuberculosis test.
Undergo first aid, CPR and disease-prevention training. You must be certified in these areas to be a licensed foster parent.
Complete the mandatory state foster parent training course. This course runs a minimum of 20 hours for a standard license in Indiana. If you wish to provide foster care for children with particular issues, additional training is required. Training is offered regularly by the state and by placement agencies; your case worker can direct you to the appropriate site.
Complete mandatory re-certification training each year after you get your license. The number of training hours required depends on your type of license; in most cases, you will need an additional 20 to 30 hours of training per year to maintain your license.
The process of becoming a foster parent can take anywhere from four weeks to six months. The length of the process depends on how often orientation and training sessions are offered in your area, and how long it takes you to fill out and submit the required paperwork. If you are married or living with a partner, they are also required to go through the same application and training process.