How to Become a Foster Parent in Pennsylvania

Foster care is the placement, usually temporary, of children in a home with a non-family-related person in order to protect them from neglect or abuse. A foster parent is an individual who cares for these children but does not have custody of them. All foster parents in the United States must be over the age of 21; pass a criminal background check; prove income, character and home-safety stability; and undergo a home study/assessment. There are additional requirements in the state of Pennsylvania in order to become a foster parent 1.

Attend foster-parent training. In Pennsylvania, the training is approximately 24 hours or more. Attend classes on parenting different age groups that include information on child development, effective discipline, improving self-esteem and understanding child/parent conflict. Contact: The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program 403 East Winding Hill Road Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 717-795-9048

Undergo the proper background checks. In Pennsylvania, this includes a state criminal-background check, federal criminal-history-record check, certification from any state of residence for the past five years clearing you of any child abuse, and registration in the state’s childline registry.

Have your physician perform a physical examination that includes a tuberculosis test and provide written verification to the state of the physical examination and any test results.

Obtain reference letters about your personal character, the nature of your family (if applicable) and your financial and emotional stability from nonfamily members. Get at least three references.

Work with the state to arrange a safety check of your home to determine that it is safe for foster children. Contact: Bureau of Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Services P.O. Box 2675 Harrisburg PA 17105-2675 717-787-9532

Work with a social worker assigned to you by the state to have a written family profile created to establish your ability to provide a stable and nurturing foster-care environment.