What is foster care?
Foster care is the temporary placement of children into homes when the state has decided they are unable to remain in the care and custody of their biological parents due to safety concerns. Currently in Arizona there are around 13,000 children in the foster care system. Arizona is in need of caring, responsible adults who are willing to volunteer to become foster parents. Hope Community Services (HCS) is contracted to license and monitor foster, adopt, and kinship homes. For more information on how to become a foster parent, please see requirements and steps below.
Basic Requirements to Become a Foster Parent
- At least 21 or older (18 for adoption, see adoption page)
- Legal U.S. citizen and Arizona resident
- Obtain a Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card
How to Become a Foster Parent
Step 1: Attend an orientation
- The orientation is an information session for potential foster, adopt, and kinship parents to learn more about what it means to be a resource parent.
- You can view the 5 part orientation online at the following link: https://dcs.az.gov/fosteradoption/steps-becoming-foster-parent
Step 2: Complete an intake
- The HCS Intake Specialist will begin the paperwork with you to start the process. This may include:
- Assisting you in applying for a Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card
- Collecting documents from you like your driver’s license, marriage licenses, biological child(ren)’s immunization records, car insurance, etc.
- The HCS Intake Specialist will also assist you in signing up for training classes (step 3).
Step 3: Complete training classes
- Pre-Service training is a state required training in order to become a foster parent.
- This training is to help prospective foster and adoptive parents decide if they want to continue the process.
- Parents assess their parenting skills, their ability to partner with DCS, biological parents, and other providers in the best interest of the child, as well as their ability to care for the safety and well-being of children placed in their home.
- There are ten classes in total (see our training page for the schedule).
Step 4: Home Study
- As you complete training and turn in all assignments as well as all necessary documentation, you will begin the home study process.
- This consists of several interviews with you and your household members in order for HCS staff to make a recommendation to the state. Some of the elements of the Home Study consists of:
- Determinability of physical, mental, and emotional strengths related to caring for children
- Obtaining references
- Verifying financial stability
- Verifying safe and secure living environment
- Verifying a clean criminal history and DCS records check
- The Office of Licensing and Regulation will make the final determination on whether or not to license a family.
Step 5: Placement
- Once a family is officially licensed for foster care, HCS will add the family to the open beds list for DCS to place a child in the home
HCS Foster Care Support Services
HCS follows the state standards in providing home visits to families. Licensing Specialists will make visits to the family’s home to complete the following:
- Provide support and resources to the family
- Ensure the family is complying with all licensing rules
- Ensure the safety of the child(ren) placed in the home
HCS and the resource parents collaborate to host a monthly support group. This group is a time for resource parents to expand their support network and receive additional support from their peers. The group also has guest speakers and trainers to help provide additional resources. HCS offers child care for resource parents to attend this group.
HCS has experienced foster parents volunteer to answer a hotline for extra support to resources parents after hours. This can include resources, guidance, and support. Families are still encouraged to contact their HCS Licensing Specialist for issues regarding their license.
HCS hosts several free events for foster, adopt, and kinship families throughout the year including a BBQ Cook Off Event, a Back to School Ice Cream Social, a Trunk or Treat, and a Holiday Party. These events are to help build a supportive community among HCS and resource parents.
HCS offers resource families the opportunity to receive free items for children placed in their home. HCS receives donations of toys, clothes, diapers, hygiene products, books, and blankets from the community that are available for resource families during regular business hours.