Join a Child’s Village!
There are over 4,500 children in foster care in the St. Louis region. A child begins their journey in foster care when abuse or neglect is reported to the Children’s Division. Every child’s story is unique, but the common thread lies in their shared desire to experience healthy attachment.
As a caregiver, you have the life-changing opportunity to care for a child(ren) in desperate need of security, stability, and safety. The process may seem daunting, but rest assured, the Coalition is here to support you every step of the way. We prioritize making your journey to fostering as seamless as possible.
We are actively seeking compassionate caregivers who are open to providing a nurturing home for children from diverse backgrounds, including Black children, children with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ children, and sibling groups.
Requirements for Becoming a Foster Parent
- You must be at least 21 years of age
- Free of child abuse/neglect or criminal history
- Employed or have adequate income
- With or without biological children
- Able to accommodate additional children in your home
- Willing to attend a 9-13 week training program
- Willing to participate in a home study
- Willing to provide personal, employer, and medical references
- Complete a financial verification form
- Able to purchase items required for licensing, such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, beds, etc
The Journey to Becoming a Licensed Foster Parent
It typically takes four to six months to become a licensed parent, but having a license does not guarantee an immediate placement. Well-trained, competent families are needed, so there is an in-depth training and home-study process to complete.
If you’re ready to begin the journey to becoming a licensed foster parent, participate in a short screening process so you can be referred to begin the licensing assessment process. You will need to complete an application and have an initial visit at your home with a Family Development Specialist. The goal of the home visit is to meet you, answer questions, and do a safety check (licensed homes must meet physical standards). Don’t panic! This isn’t the white glove test. They are looking for safety, cleanliness, and good repair of furnishings. If there are a few things you need to do to get your home ready, that will be explained, and you’ll have ample time to meet requirements. Four basics that will be discussed at an initial visit:
- You must meet licensing/training requirements. State policy and training expectations will be discussed in order to address any concerns or questions regarding the ability to meet those requirements.
- Your family must have sufficient income to meet its needs. You do not have to be wealthy. Most foster/adoptive families have modest incomes but manage their finances well.
- Your family life should be stable. You should not be in the midst of a divorce, a move, or any other major change or crisis. Discuss any marital or family situations with the Family Development Specialist.
- You must agree to a background screening. Each adult in the prospective foster or adoptive family/household (age 17+) is subject to screening for child abuse/neglect history and criminal history. Having a criminal record does not automatically mean you cannot foster or adopt. The seriousness and nature of the offense and when it occurred will be considered. It is very important for you to be honest and share information with the Family Development Specialist.
If your home is suitable, your family is meeting its own financial needs, and there are no concerns about background screening or family status, you are ready to begin training. When it is clear that a family has problems in one or more of the above-mentioned basics, the agency will be honest and tell you that it is not possible to proceed into training at this time. This is called “selecting out”. Families can be reconsidered if circumstances change or improve. STARS is a mutual selection process. Families may select themselves out of the process at any time.
If you meet the basic requirements for becoming a foster/adoptive parent, take the next step and review the Informational Packets for Missouri and Illinois prospective parents, and watch the “Removed” film. Click on the links below to see these packets.
What’s the difference between foster care and adoption?
Foster care is a temporary arrangement until a child can either be reunified with their birth family or placed with a permanent caregiver if reunification is not possible. Adoption is making a life long commitment to a child.
Do I have to be married?
You do not have to be married. You can be single, divorced, legally separated, or in a committed relationship.
How long does it take to become a foster or adoptive parent?
It takes four to six months to become a licensed foster or adoptive parent, although having a license does not guarantee an immediate placement. Well-trained, competent families are needed, so there is an in-depth training program and home-study process to complete.
Why do we need training?
Fostering and adopting is not the same as parenting a child born to you. Over time, you will need to talk with the child about his/her birth family or help the child manage his/her feelings. The training provided helps you understand the unique needs of children in care and it will prepare you to help your children.
How do children cope with leaving their biological family, even if they might have hurt them?
Some think that kids who have been abused will be grateful to be “rescued” and placed with another family. However, most kids really love and care about their birth families and want to return to their care. Even if they were abused, there were probably good times, too. One of the biggest challenges these children face is feeling that they have to “choose” or that one family is “better” than another. It takes patience, skill and training to help children understand that it is OK to care about all of our families and that families can be different.
What does it cost to foster or adopt?
There is no fee associated with foster or adoptive care. You may have to purchase items such as a fire extinguisher or pay for your doctor visit in order to become licensed to foster or approved as an adoptive family. There are also many resources to help cover certain costs. Foster parents receive a monthly payment to help cover the cost of the child’s food, clothing and personal allowance. Adopted children also qualify for an adoption subsidy. This allows for continued support from the State, even after the adoption is finalized.
Do I have to own my home?
No. Foster parents may own, rent, or be in the process of buying a home, condo, or apartment. Families who rent must have their landlord’s permission to become foster parents. Your local municipality may also require an occupancy permit.
As a foster parent, do I have a say as to which child is placed in my home?
Yes. Foster parents specify the race, age, gender, and number of children they wish to care for. You have the option to decline a placement.
Can I become a foster parent if I’m LGBTQ?
Yes. Per Missouri Children’s Division policy, “a license will be issued to either married couples or a single individual. Only one license can be issued per household, so the license will be in one adult’s name. All adults in the household who will have child care responsibility will be required to attend state approved foster parent training. Personal information elicited during the home study include: Lifestyles and practices, including sexual orientation of the foster parent(s).” In Illinois, licensing standards say that licensees shall be either a single person or two persons in a marriage or civil union with each other.
Are there income requirements for foster parents?
No, but traditional foster parents need to have enough income to meet their own family’s needs. Foster parents receive monthly assistance. However, the first check will not come until a month or so after the child is placed in the home, so foster parents need adequate money in their budget to support their families and the new child/children until the reimbursement arrives. The reimbursement amounts vary with the age of the child and whether or not there are special medical or behavioral needs. Individuals receiving public assistance or who are on small or fixed incomes generally find it difficult to foster. This could cause hardships for some families and is considered on a case by case basis.
What have children being placed in my home gone through?
Children in foster care have often been abused, neglected and exposed to domestic violence, substance abuse and community violence. They also face stressors of being removed from home. They have complex trauma histories and related emotional and behavioral problems. In addition, some children have special medical, physical and developmental needs present since birth or as a result of the trauma.
Myths About Foster Care
- All foster children remain in State care forever. Most children enter foster care because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. If the problems leading to placement are solved, children may be returned home. If not, children may become free for adoption. Children in state care range in age from birth to 18 and have various backgrounds.
- There is a set limit for how long a foster child may stay in my home. There is no set length for a foster placement. It depends on the circumstances of the child and their birth family. When a child is placed in your home, there may be an estimated length of time the child is expected to stay.
- I do not have a say in which child is placed in my home. Foster and adoptive parents specify the race, age, gender, and number of children they wish to care for. You have the option to decline a placement. However, state requirements may limit those preferences.
- Once I become a foster parent, the rest is up to me. When a child is placed in your home as a foster or adoptive placement, you receive a monthly reimbursement for expenses you will incur. The reimbursement depends upon the child’s age and the number of foster children in the home. Medical and dental insurance are provided by the state. A yearly clothing allowance and transportation reimbursement is also available. If counseling or therapy services are needed, the state also provides for those services. The Coalition offers support services to provide ongoing assistance to foster and adoptive families.
- I must own my home to foster or adopt a child. Foster and adoptive parents may own, rent, or be in the process of buying a home, apartment, or condo. Families who rent must have their landlord’s permission to become foster parents. Your local municipality may also require an occupancy permit.
- I cannot afford to care for an additional child. Foster parents receive a monthly payment to help cover the cost of the child’s food, clothing, and personal allowance. The amount varies with the age of the child and whether they have special medical or behavioral needs. Medical and dental insurance is covered by the state.
- Love will make everything better for the child that I foster. Due to their complex trauma histories and related emotional, behavioral, medical, physical, and/or developmental problems, love is important but not the only ingredient needed to meet their needs. Intensive training and ongoing support, in its various forms, are necessary in order to understand and meet the needs of each child placed in your home.
- As a foster parent, I am responsible for daycare expenses. Child care and after-school care are paid for by the state. The state pays the provider directly. Foster parents must be working and provide employment verification.