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What are the steps to becoming a foster parent?

You can complete the initial application online, and Heartfelt Calling will follow up with you to explain some of the additional requirements of the licensing process.

Or, you can call Heartfelt Calling at 1-888-828-3555. Heartfelt Calling staff will complete a 3 page initial application over the phone and review some of the additional requirements of the licensing process with you.

What are the qualifications for becoming a foster parent?

In order to become a foster parent, a person must be committed and devoted to providing a safe, nurturing, and temporary home for children in care. Additional qualifications include cleared criminal background checks as well as cleared medical reports from the family physician

Who are the children in foster care?

Children in foster care are typically children of different ages and ethnicities who come from neglectful and / or abusive homes.

Will I be able to keep my job if I am a foster parent?

Yes. It is very common for foster parents to balance work and parenting children who are in their care.

Is there financial support for the child I am fostering?

Foster parents receive a monthly board rate stipend for each foster child placed in their home. The board rate stipends vary depending on the age of the child and the special needs of the child. Foster children should receive medical insurance through Medicaid and a clothing allowance.

Are there other foster parents I can contact for advice and support?

The SC Foster Parent Association lists local associations on its website, click here for more information. The SC Foster Parent Association will can link you with another foster parent for support or you can connect with other foster parents at local association meetings that are held monthly throughout the state.

What is respite care?

Respite care is a support offered to foster parents; it is a temporary “break” from caring for a foster child during which short-term placement with another licensed foster parent is arranged for the child. Respite arrangements vary based on the needs of the foster child and foster parent.

What is the licensing process like?

The process can be relatively easy, especially when potential foster parents are devoted to cooperating with the agency to complete all of the necessary licensing requirements in a timely manner. 

Licensing requirements include:
• Completed application
• Completed required training.
• Criminal background check, finger printing & check of the Central Registry of Abuse & Neglect for all household members 18 years & older
• Completed sex offender registry check for household members 12 years & older
• Enough bedrooms in the home to accommodate children in foster care
• Completed home study
• Personal references, financial information & medical reports for family members
• Successful fire, health & sanitation & lead inspections of the home


What kind of training do I need?

Potential foster parents are required to complete “Pre-Service” training. This training is offered through the SC Foster Parent Association and must be completed as part of the licensure process. This training provides potential foster parents with information regarding the roles of foster parents and others involved in the child welfare system; it provides information about what is required of foster parents in order to care for foster children.

May I take a foster child in my home and then adopt him or her?

Foster care is temporary care. The goal is to reunite the child with birth parents or relatives whenever possible and child welfare professionals depend upon foster parents to assist in this process. If the child becomes available for adoption, foster parents may apply to adopt. The child’s best interest is the primary consideration when selecting a forever family.

How long do you typically have a child?

There is not a specific length of time that a child remains in foster care. Every family situation is different and some families are able to demonstrate behavior change and remedy the situations that resulted in foster care placement sooner than others. In some situations, family members are located and assessed for placement within a short time frame so that children can live with family members during the rehabilitation process.

Does the child go to school in the area in which I am zoned or the school they are currently attending?

Typically, a foster child will attend the school in the area where the foster home is zoned. In some circumstances, the foster parent may be asked to help maintain the child in the school they already attend. For instance, if a child enters foster care during the last week of school or during the week of mid-term exams, it would be advantageous if the child could remain in their home school. These circumstances are discussed with foster parents during the selection process so that the foster parent can make an informed decision regarding their commitment.

What resources are available to make the transition easier for the child?

Families are engaged in Family Team Meetings and Family Group Conferences so that we can learn as much as we can about each child, enabling us to meet the child’s needs in the best manner possible. Foster parents may be included in these processes so that they can learn about the child in their care. Resources such as counseling services and educational support are available to each child in foster care. Each child, through the Medicaid program, is assigned to a primary care physician that is available for consultation and support. DSS provides support to foster parents, children, and birth families by making necessary referrals to community services as needed.

What is the best way for my biological children to welcome a foster child in our home?

Foster parents should have discussions with their biological children about the expectations of fostering a child prior to taking a foster child into the home. This will certainly help prepare your biological children to be more understanding and accepting of a foster child. It will also help them understand that foster care is temporary, which may be a relief to biological children in some circumstances.

What are the different types of foster homes?

A potential foster parent can be licensed for children at a regular level of care or at a therapeutic level of care. Most potential foster parents become licensed through private agencies; however, DSS is an option under some circumstances.

Can I foster only a specific age or need child?

Yes, foster parents can express their preferences in regards to the children they feel more comfortable in fostering; however, the agency encourages foster parents to keep an open mind as all foster children deserve a safe and loving home. The preferences of foster parents are acknowledged during the selection process.

Can people receiving public assistance become a foster parent?

The agency requires proof of income for all potential foster parents in order to verify that they are financially independent and able to meet the needs of a foster child. There are many types of public assistance payments and the eligibility criteria varies for each type. DSS evaluates the financial circumstances, including public assistance received, of each foster parent applicant thoroughly in order to determine if the applicant can complete the licensure process.

Can I foster a relative?

Generally, relatives are encouraged to serve as Kinship Caregivers. Kinship Caregivers also have the option of becoming licensed but this is not a requirement.

Is a child's background available to foster parents?

Any information such as medical, educational, behavioral history that is essential to the child’s well-being should be shared with a foster parent.

Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.