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How to Prepare for a Foster Care Home Study in 3 Steps

Your Foster Care Home Study Checklist

As a hopeful family planning to foster, adopt or foster-to-adopt, you will first have to complete a foster care home study.

Although a home study can seem overwhelming, our agency can help you pass with flying colors in three steps.

The foster care requirements vary by state for potential parents, so be sure you know your state’s laws before proceeding. This foster care home study checklist provides general information to help you plan for your family-building future.

If you have more specific questions about getting your home ready for foster care, then you can get free information online now. You can also call 1-800-ADOPTION today and speak with an adoption specialist. If you are ready to begin your home study, click your state below to learn more about the services American Adoptions offers.

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Read This Before You Start the Foster Care Home Study Checklist

Although American Adoptions does not complete foster care adoptions, we know a lot about the process and understand the importance of giving waiting children a safe home and loving family.

The first step in every adoption process, including foster care adoption, is determining that it is truly the right path for you.

You’ll need to evaluate your own goals and preferences and compare them to each adoption path to find the one that works best.

How do you know if the foster care adoption is right for you? You can reach out to our trusted specialists to discuss your needs. They will be happy to give you the information and resources you need to decide.

Here are a few common reasons why people choose the foster-to-adopt process:

  • They want to adopt a child quickly

  • They are comfortable adopting an older child, a sibling group, or a child with disabilities

  • They want a more affordable adoption process

In your state’s foster application, you’ll also indicate your preferences for the adoption, such as the age range of children you’re willing to adopt. This information will help your social worker create a parent profile for you.

How to Complete a Foster Care Home Study

Following pre-approval training and CPR certification, hopeful parents will complete the criminal and employment background forms.

As for the foster care home study, this process is exactly like it would be for a private adoption home study. The social worker will look for things like:

  • Cleanliness and safety of the house

  • Whether the family can afford to raise a child

  • Commitment and eagerness to adopt

They will also interview all adults living in the home. Although some hopeful families feel nervous about the home study, your social worker is just making sure that you’re as prepared as possible.

Let’s take a deeper look at what you may expect to achieve on your foster care home study checklist:

Step 1: Collect Necessary Documents for Your Foster Care Home Study

As we mentioned above, each state has different laws for home study processes and requirements. Factors such as hopeful parents’ ages and marital status may affect your decision to begin your foster care home study, which is why research is crucial.

A foster care home study may worry some hopeful families because they might feel invasive. The standard factors social workers look at are your:

  • Finances

  • Health and family history

  • Proof of income

  • Parenting styles

  • Background checks

With over 400,000 children waiting for their forever home right now, the goal of a foster care home study is to ensure that you can provide a safe and loving home for a child.

Other documents social workers will ask for include the following:

  • Birth certificates

  • Marriage licenses or divorce decrees (if applicable)

  • Social security numbers

  • Driver’s licenses

  • Reference letters

  • Income tax returns

  • Up-to-date health statements

Reference letters are critical for your foster care home study. These allow your social worker to know more about you from outside perspectives.

Consider asking for testimonials from:

  • Close friends

  • A boss or supervisor

  • Neighbors

  • Coworkers

  • Fellow churchgoers (if applicable)

Some states require you to provide a list of references, while others ask you to present letters. It doesn’t hurt to have these prepared either way with their contact information. Letter formatting may also vary by state.

Step 2: Prepare for the Foster Care Home Study Inspection

Before the inspection, you can ask for a home visit checklist. The more prepared you are, the more at ease you should feel.

As a reminder, the checklist varies from state to state, but here are some common items:

  • Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Covered electrical outlets

  • Properly locked windows and doors

  • Gated stairs and secure rails

  • Clean home

  • Prepared first aid kit within reach

  • And more

Step 3: Practice for the Foster Care Home Study Interviews

The foster care home study interviews are similar to job interviews. You can prepare for them ahead of time and think about how you’ll answer the questions.

You can read over the list of commonly asked questions. Your social worker can tell if you’ve taken time to review questions and put together thoughtful responses.

Above all, practice makes perfect.

You can even spend time role-playing with your partner or a friend. There are a lot of families who have benefited from writing down their responses and repeating them.

You can expect home study questions like:

  • What do you do for a living?

  • What are some of your hobbies?

  • What are your hopes for your child?

  • Why do you want to adopt?

  • How did you meet your spouse/partner?

From there, if your social worker determines you are ready to raise a child, you will have completed the foster care home study.

What Happens After Your Foster Care Home Study

Once your home study is approved, your foster child adoption process will continue with the most crucial step: finding a waiting child.

If your social worker finds an adoption opportunity that meets your preferences, they’ll let you know.

Depending on your adoption preferences and needs, your waiting time will vary. But, after you have found the right placement, you’ll undergo a finalization hearing, just as you would with a private adoption.

You’ll go to a local court where the judge will ask you a few questions, and then they’ll sign the finalization decree. Once that’s signed, the adoption is official.


You can learn more about your specific state’s laws and policies on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. 

If you have more specific questions about getting your home ready for foster care, then you can get free information online or when you call 1-800-ADOPTION today and speak with an adoption specialist.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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