The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) oversees Ohio’s foster care system. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you must be licensed by ODJFS through your county public children services agency (PCSA) or a private agency certified by ODJFS to approve and recommend foster parents. ODJFS licensing staff inspect a sample of each agency’s foster homes periodically.
When a PCSA determines that a child can no longer live safely in his or her own home, a local court may give custody of the child to the agency, which then places him or her in a substitute care setting. Agencies typically first try to place the child with family members, family friends or neighbors. This is called kinship care. If kinship care is not an option, the agency will place the child in a licensed foster home. For more information about this process, click here.
Foster parents care for children until a court decides that they can return home safely or that they should be placed with adoptive parents or legal guardians. Foster parents often work directly with the child’s parents. They teach them skills and encourage them. They also are expected to be active and involved in the child’s case. This means attending court hearings, school meetings and functions; providing routine transportation for the child; and communicating regularly with caseworkers and service providers.
Most children return to their parents or another relative within a year, but sometimes it takes longer. By becoming a child’s foster parent, you agree to care for the child as long as necessary. Foster parents often continue to encourage and support the child and family after the child returns home.
Becoming a Foster Parent
Being a foster parent is a serious but rewarding commitment. To become a foster parent, you must meet all the requirements listed below. A caseworker will conduct a home study to make sure you are prepared to be a foster parent and meet all the general requirements. The caseworker also will identify your parenting strengths. You must complete pre-placement training as part of the home study process. Throughout your time as a foster parent, you will receive continued support and guidance from your caseworker and the child-placing agency.
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- At least one person in your home must be able to read, write and speak English, or be able to communicate effectively with both the child and the agency that placed the child in your home.
- You may be single or married.
- Your household must have enough income to meet the basic needs of the child and to make timely payment of shelter costs.
- You must be free of any physical, emotional or mental conditions that could endanger the child or seriously impair your ability to care for the child.
- A licensed physician, physician’s assistant, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife must complete and sign a medical statement for you and each member of your household. You can find the required form here .
- Everyone over 18 living in your house must never have been convicted of – or entered guilty pleas for – any offenses defined in Ohio Revised Code section 5103.0319. Some exclusions may be found in Ohio Administrative Code rule 5101:2-7-02 .
- A certified state fire safety inspector or the state fire marshal’s office must inspect your home and certify that it is free of hazardous conditions.
- You must complete all required pre-placement and continuing training.
Foster families receive subsidies to help meet children’s daily living needs. Contact your county agency for more information. Children in foster care are eligible for medical coverage through Medicaid.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, call (866) 886-3537 and select option 4, or visit your local PCSA or private agency. You can find a list of Ohio’s PCSAs by visiting http://www.pcsao.org/website_map.htm and clicking on “Contact PCSA.” You also can visit the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies’ website at http://www.oacca.org/directory.html for a list of private agencies.