Ways & How

How to Become a Foster Parent in Tennessee

How to Become a Foster Parent in Tennessee

Foster homes, or resource homes, are for children who belong to families that are unable or unwilling to provide them with a stable and secure environment. In the state of Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services is responsible for temporarily placing these children so that their physical, emotional, and social needs can be met. In many cases, the relatives of children who are entered into the foster care system make excellent foster parents and are preferred over non-relative caregivers. Everyone who wants to apply to become a foster parent must meet certain criteria to become approved, whether related or not to the child being placed. State supports are the same for both relative and non-relative resource parents. If you are interested in opening your home for child placement, here’s how to become a foster parent in Tennessee:

  1. The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) recruits foster families who are willing to provide care and support to foster children. There are several requirements for those who want to apply as resource homes, such as having room in the home and in daily life, giving without the expectation of immediate returns, and the willingness to love and care for children with problems.



    Resource parents should be able to learn and use proven behavioral management skills.

  2. Resource parents or foster parents can be single or married; they may or may not have children of their own. Only adults (21 years old and above) can be considered for foster parenting. He or she must be in sufficient good health and be either a homeowner or a renter. Being employed is not necessary, but the state should be able to observe a financial capability to meet one’s own needs first.

  3. If you meet all of the requirements set out in #1 and #2, then you can present yourself for consideration as a foster parent. Call 1-877-DCS-KIDS so that your pre-qualification process can be started.

  4. The DCS will then assign a case manager that will handle the evaluation process to determine your suitability to become a foster parent. Application forms will be sent through the mail and you will be asked to truthfully and completely fill them in.

  5. Aside from the necessary paperwork, prospective foster parents are also required to provide five valid character references. They will also be fingerprinted and subjected to a complete background check.

  6. Once the references and the background check are done, the prospective foster parents undergo a 23-hour pre-training service program called PATH (Parents as Tender Healers). PATH aims to orient the parents about the various aspects of foster parenting and advises them of their rights and responsibilities.

  7. The assigned DCS case manager then performs a final evaluation to check that the foster parent is ready for child placement. Several home inspections may also be conducted to prove the foster parents’ capability to provide a good environment for any children placed in their care.

  8. Prior to child placement, the foster family must agree to a home study to ensure that their home environment is a desirable one. In Tennessee, there are also some private agencies that may be tasked to conduct the home study. These private training agencies must meet the guidelines and criteria set out by the DCS.

  9. The needed home study largely depends on the circumstances of the child being placed. For example, resource parents who will be assigned to medically fragile foster children requiring special attention have to be prepared to meet these needs.

  10. After a prospective foster parent has been granted approval, he or she will be matched for child placement.

Individuals who are interested in finding out more about how to become a foster parent in Tennessee can call the DCS for more specific information. Before you do, however, make sure that you fully understand the responsibilities involved and are truly willing to open your heart and home to a child who will be handed over to your care.

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