Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Alabama

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 38-7-3; 38-7-4; Admin. Code 660-5-29-.02

A person must be licensed by the Department of Human Resources to operate a foster family home.

In regulation: Foster parents shall be at least age 19. If the couple is related to the foster child, one spouse may be younger than age 19 if the other spouse is at least age 19. Foster parents may be single or married. If living together in a relationship, foster parents shall have been married for at least 1 year.

Foster parents shall be able to:

  • Read and write
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the needs of children
  • Give time and attention to the needs of children
  • Provide opportunities for the physical, mental, emotional, and social development of children in care

Foster parents shall be able to be:

  • Responsive to the changing needs of children
  • Flexible in expectations and attitudes toward children, including those from other cultures
  • Participants in any planning and delivery of services required for children in care

Foster parents shall have:

  • Income or resources to meet the needs of the foster family, basic household needs, and the additional needs of the foster children
  • Special approval by the approving agency for any adult roomers or boarders
  • A valid driver's license and motor vehicle insurance
  • Reliable, safe transportation when transporting foster children

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code 660-5-29-.02

All foster parents are required to:

  • Complete 30 hours of preparation/training as provided by the approving agency prior to being approved. Preparation/training shall consist of the following components:
    • Child development
    • Behavior management
    • The process of grief and loss
    • The dynamics of attachment and separation
    • The value of families
    • Individualized service plans
    • Identifying the strengths and needs of families and children
    • Behavior as an expression of underlying needs
    • The value of partnerships
    • How children enter the foster care system
    • Family implications among foster parents
    • Understanding and valuing cultural differences
  • Complete 15 hours of inservice training annually after being approved. This training may include, but is not limited to:
    • Child safety issues, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and pediatric and infant first aid
    • Crisis intervention/engaging families
    • Effects of multiple placements
    • Cultural sensitivity and responsive services
    • Significance of birth families
    • Substance abuse
    • Gang activity
    • Universal precautions and infection control
  • Obtain and maintain current CPR certification, including pediatric and infant first aid/CPR, if a pool is located on the property

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Ann. Code § 38-7-7; Admin. Code R. 660-5-29-03

The department shall prescribe and publish minimum standards for licensing and for approving foster care homes. The standards shall include regulations pertaining to the appropriateness, safety, cleanliness, and general adequacy of the premises, including maintenance of adequate fire prevention and health standards conforming to State laws and municipal codes to provide for the physical comfort, care, well-being, and safety of children.

In regulation: The home and grounds shall be maintained in a clean and safe condition.

  • A play space for indoor and outdoor activities will be provided.
  • The residence shall have a working telephone, electrical service, gas, comfortably regulated cooling and heating, adequate lighting, and a safe water supply.
  • Beds and mattresses shall be of size and quality to allow good sleeping posture.
  • Separate sleeping rooms shall be provided for children over age 6 who are of the opposite sex.
  • An adequate number of bedrooms shall be provided for all persons residing in the home.
  • Sanitary bathroom facilities that provide privacy shall be available for use by family members and foster children.
  • Nothing that constitutes a hazard is allowed on the property. There shall be appropriate safeguards against potential hazards.

Approval Process

Citation: Ann. Code § 38-7-4; Admin. Code R. 660-5-29-.02

Upon receiving an application, the department shall examine the premises of the foster family home and investigate the persons responsible for the care of children.

In regulation: Prior to approval, foster parents shall submit required medical information to establish their physical and emotional ability to provide the necessary supervision and guidance to foster children.

At the time of initial application, each applicant for a license and each adult household member shall provide contact information for at least three unrelated persons to serve as references.

The applicant shall obtain a clearance from the State Central Registry on Child Abuse/Neglect for each caregiver, substitute, volunteer, domestic worker, and any other person who has unsupervised contact with the children.

The applicant and each adult household member shall submit a request to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation for a criminal history background information check, accompanied by the following:

  • Two complete sets of fingerprints
  • Written consent from the applicant and each adult household member for the release of the criminal history background information to the department
  • The required fee
  • Identification verification of name, date of birth, race, sex, and Social Security number in the form of a photo identification from any government agency, such as a driver's license, nondriver's identification, or program participation card

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-29-.02

An application for a license shall be denied if the applicant, a household member, substitute caregiver, domestic worker, volunteer, or any other person who has contact with the children is determined to be of unsuitable character to work with children or to have contact with children.

Convictions for any of the following crimes shall make an applicant ineligible for licensure:

  • Murder, manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide
  • A sex crime, including incest, promoting prostitution, rape, sexual abuse, or child pornography
  • A crime that involves the physical or mental injury or maltreatment of a child, the elderly, or an individual with disabilities
  • A crime committed against a child
  • A crime involving the sale or distribution of a controlled substance
  • Robbery

A crime listed in the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act as prohibiting a person from being a foster or adoptive parent shall be deemed to make the convicted person unsuitable for employment, volunteer work, approval, or licensure as a foster or adoptive parent.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code § 38-7-5

Prior to the emergency licensing of foster homes, the department shall adhere to the settlement agreement reached in the R.C. v. Nachman lawsuit relating to preferential treatment for family members when placing children.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code R. 660-5-22-.03(10)(b), (11)

The department shall decide whether the foster home will be approved as the child's adoptive home based upon the following factors:

  • The child's attachment to the foster parents
  • The length of time the child has been in the home
  • The age of the child in relation to the age of the foster parents
  • The health and income of the foster parents
  • Involvement/interference from the birth family
  • The appropriateness of the foster home placement

The approved adoptive family must be issued a foster home approval for the particular child to be placed unless the resource is already an approved foster home.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 26-10A-35; 38-7-15

The person or agency bringing the child into the State to be adopted must first obtain the consent of the department. The department is authorized to designate an agency in the other State to interview the child's parent(s) to obtain social, background, and medical information about the child.

The department shall be authorized to make a thorough investigation of the proposed parents and their home to determine whether or not they are financially able, physically able, and morally fit to have the care, supervision, training, and control of the child.

If the child, subsequent to being brought into the State, becomes dependent, neglected, or delinquent prior to his or her adoption or becoming of legal age of majority, the child shall be subject to the laws of Alabama as if he or she were a resident child of the State.

Links to Resources

State regulations full text (PDF - 132 KB)