Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Alaska
Who May Apply
Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.32.040
A person shall apply to the Department of Health and Social Services for a license to operate a foster home. The application must be made to the department on a form provided by the department or in a format approved by the department and must be accompanied by any fee established by regulation and the documents and information required by regulation.
Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.14.115
If the department has placed a child in a foster home, the department shall, no less often than once quarterly, make available training that will assist the foster parent or parents in providing care that will meet the needs of the child placed in the home and the requirements established by the department in regulation.
Minimum Standards for Foster Homes
Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, §§ 10.1005; 10.1080; 10.1085
Before deciding whether to issue a foster care license to a home, the department may inspect the home to determine whether the home is maintained in a manner protective of life, health, safety, and welfare with respect to the following:
- Bedrooms to provide 24-hour or overnight care
- Exits to the outside of the home
- Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers
- Storage and disposition of combustible waste material
- Portable heating mechanisms, if any
- Other applicable requirements of this chapter or another applicable statute or regulation
The foster parent shall ensure that any firearms are unloaded and stored in a locked gun safe or other locked place that is not visible or accessible to children in care and that ammunition is stored separately from the firearms.
Smoking in a foster home must be limited to outside the home or in a well-ventilated area away from the immediate living area and only after submitting a plan acceptable to the department that addresses how children in care will be protected from smoke. Any vehicle used to transport children must be smoke-free.
Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 56.550
The home study process must include at least the following:
- One face-to-face interview with all individuals living in the home
- One onsite home visit
- An assessment of the capabilities, willingness, and readiness of the prospective foster parent to properly parent a foster child
The agency shall obtain available information about the foster home applicants regarding the following:
- Their motivation for providing foster care
- The level of preparedness for foster care, including how the family responded to orientation and other preparation information
- Their physical, mental, emotional, and other health status
- The results of abuse, violence, and criminal background checks for all adults living in the home
- Their sensitivity to, and feelings about, different socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic groups in relation to the family's ability to properly parent a child in foster care and to assist in maintaining the cultural or ethnic identity of children from different backgrounds
- The behavior, background, special needs status, or other characteristics of a potential foster child that the family can and cannot accept and why and a discussion of the prospective foster parents' preparation, willingness, and ability to provide proper care for such a child
Child-placing workers responsible for the foster home study shall evaluate the information obtained during the study process and shall make specific recommendations about the family's capacity to work with children. The recommendations must address characteristics of children appropriate for placement in the foster home, including age, sex, special needs, and number of children.
Grounds for Withholding Approval
Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 10.905
If a criminal background check reveals that an applicant has been convicted of a barrier crime, as listed below, licensure for foster care will be denied.
The following are permanent barrier crimes, including the attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the following crimes:
- Domestic violence
- A felony that involves a victim who was younger than age 18
- Indecent exposure
- Endangering the welfare of a child or vulnerable adult
- Failure to register as a sex offender or child kidnapper
- Distribution of child pornography
- Sex trafficking
- Any sex offense
The following are 10-year barrier crimes:
- Theft, burglary, forgery, or fraud
- Criminal mischief
- Terroristic threatening
- Misconduct involving weapons or criminal possession of explosives
- Controlled substances violations
- Promoting prostitution
- Operating any vehicle while intoxicated by any substance if the person has had two or more convictions within the past 10 years
- Refusal to submit to a chemical test if the person has had two or more convictions within the past 10 years
The following are 5-year barrier crimes:
- Fourth-degree assault
- Reckless endangerment
- Custodial interference
- Criminal nonsupport
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Failure to report a violent crime committed against a child
- Cruelty to animals
- Disorderly conduct
- Misconduct involving a controlled substance
The following are 3-year barrier crimes:
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal mischief
- Violating a protective order
- Interfering with a report of a crime involving domestic violence
If a person also is subject to Federal criminal history check requirements, and the Federal standards, including standards related to civil findings, are more stringent than those set out in this section, the Federal standards apply.
Kinship Foster Care
Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.14.100; Admin. Code Tit. 7, § 50.055
When a child must be placed in out-of-home care, the placement shall be with, in the following order of preference:
- An adult family member
- A family friend who meets the foster care licensing requirements established by the department
- A licensed foster home that is not an adult family member or family friend
- An institution for children that has a program suitable to meet the child's needs
The term 'family friend' includes, in the case of an Indian child, a member of the Indian child's Tribe, a member of the Tribe in which the child's biological parent is a member, and another Indian family member.
To determine whether the home of a relative meets the requirements for placement of a child, the department shall conduct a criminal background check from State and national criminal justice information. The department may conduct a fingerprint background check on any member of the relative's household who is age 16 or older when the relative requests placement of the child.
Evidence of good cause not to place a child with an adult family member or family friend includes the failure to meet the requirements for a foster care license. Poverty or inadequate or crowded housing do not constitute good cause.
In regulation: An abbreviated procedure may be applied in granting a variance for a requirement contained in this chapter for a foster home headed by a relative of a child. This procedure applies only for the specific relative child or children. If a different relative or a nonrelative child is to be received in the home, any variance granted must be reviewed and approved by the division.
In evaluating a relative applicant for a license, the licensing representative will discuss with the applicant and document any recommended variance from a requirement. The supervisor will review the evaluation to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the child is protected and, if approved, will forward the license for issuance under regular procedures.
Foster to Adopt
This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.
Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.70.010
Placement of a foster child outside the State of Alaska is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
Links to Resources
Office of Children's Services, Requirements to Becoming a Foster Parent