Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Colorado

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.31; 2509-8, § 7.708.2

Foster parents shall be recruited who demonstrate a genuine interest in and knowledge of children and a concern for their proper care and well-being.

The county department of human/social services must verify that the individual is lawfully present in the United States.

The family foster care home parents shall be able to provide for a foster child's proper physical, mental, and character development.

Applicants shall demonstrate stability in family relationships, possess basic knowledge of child care and good nutrition, and shall cooperate with the licensing agency in programs designed to increase such knowledge.

Licenses or certificates shall not be granted to applicants who are younger than age 21 on the date of application or who lack adequate physical stamina to care for children.

Foster parents shall protect foster children from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Smoking is prohibited inside the foster home or in a foster parent's or substitute caregiver's motor vehicle at all times when a child is in placement.

The financial resources of foster parents shall be adequate to ensure that the home where the care is provided is maintained in safe repair and in conformity with standards and that the requirements of these regulations can be fulfilled.

Each foster parent shall have a health assessment within 1 year prior to certification or within 30 calendar days after certification and thereafter as required, in writing, by a licensed health-care professional. Children of the foster home parents and any other persons not placed by the agency and living in the home also shall obtain a medical statement from a licensed health-care professional verifying that each such person suffers from no illness or communicable disease that would adversely affect foster children in care.

Training Requirements

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.311

Prior to the placement of a child, initial training shall be provided through the statewide core curriculum, county department, or child placement agency. Each applicant shall complete 12 hours of core training. Core training shall include, at a minimum, the following 10 primary topic areas:

  • General overview of foster care
  • Administrative and legal issues
  • The reasons why children get placed in out-of-home care
  • Parenting and family dynamics
  • Key concepts of child growth and development
  • Importance of the team approach
  • Individual differences, such as ethnicity and culture
  • Discipline
  • Effects of fostering on the foster family
  • Working with the birth family

In addition to 27 hours of precertification training, which includes 12 hours of core training, each foster parent must be certified in first aid or the equivalent and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the ages of the children in placement.

The county department shall train foster parents how to determine whether to approve the child's or youth's participation in an extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, or social activity is consistent with the reasonable and prudent parent standard, based upon criteria in § 7.701.200 (12 CCR 2509-8).

Each applicant shall have 20 hours of ongoing training every year. The training shall be relevant to fostering of the children being served in the foster care home or kinship foster care home. If there are children in the home and training is not completed, no additional children shall be placed until training is complete. Children who are currently in placement shall not be disrupted due to this requirement.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-8, § 7.708.2

The following shall be required of all family foster care homes:

  • There shall be an outdoor play space free from hazards of at least 75 square feet per child.
  • The presence of firearms and ammunition is strongly discouraged.
  • At least 35 square feet of indoor space exclusive of halls, baths, and sleeping area shall be available for each child.
  • The home shall be equipped with refrigeration; adequate light, heat, and ventilation; and plumbing.
  • A comfortable bed or crib in a well-ventilated room that is not customarily used for other purposes, such as a kitchen, dining room, hall, or bathroom, shall be available for all children. There shall be a minimum of 40 square feet of floor space for each child's bed, and beds should be placed at least 2 feet apart.

The family foster care home must be located in an area that is accessible to health resources, public and private utilities, adequate and safe water supplies, sewage disposal, and fire and police protection. The home must comply with local zoning department requirements and be maintained in a clean and safe condition, free from hazards to health and safety.

Fire hazards, such as defective electrical appliances and electric cords, dangerous or defective heating equipment, or flammable material stored in such a manner as to create a risk of fire shall be corrected or eliminated. The home shall contain at least one Underwriters Laboratories (UL)-approved fire extinguisher, highly visible, easily accessible, and in working condition. A working smoke detector must be installed on each level of the family foster care home and near sleeping areas. Exit doors shall be clearly identified to all foster children. No lock or fastening to prevent free escape from the inside of any room used by the foster children shall be permitted.

The home shall have immediate access to a working telephone, and emergency numbers shall either be posted near the telephone or be immediately available.

Approval Process

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.2

A family assessment is conducted using the Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) instrument. The assessment shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Separate and joint interviews with the applicants, all adults residing in the home (both related and nonrelated to the applicant), and all children residing in the home regarding:
    • Social history/background, including childhood history, psychiatric history, occupational history, and marriage/domestic partner history
    • Personal characteristics of the family
    • Marital and domestic partner relationship
    • Motivation for child placement
    • An assessment as to how the child's special needs will impact the family and extended family
    • Extended family relationships
    • Physical and social environment
    • General and specialized parenting experience
  • Written statements from references
  • Health information
  • A review of existing agency case records for prior foster home certifications or denials
  • An assessment of the ability of the applicant to foster a child and to preserve continuity of the child's identity in a positive manner
  • An onsite inspection of the home to determine compliance with the rules and regulations for family foster homes

Prior to full certification of a family foster home, there shall be a review of a complete a background check for each adult living in the home that includes the following:

  • Child abuse/neglect records check in every State where the adult has resided in the 5 years preceding the date of application for each adult (age 18 and older) living in the home
  • A fingerprint-based criminal history check of State and Federal records
  • A comparison search on the Colorado State Courts Data Access, using the name and date of birth with available criminal history information for each adult living in the home, to determine any crime(s) for which an applicant or other adult resident was arrested or convicted

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Reg. 2509-6, § 7.500.312

The application shall be denied for one or more of the following reasons:

  • It has been determined that the applicant is not competent to operate a family foster home or is unable or unwilling to comply with the regulations within 3 months of application.
  • The applicant or a person who resides with the applicant has been determined to be insane or mentally incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction and the mental incompetency or insanity is of such degree that the applicant is incapable of operating a foster care home.
  • The applicant has been convicted of any of the crimes listed below:
    • Child abuse
    • A crime of violence
    • Any felony involving unlawful sexual behavior
    • Any felony act of domestic violence
    • Any felony involving physical assault, battery, or a drug-related/alcohol-related offense within the preceding 5 years
  • The applicant or a person who resides with the applicant has shown a pattern of misdemeanor convictions within the preceding 10 years.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-4, § 7.304.21

Kinship care services may be approved when the county department has not assumed legal authority for placement or taken legal custody of a child. The county department shall do the following:

  • Enable the family to make voluntary arrangements for temporary custody or guardianship by kin
  • Provide parents and kin caring for the child services to ensure the child's safety, well-being, and smooth transition back to the parent's home
  • When return to parent's home is not a viable option, provide services to kin to help to provide permanency for the child
  • Evaluate the noncertified kinship family addressing the areas of safety, parenting skills, potential for permanency, needs of the kinship family, a support system, strengths, and any other areas deemed necessary by the county department
  • Advise the kinship providers of the types of support available
  • Complete a background check for each adult (age 18 and older) living in the home

The background check shall include the following:

  • Child abuse and/or neglect records checks in every State where any adult residing in the home has lived in the preceding 5 years
  • Fingerprint-based criminal history record information checks from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Reviews of the State and national sex offender registries

When the county department has assumed legal authority for placement or has been granted legal custody of a child and out-of-home placement is necessary, the county department shall determine whether there are available and willing kin to provide care for the child. If kin are available and willing, the county department shall assess the suitability of kin in accordance with the foster care certification requirements found at §§ 7.500 and 7.708.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-6, § 7.500.351(1)

The single assessment completed on a foster family for foster care will be accepted for adoption. The worker will check the adoption box on the single application form and, if appropriate, write a brief update.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: 12 Colo. Code Regs. 2509-4, §§ 7.304.63; 7.307.52

All out-of-state placements for kinship, foster, group, or residential care must comply with the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC), section 7.307.

County departments must follow Federal guidelines and shall not place children out of State who are in care under a placement contract (voluntary placements). Such placements can only be made by a parent or guardian.

When Colorado is the receiving State of an ICPC Request for Placement, all such requests, except for nonpublic adoptive placement requests, shall be sent by the sending State to the Colorado Deputy Compact Administrator who shall forward the request packet to the correct county department or licensed child placement agency.

The county department staff or licensed child placement agency staff assigned to ICPC cases shall complete a home study within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request from the sending State.

Links to Resources

Colorado Department of Human Services Social Services Rules table of contents