Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Delaware

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Regs. 9 200 201, §§ 38; 39

An applicant for foster must demonstrate the following:

  • Emotional stability, good character, a responsible adult lifestyle, and freedom from abuse of alcohol or medications and freedom from use of any illegal drug
  • The ability to provide the child with nurturing care, supervision, reasonable positive behavior management, and a home-like environment that is free from domestic violence
  • The capacity for setting realistic expectations for a child's behavior and performance based on the child's age, ability, and special needs
  • A willingness and ability to discuss and deal appropriately with his or her own feelings of anger, frustration, sorrow, conflict, and affection, and those of others

The child-placing agency shall require an applicant to show evidence of a stable living arrangement for at least 1 year. Evidence may include length of relationship, a community connection, and support system.

The applicant must be at least age 21. The agency may make exceptions after documenting that a younger applicant would not endanger a child's health, safety, or well-being.

The applicant must have income to meet the household's needs and ensure the household's security and stability without the foster care payments.

An applicant and adult household members must be free of involvement in any criminal activity involving violence against a person; child abuse or neglect; sexual misconduct; possession, sale, or distribution of any illegal drug; gross irresponsibility or disregard for the safety of another; or any serious violation of accepted standards of honesty or ethical conduct.

The applicant must submit the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for four references. At least three of the references shall be from people not related to the applicant.

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Regs. 9 200 201, §§ 37.2; 44.8

An agency shall hold foster parent training to provide basic information to foster parent applicants. The agency shall document that the applicant attended and received training on the following topics:

  • The foster parent's role as a member of a team charged with responsibility for a child's care, education, and legal rights
  • Review of a placement packet/materials for a child
  • Involvement of a birth parent or guardian and other family member in a child's life
  • Safety procedures, including first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and the need for proper installation and safe use of a car seat
  • Regulations regarding a foster home's physical environment and steps necessary for compliance
  • Policies on religious participation and education
  • Cultural competence and diversity awareness
  • Positive behavior management policy
  • Confidentiality policy
  • Applicable Federal and State laws, including prudent parenting standards
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Abuse and neglect, including the impact of trauma on a child's development
  • Child nutrition and health care
  • Universal precautions
  • Signs of human trafficking
  • Respite care
  • Background check requirements
  • Emergency planning and procedures and crisis management and intervention

An agency shall ensure a foster parent receives at least 12 hours of training annually in areas related to the needs of children cared for in the foster home.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Regs. 9 200 201, §§ 35; 40

The foster home must provide a separate crib for each infant. Children of the opposite sex under age 5 may share a bedroom. Children of the same sex may share a bedroom. A child over age 1 cannot share a bedroom with an adult.

The foster home must meet the following requirements:

  • Be properly maintained in compliance with State or local laws, regulations, and ordinances
  • Have all flammable and hazardous materials stored safely in areas out of children's reach both inside and outside the home
  • Be free of rodent and insect infestation
  • Has a working carbon monoxide detector if any heating equipment burns fuel with a flame or the home has an attached garage
  • Has a safe drinkable water supply and plumbing in good working condition
  • Has a bathroom with a working toilet, sink, and tub or shower
  • Has a kitchen in which all food preparation, storage and serving areas, and utensils are kept clean
  • Has a refrigerator and stove in good working condition
  • Has a stocked first aid kit
  • Has an easily accessible, charged portable dry chemical fire extinguisher rated 2A 10BC or higher in the kitchen
  • Has a hard-wired smoke detection system or working battery-operated smoke alarm

The foster parent must meet the following requirements:

  • Prohibits smoking or vaping in the foster home and in the presence of children
  • Cares for pets in a safe and sanitary way
  • Has a valid driver's license and current vehicle insurance coverage
  • Secures a child in an individual safety restraint system appropriate to the child's age, weight, and height at all times while a vehicle is in motion

If the parent owns a firearm, he or she does all of the following:

  • Has a current permit and valid registration as required by law
  • Stores the firearm unloaded in a locked cabinet that is inaccessible to a child
  • Stores ammunition separately from the firearm in another locked cabinet

Approval Process

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31 § 344; Code of Regs. 9 200 201, § 41

A license to provide foster care shall not be issued until an agency has made a thorough investigation and has determined in accordance with reasonable standards:

  • The good character and intention of the applicants
  • That the home meets the physical, social, moral, mental, and educational needs of the child
  • That the required criminal background checks are completed and approved

In regulation: A child-placing agency shall meet in the applicant's home at least two times, with one of these meetings including interviews with each household member. The agency shall conduct a home study and provide a written evaluation addressing the following issues:

  • Motivation to provide foster care
  • Willingness and ability to work cooperatively with an agency for the child's best interests
  • Attitude of household members toward accepting a child
  • Attitude toward a birth parent of a child
  • Emotional strengths and weaknesses
  • Philosophy on child-rearing, positive behavior management, parental role, and experience with children
  • Communication and problem-solving skills, including willingness to seek help and resources
  • Proof of income
  • Marital and family relationships and family history
  • Information on medical conditions, including physical and mental health issues that might affect an applicant's ability to care for a child
  • Description of the home
  • Type of child sought for foster care
  • If applicable, experience in caring for a child with special needs
  • If applicable, an applicant's motivation to care for a child who is of a different race, to deal with the child's possible transitions to a new lifestyle and culture, and efforts to preserve the child's heritage
  • A recommendation concerning the type of child suitable or not suitable for placement with an applicant
  • Assessment of training needs and documentation of training received

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 309; Code of Regs. 9 300 301, § 6

The following criminal convictions or entries on the child protection registry shall prohibit an individual from being a foster parent for the amount of time indicated:

  • Felony convictions involving physical or sexual assault crimes against a child, an adult who is impaired, or elderly person require lifetime prohibition.
  • Felony convictions involving physical or sexual assault crimes against another adult require prohibition for 10 years following the date of conviction.
  • Any other convictions for a violent felony, as defined in § 4201(c) of title 11, not already included within the convictions subject to a lifetime or 10-year prohibition described above shall prohibit the individual for 7 years following the date of conviction, unless the felony is included within the crimes that can lead to entry on the child protection registry, in which case the length of time for the prohibition shall be as provided in the child protection registry regulations.
  • Misdemeanor convictions against children require prohibition for 7 years following the date of conviction, unless the misdemeanor is included within the crimes that can lead to entry on the child protection registry, in which case the length of time for the prohibition shall be as provided for in the child protection registry regulations.

In regulation: Foster parents convicted of a sexually related offense or other offenses against children shall be prohibited from foster care without consideration of other criteria. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 prohibits individuals from becoming foster or adoptive parents if they have the following felony convictions:

  • Child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, crimes against children (including child pornography), and crimes involving violence including rape, sexual assault, and homicide committed at any time
  • Physical assault, battery, and drug-related offenses committed within the past 5 years

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 31, § 356

The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families and the Department of Health and Social Services shall establish and operate the Kinship Care Program that promotes the placement of children with relatives when a child needs out-of-home placement, when such placement is in the best interests of the child, and when the child is not in the custody or care of the State.

The Kinship Care Program shall establish eligibility guidelines for kinship caregivers to qualify for kinship care benefits and services, including the following criteria:

  • The caregiver must be related to the child by blood or marriage within the fifth degree of relationship.
  • The caregiver must have guardianship of the child or actively pursue guardianship.
  • The child must reside in the home of the caregiver.
  • The caregiver must have income of no more than 200 percent of the Federal poverty level.
  • The parent or parents of a child in the kinship care program may not reside in the home of the kinship caregiver.

Foster to Adopt

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Code of Regs. 9 200 201, § 17.1

When accepting for placement any child who resides in another State or placing a child in another State, a child-placing agency shall comply, as appropriate, with the terms of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Links to Resources

Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, Foster Care Requirements

State regulations full text