Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - District of Columbia

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-6001

Foster parents should possess the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge of, interest in, and regard for the principles of good child care and understanding of the foster parent's responsibility in providing care for a foster child
  • Maturity and personality characteristics that:
    • Make it possible to provide an emotional climate in which a foster child can benefit
    • Create an atmosphere in which social skills can be enriched
    • Help a foster child to understand placement in foster care and the child's own feelings about the placement
    • Help maintain family ties through regular and consistent family contact in accordance with a case plan
  • The flexibility to understand and work with lifestyles different from the foster parent's
  • The capacity to value, respect, appreciate, and educate a foster child regarding the child's racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural heritage
  • The capacity to understand that it is in the best interests of a foster child of mixed racial parentage to have healthy multiracial experiences
  • The suitability and stamina to meet the demands of caring for growing foster children
  • The willingness to support and encourage a foster child's educational progress
  • The ability to provide a nurturing family life and meet the needs of a foster child, notwithstanding any employment outside the home
  • Awareness of the way in which a child needs family life to grow and learn and the ability to provide a foster child with the skills and values that a parent customarily provides

A foster parent shall be at least age 21. A foster parent and all household members shall be in good health as documented by a health examination within the previous 24 months. A foster parent shall have sufficient family income to meet the reasonable living needs of his or her own family without relying on foster care board and care payments.

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-6026

An applicant shall participate in an orientation program offered by the agency. In addition to the orientation program, an applicant shall participate in 30 hours of preservice training offered by the agency. Preservice training shall encompass the following areas:

  • Roles and relationships in foster care of agency personnel, the foster parent, the foster child, and the foster child's family
  • The importance of the foster child's relationship with his or her family
  • Developmental needs of children in foster care
  • Awareness of cultural and religious differences
  • Child management and discipline techniques
  • Child abuse and neglect, including prevention, reporting, investigation, and services
  • Supportive services available in the community for foster children and foster parents and their families
  • Self-awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving
  • The licensure process, including the agency's internal processes
  • The procedures and practices of the Family Division of the District of Columbia Superior Court related to children in foster care

In lieu of the required training, an agency may accept training provided by another child-placing agency and completed satisfactorily by the applicant if the training and participation is properly documented and covers required areas. The agency may offer special sessions to cover any gaps in training.

A foster parent shall participate in 30 hours of inservice training to increase his or her skills and parenting abilities before the expiration of his or her license. This training shall be appropriate to the age and special needs of the foster children in the foster home and may include formal seminars or workshops, support groups, or one-on-one training.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. §§ 29-6007; 29-6010; 29-6011; 29-6012

A foster home shall be free from all safety hazards, including fire, sanitation, and health hazards. It shall have a working, non-coin-operated telephone. All medications, poisonous chemicals, and hazardous materials shall be kept in locked storage out of the reach of children.

All firearms shall be stored unloaded and in a locked container that is inaccessible to children and stored separately from any ammunition.

A foster parent shall monitor foster children's safety around animals and shall restrict foster children's access to potentially dangerous animals. All foster home pets shall be properly vaccinated and licensed.

The kitchen shall have the necessary equipment for safe food preparation, food storage, serving, and cleanup of meals. A foster home shall have living room or family room space and a designated dining area that are adequately furnished and accessible to all members of the household, including foster children.

A foster child's bedroom shall be sufficient in size to provide for his or her safety, privacy, and comfort. Each foster child shall have his or her own individual bed; each infant foster child shall have his or her own individual crib. The bed may not be a cot, sofa, or any type of portable bed.

A foster home shall have a minimum of one flush toilet, one washbasin with running water, and one bath or shower with hot and cold water for every eight residents.

A foster home shall be free from all fire hazards, including faulty electric cords, unsafe appliances, and unsafe fireplaces and chimneys. There shall be working smoke detectors on each floor and in hallways within 10 feet of each bedroom. The home shall have a portable dry chemical fire extinguisher on every floor.

The home shall be kept clean and free of hazards and debris. All plumbing must be in working order with an adequate supply of hot water for bathing and dishwashing. The house and premises must be kept free of rodents and insects.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-6028

The licensing process includes the following:

  • An initial contact between an applicant and the agency
  • The applicant's completion of a foster parent application and forms consenting to the release of confidential information
  • The applicant's completion of orientation and preservice training
  • A home study
  • The agency's decision to recommend the licensure or denial of the applicant as a foster parent
  • The decision of Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) to approve or deny the applicant as a foster parent

The home study shall include the following:

  • The applicant's submission of a completed application
  • At least two home visits by the agency with the prospective foster parent, one of which may be unannounced, with at least one of the visits including:
    • The entire household
    • A discussion of training
    • A tour of the house
  • Obtaining and reviewing at least three written personal references selected from relatives, neighbors, and employers or coworkers, if applicable
  • If a school-aged child is in the care of the applicant and resides in the prospective foster home, obtaining and reviewing written references from personnel of the child's school
  • Discussing CFSA rules on discipline and control and child abuse and neglect, including the risk of physical or sexual victimization by another child and the responsibility of the foster parent for the safety of all children in his or her care
  • Obtaining verification of income and marital status
  • Conducting the criminal records check and child protection register check
  • Obtaining a fire department inspection
  • For homes in which a foster child younger than age 6 may be placed, obtaining a lead-based paint certificate indicating no risk from lead-based paint
  • Obtaining verification of current vaccinations for any pets in the home, as applicable

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1305.06; Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-6029

An individual shall not be approved to provide foster care if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • An intrafamily offense, as defined in § 16-1001(8)
  • A crime against children, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery

An individual shall not be approved if it is determined from the criminal records check that the individual, or an adult residing in the home of the individual, has a felony conviction for any of the following offenses or their equivalents committed within the past 5 years:

  • Physical assault or battery
  • A drug-related offense

In regulation: An application for a license may be denied if it is determined the applicant cannot provide for the health, safety, or welfare of foster children. Factors to be considered in making that determination include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The applicant, household member, or prospective foster home fails to comply with any provision of regulation.
  • The applicant knowingly reported false information.
  • The applicant has a history of regulatory violations that demonstrate an inability to provide for the health and safety of children.
  • A previous license or renewal was denied or revoked.
  • The applicant prevents the agency from completing the application or renewal process.
  • The applicant or a household member shows evidence of abuse of alcohol or other controlled dangerous substances, mental instability, or ongoing health problems.

The agency may deny an application for a license for other good cause.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-6027

A temporary license may be issued to operate a foster home only if:

  • The applicant is kin to each foster child who would be placed in the home.
  • The applicant has submitted an application for a foster care license.
  • The applicant has:
    • Received a satisfactory criminal records check
    • Complied with the requirement for a child protection register check
    • Received a satisfactory safety assessment of the home
    • Demonstrated a willingness and ability to provide a safe and secure environment for a foster child
  • All individuals age 18 or older residing in the home have:
    • Received a satisfactory criminal records check or have applied for a records check
    • Complied with the requirement for child protection register checks
  • The foster child must be removed from his or her home immediately because of suspected or supported child abuse or neglect.

An applicant is kin to a foster child if he or she is at least age 21 and is:

  • A relative of the foster child by blood, marriage, or adoption
  • Identified by a relative to have close personal or emotional ties with the foster child or the child's family, which predated the foster child's placement with the individual

A temporary license:

  • Permits a foster home to operate prior to issuance of an annual license and while the foster parents attempt to satisfy the requirements for a license
  • Expires in 150 days from the date of issuance

A temporary license may be renewed once and for no more than 90 days if the applicant is making a good-faith effort to comply with all elements of the foster home licensing process and renewal is needed to complete the licensing process.

A temporary licensee shall actively and promptly take all steps required for full licensure. A foster child who is not kin to the applicant may not be placed in a foster home that has a temporary license.

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1422; Code of Municipal Regs. § 29-1635

Placement of children outside the District of Columbia is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Prior to sending a child into a receiving State for placement in foster care, the agency shall furnish the appropriate authority in the receiving State written notice of the intention to place the child in the receiving State. The notice shall contain the following:

  • The name, date, and place of birth of the child
  • The identity and address of the parents or legal guardian
  • The name and address of the person, agency, or institution to which the agency proposes to send the child
  • A full statement of the reason for the proposed action and evidence of the authority for the proposed placement

The child shall not be sent to the receiving State until the appropriate authority in the receiving State notifies the sending State, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

In regulation: A child-placing agency in the District of Columbia that is cooperating with agencies or individuals in other States for foster or adoptive placement of a child in the District or in another jurisdiction shall comply with the interstate placement requirements of the States involved during all phases of the placement process.

Links to Resources

Municipal regulations full text