Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Florida

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-13.030

A licensed out-of-home caregiver shall be a stable, responsible, and mature individual who is at least age 21.

At least one caregiver in the home shall be able to read, write, and speak English and be able to effectively communicate with both any children placed in the home and with the supervising agency. The caregiver shall have a stable income sufficient to make timely payment for current shelter, food, utility costs, and other debts without relying on board payments unless the licensed out-of-home caregiver enters into an agreement with a lead agency to provide specialized care. Applicants shall have a source of income independent of child support or alimony.

The caregiver and any household members shall provide written statements from a physician regarding their general health and whether they have any specific illness, disability, alcohol or other drug dependence, infectious diseases, and other relevant health conditions that could threaten the safety of children in the home.

Training Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 409.175

As a condition of licensure, foster parents shall successfully complete a minimum of 21 hours of preservice training. The preservice training shall be uniform statewide and shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas:

  • Orientation regarding agency purpose, objectives, resources, policies, and services
  • The role of the foster parent as a treatment team member
  • Transition of a child into and out of foster care, including issues of separation, loss, and attachment
  • Management of difficult child behavior that can be intensified by placement, by prior abuse or neglect, and by prior placement disruptions
  • Prevention of placement disruptions
  • Care of children at various developmental levels, including appropriate discipline
  • Effects of foster parenting on the family of the foster parent

Prior to licensure renewal, each foster parent shall successfully complete 8 hours of inservice training. Periodic time-limited training courses shall be made available for selective use by foster parents. Such inservice training shall include subjects affecting the daily living experiences of foster parenting.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-13.030

The exterior of the home and premises shall be free from objects, materials, and conditions that constitute a danger to children. The home shall have a safe outdoor play area on the property or within reasonable walking distance.

The home shall have sufficient space and furnishings and be accessible to all members of the family.

The home shall have a working telephone that is accessible at all times. Emergency telephone numbers shall be posted by the telephone.

Rooms used by children shall be clean and well-lit for activities such as homework, board games, and other educational or recreational opportunities.

When children are present, rooms shall be free of tobacco smoke.

Bedrooms shall have adequate space for the number of children sleeping in the room. A minimum of 40 square feet per child is required. Each child shall be provided with a clean, comfortable, permanent bed and mattress of his or her own. Infants shall have their own crib that shall be maintained in good and safe condition and have a clean and comfortable mattress that fits snugly in the crib frame. Children of any age shall not sleep on a living room sofa, cot, or foldaway bed except in extenuating circumstances.

Animals requiring vaccinations shall be current in all vaccinations. All animals shall be well-cared for and maintained. The foster family home shall have a secure method to restrict children's access to potentially dangerous animals.

The home shall be safe from fire hazards. Each floor in the home shall have a fully charged fire extinguisher. There also shall be at least one operating smoke alarm on each floor. There shall be a smoke alarm in each bedroom area.

The caregiver shall have transportation available 24 hours a day. All vehicles used to transport children shall be in safe condition, in compliance with applicable motor vehicle laws of the State, and equipped with seatbelts and approved car seats for children.

Approval Process

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 409.175; Admin. Code §§ 65C-13.023; 65C-13.025

Upon application, the Department of Children and Family Services shall conduct a licensing study based on its licensing rules, shall inspect the home, and shall interview the applicant.

In regulation: The department shall conduct background screenings for all applicants and all adult household members. These screenings shall, at a minimum, include fingerprinting; State, local, and Federal criminal records checks; child abuse/neglect records checks; and civil court records checks regarding domestic violence complaints and orders of protection. If the applicant or any other adult household member has resided in any other State over the past 5 years, requests for abuse and neglect histories must be made of those States.

The supervising agency completing the home study shall, at a minimum, conduct two visits to the applicant's home, inspect the entire indoor and outdoor premises, document the conditions, and conduct face-to-face interviews with all household members.

Other information that will be collected includes the following:

  • A minimum of three personal references that shall not be related to the applicant and a current employment reference
  • Dates of preservice training
  • The applicant's motivation to foster and how other family members and extended family feel about the decision to foster
  • Family background and social history
  • Marital status
  • Medical history
  • Parenting experience and discipline methods
  • A description of family members' personalities and their interpersonal relationships
  • A description of vehicles available for transportation and who will be the responsible drivers
  • Financial capacity and income

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 435.04; Admin. Code § 65C-13.023

The following offenses shall disqualify an applicant for licensure:

  • Sexual misconduct with developmentally disabled clients and/or mental health patients
  • Adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation of aged persons or disabled adults
  • Murder, manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter of an elderly person or disabled adult, or aggravated manslaughter of a child
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Killing of an unborn quick child by injury to the mother
  • Felony assault, battery, and culpable negligence
  • Assault or battery of a minor
  • Kidnapping or false imprisonment
  • Sexual battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minors, prostitution, lewd and lascivious behavior, or indecent exposure
  • Arson, burglary, or felony theft
  • Felony fraudulent sale of controlled substances
  • Abuse, aggravated abuse, or neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult
  • Incest, child abuse, aggravated child abuse, or child neglect
  • Contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a child
  • Negligent treatment of children

The security background investigation also must ensure that the applicant has not been found guilty of any offense that constitutes domestic violence.

In regulation: The background screenings shall ensure that no out-of-home caregiver licensed by the department and no person residing in a family foster home has been found guilty of any offense listed in § 435.04 or similar statutes of another jurisdiction at any time.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 39.5085; 39.521; Admin. Code § 65C-28.011

Relatives who qualify for and participate in the Relative Caregiver Program are not required to meet foster care licensing requirements under § 409.175.

If the child has been removed from the home and will be remaining with a relative or other adult approved by the court, a home study report concerning the proposed placement shall be conducted. The home study must include the following, at a minimum:

  • An interview with the proposed legal custodians to assess their ongoing commitment and ability to care for the child
  • Records checks of the abuse/neglect history and local and statewide criminal and juvenile records on all household members age 12 or older and any other persons who are frequent visitors in the home
  • An assessment of the physical environment of the home
  • A determination of the financial security of the proposed legal custodians
  • A determination of suitable child care arrangements if the proposed legal custodians are employed outside of the home
  • Documentation of counseling and information provided to the proposed legal custodians regarding the dependency process and possible outcomes
  • Documentation that information regarding support services available in the community has been provided
  • The reasonable preference of the child

In regulation: The department shall not make or recommend a relative or nonrelative placement if the results of criminal, delinquency, and abuse/neglect history checks indicate that the child's health, safety, or welfare may be jeopardized in the placement or if the relative or nonrelative has a disqualifying offense pursuant to § 39.0138(2).

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-16.002

If the current caregiver applies to adopt the child, the application must be evaluated through an adoptive home study. The home study must assess the length of time the child has lived with the current caregiver, the depth of the relationship existing between the child and the caregiver, and whether it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted by the caregiver.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 409.401

Any out-of-home placement of a child outside the State is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The child shall not be sent into the receiving State until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving State notify the sending agency, in writing, that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child.

Links to Resources

State regulations full text

CFOP 170-11, Chapter 12, Foster Home Licensing