Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Hawaii

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 17-1625-8; 17-1625-17 through 17-1625-20

A married couple desiring to provide foster care for children shall submit a joint application. A single person also may apply. Applicants shall:

  • Be responsible, stable, emotionally mature individuals who exercise sound judgment and who can make appropriate decisions
  • Know how to promote positive self-esteem in children and how to help children develop healthy personal relationships
  • Be knowledgeable of and agree to use appropriate, nonphysical means of discipline
  • Have the capacity to respect and accept into their families persons of different backgrounds and cultures
  • Accept and support a child's ongoing relationships and contact with his or her family and relatives
  • Accept and support the department's mandate to reunite children with their parents or out-of-home placement preferences for appropriate relatives
  • Accept that foster placements are not permanent but rather intended to be temporary until a child can be reunited with their parents or placed with other extended family in a permanent placement
  • Have an understanding of a child's special needs and the ability to meet them
  • Not abuse substances, such as illegal drugs or alcohol

Foster parents and all adult household members shall be of reputable and responsible character and shall not have a criminal history record or background that poses a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children in care. All members of the household shall be free from physical, emotional, or other conditions that may pose a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of foster children.

The income of the foster home shall be reasonably steady and sufficient to maintain an adequate standard of living for the family, independent of the foster care maintenance payments. The employment or business of the caregiver shall have no bearing on licensure, provided that the child or children are appropriately supervised.

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Rules § 17-1625-17

The resource family and all adult household members shall show evidence of being well-adjusted persons; have sufficient ability, training, and experience in caring for children; and demonstrate the willingness and ability to work with the agency and other agencies and organizations.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 17-1625-22 through 17-1625-24

The foster home shall comply with acceptable State standards on housing and sanitation as follows:

  • The kitchen shall have equipment that is working and in sanitary condition.
  • The living room or family room shall have sufficient space and be comfortably furnished and accessible to all members of the family.
  • The bedrooms shall be safe, well-lit, well-ventilated, and have adequate space.
  • The bathroom shall have a sanitary flush toilet, a washbasin with running water, and a bath or shower with hot and cold water.
  • The home shall have adequate fire escape exits, a fire evacuation plan, and smoke detectors installed in or near the bedrooms that are in good working order.
  • The premises shall be kept in a sanitary and safe condition.
  • There shall be protection from fire hazards, drugs, poisons, harmful household supplies, dangerous tools, weapons, firearms, and potentially dangerous animals.

Each foster child or infant shall be provided with an individual bed or crib, except that two siblings of the same gender may share a double bed, up to age 6. Bunk beds shall be used only as appropriate to the child's age and situation. Each bed or crib shall be of a size and design to ensure the safety and comfort of the child.

The sleeping arrangement for a foster child shall include suitable light, ventilation, and provision for proper rest. The resource family's child shall not be displaced because of the presence of a foster child. No foster child shall sleep in a detached building without supervision or in an unfurnished attic, basement, hallway, or stairwell. Individual beds shall be spaced to allow passageway between beds. A foster child over age 6 may sleep in the same bedroom with children over age 6 of the opposite sex with approval from the department or agency, with due consideration given to the safety of the child and the culture and resources available to the resource family.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 17-1625-9; 17-1625-17; 17-1625-26

The agency receiving the application shall conduct a study of the applicants, household members, and the applicants' home to determine that the requirements of regulation are met and that the applicants and household members have the ability and personal qualities to care for foster children.

Applicants, adult household members, and employees shall submit statements indicating whether they were ever convicted of a crime and provide consents to conduct criminal history, child abuse and neglect registry, background, and any other checks as may be required by the Department of Human Services or State or Federal laws. The agency receiving the application shall conduct criminal history, child abuse and neglect registry checks, background, and any other checks deemed necessary, such as employment checks, on applicants, employees, and household members.

Foster parents and all adult household members shall show evidence of being well-adjusted persons, have sufficient ability, training, and experience in caring for children, and demonstrate the willingness and ability to work with the agency and other agencies and organizations.

Applicants shall provide two references who have adequate knowledge of the family background in terms of character and ability to care for children. Additional references shall be furnished to the agency upon request.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Rules §§ 17-1625-8; 17-1625-13; 17-1625-17

The agency shall deny approval of a foster home when:

  • The requirements of regulation are not met.
  • The applicant or a household member does not demonstrate the ability, skills, or personal qualities to provide safe and appropriate care for foster children.
  • The applicant or a member of the household poses a potential risk to foster children.

Foster parents and adult household members shall not have any of the following:

  • A felony conviction, at any time, for child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; a crime against children, including child pornography; or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
  • A felony conviction, within the past 5 years, for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

Other grounds for denial of approval include the following:

  • Convictions of any other crimes, the circumstances of which indicate that the foster parent or adult household member poses a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children
  • An employment history indicating violence, alcohol or drug abuse, and any other violation of employer rule or policy, the circumstances of which indicate that the applicant or adult household member may pose a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of children
  • Background information that shows that the individual has been identified as and confirmed to have abused or neglected a child or whose parental rights were terminated
  • Information that shows that any member of the household may pose a risk to the health, safety, or well-being of a child, including, but not limited to, repeated allegations of child abuse and/or neglect, or arrests for offenses such as driving under the influence, violations of protective orders, or any sex crime

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 587A-9; 587A-10

When the Department of Human Services receives protective custody of a child from the police, the department shall:

  • Assume temporary foster custody of the child if, in the discretion of the department, the department determines that the child is subject to imminent harm while in the custody of the child's family
  • Make every reasonable effort to inform the child's parents of the actions taken, unless doing so would put another person at risk of harm
  • Place the child in emergency foster care while the department conducts an appropriate investigation, with placement preference being given to an approved relative, unless the child is admitted to a hospital or similar institution

The department shall provide the child's relative an application to be the child's resource family within 15 days of the relative's request to provide foster placement for the child. If the application is submitted and denied, the department shall provide the applicant with the specific reasons for the denial and an explanation of the procedures for an administrative appeal.

The department and authorized agencies shall make reasonable efforts to identify and notify all relatives of the child within 30 days after assuming foster custody of the child.

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 350E-1

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

Hawaii Department of Human Services, Foster and Adoptive Care

State regulations full text (PDF - 810 KB)