Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Iowa

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code § 441-113.12

Foster parents shall be at least age 21. The age of foster parents shall be considered as it affects their ability to care for a specific child and function in a parental role.

The foster family shall have sufficient income and resources to provide adequately for the family's own needs.

The foster parent shall respect the foster child's religious background and affiliation.

Foster parents shall be stable, responsible, and physically able to care for the type of child placed. They shall be mature individuals who are not unsuited by reason of substance abuse, lewd or lascivious behavior, or other conduct likely to be detrimental to the physical or mental health or morals of the child. They shall exercise good judgment in caring for children and have a capacity to accept agency supervision.

The foster parents shall:

  • Provide evidence of marital adjustment and stability
  • Have realistic expectations of foster children
  • Have time available to parent foster children
  • Be able to accept and deal with acting-out behavior with realistic expectations and good judgment
  • Include foster children in normal family life
  • Have the ability to be accepting and loving toward a foster child entering the home
  • Be able to support the case permanency plan for the foster child and be willing to cooperate with visits, transportation, or other activities that support the child's connection to and reunification with the child's family
  • Ensure that all family members are aware of having foster children in the home
  • Articulate their strengths and concerns and limitations, which is essential to matching foster children with foster parents appropriately

Training Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 237.5A

As a condition for initial licensure, each applicant shall complete 30 hours of foster parent training offered or approved by the Department of Human Services. If the applicant has completed relevant training or has a combination of completed relevant training and experience, and the department deems such training or combination to be an acceptable equivalent to all or a portion of the initial licensure training requirement, or based upon the circumstances of the child and the applicant the department finds there is other good cause, the department may waive all or a portion of the training requirement.

Prior to renewal of licensure, each individual licensee shall complete annually 6 hours of foster parent training. The training shall include, but is not limited to, physical care, education, learning disabilities, referral to and receipt of necessary professional services, behavioral assessment and modification, self-assessment, self-living skills, and biological parent contact. An individual licensee may complete the training as part of an approved training program offered by a public or private agency with expertise in the provision of child foster care or in related subject areas. The department shall adopt rules to implement and enforce this training requirement.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 441-113.5; 441-113.7

The foster home shall be safe, clean, well-ventilated, properly lighted, properly heated, and free from vermin and rodents. There shall be safe outdoor space provided according to the age and developmental needs of the foster child for active play. The foster child shall be protected against hazards, including, but not limited to, traffic, pools, railroads, waste material, and contaminated water.

All bedrooms used by foster children must have permanent walls; a door that closes; a working window that opens from the inside; and a closet, wardrobe, armoire, or dresser. The minimum bedroom area per child shall be 40 square feet.

Each child shall be provided a standard bed or a crib for infants and toddlers who cannot safely use a standard bed. Children over age 6 shall not share a bedroom with a child of the opposite sex.

Smoking and vaping shall be prohibited in the foster home or any vehicle when the foster child is present.

All toilet facilities shall be maintained in clean and working condition. Ventilation shall be provided in all rooms where foster children eat, sleep, and play, either by windows that can be opened or by mechanical venting systems. Windows and doors used for ventilation shall be screened.

Any floor of a house, including the basement, used for sleeping of foster children shall be equipped with the following:

  • A working smoke detector
  • A window exit that opens from the inside and is large enough to allow the foster child to pass easily through it
  • Hallways that allow unrestricted access to an exit
  • A working carbon monoxide detector

The home shall have at least one operable fire extinguisher.

All weapons, firearms, and ammunition shall be inaccessible to a child of any age.

Foster parents shall have a valid Iowa driver's license and adequate motor vehicle insurance. They shall ensure that appropriate child safety restraints, as required by Iowa law, are used for all foster children.

Approval Process

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 237.8; Admin. Code §§ 441-113.3; 441-113.13; 114-113.14

If a person is being considered for licensure, and if the person has been convicted of a crime or has a record of founded child abuse, the department shall perform an evaluation to determine whether the crime or founded child abuse warrants prohibition of licensure.

In regulation: The worker for the recruitment and retention contractor shall complete a family home study. The worker shall hold at least two face-to-face interviews with the applicant and at least one face-to-face interview with each member of the household. A physical inspection of the home is required to verify compliance with the standards in this chapter.

The assessment of the prospective foster family shall evaluate the family's ability to parent a child. The assessment shall include the applicant's motivation for foster care; emotional stability; marital relationship and history; ability to cope with stress; medical, mental, and emotional conditions; and ability to provide for a child's physical, medical, and emotional needs.

Each applicant and anyone age 14 or older living the applicant's home shall be checked for records with the following:

  • The Iowa central abuse registry
  • The Iowa division of criminal investigation
  • The Iowa sex offender registry
  • Iowa Courts Online

Each applicant and any other adult living in the household also shall be checked for records on the child abuse registry of any State where the person has lived during the past 5 years. Each applicant also shall be fingerprinted for a national criminal history check. Other adults living in the home may be fingerprinted if the department determines that a national criminal history check is warranted.

At least three additional unsolicited references shall be checked for all applicants in addition to a minimum of three references provided by the applicant. Reference checks shall include only those areas related to the applicant's ability to care for children.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 237.5; 237.8

The administrator may deny an application for a license if the applicant or licensee violates this chapter or department rules or knowingly makes a false statement concerning a material fact or conceals a material fact on the license application.

An individual applying to be a foster parent licensee shall not be granted a license and an evaluation shall not be performed if the individual has been convicted of any of the following felony offenses:

  • Within the 5-year period preceding the application date, a drug-related offense
  • Child endangerment or neglect or abandonment of a dependent person
  • Domestic abuse
  • A crime against a child, including, but not limited to, sexual exploitation of a minor
  • A forcible felony

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.84

Within 30 days after the entry of an order transferring custody of a child to an agency for placement, the agency shall exercise due diligence in identifying and providing notice to the child's grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings, parents of the child's siblings, and adult relatives suggested by the child's parents, subject to exceptions due to the presence of family or domestic violence. The notice content shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following:

  • A statement that the child has been or is being removed from the custody of the child's parent or parents
  • An explanation of the options the relative has under Federal, State, and other law to participate in the care and placement of the child on a temporary or permanent basis, including, but not limited to, assistance and support options, options for participating in legal proceedings, and any options that may be lost by failure to respond to the notice
  • A description of the requirements for the relative to serve as a foster family home provider or other type of care provider for the child and the additional services, training, and other support available for children receiving such care
  • Information concerning the option to apply for kinship guardianship assistance payments

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.158

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.

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