Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Maryland

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Regs.;

An applicant shall be at least age 21 and a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant admitted for legal residence.

All family members and other household members shall undergo an initial medical examination and formal medical reexaminations at least every 2 years. The initial examination shall include the analysis of tuberculosis tests or x-rays.

If a resource parent is age 60 or older, the local department shall observe and document that the resource parent's strength is adequate to meet the needs of children in care.

A resource family shall have sufficient income and financial stability to provide reasonable living conditions for their own family without depending upon the reimbursement for basic foster care.

Resource parents shall have the following characteristics:

  • Knowledge of, interest in, and regard for the principles of good child care; understanding of the resource parents' responsibility in providing good child care; and understanding of the requirements for approval
  • Maturity and personality characteristics that help maintain the family ties through regular and consistent family contact
  • The capacity to value, respect, appreciate, and educate a child regarding the child's racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural heritage
  • The suitability in age and physical stamina to meet the demands of caring for growing children
  • The willingness to support and encourage a child's educational progress and take an active role by attending school conferences and similar activities whenever possible
  • The ability to provide adequate 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 the child with the values that parents customarily provide, including training and opportunities for socialization

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Regs.

A local Department of Social Services shall provide or arrange for a minimum of 27 hours of preservice training during the recruitment and mutual selection process of resource parents before formal approval of a home and before placing a child in the home. This training includes the following:

  • Roles and relationships in foster care among local department personnel, the resource parent, the child's birth parent, and the child
  • Separation anxiety and the importance of the child's family and the child's communication with them
  • Developmental needs of children in care
  • Special needs children
  • Awareness of cultural and religious differences
  • Child management and discipline techniques
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Supportive services available in the community for children and foster families
  • Self-awareness
  • Communication and problem-solving skills

Resource parents shall acquire a minimum of 10 hours of training a year, as approved by the administration, including 2 hours of training in behavior management every other year. The training shall consist of continuing work on the areas listed above for the preservice training and any additional topics, as needed.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Regs.

A resource family home shall meet applicable public health and sanitary standards. The local department shall have, in writing, the approval of the local health department before approving the resource home. A resource home worker shall inspect the home to ensure that general safety standards are met.

Prescription and nonprescription drugs, dangerous household supplies, tools, firearms, and any other household items that are potentially life threatening or injurious to children shall be kept in a safe location, inaccessible to children.

The local department shall have, in writing, the approval of the local or State fire officials that a resource family home meets the safety requirements of the local fire department and any other applicable State or local requirement before approving the resource home.

Resource homes that rely on the combustion of fossil fuels for heat, ventilation, hot water, or clothes dryer operation shall have a carbon monoxide alarm. The resource home shall have an approved working smoke detector or detectors installed.

The family living quarters shall be adequate to provide space for foster children without disrupting the usual sleeping and living arrangements of the family group. A foster child's sleeping and living quarters shall have provision for privacy, study at home, and storage of clothes, toys, and personal possessions.

Each child shall have an individual bed that may not be stacked in vertical bunk bed formation. Except for children younger than age 2, boys and girls may not sleep in the same room. A teenaged parent may share a bedroom with the parent's infant child until the child reaches age 2.

A resource parent who maintains a pet in the home shall ensure that the pet is appropriately licensed or registered, vaccinated, and leashed.

A resource parent shall ensure that the child has legal and safe transportation.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of Regs.;

Before a resource home may be approved, an applicant and all household members age 18 and older shall apply for State and Federal criminal background checks. In addition, the local department shall request information from the State-maintained child abuse and neglect registry of any State in which an applicant or another adult in the household has lived within the last 5 years to determine whether an individual in the household has a prior indicated finding of abuse or neglect. The applicant also shall undergo a child support clearance to determine any child support arrears owed. If found that the applicant does have a child support arrearage, the applicant shall be given the chance to correct the arrearage.

As part of the home study process, the resource home worker shall:

  • Conduct at least three visits at the home of the prospective resource parent
  • Obtain three personal references, as follows:
    • Two of the references shall be supported by a personal interview.
    • Only one of the references may be a relative.
    • If there is a school-aged child in the prospective resource family, references from school personnel shall be requested.
  • Obtain verification of income
  • Obtain verification of marital status, if applicable
  • Request a health and sanitary inspection of the home by the local health department
  • Make certain that fire safety approval is obtained
  • Provide preservice training for the prospective resource family and ensure that all material contained in the preservice training is provided to the family

One of the home visits shall include a meeting with each resource parent individually, and other visits shall include the entire family, a discussion of training, and a tour of the house.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Regs.;

The department may not approve or continue to approve as a resource home any home in which an individual has an indicated child abuse or neglect finding.

The department may not approve as a resource home any home in which an adult in the household:

  • Has a felony conviction for:
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Spousal abuse
    • A crime against a child, including child pornography
    • A crime of violence including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
    • Human trafficking
  • In the 5 years before the date of the application, has a felony conviction involving physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

The local department may deny an application if:

  • The applicant or the home in which the care is provided fails to meet the requirements of this chapter.
  • An evaluation of the application form by the local department reveals that the applicant knowingly reported false information.
  • The applicant has a history of regulatory violations that demonstrates an inability to provide for the health and safety of the children.
  • The applicant has previously had approval denied or revoked by any local department, unless the local department is satisfied that the condition that was the basis for the denial or revocation has been corrected.
  • The applicant prevents the local department from completing its responsibilities for approval.
  • An evaluation of criminal records or child abuse or neglect records indicates behavior harmful to children.
  • Based on substantial, credible evidence, the local department concludes that the applicant cannot provide for the health, safety, or welfare of the children in care because of abuse of alcohol or other controlled dangerous substances, mental instability, or any other condition that creates reasonable doubt as to the applicant's ability to provide foster care.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Code of Regs.

A local department shall give priority consideration as a placement resource to relatives when a child is committed to the department for out-of-home placement. In order to approve a relative as a kinship parent, a local department shall conduct the following:

  • State and Federal criminal background checks and child protective services clearances
  • An assessment of the relative, with particular attention given to:
    • Their relationship with the child and the child's parents
    • The care provided by the relative to other children in the relative's home
    • Their knowledge and understanding of the circumstances that led to the need for the child's placement
    • Their role in the past in helping or protecting the child and their present ability to protect the child placed in the relative's home
    • Their ability to understand the need for protection
    • Their willingness to assume legal responsibility for the child if reunification is not possible within 12 to 18 months
    • Their willingness to cooperate with the local department
  • An assessment of their willingness and ability to:
    • Work with birth parents and encourage reunification
    • Enforce the visitation schedule developed by the department with the child's parents
    • Support and encourage the child's educational progress
    • Ensure that the child attends school, as required
    • Refrain from using corporal punishment as a method of discipline
  • A home inspection to verify that the home is physically safe and appropriate and has:
    • Adequate heat, light, water, refrigeration, cooking, and toilet facilities
    • Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • Safety precautions regarding firearms and prescription and nonprescription drugs, dangerous household supplies, tools, and any other household items that are potentially life threatening or injurious to children
    • Otherwise met basic health and safety standards

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Code of Regs.

A home shall be approved as both foster care and adoption placement, and the dually approved home shall be considered a resource home.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-604; Code of Regs.

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 (ICPC).

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.

In regulation: A home study for a relative placement, foster care, or adoption that is referred from another State under the ICPC shall be:

  • Forwarded to the appropriate local department within 5 calendar days of receipt at the Maryland ICPC Office
  • Completed by the local department and returned to the Maryland ICPC Office within 45 calendar days of receipt
  • Forwarded to requesting State within 60 calendar days from the date of the receipt of the request at the Maryland ICPC Office

Links to Resources

Maryland Resource Parent Handbook 

Becoming a Resource (Foster) Parent (Maryland Department of Human Services)

SSA-CW #21-09, Resource Parent Home Standards