Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Montana

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.301

Foster parents must:

  • Be at least age 18
  • Be physically, mentally, and emotionally competent to care for children
  • Like and understand children
  • Be in good general health
  • Be of good moral character
  • Be able to demonstrate the foster home has sufficient resources to meet the needs of their existing family, independent of foster care reimbursements
  • Comply with State laws, including those that relate to the possession or use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms
  • Have lived together for at least 24 months, unless an exception is granted by a department regional administrator

No person residing in or visiting the foster home may pose a risk or threat to the safety and well-being of children in the home. The foster home shall protect the foster child from exposure to sexual or violent language and behavior inappropriate to the child's age, including, but not limited to, physical activity; visual or other media depictions; and music, including lyrics.

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.1401; 37.51.1405

Each applicant shall attend an orientation and preservice training of no less than 18 hours prior to issuance of a regular license. The foster parents must obtain a total of at least 15 hours of training for relicensure.

Annual training is intended to help the foster parents gain further understanding regarding such issues as child maltreatment, child growth and development, family dysfunction, permanency planning, emergency or long-term medical needs of children, and age-appropriate preparation of youth for independent living.

Training must be provided or approved by the department and may include training on the following topics:

  • Separation and grieving
  • Loss and attachment
  • Alternatives to physical discipline and an explanation of the department's policy on physical discipline
  • Positive parenting techniques
  • The roles and responsibilities of the department and foster parents
  • Birth family rights and responsibilities
  • How and why children come into foster care
  • Types and behaviors of children in foster care
  • Confidentiality
  • Sexual abuse
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Interpersonal communications
  • Foster parent insurance

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.816; 37.51.901; 37.51.902; 37.51.1001

Each foster child must sleep in a room designated as a bedroom that provides for privacy. Children of the opposite sex who are age 5 or older must not share a bedroom. Children over age 24 months may not routinely sleep in the same room with an adult, unless approved by the department.

Each child must be provided with his or her own bed, which must be at least 30 inches wide and of a length that is adequate for the child's height. Children under age 2 must sleep in a crib.

The home and its premises shall be comparable to other residences of the community and neighborhood in which it is located. The foster parents shall keep the home clean and in good repair, and the premises shall be kept free from objects, materials, and conditions that constitute a danger to the occupants. All foster homes shall be equipped with a telephone. The foster home must have an adequate and safe sewage disposal system.

Any pet or animal present at the home shall not pose a threat to the safety or well-being of any child placed in the home. Guns and ammunition shall be kept in locked storage, with guns stored separately from ammunition. Any outdoor play area shall be maintained hazard free.

A working smoke detector shall be located in each bedroom and in the hallway leading to the bedroom, with at least one smoke detector on each level of the foster home. Each foster home in which fuel-burning heat or appliances are used must have at least one carbon monoxide detector installed in the home. Each foster home must have a workable portable fire extinguisher.

Foster parents and any person transporting foster children shall possess a valid driver's license and shall meet at least the minimum liability insurance coverage requirements set by State law. No vehicle shall begin moving until all children are seated and secured in age-appropriate safety restraints.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.305; 37.51.310; 37.51.311

A personal statement-of-health form provided by the department must be completed for each person in the applicant's household. The form must be submitted to the department with the initial licensure application and a new form must be submitted prior to relicensure.

Satisfactory criminal background, motor vehicle, and child and adult protective services checks are required for each person living in the household. Persons formerly licensed as foster parents will be treated as new applicants if the former foster parents have not been licensed for a period of more than 1 year or if the foster parents have lived out of State for any period of time since being licensed in Montana.

If an applicant has children, a child protective services check will be requested from all States in which an applicant has lived since the birth date of the applicant's oldest child. If an applicant does not have children, a child protective services check will be requested from all States in which the applicant has lived in the previous 15 years.

The department may require a psychological evaluation or medical examination and/or a signed authorization for release of medical or psychological records from any person applying for licensure as a foster parent or any member of the household of a person applying for licensure as a foster parent.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.210; 37.51.216

An applicant against whom child abuse or neglect has been substantiated or who has been convicted of abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or person with a developmental disability shall be denied a foster care license, unless an exception is granted by the department, after careful review of extenuating circumstances that justify the issuance of a restricted license.

An applicant whose child has been in foster care shall be denied a foster care license unless an exception is granted because the circumstances leading to the placement no longer exist.

The department shall deny a license upon finding that the applicant or member of the applicant's household has a conviction for any of the following types of crimes:

  • A felony involving violence, such as homicide, spousal abuse, and felony aggravated assault
  • Acts and other crimes against children, older persons, or developmentally disabled persons
  • Other crimes, such as misdemeanor assault and battery, robbery, burglary, or a drug-related offense within the previous 5 years

The department may deny a license upon a finding that:

  • The foster home is not in compliance with fire safety standards or any other licensing requirements.
  • The foster parent has made any material misrepresentations to the department regarding any aspect of the foster home.
  • The foster parent has been named as the perpetrator of child abuse or neglect in a substantiated report.
  • The foster parents or anyone living in the foster home may pose any risk or threat to the safety or welfare of a child placed in the foster home.
  • The foster home has failed to protect the health, welfare, or safety of a child or the foster home presents a threat to the health, welfare, or safety of a child.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Admin. Rules R. 37.51.207

The department may, at its discretion, issue a provisional license restricted for care of a specific child or children for any period up to 4 months to any license applicant for a youth foster home or kinship foster home that has:

  • Met all licensing requirements for fire safety
  • Completed and signed a release of information form provided by the department
  • Submitted completed fingerprint cards on all adult household members
  • A satisfactory child protective and adult protective services check for all adults present in the home
  • Agreed in writing to comply fully with all licensing requirements established by these rules prior to the expiration of the provisional license

The department may, at its discretion, renew a provisional license for no more than 2 months if the license applicant shows good cause for unintentional failure to comply fully with all licensing requirements within the time period covered by the prior provisional license.

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-4-101

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

Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division, Becoming a Foster Parent in Montana

State regulations full text