Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Nebraska

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 395, §§ 3-001.02B; 3-001.03C; 3-001.3D; 3-001.04

To be licensed for foster care, a person must be the age of majority. If legally married, both spouses must be licensed and meet all regulations in this section.

All adults providing foster care shall:

  • Be mentally and physically able to provide care and supervision
  • Exercise reasonable judgment in caring for children
  • Not engage in or have a history of behaviors that would injure or endanger the health or morals of children
  • Provide:
    • Three favorable character references, only one of which may be related to the applicant
    • Health reports indicating they are physically capable of caring for children
  • Cooperate with the licensing agency

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 395, § 3-001.28

The licensee must complete training as follows:

  • Before initial licensure, no less than 21 clock-hours of preservice training approved by the Department of Health and Human Services that has been obtained within the 12 months immediately prior to licensure
  • For license renewal, at least 12 clock-hours of department-approved inservice trainings annually within the effective dates or his or her license

The applicant/licensee must provide written documentation of training received.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code 395, §§ 3-001.15; 3-001.17; 3-001.18

Foster home licensees shall ensure that safety restraints are available and used for each child transported.

The licensee shall ensure the following:

  • A minimum of 35 square feet per individual, excluding bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen
  • That bedrooms or sleeping areas provide:
    • At least 35 square feet for each child
    • Each child with a bed, bedding, and a place to store his or her belongings
    • Separate bedrooms for children of opposite sexes
  • That the water supply meets acceptable standards
  • That drugs, cleaning agents, poisons, and other potentially hazardous items, materials, or equipment are inaccessible to youth
  • That all weapons and firearms are unloaded and locked or stored in a locked cabinet and stored separately from all ammunition
  • That the grounds are clean, well-drained, and hazard-free
  • That household pets have no history of aggression, are licensed as required, and are current on any necessary vaccinations
  • That the home has:
    • At least two exits on grade level
    • At least two means of escape from every level of the home that is used for sleeping
    • Operable smoke detectors located on each level of the home

Approval Process

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 71-1903; Admin. Code 395, § 3-001.05

Before issuance of a license, the department shall conduct an investigation to assess the character of the applicant and any member of the applicant's household to ensure the proper care and treatment of children.

The department may request the State Fire Marshal to inspect such places for fire safety and may conduct sanitation and health standards investigations to determine if standards of health and sanitation set by the department are being met.

Before the foster care placement of any child in Nebraska by the department, the department shall require a national criminal history record information check of the prospective foster parent and each member of such prospective foster parent's household who is age 18 or older. The department shall provide two sets of legible fingerprints for each person to the Nebraska State Patrol for submission to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A child may be placed in foster care by the department prior to the completion of a criminal history record information check in emergency situations, as determined by the department.

In regulation: The licensee and all other members of the household must submit to required background checks, as follows:

  • Each household member age 13 and older must be checked with:
    • The central registry in any State the applicant has lived within the past 5 years
    • The adult protective services central registry
  • Each household member age 18 and older must be checked with:
    • The appropriate local law enforcement agency
    • The sex offender registry for any State in which the applicant has lived within the past 5 years
    • State-level criminal history
    • Fingerprint-based national criminal history check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 395, §§ 3-001.08; 3-003.04

If the individual has a criminal history or history of child abuse or neglect, the department will determine if the criminal history allows or prohibits licensure, based on the following criteria:

  • Ineligible: A person convicted of a felony involving abuse or neglect of a child, spousal abuse, a crime against a child or children (including child pornography) or a crime of violence (including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery) is ineligible to provide foster care. A person who is identified as a perpetrator on a central registry or equivalent in any State is ineligible to provide foster care.
  • Ineligible for 5 years: A person convicted of a felony involving physical assault (other than a crime of violence described above), battery, or a drug-related offense is ineligible to provide foster care for 5 years after the date of conviction.
  • Eligible at department's discretion: If a person has been convicted of a crime that does not otherwise result in ineligibility, the department will review the facts and circumstances of the conviction to determine whether the person is eligible to provide foster care.

In order to be complete, a home study must be in writing, include information regarding all required elements, and have the written approval of the department. If at any point, the department determines that the subject of the home study is unable or unwilling to provide the required care, the home study will be considered incomplete, and approval of placement will be denied.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 71-1904; Admin. Code 395, §§ 3-001.22; 3-002.01

The department may issue a waiver for any licensing standard not related to children's safety for a relative home that is pursuing licensure. Such waivers shall be granted on a case-by-case basis upon assessment by the department based upon the best interests of the child. A relative home that receives a waiver pursuant to this subsection shall be considered fully licensed for purposes of Federal reimbursement under the Federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351).

In regulation: The department in its discretion may waive the following licensing requirements for an applicant who is related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the child requiring placement:

  • That no more than one relative may provide a reference
  • The maximum number of persons for whom care can be provided
  • The minimum square feet needed per child
  • That a home has at least two exits on grade level
  • Training

Emergency approval of a relative or kinship is allowed when approval prior to placement is unfeasible, subject to the following requirements:

  • Visit to the home of the potential caregiver, including a face-to-face meeting with at least one of the prospective adult caregivers
  • Assurance that there is adequate housing
  • Assurance that the adult caregiver is able to adequately meet the needs of the child
  • Completion of relevant background checks on all household members

Emergency approval will not extend beyond 60 days from the date of placement without an extension by the department.

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-1103; Admin. Code Tit. 395, § 3-001.07C

Prior to sending a child to a receiving State, the public child-placing agency shall submit a written request for assessment to the receiving State. The sending State and the receiving State may request additional information or documents prior to finalization of an approved placement.

Upon receipt of a request from the public child-placing agency of the sending State, the receiving State shall initiate an assessment of the proposed placement to determine its safety and suitability. If the proposed placement is a placement with a relative, the public child-placing agency of the sending State may request a determination for a provisional placement.

The public child-placing agency in the receiving State shall approve a provisional placement and complete or arrange for the completion of the assessment within the timeframes established by the rules of the Interstate Commission.

In regulation: If the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children applies to the placement, the department will include the results of all background checks except for the national criminal history check when appropriate or can state that there is no known criminal history.

Links to Resources

State regulations full text (PDF - 148 KB)