Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - New Jersey

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Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 3A:51-2.1; 3A:51-5.1

An applicant for an initial license shall be at least age 18 and a resident of New Jersey. If there is more than one resource family parent applicant in the household, the applicants shall submit a single application for a single license. Each applicant shall meet all requirements for licensure. When a couple lives together, both partners shall be considered to be resource family parents who shall meet the requirements contained in this chapter.

The resource family parent shall:

  • Be of good character
  • Possess skills, attributes, and characteristics conducive to caring effectively for a child in placement
  • Be in sufficient physical, mental, and emotional health to perform his or her duties satisfactorily
  • Be free of serious contagious diseases that may put a child in placement at risk
  • Refrain from abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Demonstrate reasonable and mature attitudes toward professional figures and institutions
  • Have sufficient income so that they are economically independent of board subsidy payments
  • Be able to provide daily care and supervision for each child in placement, as appropriate to the child's age and needs
  • Be able to provide sufficient time and attention to each child in placement without causing other family members' needs to go unmet or overburdening the resource family parent

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code § 3A:51-5.6

Prior to the issuance of a license, each applicant shall complete preservice training, provided or approved by the Department of Children and Families, that will adequately prepare the applicant with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide for the needs of the children who are or may be placed in the home, including those related to the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

Each resource family parent shall complete annual inservice training, provided or approved by the department, that will provide the resource family parent with the appropriate knowledge and skills to continue to provide for the needs of the children placed in the home, including those related to the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

Each new resource family parent added to the home shall complete the preservice and inservice training specified above within the timeframes determined by the department.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 3A:51-4.1; 3A:51-4.2; 3A:51-4.3; 3A:51-6.7; 3A:51-6.9; 3A:51-7.2; 3A:51-8.1

The resource family home shall be in compliance with all applicable local and State laws, including the Uniform Construction Code and the Uniform Fire Code, with respect to occupancy of a dwelling and health and fire safety provisions.

A telephone shall be in service in the home at all times when a child in placement is present.

At least one toilet, one washbasin and one bathtub or shower shall be provided in the home and shall be in good working order.

Each child in placement shall be provided with his or her own bed or crib, as age appropriate. The child shall sleep in a bedroom with sufficient space to provide for the safety, privacy, and comfort of the child. The bedroom shall have natural light and ventilation provided by one or more windows.

A battery-operated or hard-wired smoke detector shall be installed on each floor of the home and operable at all times. A carbon monoxide detector must be in operation adjacent to each bedroom area if the home contains fuel-burning appliances or has an attached garage used for motor vehicles.

The resource family parent shall ensure that pets kept in the home:

  • Pose no danger to the health, safety, or well-being of a child in placement
  • Are domesticated, nonaggressive, and vaccinated as required by law

All firearms shall be secured in a locked steel gun vault, and all ammunition shall be secured in a locked area separate from the firearm storage vault.

The resource family parent shall maintain a smoke-free environment in all indoor areas of the home and in all vehicles used to transport a child in placement.

Each resource family parent or household member who provides transportation to a child in placement shall have a current driver's license; automobile insurance coverage; and a vehicle with ample space, seatbelts, and age-appropriate safety seats for each child.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 3A:51-2.1; 3A:51-5.2; 3A:51-5.3; 3A:51-5.4; 3A:51-5.5

The applicant shall cooperate with the department or contract agency in the completion of all components of the home study process. The components of the home study process for an initial license shall include the following:

  • Inspection of the resource family home and surrounding area
  • Interviews with each resource family parent, child, and other household member

The applicant shall submit contact information for the following references, as applicable:

  • A medical reference, including a recommendation from a physician, for each applicant and household member
  • Three personal references
  • An employment reference for each employed applicant
  • A school or daycare reference for each child in the resource family who attends school or daycare
  • A child care reference for each applicant who has served as a child care provider or as a caregiver for a child placed by another agency

The applicant shall permit and participate in a home study by the department. The completed home study shall include the following:

  • Identifying information on each applicant and household member, including:
    • Current address and all previous addresses within the past 5 years, if applicable
    • A visa or other documentation as evidence of legal residency, if the applicant is not a U.S. citizen
  • A description of each room and indoor area in the home and the area outside the home
  • Information about all persons residing in the home
  • A statement of income and financial resources

Checks of State and Federal criminal history records and child abuse record information must be completed for each applicant and household member who is at least age 18. The department shall request information from another State's child abuse and neglect registry when any applicant or household member has resided in any State other than New Jersey during the past 5 years.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code § 3A:51-2.5

The Office of Licensing shall deny an application if the applicant or any household member age 18 or older has been convicted of a crime or offense specified in N.J. Statute § 30:4C-26.8.

The Office of Licensing is authorized to deny an application for good cause, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter
  • Fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining a license
  • Refusal to furnish the department with any required files, reports, or records
  • Refusal to permit an authorized representative of the department to gain admission to the home or to conduct an inspection or investigation
  • A conviction by the applicant or a household member age 18 or older for any crime or offense
  • A determination that a report of child abuse or neglect by the applicant or a household member has been substantiated
  • Any conduct, engaged in or permitted, that presents a serious hazard to the education; health; safety; general well-being; or physical, emotional, and social development of a child, or that otherwise fails to comply with the standards required for the provision of resource family care to a child and the maintenance of a resource family home

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-12.1; Admin. Code § 3A:51-2.1

In any case in which the department accepts a child in its care or custody, including placement, the department shall initiate a search for relatives who may be willing and able to provide the care and support required by the child. The search shall be initiated within 30 days of the department's acceptance of the child in its care or custody. The department shall complete an assessment of each interested relative's ability to provide the care and support, including placement, required by the child.

In regulation: Kinship care providers must be licensed. An applicant seeking to provide kinship care may be approved to care for a child prior to the issuance of a license, provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • A life/safety inspection of the home reveals no health, safety, or fire hazards in the physical facility of the home and the premises where the home is located.
  • A child abuse and neglect records check reveals that no adult residing in the home has been responsible for an incident of sexual abuse of a child, child abuse or neglect that caused serious injury or harm to a child, death to a child through abuse or neglect, or put a child at risk of serious injury or harm.
  • A check of court records reveals that no person residing in the home has been convicted of a crime specified in N.J. Statutes § 30:4C-26.8.
  • The applicant submits an application for licensure within 5 days following the placement of a child in the home.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code § 3A:51-1.2

A resource family parent shall include with whom a child is placed by the department for the purpose of adoption until said adoption is finalized.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:23-5

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 Children and Families, Become a Foster Parent: Requirements

Department of Children and Families, Kinship Care

Department of Children and Families, Foster and Adoption Services: Licensing Information 

State regulations full text, see title 3A, chapter 51.