Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - New Mexico

Date:

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.4.8

Any adult age 18 or older who is a legal resident of the United States and a resident of New Mexico can apply to become a licensed foster parent. A foster family may be a single parent, a married couple, or an unmarried couple.

To be considered for a Protective Services Division (PSD) foster parent license issued by PSD, applicants shall have sufficient income, apart from the reimbursement, to support themselves and their families. PSD recruits foster families who demonstrate the ability to care for children in PSD custody and may deny applicants who are not willing to accept children in PSD custody.

Training Requirements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-18-1; Admin. Code § 8.26.4.14

A person who serves as a foster parent shall receive periodic training, to the extent of available resources, to develop his or her knowledge about children, the physical and psychological formation of children, and the impact of ethnicity on a child's needs. The training shall include study of the following:

  • Cross-cultural dynamics and sensitivity
  • Child development
  • Family composition and dynamics
  • Parenting skills and practices
  • Culturally appropriate treatment plans
  • Alternative health practices

In regulation: All foster parent applicants shall successfully complete the required preservice training prior to being licensed in New Mexico. All foster parents shall participate in at least 12 hours of approved training each year.

For foster parents licensed by PSD, 6 of the 12 hours of required training hours shall be determined by the PSD foster care and adoption bureau. The remaining hours shall be determined by the foster family and shall be approved by their PSD worker.

For foster parents licensed by child-placing agencies, the child-placing agencies shall provide a minimum of 12 hours of training annually to their licensed families. PSD may, in its sole discretion, mandate the specific topics in those 12 hours.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.4.13

A foster home shall have an adequate supply of sanitary water. It shall be kept clean and free of dirt, waste, and infestations of insects and rodents. Toilet and bathing facilities shall be provided and maintained in a sanitary manner.

The home shall have a separate bedroom for the foster parents and for any other adults living in or frequently residing in the home, except that a foster child under age 18 months may sleep in the same room with his or her foster parents.

There shall be a separate bed provided for each foster child, except that two children of the same gender may sleep in the same double bed. A foster child over age 5 shall not share a bedroom with another nonrelated child of the opposite gender.

The home shall have access to a safe indoor and outdoor designated play area. All outdoor play space and outdoor equipment shall be maintained in a sound state of repair and free of hazards.

The home shall have a readily available telephone in case of emergencies, at least one fire extinguisher, and smoke detectors appropriate for the square footage.

Pets shall be in good health, have current vaccinations, and have temperaments that are not frightening or hazardous to children. All weapons shall be stored and locked, with ammunition stored separately.

If the applicant operates an automobile, he or she shall have automobile insurance as required by law and a valid driver's license. Vehicles shall have age-appropriate, properly installed car seats for children.

Smoking shall be prohibited in the house and in any vehicle used for transporting foster children.

At initial licensure, the licensing agent will check the list of properties on clandestine drug laboratories in New Mexico to verify the home has not been listed as a contaminated property. The agent also shall check the statewide methamphetamine contamination registry to verify the home has not been registered. The verifications shall be documented in the home study.

Approval Process

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 8.26.4.10; 8.26.4.11; 8.26.4.12

The department conducts fingerprint-based Federal and State criminal records checks for all applicants and adults living in the home. PSD staff shall conduct an additional criminal record check of the applicant and all adult residents through a search of the court's database.

PSD staff also shall conduct a review of abuse and neglect records on the applicant and all adult residents. If the applicant or an adult resident lived in another State in the 5 years prior to the date of the application, PSD shall request that each State review its abuse and neglect registry for information on the applicant or other adult residents.

All applicants are assessed for their suitability to care for children who might be placed in their home. Although any previous foster care assessments shall be considered, the licensing agent shall conduct an independent assessment and home study. The assessment process includes:

  • A physical exam report that certifies that all adult household members are in good mental and physical health
  • Immunization records for any child residing in the home
  • A copy of the applicant's driver's license and proof of motor vehicle insurance
  • A copy of the applicant's current marriage license and all previous divorce decrees, if applicable
  • Proof of school enrollment or home schooling for all school-aged children residing in the home
  • Proof of the applicant's U.S. citizenship or permanent residency

The licensing agent shall contact the three references provided by the applicant and shall contact any adult children living out of the parental home. The licensing agent shall conduct at least one individual interview with each adult living in the applicant's home. This includes children and any relatives or other adults living in the home. If any person who lives in the home declines to be interviewed, the foster home shall not be licensed or certified. A minimum of two home visits shall be made to the proposed foster home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 8.26.4.8; 8.26.4.10; 8.26.4.11; 8.26.4.19

No persons shall be licensed as foster parents whose own children are currently in foster care. Persons whose children have been formerly in foster care may be licensed if the assessment determines that the problems leading to placement have been resolved.

Licensure shall not be approved when the criminal records checks for the applicant or any adult household member home reveal any of the following disqualifiers:

  • A felony conviction for child abuse or neglect; spousal abuse; or a crime against children, including child pornography
  • A conviction for any crime involving violence such as rape, sexual assault, or homicide (not including other physical assault or battery)
  • A felony conviction within the past 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

Applicants who have a conviction for other crimes are not automatically disqualified; however, this information shall be used to determine suitability for licensure.

If the applicant or any adult living in the applicant's home has been the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse of a child, or has been substantiated for child abuse that resulted in a child fatality, then the applicant shall not be licensed. In the event of a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect, other than substantiated sexual exploitation or sexual abuse as listed above, involving the applicant or any adult living in the home, the application is assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if the safety of any child in the home can be ensured.

An application for licensure may be denied based on a documented professional assessment that the applicant cannot adequately provide safety, permanency, and well-being for children or, when in the professional opinion of the licensing agent, conditions in the prospective foster home are not conducive to the fostering of children.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.4.16

Relatives who provide foster care to children in PSD custody must be licensed. A child in PSD custody may be placed on a provisional basis with a relative provided that the PSD worker:

  • Completes the initial relative assessment by collecting and assessing the following information:
    • The child's attitude toward the prospective caregiver
    • The prospective caregiver's attitude toward the child and parents
    • The prospective caregiver's motivation to foster the child
    • The prospective caregiver's ability to safely parent the child
    • A local background records check that does not contain a disqualifying conviction
    • A check of the Children, Youth and Families Department management information system for a referral history with PSD
    • Completion of the physical standards checklist
  • Obtains supervisory approval

The safety of the child is the primary consideration. If this is ever in conflict with the placement of the child with a relative, PSD will make the placement decision in favor of the child's safety.

A provisional license is limited to 60 days with one possible 30-day extension at the discretion of the PSD deputy director. When a child is placed in the home under a provisional license, the relative foster parents are expected to complete all requirements of foster home licensing within 60 days of placement. Failure to meet these requirements within the 60-day timeframe shall result in the removal of the child.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Admin. Code § 8.26.2.24

The PSD shall attempt to place foster children with concurrent plans of adoption in foster homes that have been identified as concurrent families. PSD completes the preplacement home study for foster parents and treatment foster parents who have been selected as adoptive parents for children in PSD custody.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 32A-11-1

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

Licensing Requirements for Foster and Adoptive Homes