Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - New York

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.2

Each foster parent must be age 21 or older. Each member of the household of the foster family must be in good physical and mental health and free from communicable diseases. Each applicant must understand the role of a foster parent and possess the ability, motivation, and psychological readiness to be a foster parent.

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.2

Authorized agencies must orient applicants who have been accepted for a home study or, in the case of relatives who are in the process of a home study, to:

  • The social, family, and personal problems that lead to family breakdown and the need for the placement of children
  • The problems and reactions of children upon separation
  • The nature of the relationship of agency staff to foster parents and children, including definitions of the function and responsibility of the social workers assigned to the children and their families
  • The payments to foster parents for care and expenses
  • The definition of foster family care and certification or approval of the home
  • The rights and responsibilities of a foster parent

Authorized agencies must provide training to each certified or approved foster parent in a training program approved by the Office of Children and Family Services that will prepare foster parents to meet the needs of children in their care so that the best interests of the children placed by the agency will be met. Such training must include knowledge and skills relating to the reasonable and prudent parent standard for the participation of the child in foster care in age or developmentally appropriate activities.

The training will, as appropriate, help the foster parent to understand the issues confronting children preparing for another planned living arrangement with a permanency resource and will, to the extent possible, be coordinated with a child's program to develop life skills for the purpose of preparing for another planned living arrangement with a permanency resource. The training also must include information on eligibility for the kinship guardianship assistance and the nonrecurring guardianship expenses programs, as well as the medical coverage available to certain relative foster parents under the kinship guardianship assistance program.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.3

The physical facilities of the foster home or relative foster home must be in good condition and present no hazard to the health and safety of children. The foster home must be in substantial compliance with all applicable provisions of State and local laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations concerning health and safety. The physical space, construction, and maintenance of the foster home and premises must be in good repair and kept in a sufficiently clean and sanitary condition so that the physical well-being and a reasonable degree of physical comfort are ensured the members of the foster family.

Separate bedrooms are required for children of the opposite sex older than age 7, unless the children are siblings or half-siblings sharing the same bedroom and the alternative sleeping arrangement is consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of each of the siblings or half-siblings and is necessary to keep the siblings or half-siblings placed together in the same foster home. No more than three persons may occupy any bedroom where children sleep unless the children are siblings or half-siblings.

No child older than age 3 may sleep in the same room with an adult of the opposite sex. Children must not sleep together in the same bed with an adult. Each child must have sleeping space of sufficient size for the child's safety, comfort, and privacy. Each child must have a separate bed or crib of sufficient size and cleanliness for the comfort and well-being of the child.

There must be an adequate and safe supply of water for drinking and household use. Adequate bathing, toilet, and lavatory facilities must be provided and kept in sanitary condition. The home must be free from fire hazards and equipped with at least one smoke detector.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.2

Each applicant and each person over age 18 currently residing in the home must provide:

  • Fingerprints for the purpose of a criminal history record check
  • Completed forms for the agency to inquire whether any of them are the subject of an indicated child abuse or maltreatment report on file with the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment and, where applicable, to request child abuse and maltreatment information from the applicable child welfare agency of a State where the person resided in the 5 years preceding the application

Each agency must establish a procedure to review and evaluate the backgrounds of and information supplied by all applicants for certification or approval. As part of this procedure, applicants must be required to submit all of the following information:

  • Employment history
  • References who can verify the applicant's employment history, work record, and qualifications
  • At least three personal references, other than relatives, who can attest to the applicant's character, habits, reputation, and personal qualifications
  • A sworn statement by the applicant indicating whether, to the best of his or her knowledge, he or she or any other person over age 18 currently residing in the home has ever been convicted of a crime in New York State or any other jurisdiction
  • A medical report regarding the foster family's general health; the absence of communicable disease, infection, or illness; or any physical conditions that might affect the proper care of a foster child
  • The result of a tuberculosis screening

A home study must determine compliance with all criteria for certification or approval. The agency must explore each applicant's understanding of the role of a foster parent and the applicant's ability, motivation, and psychological readiness to be a foster parent. The agency also must explore the understanding of the other members of the household about foster care and their concept of a foster child's role in the family.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, §§ 443.2 ; 443.8

An agency may deny an application for certification when the Office of Children and Family Services has notified the agency that the applicant is the subject of an indicated report of child abuse or maltreatment on file with the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

An application for certification as a foster parent will be denied when a criminal history record of the prospective foster parent reveals the following:

  • A felony conviction at any time involving the following:
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Spousal abuse
    • A crime against a child, including child pornography
    • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, other than a crime involving physical assault or battery
  • A felony conviction within the past 5 years for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.7

The home of a relative may be approved as an emergency foster home if the department documents a compelling reason why the home needs to be approved on an emergency basis and an eligible relative or nonrelative volunteers to provide foster care to the child. An eligible nonrelative may include a child's godparent, neighbor, family friend, or an adult with a positive relationship with the child.

Before placing a foster child with a relative on an emergency basis, the agency must perform a home study of the relative's home and family on an expedited basis to ensure that there is no apparent risk to the health and safety of the child. As part of the home study, the agency must:

  • Obtain character references
  • Review agency records to determine whether or not the relatives have a prior history of abuse or maltreatment

If the home is found suitable after the requirements above have been completed, it will be approved as an emergency foster home or an emergency relative foster home for 90 days from the date of placement of the child in the home.

Within 7 days of placement, the agency must request a State central registry check of the applicant and other adults residing in the home. If the applicant or other adult resident lived in another State at any time during the 5 previous years, registry checks must be requested from that State. Within 2 weeks of placement, the foster parent and all adult residents must submit their fingerprints for the purpose of State and Federal criminal history record checks.

A foster home approved on an expedited basis may continue to provide foster care beyond the 90th day of approval when the foster parent has otherwise satisfied all of the requirements for final certification as a foster home except for the completion of background checks. Once the checks are completed, and the agency determines that the home should continue to be certified, a final certification must be issued for the home.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.9

At the time of application for certification or approval as a foster parent, an applicant is authorized, but not required, to also apply for approval as an adoptive parent. Nothing herein may be deemed to require an individual to apply for concurrent certification/approval. The standards for studying an individual for approval as an adoptive parent are the same as those for the certification or approval of a foster parent. An applicant for concurrent foster home certification/approval and adoptive parent approval will not be required to submit dual documentation to the authorized agency.

In addition to the standards referenced above, the authorized agency must apply the marital standards as set forth in § 421.16(d) of this title.

An authorized agency may reject an applicant if it is determined, after a thorough adoption study, that:

  • The applicant is physically or emotionally incapable of caring for an adopted child.
  • The applicant's approval would not be in the best interests of the children awaiting adoptions.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Code of Rules & Regs. Tit. 18, § 443.2

When the Office of Children and Family Services, through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, receives a request to conduct a home study for the certification or approval of persons in New York as foster parents for the placement of a foster child from another State, the office will transmit the request to the social services district in which the prospective foster parents reside for the purpose of conducting a home study and approving the prospective foster parents in accordance with these regulations. The social services district must complete and return the home study to the Office of Children and Family Services and to the State or local agency that submitted the request within 60 days.

The term 'home study' means an assessment of the safety and suitability of placing the child in the home of the prospective foster parents based on an evaluation of a home environment conducted in accordance with applicable requirements of regulation to determine whether the proposed placement would meet the individual needs of the child, including the child's safety; permanency; health; well-being; and mental, emotional, and physical development.

When a social services district proposes to place a foster child with prospective foster parents in another State, the social services district must treat a home study received from another State, Indian Tribe, or private agency under contract with the other State as meeting the requirements imposed by New York State for the completion of a home study before placing a child or children in the home, unless within 14 days of receipt of the home study, the social services district determines, based on the content of the home study, that making a decision in reliance on the home study would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

Links to Resources

State regulations