Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Pennsylvania

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 55, § 3700.62

Foster parents shall be at least age 21. Foster parents shall pass an initial medical appraisal by a licensed physician prior to being approved. The appraisal must establish that the foster parents are physically able to care for children and are free from communicable disease. Further medical examinations may be required by the agency if the agency has reason to believe that additional medical appraisal is appropriate.

Training Requirements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 55, § 3700.65

A foster parent shall participate annually in a minimum of 6 hours of agency-approved training.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 55, §§ 3700.66; 3700.67

The foster family residence must have the following:

  • At least one flush toilet, one washbasin, and one bath or shower with hot and cold running water
  • An operable heating system
  • An operable telephone

Sleeping areas shall meet the following criteria:

  • No unsuitable area such as a hall, stairway, unfinished attic or basement, garage, bathroom, eating area, closet, shed or detached building may be used as a sleeping area for children.
  • Foster children of the opposite sex who are age 5 or older may not share the same bedroom.
  • Each foster child shall be provided with a clean, comfortable mattress and clean linens, blankets, and pillow.

Foster home safety requirements include the following:

  • Medication and poisonous, caustic, toxic, flammable, or other dangerous materials shall be inaccessible to children younger than age 5.
  • Fireplaces, stoves, and free-standing space heaters, if allowed by local ordinance, shall be installed, equipped, and operated according to manufacturers' specifications and requirements specified by local ordinance.
  • An operable smoke detector shall be placed on each level of the residence.
  • A portable fire extinguisher shall be available in the kitchen and other cooking areas.
  • Protective safety caps shall be placed in electrical outlets accessible to children younger than age 5. Exposed electrical wires are prohibited.

Approval Process

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6344

Applicants for approval as foster parents shall submit the following information:

  • A report of criminal history record information from the State police
  • A certification from the department as to whether the applicant is named in the central register as the perpetrator of a founded or indicated report of child abuse
  • A report of Federal criminal history record information

In addition, the foster family care agency shall consider the following when assessing the ability of applicants:

  • The ability to provide care, nurturing, and supervision to children
  • Mental and emotional well-being
  • Supportive community ties with family, friends, and neighbors
  • Existing family relationships
  • The ability of the applicant to accept a foster child's relationship with his or her own parents
  • The ability to care for children with special needs

The department shall require information in the following areas:

  • Composition of the resident family unit
  • Protection from abuse orders filed by or against either parent
  • Drug-related or alcohol-related arrests or hospitalizations within the last 5 years
  • Evidence of financial stability, including income verification and employment history
  • Number of and ages of foster children and other dependents currently placed in the home
  • Detailed information regarding children with special needs currently living in the home
  • Previous history as a foster parent, including number and types of children served
  • Related education, training, or personal experience working with foster children or the child welfare system

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6344

A foster family care agency may not approve a prospective foster parent if the prospective foster parent or an individual age 14 or older who resides for at least 30 days in a calendar year with the prospective foster parent meets either of the following:

  • He or she is named in the central register as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse committed within the immediately preceding 5 years.
  • He or she has been found guilty of an offense listed in subsection (c)(2) of this section.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6351; Pa. Stat. Tit. 62, § 1303

If the child is found to be a dependent child, the court may transfer legal custody to any individual resident within or without the Commonwealth, including any relative, who, after study by the probation officer or other person or agency designated by the court, is found by the court to be qualified to receive and care for the child.

If a child has been removed from the child's home under a voluntary placement agreement or is in the legal custody of the county agency, the county agency shall give first consideration to placement with relatives or kin. The county agency shall document that an attempt was made to place the child with a relative or kin. If the child is not placed with a relative or kin, the agency shall document the reason why such placement was not possible.

The department shall promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this article. These regulations shall provide that relatives receive the same foster care rate as other foster parents if they are complying with the regulations governing foster parents.

Foster to Adopt

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

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Pa. Stat. Tit. 62, § 761

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

State regulations, title 55, part V: Children, Youth, and Families Manual