Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Rhode Island

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Regs. for Licensure § 3

One or two adults as head of household may receive a foster and adoption license. The caregiver must be at least age 21. A kinship caregiver age 18 to 20 may be considered.

The caregiver and any household member must not have a physical, behavioral, or mental health condition that the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) determines may adversely affect the child's care.

The caregiver must have sufficient income and appropriate fiscal management to maintain its stability and security without a monthly foster maintenance payment. Written verification of income and expenses must be provided to DCYF upon request. The foster maintenance, birthday, clothing, and holiday allowance/payment must be used solely to meet the individual needs of the child in care.

The caregiver must demonstrate the competence, interpersonal qualities, and life experiences that enable him or her to provide quality care. The caregiver must be able to read and write and demonstrate all of the following personal characteristics:

  • Maturity
  • Stability
  • Flexibility
  • Ability to cope with stress
  • Capacity to give and receive love
  • Good character

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of Rules § 03 000 015(VI)(H)21; Regs. for Licensure, § 2

The child-placing agency shall provide preservice training, approved by DCYF, to foster parents prior to placing a child in the home. The child-placing agency shall provide a licensed foster parent with a minimum of 8 hours of inservice training annually, approved by DCYF, during the term of the license.

In policy: The applicant for a foster care and adoption license must successfully complete a course of preservice training as required by DCYF. All courses will be provided or approved by DCYF.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Regs. for Licensure § 3

The house and premises shall be free of safety hazards and conform to necessary State and local codes and ordinances. The home shall be maintained in a clean, safe, and sanitary condition and in a reasonable state of repair.

The home shall:

  • Be adequately heated and safely lighted and ventilated
  • Have a working telephone
  • Have a continuous supply of safe drinking water
  • Be equipped with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers
  • Keep any firearms or other weapons inaccessible to a child

Bathroom and toilet facilities shall be located inside the home, connected to an indoor plumbing system, maintained in good working order.

Living rooms, dining rooms, and halls shall not be used as bedrooms for the foster child or any other household member. An exemption may be made for relative caregivers. Each foster child shall have his or her own bed of a type and size appropriate to the child's stage of development. Each infant shall have his or her own full size crib that must conform to all safety regulations.

Except for children younger than age 1, sufficient sleeping space shall be available so that neither the parent's own child nor the foster child shares the bedroom of any adult. A child older than age 3 shall not share a bedroom with any child of the opposite sex.

Space must be provided within the bedroom for the child's personal possessions and a reasonable degree of privacy. No more than four children shall be permitted to sleep in one bedroom.

A child in care must not be exposed to secondhand smoke in the caregiver's home or vehicle by any person.

Pets must be kept in a safe and sanitary manner and have up-to-date rabies vaccinations.

Any vehicle used to transport a child must be maintained in a safe condition and insured as required by law. The child must be in an appropriate child safety restraint or seatbelt, in accordance with Federal and State law.

Approval Process

Citation: Regs. for Licensure § 2

The home study includes the following:

  • Nationwide, fingerprint-based criminal records checks for each applicant and household member age 18 and older
  • A DCYF record check on each applicant and all other persons living in the home for any history of substantiated child abuse or neglect
  • A central registry check of all applicants and household members age 18 and older who have lived in another State in the preceding 5 years
  • Interviews with all household members
  • Assessment of the applicant's parenting ability that takes into account the following:
    • Motivation for becoming a foster parent
    • Existing family relationships, especially where such relationships might affect the child in care
    • Capacity to provide for the needs of the child in care while giving proper parenting to all children in the household
    • Realistic assessment of positive and negative aspects of foster parenthood
    • Ability to participate in carrying out the plan for the child in care, including his or her transition from foster care
    • Ability to accept the relationships of the child in care with his or her birth family, including visitations
    • Background information, including a written self-assessment
    • Child care experience and parenting philosophy
    • Information regarding past and present marriage and/or partnership relationships
    • Health history
    • Description of home and local community, including any health and safety concerns regarding the home
    • Documentation that the residence complies with State building codes and the fire inspection and lead safety requirements
    • Information regarding the applicant's education, finances, and employment, including verification of income and expenses
    • Personal reference letters from at least three individuals, two of which are unrelated to the applicant, who have known the applicant for at least 2 years and can comment on the applicant's lifestyle and values

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Regs. for Licensure § 2

A license may be denied for the following reasons:

  • The applicant or a household member has disqualifying criminal activity.
  • The applicant or a household member has been convicted of a criminal offense that is not automatically disqualifying if that conduct has an impact upon the fitness and suitability of the applicant to provide care for a child.
  • The record check indicates that a protective services investigation is pending or if there is a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect on any member of the household.
  • The applicant or a household member has a history of department activity that is not automatically disqualifying, but that history has an impact upon the fitness and suitability of the applicant to provide care for a child.
  • The applicant or other household member has a past or current history of substance abuse deemed to be currently detrimental to the care of children.
  • The biological parent or legal guardian of the child in care resides with the applicant.
  • The applicant fails to cooperate with the department in its licensing process, including the falsification or omission of facts.
  • The applicant fails to comply with any of these regulations.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Gen. Laws § 14-1-27; Regs. for Licensure § 1

When DCYF is awarded temporary custody of a child due to allegations of abuse, neglect, or dependency, DCYF shall have the duty to investigate the possibility of placing the child with a fit and willing relative not residing with the parents. DCYF shall conduct an assessment into the appropriateness of placement of the child with the relative within 30 days of the award of temporary custody. If the department determines that the relative is a fit and proper person to have placement of the child, the child shall be placed with that relative, unless the particular needs of the child make the placement contrary to the child's best interests. All placements with relatives shall be subject to criminal records checks in accordance with § 14-1-34, foster care regulations promulgated by DCYF, and interstate compact approval, if necessary.

Whenever the court determines that permanent placement or adoption is in the best interests of a child, a fit and willing relative who has been awarded placement of the child shall be given priority over a nonrelative, provided that the placement or adoption is in the best interests of the child.

In policy: The application process is similar for both kinship and nonkinship (generic) providers. The department provides monthly foster maintenance payments to kinship homes pending licensing as soon as background clearances, including nationwide fingerprint checks, are received by the department, for a period not to exceed 6 months from the date of placement. If the home is not licensed within this timeframe, the foster maintenance payment may be terminated.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Gen. Laws § 42-72-5.1; Regs. for Licensure § 1

The foster parents of a child, committed to DCYF by the family court, who has had the physical custody of the child for a period of 2 years or more may petition the family court for the adoption of the child.

The court shall give notice of the petition to the natural parents and, after a hearing thereon, the court may grant the petition, if it finds:

  • That DCYF has made every effort to involve the natural parents in planning for the child
  • That the natural parents did not exercise reasonable visitation rights with the child
  • That termination of the rights of the natural parents and adoption by the foster parents is in the best interests of the child

In policy: Prospective foster and adoptive parents are subject to the same licensing process, including screening, interview, home study, training, and background checks. The foster care and adoption license allows a licensed caregiver to transition to or from the role of foster or adoptive parent without requiring a new home study or additional training.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-15-1

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

Resources from the Department of Children, Youth and Families: