Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - Tennessee

Date: February 2018

Who May Apply

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-5-502

The applicant must be capable in all substantial respects to care for children and have the ability and intent to comply with the licensing law and regulations.

Training Requirements

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.07

Agencies shall require foster parents to participate in ongoing training, including parenting techniques and discipline and the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-5-.09

There must be a living room or den for each group of children.

Each child must have a separate bed of suitable size. Children older than age 5 of the opposite sex must not sleep in the same room. Children must not sleep in the same room with adults. Exceptions may be desirable on infrequent occasions and for short periods of time in case of illness or temporary emotional upset. The sleeping area must provide 65 square feet of floor space for the first child and 50 square feet for each additional child. There shall be no more than four children per sleeping room.

The kitchen must be equipped to ensure sanitary conditions with a satisfactory method of refrigeration. Cooking and eating utensils must be kept in storage space that is protected from dust, insects, and other pests. Space that is secured and well out of the reach of children must be provided for storage of all bleaches, corrosives, or poisons.

Toilet and bathing facilities must be in the home. Toilets must be of the flush type. There must be adequate and sanitary sewage disposal. The water supply must be obtained from a source or system approved by the Department of Health and Environment.

There must be adequate smoke detectors and fire extinguishers to ensure fire safety.

Approval Process

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-5-511; Rules & Regs. R. 0250-4-9-.07

Each applicant is subject to a State and Federal criminal history records check. The agency also shall conduct an inquiry of the Department of Health's vulnerable persons registry for a review of the person's status on such registry.

In regulation: The agency shall make a study of foster home applicants prior to approval of the home for use. The study shall be in writing before children or pregnant women are placed in the home. The foster home study shall be based on consideration of the following points:

  • Information obtained through interviews with all members of the family living in the home
  • The applicants' motivation to provide foster care
  • The applicants' financial security
  • Information obtained through contacts with references, including nonrelatives
  • The physical and mental health of the foster parents and other family members
  • The character, values, and ethical standards of the foster family
  • The foster family's understanding of the need of children in foster care
  • The foster family's ability to work cooperatively with the agency
  • Health and fire safety conditions within the home

There shall be at least one visit to the home. The foster home study shall include the caseworker's evaluation of the applicants' suitability as a resource and recommendations as to approval of the home.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-5-511

An applicant shall be disqualified from licensure if he or she:

  • Has a conviction of an offense or a finding in a juvenile proceeding involving the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or gross neglect of a child
  • Has a conviction of an offense or a finding in a juvenile proceeding involving violence against a child or any person
  • Has a conviction of an offense determined by the department to present a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of children
  • Has any pending warrants or indictments or pending juvenile proceedings for such offenses or acts as a juvenile
  • Is listed on the Department of Health's vulnerable persons registry

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-414

When a child has been removed from his or her home, the department shall attempt to place the child with a relative for kinship foster care. If the relative is approved by the department to provide foster care services and a placement with the relative is made, the relative may receive payment for the full foster care rate for the care of the child and any other benefits that might be available to foster parents, whether in money or in services.

The department shall establish eligibility standards for becoming a kinship foster parent:

  • Relatives within the first, second, or third degree to the parent or stepparent of a child who may be related through blood, marriage, or adoption may be eligible for approval as a kinship foster parent.
  • The kinship foster parent shall be age 21 or older, except that if the spouse or partner of the relative is at least age 21 and living in the home and the relative is between age 18 and 21, the department may waive the age requirement.
  • A person may become a kinship foster parent only upon the completion of an investigation to ascertain if there is a State or Federal record of criminal history for the prospective kinship foster parent or any other adult residing in the prospective parent's home.

The department shall determine whether the person is able to care effectively for the foster child by:

  • Reviewing personal and professional references
  • Observing during a home visit of the kinship foster parent with household members
  • Interviewing the kinship foster parent

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-415

The department shall consider the foster parents as the possible first choice as permanent parents for the child who, after being in the foster parents' home for 12 months, becomes free for adoption or a planned permanent living arrangement.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-4-201

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's Services, Foster Parent Handbook 

State regulations full text