Home Study Requirements for Prospective Foster Parents - West Virginia

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Who May Apply

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

An agency shall accept applications from and recruit foster parents with the life experiences, personal characteristics, and temperament suitable for working with children in need of care and shall provide verification of marital status, if applicable, upon request. Foster parents shall:

  • Be nurturing, responsible, patient, stable, flexible, mature, healthy adults capable of meeting the individual and specific needs of children referred for placement services
  • Be no younger than age 21 and no older than age 65, unless a waiver is granted by the secretary
  • Provide the agency with documentation of sufficient income and financial resources to meet their financial obligations

Training Requirements

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-20

As a condition of approval, an agency shall require that each foster parent participate in specified training curriculum. An agency shall develop and implement a written plan for the orientation, annual training, and child-specific training for foster parents. An agency shall document in the foster parents' record the date, subject, and a brief description of the training, its duration, and the name and title of the training instructor.

Prior to the placement of a child, the agency shall complete foster parent orientation on the placement process; the agency's services and programs; legal aspects of foster care; the agency's discipline policies; behavior management; crisis deescalation and intervention; and first aid training, including cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In addition to orientation training, an agency shall provide foster parents with a minimum of 15 hours of ongoing training during the first year of approval. After the first year of approval, an agency shall provide foster parents with a minimum of 12 hours of ongoing annual training in addition to training in first aid and CPR.

An agency shall provide child-specific training to assist foster parents in implementing a child's service plan or a specific treatment objective.

Minimum Standards for Foster Homes

Citation: Code of State Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-2-15

All vehicles used to transport children must be maintained in safe running condition and in compliance with State law. The vehicles must be covered by liability insurance, and all licensed drivers must be included in the policy. Anyone who transports children must have a valid driver's license. Foster parents must use safety seats and seat belts when transporting children.

The physical facilities of a foster home must be free of any health or safety hazards, and they must be sufficiently clean and comfortable to ensure the well-being and respect of the family in the community. Homes must have indoor and an outdoor recreation areas free of unsanitary or hazardous items and have toys available to children that are appropriate for their ages.

For sleeping:

  • Each child shall have an individual bed that is not a cot or roll-away bed.
  • A maximum of four children may share a bedroom.
  • A child shall not share a bedroom or a bed with an adult or a child of the opposite sex.

The foster home must have an operative telephone.

Household items, including cleaning supplies, toxic or flammable materials, medicines, and alcoholic beverages that may be hazardous to a child, must be stored in areas inaccessible to children. Weapons, related attachments, and ammunition must be stored in a locked container inaccessible to children.

The home must have:

  • A battery-operated smoke detector located near the child's bedroom
  • A fire extinguisher located in the kitchen
  • An operative flashlight that is easily accessible for emergency lighting

All animals owned by the foster parents that come in contact with a child in placement must be vaccinated as required by State law.

Approval Process

Citation: Code of State Rules §§ 78-2-13; 78-2-16

Prior to approval, foster parents shall provide the agency with a medical exam report from a physician for the foster parents and all other household members certifying they are in good health, free of communicable diseases, and have had a tuberculin risk assessment or skin test.

Foster parents shall provide the agency with the names of no less than four references from persons who are not related to them. The agency shall ensure that three of the four references are interviewed face to face or by telephone to discuss in detail their responses and any related information.

Prior to approval, all adult household members shall complete a Statement of Criminal Record form, a Statement of Child Abuse or Neglect History form, and a signed release authorizing the department to verify the information.

An agency shall conduct a comprehensive written home study with the prospective foster parents and all household members prior to placing a child in the home, including a minimum of one individual in-person interview for each parent and two joint interviews. The study shall describe the family's:

  • Household composition and intra-family relationships
  • Attitudes, values, and level of understanding of child development and sex education
  • The family decision-making process
  • The manner in which the family handles conflict, stress, and frustration
  • Hobbies, recreation, community activities, and social life
  • Financial situation
  • Motivation to become foster parents
  • Attitudes about having a foster child in the home
  • Methods of discipline

The home study shall identify the foster parents' strengths, attributes, abilities, weaknesses, potential problem areas, or concerns as the basis for approval. The home study shall make a recommendation regarding the number, ages, and gender of children for which the home may be approved for placement and any other special conditions or circumstances that may apply.

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

An agency shall not approve foster parents whose health, behavior, or emotional or psychological make-up may endanger the well-being of a child. An agency shall not approve a foster home unless all references for the foster parents are positive in nature.

An agency shall not approve a home for foster care if a household member has any convictions other than minor traffic violations. Special circumstances may allow a waiver to be granted by the secretary.

Kinship Foster Care

Citation: Pol. Man. § 14.6

In cases where a certification is requested for a relative or a person who the child views as a relative, the certification of the family must take priority. The certification should be completed within 45 days from the date of placement of the child in the relative's home or from the date that the request for the certification is made.

Once the child's worker determines that a kinship/relative certification is needed for a child being removed from home, the child's worker must assess the relative's home for general safety and well-being concerns by using the Kinship/Relative Home Study Request form prior to placing a child in the relative's home and/or requesting certification.

The child's worker must make the referral for certification to the homefinding staff immediately. A homefinding specialist will visit the kinship/relative home within 5 calendar days of placing a child in the home. At the initial visit, the specialist will do the following:

  • Complete the safety screen form
  • Schedule the provider to complete their fingerprint scans
  • Assess the home for any specific trainings and/or services needed
  • Inform the provider that they may attend PRIDE training if they wish, but that their certification is not contingent on the completion of such
  • Gather two nonrelative references from the provider that will be contacted in person or by telephone

There are two kinship/relative provider types. Regular kinship/relative providers will receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families until certification is complete. 'Certified' kinship/relative providers will receive the foster care boarding care rate of $600 per month, per child from the date of certification. The kinship/relative provider will not be fully certified as a foster/adoptive home until all of the requirements have been met, such as the receipt of background checks, a completed safety assessment of the home, and an approved training/home study waiver.

Foster to Adopt

Citation: Code of State Rules § 78-2-13

The criteria used to approve foster parents also are used to approve prospective adoptive parents.

Interjurisdictional Approval

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-7-101

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 Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Social Services, Child Welfare Policy: