Home Study Requirements for Prospective Parents in Domestic Adoption - Arkansas

Date:

Who Must Be Studied

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

Each member of the adoptive family shall be included in the approval process. In a two-parent home, both parents shall be joint applicants, and both applicants shall actively participate in the approval process.

Any household member who resides in the home for more than 3 cumulative months in a calendar year must clear the following background checks: Arkansas Child Maltreatment Central Registry, Arkansas Adult Maltreatment Central Registry, Arkansas State Police Criminal Record Check, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Background Check.

Agency or Person Conducting the Study

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

Before placement of a child in the home of the adoptive parent, the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will conduct a home study. The purpose of the home study is to evaluate the prospective adoptive parent's ability to meet the child's needs as well as evaluate their compliance with minimum licensing standards and DCFS policy requirements for adoptive homes.

DCFS will participate in the adoption of a minor who is in the custody of the Department of Human Services or for whom the court has retained jurisdiction only if either the person seeking to adopt the child or the child is currently a resident of Arkansas.

Qualifications for Adoptive Parents

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

The applicant must be at least age 21. The applicant who is a primary caregiver should be at an age that it can be anticipated that he or she can actively parent the child into adulthood. Generally, at least a 10-year age difference and no more than a 45-year age difference between the child and adoptive applicant are preferred.

In a two-parent home, the couple shall demonstrate a stable relationship.

Members of the household must not have a health condition or disability that would interfere with the family's ability to parent the child. Each member of the household shall have a physical examination by a physician within 6 months prior to the approval of the adoption home study and annually thereafter until placement of a child.

The applicant must have sufficient resources to meet the financial, medical, physical, educational, emotional, and shelter needs of the child without depending solely on State or Federal financial assistance to meet those needs (although such forms of assistance may be used to supplement a family's income).

Before a prospective adoptive parent can begin preservice training, the central registry and State police criminal background checks must be completed, and the FBI criminal background check must have been submitted. Adoptive parents must complete the division's preservice training curriculum, which includes 27 hours of preservice training and 3 hours of DCFS orientation prior to placement of a child in their home. Adoptive parents must also complete cardiopulmonary resuscitation and standard first aid training and receive certification in both areas prior to placement of a child in their home.

Elements of a Home Study

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

Criteria for consideration in determining the appropriateness of adoptive homes include the following:

  • Space in the residence must be adequate to promote health and safety. Each bedroom should have at least 50 square feet of space per occupant.
  • All firearms must be maintained in a secure, locked location separate from ammunition.
  • All water hazards and dangerous pets will be assessed. Safeguard measures will be implemented, as appropriate.
  • Children of opposite sexes shall have their own separate bedrooms if either child is age 4 or older, except for a mother in foster care with her child.
  • Water must be provided by the public water system or approved by the Department of Health.
  • DCFS shall not place or permit a child to be placed in a home if the prospective adoptive parent smokes or allows anyone else to smoke in the presence of the child unless it is in the child's best interests to be placed in or remain in the adoptive home.

Background checks must be completed as follows:

  • Each member of the household age 14 and older, excluding children in foster care, must agree to a child maltreatment central registry check in any State in which the person has lived for the past 5 years.
  • Each member of the household age 18 and 1/2 and older, excluding children in foster care, who resides in Arkansas must agree to be cleared through the following:
    • The Arkansas Adult Maltreatment Central Registry
    • An Arkansas State police criminal record check
    • A fingerprint-based FBI criminal background check

The adoption specialist will do the following:

  • Make at least two visits in person with the prospective adoptive family, with at least one visit being in the home
  • Have a separate, face-to-face interview with each prospective adoptive parent
  • Interview in person each household member who is age 10 or older

Grounds for Withholding Approval

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G; Ann. Code § 9-28-116

If the prospective adoptive home is found to be out of compliance with a licensing standard or a DCFS policy, this noncompliance issue must be addressed. However, if the adoption specialist or the individual conducting the home study determines that the noncompliance issue would not endanger the safety or well-being of children placed in a home, an alternative compliance or policy waiver may be requested as appropriate. (An alternative compliance is a request for approval from the Child Welfare Agency Review Board to deviate from a minimum licensing standard, while a policy waiver is a request to deviate from a DCFS policy or procedure.)

If there is a pending child maltreatment report on the family, the adoption specialist will stop proceedings until a determination is made. The investigation is to be reviewed and discussed with the adoption supervisor and the adoption manager.

Applicants must have no history of convictions for offenses listed in Annotated Code § 9-28-116.

In statute: A foster child in the custody of DCFS shall not be placed in the home of any Arkansas adoptive parent if the criminal records check reveals a felony conviction for any of the following:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse or domestic battery
  • A crime against children, including child pornography
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
  • Aggravated assault on a family or household member

A foster child in the custody of DCFS shall not be placed in the home of any adoptive parent if the criminal record check reveals a felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense if the offense was committed within the past 5 years.

When Studies Must Be Completed

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

Before placement of a child in the home of the adoptive parent, DCFS will conduct a home study. The purpose of the home study is to evaluate the prospective adoptive parent's ability to meet the child's needs as well as evaluate their compliance with minimum licensing standards and DCFS policy requirements for adoptive homes.

Postplacement Study Requirements

Citation: Rules & Regs. 016 15 CARR 011, Pol. VIII-G

Prior to the finalization of the adoption, postplacement services are provided, and services to preserve adoptive families are offered after the adoption is finalized.

The adoption specialist will do the following:

  • Provide casework counseling, support, and referral to needed resources and services until the adoption is finalized
  • Visit weekly during the first month of placement and monthly thereafter and make contacts as needed with the family until the adoption is finalized
  • Document the place and dates of postplacement contacts, activities, progress, concerns, etc.
  • Inform the family about postadoption services

Exceptions for Stepparent or Relative Adoptions

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-9-211

The requirement to file with the court a report of expenditures connected to the adoption does not apply to an adoption by a stepparent whose spouse is a natural or adoptive parent of the child, to an adoption in which the adoptee is an adult, or where the petitioner and the minor are related in the second degree.

Requirements for Interjurisdictional Placements

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-29-201

The sending of a child to another State for placement in an adoptive home or the receiving of a child from another State for placement in an adoptive home is subject to the provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Foster to Adopt Placements

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-9-701(f)

A family that has a foster child in its home who was placed by the department shall be eligible for the streamlined adoption process if the department selects the foster family to be the adoptive family of the foster child.

Upon selection, the department shall complete the adoptive home study within 45 business days. The department shall not require the foster family to attend training.

Links to Resources

Division of Children and Family Services, Apply to Be a Foster or Adoptive Parent