Foster Care Home Study: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Foster Care Home Study: What to Expect and How to Prepare

prospective foster parents being interviewed by agency representative

If you’ve been researching how to become a foster parent online, you may have come across the term “home study.” A foster care home study is a comprehensive assessment of your home conducted to ensure you can provide a safe and supportive environment for your future foster kid. While this might seem daunting at first, it’s a crucial part of the certification process. Home studies are designed to protect the well-being of foster kids and set you up for success as a foster parent.

In this post, we’ll break down the home study process, explaining everything from interviews and paperwork to the actual home visit. We’ll also provide some practical tips you can implement now to help you prepare for your own home study. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll feel more confident and ready to create a welcoming and nurturing environment for your future foster kid.

What Is a Foster Care Home Study?

At Foster Plus, our partner agencies are committed to the safety of the kids we serve and the sustained success of the incredible foster parents we work with. In order to ensure these positive outcomes for both foster parents and kids, representatives at our partner agencies rely heavily on the information they gather during the home study process.

A foster care home study is a thorough review of your home and lifestyle to determine if you’re able to provide a foster kid with a space that is both physically and emotionally safe. The home study process features two key steps: the safety walkthrough and the personal interview. Combined, these steps give your agency representatives the information they need to ensure the best possible match between you and a foster kid.

First, let’s take a closer look at the safety walkthrough and how you can start preparing your home for your future foster kid.

Foster Care Home Study Checklist At-a-Glance

As we mentioned in our blog post on how to become a foster parent in Oregon, each of our partner agencies differs slightly in their foster parent certification process. This extends to the home study as well. While each agency may have its own checklist, here are a few items you can generally expect to be reviewed during your foster home safety walkthrough. Please note that these examples are not exhaustive, and your agency will provide you with a specific checklist of safety requirements.

General Safety

One of the first things you’ll need to do is guarantee that all potentially dangerous materials are properly stored and secured. This includes medications, chemicals, cleaning supplies, and other toxic materials, as well as weapons. Guns should be kept in locked storage, with ammunition stored and locked separately. Some other things to keep in mind are ensuring alcohol and marijuana are kept inaccessible to your foster kid and having a stocked first-aid kit and flashlights available in case of emergency.

Travel & Transportation Safety

As a foster parent, you must have access to and be willing to use a safe and reliable method of transportation. If that’s your personal motor vehicle, it needs to be maintained in safe operating condition. For children under forty pounds, you must provide a car seat that’s in compliance with state law. For children under 8 years of age or under 4’9” in height, a booster seat must be provided.

Fire Safety & Emergency Preparedness

To keep your foster home safe, you’ll want to make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and easily accessible exits. That includes ensuring all doors can be unlocked from both sides. You’ll also want to create and practice a home evacuation plan every six months, including special provisions for children who need extra help and contact information for people who can help in an emergency.

Home Environment & Sanitation

In general, your home should be kept reasonably clean and sanitary. That includes both indoor and outdoor spaces. Inside, your home should be well-heated and well-ventilated, have adequate hot water and working plumbing, and be generally free of rubbish, mildew, and mold. Outside, your lot should be free of any potentially dangerous objects, swimming pools and other water hazards should be properly maintained and supervised, and your foster kid should have access to a safe outdoor play area, either on-site or nearby.

Bedroom of Child in Care

It’s important that any foster kid entering your care has a space to call their own. Their bedroom should be of adequate size and offer privacy in the form of shades, curtains, or other coverings on all windows. You’ll also need to provide bedding and other furniture, including multiple sets of clean linens and a dresser or similar storage area where your foster kid can keep their personal belongings.

Foster Care Home Study Interviews

At some point during the home study process, you’ll also be required to complete questionnaires and interviews (sometimes multiple) about your personal history. Potential questions or topics can include:

  • Parenting practices
  • Personal and family values
  • Physical and mental health
  • Work
  • Marital/domestic partner relationships
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Criminal history
  • History of childhood or adult abuse


Some prospective foster parents are surprised by how personal and sensitive these interview questions can feel. But there’s a good reason our partner agencies require this level of disclosure: it’s for the safety and well-being of both you and the foster kid who may enter your care.

Gathering this in-depth information about you and your personal history is crucial in helping your agency representative identify areas where you may need extra support and determine the types of kids that might not be the best fit for you. The more information we have, the better we can match foster parents and kids that will work well together and lead to the best possible outcome for both parties.

Contact Foster Plus With Your Home Study Questions

We understand that the foster care home study process can sound overwhelming. But as we stated above, the many safety requirements and the personal interviews are all meant to ensure that the kids we serve are entering safe and supportive environments that will help them thrive. Whether you’re interested in becoming a foster parent or you’ve already started the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about the home study. We’re here to help you feel informed, at ease, and ready to change a child’s life by opening up your home.

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