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This article will review the basic requirements to become a foster parent from the qualifications outlined by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

This article will review the basic requirements to become a foster parent from the qualifications outlined by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).  A person who applies to become a foster parent in Illinois must pass several background checks and “clearances” as defined in the departments policy rules and procedures handbook.   (www2.illinois.gov/dcfs)

    Before a person decides to apply to become a foster parent, they should research the DCFS website for policy rules, procedures and requirements. (www2.illinois.gov/dcfs) Background checks are made on individuals not only applying to become foster parents but also for those individuals who apply for employment with owners of day care facilities, including but not limited to:  home day care, day care centers, group day care, child welfare agencies, adopt only homes, group homes, youth emergency centers and childcare institution/maternity centers.

    DCFS is tasked with the responsibility to provide for children who are abused or neglected. It is very important, therefore, that the agency conduct thorough screening of persons who apply to become foster parents.   The basic requirements to become a foster parent can be found on their website and through their application process.

    Basic Requirements Include:

  • must be at least 21 years of age
  • participation in a home inspection and social assessment
  • complete 27 hours of training focus on foster care and the needs of children who are in foster care
  • complete a criminal background check on ALL household members
  • be financially stable
  • complete a health screening that includes verification that immunizations are up to date.

    The next step after you determine that you meet the basic requirements, will be a thorough background check to determine whether you have any disqualifying factors which need further investigation or whether they automatically disqualify a person from becoming a foster parent.

    Poor credit and a felony conviction for a non-violent crime which it not related to any crime against a minor, MAY not necessary keep you from becoming a foster parent. If you are concerned about the information that will come up in your background check, you should contact an attorney for help in clearing up your record.  Besides having a squeaky-clean record, the next best applicant is one that knows his record and can explain it.  An attorney may be able to help to allow you to put your best foot forward during the application process.  

Factors That Could Disqualify A Person From Becoming A Foster Parent Include:

  • unable to produce a social security number;
  • unwillingness to undergo a complete criminal background check;
  • being unable to “clear” the sex offender search;
  • being unable to “clear” the Illinois State Police background check;
  • being unable satisfy the FBI clearance check;
  • unable or unwilling to submit to a fingerprinting clearance check;
  • prior/current foster parent with a previous or pending enforcement action on their record.

Factors That Automatically Disqualify A Person From Becoming A Foster Parent Include:

  • convicted of felony involving a child;
  • “indicated” as a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;
  • previous foster parent who was ordered to surrender license for cause;
  • previous foster parent whose license was revoked with refusal to renew status;
  • previous foster parent applicant whose previous application was denied.

A child’s safety and security are of utmost importance.  A complete and thorough investigation needs to be done before a person can become a foster parent.  DCFS has the responsibility to receive applications and conduct background checks from applicants before issuing them a “license” to operate their home for the purpose of accepting children in need of fostering.   The document issued by the Department of Children and Family Services that authorizes the operation of the “childcare” facility is called a “license”.  The childcare facility is operated in accordance with the standards and the provisions of the Child Care Act.  (DCFS Rules 402-(6)).

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