The foremost requirement for anyone wishing to become a foster parent is a desire to raise children in need of a loving home, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. However, the state’s foster code includes a great many requirements beyond a willingness to help. A social worker assigned to each child will continue to regularly monitor the situation after the DHR places a child with you.
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You must be at least 19 years old to foster a child in Alabama. Marriage isn’t a requirement; single individuals can serve as well. However, if you’re married, it must be for at least one year. If foster parents are related to the child they’ve taken in, one of the spouses can be younger than 19. You must be able to read and write, and you must meet minimal health requirements. This involves getting a doctor’s report confirming that you’re physically capable of caring for the child. Foster parents are compensated, but your income must still be sufficient to care for your own family before adding one more child to your household.
The Alabama Bureau of Investigation conducts criminal background checks on all potential foster parents and members of their households over the age of 19. The background checks include fingerprinting and screening by the State Central Registry for any criminal charges involving child neglect or abuse. If any children in your home are 14 years old or older, the State Central Registry must clear them of abuse and neglect charges as well. All adults in your household must provide three references attesting to their character. If you have any household employees who would regularly come in contact with your foster child, you’ll need three written references for each of them as well.
In addition to your personal qualifications, your home must meet the requirements of the Alabama Minimum Standards for Foster Family Homes. You must have a working phone and all necessary utility services. If you take in a child over the age of 6, you must have sufficient bedroom space so he doesn’t have to share his room with anyone of the opposite sex. If you have any glass doors, you must place decals on them at the eye level of your foster child. Smoke alarms are mandatory. If your foster child is younger than four years old, you’ll also need covers for all electrical outlets.
After you, your family and your home have qualified for foster care, Alabama requires that you take certain preparation courses before the state will place a child with you. You must have or achieve a CPR certification, and you must complete a 30-hour training course. The course educates you on topics such as the procedures of Alabama’s foster care system and behavioral issues your foster child might exhibit. After completing this course, you must take another 15-hour in-service course touching on issues such as safety and crisis intervention.