Adopting a Foster Child in Arizona

Where do I start?

Step 1: Who can be an Arizona Foster Parent?

Foster parents are people just like you! They are:

Married, single, divorced or widowed

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Legal U.S. and Arizona resident
  • Apartment dweller, renter or home-owner
  • Able to pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check

Step 2: Learn more at Orientation

When you are ready to get started, please attend an orientation.

Orientations are offered as group sessions or individual meetings depending on your location in the state. At the orientation you will learn:

  1. Who are the children in need of homes?
  2. What are the requirements to be a foster or adoptive parent?
  3. What are the roles and responsibilities of foster or adoptive parents?
  4. What is the process to become a foster or adoptive parent?
  5. What supports are available for foster and adoptive parents?

Keep in mind that this is a process that will take time as we get to know you and you reflect on your ability to care for children in foster care. This is the time and place for you to ask questions.

Orientations are offered in English as group sessions in Maricopa, Pima and Pinal Counties. Maricopa County also offers group orientations in the Spanish language.

Step 3: Choose a Licensing Agency

It is important to select a licensing agency that is a good fit for your family and lifestyle. Your licensing worker will be very involved in your family during this process. It may feel as if your agency worker is being too intrusive. However, your worker needs to verify that you will be a good parent and that your home is safe.

Your licensing worker will assist you in understanding the role of foster parents and submit the documentation necessary for licensing to Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR). Your licensing worker will also write your family home study and assist with various aspects of your home safety evaluations. The licensing agency will assist in the licensing process and support you after you are licensed.

Step 4: Family Home Study and Home Safety Evaluation

Your licensing worker will ask you for information necessary to determine your fitness to serve as a foster parent and your ability to comply with foster care requirements.

Your licensing worker will:

  • personally interview you and all the members of your household;
  • determine if you are physically, mentally and emotionally able to care for children;
  • obtain personal references for you;
  • verify your financial condition;
  • verify that you live in an apartment or house that is a safe environment for children (home ownership is not required); and
  • verify that you have passed the pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check.

Step 5: Attend Training

Parenting a child in foster care is not the same as parenting a child to whom you have given birth. Training provides you with tools and challenges you need to grow and develop so you can parent children who have been neglected and abused. While you may have previous parenting experience, parenting children who have been neglected and abused is different.

The training will also help you decide whether foster and adoptive parenting is right for you and your family. Is now the right time? What type of child can I successfully parent? What are some of the special considerations of parenting siblings?

The entire training takes 30 hours to complete. Foster parents are vital members of the child’s team. This training provides information about the roles and responsibilities of all the team members.

Step 6: Placement

Once you are a licensed foster parent you and your licensing agency specialist will work with DCS to identify what children you wish to parent:

  • One child or more
  • Siblings
  • Boys, girls or both
  • Ages of children

As a foster parent, it is important to make an informed decision before a child comes to live with you. The following information may help you make your decision:

  • The medical, dental, behavioral health and educational needs of the child;
  • The visitation plan for the child with parents, siblings and other family members (if applicable);
  • Transportation needs;
  • Placement history (if applicable); and,
  • Any special services the child receives.

If you have questions throughout the process, you are permitted and encouraged to seek independent legal advice.

If your foster child becomes available for adoption and you wish to adopt that child, give us a call. In most cases your legal fees will be covered by the adoption subsidy program, at no cost to you.

Much of this content was provided by Arizona Department of Economic Security.