If you’re contemplating becoming a foster parent or adoptive parent, no doubt you have questions about how the foster care and foster-to-adoption process in Ohio works, including parental qualifications and the home study process.
For your convenience, Summit County Children Services has listed the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding the foster care and adoption process. If you have additional questions, please feel free to call the Adoption and Foster Care Inquiry Line at (330) 379-1990.
How old do you need to be?
You must be at least 21 years old to become a foster parent and at least 18 years old to adopt a child.
Do you have to earn a certain income?
You must be able to meet your household needs.
Do you have to be married?
No, you can be married, single, divorced, widowed or be a co-parent.
Do you have to own your own home?
No, you can rent. But you must have adequate space available and your landlord’s approval to care for foster children.
Can you be a foster parent if you work?
Yes. Extra help for the cost of child care may be available.
Do foster children have to have separate bedrooms?
No, but each child must have a separate bed. Foster children cannot have a bedroom in the attic or basement. After age five, boys and girls must sleep in separate rooms.
How many foster children can I take?
For the first two years, licensed foster parents may take up to three foster children. After two years of service, they may take up to five children with a total of 10 children maximum including your own children, foster children and any children for whom you provide care.
Can a foster parent request specific ages or sex of foster children?
You may ask for the age and gender of children you think would fit in best with your family situation and needs.
Can I be a foster parent if I have a criminal record?
Possibly, each situation would be reviewed under the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services rules for family foster care. If it is found that the person’s criminal record meets the rehabilitation requirements of the State of Ohio rules, then the person could be considered as a potential foster parent. All adult household members must have a criminal background check.
What happens after training is completed?
Once you have completed the required pre-service training AND completed and turned in all required paperwork, you will fill out and submit an application. Some of the required paperwork includes: a fire inspection and safety audit of the home, a medical statement from a doctor for each member of the family, and police checks and fingerprints for all adults in the household. Then a social worker, known as a Licensing Specialist, will be assigned to begin the home study process.
What is the home study?
The home study is a process that involves information sharing and gathering for the purpose of determining an applicant’s suitability in meeting the general criteria to be licensed and/or approved as a foster or foster-to-adopt parent based on state and agency eligibility requirements.
The home study is a detailed process that involves all household members. During the home study, all family members will be interviewed by the Licensing Specialist. The process affords applicants the opportunity to assess whether or not foster care and/or adoption is the appropriate option for their family. The home study process also provides the applicants and the agency an opportunity to mutually assess which child(ren) in the agency’s care the applicants are best suited to parent.
Who will do my home study?
Once your completed application and required paperwork have been submitted, a social worker, referred to as a Licensing Specialist, will be assigned to begin the home study process. All Licensing Specialists have received specialized Adoption Assessor Training that qualifies them to conduct home studies.
How long does all this take?
The home study process usually takes three to six months.
When can I have foster children come to my home?
After your home study has been completed and approved, the agency recommends the family to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services for licensing. When you receive your license, the agency can begin placing foster children with your family.
What kind of assistance does the agency provide to foster parents in caring for children?
Foster parents receive a reimbursement check each month for the care of each child. This reimbursement check may include child care assistance if a foster parent is employed. Foster parents also receive mileage reimbursement and are provided with ongoing training opportunities. Medical care is provided for foster children at Akron Children's Hospital. A foster home coordinator is also assigned to each foster home to provide personal support. The agency also offers regular support group meetings for foster parents.
Can I adopt a child of a different race?
Yes. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national orientation, sexual orientation, age or gender. All of our available children will be placed with the family who can best meet their needs.
What is meant by children with “special needs”?
In adoption, “special needs” include a wide variety of characteristics. This could simply include children of a minority race, sibling groups, and older children. It could also include a child with a medical condition, developmental disability, behavioral problem, or even a child who has been in permanent custody for more than a year. What all these children have in common is a “special need” to become part of a caring family.
Are there babies or young children available for adoption at Summit County Children Services?
The highest number of children coming into the care of Children Services is children under age two. Many of these children become available for adoption. However, they are typically adopted by their foster parents who have cared for them during the reunification process. At Summit County Children Services, you must become a foster parent if you want to adopt. Training and counseling are available to assist you in deciding if foster-to-adopt parenting is right for you and your family.
For more information about the foster care or foster-to-adopt process, fill out our Foster Care & Adoption Inquiry form or contact:
Summit County Children Services
Telephone: (330) 379-1990
Fax: (330) 379-1924