About Foster Care for Prospective Families

Idaho's vision

To have foster and foster-to-adopt parents who are a support to families, not a substitute for parents. There is also a need for families who are interested in adoption if, after supporting the child and their family, reunification is unsuccessful.

Idaho’s goal

To have foster and foster-to-adopt parents who are able to meet the diverse needs and characteristics of children in foster care: children with special needs, minority children, sibling groups, older children, and children who are in residential or group care placement who would benefit from a family setting. 

  • Foster parents are needed for children and youth of all ages, especially teens and sibling groups, medically fragile children, and children who exhibit behaviors that require a higher degree of supervision or skill.
  • Almost 40 percent of children/youth in foster care live with a relative or fictive kinship family. DHW begins the search for relatives and kinship (someone not related to the child but with a significant relationship) immediately and continues until a permanent placement is identified or the child is reunified with their parents. An expedited process allows for placement with a relative or fictive kinship family when a child enters foster care rather than a child being placed with strangers. However, sometimes it may take a few weeks or months before a relative can bring a child into their home. Non-relative families are needed to care for children during this time and help them transition to their relative or kinship family.
  • There are many children waiting for their forever homes with a loving family because reunification was not possible and a relative could not be located. To learn more about these children, please view the Wednesday’s Child website.
A family on an ipad sitting on a cough
A mother and father sit with their daughter and baby
Annual Foster Parent Survey Analysis
Idaho Foster Care Statistics for State Fiscal Year 2020
Idaho children in out-of-home placements each year
Idaho children currently in foster care
Of children in foster care are reunited with their families
What does a Foster Parent do?
  • Foster parents are part of a professional team, which includes parent(s), social workers, court-appointed special advocate/guardian ad litem (GAL), court personnel, therapists, school staff, and other professionals.
  • Foster parents support birth families toward reunification.
  • Foster parents provide safe, loving, temporary care for children whose parents cannot safely meet their needs. The majority of children or youth who cannot be safely reunified with their parents/guardian will achieve permanency through their relative, kinship family, or foster parent. 
  • Foster parents support children in maintaining their connections to their community, school, family, friends, and faith.
  • Reunification is the primary goal and the most common outcome.
Who can be a Foster Parent?

Foster parents are as varied as the children needing homes. Successful foster parents are everyday people from all races, religions, incomes, and educational backgrounds. No two families are alike. They are:

  • Single, married or divorced
  • Able to financially support their own family
  • Own or rent a safe residence, with space for a child
  • Can work with family services workers and/or therapists and other support people
  • Have no parenting experience, or have children 
  • Have not been convicted of child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, a crime against children or a homicide
  • Are flexible, energetic, and able to care for a child
  • Work in or outside their home, or are retired
  • Are open to learning new things
  • Can talk with family services workers about themselves and their families

Are there any age restrictions to foster or adopt?

  • You must be 21 years old to become a licensed foster parent
  • Idaho law requires an adoptive parent to be at least 25 years of age or 15 years older than the child they are adopting
  • There are no maximum ages for foster care or adoption

Children in foster care have been through a lot of life-changing and traumatic experiences in their short lives. The maturity, coping skills, experience, and knowledge you’ve accrued over the years will aid in caring for a child as a foster and/or adoptive parent.