Frequently Asked Questions

Becoming a foster parent is a big decision and most people have many questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions by prospective foster parents.

What does a foster parent do?

When a child cannot live safely at home, temporary foster care is needed. As a foster parent, you are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing living environment. At the same time, your role includes working with the child’s family services worker and parents so that the family can be safely reunified. 

How long does the licensing process take?

It is our goal to help you complete the licensing process in 90-120 days. The length of time it takes to complete the assessment and licensing process depends on how quickly your application, personal references, and background checks are received, and when you are able to complete pre-service training. 

Once you have been approved for foster care, the time it takes to receive a placement depends on many factors, which may include: the type of child (age, gender, race, health, etc.) you are willing to accept and the number and type of children in need of placement.

The department typically works with the child’s family toward reunification for 12 months. If reunification of the child with their birth family is unable to occur, the court may terminate parental rights and the child is then available for adoption. During these 12 months the department will be actively looking for and assessing relatives for permanency with the goal to identify and select a permanent family after a child has been in foster care for six months. 

Is there an application, home study, or criminal history background fee?

There are no fees for the application or home study process for prospective parents who are becoming licensed and approved to provide foster or foster-to-adoption care for children placed by Child and Family Services (CFS).

There is a fee for processing background checks through the Background Check. However, these fees are waived for prospective foster parents who are becoming licensed and approved to provide foster or foster-to-adopt care for children placed by CFS. This fee is waived when the prospective foster parent uses the 4-digit employer (CFS) ID # provided at the time of application.

Is financial assistance available?

Yes. Foster parents are reimbursed for the cost of caring for each child based on the foster care room and board rate according to that child’s age. 

Regular Foster Care Rate

Regular foster care payments are made to foster parents who provide care for a child who without identified exceptional needs.

AgeMonthly Totals
00-05 years$632.00
06-12 years$702.00
13-17 years$759.00
18-20 years$876.00

Treatment Foster Care Rate

Treatment foster care payments are made to foster parents who provide care for a child who has been diagnosed with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED). Treatment foster care parents are licensed and supported by contracted private agencies. For more information, see "Treatment Foster Care"

AgeDaily Total
Up to 20 years$200.00

Respite Foster Care Rate

Respite care payments are made to licensed foster parents who provide short term relief for other foster parents while they care for their personal needs. Respite care is reimbursed at a daily rate calculated by the age of the child and the number of days that respite was provided.

Specialized Care Rate

Specialized foster care payments are made for a child who requires additional care above room, board, daily supervision, and incidental costs. These payments are in addition to the regular foster care reimbursement rate.

Level of NeedMonthly Supplement
Lowest Level of Need$90.00
Moderate Level of Need$150.00
Highest Level of Need$240.00

Children in foster care qualify for Idaho Medicaid for their health care coverage. In addition, clothing and payments for daycare (as necessary due to the foster parent’s employment) are provided. Financial assistance for clothing and daycare is not available after adoption.

Who are the children in care?

They are children right here in Idaho who are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Children needing foster homes look like other children and have a wide range of abilities and personalities. Even so, children of minority backgrounds are overrepresented in foster care. Many of the children have special needs. Most are school-aged. Brothers and sisters need a family where they can live together.

In most cases, when children are placed in foster care, the primary focus is to return the child to their birth family. For that reason, families whose exclusive goal is to adopt are encouraged to contact one of Idaho’s licensed private adoption agencies or certified adoption professionals.

What are “special needs”?

Many children in need of foster care are described as having “special needs.” Special needs can refer to the age of the child; the need to be placed with at least one sibling; and/or emotional, developmental and medical problems.

Some special needs are the result of the trauma experienced due to the child's removal from their parents, abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Other special needs have biological causes, which may be further aggravated by neglect and abuse. Examples of special needs include Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, learning disabilities, autism, medical needs, and fetal alcohol and drug syndromes.

Regardless of their special needs, the important thing to keep in mind is that these are children in need. What they need most is the stability of a strong, loving family to support them during their journey through the child welfare system.

Can foster parents adopt?

Yes, they can. However, adoption is rarely the goal at the time a foster placement is made. Children continue to be involved with their parents and extended family while in foster homes, and most children are eventually returned to their birth parents. Others are placed with relatives. The department prioritizes preserving connections and placing children with extended family.

Families who have experienced fostering are a great resource for children who are not able to return home safely or be placed with a relative. In more than half of foster cases that end in adoption, relatives or non-relative foster parents eventually adopt the child for whom they have provided care. CFS will complete a home study that allows families to become dually licensed and approved to foster and adopt.

Why adoption?

If it is determined that reunification with the birth parents is not in the best interest of the child, parental rights may be terminated. If that happens, the child becomes available for adoption.  Adoption gives a child legal and emotional security and gives the new parents the same legal rights and responsibilities as birth parents. Every year, many children in Idaho need an adoptive home.

What is the difference between a public agency, private agency, and independent adoption?

A public agency adoption is one facilitated by the department or other state or county social service department. It is limited to the adoption of children within its custody. The focus of a public agency adoption program is to locate families for the children in their care. These programs do not help you find a child to adopt.

A private agency is state-licensed and may be for-profit or nonprofit and may or may not have a religious affiliation. Private agencies may specialize in domestic infant adoption, special needs adoption, and/or international adoption. These agencies will help you find a child to adopt.

An independent adoption is one in which the birth parent places the child directly with an adoptive parent for the purpose of adoption.

What is Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)?

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a binding agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It sets the requirements that must be met before a child can be placed from one state into another state. The compact ensures prospective placements are safe and suitable before approval, and it ensures that the individual or entity placing the child remains legally and financially responsible for the child after placement. There are no fees charged to a family being considered for foster and/or adoptive care as the result of a request made through the ICPC.

How can I help a child without being a foster or adoptive parent?

There are many ways to help children and families without being a foster and/or adoptive parent. Volunteering, mentoring, donating, making space available in your community for parent/child visitation, and assisting foster parents with transportation are all examples of ways you can help. Contact 2-1-1 or if you are interested in helping a specific child, contact the child’s social worker directly.

What if I have additional questions?

A current licensed or approved foster parent can be a great resource for prospective parents. If you have additional questions, you may want to talk with a resource peer mentor. Check with your regional Child and Family Services office for contact information or contact the Idaho Child Welfare Research and Training Center. Resource peer mentors provide valuable support, expertise, and resources for prospective foster parents.

Is there any healthcare coverage for children and youth in Foster Care?

Yes, children in foster care are covered under the Idaho Medicaid program. You will not need to apply for Medicaid on behalf of foster children. That is handled by the social worker.