One of the final steps in becoming a foster or adoptive family is a home study. A home study is the formal vetting process that paints a picture of your daily life, describes your friends and family, looks at home safety, and reviews your finances to determine if your home is suitable for a child to inhabit.
Once your initial application is reviewed and approved to move onto the home study process, a social worker will be assigned to you. He or she will visit your home, discuss the preparation process in more depth, and provide several forms for applicants to complete. This part of the process can take three to six months, depending on how quickly you can complete the assigned tasks.
Be prepared to discuss various aspects of your life, beginning with relationships. The goal is to learn who visits your home, how often you have visitors, get copies of marriage licenses and divorce decrees, and gain insight into the relationship dynamics present in your life. You will also provide personal references; these are people who will write letters of support on your behalf. Your caseworker will call your references to learn more about you and your parenting experience in order to identify traits that could make you a good parent.
An essential tool in keeping kids in care, and children waiting to be adopted, safe, is a background check of all household members over the age of 14 and of any adult who will serve as caregiver or babysitter. You will make an appointment to be fingerprinted for a criminal history check of state and federal registries, as well as child abuse and neglect registries. The state of Texas Child Care Licensing Division dictates approval or denial based on the nature of previous offense(s).
You will make copies of your driver’s license, provide a photo of your family, a copy of your pet’s vaccination records, draw your home’s floor plan marked with evacuation routes, and take photos of the inside and outside the home. Building on the concept of safety, is the itemization of each weapon or firearm in the home and a description of how each is properly stored. Also, be prepared to explain the safety measures in place if you have a swimming pool or trampoline.
Capturing a sense of your family’s financial stability is a necessary part of the home study, as the information verifies you have the financial means to provide for a child in your care. Be prepared to supply the amount of money in your checking and savings account, and your monthly expenses.
Let’s talk about what foster and adoptive parents can expect during the walkthrough of your home. The social worker will have a checklist that instructs them on what to look for – plug covers in electric sockets, fire extinguishers in the appointed rooms, a posted fire escape plan, and validating that chemicals and alcohol are locked away or placed out of the reach of children. He or she will also inspect the room where the foster or adopted child will sleep. Please know that Pathways works closely with its families; we will support and guide you through the home visit, with safety being the top priority.
Once all of the paperwork is complete, copies of pertinent documents are submitted, the background checks are approved, and a walkthrough of your home is done. The time it takes for the caseworker to put your file together is the final step.
If you decide to foster or choose adoption, working with the right agency can provide the right amount of support for you and your family, resulting in a relatively smooth process. Pathways has a dedicated team of social workers, mental health therapists, and support staff who will hold your hand through the fostering or adoption process.