Getting Started in Indiana Foster Care
Providing Resources to Help You Get Started
What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is caring for children in your home who cannot currently, safely live with their parents or guardians. Foster care is designed to be temporary, with the ultimate goal always being reunification of children with their birth parents or guardians. However, adoption can become an option in cases where parental rights are terminated. Many families who feel God has called them to foster care do not know where to start. We want to help answer those initial questions.
Where to Start
There are two primary options when it comes to fostering in Indiana. One can foster through Indiana Foster Care, also known as the state Department of Child Services (DCS) or through a Licensed Child Placing Agency (LCPA).
- State Licensing: A family licensed directly through the state completes all training and licensing requirements through the state.
- State Foster Care Specialist Support: A Foster Care Specialist is assigned to the family. They are the main support for the family.
- State Case Manager Monthly Visits: A Family Case Manager is assigned to each child. They manage the child’s case and do a once a month visit with the family throughout placement.
- Reimbursements Done by Family: The family handles filing of reimbursements and payments (per diem, allowances, etc.) with guidance from their Foster Care Specialist and an online system.
- State Licensing & Additional Agency Licensing: A family licensed through an agency completes all the same training and licensing requirements as one licensed through the state, plus any additional requirements.
- Children with Higher Levels of Need: Typically, families licensed through an agency are trained to provide care for children with higher levels of need.
- Agency Licensing Specialist Support: The Agency Licensing Specialist is the main support for the family while children are placed in the home.
- State Case Manager Regular Visits: A Family Case Manager from the state is still assigned to each child. There will be regular visits by both this case manager and the agency.
- Agency Case Manager Support: There is often more frequent contact with the Agency Case Manager to check in and offer support.
- Reimbursements Done by Agency: Most LCPAs handle filing reimbursements and payments (per diem, allowances, etc.) from the state.
- Higher Level of Support: LCPAs are contracted with the state to provide homes that can offer therapeutic-level care for children with greater needs. As a result, they offer a higher level of support than the state can provide. Some agencies are faith-based and/or have other specialties.
How to Decide on an Agency
Just as each family is different, so is each agency. We highly encourage you to check out multiple options to find the right fit for your family. We also encourage you to talk with current foster parents to gain their perspective.
Questions to Ask the Agency
- What are your requirements to be licensed?
- What are the ongoing training requirements? What opportunities for ongoing training do you provide?
- What types of placements are you most in need of? Are there any that you are not in need of right now?
- How often would I expect to connect with your staff?
- How many foster homes are currently licensed through your agency?
- What is the average caseload for case managers?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the need for foster parents in Indiana?
As of November 2022, there are just under 10,000 children in need of out of home foster care placements across Indiana.
Can I adopt through the foster care system?
Yes. There are many children waiting for their forever family right now. You can see waiting children by going to indianaadoptionprogram.org. Children in need of adoption are typically school-age or older and/or part of sibling groups. You can adopt while licensed though DCS or an LCPA.
Will I receive financial assistance for fostering?
Yes! Although foster parents are not paid an income, foster families receive financial reimbursement for caring for children. The amount is based on the needs of the child.
How should I get started?
It may be helpful to attend information sessions with both DCS and an LCPA to find which will be a better fit for your family depending on the demographic of children you are interested in fostering. After you decide on an agency, they will help you begin the process. State foster care requirements and steps to become a foster parent can be found at indianafostercare.org.
How long does it take to become a foster parent?
That depends on how quickly you complete all of the requirements, but the typical time to complete the process is 3-4 months.
Can I choose what type of child comes into my home?
Yes. Depending on your comfort level, you are able to specify the number of children, age, gender, known behavior or medical issues, etc.