Foster Care

How to Become a Foster Parent in Georgia

Are you looking to become a foster parent in Georgia? Our guide can help — check out this step-by-step process to getting licensed for foster care.

Becoming a foster parent is a big decision that can change a child's life — and your life, too.

  • Right now, in Georgia, about 11,000 kids are in care, waiting for someone to offer them a safe and loving home.
  • These kids come from all sorts of backgrounds and each one has their own story and needs.
  • By deciding to become a foster parent, you're stepping up to offer hope and a positive change in their lives.

Below, we'll explain what it takes to become a foster parent in Georgia. We'll cover everything you need to know to become certified to foster.

If you're ready to make a difference, read on to learn how you can start this rewarding journey!

The Role of a Foster Parent in Georgia

Becoming a foster parent in Georgia means stepping into a vital role in a child's life, encompassing a broad range of responsibilities that go beyond the everyday expectations of parenting.

This role is especially crucial for children who have experienced trauma, requiring a unique set of skills and qualities.

Supporting Educational Achievement

Foster parents need to be champions and advocates for their children’s education!

  • Unfortunately, education is a critical area where children in care often face significant challenges, including a higher risk of lower graduation rates and difficulties with higher education access.
    • Many kids in care experience multiple home transitions throughout childhood — sometimes as often as 10 – 15 times
    • Each transition is estimated to set a child back 6 months of learning as they adjust to new peers, lesson plans, and teaching styles
    • Only about 8% of children in care will complete high school in Georgia
    • Roughly 3% of those graduates will go on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree

By collaborating with teachers and educational professionals, foster parents support the unique educational needs of a child in care, helping them overcome barriers and achieve academic success.

Creating a Supportive and Secure Environment

Providing a safe, nurturing environment is essential for the development and well-being of foster children. 

  • Similar to biological parents, foster parents in Georgia must ensure their home offers everything a child needs to feel secure and loved, including nutritious meals, a comfortable living space, and opportunities for personal development through activities and hobbies. 
  • This foundational support is crucial for a stable, healthy upbringing.

Fostering Positive Relationships

Building positive, meaningful relationships can be particularly challenging for children in care, many of whom have experienced trauma that affects their ability to trust and connect with others. 

  • Foster parents play a key role in helping children learn to form and maintain healthy relationships, not only with their foster family but also, when possible, with their biological families. 
  • This aspect of foster care is vital for the emotional development and healing of children in care.

Addressing Emotional and Psychological Needs

The emotional and psychological needs of children in care can be complex and multifaceted. 

  • Foster parents need to offer additional patience, understanding, and specialized support.
  • By providing a safe, loving environment and facilitating access to therapy or treatment services when needed, foster parents help these children navigate their emotions and begin the healing process.

Equipping for Independence and Adulthood

One of the primary objectives of foster care is to prepare children for a successful transition into adulthood. 

  • This preparation involves not only emotional support but also teaching practical life skills, such as responsible finances and understanding the support systems available after aging out of foster care. 
  • Given the challenges many children in care face as they transition to adult life, the guidance and mentorship provided by foster parents are invaluable in helping them build a fulfilling future.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Georgia

Becoming a foster parent in Georgia is a step-by-step process — here is the typical journey many foster parents in Georgia experience.

The Basic Requirements for Foster Parents 

Before you start to apply as a foster parent in Georgia, like every other state, there’s a list of requirements that you’ll need to meet. Unlike other states, some of these are more specifically related to age:

  • Be at least ten years older than the foster child
  • If single, be at least 25 years old
  • Complete a medical examination
  • Comply with fingerprint checks
  • Be screened in the Georgia CPS system and the National Sexual Offenders Registry
  • Undergo screening in the Pardons and Paroles system and the Department of Corrections database
  • Household members over 18 must be screened in the child abuse and neglect registry
  • Have a desire to support children and families
  • Ability to mentor and manage complex family dynamics
  • Show maturity and stability during the child's placement
  • Support the child's developmental goals, case goals, and permanency plan
  • Work towards reunification with the birth parents, if applicable

Filling Out An Application

If you meet the requirements above, then congratulations — you can start the process of becoming a foster parent!

In Georgia, it starts with filling out an application. However, it’s best to do this with the help of a partner organization. 

  • Mentor Foster Care, a part of the Sevita family, helps prospective foster parents in Georgia with the foster care application process.
  • We can also answer any questions you might have about fostering along the way.
  • For most people, becoming a foster parent is significantly quicker with the guidance and support from our team than attempting to navigate the process independently!

On average, becoming a foster parent with support from Mentor Foster Care means that the licensing process is about 3 – 6 months faster.

Attending Preservice Sessions

No matter where you’re located, you have to attend preservice sessions to become a foster parent — the state of Georgia is no exception.

  • Georgia foster parents must complete 24 hours worth of preservice sessions known as IMPACT — it prepares them for all of the challenges associated with becoming a foster parent, including:
    • The fostering process itself
    • Emotional/cognitive/behavioral implications
    • Sexuality and orientation
    • Communication
    • Partnership
    • Identity and cultural issues

Mentor Foster Care connects loving foster parents to children in therapeutic foster care. To help these children in need, you’ll need some additional sessions — an additional 19.5 hours of skill development, to be exact.

  • These additional hours help prepare you to deal with the trauma that these children in care may have experienced. 

Continuing Preservice Sessions

  • Even after you become licensed and welcome a child into your home, you’ll need to continue with your preservice sessions.
  • In Georgia, foster parents must complete 15 hours of Continued Parent Development (CPD) every year! 
  • These sessions ensure that parents are always ready for any challenge and prepared to provide the best love and care to children in need.

The Home Study Process

If you want to become a foster parent in Georgia, you’ll need to go through the home study process.

  • The home study process involves a social worker checking to see if your home can provide the nurturing space that a child in care needs
  • There’s more to a home study than a simple home check, too. They will also discuss your family life, lifestyle, and reasons for wanting to be a foster parent. 

Not only does this step in the process protect children in care, but it’s also a chance for foster parents themselves to reflect. It’s a big decision to make, and home studies allow you to truly decide if you’re ready! 

Join Our Upcoming Webinar On Becoming a Foster Parent

Ready to become a foster parent? If so, our upcoming webinar can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today, or get in touch with a Mentor Foster Care location near you in Georgia:

Sign Up For The Webinar

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