Foster Care

How to Become a Foster Parent in Pennsylvania

Are you looking to become a foster parent in PA? Let us help guide you through the process. From applications to home studies, here’s what you need to know.

Would you like to become a foster parent in PA?

If so, you’re on your way to making a difference in the life of a child in need. Pennsylvania always needs more foster parents — especially with around 15,000 children in care state-wide. 

Children in foster care come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. No matter what they’ve been through, you can be the light in their lives.

Let’s talk about the role of a foster parent and how to become one in Pennsylvania. 

The Role of a Foster Parent in Pennsylvania

Becoming a foster parent in Pennsylvania involves stepping into a crucial role in a child's life, carrying responsibilities that exceed typical parenting duties. This role is particularly vital for children who have endured trauma, requiring a unique set of skills and qualities.

Creating a Supportive and Secure Environment

In Pennsylvania, foster parents are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing environment essential for foster children’s development and well-being. 

  • Like biological parents, they must ensure that their home provides everything necessary for a child 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 key to a stable and healthy upbringing — a child in care gets the chance to thrive!

Supporting Educational Achievement

Foster parents must champion and advocate for their children’s education. 

  • Education is a critical area where foster children often face hardships, such as a greater risk of lower graduation rates and limited access to higher education. 
  • Many children in care undergo multiple home transitions throughout their childhood — sometimes as often as 10 to 15 times. Each transition can set a child back about six months of learning as they adjust to new peers, lesson plans, and teaching styles. 
  • By working closely with teachers and educational professionals, foster parents support the unique educational needs of a foster child, helping them overcome barriers and achieve academic success.

Fostering Positive Relationships

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

  • Foster parents play a crucial role in helping these 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 foster children's emotional development and healing.

Addressing Emotional and Psychological Needs

The emotional and psychological needs of foster children can be complex. 

  • Foster parents need to offer extra patience, understanding, and specialized support. 
  • By providing a safe, loving environment and 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 goals of foster care is to prepare children for a successful transition into adulthood. 

  • This preparation involves emotional support and teaching practical life skills, such as managing finances and understanding the support systems available after aging out of foster care. 
  • Given the challenges many foster children 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 PA 

If you’re ready to step into the caring role outlined above,  let’s get you on the right path to becoming a foster parent in PA. 

Before you start, there are some requirements you’ll need to meet: 

Foster Care Requirements in Pennsylvania

Foster parents in PA must meet the following requirements:

  • They must be 21 years of age or older.
  • They must pass a medical examination that shows they’re physically fit to look after a child in care and won’t pass any disease to the child.
  • They must pass child abuse and criminal history checks.
  • They must be financially stable.
  • They must have a desire to support children in care.
  • They must have the ability to manage complex family dynamics.
  • They must be mature and show stability during a child's placement.
  • They must always support a child's developmental goals, case goals, and permanency plans.
  • If applicable, they must work towards reunification with the birth parents.

Completing an Application

If you meet the requirements listed above, then you’re ready to start the application process for becoming a foster parent in PA. 

In Pennsylvania, your best bet is to partner with a foster care organization operating in the state.

  • For example, Mentor Foster Care, one of Sevita’s companies, helps foster parents navigate the therapeutic foster care process from start to finish. 
  • If you have any questions, we can answer them. We’re here to make it easier for you.
  • In many cases, we see the licensing process for foster parents speed up for those who partner with Mentor Foster Care!

Preservice Sessions

Every state in the US requires foster parents to complete some preservice sessions — these sessions help foster parents get ready for the challenge of caring for a child in need! 

  • In Pennsylvania, foster parents must complete at least six hours of preservice sessions.
  • These sessions must be completed annually — not just before becoming a foster parent. 

Completing a Home Study

If you're interested in becoming a foster parent in Pennsylvania, you'll need to complete the home study process. 

  • This process involves a social worker assessing your home to determine if it can provide a supportive environment for a foster child. 
  • However, home study involves more than just inspecting your living space. It also includes discussions about your family life, lifestyle, and motivations for wanting to become a foster parent. 
  • This crucial step protects children in foster care and offers prospective foster parents a moment to reflect. Becoming a foster parent is a significant commitment. The home study process helps ensure you're fully prepared for the responsibilities.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Foster Parent in PA?

Becoming a foster parent isn’t an instant process — there’s some time and patience involved. 

  • Generally, it takes three to six months from the application process to the moment when you’re matched with a child in care. 
  • Though this may seem like a long time, it’s to ensure a good match and that the child in care can thrive!

Need More Information on Becoming a Foster Parent in PA?

Are you looking for more information about foster care in Pennsylvania? 

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 the webinar today, or contact a Mentor Foster Care location in Pennsylvania to get started.

Sign Up For The Webinar →

Similar posts

Stay in touch

At Sevita, we educate and empower our families and participants on their journey to live well.  This blog is designed to do just that. Here, you can be the first to receive our latest content.