Foster Care

Why You Might Not Qualify as a Foster Parent in MA

Knowing some of the things that may prevent you from becoming a foster parent in Massachusetts saves you time and disappointment before you apply.

Foster parents provide the safe and loving home that children in care need to thrive.

Becoming a foster parent is a big deal – it means a lot to the kids, and it can change their lives for the better. However, it’s not always clear who can become a foster parent. The requirements to become a foster parent vary by state — and Massachusetts, in particular, has its own rules and regulations that determine whether your application will be successful or rejected.

If you’ve been thinking about making a difference in the Bay State, here are some of the things you should know that could disqualify you from becoming a foster parent. We’ll also dig into some of the positives and talk about the amazing traits that foster parents possess.


First, let’s cover some of the basics about foster care in the state of MA.

Understanding Foster Care in Massachusetts

Sometimes, kids can't live with their families because of safety issues or other big problems at home. When this happens, the state steps in to help find them a safe place to stay. 

This is why foster parents are really important.

There's a serious need for more foster parents in Massachusetts — especially with over 8,700 children in care throughout the state. 

Kids of all ages, from little ones to teenagers, are waiting for someone to take them in and care for them. It doesn't matter if you're single or married, have your own kids, or none at all — what really matters is that you have space in your life and your heart to help a child who needs it.

Being a foster parent is about more than just giving a child a place to sleep and eat — it's about helping them feel safe and giving them a chance to just be kids. 

When you become a foster parent, you're doing something really special. You're giving a child hope and a chance to have a happier life!

What Disqualifies You As a Foster Parent in Massachusetts?

When thinking about becoming a foster parent, it's important to know about some things that might mean you can't be one.

It's not about being unfair but about making sure kids are safe, well-cared for, and in a stable home. These standards and guidelines are outlined by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Massachusetts.

Here are some reasons someone might not be able to be a foster parent:

  • A criminal history - If someone has a criminal record, especially if it involves violence or harm to children, they can't be a foster parent. This rule is there to make sure kids are safe and in a home where they won't be hurt. In addition, this applies to everyone in the household above the age of 14.
  • Certain health issues - If a person has health problems that could make it really hard or unsafe for them to take care of a child, they might not be able to be a foster parent. This is because kids need someone who's healthy enough to look after them properly.
      • According to the DCF, this covers mental, emotional, or physical illness that the department judges to be an impairment to the ability to care for a child.
      • Living with a disability does NOT immediately disqualify you from becoming a foster parent in the state of Massachusetts!
  • Unsafe home environment - If a home isn't habitable, then it might not be the right place for a child in care. Kids need a home where they feel safe and can be happy. However, what this looks like in Massachusetts has specific requirements. Here are just a few examples:
      • The home must be free of obvious fire hazards and have sufficient lighting, ventilation, plumbing, electricity, and heat.
      • The home must also be equipped with a refrigerator and cooking stove in safe, working condition.
      • Bedrooms for kids in care must be located on the first floor unless your second-floor (or above) bedroom has two safe exits.
      • Working smoke detectors must be equipped on every floor — including the basement if you have one.
      • The home must have a working telephone for incoming and outgoing calls.
  • Lack of financial stability - Foster parents don't have to be rich, but they need to have enough money to take care of a child's basic needs. This is so the child can have things like food, clothes, and a safe place to live.
  • Your home is already full of love - The DCF enforces a limit of six children per household, inclusive of child care or babysitting.
  • Substance abuse - If someone has problems with drugs or alcohol, they might not be able to become a foster parent. This is because it's important for kids to be in a home where they are not exposed to these behaviors.

Remember, these rules are there for a good reason. They help make sure that children in care are placed in homes that are safe and loving, where they can grow and be happy.

If you're thinking about becoming a foster parent and are not sure if these things apply to you, it's a good idea to talk to someone from the foster care system or to connect with Mentor Foster Care, a part of the Sevita family. Our experts can help you understand everything better.

Qualities of Great Foster Parents

Although it’s important to know what disqualifies you as a foster parent in Massachusetts, we also want to focus on the positive qualities that are celebrated in foster parents.

Here are some of the most important qualities that would make you an excellent foster parent. Remember though: No one is perfect. Growing as a foster parent means learning many of these qualities on the fly.

  • Patience and understanding - Kids in care often come from tough situations, and they might act out or be scared. Being patient and giving them time to adjust and feel safe is really important.
  • Empathy and compassion - Being able to put yourself in a child's shoes and understand what they're going through is key. Showing them kindness and care can make a huge difference in their lives!
  • Flexibility and adaptability - Things can change quickly in foster care, like schedules or the needs of a child. Being flexible and able to adapt to new situations helps — especially for children requiring more medically-complex care. However, you can certainly have a full-time career and still be a foster parent!
  • Strong communication skills - It's important to talk clearly and listen well, not just with children in care, but also with social workers, teachers, and others involved in the child's life.
  • Supporting educational and emotional needs - Helping with school work and being there for them emotionally is a big part of being a foster parent. It's about helping them grow in all ways.
  • A good support system - Having friends, family, or community groups to help you can make being a foster parent easier and more rewarding.
  • A sense of humor and positivity - Sometimes, being able to laugh and see the bright side of things can make a big difference in your home. It can help make tough times a bit easier.
  • Resilience and strength - There can be challenges in foster care, but being strong and able to keep going is important. It shows children that they can be strong too.

Learn More About Massachusetts Foster Care in Our Upcoming Webinar

Looking for more information about becoming a foster parent in Massachusetts? If so, our upcoming webinar can give you the answers. 

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. 

Mentor Foster Care has offices all over Massachusetts, including:

Sign up for our webinar today, or call one of our local offices to get started!

Sign Up For The Webinar

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