A foster parent is an adult licensed by the state to care for a foster child(ren). Most foster parents provide temporary care after a child is removed from their home to do their parent or guardian’s abuse, neglect, or inability to provide adequate care. Foster children most commonly reunite with their parent or guardian after those underlying issues are resolved or find permanent placement with family members or non-relatives who previously knew the child. However, some foster parents adopt their foster children, which legally makes the child a part of the adoptive family while severing their legal relationship with the biological family.
Foster parents must meet several qualifications to gain licensure. For example, in North Dakota a person must be at least 21, financially stable enough to support themselves and their family, and have their own home–whether rented or purchased–that has enough room for a foster child. Potential foster parents must submit to a criminal background check, provide personal references, and complete any required trainings related to the care of a foster child. Foster parents must also be willing to work with child welfare workers and other providers. Further, foster parents are asked to remain cognizant of the fact that foster placement is likely temporary; as such foster parents must try not to disparage their foster child’s biological parents.
[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]