What is a foster parent?

Foster parents are very special people who open their homes to children who temporarily need a place to live. Foster families have a unique opportunity to help a child through a difficult time in their lives. Regardless of their individual circumstances and reasons for being in foster care, these children need lots of love, patience, nurturing, tolerance, understanding, and stability. Knowing they are in a safe place with people who truly care about them can sometimes make all the difference in the world to a child who is hurting.

Being a foster parent can be a very challenging job. Many times, foster children have experienced numerous losses in their short lives and they seem to have no hope of a “normal” future. These feelings of separation, loss, and confusion may lead to emotional, physical, and/or behavioral problems. The foster parent has an extremely important role in assuring the children in their home that they are loved and safe. Being a foster parent can be a very difficult thing, but the rewards are more than words can say.

Stanly County Foster Care

The foster care program of the Stanly County Department of Social Services assists children and families who are unable to live together. Children come into foster care for many reasons:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Family strain due to divorce, substance abuse, or mental illness
  • Willfully allowing the maltreatment of a child
  • Sickness or death of a caregiver
  • Child’s problem behavior

When these things occur and the family is unable to maintain a safe home, the child may be placed in foster care for a temporary period. This placement is usually made through the court system.

The Department of Social Services works with the family and others involved in the child’s life to resolve the problem that is keeping the family separated. If a safe environment can once again be provided, the child can return to his or her family. However, if issues continue to remain unresolved, the parental rights of the birth family

Children in Care

Children in the custody of the Stanly County Department of Social Services have a wide variety of characteristics. Most of our children are no different than the children you know. You see them in the park, the grocery store, in church. They are tall, short, young, older, bright, active, imaginative, and always on the go. Some are physically handicapped, behaviorally challenged, or have mental limitations. They may be involved with the juvenile court system or with mental health officials, but these children all need one common thing in their lives… a stable and supportive family.

Being a foster parent is a partnership between you, the agency, the birth family, the child, and the community.

Steps to become a foster parent

Becoming a foster parent doesn’t happen overnight. It usually takes several months to complete the licensing process once the mandatory classes are finished.

✔ Watch the mandatory Foster Parent Orientation video https://www.ncswlearn.org/presenter/Foster_Parent_Orientation/story.html
✔ Attend orientation with our agency or a social worker will conduct an initial interview and gather basic background information
✔ Complete TIPS-MAPP course: This 30-hour class is designed to help potential foster parents better understand the needs of the children in care.  It also helps them and the agency decide if fostering is for them.  This is a mandatory step to becoming a foster parent.
✔ After TIPS-MAPP is completed, both the agency and applicant must feel comfortable in moving forward in the application process.  Information about the family is collected through family profiles, home visits, references, fingerprinting, health exams, and home inspections.
✔ Our agency will complete your Foster Home Application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
✔ Once licensed by the NC Division of Social Services, consider and accept foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.
✔ Relicensure of foster parents is required every 2 years.

Please check back here for Fall 2021 MAPP course dates.


Personal Qualities

Foster parents shall be selected on the basis of having personal characteristics and relationships which will permit them to undertake and perform the responsibilities of caring for children, in providing continuity of care, and in working with a social agency.  Persons who have a substantiated report of abuse or neglect may not be eligible for licensure as foster parents.  Foster parents should be persons:


  • who give a feeling of caring about others and being responsive to them:
  • who are able to give affection and care to a child in order to meet the child’s needs;
  • who can enjoy being parents;
  • who have the capacity to give, without expectations of return;
  • who have worked out between themselves a satisfactory and stable marital relationship, without severe problems in their sexual identification, or in their relationship with each other;
  • who are able to maintain meaningful relationships, free from severe conflict with members of their own families as well as with others;
  • who have reputable characters, acceptable values and ethical standards conducive to the well –being of children;
  • who give evidence of flexibility in their expectations, attitudes, and behavior in relation to the needs and problems of children, and the ability to use help to meet the problems of family living, when it is needed;
  • who are able to accept the child’s relationship with his/her parent(s) and with the agency.
Criteria to Become a Foster Parent
  1. Attend MAPP/GPS (Model Approach to Partnership in Parenting and Group Preparation and Selection), a 10 session training (total of 30 hours).
  2. Not more than 5 children may be provided care in any foster home at any given time.  These 5 children shall include the foster parents’ own minor children, foster children, day care children, or any other children.
  3. Not more than 5 foster children shall reside in a family foster home at any one given time.
  4. There shall be no more than:
    2 children under 2 years of age
    4 children under 6 years of age
    6 children under 12 years of age in a foster home, at any one time.
  5. Foster parents shall in no way violate within the community the confidential nature of the child’s situation or the circumstances of his parents’, causing exploitation of the child by his peers, his school, or the community at large.
  6. Foster parents shall encourage every child to maintain a close relationship with his/her natural family when DSS feels this is in the best interest of the child and appropriate with the permanent plan for the child. Shared Parenting is a mandatory requirement for licensed foster parents.
  7. Child training and discipline shall be handled with kindness and understanding and should be appropriate for the child’s age, intelligence, emotional makeup, and past experience.  Corporal punishment MUST NOT be used.
  8. In case of sickness or accident, the foster parent shall promptly notify DSS.
  9. Every foster parent transporting a child shall have the child properly secured in a restraint system that is approved by the Commission of Motor Vehicles.

Criminal Histories
An applicant shall not be eligible for licensure if the applicant, or any member of the applicant’s household 18 years or older, refuses to consent to any criminal history check.  This includes compliance with fingerprinting requirements.

Foster parents must be 21 years old.

A physical examination must be completed by a licensed medical provider on each member of the foster family household within at least 12 months prior to the initial licensing and every other year thereafter.  There must also be documentation that each household member has had a TB skin test or chest x-ray prior to initial licensure. Foster parents children shall only be required to be tested only if one or more of the parents test positive for TB.

The foster family must have a stable income sufficient for their needs without dependency upon board payments.

The foster home shall not deny the child opportunity for spiritual development and the practice his religious beliefs. Foster parents shall not encourage their own views of religion on children placed in their home.

Both foster parents may be employed if a suitable child care plan has been approved by DSS.

With special permission from the Children’s Services Branch, Foster Care Services, a foster home license may remain valid while foster parents are adopting a child.

Physical Facility

Fire and Building Inspection

  • All homes must have at least one 5-pound, ABC type fire extinguisher mounted and a CO detector in the home.  The fire extinguisher must be checked biannually.
  • Extension cords: The use of drop cords and extension cords should be limited to temporary utilization on appliances and equipment.
  • Fire Evacuation Plan: The fire evacuation plan must be posted in an obvious location to everyone in the house.  It is recommended that the plan be posted in the sleeping areas and the area next to the phone or bulletin board.
  • Telephone: All foster homes must have a working telephone and emergency numbers posted.
  • Smoke Detectors: All homes must have one smoke detector outside each sleeping area that is within 10 feet of each bedroom door, with at least one smoke detector on each level.
  • Chemicals/Flammables: These must be stored in a safe and proper manner and out of reach of foster children.
  • Source of Heat: The primary source of heat must conform to state and local codes.  The secondary source of heat (portable/space heaters) must be used only in living areas and must be extinguished at bedtime. Home has heating, air cooling or ventilating capability to maintain comfort range between 65 and 85 degrees F.
  • Bedrooms: Bedrooms shall be clearly identified on a floor plan as bedrooms and shall not serve dual functions. No day bed, convertible sofa, or other bedding of a temporary nature shall be used except for temporary care of up to two weeks.

Before a home is fully licensed, and biannually thereafter, it must be inspected and receive a satisfactory rating on the fire and building safety inspection report and on the inspection form for residential care facilities. 

Environmental Regulations

  • The home and yard shall be maintained and repaired so that they do not appear to be hazardous to the children in care.
  • The house shall be kept free of uncontrolled rodents and insects.
  • Windows and doors used for ventilation shall be screened.
  • The kitchen shall be equipped with a working stove and refrigerator and adequate eating, cooking and drinking utensils which are cleaned and stored for use.
  • Household equipment and furniture shall be in good repair.
  • Explosive materials, firearms (guns), and ammunition must be stored separately in locked places.
  • Documentation that household pets have been vaccinated for rabies is maintained by the foster parents.
  • Inflammable and poisonous substances, medications and cleaning supplies shall be stored out of reach of foster children.

The social worker confirms these regulations are met during a home visit.

Other Requirements
Visits will be made by the DSS licensing social worker on a quarterly basis.  Two of the visits must be made in the foster home within the licensing year for the purpose of discussing matters relating to any services needed by the foster family and to assure minimum licensing standards continue to be met.

At least twenty hours of training by each foster parent is required biannually.  This training may be child-specific or may concern issues relevant to the general population of children in foster care.  Training credits can be earned in a variety of ways: attending foster parent association workshops, local training sessions, watching videos, programs on TV, reading books and articles, etc.

Foster parents are required to receive CPR, first-aid and universal precautions training before a child is placed in the home.

Foster homes must be relicensed biannually in accordance with the expiration date on the license. Materials for relicensure should be completed at least 4-6 weeks prior to the date the license expires.  All relicensing materials must be completed and dated within 90 days prior to submitting it for licensure. 

Are you willing to open your Heart and Home to a Child?

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or in learning more about the program, please call us at
704-982-6100 or contact:

Jessica Stevens, Licensing Social Worker
(704) 986-2036

Amy Little, Foster Care Social Worker
(704) 986-2035

Stacey McCroskey, Foster Care/ Adoptions Social Worker
(704) 986-2030

Kathy LeFloch, Children’s Services Supervisor
(704) 986-2010

Want to get involved but not sure about foster parenting?

You may not feel you can be a foster parent, but you still want to get involved. There are many ways you can help the children in Stanly County. Please call us to find out how.


Stanly County DSS

1000 North First Street, Suite 2
Albemarle, North Carolina 28001


Normal Business Hours:
Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm

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