So…you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent? You’ve realized it’s time to do something with all that love in your heart, but you’d like some more info on how to get started? You’re in luck! I wrote this post to fill you (yes you—the one reading this right now) in on the basics!

Let me start with the 2 most popular questions. 1. How old do I have to be? 2. Do I have to be married? Whether you’re living the single life or you’re someone’s other half, you can be a foster parent. Unlike Facebook, we’re not too concerned with your relationship status. As for the age requirement, you only need to have reached your 18th birthday. Whether that happened this last birthday or quite a few birthdays ago is of no consequence: there’s no age limit on loving and caring for a child.

In addition to being at least 18, you must hold a valid California driver’s license to start the process of becoming a foster parent. Ask any parent—if you have kids, you’ll be driving! You don’t need to own your own home (another popular question), but you do need to have enough income to support your household. The foster family reimbursement (yes, foster families do receive financial assistance for the children placed in their care) won’t be taken into consideration when making this calculation. So at least one adult must be employed or have some other sufficient source of income.

Confident that you’ve met those requirements? Give us a call! 1-800-566-2225. No, seriously. That’s how you start the process. We’ll do a phone interview and then have you complete the application packet(s). After that, an Agape rep will perform the initial home inspection and you’ll provide us with copies of a variety of documents. You (and anyone in your house who’s 18 or older) will need to be fingerprinted. You’ll also need a health screening and TB test. To prepare you for your new role as a foster parent, Agape Program Director Cheryl Youngblood will guide you through the Agape Pre-Service Training (formerly “PRIDE”). You’ll need your CPR/First Aid certification and, if you have a body of water on your property, you’ll need to complete a water certification course (Agape offers one free of charge). Finally (whew!), an Agape social worker will conduct a home inspection and interview. That’s the short and sweet version, anyway. This is a basic overview of the process (which averages 6-10 weeks), not a step-by-step guide. Don’t be alarmed/surprised/dismayed when there’s more to the process than what I’ve got here!

Still reading? Good. I saved the most important requirement for last. To be an Agape foster parent, you MUST have a heart for kids. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing to open your home to a child—bless you for being willing to do it. But bless you a hundred times…bless you a thousand times…bless you for eternity for being ready and willing to open your heart to kids who may never have known what it is to be safe and loved. Or who haven’t known it in so long that they’ve forgotten what it feels like. Bless you for having that heart and for actually using it. We need it. We need you.