By Eleanor Beeslaar

As you have been reading about being a foster parent over the past few days, you may be wondering how you become a foster parent in the first place? Becoming a foster parent involves several different requirements, which can feel overwhelming and confusing when you first begin to consider taking this next step. To help you gain a better understanding of this process, we have created a “how to” guide with the different steps and requirements for becoming a foster parent in North Carolina, which has been adapted from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website and the Guilford County website.

First, let’s go over some of the basic requirements to become a foster parent:

  • Foster parents must be at least 21 years old.
  • You can become a foster parent regardless of your marital status (single, widowed, married, divorced, etc.).
  • You can either own a home or rent one.
  • You can have other children in the home.
  • You must be able to care for yourself financially.
  • You must wait at least 12 months after a major life event (i.e. marriage, divorce, the death of a family member, the birth of a child, etc.).
  • You must have at least a GED and a reliable form of transportation (this includes a valid NC driver’s license and valid NC car insurance).
  • According to North Carolina law, foster parents must be licensed through the NC Division of Social Services.
  • Prospective foster parents must complete a criminal background check and be fingerprinted, and they must also complete any necessary home visits or interviews.
  • Applicants must complete the Trauma Informed Parenting for Safety Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (TIPS-MAPP) training. TIPS-MAPP is a minimum 30 hour training course that informs parents about the child welfare system and the role of foster parents. It also helps participants develop necessary skills to become successful foster parents.

It is important to note that some of these requirements may vary slightly depending on the agency you work with.

Now that we have a better understanding of some of the basic requirements of becoming a foster parent, let’s take a closer look at the steps you need to take to start this process. The steps below have been adapted from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website:

  1. Before getting started, we encourage you to attend an information session about the foster care process in Guilford County. There are meetings held for both High Point and Greensboro. Click here for the 2019 information session dates.
  2. After attending an information meeting, the first thing prospective foster parents must do is watch the mandatory foster parent orientation video.
  3. Next, you must choose an agency with whom you will complete the foster care process. For a list of agencies, visit the “Select a Foster Care and or Adoption Agency” section of the NCDHH Website. You can also work directly with DSS.
  4. Once you select an agency, you will attend an orientation meeting with that agency.
  5. Complete the TIPS-MAPP training described above.
  6. Complete the Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing.
  7. Next, you will complete the Foster Home Application which will be submitted to the NC Division of Social Services to be reviewed. This step is most often completed with the help of your agency.
  8. Once you have been approved for licensure, you will be eligible to accept foster placements based on the children’s needs and your family’s ability to care for and parent them.
  9. Lastly, you will need to renew your license every 2 years.

We hope this information has helped you gain a better understanding of the requirements and steps needed to become a foster parent. We highly encourage you to check out the NCDHHS website and Guilford County website for more detailed information!


NCDHHS. (n.d.). How to Foster and or Adopt. Retrieved from

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