Home study.

Something about those words make people worry, and wonder.  You see a home study is the biggest piece in someone getting approved to become a licensed foster parent, or potential adoptive home.
Some people think they are going to look in every nook and cranny of your house.  Some people think they are going to ask all sorts of questions about your past, and any mistakes you have made in your life.  Some people think it’s just to make sure you have a room and the right furniture for a child.
Well the truth it, it is a bit of all of the above.  Now every agency is going to be slightly different, so I can only speak from my personal experience, but here is what to expect.

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The Home study starts with an initial interview.

The first interview will be with a social worker whose job is to recruit and license you.  They will explain to you how the fostering/adoption process works.  Requirements that they have and what you can expect through out the coming process.
We were asked why we wanted to foster, and if we knew anyone that fostered are adopted.  Was there any history of adoption in our family, what did we think the goal of foster care was etc.
The class we would have to take was explained to us.  A 9 week course called PRIDE training, consisting of one night a week for 3 hours at our agency.  There were also 2 additional classes we would have to take for the adoption aspect.   We were given the start dates and were asked to pick one best suited to our schedule.  At this interview she also did a quick tour of our home.  I want to point out you can own or rent, and the size of your home is not important.  You need to show that you have a legal bedroom with a window, and enough room for the child.  Our foster care kiddos room is 9′ by 9′ with a huge window, a crib, a toddler bed and 2 dressers.  We usually have 2 kids at a time.  Our agency requires babies to be in our room for the first year, so sometimes the crib is in our room.  Then before she left….

We were then given THE STACK… of paperwork for the home study that is.

Interview questionnaires, fire safety inspection, house safety checklist, medical assessment, driving record check, vulnerable sector check, police check, etc etc etc
We picked our start date for the fall and got to work on the paperwork.  The medical check, police check, driving check, and vulnerable sector check were pretty straight forward however depending on your health, the driving history, any criminal history, and  any history with children’s aid society this will vary.
We also had to prove that our pets had updated vaccinations.

The Home Study Questionnaire was next

I wish I had a copy of it so I could tell you exactly what was on in but once the home study is completed your agency “owns” it.
The first section was about who we were as a couple?  How do we share responsibilities, who works in or out of the home, what do we do for fun?  How do we handle disagreements?  How do we discipline our children?  What are our children’s personalities like?
We were asked about our work history, our hours, pay etc.  You need to prove that adding a foster child to your family will not be a financial burden to you.  Yes you are given a stipend but this covers the child’s basic needs.  Any family trips or activities you would take/do comes out of your own pocket.
They asked a very detailed history on our family, parents siblings, extended family, friends that are in our life regularly etc, Things like, what was your childhood like?  Did you have a 2 parent home?  How were you disciplined?  What were your parents strengths and weaknesses?  What do you like to do as a family?  How do you think your bio children will react to having foster kids in the home? etc.  They asked about each family members jobs/volunteer/activities. Where they live, if they have children, if they support you being a foster/adoptive parent.
The next question was about our religious preferences, Do we attend a church, how is your religion displayed in your home, How big of a part of your life is your religious affiliations?
They asked a lot about our parenting methods and how much support we have.  Was there any history of alcohol or drug use in our past, in any of our families past, or do we have any friends that are in our life regularly that struggle with this.
This part was pretty detailed – We had to fill all this out and then have another interview to discuss.
We interviewed together, then on another day we interviewed separately and the worker asked us even more questions about our spouse, when they were not there!

Home Study House Assessment

The next interview (#5) was our home assessment.   This is where they are determining if your home is safe for a child, and if there is anything that needs to be changed.
The worker walked through our home, checked things like fire alarms, CO2 monitors, the foster child’s bedroom, was the furniture attached to the wall, safety plugs, location of flashlight, fire extinguisher, and other emergency plans.  She made sure the alcohol was out of reach/locked and that medicines were in a locked box.
She did not go through my cupboards, check in closets or under the bed (but I cleaned all that anyways lol)  There was a clear checklist of what was expected, so it is easy to prepared.

Our Final Home Study Interview.

She brought another questionnaire.  She said this was a rapid fire round and we had to answer quickly, and not ask our spouse/show our spouse our answers.  She looked through it all and asked a couple clarifying questions.  I believe this was done to check for honestly, and to make sure our answers added up with our previous questions/interviews.
That was it!!  Well on our end anyways.  The worker then took a few weeks to write up our home study, which then has to get approved by a supervisor, and the completed homestudy in addition to all the other paperwork meant we were officially licensed foster parents!
If we do adopt, we will have to have another interview again where she will make slight changes to amend the home study for our adoption.
So that is all! The process overall took 2 months from when we started our training.  However we got paperwork at our first interview which was 6 months prior so we had those 6 months to get all the paperwork done while we waited for our training to start.
I think you can expect 6 months as a general guideline to have a home study completed through your city, or county, if you are doing foster care.  You can also accelerate the home study process by paying for it to be done privately.  With private adoptions you usually have this fee worked into your total fee.  Usually your home study is not transferable so if you were to change agencies you would likely have to get it done again.

I hope this helps you, when you are preparing for your home study! Please leave any comments below to any other info that you had to go through in your province, or state to help out other readers!
Check out the video if you would like to see a tour of our foster care room.