What To Expect In The Foster Home Inspection Process

foster home inspection

You’ve talked it over with your loved ones and you’ve finally decided to do it. You want to become a foster, adoptive or kinship parent! You’re ready to undergo the five month licensing process, but you don’t know what to expect in the foster home inspection.

Before an onsite inspector comes to assess the suitability of your home to accommodate foster children, this is what you need to know:

Foster home inspection checklist:

Please note: While all states have some variation of these laws, the examples cited here are strictly for NJ. To see your state’s laws, click here.

• First of all, foster homes must comply with all state and local zoning, building and fire safety codes. So if you know something needs fixing, now is the time before your foster home inspection.

• According to New Jersey law, a telephone must be in service in the home at all times when a child in placement is present.

• At least one toilet, one washbasin and one bathtub or shower must be provided in the home and shall be in good working order.

• Each child in placement must be provided with his or her own bed, bassinet or crib that is located in a bedroom and kept in a sanitary condition.

• The bedroom must have natural light and ventilation provided by one or more windows opening directly to the outside.

• Each child should sleep in a bedroom that is sufficient in size to provide for the safety, privacy and comfort of the child.

• A smoke detector, battery-operated or hard-wired, must be installed on each floor of the home and be operable at all times.

• A carbon monoxide detector must be in operation adjacent to each bedroom area if the home contains fuel-burning appliances or has an attached garage used for motor vehicles.

• Each parent, household member or other person who drives the child in placement must have a current driver’s license, automobile insurance coverage and a vehicle with ample space, seatbelts and age appropriate safety seats for each child. The person must also maintain current automobile insurance throughout his or her time as a resource parent.

What will help with a foster home inspection?

While it’s not a requirement of state law, patience will help ease the foster home inspection process. Licensed resource parents all have their own stories about the inspections. Some range from an inspector saying the parent needed more vegetables in the fridge to others saying they needed to replace windows several times. Parents even have stories where the inspector helped point out simple safety improvements that parents missed.

The point is that it’s not always easy. The process can be long and more complicated that you might desire. But remember, everything is done with the best interests of children at heart. So before frustration kicks in, which is only natural, take a step back and breathe. You are not the first person to go through this and you won’t be the last. With a little patience, understanding and willingness to adapt, your home will be approved and you’ll be sharing your foster home inspection story with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Author: Lloyd Nelson, FAFS Digital Media Manager

Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at lnelson@fafsonline.org.

21 thoughts on “What To Expect In The Foster Home Inspection Process

  1. How to deal with a overbearing worker that comes to a home and nitpicks over things that don’t pertain to this issue. Example she is worried that someone is staying in the home that will not get a background check The person is no longer in the home but she still persist in coming to the home and possibly surprising the foster care parent. There is nothing to hide but I feel it is in the invasion of my privacy also feel that there seems to be some kind of control that she is trying to exert over me. Overbearing and controlling.

      1. Do not wholly agree with your response. It should “only” be about the children and not some petty control issue that a caseworker may have…these parents devote their life to the child placed invtheir home.

  2. I am trying to get custody of 3 minor grandchildren ages 5,8,9
    2 boys and 1 girl coming from out of state.
    1. If I rent a 2 bedroom and give them the master and put 3
    twin beds can they be in the same room.
    2. I work part time, much income a month do I need to qualify

    1. You would have to speak directly with the caseworker and supervisor regarding having all children share a bedroom. Some Child Protective Agencies will not approve for school age children of different sexes to share a bedroom. Also, the square footage of the room will be taken into account to ensure that there is enough space for each child by their licensing standards.

      For example, New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency requires that any bedroom with a single bed occupied by one child must have a minimum of 70 square feet of floor space, including space that is occupied by furniture. Also any bedroom with bunk beds or combination of single beds and bunk beds must provide 50 square feet of floor space for each child, including space occupied by furniture. It is best to obtain all information you can regarding the apartment and then share this information with the caseworker and supervisor to ensure that this arrangement can be approved by CPS prior to purchasing. CPS agencies strive to keep children with kin whenever possible and they may also be able to complete a waiver with you to ensure that this arrangement will be approved in order to have the children placed with family.

  3. I have a home visit coming up and I already have 3 kids of my own and I’m looking to get 3 Foster kids (siblings )..I have a 3 bedroom..I am putting the 1 year old I’m a playpen in my room and the 6 year old girl will have a toddler bed which is in my room with my daughter room and the 3 year old boy will be in my boys room which has a bunk bed.. Will this set up be a problem?

    1. Ms. Greene-
      Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). From the information you provided you would be at capacity per Office of Licensing’s policy with the total of 6 children in your home. Also, please be advised that a child can only be in your room until age 2; thereafter, the child would have to be in another bed room. In regards to the room set up with the children, as long as you have enough space in the rooms you should be okay. Your Resource Worker should be able to advise whether or not you will have enough space. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to call 800-222-0047 and ask to speak to the Family Advocate for your county.

      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

  4. Hello, I’m trying to get custody of my friends 2 children which are in California. I’m in Louisiana. The mother states she is losing her rights to the children next week and I think the children have been in foster care for a little over a year. I have not been able to reach anyone concerning the children but one of the kids told them she wanted to stay with me. I do not know what to do. It’s 2 kids that need placement , a girl 9 yrs old and a boy 6 years old. My home have never been inspected and I have a 2 bedroom home . Will I be able to get the children at this point? And What should I be doing NOW?

    1. Interstate Compact on the Placement Children (ICPC) can take a few months to complete all necessary paperwork as this agency is based on the legal agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands and controls the placement of children from one state into another state. It ensures that children moving through state lines are safe, potential caregivers are suitable, and guarantees that the individuals or entities placing the child remain legally and financially responsible following placement. In order for an ICPC placement request to get started, the child’s caseworker in the state the child is located creates a packet that includes a child’s social, medical, and educational history and the current status of any court case involving the child. The packet will also include information about you as you are being considered for placement of the child in the receiving state so that the receiving state will know who they should be evaluating for possible placement.

      The sending ICPC office will send this packet to the receiving ICPC office which will then be shared with that state’s Child Protection Agency and a caseworker will begin to assess you and your home for placement. When this assessment is complete the Child Protection Agency will then send the packet back to the sending ICPC office which will then be shared with that state’s Child Protection Agency. You can also reach out to sending and receiving ICPC offices to obtain status of this case. I have added the link to ICPC to further assist.

      You will want to remain in contact with the child’s caseworker and supervisor so that continued communication between you and them is established and maintained. If you cannot get ahold of the caseworker and supervisor continue to ask for another supervisor until you speak with someone. Also usually, starting the process of becoming a licensed resource (foster) parent in your state if you have not done so may assist with the child or children being placed with you quicker; however this is not guaranteed. Kinship families in NJ do have different training requirements to meet when becoming licensed compared to regular resource parents. I would recommend contacting your state Child Protection Agency to ensure that you are following the correct steps to become licensed as a kinship caregiver.

      Corissa Kazar
      Support Services Manager

  5. Hello i have some concerns..my little cousins are in foster care for almost 2 months now they are 2 nine month old twins…I am trying to get temporary custody of them and get them out of foster care until the mom get them back..i had a resource worker come out..now i feel as though she is nip picking with two main things..i live in a town house..and my windows do not have a screen..they never did..the new town houses that are built do not always come withs screens..but they come with the bars on the windows..she want me to get the screens for my windows…i told her i cant do that..the landlord will have to provide that and he said no because that is what the bars are for…i have the little screens that you can slide open i got that from a family dollar store..but a full window screen i can not get…she also complained about my front door having an extra lock…how is this acceptable? Since when having two locks unsafe?The babies can not even walk yet and she is worried about suff that is not important i feel..and she will not let me taking my foster training classes until its done..and that will be pushing me back 2months

    1. Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) provides services and assistance to New Jersey licensed resource, kinship and adoptive families therefore we are unfortunately limited on how we can assist if you are not a NJ resident. It can be very challenging when a relative is in care no matter which state you reside in. Each state has their own policies and practices that they follow which can also make things challenging as well.

      To address your concerns the most appropriate plan of action is to voice your and your families concerns through the state’s Chain of Command. This would be the caseworker, caseworker’s supervisor and so on until your concerns are addressed. I would also recommend having some form of documentation such as email or a notebook to note who you spoke with, what was discussed and the day and time to further document your concerns and your attempts to address your concerns. It is appropriate to write letters of concern and send to all parties involved with the children’s case including the judge. I would also recommend researching support services for kin in your state to see if another agency may be able to further assist. If you are a NJ resident, you can reach out to our FAFS Family Advocates for additional assistance.

      Corissa Kazar
      Support Services Manager

  6. Hello I’m worried about my dogs being accepted I have American Staffordshire Terrier French Bulldog and a Labrador mix with pitbull they are all extremely friendly and love people but I’m worried because of the stereotypes the Stafford Terrier looks more like a pitbull which I think it may affect me I’m kind of scared with all this I sincerely want to have a home four children as well since my partner and I are unable to have our own

    1. If you are a New Jersey foster parent, I would recommend contacting our FAFS Family Advocates to further assist this situation. If you are a resident from another state, unfortunately, FAFS is only contracted through NJ’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency. We are not familiar with other states policies and procedures, therefore we are limited on ways to assist.

      However, for NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency’s policy, any pet in the home must meet the following requirements
      – Pet is domesticated and nonaggressive
      – Pet is free from disease
      – Pet is vaccinated, if applicable, as prescribed by law
      – If sick, removed from an area that is occupied by children, until the pet is well
      – Effectively controlled by a leash, command or cage
      – Prohibited from toilet facilities for children
      – The owner will ensure that animal waste is deposited appropriately and does not become a health problem
      – The owner will ensure that pet dishes and food are kept out of the owners home food prep and serving areas
      – The owner will not allow a pregnant adolescent clean a cats litter box.

      New Jersey does not determine pets based on their breed. If you are not a New Jersey resident, it is best to ask you caseworker of your states standards regarding pets.

      Corissa Kazar
      Support Services Manager

  7. Hi I am starting the process and I was wondering if I could use my den as a bedroom for a crib and a dresser. It is 7.5′ x 7.9′, it has a normal size window, a door, and ventilation, but it does not have a closet. We are wanting 0-5 yrs of age and would put a crib in the master bedroom but wanted an option for another child. We have an extra bedroom that my children have a futon, tv and LEGO’s in. I was told we could not put a bed in that room because it wouldn’t be considered the kids room since it wouldn’t be private enough? But if it’s a baby or 0-5 does that still matter? Just trying to get a feel for what we can possible do to get licensed for 2 foster children, that way we can help with siblings. Thank you for any help!

    1. Thank you for reaching out to Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). It is wonderful that you are starting the process to become licensed and you are also considering your home for sibling placements. Ensuring that your home has room for two children can be challenging. Office of Licensing (OOL) will send a caseworker to your home towards the end of the process to make the final judgement regarding the den being used as a room. I have attached CP&P policy regarding bedroom requirements for children in care below to further assist.


      Also, as per CP&P Manual of Requirements for Resource Parents, it is noted that “an unfinished attic or unfinished basement shall not be used for sleeping purposes by any child in the resource family. Each bedroom occupied by a child in placement shall have natural light and ventilation provided by one or more windows opening directly to the exterior. Each child in placement shall sleep in a bedroom that is sufficient in size to provide for the safety, privacy, and comfort of the child.” I have also attached a link to this manual below.


      Most of CP&P policy is worded to include all children no matter their age, unless age appropriate is noted in conjunction to the policy. The policy noted that “Each child in placement shall sleep in a bedroom that is sufficient in size to provide for the safety, privacy, and comfort of the child” Even though the child is young, they may not be approved to have their room in the den as the policy is all inclusive of children regardless of age.

      I would recommend discussing this with your Resource Family Support Worker and the OOL Worker when they come to your home as they will be best able to guide you. Also, you can reach out to our Family Advocates at any time to gain further assistance and/or understanding of CP&P policy.

      Corissa Kazar
      Support Services Manager

  8. I am in process of getting my nephew’s due to a situation with his parents my husband has a record in his past and there saying that might stop us from getting them but it’s from 20 years ago and has nothing to do with kids

  9. I am in the process of being approved for foster care for my granddaughter in CT. The social worker has performed the initial home visit. There is a waiver required due to an incident on my background check non violent offense over 40 years old. typically how long does this process take for approval.

  10. I never thought that foster homes must comply with all state and local zoning, building and fire safety codes. I am looking into being trained as a foster parent. Thanks for the tips on foster care home inspection.

  11. I am in the process of getting approved to take my cousins kids. I have my home inspection on Tuesday. Im just wondering how long it takes for them to make a decision on if we can have them or not. Also how long it takes to get the kids once they are approved

    1. According to the Manual of Requirements, each bedroom occupied by anyone in the resource family shall have two independent means of exit, at least one of which is an operable window or door suitable for emergency escape or rescue leading directly outside. Each child in placement shall be provided with his or her own bed, bassinet, or crib, as age-appropriate, which is located in a bedroom and kept in a sanitary condition. Any unfinished areas shall not be used for sleeping purposes by any child in the resource family.

      Office of Licensing will be inspecting the entire home, including all bedrooms, regardless of who is occupying them. After licensing, Office of Licensing conducts annual inspections. The worker assigned to a child placed in the home will be primarily viewing the room in which the child in care sleeps. While it may not happen on every visit, it is not uncommon for the child’s worker to do a walk-through of the home and view all rooms to ensure that there are no concerns.

      I hope this helps!

      Lenore Bonilla
      Support Services Manager

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