How to Become a Foster Parent in Tennessee

Provide care for a child in need

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If you are interested in becoming a foster parent in Tennessee, here is the information you need to take the next step in the process.

Becoming a Foster Parent in Tennessee

  • What is foster parenting?
    • Foster parenting is providing temporary care for a child who is unable to live in their regular home. This is generally because the child's parents are unable or unwilling to properly care for the child. As a foster parent, you would provide for the child's physical, social, and emotional needs, just as you would for your own child.
  • How old are the children in foster care?
    • Children in foster care range in age from infants to teenagers.
  • Are children in foster care able to be adopted?
    • Sometimes. If parents terminate their legal rights to the child or if their rights are taken away, the child may then become eligible for adoption. In some cases, the existing foster parent may be able to legally adopt the child.
  • Does the state pay foster parents?
    • Yes and no. The state of Tennessee pays a stipend to foster parents for the purpose of covering the child's needs while in foster care. The amount varies based on the age of the child and his or her level of need. Be aware that many foster parents say that the stipend usually does not cover the complete cost of caring for the child--in other words, money should not be your incentive for fostering.
  • Who is qualified to be a foster parent?
    • In general, any reasonably healthy and financially stable adult age 21 or older can be a foster parent. Foster parents may be married or single, they may have children or not, they may or may not be employed as long as they are financially stable, and they may own or rent their own home.
  • What kind of training is provided to be a foster parent?
    • The state of Tennessee requires all prospective foster parents to complete a 30-hour training program called PATH (Parents as Tender Healers) before continuing the application process.
  • What kind of screening do foster parents have to pass?
    • All prospective foster parents must pass a background check, provide five references, be fingerprinted, and complete a home study.
  • How do I start the process?
    • To get started, call the Tennessee Department of Children's Services at 1-877-DCS-KIDS.
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