Today our licensor from the state came to do our yearly walk-through safety inspection of our home in order to renew our foster care license. I've written about our safety inspection and requirements before on a general level, but I thought it would be helpful to list the specific safety requirements in case anybody out there is interested in fostering but would like to know more about what is required of a foster home. (Obviously, licensing requirements will vary by state, but this Safety Inspection Checklist gives a pretty good idea of the standards to which foster homes are held accountable)
First things first, if you would like to foster then you obviously have to have the room for another child, so this is what is required in terms of bedroom space:
FOSTER HOME SAFETY INSPECTION CHECKLIST
1. Bedrooms: 80 square feet of space for single occupant (10 X 8) or 60 square feet per occupant in multiple occupant rooms (10 X 12, 11 X 11, 9 X 13). Each child has own appropriately sized bed and storage space for belongings. Note: You can only be licensed to the size of room and number of beds present at time of licensure.
A few other things worth noting: Children of the same sex may share a room, but each must have their own bed. Children of the opposite sex may only share a bedroom if they are both 2 years of age or under. No more than four children are permitted in a single bedroom.
2. Working smoke detectors on each level of your home (licensor will test one on each floor)
Carbon monoxide detectors are also highly recommended.
3. Fire Extinguisher minimum rating of 2A10BC.
4. Banisters on open staircases and railings on all decks, stairs, and porches off ground level.
5. Hazardous areas including (but not limited to) steep grades, cliffs, open pits, swimming pools, hot tubs, ponds, water features, high voltage boosters, canals, high speed roads, deep window wells shall be fenced off or have natural barriers.
6. Written plan of action for emergencies and emergency numbers posted by telephone (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED safety ladders for 2nd Story Escapes).
7. Fireplaces/wood stoves need protective screens. (Even glass front fireplaces can get too hot for a toddler's hand- keep this in mind if you take small children- you need to fence off all areas that get too hot to touch).
8. Alcohol needs to be inaccessible to children at all times.
9. If you only have cell phones as your home phone: please be sure there is always one phone at your home when the foster children are present, i.e. if you have a babysitter or child is home without foster parents.
10. Furnace/ Water Heater adequately ventilated and no flammable storage surrounding them.
11. First Aid Kits in the car and in the home. Please remove any medications from your first aid kit unless you intend to lock it out of children's reach.
12. Medication and Chemicals (defined as any chemical with a warning label stating: "Keep out of reach of children" or "Harmful if swallowed" including but not limited to: prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, cleaners, gasoline, oil, antifreeze, paint, lawn fertilizers, bleach, etc. must be locked either by key, combination, or magnetic locks. Soaps and shampoos do not need to be locked. Remember this guideline: anything a child can consume (whether or not they'll consume it) that could cause fatal or irreparable damage or can be used as a fire starter or inhalant needs to be locked. Examples: you can lock cupboards, pantry, closets, sheds, file cabinets, metal boxes, safes, plastic bins or containers with locks through the handles, etc. Remember to make it convenient for you and your family to use because you are REQUIRED to keep these items locked AT ALL TIMES when foster children are present in your home.
13. Firearms: PREFERRED to be locked in a gun safe. If in a plastic case or a glass front display case, they must be disabled (bolts removed) or have trigger locks. Ammo must be stored in a separate locked location.
14. Adequate number of seatbelts in your auto for the number of children you take.
15. Under age 5: car seats, outlet covers and safety gates on all stairways.
OTHER BASIC REQUIREMENTS for families to meet in order to provide foster care in my state (taken directly from this Prospective Parent Packet) are:
- Foster parents may be married couples or single individuals aged 21 or older. Unmarried couples are unable to be licensed. (It's my understanding that this last requirement is a federal rather than state guideline)
-Foster parents must be U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents.
-Foster parents and all persons 18 and older in the home must pass background checks.
-Foster parents need to be financially stable and able to support their family without assistance from the state.
-Foster parents need to be healthy enough to care for children as determined by their own doctor
-Foster parents will not be licensed to do both foster care and day care at the same time.
-Foster parents can be homeowners or renters.