The processes of becoming a foster and or adoptive parent in North Carolina involves a thorough assessment and mutual selection process that includes home visits, interviews, and criminal background checks. North Carolina does not have a dual licensure process. This means that there are two separate approval processes for foster care and adoption. Some agencies streamline those two processes as much as possible, while others maintain two distinct tracks. North Carolina law requires that foster parents are licensed by the NC Division of Social Services with families working through their local county DSS or a licensed private agency. Adoptive parents are approved through their local county DSS or a licensed private agency.
In North Carolina families who desire to become licensed foster parents are required to complete TIPS-MAPP (Trauma Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) or an equivalent training and assessment process. This is a minimum 30 hour course designed to inform participants about the child welfare system, the role of foster and adoptive parents, develop participants’ skills to become successful foster or adoptive parents and assess families to determine if fostering or adopting is the best fit for their family. While TIPS-MAPP is mandatory for foster parent licensure, it is strongly encouraged for families who desire to adopt from the foster care system as well. Parenting a child who has been in foster care is very different from parenting a child born to you. The information and skills you will gain from TIPS-MAPP or an equivalent are invaluable.
In an effort to guide families through this process, below are specific steps to get you started.
Foster Parenting Steps:
1. Watch the mandatory Foster Parent Orientation video
2. Choose an agency, local DSS or private foster care placing agency. Links are provided below.
3. Attend an orientation with your chosen agency.
4. Complete TIPS-MAPP course.
5. Completion of Mutual Home Assessment for foster home licensing. This is not the same as an adoption home study.
6. Your agency will complete your Foster Home Application and submit it to the NC Division of Social Services for review and licensure.
7. Once licensed by the NC Division of Social Services, consider and accept foster care placements based on the needs of the children and your family’s parenting abilities and preferences.
8. Relicensure of foster parents is required every 2 years.
Adoptive Parenting Steps:
1. Choose an agency, local DSS or private adoption agency. Links provided below.
2. Attend an orientation meeting with your chosen agency.
3. Complete TIPS-MAPP course. This is optional for adoptive families but strongly encouraged and mandatory through some agencies.
4. Completion of Pre-Placement Assessment (PPA) This is your adoptive home study and is different from the Mutual Home Assessment that foster parents receive. If you want to adopt you must have a PPA. PPA’s must be updated every 18 months or when a significant change occurs within your family or household.
5. Once you have an approved PPA, you can register with AdoptUSKids to make inquiries regarding children available for adoption.
6. Once you have obtained an approved PPA, you may also register with the NC Kids office. You will then be added to a database of approved families and waiting children that is used to find potential matches for waiting children. To register with NC Kids please complete the Family Registration Form and return it along with a copy of your approved PPA. Please note that registration with NC Kids is optional and does not guarantee that you will be matched. It is simply one option available to you in your adoption journey. We encourage you to search for children on your own through the AdoptUSKids or NC Kids’ websites.
7. Submit your PPA for children in need of an adoptive home or be matched for adoption with a child you are already fostering.
8. Once matched, engage in a meeting and transition plan to move the child to your home.
9. Complete the legal adoption process, culminating in a final decree of adoption.
Please note that if you are interested in fostering and adopting some of the above steps may be combined by your agency. Agencies may also have additional requirements above the minimum guidelines.
“Recommended Questions to Ask” is a list to assist you in selecting an agency that is a good fit for your family.
Select a Foster Care and or Adoption Agency
The agencies listed in the licensed foster care agency and/or adoption agency lists below can provide you with information regarding upcoming meetings, training sessions, potential fees for services and answer any questions you have about the process. Selecting an agency to represent you during this process is an important decision. We suggest that you contact several agencies to discuss your fostering and or adoption goals to make an informed choice.