Foster Homes

First Step: All prospective foster parents must view a brief online orientation. A training certificate providing proof of viewing will be mailed to the prospective parents. A copy of the certificate should be provided to the supervising agency chosen by the prospective parents.   

Suggested Step: Watch “Foster Hope, Foster Love, Foster Families.” In this video, licensed foster parents discuss their reasons for becoming foster parents and the challenges and rewards of providing foster care. Jimmy Wayne, a county music star who spent time in foster care in North Carolina, narrates the video.

North Carolina state law requires that all foster homes be licensed to care for children in their care. These licenses are issued by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services (licensing authority). If you are interested in providing foster care, contact your county department of social services or a private child-placing agency. These “supervising agencies” help potential foster parents navigate the licensing process and provide them with ongoing supervision and support after they are licensed. 

To be licensed to provide foster care individuals must meet many requirements, including: 


  1. Foster parents must be at least 21-years-old.
  2. Families must have adequate income to financially support themselves without relying on a foster care payment. The foster care payment is strictly a reimbursement for expenses related to providing room, board, and supervision to children in foster care.
  3. Foster parents must be willing to participate in Shared Parenting, which means working with the families of children placed in your home if a supervising agency determines this is appropriate.

Training Before Licensing

All applicants must complete 30 hours of training before they can be licensed. This training will be provided by the supervising agency the applicant selects. The frequency and times for this training varies from agency to agency. 
Prospective therapeutic foster parent applicants must complete an additional 10 hours of training before they can be licensed. Most therapeutic foster care agencies use a course called "Becoming a Therapeutic Foster Parent."

The Physical Home

  1. The applicant’s home must pass a fire inspection. The supervising agency will provide information about how to attain a fire inspection. 
  2. The applicant’s home must pass an environmental and health regulations check conducted by the supervising agency. 
  3. The foster home must have a working telephone. 
  4. The foster home must provide each child with their own personal bed. 


  1. Applicants and household members must meet minimum physical and mental health requirements as indicated by a physical examination completed by a licensed medical provider. 
  2. All family members 18 and older must have a tuberculosis (TB) skin test. Children in the family are tested for tuberculosis (TB) only when an adult in the family tests positive.

Background Checks

  1. NC law requires a criminal history check for all foster parent applicants and adult members (18 years and older) resideing in a home. Each adult must meet licensing requirements according to NC General Statue 131D. Fingerprints are used to check State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records to determine whether individuals meet these requirements.
  2. Applications to provide foster care will be denied if applicants or household members are registered on the NC Sex Offender and Public Protection Registry or the Health Care Personnel Registry.
  3. Records from local courts and the NC Department of Corrections must be checked for all adult household members. 

Licensing Process

  1. With the assistance of their supervising agency, all foster parent applicants must complete a licensing application and a mutual home assessment (home study). 

Where Do I Begin? 

Contact the department of social services in your county or a private child-placing agency. The agency will give additional information about next steps.