How to Become a Foster Parent in Arkansas: Complete Guide

Becoming a foster parent can be incredibly rewarding for both a child in need and the foster parent. So, how do you become a foster parent in Arkansas?

To become a foster parent in Arkansas, one must be at least 21 years of age. A single person may apply, and there must not be more than a 45-year age difference between the child and the parent. A physical exam is required for all family members, and all adults will undergo a background check.

As you can imagine, the entire list of requirements to foster a child in the state of Arkansas is much more extensive.

Let’s take a look at the requirement details to get you started on your way to deciding whether becoming a foster parent is something you wish to pursue.

Most children in foster care have experienced some level of trauma in their young lives. This trauma is not always necessarily related to abuse or neglect, but also the trauma of being removed from their family and their home.

Three pre teens huddled looking at something.

All foster children need a safe and loving home where they are met with patience and understanding. You are highly encouraged to learn more to see if becoming a foster parent is a good fit for you and your family.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Arkansas

There are 8 steps to becoming a foster parent.

How to Become a Foster Parent in Arkansas:

1. Make the decision
2. Research the requirements
3. Call your local Department of Human Services
4. Attend an orientation
5. Ask questions
6. Attend training
7. Prepare for a home inspection
8. Participate in-home study

Once you and your family have decided to open your home to children in need, reach out to your local Department of Human Services to request more information on becoming a foster parent.

You will likely be invited to an informational orientation where you will have an opportunity to meet with other hopeful foster parents as well as to share any questions or concerns you may have with the orientation facilitators.

Providing you meet all of the other requirements to become a foster parent, you along with all other adults in the home will undergo a background check and submit fingerprints.

Training classes will be required, as well as an in-home inspection to ensure your home meets all of the safety and environmental standards required for all foster homes.

Along with the home inspection, a state representative will be assigned to meet with you in your home several times to get to know you and your family. This is what is referred to as the home study process.

Each state has its own unique bedroom requirements for foster parents that you will need to become familiar with.

What are Foster Parents?

Most people have heard of foster parents or the foster care system. But what exactly are foster parents?

Foster parents are temporary yet primary, full-time parents to a child who has been displaced from their original home for a variety of reasons. Foster parents must become trained by the state in which they reside and meet a multitude of state requirements to become licensed foster parents.

The need for foster parents is great, as many children need a safe, loving home. Children are innocent participants in life’s challenges, and there are times when the state of Arkansas must remove a child from their home until a solution to an existing problem is resolved.

Who are these children that need to be placed into foster care?

  • Brothers and sisters who need to stay together.
  • Children who are currently unable to live with their birth families due to possible neglect, or physical abuse.
  • Teens with various degrees of mental, physical, or emotional troubles.
  • Children from a variety of ethnic and economic groups.
  • Adults with special needs may find themselves in need of a caring foster home.

Are you able to open your home to a child who needs you? Should you decide that being a foster parent is a path you would like to take, you are strongly encouraged to apply by visiting DCFS.

Requirements to Become a Foster Parent in Arkansas

There are several requirements that one must meet to be eligible to be a foster parent in the state of Arkansas.

Requirements to Become a Foster Parent in Arkansas:

1. You are at least 21 years of age.
2. You can provide a safe, comfortable home.
3. Must be financially stable.
4. Space for the child and his or her belongings.
5. All members of the home will have a physical.
6. 50 square feet of bedroom space per child.
7. Adults in the home will submit a background check.
8. Being married is not required.
9. A single person may apply.

The Process:

  • If you would like to reach out to the state of Arkansas to let them know you are considering becoming a foster parent, you will want to complete this Inquiry Form provided by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
  • Prospective foster parent applicants must complete CPR and Standard First Aid certification.
  • Applicants must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.
  • Applicants must meet all Minimum Licensing Standards and DCFS Policy requirements
  • One must be a resident of Arkansas to apply to be a foster family home.

The goal of every foster-child placement is the reunification of the child with their biological family. A foster family is expected to support and encourage a child’s safe return to the family they came from. Important to note is that a child’s biological parents retain their parental rights during a child’s foster care stay unless those rights were terminated by a judge.

As with any home with children, a foster family home should provide children with an adequate, balanced, and appetizing food diet. Comfortable and stylish clothing that fits well is also to be expected, as well as shelter, safety and education.

Foster parents are expected to encourage the foster child to participate in activities and events that will help the child develop their social and intellectual skills. Academic education is also excepted in maintaining good health, as well as human physical development and function.

If a child comes from a particular religion or has a given moral compass, foster parents are strongly encouraged to support and respect such practices.

Adolescents must be provided the opportunity to train for a vocation, as well as day-to-day living experiences in community living such as work, religious beliefs, budget handling, and social skills.

Foster parents are relied upon to provide transportation to and from any mandated counseling appointments, court hearings, and to also comply with biological parent visits.

Curious about what all of the requirements are to be a foster parent? Visit here for more information.

Do You Make Money Fostering a Child?

Those new to the idea of fostering a child may ask themselves, do you make money fostering a child?

You can make money fostering a child. A stipend is provided to compensate for the child’s room and board, clothing, and other daily incidentals. The higher the needs of the child, the higher the reimbursement. This money is for the child and is not meant to supplement the foster parent’s lifestyle.

When considering the pros and cons of being a foster parent, monetary reasons should not be a motivating factor.

As a former foster care child myself, I remember when my foster parent took me shopping with her own money, as the state of Washington would only offer a $100 clothes voucher per year per child. Yes, per year.

I have heard stories of foster parents not spending any of the money on their foster children. Even birthdays are overlooked and no presents are presented to celebrate a birthday that might or might not be remembered or given attention to, as a few bad apples use the stipend on themselves instead.

There is certainly compensation for helping provide for these children, but you won’t get rich doing it. They need our sincere concern not motivated by money.

How Much do Foster Parents Get Paid in Arkansas?

Foster care applicants naturally will be asking, how much do foster parents get paid per child in Arkansas?

Foster care parents in Arkansas receive a monthly payment of between $410 to $500, depending on the age of the child. Board payments must be used for the child and are reimbursement for room and board, clothing, school and personal supplies, and a small allowance for the child.

Subsidies Disclaimer: The above rates are averages only. Reimbursement rates vary by state, and each state and county offers different levels of reimbursement depending on the level of needs for each child that you take in.

A clothing order may be issued if a child arrives at the foster home with no clothing and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If a child arrives with ample clothing, then this will not be necessary.

When purchasing clothing for a foster child, the clothing must be the child’s own and not shared. Clean, well-fitting, attractive, and seasonal choices are expected, and the child should have a say in the clothing purchase providing the clothing is age-appropriate. All clothing purchased for the child will belong to the child and will go with them should they leave the foster home.

Special board rates may apply for children will special needs, and you will be compensated accordingly.

Foster children are eligible for free school lunches in all schools which participate in the National School Lunch/Breakfast Programs.

Children in foster care will receive a Medicaid card to cover health services. In the event there are no Medicaid participants in the area, the charges for medical care will be covered with Foster Care funds. Children will not be denied medical services because the child is not Medicaid eligible.

Graduation expenses for foster children in Arkansas require prior approval and are provided as follows:

  • $250 toward a senior ring.
  • $350 toward prom, which includes prom dress, alterations, tux, shoes, undergarments, and prom tickets.
  • $500 toward graduation for cap and gown, invitations, thank you notes, and senior photos.
  • Foster children will also be provided funds to participate in holiday events and giving. This amount is based on a child’s age and is included in the November board check for purchasing gifts for biological family and friends.

Fostering a child is not a career and should not be viewed as a way to make money. 

For more information on becoming a foster parent in the state of Arkansas, please reach out to the following:

Arkansas Department of Human Services
Phone: 501-682-1001
Donaghey Plaza
Little Rock, AR 72203 
Contact Form

What is Respite Foster Care in Arkansas?

Respite foster care occurs when one foster family temporarily cares for the children of another foster family. It provides some relief to the children’s primary foster home. Respite foster care is often referred to as short-term foster care.

What are the Benefits of Respite Foster Care in Arkansas?

Children and families benefit from respite care because it allows caregivers to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities. Even a brief respite can contribute to a positive, long-term foster experience.

The original foster parents may require some much-needed restorative personal time, or they may have other commitments that require them to be away from home for an extended amount of time.

Other parents can hire a babysitter or leave their children with their grandparents for a night out on the town.

Foster parents, especially those fostering children with problematic behaviors and/or special needs, may not always have this choice.

When foster children exhibit the problematic behaviors that are common in therapeutic foster families, this sort of foster care is very beneficial.

These children may have additional medical, emotional, or behavioral issues.

Scheduling respite time helps caregivers take a break from their numerous ongoing tasks, preventing them from feeling overwhelmed.

Children in foster care benefit from respite because it allows them to form good connections with others, improve their self-esteem and social skills, and learn to trust others.

How to Become a Respite Foster Care Provider in Arkansas?

To become a respite foster care provider in Arkansas, one must meet all state requirements and attend an orientation to answer any questions a prospective respite foster care provider may have. Training will be necessary, as will be a home inspection and home study.

Do you want to help a child in need but aren’t sure you can commit to foster care parenting full-time? Breaks are necessary for all families.

Respite foster care providers must meet the same requirements as full-time foster care providers.

A respite parent provides weekend or short-term care to foster children who are being cared for by another foster family full-time.

You are strongly encouraged to reach out to your local Department of Health and Human Services and request information about becoming a respite foster care provider.

Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.