If you are considering becoming a foster parent, there are naturally some important things to consider. For example, what are the Pennsylvania foster care bedroom requirements?
Pennsylvania foster care bedroom requirements state that bunk beds shall be equipped with securely attached ladders capable of supporting a staff person. Single bedrooms shall have at least 70 square feet of floor space per child measured wall to wall, including space occupied by furniture.
According to Pennsylvania code 55 Pa. Code § 3800.102, foster care bedroom requirements are as follows:
- Single bedrooms must have a minimum of 70 square feet of floor space per child, measured from wall to wall, including furniture space.
- Each child’s shared bedroom must have at least 60 square feet of floor area measured wall to wall, including furniture space.
- No more than four children can occupy a bedroom.
- Each bedroom’s ceiling height must be at least 7 1/2 feet on average.
- Each bedroom must have a window that allows natural light to enter.
The following items must be present in each child’s room:
A well-maintained bed with a sturdy foundation and a fire-resistant mattress.
The cushion and mattress are adequate for the facility’s temperature.
A garment storage space.
No cots or temporary beds are allowed. If a facility is given seven days or less notice of a child’s placement, this rule does not apply for the first 30 days of the child’s placement.
- Bunk beds must have adequate room between each bed and the ceiling for the youngster to be able to sit up in bed.
- Bunk beds must have ladders that are securely fastened and capable of supporting a staff member.
- On each open side and the open end of the bunk bed, a sturdy safety rail must be installed on the top bunk.
- A bedroom may not be utilized to exit or gain access to another area of the institution.
More Foster Care Requirement Considerations
Over and above the minimum requirements a foster parent must meet in the state of Pennsylvania, there are other things to take into consideration when setting up a foster care home.
Foster care training will help you prepare during your foster care preparation course, and your care home study caseworker will help to ensure your home is ready for a foster child. The state of Pennsylvania provides a supportive foster care network.
For example, furniture and TV tip-over accidents have severely injured and even killed young children.
The majority of parents do not consider furniture and televisions to be unsafe. Serious harm can and does occur when these things tip over, and safety issues should be at the forefront of your mind.
Children frequently utilize dressers and bookcases as climbing toys in the house, resulting in tip-overs.
Furthermore, as huge televisions become more popular, the chance of significant harm from a television falling increases.
As a foster parent, you want your foster family to be safe, so let’s go over ways to ensure you meet the foster care bedroom requirements for the state of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania foster care system and state laws will make sure you meet the minimum standards to be a licensed foster care provider. Safety requirements are at the very top of that list.
Curious about what all of the requirements are to be a foster parent? Visit here for more information.
Furniture Tip-Over Statistics
A foster parent will need to do a walk-through of their home and especially the foster children’s bedrooms for any hidden dangers such as furniture that could tip over and seriously injure a child.
- Furniture and television tip-overs are the most common causes of injury in children under the age of six, with a peak at two years old. Concussions and closed head injuries are most common in young children.
- Children 10 to 17 years of age had the most injuries as a result of toppling desks, cabinets, and bookcases. These older children are more likely to sustain injuries to their lower bodies.
- In 2019, 11,521 children were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by furniture or television tip-overs. Every 46 minutes, one child is killed.
What Causes Furniture Tip-Overs?
The majority of injuries are caused by unsecured furniture that falls or tips over. A youngster frequently drags the furniture upon themself.
Children climbing the furniture or tipping it over on another youngster are two potential causes.
Young children are unable to consider the consequences of their behavior. They are typically unable to avoid a falling piece of furniture or of pushing the furniture off of themselves if they become caught.
The majority of injuries occur in youngsters under the age of seven.
Foster families need to be very careful, and children can do things we wouldn’t expect them to do.
How to Prevent Furniture From Tipping Over
As a foster parent, there are things you can do to prevent falling furniture.
Flat-screen TVs should be secured, and older TVs should be used with caution.
- Cords should be tucked away so that they can’t be yanked on or constitute a tripping hazard.
- Use a TV stand instead of a shelf or a dresser. These aren’t designed to hold the weight of a television. Check the size and weight constraints before buying a TV stand.
- Consider recycling your old TV if it’s one of those hefty, bulky models with a flat back.
- If you’re going to utilize a TV stand, be sure it’s one meant for that purpose. Choose one that is the proper size for the size and type of television you own. Use safety straps or L-brackets to secure the TV and its stand to the wall.
- When at all feasible, mount flat-screen TVs on the wall.
Secure furniture to the wall, such as shelves, desks, and dressers.
- Use safety straps or L-brackets to secure furniture to the wall.
- Avoid putting tempting objects on top of furniture, such as toys or the remote. If your child sees it, she will attempt to obtain it.
- There are safety straps that don’t require drilling holes in furniture and can secure things weighing up to 100 pounds.
- Furniture with broad legs or robust bases is a good choice.
- Place heavy objects on shelves near the floor.
- To prevent drawers from being pulled out more than two-thirds of the way, install drawer stops on all of them.
So how do you become a foster parent, anyway? Read more here.
Dangers of Blind Cords
Window blind cords can be a risk to babies, small children, and vulnerable people. They could injure or strangle themselves on looped cords and chains.
You should take steps to keep your child safe because they could lose their life on a window blind cord in a few seconds.
How Do You Keep Blind Cords From Kids?
A foster parent who already has blinds installed in their house will want to follow the steps below to help limit the risk of harm to newborns and young children:
- A window blind should not be placed near your child’s crib, bed, high chair, or playpen.
- Examine each blind in your home, and if any has a looped or potentially looped cable or chain, make sure a safety device is in place to keep the cord or chain safely tucked away out of their reach.
- Cord or chain tidies, P-clips, and cleats are all available as safety measures.
- Children love to climb, so keep couches, chairs, tables, shelves, and bookcases away from window blinds.
In addition to daycare, grandparents, friends and family, hotels, and restaurants, be aware of blind cord safety in other areas where your children may visit and spend time.
What Are the Safest Blinds For Children?
Always search for a blind that is ‘safe by design,’ such as cordless or concealed chord systems, when purchasing new blinds for your house or locations where newborns or young children reside or visit.
Some blinds contain built-in safety features, such as chain break connectors that break apart if the operating chain is overloaded.
Follow the instructions provided and make sure all safety measures are installed if new blinds are operated by cords or chains and do not have an in-built safety device.
If you hire professionals to install your blinds, they must also install the safety measures.
How Do You Keep a Child From Falling Out of a Window?
Room by room, you’ve childproofed your house. However, there is one possible threat that you may have overlooked or underestimated; your windows. Every foster parent should not overlook window safety.
Every year, around 3,300 children aged 5 and under are treated in hospital emergency departments after falling out of a window.
Twenty-five percent of the children who have fallen out of a window end up in an intensive care unit, and a large majority of them depart with some kind of handicap.
Window falls aren’t simply an issue for children who live in high rises; in fact, the majority of them happen from lower levels. They happen in a millisecond, due to a toddler’s inclination for hands-on exploration rather than a lack of supervision. If you put your hand or your bottom against a screen, it may pop out.
Listed below are several ways you can ensure that your child does not fall out of a window:
- Install window guards or window locks to keep children safe.
- Keep the space in front of the windows clean of items.
- When not in use, keep windows closed and locked.
- Double-hung windows should be opened from the top.
- A window screen will not be able to withstand the weight of a youngster.
Privacy in a Shared Bedroom
Privacy is something that all family members care about, not just foster children. One thing to consider for older children sharing a bedroom is the growing need for privacy. As children’s bodies begin to change, they can become very self-conscious.
Providing a standing privacy screen like the one below offers a shared bedroom with a place to stand behind while dressing with the peace of mind knowing they aren’t being watched.
Storage for Personal Belongings
Each child will need a place of their own to store their personal belongings. If you need storage ideas for a child’s personal belongings, we have some ideas that follow:
- Under-the-bed storage using storage bins
- Dressers for each child
- Shelving with baskets or plastic bins
- Hanging nets for stuffed animals
- Nightstands for each child
There are multiple ways to provide a personal storage solution for each child. It is amazing what can be done if the time is taken to be a bit creative.
Whether the foster children will be there for a short time while you provide respite care, or whether they are in your care long-term, having ample storage for each child is essential.
Reliable and Safe Heating and Cooling
You don’t want your foster child to be shivering in his or her bed because he or she can’t get warm. Alternatively, they may feel so overheated from the summer heat that they are unsure how they will get through the dreary night.
A foster home should be comfortable.
It is essential to have a good heating and cooling system. Not only must they be in good functioning order, but a foster parent must also make use of them to keep the house warm.
No youngster should be forced to freeze or succumb to near heatstroke unnecessarily in order to save a little money on utility bills.
Your heating and cooling systems should be working properly to give a degree of comfort while also providing you the efficiency you need for your budget with proper house insulation and heating and cooling maintenance.
Closets for Clothing
A physical closet is more of a need aimed at real estate since potential homeowners would naturally desire a closet in each bedroom.
However, for the purposes of fostering children, a closet is not required as a space for them to store their belongings.
Some alternate ways of storing clothing without a closet follow:
- Using a combination of dresses, rods, and shelves
- Add curtains overexposed hanging clothing to hide a cluttered look
- Purchase clothing racks
- Large baskets under beds
- Install piles to use as clothing rods
- Clothes hanging rack and shelving storage behind a bed near headboard area
This is by no means a complete list of bedroom requirements for foster children, but it does provide a good idea of the things that will need to be addressed when preparing your home to foster a child.
Your foster care training and the care home study provider you will be working with is on your side and wants you to succeed in being prepared to take in foster children. So don’t sweat it if you feel a bit overwhelmed at first.
Firearms Are Locked and Out of Reach
There are other things within the home that you may want to be aware of over and above the foster child’s room. Home study social workers will have the issue of firearms at the top of their list.
The state of Pennsylvania will require that you keep your handgun unloaded when storing it. Locked guns, of course, should never be kept in a child’s room.
When storing ammunition, keep it separate from the guns. Ammunition must be kept secured and out of reach of your foster children, just as weapons must be kept locked and out of reach.
You must notify the foster care agency if you find yourself in possession of a handgun while fostering or going through the foster care application process.
Each handgun in the home should, if possible, have a trigger lock.
A Bedroom and Home Should Be Clean and In Good Repair
Your house must be spotless and in good working order. It’s a good idea to clean your house well before beginning the foster care application process so that it’s ready for inspection.
This form of cleaning should go beyond the bedroom and is similar to what some people call spring cleaning. Here are some examples of thorough cleaning:
• Hire a carpet cleaner to steam clean your carpets.
• Clean your windows from the inside as well as the exterior.
• Remove the refrigerator and clean behind and beneath it.
• Wipe clean all inside walls with a damp cloth.
• Launder throw rugs in the washing machine.
• Get your broom and search the ceilings for cobwebs.
• Mop your floors, giving special attention to the floor’s edges as well as any dust and grime-collecting molding.
• Dust hard-to-reach areas like ceiling fans and the refrigerator’s top.
• Clean the window sills and jambs.
Your home’s exterior will also require maintenance. Here are some things to think about:
• Make sure the yard is clutter-free.
• To avoid tripping and injury, fill all holes in the yard.
• Check that the fencing is solid and secure to avoid a child falling out of the yard.
• Make sure the siding on the outside of the house, as well as the gutters, are secure so that nothing falls on the youngster.
• Check to see if any of the trees in your yard have any suspicious limbs that might fall and cause damage.
Other Things to Consider
Foster parents are desperately needed in the state of Pennsylvania, as in all other states. Foster children have all gone through some level of trauma, loss, and grief and need loving homes to go to.
The home study process will guide you through home preparation, so you’re not alone.
Group homes that accommodate a larger number of foster children at one time are also in need providing your home meets those state requirements.
Foster homes are provided monthly financial assistance to cover the costs of a foster child’s room and board, transportation to court hearings, primary medical needs, and counseling appointments.
Many foster children have suffered sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse and will need transportation to counseling appointments often.
The length of time that these counseling appointments last is dependent on the extent of their trauma, as well as the length of time they will reside in your foster home.
The goal will always be to reunite the foster child with their birth parents. There are times, however, when a foster child will be eligible for adoption.
A foster child’s relatives are generally given the option to adopt the child first. If there are no relatives available to adopt an eligible foster child, the foster parents are almost always given the option to adopt the foster child.
If a foster parent is ever interested in being adoptive parents to a foster child, know the opportunity does come up, but be careful.
One of the hard parts about being a foster parent is becoming attached and then having to say goodbye as the foster child is reunited with their biological family.
In a nutshell, to become a foster parent in Pennsylvania, you will go through the following steps:
- Request information from your local Department of Human Resources
- Fill out paperwork
- Submit a background check and fingerprints
- Attend an orientation to get your questions answered
- Participate in the foster care training program
- Meet with a social worker several times in your home to conduct your home study
These steps prepare foster parents to accept a foster child into their foster family home.
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.