Training for Potential Foster Parents

Click the TN KEY ANNOUNCEMENTS tab to view important updates regarding TN KEY training sessions.

How to Become a TN DCS Foster Parent
  1. Fill out and submit the Inquiry Form for Potential Foster Parents at or call 877-DCS-KIDS and leave a message. 
  2. DCS will call within five business days to discuss minimal requirements and answer questions. 
  3. Prospective foster parents will attend a required Informational Meeting and complete the self-assessment. 
  4. If the prospective foster family is still interested, complete TN KEY pre-service training. 
  5. The Home Study process begins during training and will include extensive criminal history check and other paperwork and will provide a recommendation for approval or denial. 
  6. If approved, the foster home will be assigned a Foster Parent Support Worker and will be ready to accept placements.

Click here to download or print a copy of this chart.

No updates at this time.

Applicants must meet the minimum requirements below to become approved foster parents. Some regions may have additional requirements based on regional placement needs.

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Legal resident of Tennessee for a minimum of 6 consecutive months prior to application
  • United States citizen or be approved by the United States Citizen and Immigration Service as a Legal Permanent Resident
  • All adult household members must pass a criminal background check
  • Applicants must be able to effective communicate with DCS, the child(ren), health care and service providers
  • At least one applicant in the home must be able to read
  • Provide documentation of sufficient income or resources to meet household needs
  • All pets must be vaccinated
  • All household members who will be caregivers of children 4 years or younger must have up-to-date pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine and influenza vaccine; exceptions may be granted
  • Applicants and their guests will not smoke, vape, or use other forms of e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco inside the home or during transportation of a child in foster care
  • A house, mobile home, housing unit, or apartment must be safe and in reasonable state of repair within community standards
  • No more than 2 children may share a sleeping room. If it becomes necessary for more than 2 children to share a sleeping room, exceptions may be granted in writing by the Team Leader or Contract Agency Supervisor
  • Children 3 years of age or older may not share the bedroom of the foster parent(s) except for brief periods of illness or emotional distress
  • Siblings of the opposite sex who are 4 years and younger may share a sleeping room
  • Children of the opposite sex over the age of 4 years must have separate sleeping rooms
  • Willing to mentor birth parents, transport children, and participate in Child and Family Team Meetings, court hearings, and other meetings
  • Complete all training requirements
  • Submit all required Home Study forms.

Applicants who meet the above requirements are eligible regardless of gender, race, color, or national origin.

View Policy 16.4: Foster Home Selection and Approval

Click here to view an overview of the TN KEY curriculum.

Thank you for your interest in serving the children of Tennessee. Foster parents in Tennessee play a key role in the futures of the children and families they encounter. Whether providing temporary support or a permanent home, foster parents help to strengthen families and provide children in care a safe environment where they know they are important and loved.

To prepare for your role as foster parent, you will learn effective tools and parenting methods to work with and guide the children who are welcomed into your family and to gain an understanding of the different challenges faced by children who come into state custody.

Through the pre-approval training TN KEY (Knowledge Empowers You), you will learn how foster parents work with DCS to improve the lives of children, information about current DCS policies on caring for children in custody, and ultimately if foster parenting is right for you. Whether you want to provide a temporary home for children in need or have the ultimate goal of adoption, TN KEY training will help prepare you for the unique challenges and rewards of becoming a foster parent.

If you are interested in becoming a Foster Parent for Tennessee's children, please call toll-free 1-877-DCS-KIDS (1-877-327-5437) or visit Tennessee Fosters for more information.

View the calendar on the Inquiry and Calendars tab above for upcoming TN KEY groups in your region and register via the links or phone numbers provided.

Step 1: Make an Inquiry

Before registering for a group, first complete the foster parent inquiry form by clicking  the button below.

Step 2: Complete Tennessee KEY

All modules are held virtually with the exception of CPR & FIrst Aid. Special in person group offerings may be held upon regional need or request.

Module Length
Informational Meeting 2 hr
Navigating the Child Welfare System 3 hr
Exploring the Impact of Trauma 3 hr
Roadmap to Resilience 3 hr
Rerouting Trauma Behaviors 3 hr
Medical Resources and Information 4 hr
CPR & First Aid (in person) 5 hr minimum
MAP Meeting (held individually with trainer) 1 hr

Step 3: Complete Home Study

Home study begins during training and will include extensive criminal history check and other paperwork and will provide a recommendation on approval or denial. If approved, your home will be assigned a Foster Parent Support Worker, and you will be ready to accept placements.

The videos linked below are shown during TN KEY training. Use these links if you encounter difficulty viewing these videos during training or if you would like to refer back to these topics.

Assessment Foster Homes provide supervision and support to children who display a wide range of behaviors and may require an additional period of observation and assessment to effectively determine the most appropriate service level and placement setting to meet their needs. Children referred may have varied assessment needs. Presenting problems may include substance abuse, delinquent behavior or charges, and runaway behavior. Children may have mood or anxiety problems, interpersonal difficulties, emotional dysregulation, difficulty in securing and maintaining close relationships with others, truancy, and/or difficulty in accepting authority.