Become a Foster Parent

Teamwork makes the dream work

What is Foster Care?

When children are not able to stay safely in their own homes and there isn’t a relative who can care for them, they often have to come into state custody. The department’s first goal for children is to work toward a safe return home to their families. Foster parents provide nurturing and supportive homes in which the children’s emotional, physical and social needs can be met, while issues and concerns in the immediate family can be addressed.

What is a Foster Parent?

A foster parent, in many ways, is just like any other parent. Their job is to love, protect and  nurture children to help them reach their full potential. But a foster parent’s role is unique in that it is sometimes only for a season. A foster parent may care for a  child only until they are able to be reunified with their birth family. This could be for a few days or a few years. For children who do not have the option of being reunited with their birth family, their foster family may be the next best option and given the opportunity to adopt. However, the most important role of a foster parent is to keep the child’s best interest in mind - whether that means reunification or adoption.

Being a foster parent no doubt requires a great deal of patience and sacrifice. It asks people to open their hearts and homes. It requires empathy and understanding. Children in foster care have experienced great loss and trauma, and need someone who is willing to walk with them through their pain to help them heal. Someone who will love unconditionally, and have compassion for their difficult background.

Fostering does not come without its difficulties, yet many say it is the best, most rewarding thing they have ever done.

If you would like to become a foster parent, please fill out the inquiry form and a DCS staff member will be in touch.

You Must be Able to:

  • give without the expectation of immediate returns
  • have room in your home and in your daily life
  • learn and use proven behavioral management skills
  • love and care for children with problems

Foster Parents can be:

  • single or married
  • with, or without, children of their own
  • able to financially meet your own needs
  • in sufficient good health
  • at least 21 years old


  • must be fingerprinted and pass a background check
  • must complete a training program called TN-KEY (Knowledge Empowers You)
  • participate in a Home Study
  • must provide five references
  • DCS carefully assesses all applicants and the department also provides the opportunity for prospective Foster Parents to work with a case manager to assess themselves before they accept the role of Foster Parent.

Learn More

Visit the full Foster Care section on the DCS website.

Fill out the potential foster parents inquiry form.  

Learn More about Adoption

If you are interested in adopting from foster care, please visit our adoption informational page.