foster families

How to Become a Foster Parent

We are always looking for qualified foster parents to help take care of some of Westchester’s most vulnerable children. Foster parents don’t need to be perfect, but they are special, and we are searching for a select few who are willing to take the journey to becoming a certified foster home.

Currently, there are approximately 200 foster families who are part of Westchester’s foster parent network who provide temporary homes for brothers and sisters being placed together, for medically fragile children, for babies/toddlers, and for children 10 years and older. We welcome inquiries from adults of all backgrounds, ages, income levels, and marital status. There is a screening process, mandated requirements, and training provided.

We understand that it is a big commitment, but we ask that you consider learning more. To begin the foster care process or to receive more information, you can do any of the following:

  • Provide your contact information on a simple form and a representative will contact you.
  • Call (914) 336-0076 for more information.
  • Attend a weekly information session on Thursdays, from 6pm–7pm. Log in >
  • Create an account and answer all the screening questions on our online portal.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is foster care?
Foster care is temporary care for children who are unable to live with their birth families.

Who are the children in care?

  • Foster children represent all ethnic groups and may be infants through teenagers.
  • When brothers and sisters come into care, we try to place them together.
  • Some children may have handicapping conditions and need special care.
  • Teenage mothers also need homes for themselves and their children.
  • Foster children, like all children, need love, affection, and guidance.

What foster parents do?
A foster parent is someone who can provide temporary care and love for children who are unable to live with their birth families. A foster parent should be someone who:

  • wants to make a difference in the life of a child
  • can make room in their home and heart for children who need temporary care
  • is flexible and capable of handling stressful situations
  • can work as a member of a team with social workers and other professionals
  • can help prepare a child for return to their birth family or to be adopted

Who can become a foster parent?
You can apply to become a foster parent if you:

  • are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit.
  • are married, single, or living with a partner
  • have sufficient income to meet your own family’s needs
  • are able to provide each child with his/her own bed although children can share a bedroom

How do I get started in becoming a foster parent?
To get started on your journey to becoming a foster parent with the Westchester County Department of Social Services, you will need to:

  • attend an orientation session
  • attend our training classes
  • participate in a home study
  • complete an application, a child abuse clearance form, and some other paperwork
  • provide personal references and current medical reports

What is a home study?
A home study usually consists of a series of interviews between a family and a social worker to help applicants think through their ability to foster a child with “special needs.” It is important that people considering foster care be stable, sensitive, patient, and capable of giving a child love and understanding. Social workers want to be sure that a person or couple have a realistic understanding of the commitment they take on when they become foster parents and that they can provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child in their home. Interviews with husband and wife or a single foster parent are conducted by social workers. Applicants are asked to provide written information about themselves and their life experiences.

Do I have to own my own home to be a foster parent?
No, however, you must demonstrate you have housing stability, which will be discussed during the home certification process. All household members, including children, will need to be interviewed and references are required.

Can I afford to do this?
Foster parents receive a monthly care allowance to feed, clothe and meet the material needs of the children placed in their care.

Can I work and still be a foster parent?
Yes, as long as you provide adequate childcare arrangements while you are at work. Westchester County pays for daycare services directly to the day care provider.

Does my husband have to participate in the group process and the home study?
Yes, because you are both being certified to provide foster care.

Can I choose the age, sex, and race of the children I want?
Yes. You and your Foster Home Resource worker will work together to determine what types of children will best fit into your home.

What if my foster child gets sick?
Westchester County provides a pediatric clinic in White Plains.

How many foster children can I parent?
You can care for up to six children, which include your own children under the age of 13, and no more than two children under the age of two. You and your home finder together will determine how many children you will be certified to foster parent.

Read the flier about becoming a foster parent. 


Non Parent Caregiver Brochure cover thumbnailKnow Your Resources: Nonparent Caregiver Benefits
Nonparent caregivers, commonly called kinship caregivers, are adults who are caring for children living in their home without their parent. If you are a nonparent caregiver, you may be eligible for financial assistance and other supports. Find out more in this brochure from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.