What Disqualifies You from Being a Foster Parent?

Updated: February 22, 2024 | Published:

Are you interested in being a foster parent? Well, it is important to know what makes someone eligible for this position.

Certain requirements need fulfillment before one can even think about becoming an official foster caregiver or adopting out their own kid into your home! It is veritably important to be sure about what makes you qualified so that you can run this process smoothly.

In the United States, there are over 120,000 children waiting to be adopted.

Considering how many of these kids would likely find their forever homes if they had more foster parents like you, it’s sad that so few people sign up for this important role. Why is that? What disqualifies you from becoming a foster parent?

Let’s take a look at the top reasons and see if we can answer this question.

Here’s a list of 8 things that would disqualify them from becoming a foster parent:

Foster Parent

Criminal Record

Many people may not be aware of the fact that any criminal record of the potential foster parent will render them legally ineligible to become a foster parent. This may include any case of underage drinking, vandalism, and even a DUI! This is because such offenses imply that the person has broken society’s law and this would require them to undergo serious scrutiny.

If there is any criminal record of the potential foster parent then it will not be possible for them to get approved by their local department of human services. They will have to wait for five years before getting re-evaluated.

Alcohol / Drug Problems

Many people may think that because they are non-alcoholics it is alright for them to have a glass of wine or beer here and then. However, this is not true! Any kind of alcohol abuse problem will be enough to disqualify someone from becoming a foster parent.

This includes drinking more than is good for them and also binge drinking on occasion! Alcoholism or even drug abuse problems would also make the person ineligible to become a foster parent.

Child Abuse

This may sound like an obvious one but it is important to remember that any form of child abuse will not be tolerated at all by the department of human services. This abuse could be physical, emotional, or even sexual! If there is any record of child abuse at all then they will not allow the person to become a foster parent.

Crime Free Household

People need to remember that if there have been any crimes committed in their household (apart from the ones listed above) then they will be disallowed from becoming a foster parents. This includes any kind of violence within their household, crime which is committed by children living in the house, and also any crime which may have been committed against a child!

Incapacity to Cope with Stress

It is very important for anyone who wishes to become a foster parent to be able to cope with the high levels of stress which come along with this job! This is because many things can go wrong in a foster home and if one cannot cope then they will not be able to provide their foster child with what he or she needs. Some examples include social problems, behavioral issues, and other mental health problems.

Insufficient Income

Foster parents are given a child support allowance which helps them to provide for their foster children. However, some people try to take on this responsibility without having the money to do it! If someone’s income is not sufficient enough then they will not be able to become a foster parent.

Medically Unfit

Many different health problems would make one medically unfit to become a foster parent. This includes any kind of serious illness such as cancer, HIV, and even epilepsy! Other illnesses may include mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder.

One also has to remember that if they have received certain treatments in the past then this will lead to them being ineligible for the job. This includes any kind of surgical procedures and even accident or trauma which may have occurred to a child!

Unsuitable House / Environment

Any family who wishes to become foster parents must be able to provide a suitable environment for the child. Even if they cannot provide a good house it is also important that the potential foster parent can provide their foster child with the necessary emotional security.

Final Words

It’s important for everyone to know the reasons they can’t foster a child so that no one feels like their family is unworthy of supporting our future generation.

This article will hopefully give you some insight into what disqualifies people from being able to be foster parents. There are many reasons why people are not eligible to become foster parents and if people are aware of these then they will be able to avoid this problem. Anyone who wants to become a foster parent must consider each of these points carefully before applying to do so!

Read: Breastfeeding The Routine Approach By Charmian Mead

If it turns out you are ineligible based on certain limitations, don’t feel discouraged – there are countless ways in which your time and resources could make an impactful difference in someone else’s life!


  1. How long do most foster parents last?

    There’s no simple answer. Some foster parents are dedicated for the long-term, providing care for years. Others specialize in short-term emergency placements or respite care for other foster families. The length of a foster parent’s commitment depends heavily on individual circumstances, reasons for fostering, and the needs of the specific children placed in their care.

  2. What is the best age to foster a child?

    There isn’t a single “best” age to be a foster parent. What matters most is your maturity, stability, and ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment. Child welfare agencies welcome dedicated prospective parents of all ages, as there’s a constant need for homes across the age spectrum, from infants to teenagers. 

  3. How long does the average child stay in foster care? 

    Sadly, there’s no neat average. The goal of foster care is to support children until they can safely return to their biological families. Sometimes, this may be resolved quickly. In other cases, it takes much longer. If reunification isn’t possible, the child may become eligible for adoption, transitioning to a permanent home. 

  4. Why do most foster parents quit? 

    Foster care is deeply rewarding, but it also has unique challenges. Some common reasons for leaving foster care include:
    Emotional toll: Witnessing the hardships children endure can be emotionally draining.
    Unexpected disruptions: Children may move to other placements for reasons beyond the foster parent’s control.
    Lack of support: Insufficient support from child welfare agencies can lead to burnout.

  5. What is the hardest thing about being a foster parent? 

    Many foster parents cite the emotional rollercoaster as the most difficult part. You’ll form deep bonds with a child, knowing that their stay is almost always temporary. Saying goodbye, especially when a child is returning to an unsafe situation, is heart-wrenching. 

  6. Why do foster kids get moved around so much? 

    The goal of foster care is to support the child’s safety and wellbeing above all else. Children may be moved for multiple reasons:
    Reunification: Successful efforts to improve the biological family’s situation may result in a child returning home.
    Better fit: Sometimes a child’s needs are not met in a particular home, requiring a new placement.
    Instability within a foster home: Foster parents, like all families, may face unforeseen life situations that impact their ability to care for a child.

  7. What are the disadvantages of foster care? 

    While critical, foster care isn’t without challenges for children:
    Instability: Multiple placements create disruptions, impacting a child’s education and sense of security.
    Emotional trauma: Separation from family, even when circumstances are unsafe, can be deeply traumatic.
    Limited agency: Children have little say in where they live or how their cases progress.

  8. Can foster parents hug?

    Absolutely! Physical affection is essential to healthy child development. Of course, it’s vital to respect a child’s boundaries, especially if they’ve experienced abuse or neglect. Many foster children who were initially hesitant learn to welcome warmth and physical comfort with time. 

  9. Is it OK to foster fail? 

    The term “foster fail” is playfully used when a foster parent ends up adopting their foster child. It’s perfectly OK! Sometimes the bond grows so deep, and the fit so perfect, that adoption becomes the best outcome for everyone involved.
    Important Additional Notes:
    Home studies and background checks: All prospective parents go through home studies, including criminal background checks, to ensure children’s safety. Certain factors may lead to disqualification.
    Financial support: Foster parents usually receive reimbursement to help offset the cost of care.
    Training: Child welfare agencies provide training on trauma, child development, and the unique needs of children in foster care.

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent, your local child welfare agency is the best resource for information and guidance!


About Amy T. Smith

Amy is a mother, writer, and your go-to expert for real-life insights into parenting, health, and lifestyle. Amy holds a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and prides herself on finding actionable tips and relatable tales.

Through her blog, AmyandRose, she supports you from pregnancy to the teenage years, offering assurance that your experiences are shared.

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