Thank you for your interest in strengthening Iowa families. We’re so glad you’re here!
Children in foster care come from all backgrounds. They range in age from infants to age 18. Many have siblings in foster care with them. Most have experienced abuse or neglect.
Foster care in Iowa is meant to be temporary, and as short-term as possible. Foster parents must balance the emotional journey of caring for a child, while working with the team to help with the likely return to their birth family. It can be joyful, exhausting, and extraordinarily rewarding.
How to Get Started
There are three paths you can take moving forward – you don’t have to choose yet because the process is the same for all three. We’ll help you choose what’s right for your family as you go along. You can:
1: Become licensed for foster care
2: Become licensed for foster care and approved for adoption
3: Become approved for adoption only
You may have questions about becoming licensed. Follow the steps below so you can get started on your journey, stress-free!
Attend an Information Session.
We’ll follow up with you by email, letter, or phone to connect you with LSI staff in your area. You do NOT need to fill out an Inquiry Form before attending an Information Session! Anyone interested in foster parenting is welcome to attend and learn more.
Complete your paperwork and information session.
Once you are scheduled for a session, you can start your paperwork. Fingerprinting is done at most sessions. If we don’t offer it at a session near you, you will be given fingerprint cards, instructions on where to get printed, and an envelope to return prints at your session.
We process your application.
After we receive your paperwork and fingerprints, we begin your record checks. All background checks must be clear of “hits” (criminal, child abuse, sex offender charges, convictions, or deferred judgments) or “hits” must be evaluated by DHS before moving on. This process takes about two weeks. If you are missing forms or have “hits,” it can take up to two months.
Complete TIPS-MAPP training class.
Once your background check is cleared, we call you to register for the next available TIPS-MAPP class in your area. This training takes place over 10 weeks. TIPS-MAPP stands for Trauma-Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, and it is the curriculum approved by the state of Iowa for initial foster parent training.
Complete the additional training required for licensure.
This includes, face-to-face CPR and first aid training, medication management, universal precautions, mandatory reporter training on child abuse identification and reporting, and the reasonable and prudent parent standard training.
LSI completes your home study.
This generally takes 100 days (three months after starting your TIPS-MAPP training).
DHS approves you as an adoptive home or issues you a foster care license (or both).
This takes about 30 to 60 days, unless clarification is needed by DHS.
LSI will send you a welcome packet with important information on your new journey as a foster family. Always contact your support worker for questions or concerns!
Enhanced Foster Homes
Western Iowa has a continued need for more Enhanced Foster Family Homes. These include at least one parent with professional or personal experience caring for children with serious medical or behavioral needs. Eligible parents could be:
- Social workers
- Therapists or counselors
- Healthcare providers
- Parents who have experience caring for kids with severe trauma
- Parents with experience in mental health first aid
You can make a life-changing difference for kids in your community. If you think your family is eligible to be an Enhanced Foster Home, please indicate by checking the “I am interested in being an Enhanced Foster Family Home” box on your inquiry form.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 866.409.2351.
After you attend your information session, completing your TIPS-MAPP training classes will be the next step in your journey.
TIPS-MAPP stands for Trauma Informed Partnering for Permanence and Safety: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting. This training ensures you’ll feel confident and informed when working as part of a team with birth families and other agencies on behalf of the children in your care.
TIPS-MAPP is a 30-hour, 10-week interactive group format led by two facilitators, an experienced foster or adoptive parent and an expert social worker in the foster care or adoption field. In this training, you’ll learn how to:
- Build positive relationships with birth families
- Understand and identify behavioral issues a child may experience
- Better understand foster care and how children come into care
During your training, you will need to fill out your TIPS-MAPP profile form. This is a tool for families to describe themselves and help their LSI Support Worker assess their strengths and needs. You will receive these forms in your first TIPS-MAPP meeting, but you can also download your forms listed in the next tab. Please wait until after your first TIPS-MAPP meeting to start this paperwork. If you choose to fill them out electronically, please print them and bring them to your third TIPS-MAPP meeting.
If you choose to fill out your forms electronically, please do not start this paperwork until after your first TIPS-MAPP training.
If you have lived in another state within the last five years, we are required to run your name through the child abuse registry in that state before you can be approved as a foster or adoptive parent. Please print one form for each person in your family, age 14 or above, who has lived in another state in the last five years.
If that state requests the form be notarized, please make sure it is signed in front of a notary before you send it back to LSI. Some states charge a fee to process child abuse registry requests, but you do not need to pay this fee. LSI will pay this fee. Please do not send us any money with your completed forms.
Do not mail the forms to the state. You can turn in your completed, signed, and dated forms to your caseworker. If you receive the out-of-state forms after you have already attended a session or had a home visit, please mail the forms to your caseworker.
If you do not see your state listed below, then a form is not required for that particular state.TIPS-MAPP General Family Profile
Who can become a foster parent in Iowa?
There is no “typical” foster family. You could be one! Foster parents must be at least 21 years old. They can be single, cohabitating, married, living in multi-generational family homes, and homes with or without biological children.
They can be employed or stay-at-home parents. Foster parents are homeowners, renters, and pet owners. They can own a car or use public transportation. Foster parents are individuals of all ethnicities, all walks of life, and all sexual orientations.
If you’ve ever considered becoming a foster parent, now is the time to step up. Iowa children need you.
Why is it important that my partner and I both attend all trainings?
It is essential that all adults living in your home work as a team. Your training classes will prepare you to make informed decisions about becoming a foster or adoptive family, and will help you understand how to provide the support a child needs to thrive.
Are there specific requirements for my home?
There are both physical space and safety requirements for providing foster care. If you are hoping to only adopt, these requirements are recommended.
Bedrooms for foster children must meet these physical standards:
- The room must be constructed for the purpose of sleeping. It must have permanent walls, a door that closes, and a working window that opens from the inside that is large enough for an unrestricted exit by a foster child. It must have a closet, wardrobe, armoire, or dresser, and a standard bed. For infants and toddlers who cannot safely use a standard bed, a crib or crib-like furniture which meets the current standards or recommendations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or ASTM International standards is required. The room must be at least 40 square feet per child.
- Rooms below ground must have everything listed above, plus a direct exit to the outside and one inside stairway exit.
Your home must meet these safety standards:
- Any floor of a house, including the basement, must have a working smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector.
- Homes must have at least one approved fire extinguisher.
- Medication and poisonous, toxic, or otherwise unsafe substances shall be kept secured from children.
- Guns and ammunition must also be stored appropriately and separately in locked cabinets.
If you have a swimming pool or a body of water close to your home, ask us about the specific requirements pertaining to this.
In some instances, these requirements can be granted an exception and some physical or safety requirements can be met with simple (non-structural) modifications. Contact your LSI Support Worker if you have any questions!
Is there a cost to go through the training and licensing process?
We’re excited to tell you there is no cost to training, licensing, or support services! It’s free to families and funded through the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). There may be incidental costs of attending training, such as travel costs or child care expense.
How is a child in foster care placed with my family?
When LSI Foster Care and Adoption receives a referral from DHS that a child needs a foster home, we use a matching database in concert with the local support workers to find licensed foster families (preferably within 20 miles of the child’s birth home) whose strengths match the unique needs of the child. If you are a possible match, we call to see if you will accept the placement. DHS then makes the final decision regarding which foster home the child will be placed in.