One of the final steps of the foster care application process is the home study. Getting ready for the home study may feel overwhelming and intimidating to any eager family hoping to become licensed to foster. Allowing someone into your home to ask personal questions about your life, background, and current family dynamic and practices can feel intrusive and uncomfortable. All home study interviewers understand this and will do their best to put you at ease. We have a few tips you can follow to help alleviate anxiety you may have surrounding this.  

The Process 

Typically, the home study process lasts two -three months, and home visits take approximately 1-2 hours. The number of home visits depends on the pace of the home study writer and the family covering questions during a visit. In Washington state the minimum interview meeting requirement is four meetings with the family, one of which needs to be in person at the home.  

Once the home study writer completes the home study write up it is reviewed with a home study team which may warrant a follow-up interview for the home study writer and family before final submission of the home study to the state’s licensing division. Once the home study is submitted to the state the state licensor and state team review the home study and e-mail the CPA or home study writer their feedback along with follow up questions they have. If the state licensor has follow-up questions for the family the home study writer will set up an interview with the family to ask those questions. After this interview the home study writer will update the home study and re-send it back to the state licensor. Once the state licensor approves the home study, the family is ready to become licensed.  

How To Prepare 

First, be aware that the home study interview can be a very intrusive process. It is the home study writer’s job to write a comprehensive, in-depth, clear home study that covers all the required topics with the goal of being able to effectively assess your home, background, and readiness to welcome a child in care into your home. Remember, the state is not looking for a picture-perfect family, but a family prepared to provide children with a stable, safe, and loving family and home.  

Second, prep your home for the home study interview. No, you don’t need to hire a cleaning company to do a deep clean of your home, but make sure it is hazard-free, sanitary, and welcoming. Review your state’s home inspection checklist (Washington State’s Home Inspection Checklist) and make sure your home meets the outlined requirements, some of which include: 

  • Covering electrical outlets 
  • Having functional smoke detectors 
  • Making sure all doors and window locks are working properly 
  • Having a safety gate and rails for stairs 
  • Having a written-out evacuation plan, fire ladder, fire extinguisher, and First Aid kit on hand 
  • Storing and locking medication, alcohol (if you have older children in care), and weapons 

Third, prepare your children. All children living inside your home will be interviewed in person, and adult children will be contacted for an interview via phone. Let your children know when the home study writer will be coming and the reason for the visit. Give your children some examples of questions that they will be asked by the home study writer such as how they feel about having additional children living in the home with them, how they feel about adoption, rules in the home, access to food and rules around food in the home, and discipline practices in the home.  

Topics That Will Be Covered 

Before the interview review the home study template for your state to know which topics will be covered. Some of the topics will include: 

  • Reason for applying 
  • Childhood and upbringing 
  • Culture
  • Past and current relationships-  with parents and siblings growing up, with spouse if married, and with children
  • Daily family activities, parenting style, parenting practices, and discipline 
  • Education and Employment history 
  • Religious practices 
  • Support system 
  • Past and present financial status
  • Medical history 
  • Feelings and plans for potential adoption of children  

Implementing some of these things will help you get ready for a smooth home study process!  

If you are interested in being licensed as a foster parent, please reach out to us by e-mailing We are here to answer any questions you have about getting licensed, the home study process, and what you can do to get started!   

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