Before our foster care home study, I had no idea what to expect. And admittedly, I was terrified.
If you’re there right now… breathe.
Center yourself. I know the term “home study” sounds intimidating, but I want you to know that it’s not. At least, it wasn’t for us.
Of course, no two home study processes will be the same. The county and state you live in, your assigned underwriter, and the agency will all cause notable variances. However, I believe there are some constants worth pointing out. For that reason, I’d like to share the process of our home study.
For us, it took three separate visits.
On the first visit:
Our underwriter was in our house for about 2.5 hours. The meeting consisted mostly of interviews. She asked us about:
- Individual childhoods—Best and worst memories, hobbies, and structure
- Families—How our parents disciplined, how we got along with our siblings
- Marriage—What we do for fun, what challenges we experience
- Parenting—How we discipline, what our routine looks like
- Family tree—This was a pretty detailed look at aunts, uncles, and grandparents
- Children—What age, gender, and ethnicity of children we would accept, as well as any behavior or diseases we would accept
I’m a talker (if you can’t tell by now). So, I actually enjoyed this part. After the interview portion, our underwriter looked around the house. We’d spent extra time preparing for this step, as I’m sure you will, too.
But, folks, the actual “home study” part was nowhere near as scary as I thought it’d be
I assumed she’d check for dust under the beds, chipped paint around the floorboards, and water spots in the sinks. That’s not the case.
Instead, she looked for things that keep kids safe. That’s the goal, after all! It’s not necessarily about whether or not you have a full roll of toilet paper in every bathroom or six pillows on every bed. It’s about whether or not your home will be safe for the children you hope to house. Those common things include:
- Locks on cabinets that contain chemicals, like cleaning products and laundry detergent
- Locks on cabinets that contain medicines
- Outlet covers
- Fire extinguisher in the kitchen area
- Working smoke detectors
- An evacuation plan and emergency contact information
- First aid kit
- Water safety plan
On the second visit:
The underwriter returned and had me look over all of the information she’d typed up. This included spell-checking our family tree, verifying all our details, and approving her findings. It was like reading a novel about my family. So, it was kind of neat.
On the third and final visit:
Our underwriter stopped by for a brief meeting. We showed our agent the evacuation plan we’d created—a floor plan of our house with exits clearly marked—and that was it.
It was so much easier than I expected, and I hope this brings you some comfort as you prepare for yours! You’ve got this!
Our home study process was quick because there’s a gargantuan need for foster homes in Oklahoma. If this sounds like something you’ve been called to do, please consider opening your home. Contact me for more information, and I’d love to help guide you down this rewarding path.