Guide

Becoming a foster parent in Massachusetts

Make a difference in a child's life

Children are sometimes temporarily placed in foster care because their parents aren’t able to give them the care that they need. These parents may be facing challenging circumstances or may need help with developing better parenting skills. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) tries to place these children with relatives. When that’s not possible, they enter foster care.

The goal of foster care is to provide a safe, loving home for children until they can be reunited with their families. There are children of all ages, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds in foster care. Foster parents are especially needed for:

  • Older children and teens
  • Children with special needs
  • Sibling groups

Children live with foster parents for about 3 to 18 months. In most cases, children stay in contact with their families while they are in foster care.

It takes 6 to 9 months to become a licensed foster parent.

There are all kinds of foster parents. You can be single or married, own a home or rent one. There’s a need for foster parents across Massachusetts, from all diverse backgrounds.

Call or email DCF to learn more about foster care and start the process to welcome a child into your home.

Key Actions

Apply to become a foster parent 

Learn the skills you need

30 hours
Length of MAPP training course

Once you’ve applied to become a foster parent and met initial eligibility requirements, you’ll get training to handle the challenges you’ll likely face. To be a good foster parent, you must be able to support the physical and emotional needs of a child in crisis, who may have been abused or neglected. You have to be a good communicator and problem solver. A sense of humor is helpful, too.

That’s where the Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) training course comes in. This 30-hour course teaches skills including:

  • Building self-esteem
  • Positive discipline
  • Communication

These classes are available all over the state. They help you understand the difficulty children in foster care face, and how foster parenting will affect your family.

Key Actions

Sign up for MAPP training 

Placing a foster child in your home

After you become a licensed foster parent, DCF works hard to find a good match between your family and a foster child.

A family resource worker will start the matching process by contacting you about a child in need of a foster family. You’ll be given information about the child and why they are being placed into foster care. You can ask as many questions as you’d like, and you should discuss the child’s potential placement with your family members.

DCF will give you a pre-placement checklist to help you decide if a child is a good fit for your family before you make a final decision.

Key Actions

Learn about the foster care placement process 

Support for foster parents

Once you’re a foster parent, you’re part of a team with DCF social workers whose goal is to support the child in your care until they can return home.

The social worker assigned to the child and the family resource worker assigned to you both will visit your home every month to help connect you with services.

DCF offers lots of resources to foster parents, including financial assistance, health coverage, and support groups.

Key Actions

Resources for foster parents 

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