Process / Timeline
for Becoming a Foster Parent in Michigan
The great thing about the journey to becoming a licensed foster parent is that you don’t need to navigate the process alone. With more than 125 years of experience in caring for children and families, we know there are a lot of questions regarding the process that pop up, so don’t hesitate to ask. It really is a privilege for us to be with you every step of the way, and we want you to feel as comfortable as possible. This means no questions are off limits.
Process / Steps
The number one question we hear is, “How long does it take to become a licensed foster parent?”
At Wellspring, we always say it usually takes 4-6 months from beginning to end in order to become licensed in Michigan. See below for more about each step.
The first step to becoming a foster parent is attending an orientation meeting with one of Wellspring’s experienced licensing staff – these are the people who evaluate, train, support, and eventually place children with licensed foster parents. Orientations occur in one of two settings. They can be in a group setting at a Wellspring office near your home or they can be one-on-one in your home. During orientation you will receive more in-depth information about the process of becoming licensed, including the paperwork, background checks, and training you will be required to complete.
You will receive an application during your orientation meeting, which you can turn in at the end of your orientation or in the days following. Once the application is completed by you and submitted to your Wellspring licensing staff, this officially begins the licensure process. Submitting the application is referred to as “enrollment” because you are “enrolling” with our organization to become a licensed foster parent through Wellspring Lutheran Services. Once our licensing staff receives and processes your application, it will be submitted to the State of Michigan to notify them that you are officially beginning the process to become a licensed foster parent. There is no cost associated with enrolling to be a foster care applicant.
Wellspring and the State of Michigan want to ensure all foster parents receive the training they need in order to effectively care for the children who may be placed with them. So, all prospective foster parents must complete a standard training curriculum, which is offered regularly and free of charge throughout the state. The statewide curriculum is called GROW, with the exception of Kent County, which uses a model called Pressley Ridge. During your orientation meeting, Wellspring’s licensing staff will assist you in locating and signing up for a GROW training near you. Training is usually done concurrently while paperwork is gathered and the home study process is completed (see steps 4 & 5, below). GROW is delivered in 9 individual sessions, which are generally offered back-to-back over two 8-hour days. The training focuses on preparing foster parents to:
- Protect and nurture children;
- Meet children’s developmental needs and address their delays;
- Support relationships with birth families;
- Connect children to safe, nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime; and
- Work as a member of a professional team.
Becoming a foster parent requires completing a lot of paperwork. Unfortunately, this part of the process can sometimes feel intrusive and overwhelming. We see it as our job to make the process as simple, understandable, and seamless for you as possible! You will be asked to provide information so background checks can be completed, and documentation to prove identity, income, medical conditions, etc.
One of the most time-consuming steps in the process to become a foster parent is completing the home study. The home study occurs through several visits to the home by your assigned Wellspring Licensing Staff. The visits include an assessment of the physical space and in-depth interviews with all household members to gather information about things like your families’ childhood, past relationships, substance abuse history, criminal history, parenting style and disciplinary approach, motivation for fostering, types of foster children desired, physical and mental health history, and finances. The purpose of the home study is twofold: to ensure prospective foster parents can comply with all requirements before becoming licensed and to determine the best types of children to place in the home.
After all required paperwork is gathered, the home study process is complete and a final report is written by Wellspring’s Licensing staff, everything is submitted to the Michigan Department of Child Welfare Licensing.
Once submitted, a review of the home study report is completed by an analyst at the Michigan Department of Child Welfare Licensing. The analyst either approves or denies the license, or may ask for additional information in order to make a decision.