To become a foster parent in Durham, you must be at least twenty-one and have lived in North Carolina for at least a year. You can be married or single and own your home or rent. You have to have enough income to meet household needs—rent, utilities, food.

Every household member eighteen and older has to go through a background check, including fingerprinting. The Durham County Department of Social Services evaluates the results on a case-by-case basis, but convictions of child neglect or abuse, violent crime, a felony drug crime, or a DWI will disqualify you. The agency will also take into account if you’ve had a significant life event in the past year, like getting married, getting divorced, having a baby, experiencing a death, or moving.

If you’re eligible, the next step is to take an orientation class. These classes are mandatory if you want to move forward, but can also be a great way to find out if fostering is right for you. Call the Durham DSS at 919-560-8092 to register or if you have questions.

After that, all household members twenty-one and older must complete thirty hours of Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting classes. This is a crash-course in what it will be like to be a foster parent—dealing with social workers, biological families, and children with trauma. Additional hours are required to keep your license. There’s no fee for the training or to get licensed.

During the training process, a social worker will visit your home to make sure it’s safe, which includes a fire inspection. Pets will be considered in whether you get licensed. You’ll also be asked for references. Medical exams are required for each household occupant, plus TB tests for all adults.

Foster parents receive a monthly stipend to cover living expenses: $475 for children under five, $581 for children six to twelve, and $634 for children thirteen and over. Foster children are covered by Medicaid, and the county helps pay for things like tutoring, summer camp, and clothing.

Kim Grier, a Durham foster parent who runs the Triangle Foster Parent Association, recommends prospective foster parents attend a TFPA event to learn more about the experience.

“It isn’t easy, but if you have support and you really want to help kids, it’s certainly doable,” she says. “It’s much more doable if you have your tribe and your support system in place.”

Contact staff writer Sarah Willets by email at, by phone at 919-286-1972, or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.

Durham County DSS Foster Home Licensing Standards October-2018 by Sarah on Scribd