Become a Foster Parent - Amara

Become a Foster Parent

Thinking about fostering? Amara is here for you every step of the way.

As a foster parent, you can make an impact in a family’s life. Amara is here to help every step of the way, offering training, licensing, services, and ongoing support. We work with individuals and couples inclusive of marital status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and race, who are willing and able to provide an inclusive and affirming home while children are separated from their families.

Meet the Shafers

With a profound openness to connection with birth families and having gone through the joys and challenges of reunification, the Shafer family shares their story of providing support to kids and families experiencing foster care.

More Family Stories

Consider the First Step

Learn about our services for foster caregivers. Amara provides individualized support for foster families, so they can best support the children and families who need them. As one of our foster caregivers says: “People at Amara know who you are when you call.” 

Amara Service Map Detail Map And Key

Questions? We’ve got answers.

Find your question below or contact us.

What’s the process for becoming a foster caregiver with Amara?
    1. Attend an Amara Information Meeting (AIM) – virtual meeting
    2. Complete an Application
    3. Attend Caregiver Core Training (CCT)
      CCT is a competency-based training required for all licensed foster parents in Washington State. Sign up here: CCT Training opportunities
    4. Family preparation and home study
      This phase will educate and prepare you for foster caregiving, certify your home for a foster home license, and complete the home study document. Find out more about the home study process by listening to this podcast episode where we dive deeper into what a home study is and why this is required by the state.
    5. Child and family matching and placement
      Our Placement Coordinator and your Foster Care Specialist will work together to support you in reviewing referrals and determining which children to welcome into your home.
    6. Support throughout your time fostering
      Amara Foster Care Specialists support you through in-home visits, personal contact and a supportive relationship. They will also help you navigate the end of a child’s case – whether it’s reunification, being placed with another family member, guardianship, or adoption. We will be there to support you through all of these transitions so that you can be there to best support the kids who have been in your care. Amara also offers ongoing learning opportunities through monthly family support groups.

    Have you fostered with Amara before? Email us for how to get started again.

Who can be a foster caregiver?

Amara believes in an inclusive definition of family. We welcome families into our program regardless of relationship status, income, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, race, culture, home ownership, or education, and who are willing and able to provide an inclusive and affirming home while children are separated from their families. In addition:

  • You can be single, married, or partnered. 
  • You must be 21 years old or older.
  • You can live in an apartment or a house and must have at least two bedrooms.
  • Other adults can live with you.
  • Other children can live with you.
  • You, all other adults, and any youth age 16 or above living in your home must pass a child abuse and criminal background check.*
  • You must be able to physically care for a child.
  • You must commit to living in Washington State for a minimum of 3 years.

*While there are some crimes that permanently disqualify an applicant from foster care or adoption, a past criminal charge or conviction will not necessarily preclude you from moving forward. We will assess criminal history as we do all other aspects of your individual and family background – in terms of its relation to your ability to provide a safe and nurturing home for children. Please call us at 206.260.1700 with any questions.

Is there a need for more foster caregivers?

Yes! There are more than 6,000 children in foster care in Washington State.

  • We need foster homes that keep siblings together. Nearly a quarter of brothers and sisters in foster care are separated.
  • We need foster families of color. In Washington state as of 2016, 16% of children in foster care were Black/Multi-Racial Black. But only 6.5% of foster parents identify as Black.
  • We need foster homes that reflect the diverse community of children we support. Amara families come from a diverse range of ethnicities, belief systems, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, religions, and economic circumstances.

We invest in supporting families who have a passion for supporting children and families. We seek people who are flexible and curious. We are partners with these families throughout their foster care journey, providing expertise and support every step of the way. Children need families who come from and understand their community and culture, so we actively seek diversity in our foster parents.

How long do children stay in foster care?

A child may stay in foster care for a few days, a few months, or a few years; however, the median length of time is 18 months. Parents with children in foster care are offered supports, services, and visits with their children so their child may be returned to their care. The majority of children are successfully reunited with their parents. When that is not safely possible, other outcomes include living with a family member (kinship), guardianship, emancipation, adoption or “aging out.”

How long does it take to become a licensed caregiver?

This will vary based on your unique circumstances, but generally it takes families 3-6 months to complete the home study and licensing process once they have completed all the associated paperwork.

What do I need to do to be a great foster caregiver?

The most important thing you can do is to bring your passion for the well-being of kids, a desire to create an affirming and stable home environment, and a willingness to build relationships with children’s families.

The goal of foster care is family reunification. Children in foster care and their families need to know that their Amara foster families understand and actively support this goal. Amara foster families are committed to caring for children for as long as they need while their families work to reunite with them. Amara foster families take on the unknowns of timelines and focus on being present with and for children during their time in foster care.

Children in foster care need to believe and see that their family and their foster family are united in supporting them. Therefore, Amara foster families (supported by their Foster Care Specialists) work to build and maintain healthy and supportive relationships with children’s parents and extended family.

Do children in foster care have contact with their families?

Yes! It is important for kids to maintain connections with their family. One way is through court-ordered visitation. 

Amara foster families help kids stay connected to their families by building relationships with the families of children they are caring for, providing transportation to family visits, and sharing photo albums and updates on the kids. In all this, they receive ongoing, personal support from Amara’s Foster Care Team.

Can I adopt a child I’m fostering?

The goal of foster care is to reunite children with their birth families or extended family whenever possible. Regardless of the outcome, we support foster families as they transition children into permanency whether that’s reunifying with their family, moving to an adoptive home, or becoming an adoptive family or guardian themselves.

Each child’s and family’s case moves through a legal process. If the court decides to terminate parent’s rights to their child and a relative placement is not found, foster parents are often the first family considered for adoption. There are some youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted because their parents have already lost their rights to their child. These kids usually have been in foster care for an extended period of time already.

You will receive support from your caseworker and from Amara’s Child Placement Coordinator in making an informed decision about the child you welcome into your family. If adoption becomes an option, your Foster Care Specialist will support you in navigating this process.

If I am already a licensed foster caregiver through the state or another private agency, do I have to go through the licensing process again with Amara?

The state currently requires that a family have a new home study completed when they transfer their foster license between the state and a Child Placing Agency, or between Child Placing Agencies. If you are already a licensed foster home through the state or another local agency, you may continue to have children placed in your home while you are working on your home study with Amara. We will work with your previous licensor to utilize any documentation to simplify your process and reduce as much repetitive paperwork as possible.

Are there fees?

There are no fees for any of Amara’s foster care services, including becoming a licensed foster parent.