If you currently have a relative living in your home, the path you take can be determined by the permanency plan. In deciding the best option for your family, answer these questions:

Will your relative be in care for a short time?

There are situations where the care of a relative is only needed very temporarily. Sometimes, DHS can request a relative home study. With this type of home study, you are not required to complete training and will not become a licensed foster home. As a non-licensed relative, you will not receive foster care maintenance payments for your relative.

If the plan is for you to care for your relative for just a few weeks or months, you may consider maintaining the status quo.  The process to become a licensed or approved family can take 6-9 months. Many times, relatives do not complete the process because the child has returned home.

Will your relative be in care for a longer time?

If your relative will be living with you for awhile, or you are not sure how long they will be in your care, there are advantages to getting a foster care license:

  • The training and support you will receive as a foster parent. You will complete a 10-week, 30-hour training called TIPS-MAPP, which will give you many tools to assist you in parenting a relative’s child. Parenting a relative’s child can be even more challenging than a foster child, and even if you have raised your own children, you will learn valuable skills and become connected with others who also want to care for relatives.
  • The financial support for foster parents. When you are a licensed foster home (whether you are caring for a relative or not), you will receive foster care maintenance payments like other foster parents. You will also be assigned a Case Worker who can help you manage the child’s behaviors, get you connected with services and other supports, and provide as much or as little support as you will need.

Ready to get started?


Do you want to be a permanent option for the child?

Reunification for children is always the goal, but if the parent’s rights may be or have been terminated, getting a foster care license and adoption approval is recommended. In Iowa, only a DHS approved adoptive family can legally adopt a child in the foster care system, even if you are a relative.

An adoption approval is different from a foster care license. Families can get an adoption approval without a foster care license, or the other way around. Families must attend the same training, complete a home study, and be issued a notice of approval by DHS before they are legally “approved” to adopt. Having an adoption approval for the relative in your care means you can adopt if it becomes an option. You will not receive monthly foster care maintenance payments if you only have an adoption approval, but you will have support from Four Oaks Foster and Adoptive Family Connections or LSI.