FAQ for Fostering or Adopting Children of Family and Friends

2 young boys dressed in Spider man CostumeIf I am a relative of a child who needs care, can I be his/her foster parent?
Yes. If the child is in the custody of Cuyahoga County, you may apply to become a licensed foster parent to the child.

I am a relative. Do I have to meet all the qualifications to become a foster parent to my relative’s child?
Yes. You must meet the same eligibility requirements as any other foster applicant. You must:
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Maintain your present marital or relationship status for one year.
  • Have enough income to support yourself and your family.
  • Complete 36 hours of pre-service training.
  • Submit a complete application.
  • Satisfactorily complete a home study, required documentation, and safety inspections.
  • Have proper ID, including fingerprinting, for you and all household members 18 and over.
  • Agree to use age-appropriate discipline—no physical discipline.
  • Complete Foster Parent 101.

Can I adopt a relative’s child?
Yes. If the birth parents' rights have been terminated by the court, the child is in our permanent custody and if you are at least 18 years old, you may apply to adopt. If your application is accepted and your home study is successfully completed, your family will be considered as a potential adoptive family.

If paternity has not been established, can I foster or adopt my relative’s child?
If the child is in Cuyahoga County custody, you can apply to become a foster parent. You cannot apply to adopt the child until the formal and legal Juvenile Court process has terminated the rights of both parents.

Please note: if you are not a blood relative, you are considered an interested individual. You must go through the process to be a licensed foster parent, or the child may be court-appointed to your care.

I am caring for a friend’s child. It is a court- ordered placement but I have not been certified as a foster parent yet. Can I receive financial assistance?
You cannot receive financial assistance until you are licensed by Cuyahoga County. You may apply for federal and state financial assistance, food assistance, or healthcare assistance. If you are in need of immediate financial assistance, speak to the child’s social worker. As a non-relative, once you are licensed, reimbursement may be retroactive to the first day of placement.

If I am caring for my friend’s child, can I adopt them?
If the child is in our permanent custody, you may apply to our agency to adopt the child if you follow all the necessary steps to becoming an adoptive family.

Can I adopt if I have legal custody of my friend’s child?
Yes. You must contact Probate Court at 216-443-8988 and they will advise you of the process and the steps.

If I have legal custody (or legal guardianship), can I become the child’s foster parent?
No. Legal custody means that you have assumed permanent care of the child and the County is not responsible for the child’s care. There are state and federal programs that you may wish to apply for, including financial assistancefood assistance, or healthcare assistance. You may also apply for child support through the Office of Child Support Services.

I now have legal custody of a child but want to become his/her foster parent instead. Will the agency take back custody?
No. The County would rarely resume custody of a child once placed. You may petition Juvenile Court to decide if the child is at risk or if there is a hardship situation. The court will make the final determination.

I am caring for a relative’s child and I am in the process of becoming a foster parent. Can I get financial assistance before I complete the process?
You may apply to receive Ohio Works First temporary assistance. If eligible, assistance will be provided until you are licensed and you begin to receive reimbursement from the County.