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How to Become a Foster Parent

If you are reading this, you have an interest in children, especially those who need a home, a safe haven from the problems they face in their lives. I call these havens "foster homes".

We all want to do our part to help the children of South Dakota live happy, safe and productive lives. They are our future. Some of us work with children, some of us provide monetary gifts to agencies who work with children, some of us pray every night for children and some make the commitment to care for these children in their homes.

Being a foster parent is a big commitment. Providing foster care can be very challenging at times. You need to be a nurse, a taxi driver, a counselor, a behavior management specialist, a team member, and a parent. You need to have strong shoulders to hold up, yet allow many things to slide off.

Foster care can also be very rewarding such as the first hug from a child who has been withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, the first steps from a child with physical challenges and the knowledge that you have been able to positively touch a child's life.

Steve and Charlotte, LSS foster parents, said it best: "One boy was so scared of everything. He couldn't sleep with the window open because he was scared someone was going to come in and get him. If we can help kids like this particular boy lose some of that fear, it is all worth it."

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for whatever way you choose to help children. We all have a calling in life. If you feel that foster parenting may be yours, please contact LSS for more information.


The following criteria is needed to become a foster parent. The criteria fulfills South Dakota Department of Social Services' regulations and standards.

  • ¬†An application to be licensed must be completed.
  • Three positive references with telephone numbers from persons other than family members must be provided.
  • Employment income verification must be provided.
  • A Central Registry Check form for every household member age 10 years and older must be completed and returned with no record of substantiated child abuse/neglect.
  • A Division of Criminal Investigation check must be completed on every adult living in the home. If an applicant's name appears, his/her criminal record will be evaluated as it pertains to state licensing.
  • ¬†Applicants and all adults in the household age 15+ must be screened through the Sexual Offender Registry in the county of residence.
  • Physical examinations of the potential foster parents and immunization records for children under the age of 18 years must be provided.
  • Pre-service orientation training must be completed.
  • The home study process must be completed.
  • A vehicle inspection, current driver's license, driving record, and current auto insurance.


To become an LSS licensed foster home, you must complete Pre-Service Orientation Training and training specific to those you wish to serve. To maintain your license, you must complete annual training.

Pre-Service Orientation Training

Training is provided through Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota. Attendance is mandatory and without cost. The 30-hour pre-service orientation training will cover the following topics:

  • Impact of separation on child development
  • How attachments are formed
  • The importance of the birth family
  • Techniques of managing behavior
  • Permanency planning for children in foster care
  • Child development

Treatment Foster Care Training

Foster parents interested in providing care to the children served through the Treatment Foster Care Program will be required to obtain an additional 12 hours of training. This training can be obtained by one or both foster parents. It will cover topics that are general to the needs of children experiencing behavioral, emotional and social problems and specific to the needs of the child referred to your home.

Past education, training, and experience may be applied toward this requirement. This training is coordinated with the LSS licensing worker.

Annual Training

Foster parents are required to complete annual training to be relicensed. This training can be obtained by one or both foster parents. The required training is 18 hours per year for the specialized level of care and 18 hours per year for the treatment level of care. This training is coordinated with the LSS licensing worker.


LSS recognizes the importance foster parents play as part of the foster care team. They provide day-to-day care for the children. It is our belief that to maintain high quality care, foster parents must be supported. Support services available to foster parents include:

  • An assigned social worker.
  • Access to respite care for foster children.
  • Training required to meet the continuing needs of the foster children.
  • Peer support through opportunities to have direct one on one contact and support from an experienced foster family.
  • A 24-hour on-call service to provide crisis intervention.
  • Daily foster care reimbursement for the foster children in their home.

Considering being a Foster Parent? We have answers to your questions.