Idaho foster care and adoption guidelines

Thank you for your interest in adoption and foster care. We encourage your active participation in foster care and adoption programs and look forward to helping you on your journey.

On this page:

Contact information

Interested families can contact the Idaho CareLine for more information.

Phone (teléfono): 800-926-2588 or dial 2-1-1
Email (correo electrónico):

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

Foster and/or adoptive parents can be individuals and/or families. You may qualify if you:

  • For foster care only: are 21 years of age or older.
  • For adoption only: are 25 years of age or at least 15 years older than the child you would like to adopt. While there is no upper age limit, most private agencies prefer that there be no more than 40 years between the age of the parents and the age of the child.
  • Have a stable source of income suitable to support the family.
  • Have adequate space in your house or apartment to provide a safe environment for the child.
  • Can pass a physical examination (You don’t have to be in perfect physical condition to qualify; blindness, deafness or other physical disabilities will not disqualify you as a prospective adoptive parent.).
  • Learn about fostering or adopting. The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare’s program provides classes through the National Training and Development Curriculum for families becoming licensed for foster care and adoption while private agencies and certified adoption professionals (CAPs) have their own educational requirements.

A home study is an educational and information-gathering process which helps agencies and social workers link couples and single adults with waiting children. The home study:

  • Shares in-depth information about foster care and adoption
  • Prepares adults and other family members for the transitions that occur when a child is adopted
  • Helps determine if a person or couple can provide a safe, nurturing environment for a youth or sibling group
  • Provides written information about each parent and her/his life experiences
  • Reveals any past criminal history and makes recommendations as to present ability to provide a safe, nurturing environment for a young person

Individuals who are thinking of fostering and/or adopting should immediately call their selected provider and complete an application and schedule a fingerprint appointment.

Family preparation is vital to the success of any adoption or fostering experience. Classes, literature, and private instruction offered by home study social workers give prospective parents the tools to build on each child’s strengths. With these aids, you can be realistic about your expectations. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be perfectly committed to being the best parent you can be.

The selection process takes time. Depending on the age and needs of the child you are interested in adopting as well as the number of applicants and legal considerations, it can take six weeks to many months before a child can be placed with a pre-adoptive family.

Costs to foster or adopt

Families who do not want to provide foster care but who wish to adopt a child from foster care will need to work with a private agency or approved certified adoption professional (CAP). Families will need to pay for their own home study. Costs are set by individual agency or provider.

Foster care certification is provided through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and is free to families wishing to become foster/adoptive parents.

Agency contact and orientation information

Idaho Department of Health & Welfare Foster/Adopt Program
Phone in Idaho: 2-1-1
Statewide information available.

Agency and Certified Adoption Professional contacts for private adoption

Private Adoption Information and Contacts

Post-adoption support services

Idaho’s post-adoption and guardianship support services are provided by RISE, Inc. through the Idaho Adoption Resource Exchange
Phone: (208) 252-6117 

Information on Idaho's waiting children

There are 1,818 children in foster care in Idaho; 373 of these children are waiting for adoptive families.

Children who need foster and adoptive families:

  • May have experienced neglect or abuse
  • Range in age from newborn to 18 years old
  • May be members of a large sibling group that need to stay together
  • Reflect all cultural and economic groups.

Upcoming events

See a list of providers, support groups, training, and resources at the Idaho Adoption Resource Exchange website.

Attend an informational meeting on adoption from foster care, with Idaho Wednesday’s Child.  Email Shawn White at to learn more.