New Jersey foster and adoption guidelines
In New Jersey, families are dually licensed to provide both foster and adoptive care; the study and licensing process is the same for all resource families. Families can also work with a licensed nonprofit or private agency to adopt. If a New Jersey family works with a licensed private adoption agency, their home would need to be licensed in order to adopt a child from the New Jersey child welfare system.
Foster parents are expected to work with the division toward the reunification of their foster child with birth parents or other relatives, when that is appropriate. If reunification with a family member is not possible, resource families receive the first consideration to adopt their foster child. Many children, especially younger children, who are adopted in New Jersey are adopted by their foster parents or relatives. There is also a great need for adoptive parents for children who are not reunified with their birth family or adopted by their resource families. This is the situation with children who are placed through “selected home adoption.” Some of New Jersey’s children in need of Selected Adoptive Home are featured on AdoptUsKids and other websites. However, there are additional children for whom this type of recruitment is not necessary, because licensed New Jersey adoptive families are more readily available.
Learn more about adoption and foster care on the New Jersey Department of Children and Families website.
On this page:
- State contact information
- Foster and adoption licensing requirements
- Costs to foster and adopt
- Agency contact and orientation information
- Post-adoption support services
For NJ families interested in becoming a licensed foster/adoptive home, contact Foster and Adoptive Family Services.
Becoming a foster or adoptive parent is easier than you think. You must be at least 18 years old and at least 10 years older than any of the children who will be placed with you, able to support yourself and in good physical and emotional health. You can:
- Be married or single
- Be childless or have children
- Work outside the home or stay at home
- Rent or own your house or apartment
During the home study process, 27 hours of PRIDE training is also required to prepare families to become foster or adoptive parents. New Jersey uses the SAFE adoption home study format.
If you adopt or foster through the division, the only cost incurred during a foster or adoptive home study is the cost of medical examinations for each family member.
If you would like to adopt through a licensed private adoption agency serving New Jersey, fees vary. Please ask each agency what their requirements and fees are, and if their home studies are licensed. Many people have completed adoption home studies, but are unable to adopt a child from New Jersey if their home has not been licensed. In situations such as this, it is often necessary to have a second home study completed by the division if they should become interested in adopting a child from New Jersey. Here is a list of approved licensed adoption agencies in New Jersey (186 KB PDF).
If you are an adoptive parent, or if you are interested in becoming an adoptive parent for a special need child, the child you adopt may be eligible for financial assistance through the Adoption Subsidy Program.
Federal adoption tax credit
Beginning in tax year 2003, families adopting a child with special needs from foster care could claim the adoption tax credit without needing to incur or document expenses. Find more information on the North American Council on Adoptable Children website.
For families interested in providing foster care or who are interested in the type of children available for selected home adoption through the division, the first step in the process would be to contact 800-99-ADOPT (1-800-992-3678). Foster and Adoptive Family Services employees answer these calls, send information to the family, and route the inquiry to the appropriate division local offices resource family unit. The resource family units arrange engagements with perspective adoptive and foster families as soon as possible. During the home study process, 27 hours of PRIDE training is also required to prepare families to become foster and adoptive parents. Here is a list of division offices.
Families who are interested in adoption only may be referred to licensed private adoption agencies if they are not interested in the children New Jersey typically places in selected home adoption placements.
Learn about the support available to families who adopt in your state:
- Primary provider: Dept. of Children and Families, Post Adoption Counseling Services
- New Jersey Adoption Resource Clearinghouse
- Children’s Aid and Family Services/New Jersey Adoption Resource Clearing House (NJARCH)
In 2017, 1,089 adoptions were finalized statewide. As of February 2018, there are 132 youth with the goal of “selected home adoption.” Of these youths 114 are unmatched legally free children and 18 are unmatched non-legally free children.