Ohio foster care and adoption guidelines

Many children are awaiting forever families in Ohio. The majority of those waiting are school-aged children or teenagers. Many younger children are part of a sibling group who would like to be adopted together by the same family.

Each county in Ohio has its own public children services agency. There are also nearly 100 private agencies providing various foster care and adoption services.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is the state entity that monitors these public and private agencies in addition to issuing rules and regulations governing foster care and adoption within Ohio.

Read about fostering in Ohio at the Ohio state website.

Read about adopting in Ohio at the Ohio Adoption Photolisting website.

On this page:

State contact information

For information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Ohio, please contact theFamily and Youth Law Center
Phone: 614-236-6541
Email: fylaw@law.capital.edu

Foster care and adoption licensing requirements

In order to adopt, you must be at least 18 years of age. To foster, you must be 21 years of age.

Ohio requires that foster care and adoption applicants participate in preservice training.  This training is accompanied by a process in which an applicant and a trained adoption assessor jointly assess the applicant's strengths, skills, and experiences to determine if the decision to foster and/or adopt is the right choice for the applicant.  The homestudy process has certain requirements for the applicants, as well as other members of the household, including but not limited to:

  • Criminal background checks for all adults
  • Check of child abuse and neglect history for all adults
  • Medical statements for all members of the household
  • Safety audit and fire inspection of your home

Costs to foster and adopt

There is no fee for the preservice training or home study process by the county public children services agency. Private agencies may charge fees for their services. 

There are adoption subsidies to assist in adopting Ohio’s waiting children with special needs. Federal and state subsidies are available to help for eligible families wanting to provide a forever home for children waiting in foster care.

Agency contact and orientation information

A comprehensive and informative guidebook on adoption in Ohio is available online or in hard copy from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services by emailing HELP-DESK-OCF@odjfs.state.oh.us, or by calling 866-886-3537, option #4.

Inside the guidebook you will find:

  • A brief explanation of the adoption process, including a glossary of common terms
  • Financial supports that are available to your family, including tax benefits
  • A list of public children services agencies, including contact information
  • A list of private adoption agencies, including contact information

Once you find an agency you may like to work with, contact them to see when their next information meeting and/or preservice training is scheduled.

Parent support groups

The Ohio Adoption Photolisting website includes a list of adoption support groups and associations.

Information on Ohio's children

On any given day, more than 15,000 children in Ohio are living with foster families or in other out-of-home placements, such as group homes. More than 2,700 children are in the permanent custody of a public agency, most are teenagers placed in foster care settings as they wait for an adoptive family to be their forever home. These children may be dealing with issues of past abuse or neglect, and they need permanent families.  

Read more at the Ohio Adoption Photolisting website.

Additional resources

Please visit the FYLaw website to view ongoing adoption events and meetings in your area.