FAQ for Family and Friends


If 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 Division of Children and Family Services (CCDCFS), you may apply to become a licensed foster parent to the child(ren).


I am a relative… do I have to meet all of the qualifications to become a foster parent to my relative’s child?

Yes. You must meet the same eligibility requirements as any other foster parent applicant.
  • You must be at least 21 years of age
  • Maintain your present marital status for 1 year to foster and/or adopt
  • 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 (includes 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 parent’s 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(ren)?

If the child(ren) is/are in the custody of CCDCFS, you can apply to become a foster parent. You cannot apply to adopt the child until the formal and legal process (by Juvenile Court) notification 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?

Not until you are licensed by CCDCFS. You may apply for TANF and a Medicaid card through the Cuyahoga Job and Family Services. 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 him/her?

If the child is in our permanent custody, you may apply to our agency to adopt the child, as long as you are meeting 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 you will need to complete.


If I have legal custody (or legal guardianship), can I become the child’s foster parent?

No. Legal custody means that you have signed documents assuming permanent care of the relative’s child and CCDCFS is not responsible for the child’s care. You need to apply for TANF and a Medicaid card through the Cuyahoga Job and Family Services. You may also apply for child support through the Office of Child Support Services.

Foster Family
I now have legal custody of a child but want to become his/her foster parent instead. Will the agency take back custody?

No. It is rare that CCDCFS would 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 TANF and Medicaid from the Cuyahoga Job and Family Services. Income Maintenance is located at 1641 Payne Avenue. Please call (216) 987-7000. If eligible, assistance will be provided until you are licensed and you begin to receive reimbursement from CCDCFS.