Q: My husband and I would like to become foster parents as a gay couple? Can we?

A: Your question is perfectly timed for May, which is National Foster Care Month. With over 14,000 children currently in foster care in New York City, there is always a need for families and homes for the youngest New Yorkers.

The foster care system is run by the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), which is the local government agency with the power to assume custody of children in New York City and place them in Foster Care. According to ACS, a foster parent must be:

  • over the age of 21;
  • in good physical and mental health (handicaps and illness may be considered depending on how it affects the individual’s ability to adequately care for the child);
  • have the ability and desire to adequately care for a child;
  • possess a steady income;
  • live in a sanitary and safe home;
  • be free of a serious criminal record

In New York, similar to the treatment of handicaps and illness, a prospective foster parent’s marital status may only be considered based on if and how it affects the ability to adequately care for the foster child. There is no requirement – you can be single, straight, gay, or married.

Your family will work with a foster care agency assigned to your district. (In some neighborhoods, there is only one designated agency; in other areas, there are multiple choices.) Each agency must meet ACS’ requirements but also may have additional unique requirements, which you can inquire about over the phone or during an introductory meeting.

If you are interested in signing up with an agency that has a strong LGBT presence, you may ask other LGBT families for suggested organizations, inquire directly about the agency’s work in the community, or contact ACS for information about their efforts to recruit affirming families for LGBT foster youth. Once you are paired with an agency, you will undergo 30 hours of training and a homestudy to become a licensed foster family.

Please Note: The information provided in this article, or its content is about legal issues but it is not intended as legal advice.

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