Foster Care

Home Inspection vs Home Study

So what is a home study and how does it differ from a home inspection?  Well, I’ll try to explain some of that here.

When the county removes a child from an unsafe situation, they obviously want to make sure they aren’t placing them in another potentially negative environment.  And whether it is a physical, emotional or a mental hazard, screening is important to ensure the child will be well cared for.

Some people will use home inspection and home study as interchangeable terms; however, a home study is so much more than making sure your house is physically a safe place to live.  I will start with home inspections because I think that may be the easier of the two to explain.

When the county or a foster care agency comes to your home to inspect the physical surroundings, these are some of the things they are looking for…

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (they asked us to test ours to show them they worked properly)
  • Fire extinguishers (they looked at the expiration dates and we had to bring it to the local fire station to get refilled)
  • First aid kit that is accessible to everyone
  • Working telephone that the child has access to at all times
  • Healthy food is available to the youth
  • No expired food in the refrigerator
  • Appropriate escape route in case of a fire
  • Age appropriate sleeping arrangements (for instance, a safe crib that doesn’t have side rails that move with a usable mattress)
  • A place for the youth to place their clothes
  • Medications, chemicals and sharp objects (scissors and knives) are locked away – under lock and key
  • Weapons are locked away (and ammunition is stored in a different location from the gun)

At first it seems like a daunting task to complete but a lot of these items should be in place anyway (like the first aid kit) our agency had some great suggestions for us to help us through the process.  

Home studies, on the other hand, are something completely different.  The process focuses on guarding the emotional and mental well-being of the youth that are placed in the foster home.  A licensed social worker is assigned to do a series of interviews that assesses the dynamics of the parent(s).

They ask about support systems for the foster parent(s), parenting styles, family history, substance use, health, employment, and criminal history, if any.  I have read many people feel that the interviews are intrusive and I suppose they are in some ways. Through the whole process, though, I didn’t feel like any question was unnecessary but I am not a particularly private person.

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