Become A Foster Parent in Tennessee

Want To Explore Foster Parenting?

As you begin your journey be sure to connect with Tennessee Kids Belong. We can come alongside and support you in these ways:

Learn about fostering. Attend an upcoming Foster Care Q&A Panel to connect with other Tennessee foster parents, experts and resources.

Adoptable kids

Consider adoption. View kids in our state’s foster care system who are legally free for adoption.

Become trauma informed and invite your support network to do the same.

Get our Foster Friendly app to get connected with businesses, faith communities, nonprofits and other groups in our state committed to supporting kinship and foster families.

Let’s Connect

Foster Parent Requirements In Tennessee

Tennessee Fosters is your best resource for information about becoming a kinship or foster parent in our state. But here are some key requirements to be aware of. 

  • Must be at least 21 years of age.
  • Able to financially meet your own needs
  • In sufficiently good health

In addition you’ll have to complete some preliminary steps to become certified including:

  • Get fingerprinted and pass a background check.
  • Participate in an informational meeting.
  • Complete a training program called TN-KEY.
  • Participate in a home study.
  • Provide income-related documentation.
  • Complete a health exam.

Note: This link will take you to Tennessee Fosters. Be sure you submitted our “Let’s Connect” form above before leaving Tennessee Kids Belong.

Two Reliable Paths To Become A Certified Foster Parent In Tennessee


The first is to work through the Tennessee Department of Child Services (DCS)


The alternative is to work with one of the dozens of approved private providers in the state.

Here is some additional insight to help you determine the best path for you.

Working with DCS

  • DCS certifies only Level 1 foster care homes.
  • If you get licensed by DCS you will work with a regional foster care team to complete your background check, home study, paperwork, training and licensing process. Once licensed you will be assigned to a foster care support workers who will walk alongside your family throughout the process to get your license.

Working with a Private Provider

  • Private providers certify Level 1 and up to Level 2 and 3 foster homes.
  • Private providers work in partnership with DCS and follow the same licensing requirements. Your license will be managed by them, but approved by the state.
  • Private providers may be for-profit or nonprofit organizations. Their coverage areas may vary.
  • These providers offer extra training and support for families who take in children with a higher level of need.
  • Private providers are contracted by the state to license “therapeutic homes,” families that receive additional training and support to prepare to take placement of children with higher needs.

*Note: Before you start training with a private provider, it is good practice to confirm they are a current provider with DCS.

Attend A Foster Care Q&A Panel

“Could We Really Consider Foster Care? | Recorded in May of 2024

We regularly host virtual and in-person panels of foster and adoptive parents, former foster youth, and professionals of the child welfare system to share what it looks like to be a foster parent in Tennessee and to help answer questions like these:

  • How will this impact my biological kids?
  • I’m single – is this the right decision?
  • I’m interested but my spouse isn’t on board. What should I do?

To hear some great perspectives on questions just like these, join our next panel (or watch this session on-demand). You can never hear too many stories!

​*Please note that these panels are not the info meeting you need to attend in order to start foster parent training. We are not a licensed foster care agency.