Getting your house ready to open

It can be difficult waiting to attend that informational meeting or waiting for PRIDE training. What can you do while you wait? Many people want to start getting their house ready and it’s a way to feel like you’re doing something while you wait.

Here’s what DCFS is going to be looking for when you do your home study:

Home Requirements-Interior:

  1. Is the interior of the home clean and free of physical and health hazards?
  2. Does the home have adequate light, heat, ventilation and plumbing for a safe and comfortable living?
  3. Is there adequate space for privacy, play and study for all household members? Copy of the current floor plan of the home with room dimensions of all rooms used for sleeping will be filed in the foster home record. 
  4. Is there sufficient seating for the family to eat together?
  5. Will each child in foster care have adequate space for storing clothing and personal belongings in or near his/her bedroom?
  6. Are heating devices such as radiators, fireplaces, wood stoves, gas or electric heaters, and steam and hot water pipes within reach of children screened or otherwise protected?
  7. Have fire hazards, such as dangerous or defective heating equipment, flammable materials, defective electrical appliances or electrical cords, excessive use of extension cords, etc. been eliminated or corrected?
  8. Are interior halls and doors free from clutter and not blocked, ensuring easy passage/exit?
  9. Is all garbage and other waste kept in a suitable covered receptacle and disposed of in such a way as not to constitute a health or safety hazard?
  10. Does home have at least one flush toilet, one sink with running water, and one bath or shower with hot and cold water?
  11. Are cleaning supplies, insecticides, gasoline, hazardous tools, knives, or similarly dangerous objects stored out of reach of children or kept in locked closets or drawers?
  12. Are liquor and other alcoholic beverages stored out of reach of children?
  13. Are all firearms unloaded; maintained in a secure, locked location; and stored separately from ammunition?
  14. Are operational smoke detectors located within 10 feet of the kitchen and each bedroom?
  15. Is there an operational chemical fire extinguisher in the cooking area?
  16. Does the home have an operational telephone or working cellular phone that is accessible to all children?
  17. Are emergency phone numbers (911, fire, ambulance, and responsible adult to contact in case of emergency) posted near each telephone?

Sleeping arrangements:

  1. Will children sleep in a bedroom, not in a living room, or dining room where others are passing through?
  2. Does each bedroom have at least 50 square feet of floor space per occupant?
  3. Do bedrooms have windows which provide natural light and ventilation?
  4. Does each bedroom to be used for children in foster care have a window to the outside which is capable of serving as an emergency escape?
  5. Can bars, grilles, grates or other items that block access to the bedroom window be removed from the inside without the use of a key, tool, or force greater than required for normal operation of a window?
    1. In this event, does each such bedroom contain a working smoke detector?
  6. Will no more than 4 children share a bedroom?
  7. Will each child in foster care be provided a comfortable bed, in good condition?
  8. Will children of the opposite sex not share the same bedroom if either child is 4 years old or older, except for a mother in foster care with her child?
  9. Will any children share a bed if either child is 4 years old or older?
    1. Are any applicable children who will share a bed the same sex?
  10. Will any child under age 6 occupy a top bunk?
  11. Will any child in foster care, except an infant under age 2, share a sleeping room with adults? In the case of a grandparent to the child, the age would increase to 4. 
  12. Will each child be provided with clean bedding, in good condition, that will be laundered at least weekly, or as needed?

Home Requirements – Exterior:

  1. Is home accessible to community resources needed by children in foster care?
  2. Are the premises of the house, including the yard, garage, carport, any storage areas, and the basement and attic (if applicable and accessible), free from physical hazards which would endanger the safety of children?
  3. Is yard free of dangerous debris, trash, uncovered cisterns, etc.?
  4. Is yard large enough to provide ample play space for children?
  5. Is there a fence or barrier to prevent a child’s access to a busy street or highway, body of water, or dangerous area?
  6. If applicable, is the manufactured home properly installed and stabilized?
    1. If the manufactured home is located in a mobile home park, is there sufficient fenced play space outside?
  7. Is outdoor play equipment safe, hazard-free, and properly anchored?
  8. Does home have at least 2 exterior doors situated to provide safe exit, or home has a written statement from Fire Department that an alternative escape route is approved? Approval must be filed in the foster home record. 

Home Requirements – Other:

  1. Does home have a continuous supply of sanitary drinking water?                                                        The municipal water system is part of ___________ (City), County of ___________.
  2. If the source is not a municipal water system, has the water been tested and approved by the Health Department. Approval must be filed in the foster home record. 
  3. If the water is not approved, has an alternate compliance of water supply agreement (CFS-480) been established with the family and approved. Approval must be filed in the foster home record. 
  4. Does the home have a safe sewage disposal system?
  5. If the home has a septic system, has it been tested and approved by the Health Department? Approval must be filed in the foster home record. 
  6. Does family have a plan for evacuating the house in the event of fire and a plan for seeking shelter during a storm or tornado?
    1. Is the escape plan posted within the home?
  7. Has the family been informed that emergency evacuation drills must be performed and documented with each new child entering the home, and at least quarterly thereafter (date/time/persons involved/length of time needed to clear home)?
  8. Does family have adequate toys that are safe and developmentally appropriate for children who will be placed in the home?
  9. Is the number of children recommended to be placed in the home limited by the number of persons who can satisfactorily live within the physical limits of the home?
  10. Is there a safety plan for any noted hazards in place?                                                                If yes, please identify which type:___________________________________________________


  1. Do applicants have their own mode of transportation available for children in their care to participate in necessary school, recreation, and medical activities?
  2. Do all vehicles owned by the applicants have liability insurance? Documentation of liability insurance must be filed in the foster home record. 
  3. Is any vehicle to be used to transport children in foster care insured and maintained in compliance with motor vehicle laws?
  4. Do applicants and anyone else transporting children in foster care have a valid driver’s license?
  5. Will Children be transported according to Arkansas law, including, but not limited to, use of safety belts, child safety seats, and smoking restrictions? Children who are 5 and younger and children who weigh less than 60 pounds require a child safety seat. All other children must be restrained by safety belts. Smoking is prohibited in any motor vehicle in which a child who is less than 14 years of age is a passenger.


  1. Are all over-the-counter medications stored in an area not readily accessible to children, and are all prescription medications locked?
  2. Will applicants be aware of possible side effects of all medications and administer them only in accordance with the directions on the label?
  3. Will applicants log all medications at the time the medication is administered and include the child’s name; time and date; medication and dosage; and initials of the person administering the medication?
  4. Will age-appropriate children be provided a daily supply of medication (over-the-counter or prescription) for use when the child is away from the home during times the dose is needed? Examples include pain relievers, fever reducers, and anti-inflammatory and other related medications, or prescribed antibiotics or inhalers. These medications must be logged at the time they are given to the child.


Making sure you have all of the above done and ready will take up plenty of time. Maybe by the time you get everything ready you’ll be receiving that phone call that your home study has been scheduled.

Here is a printable version of the list for you use as a checklist: IHC Standards of Approval