The homestudy process ensures that the prospective guardian is capable of providing a stable environment that promotes healthy child development.
Research Note: The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 (H.R.5403) requires that full faith and credit be given to any homestudy completed by another state or Indian tribe with respect to the placement of a child unless it is determined that placing the child on the basis of the contents of the report would be contrary to the child’s well-being.
The information gathered for homestudies is limited to material pertinent to establishing a guardianship.
are conducted in a culturally-responsive manner and identify potential strengths and opportunities to promote service participation and success.
Culturally-responsive assessments can include attention to geographic location, language of choice, political status, tribal affiliation, and religious, racial, ethnic and cultural background. Other important factors that contribute to a responsive assessment include attention to age and sexual orientation.
The homestudy is a collaborative process to determine if guardianship is an appropriate goal and includes:
- one or more visits to the prospective guardian’s home;
- reference checks;
- criminal background and child abuse and neglect registry checks for all adults living in the home according to applicable federal and state requirements; and
- preparation of a homestudy report with a recommendation regarding the prospective guardian’s ability to meet the needs of the child.
Homestudies are conducted in accordance with all applicable federal and state requirements. The worker can consider additional information offered by the prospective guardian after they review the homestudy. The organization should develop criteria for the review of criminal background checks that specifies how the organization evaluates and responds to reports indicating criminal offenses. Prospective guardians should be informed of the organization’s policy regarding criminal convictions at the beginning of the process. If guardianship is being established for a child already in placement with the prospective guardian or for a sibling of a child already in placement with the prospective guardian, background checks that were conducted as part of that arrangement may not need to be conducted again.
An assessment is conducted to evaluate the:
- relationship between the prospective guardian and the child;
- child’s relationship to individuals already living in the home;
- prospective guardian's cultural sensitivity and willingness to support the child's cultural ties;
- history of maltreatment and prior placements; and
- prospective guardian’s commitment to the child.
Evidence of a strong commitment to the child can include functioning as the primary caregiver of the child prior to the guardianship arrangement.
The homestudy explores the guardian’s capacity to provide a lifelong home for the child and includes an assessment of:
- the prospective guardian’s ability to meet the needs of the child;
- the family’s ability to support the child;
- the needs of children already living in the home;
- physical and mental health status; and
- education, employment, and financial status.
Elements a) through e) should be considered collectively when assessing the guardian’s capacity to provide a lifelong home for the child and a placement determination should never be made based on one single factor.