Adult Foster Care

Adult foster care is a system in which adults are placed into group or private homes where they are taken care of by caregivers. Adult foster care is typically arranged through governmental or private agencies, but it may be arranged by relatives who are unable to care for the adult in question. Adult foster care is often reserved for people who need assistance with daily tasks because of physical or mental disabilities. To explore this concept, consider the following adult foster care definition.

Definition of Adult Foster Care


  1. A system in which adults, who are not able to care for themselves, are placed into group homes or private care homes.

What is Adult Foster Care

Adult foster care commonly provides a supervised environment for adults that are unable to live independently due to a debilitating physical or mental condition. Adult foster care is typically reserved for people over the age of 18, but some homes accept residents as young as 16 years of age. The individual needing care must also meet certain specific requirements of each foster care home. Adult foster care homes provide a variety of services including:

  • Assisting the individual with daily personal care
  • Aiding in daily recreational or vocational activities
  • Providing transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and recreational activities
  • Preparing and serving meals
  • Dispensing medications
  • Providing social interaction

Adult Foster Care Homes

Adult foster care homes are single-family homes that offer residents 24-hour care in a family-type setting. The providers in such care homes assist residents with activities they have difficulty performing, while helping them maintain as much independence as possible. Adult foster care homes may be equipped to care for adults that need only minimal assistance, or have the ability to care for residents needing full-time, all-inclusive personal care. In some instances, relatives provide adult foster care homes for elderly grandparents or other family members. This situation is ideal for keeping the individual with his or her family as long as possible.

Group Adult Foster Care Homes

Group adult foster care is more often referred to as “group homes,” or “institutions.” These group adult foster care homes typically house more residents at one time and are required to follow stricter guidelines. Each group adult foster care home has a maximum number of residents for which it can care at any one time, and the residents are cared for by trained medical staff. Group adult foster care is often a better option for adults with disabilities that make them more difficult to care for on a daily basis.

Adult Foster Care Licensing

The requirements for adult foster care licensing vary by jurisdiction. Each state has specific regulations and departments that deal with issues concerning both juvenile and adult foster care licensing. Because of varied state laws, the application process for becoming an adult foster care provider differs.

For example, in Minnesota, an adult foster care licensed provider can serve four or five adults, if they are 55 and older, and have no persistent disability. Before adult foster care licensing can be approved, most states require that the home or facility be safety inspected. Routine safety and fire inspections may also be required to keep the license valid.

Caregivers are generally required to pass background checks, and many states require them to take an educational course. In most areas, the department of social services deals with adult foster care licensing, and social workers work closely with care providers to ensure proper care is provided on a regular basis.

Additional Adult Foster Care Licensing Requirements

Many states have different licensing requirements for facilities that care for a large number of individuals. Additionally, the age requirements to obtain an adult foster care license vary from 18 to 21 years of age. All jurisdictions require that providers have good moral character, hence the background checks.

Expenses Associated with Adult Foster Care

Whether caring for adults in a family-type environment, or in a group home or facility, certain expenses will be incurred. These residents require food, hygiene products, clothing, and other basic necessities. Because of the costs associated with caring for a disabled adult, providers in many jurisdictions receive reimbursement through an insurance company, social services agency, or private pay. Compensation for adults covered by social security disability, or some other care benefit, is generally made monthly in a specific amount.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Jurisdiction – The legal authority to hear legal cases and make judgments; the geographical region of authority to enforce justice.