Indian Child Welfare

201 South Muskogee Ave. Tahlequah, OK 74464

Become a Foster / Adoptive Parent

Here you will find resources and information related to becoming a certified foster or adoptive parent through Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare.

Qualifications of Placement Resource Homes (Standards)

Whenever an application is received to become a Placement Resource home for the Cherokee Nation, the applicants will be assessed by the certification unit to ensure they meet qualifications. Some of the key criteria are listed in this section:


Basic qualification requirements include enrollment of the applicant (or spouse) as a citizen of Cherokee Nation or another federally recognized Indian tribe, or a relative of a child in the custody of the tribe or state. Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare reserves the right to deviate from these qualifications for the purpose of serving the best interests of children and maintaining compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Background Investigations

Each member of the resource family household and any individual who assists with the care and supervision of children, age 18 or over, shall submit to a background investigation and should be free from unacceptable criminal and child welfare backgrounds. The following are definite felony offenses that an applicant cannot have to be a home for Cherokee Nation: child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, a crime against a child, including, but not limited to child pornography, a crime involving violence, or any physical assault, battery or drug-related offenses that occurred within the 5 year period preceding the application date. Background investigations include submitting to state background checks, fingerprinting, child welfare history checks, local law enforcement checks, electronic database criminal searches, as well as clearance from at least six personal references.

NOTE: If this is a foster and adoptive or adoptive type placement only application, there is a nominal charge to complete fingerprinting and state background checks. See "Notice of Fees". See pages 26-27.


Each member of the resource family household or any individual, who assists with the care and supervision of Cherokee children, shall be in sufficiently good physical and mental health to provide necessary care for a child.

Placement Resource parents must have a physical examination prior to their original certification as a resource family.

Medical examinations must be renewed every year for all Placement Resource homes. Also, any time a Placement Resource provider is hospitalized or there is ongoing outpatient medical care, (including psychological counseling), Cherokee Nation must be provided a physician's statement from an appropriate professional indicating the Placement Resource provider's capability to provide care for children.


The biological age of a placement resource will be considered in relation to physical condition, flexibility, vitality, maturity, and ability to exercise appropriate authority, supervision, and physical and emotional support of a child. The placement resource must also be able to provide adequate guidance, care and protection to the child. 

The minimum age requirement to become a placement resource home is 21.

Applicants wishing to be certified for foster and adoption or adoption must meet an additional age requirement. It is a reasonable expectation for every child to grow up and reach adulthood with two parents. In an effort to foster that expectation, the Cherokee Nation has adopted this policy to address the age-related issues for placement parents. Cherokee Nation wants adoptive couples, using the consideration of normal life expectancy, to be able to raise a child and physically provide for that child to at least age eighteen and hopefully beyond. All children and adults need connections throughout their lives. We give the total life connections of the child consideration when making placement decisions on the eligible age of the adoptive family.

Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare has developed the following formula to be applied when age is a consideration in adoptive families. Forty-seven (47) years is the maximum age for the youngest adoptive parent when adopting a newborn. To calculate the specific case of an older child take the age of the child and subtract this age from 18. Next, take the age of the youngest parent, to this add the child's subtracted age. This number must not exceed 65 years. So for example, if the adoptive child is 5 years old, subtract this from 18, (18-5=13). The youngest adoptive parent is 52 years old, then add the subtracted age to youngest adoptive parents age (52+13=65).

The same rule applies to a relative placement; however, if the potential relative placement wishes to be considered for an exception to this policy, they will have to meet the following criteria:

  • Foster Homes who may become a "child specific" adoptive home for a child or children already in their care;
  • Have an established relationship with the child;
  • Develop a specific backup plan in the case they become incapacitated or unable to care for the children (this includes a full certification process as well).
  • Medical physicals which address the health of the caregivers according to the specifications of Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare from a physician specified by Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare.


The Placement Resource family should have sufficient income to meet their own family's basic needs before any planned additions to the household are considered. This will allow any reimbursement received to go towards specifically meeting the essential needs of the foster child. Resource Homes providing foster care will receive monthly reimbursement; however, families who desire to adopt a child placed in their home should understand adoption subsidy may or may not be available to supplement the normal income.


Employment, education, and/or training pursuits of placement resources are evaluated in regard to the ages and needs of the child(ren) for whom they wish to provide care. When both parents in a two-parent home and when single parents are employed, suitable plans for day care and/or supervision of the child must be approved by the agency. (See the Daycare section of this handbook for further information, p.42).

Cultural Values

Placement Resource families must show respect for the child's individual cultural heritage. Efforts must be made by the Placement Resource families to provide similar cultural experiences, to the background of the child, when possible.


Each household should supply a minimum of six references who can attest to the placement resources ability to care for children. Two of the six references may be from family members. All adult children of the applicants will automatically be contacted and are in addition to the other six references. The other four references should be from persons familiar with the Placement Resource family from a variety of perspectives that can provide a well-rounded picture of the family functioning and character. These could include friends, coworkers with whom the Placement Resource works, church acquaintances, school officials, mental health care or other individuals we deem necessary.

Assessment of the Home Environment

During the home visits, the certification workers will be taking into consideration the home environment and physical surroundings. The following is a list of criteria they will be reviewing when completing the home visits:

  • Safety:
    • The house and premises shall be reasonably clean. The physical facilities of the home must present no hazards to the safety of a child being placed there. The Placement Resource family must have access to emergency services in case of crisis. Placement Resources must keep certification and any child's worker advised of a phone number through which the Placement Resource providers may be reached at all times.
  • Telephone:
    • Placement resource homes should have access to a telephone either by a home phone or through a cell phone.
  • Transportation:
    • Placement resource homes must show ownership or clear access to a vehicle, which is safe and carries auto liability insurance per state residence requirements. Proper safety restraints must be utilized on all children placed in their home.
  • Location of residence:
    • The location should be such that the placement resource is able to arrange transportation to school, church, recreational and resources as needed. 
  • Sleeping arrangements/personal space:
    • The child who is placed in a placement resource home shall be provided adequate and appropriate sleeping space, consistent with his/her needs for privacy or personal contact. Space shall be provided for the child's personal possessions. Separate sleeping areas must be provided to children over age six who are of the opposite sex, or in any situation whereby the certification or child's worker determines that separate sleeping areas are in the best interest of the child(ren) involved.
    • Children must not share sleeping quarters with adults in the household, unless the certification and child's worker have been notified of special circumstances and have approved the arrangements.
Information Request

Online request form for requesting further information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent.