juvenile corrections

foster care

The DOC contractual foster care program was established to develop opportunities for youth who have completed their primary program, whose family and home are not an aftercare option and who have clearly demonstrated a readiness to re-enter a home environment. DOC foster homes are designed to provide stability and support essential to the positive growth and development of our youth. A healthy foster home helps create a greater appreciation for family values and increases a youth’s sense of belonging and self-worth. Often, it may be the first opportunity in their lives when they’ve actually had a chance to be a part of something positive, something which can help prepare them to be successful, young adults.

The DOC Contractual Foster Care Program was started in 1998.


Foster parents and potential foster parents must possess a sincere desire to work with youth. They need to be invested in the youth and aware of various challenges they may face in this effort to help youth. They must be willing to work with youth from various social, cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds. All interested persons must obtain a Department of Social Services (DSS) foster care license and comply with Department of Corrections (DOC) contractual requirements to be qualified.

  • Outside employment by applicants must be approved by the Department of Corrections and offer sufficient flexibility for them to play an active role in the care of the youth.
  • Preference will be given to applicants with experience in raising a family or an extensive background in working with youth.
  • The applicant(s) must be able to meet all DSS licensing requirements.
  • Preference will be given to applicants with no minor children in the home.
  • Applicants, their significant others and family members must successfully complete all law enforcement background checks and successfully complete a DSS Abuse and Neglect background check.
  • Past chemical dependency (CD) issues and mental health history of an applicant, a member of their family, or of their significant other must be thoroughly investigated.
  • Applicants must live in a home which has adequate space and can safely accommodate youth assigned to the home.
  • Applicants must maintain sufficient insurance on their auto and home.


Some of the duties the foster parent may expect to perform as a contractual foster home include:

  • Transportation of youth to all activities and appointments.
  • Be invested in the child’s education; actively participate in any parent/teacher conferences, IEP meetings and other school events.
  • Participate in therapy/counseling sessions as indicated.
  • Work together as a family unit, provide positive parental guidance and demonstrate the qualities of positive role-models.
  • Guide these youth in positive community activities, i.e. youth groups, community service groups, summer jobs, after school employment, etc.
  • Attend annual training designed to improve understanding and knowledge of various foster care issues.
  • Accompany foster youth to all court appearances.
  • Report the youth’s abusive or delinquent behavior to the Juvenile Corrections Agent (JCA) or Community Corrections Specialist (CCS).
  • Report any injury or abuse received by the youth to the JCA or CCS.
  • Fully cooperate with all agency personnel and agency requirements.
  • Be involved with the youth’s family to the extent deemed appropriate by DOC.
  • Be willing to decline a referral which may seem contrary to the welfare of the home or one which might be detrimental to others already in the home.
  • Remember . . . Foster Care is about youth in need of stability, support and encouragement.

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Foster Care Guidebook

Apply to be a Foster Parent

Thank you for your time and interest in becoming a positive foster care influence for the youth of South Dakota. Together, we can make a huge difference in a young person’s life!