Become a Foster Parent

“Because They Matter”

Thank you for you interest in our Foster Parent Program

As a foster parent volunteer, you can play a large role in saving lives. By providing care that is difficult to achieve at the shelter, you will increase the chances of a pet being adopted and will become a vital part of our fight against the euthanasia of adoptable animals.


As a foster care volunteer, you will give every animal a better chance at a new life.



How the Program Works

The C.A.R.A. foster parent program is designed to place shelter animals into temporary homes where they can grow, heal, socialize, and become/remain adoptable while they wait for their “forever home”. 


Examples of the situations where foster care is needed are:


  • >>  Kittens and puppiesUntil their immune systems have developed and they are old enough to be spay/neutered and adopted, kittens and puppies are all kept in foster care.
  • >>  Dogs undergoing heartworm treatment These dogs need to be in a calm, quiet environment without a lot of activity.
  • >>  Cats and dogs recovering from medical treatment or illness A quiet, comfortable place to rest and receive medication and regular monitoring is much better for the healing process.
  • >>  Small dogsMany small dogs find the noise and size of the shelter to be especially stressful.


Why should you foster?


Foster “Parents” provide temporary care for our neediest animals in their own homes around Vermilion County and surrounding areas. Some animals need as little as two weeks of care; meanwhile, others may need care for a longer period of time.


Your volunteer contributions allow C.A.R.A. to continue to save as many animal lives as possible. We are grateful for your compassion and commitment and would like to welcome you to our foster family!


Pets are placed into foster care for many reasons: They may be too young, they may be sick or injured, or they may need socialization or training. C.A.R.A. also sends pets to foster care for our senior cats while the continue to wait for their forever home to come along.

What to expect when foster?


Fostering animals will require consistent care. You will be responsible for providing a safe and suitable environment for the foster animal, along with food, water, basic training, and of course lots of love and socialization! Fostering pets can be a positive experience for the whole family; however, you must be 18 years or older to be the primary Foster Care Volunteer.


Some fosters will need to be provided with daily medications. You must follow the prescription and protocols given by C.A.R.A. staff.


When vaccines or other boosters are due, you will need to bring the foster pet back to C.A.R.A. for a booster appointment. The C.A.R.A. staff member will schedule these appointments with you.


The foster experience can last a few days to several weeks, depending on the needs of the pet. If you are going out of town, or you are unable to care for your foster for the total time originally agreed upon, please let the foster coordinator know as soon as possible so other foster arrangements can be made for the pet.


Consider what types of foster cases you can take. Take into account your schedule, lifestyle and animal experience. Are you able to bottle feed kittens every two hours throughout the night? Are you comfortable with an adult dog that needs training?

What does C.A.R.A. provide?



For canines and felines, C.A.R.A. will provide crates, carriers, food bowls, bedding, towels, toys, leash/collar, food (dry and canned), newspaper, puppy pads, litter, litter box/scooper. We will also provide a heating pad, bottles, and milk replacement for very young/bottle babies. Citizens for Animal Rescue and Adoption also covers the cost of all medical care, including vaccines, flea prevention, or trips to the vet.


You, the foster, will need to get paper towels, stain/odor remover, cleaning supplies. We also recommend you have a kitchen scale to weigh small kittens or puppies to keep track of their progress. You will also be responsible for providing your own transportation to C.A.R.A. for pick up, booster appointments or any medical appointments. C.A.R.A. staff is not able to go to your home to pick up pets or provide any medical care.

Eligibility for Foster Parents?


   🗸   Puppies or kittens who are too young or too small for surgery. Pets must be 8 weeks old and weigh at least 2 lbs. before being eligible for surgery. All pets need surgery before they are eligible for adoption!


   🗸   Moms with nursing babies


   🗸   Pets who are shy and need more socialization and confidence before braving the hustle and bustle of the shelter


   🗸   Pets with injuries who are waiting for offsite vet appointments or recovering from surgery. Also, pets who have colds and are waiting to be healthy enough for surgery or adoption


   🗸   Pets experiencing shelter stress who need a break from the shelter environment or pets who are showing some behavior issues who need extra training

Foster FAQ

What is the process to become a Foster?

   🗸   Your first step is to complete the Foster Enrollment form either online or at the shelter.


   🗸   Next you will be contacted by one of our staff for any follow up questions we may have or any question you may have.


   🗸   Once your application has been approved, we will contact you to set up a time for you and members of your household to come into the shelter and view available fosters.


*Please check with all adult members in your household to make sure everyone wants to foster.

What is the minimum required age to Foster?

You must be 21 years or older to foster for C.A.R.A. and live around the Vermilion County area.

I don’t have a computer or email. Can I just fill out a paper application?

Yes, we do accept paper applications. Please call the shelter for a time to come fill the form out.

How do potential adopters find out about my foster animal?

All of our adoptable pets are listed on multiple pet search websites, such as Petfinder. We regularly share updates on our animals in foster care via social media (mainly Facebook) and do work behind the scenes to match interested adopters with available animals. We also encourage fosters to advertise their foster animal on their own social media pages as well.


If someone asks you how they can adopt the foster animal, give them the fosters name and C.A.R.A.’s contact information.  If you were given any adoption forms and have them on you, feel free to give the perspective adopter a form.  The forms have all of our contact information at the top.

Do I get to choose which animal I foster?

Sometimes. We always match newly approved fosters with their first foster animal based on their experience level and parameters listed in your application (under 25 lbs, friendly with other cats, etc.). After that, fosters can respond to foster opportunities that come up through our email newsletter or on social media. Keep in mind that the animals that are in need of foster homes vary and we can’t always give fosters a choice between multiple animals.
*Note: Not every animal seen on our website is eligible for fostering.

Is fostering hard?

Fostering is extremely rewarding, but we acknowledge that sometimes it can also be difficult and emotionally taxing. Every foster experience is different, but we’re always here to help and have a community of veteran fosters who help guide new fosters through the trials and tribulations of fostering. Often times, this will be the first home the animal has ever known so we ask that all foster animals are given the courtesy of an open mind and patience while they are settling into their new environment. Fostering is fun, rewarding, awesome, and so many other things, but nobody will say that it is easy.

Can I foster an animal if I work outside of the home?

Yes, but you need to make proper arrangements for the animal to be cared for during the day. This may include coming home on your lunch break to care for them or hiring a professional dog walker.


   🗸   Adult dogs must be let outside to relieve themselves at least 3x/day (the longest they can be left alone is 6 hours) and fed 2x/day (morning & evening). They also require proper exercise and mental stimulation. Puppies require even more attention and supervision, and are not typically placed with a foster who works out of the home full time.


   🗸   Adult cats must have their litterboxes scooped at least 2x/day and be fed 2x/day (morning & evening). They should receive socialization and fosters should plan to spend at least 10-15 minutes a few times each day engaging your cat in some form of activity. Kittens require even more attention and stimulation, and are usually placed in pairs.

What are my responsibilities as a foster parent?

On a daily basis, you are responsible for providing your foster animal with love, food/water, shelter, safety, training and proper socialization.


You are expected to be available via phone call, text, and/or email to provide updates on how the animal is doing, coordinate vet appointment or meetings with potential adopters. You must answer any questions we may have about your foster animal honestly so that we can make sure they stay healthy and all of their needs are met. You are expected to transport your animal to our shelter in Tilton, IL whenever necessary, when given reasonable notice for purposes including veterinary care, readmission to the shelter, meetings with potential adopters, training, etc. You are expected to make plans to pick up any supplies you need directly with the Foster Program Manager and return all supplies to C.A.R.A. so that it is available for another foster to access. We also ask that fosters send us photos and videos of the foster animals in the home to use on the animal’s online profile and our social media channels.

Can I foster if I already have a pet of my own?

Yes, as long as your animal(s) is spayed and/or neutered, up-to-date on all core vaccines and on monthly preventatives! We will need your veterinarian’s contact information for a vet reference to verify your animal’s medical history. Keep in mind that the foster animal is coming from a shelter or hospital environment and could be harboring an illness, so we recommend keeping the animal separate from your resident animal for at least two weeks.

What if my foster pet is doing somethingI don’t want them to do; i.e., soiling in the house, chewing on my shoes, scratching on my furniture, nipping at me, etc.?

Please contact the shelter for animal behavior problems and constructive corrective actions.

What if it is not working out?

There is always an adjustment period for fosters (humans and animals!). Fosters are expected to work through challenges with their foster animal with the help of the Foster Program and shelter personnel. However, we understand that sometimes it isn’t the right fit. In that case, you would make arrangements with the Foster Program Manager to return the animal, and we can try to find you another animal to foster that might be a better match.

What if I go on vacation, a work related trip or have an emergency?

That is okay — just let the foster care manager know, and you can bring the foster pet back to the shelter.

What if the foster pet has a medical emergency?

Contact the Foster Program Manager immediately. If the emergency occurs after hours or our shelter is closed, contact the Foster Program Manager and if it is a true medical emergency, take the foster animal to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. We will only cover the cost of an emergency visit if we consider the condition a true veterinary emergency, which we define as a condition that is immediately life threatening to the animal.

What if I decide I want to adopt my foster animal?

We love failed fosters but fosters do not have the first right to adopt. If the animal does not have any interested adopters at the time the foster expresses interest in adopting, the foster parent may submit an adoption application to potentially adopt the animal. If you are interested in adopting your foster animal, you must contact the Foster Program Manager as soon as possible with a completed adoption application either online or paper form.