People have asked some good questions about foster parenting. I will share a few things about our experiences, but keep in mind that what may be true for us may not be true for the next guy.
In order to become licensed, we had to take the foster parenting course called PRIDE--can't remember what it stands for. Its most likely the same program they have in your state. Its a 26 hour course that you take for 5 weeks and is pretty intensive. And informative. Having worked for Head Start for almost 8 years, I thought I was pretty in-the-know regarding our society and its issues--but I learned a lot. There was homework that we had to complete and submit, but thankfully no test at the end (you should see the size of the binder they gave us!)
After PRIDE they did a home study, where they basically just came to see if our house was suitable and safe for children to live in. Meanwhile, they also checked our backgrounds and had us get medical exams. Then we let them know when/if we would be ready to take children, and what ages we'd take. You can tell them you only want teenagers, or just infants, or any age range in between. As stated, we're currently only taking babies up to one year old. From the time we began the PRIDE course until everything else was completed was about two months.
They do not have us take parenting classes, which I thought was interesting, until I realized that someone giving birth is not required to take them either. Still, those would have come in handy now. Infants can be little mysteries, can't they?!
Can we keep any of them, you wonder? Yes, sometimes! They never really know from child to child what is going to happen to them, but they sometimes have clues, and thus place children accordingly. They know we are a foster family that is particularly interested in fostering-to-adopt, so they will also call us if they feel the chances are somewhat good that the child will eventually need to be adopted, besides just the basic calls for foster care that we get.
We currently have our second foster child, and neither one has been a foster-to-adopt. Also, though we are only on our second one, we have received several more calls than two. We consider each situation and decide if it is something that will work for us. And despite rumors to the contrary, not one case-worker has tried to force or guilt-trip us into taking a child. Thankfully they have been very respectful of our needs and situation.