Healthy People in a Healthy Environment

Adoptive and Foster Care Homes

120 South Hays Street

Suite 200

Bel Air, MD 21014

Phone: 410-877-2300

Fax: 443-643-0333

The Health Department conducts environmental health surveys for adoptive and foster care homes. Requests for these inspections must be made using the official Harford County Health Department Environmental Health Survey Request form. Inspections are scheduled during normal business hours.

Environmental inspections for adoptive and foster care homes are requested through regulated child placement agencies (i.e. Catholic Charities, Adoptions Forever, Family and Children Servces, and the Department of Social Services). Individual requests will not be honored.

Child placement agencies shall perform the inspections for any subsequent recertification unless the agencies discover conditions that require an assessment by the local Health Department.

Once the Health Department receives a request for an inspection, contact will be made with the household to schedule an appointment. The on-site inspection will cover the following items:

  1. Proper maintenance of oil and gas furnaces. An annual inspection by a HVAC contractor is required.
  2. Proper temperature maintenance of refrigerators and freezers. Refrigerators must maintain 41 degrees F or below and freezers must maintain 0 degrees F or below.  These units should be provided with thermometers graduated in 2 degree F intervals.
  3. Child proofing of home as required by licensed social worker. Documentation certifying current rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats, and ferrets.
  4. Posting of emergency numbers by telephone and the presence of a functional telephone.
  5. Provision of screens in all openable windows. Ensure exclusion of vermin and insects.
  6. Proper maintenance of fireplaces/flues/chimneys. Chimney caps are recommended. Chimneys must be serviced annually by a chimney sweep if fireplaces are utilized on a regular basis.
  7. Proper disposal of garbage and trash. Waste collection service is required. Refuse must be stored in receptacles with tight fitting lids.
  8. Provisions for a safe outdoor environment (i.e. absence of animal droppings, rodent burrows, solid waste, protected swimming pools).
  9. Drinking water system protected against cross-contamination and back siphonage (i.e. vacuum breakers located on hose bibs where necessary).
  10. Confirmation of hot and cold running water at each faucet. The water temperature should not exceed 110 degrees F to eliminate the possibility of scalding.
  11. Confirmation that toilets flush throughout the house and wastewater properly drains.
  12. Proper maintenance of water treatment systems. Certain systems require a service contract with a professional (i.e. water treatment specialist).
  13. Proper maintenance of all painted surfaces both inside and outside the house. Peeling paint, which is suspected to contain lead, is justification for disapproval of a home. Rented units constructed prior to 1950 must be registered with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). MDE may be reached at (800) 776-2706

    for additional assistance. Deteriorating lead based paint requires remediation through a certified lead paint contractor.

  14. Homes utilizing private wells must submit bacteriological and nitrate drinking water test results for samples collected within 30 days of application. Sampling must be performed by a Maryland certified laboratory. The Health Department will conduct a visual inspection of the well and water supply system and specify any necessary


  15. Proper maintenance of the sewage disposal system. If a private septic system appears questionable, a referral is made to the Health Department’s Resource Protection Division for further evaluation. The Health Department recommends pumping the septic tank(s) every two years by a licensed liquid waste hauler. Provision of working smoke detectors on each floor of the home and provision of carbon monoxide detectors when applicable. After the Health Department has conducted the on-site inspection and has received all requested documentation (i.e. water test results, rabies vaccination certificates, HVAC inspection receipt, chimney sweep servicing receipt), the requesting agency will be notified as to the status of the home and the Health Department’s position regarding approval.