Foster parents play a significant role in the lives of children who have been taken out of the custody of their biological parents and placed in the child welfare system. Although the kind of relationship built between a foster parent and foster child may not be quite the same as one with a birth parent, foster parents must still make important decisions regarding the well-being of the child in their care and are expected to take on the day to day tasks that come with parenting.
In order for foster parents to play their part as best they can, it’s vital for them to know exactly what legal authority and obligations they have. Guidelines concerning rights vary from state to state, but there are 16 states that have enacted an actual Foster Parents Bill of Rights. If you are foster parenting, it’s always best to check with your current state on its specific regulations. Here is a general outlook on the rights and responsibilities of foster parents.
Foster Parenting Rights
– Foster parents have the right to receive detailed information on any child that could potentially be placed in their care and the right to refuse the placement of any child that they don’t feel would be a good fit for their family or has special needs they don’t believe they can meet.
– Foster parents have the right to receive training and support for their new role so they can work effectively together as a team with child welfare agency representatives, birth parents, court officials, etc. and also to receive compensation for the child’s care in a timely manner.
– In some states, foster parents are able to file for termination of biological parental rights, and in others, they are simply allowed to make a recommendation regarding the topic.
– Most states require that foster parents be given advance notice of custody proceedings pertaining to their foster children and be able to participate in review and permanency hearings.
Foster Parenting Responsibilities
– First and foremost, foster parenting responsibilities are centered around providing for and meeting the child’s needs physically, mentally, emotionally, educationally and recreationally by providing adequate food and clothing, taking them to doctor and therapist appointments, enrolling them in school, attending meetings with teachers, helping with homework, encouraging special interests and coordinating visits with their birth family.
– Foster parents have a duty to work closely with the agency, biological family and foster training groups to determine the best interests of the child and inform the correct parties of a child’s progress and/or any changes in their life.
– Foster parents should find out as much as they can about a child’s background and always respect and uphold their traditions, beliefs, culture and values and allow them to participate in any activities pertaining to these practices.
– Foster parents have a responsibility to be the child’s advocate and voice when they are unable to speak up for themselves.
– Carrying out reasonable disciplinary actions without physical punishment is also expected of foster parents in an effort to nurture appropriate behavior.
Having knowledge of their rights and responsibilities is very significant in ensuring that a foster parenting situation is as effective and pleasant as possible for everyone involved.
Tiffany Olson has a special place in her heart for foster children as she was raised with two foster sisters. She loves to share information whenever she can on foster parenting topics. When she’s not writing she loves to travel, make art, and do yoga.