In 1997, the Federal Government enacted the “The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997″. This act, amongst the other things, endeavors to refocus the child protection system from family preservation and reunification to the child’s health and safety.
In addition, it attempts to respond to pressures brought by foster parents, who at that time were leaving the system in increasing numbers due to a sense of powerlessness and the notion that they have very few opportunities to be heard, by including significant federal protection for foster parents.
In order to comply with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, states across the country have afforded foster parents with more rights as caregivers. In the past decade, many states have enacted statutes referred to as “Foster Parent Bill of Rights”. These statutes vary from state to state, but generally provide foster parents with the following rights:
- Explanation and clarification of the supervising foster care agency’s role and expectations, including their policies and procedures and changes to their policies and procedures.
- Evaluation and ongoing feedback regarding how the foster parent is doing as a caregiver.
- Necessary training and support that will enable them to do the job of a foster parent successfully.
- The right to know all relevant information about a child prior to the child being placed in their home.
- A right to be notified of and to participate in any agency team meetings related to child and his/her care.
- A right to be notified about and participate in certain court hearing regarding a child.
- Advance notice of a child being moved from their foster home and, in some cases, the rights to appeal this decision.
- An option to refuse placement of a child in their home if requested, without any adverse effect on the placement of future foster children or prospective adoptive placements.
- Timely financial reimbursement for children under their care.
- Access to information regarding local and statewide support groups.
- Timely investigation of any complaints concerning their licensure.
- A written policy describing the grievance procedure for foster parents whereby they can address any noncompliance with the rights of foster parents under the law.
- The option to be considered as a foster parent when a child formerly under their care is re-entering foster care or becomes available for adoption if placement with a relative is not available.
- The right to adoption assistance when adopting a foster child with special needs from foster care, including applicable tax credits, both state and federal.
- The right to seek the termination of parental rights related to the biological family of the child in certain situations.
For more information on the rights of foster parents, or how you can\ become a foster parent in the state in which you live, contact a state or local foster care agency, or speak with a local family law attorney.