The foster care program is a state mandated service that provides a full range of casework, treatment and community services to a child who is abused or neglected. Foster care placement is intended to be a temporary, rather than a long-term, solution to family problems. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court hears petitions for custody. Specific foster care requirements are set forth in federal law and state laws.
Placements may be with a foster family, in a group living arrangement, in a residential treatment facility, or in an independent living situation. There are two types of foster care:
Services provided to children and their families may include counseling and treatment, day care, medical, education, employment, family planning, independent living, housing, respite care, legal, socialization and recreation services. Independent living services are services provided to older foster children to prepare them for transition into adulthood.
When selecting a foster or adoptive family for a child, cultural, ethnic, and racial background may be considered as one of a number of factors in determining the best interest of the child.
To achieve permanency for children in foster care the welfare of the child is of paramount interest and children have the right to a safe, stable, and permanent home. Children have a right to be reared by their families when their parents and relatives are able to do so in an adequate manner.
Recognizing that some families are unable or unwilling to resume their parenting responsibilities, services should be provided to ensure a safe, stable, and permanent home. This should be done by placement of the child with relatives accompanied by transfer of legal custody, adoption, or by placement in a permanent foster home.
Federal and State law require that reasonable efforts are made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the home and to make it possible for the child to be returned home. Reasonable efforts are efforts to provide services to children and their families utilizing community resources with the goal of preserving family unity. They include efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of a child from their home and to reunite the child with their family.
At the time of the initial court hearing to commit a child to the custody of the agency, a judicial determination must be made as to whether reasonable efforts have been made.
After an agency receives custody of a child they must document reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family or achieve a permanent placement for the child. During the temporary placement in foster care, a range of services is offered to children and parents designed to improve conditions and return the child home, or to place the child in another permanent living arrangement as soon as possible.
Exceptions to the requirement to make reasonable effort to reunite children with a parent are when:
- The parental rights of a sibling of the child in foster care have been previously involuntarily terminated.
- The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit such an offense against a child of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided, or the other parent of the child.
- The parent has been convicted of felony assault or bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury or felony sexual assault of a child of the parent or a child living with the parent. Serious bodily injury means bodily injury resulting in substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted or obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member, organ or faculty.
For frequently asked questions click here.
To learn more about how to become a foster parent click here.
For additional information, contact Linda Brooks, (757) 385-3290