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Choosing Foster Care: Rights and Responsibilities for Foster Parents

Posted on in Adoption

foster parent, foster parents, Kendall County family law attorney, foster families, foster care license, foster parent’s legal rightsNot every child is born into a good home. The tragic reality is that some children are unwanted, even neglected or abused. And while some of these children will be adopted into loving families, others will not. That is why Illinois considers family foster care to be an integral component of the state’s child welfare services. Because this is an important societal role, foster parents must be licensed by the state before they will be allowed to serve in this capacity.

Foster parents must be at least 21 years old. Note that the law does not require that a foster family be a two-parent household. Rather, a foster parent can be single, divorced, or separated; of course he or she can also be married or in a civil union. Regardless, prospective foster families must:

  • Participate in a home inspection;

  • Undergo a social assessment;

  • Complete the requisite training, which focuses on the specific needs of foster children;

  • Pass a criminal background check;

  • Be financially stable; and

  • Complete a health screening.

A Foster Parent’s Responsibilities

Once the state determines that you are fit to be a foster parent and a child is placed in your home, you must fulfill certain obligations or risk losing your foster care license. These responsibilities include:

  • Openly communicating with other members of the child’s welfare team, such as a social worker;

  • Respecting the confidentiality of information regarding your foster child and his or her family;

  • Advocating on behalf of the foster child in your care;

  • Assessing your ongoing individual training needs and taking action to meet those needs;

  • Trying to prevent placement disruptions;

  • Providing emotional support to a foster child if efforts to prevent placement disruption fail;

  • Maintaining accurate records regarding your foster child’s history and progress, including medical and academic information; and

  • Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to the child’s specific needs, including cultural needs.

A Foster Parent’s Rights

Foster parents do not have to shoulder these responsibilities alone. The law guarantees that foster parents have the right to receive competent training as well as ongoing support from other members of the child’s welfare team. Additionally, foster parents have the right to:

  • Receive timely financial reimbursement that is commensurate with the child’s specific needs;

  • Receive a fair investigation into complaints regarding their foster care license;

  • Receive additional information from the state that relates to the child’s care;

  • Be notified of all court hearings, including date and time information; and

  • Be considered as a placement option for a former foster child who has been re-entered into the system, as long as this is consistent with the best interests of the child involved.

These are only a selection of a foster parent’s legal rights and responsibilities. Deciding to care for a foster child is an enormous undertaking, even with state support. If you are considering serving in this capacity, be sure to consider the above requirements and to assess whether you are prepared for the responsibilities involved. Also be sure to contact an experienced Kendall County family law attorney. We can guide you through the application process and help with any legal issues that arise along the way. Contact us today for consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.

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