In most states, you are considered a foster parent during the period between placement and finalization. You have all the rights and responsibilities that accompany your license, but also know that you may be limited in what you can and cannot do in regards to your child.

Since you will still be under the supervision of your social services office, or adoption agency, they will need to be consulted or notified of major medical issues. If you need to admit your child to the hospital, you will need to notify the office immediately. Social Services will need to authorize major medical procedures. You will have to abide by the rules set forth in your state’s foster care handbook. Most of the handbooks can be found online.

A Foster Parent Bill of Rights has been enacted, and some states have taken it a step further and adopted a Bill of Rights for their state. Some of these rights are far more important than others and will have a direct impact on your child.

Foster parents have the right to:

  1. Be treated with consideration, have respect for personal dignity and privacy.
  2. Be included as a valued member of the service team.
  3. Receive support services which assist in the care of the child in their home, including an open and timely response from agency personnel.
  4. Be informed of all information regarding the child that will impact their home or family life during the care of the foster child.
  5. Have input into the permanency plan for the child in their home.
  6. Have assurance of safety for their family members.
  7. Be given assistance in dealing with family loss and separation when a child leaves their home.
  8. Be informed of all agency policies and procedures related to their role as foster care giver.
  9. Receive training that enhances their skills and ability to cope as foster care givers.
  10. Be informed on how to receive services and reach personnel on a 24-hour-day, 7-days-a-week basis.
  11. Be granted a reasonable plan for relief from the role of a foster care giver.
  12. Be granted confidentiality regarding issues that arise in their foster family home.
  13. Not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, color, creed, sex, national origins, age, or physical handicap.
  14. Receive evaluation and feedback on their role of a foster care giver.

As a foster parent, you are required to keep a file on your child. Even if you are not required to do it while the child is in your home, it is in your– and your child’s– best interest. Should the placement not work out, you can pass this information along to your child’s next family.

What should you put in the file?

  • Copies of all school correspondence, including IEP paperwork, detentions, suspensions, etc.
  • Dates and findings of doctor reports, lab tests, hospital visits, and other medical information.
  • Dates and details of behavioral issues and interventions.
  • Paperwork from court appearances or hearings at social services (permanency planning meetings or other required meetings).
  • Dates and results of any visits with birth family members.
  • Any extracurricular activities your child is participating in.
  • List of all medications your child is taking and any changes made to those medications, along with reasons for the changes.
  • Names, phone numbers, and addresses of regular doctors and therapists.