Policies on Engaging Foster Parents & Youth as Partners

Engaging Foster Parents & Youth as Partners    graphic

Foster Parents' Rights in Court Proceedings

In 2019, the Indiana legislature enacted SB 1 providing foster parents with a right to intervene in court proceedings and request additional hearings under certain circumstances. Specifically, in cases in which a child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months and a TPR petition has not been filed, the bill allows a foster parent, relative of the child or de facto custodian with whom the child has been placed for at least six months to file a notice with the court that a TPR petition has not been filed and requires the court to schedule a hearing within 30 days. In addition, the new law requires DCS and the office of judicial administration to jointly file a report with the General Assembly before July 1, 2020 to include information concerning its progress in providing training and technical assistance to judicial officers on foster parents’ statutory right to be heard through oral or written testimony to the court. 

The bill also: 

  • Requires DCS and the office of judicial administration, in collaboration with foster parents and other stakeholders, to prepare a form that may be used by foster parents and other interested persons entitled to notice of court reviews to provide written testimony to the court.
  • Requires DCS court reports to include information gathered from the foster parent regarding the child’s progress.
  • Requires DCS to make a reasonable effort to place children who re-enter foster care with the family with whom the child was first placed, if appropriate and in the child’s best interest.

For more information, see bill summary.

Kentucky Statewide Diligent Recruitment Steering Committee

In 2018, the committee launched workgroups dedicated to retention, targeted recruitment, general recruitment, training, respite and data. The committee recommended a number of recruitment strategies, including engaging youth and foster parents in recruitment and training, and identified the need for a statewide foster care brand.

See Kentucky's diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Quality Parenting Initiative

Louisiana's state plan for diligent recruitment of foster families discusses the state's Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI).  QPI is an approach that envisions an entire team – birth parents, foster parents, case workers, state and local child services agency officials, doctors, therapists and judicial workers – all working to create the most stability, the best environment and most of all, the best possible parenting, for the children.  QPI recognizes that no one-size-fits-all parent exists.  QPI embraces five principles.

Principle 1: Excellent parenting is the most important service to provide to children and youth in care.  Children need families, not beds.

Principle 2: Child development and trauma research indicates that children need constant, consistent, effective parenting to grow and reach their full potential.

Principle 3: Each community must define excellent parenting for itself. 

Principle 4: Policy and practice must be changed to align with the community definition of excellent parenting.

Principle 5: Participants in the system are in the best position to recommend and implement that change.

See this CHAMPS blog for more information.

Foster Parent and Youth Ambassadors

Some state plans describe involving foster parents and youth as foster care “ambassadors” as a recruitment strategy, including Georgia (community ambassadors), Iowa (foster and adoptive parent ambassadors), Massachusetts (foster and adoptive parent ambassadors who are paid $500 per month for 30 hours of general recruitment activity) and New Jersey (youth ambassadors who share their experiences with foster care to dispel myths about fostering teens).

See state diligent recruitment plans for more information.

Michigan’s Foster Care Navigator program

Michigan's diligent recruitment plan describes its foster care navigator program as an important strategy in supporting prospective foster parents. A Foster Care Navigator (FCN) is someone who serves as a liaison between current and prospective foster parents and their agency. Each Foster Care Navigator will mentor, through their own experience, parents navigating through the world of foster care. Modeled after the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) Adoption Navigator program, Foster Care Navigators are trained and experienced current and former foster parents who have navigated through their own foster care experiences. Each year, over 2,000 new family inquiries are received through the Foster Care Navigator program, of which over 150 families are actively engaged in Foster Care Navigator services and working toward foster parent licensure at any given time.

See this website for more information.

Foster Parent Focus Groups

Mississippi's diligent recruitment plan describes a recent effort whereby MDCPS hosted foster parent focus groups. A group of experienced foster parents were invited to meet with senior leadership at MDCPS’s state office, share their experiences as foster parents, and provide their input about needed improvements and what they would like to see in the future of Mississippi’s child welfare system. MDCPS intends to make this a regular practice going forward, though the frequency has not yet been decided. To facilitate this collaboration, MDCPS has created the position of Foster Parent Liaison. This dedicated staff person, in addition to organizing the foster parent focus groups, will travel the state to meet with foster parents, answer their questions, respond to their concerns, and solicit their feedback about MDCPS and the child welfare system.

For more information, see the state's diligent recruitment plan.

Foster Parents' Professional Status and Foster Care and Adoption Board

In 2007, Missouri enacted into law a Foster Parents' Bill of Rights. In addition to other rights, the law formally established foster parents as colleagues on the child welfare team, requiring that foster parents be engaged in a manner consistent with the National Association of Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues. This designation recognizes foster parents as professionals whose expertise is on par with caseworkers, mental health providers, and other members of the team, and also provides them with access to formal appeal processes that are established in law. In 2011, the state legislature enacted the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board. Comprised of foster and adoptive parents from across the state, the Board is charged by law with providing consultation and assistance to the Department of Social Services on policies and procedures related to foster care and adoption, and also determining the nature and content of in-service training.

For more information see the policy playbook.