Foster Parent Rights: Stepping In and Stepping Up

Foster Parent Rights: Stepping In and Stepping UpFoster Parent Rights

Foster parents have certain rights with regard to caring for their foster children. Naturally, foster parents are invested in the wellbeing of the children they care for. New Jersey foster parents are not extended the same rights as a child’s birth parents. They do, however, benefit from many essential rights that, ultimately, benefit their foster children. Foster families, also called resource families, provide a valuable service in caring for foster children. But to do so effectively, they rely on a set of rights that allow them to step up to the challenge of making a difference in a child’s life.

Services and Support

If you are a New Jersey foster parent, you have a right to be connected with the services that will meet the needs of your foster child. Your foster child’s needs should be assessed ongoing throughout his or her placement. Such services can include mental health services, transportation, and special education assessments.

Foster parents also have a right to receive a monthly board stipend from the state. The specific amount will depend on your foster child’s age and care needs. The stipend is meant to help cover expenses such as food, shelter, allowances, and activities. You will receive a separate clothing allowance to purchase clothes for your foster child.

Providing Consent

DCPP will provide you with a Resource Parent Identification Letter, which will serve as proof of residency so you can enroll your foster child in school. This letter also gives you the right to consent to certain educational and extracurricular options, such as elective classes and after-school sports. It will also give you the right to sign off on report cards and permission slips for your foster child. In addition, the letter allows you to enroll your foster child in Medicaid and provide consent for routine medical care. Please note that foster parents do not have the right to consent to psychotropic medications for their foster child.

You have the right to provide consent for emergency medical care if consent is needed to provide time-critical treatment and you cannot reach your DCPP case manager. In emergency situations, try first to contact your case manager if your foster child. If you have to provide consent in critical situations, notify your case manager immediately.

Information and Case Involvement

You have a right to be regularly informed of the progress in your foster child’s case. You have a right to provide information that can help DCPP (formerly DYFS) make informed decisions about the placement of your foster child.

You have a right to receive notice of all court hearings pertaining to the placement of your foster child. You have a right to speak to the judge and provide information at the hearings. You may also ask questions. However, you do not have a right to remain the courtroom for the entire hearing, as you are not a party to the case.

You also have an implicit right to learn about the rights of foster children in New Jersey, which are extensive. Your foster child’s law guardian may also play a role in defending these rights, but you have a right to speak up if those rights are violated.

Rely on Your Team

If you are a foster parent and need help meeting the needs of your foster child, work with your resource family support worker or your case manager. Both can assist you with identifying and meeting the needs of your foster child. If you need help defending your rights as a foster parent, you should turn to a New Jersey child welfare attorney. Though foster parents have rights, it is not uncommon for those rights to be overlooked. Likewise, it can be difficult to navigate the maze of DCPP policies. An experienced child welfare attorney can help you protect your rights so you can adequately care for your foster child.

Are you a New Jersey foster parent? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled child welfare attorneys can help you navigate your involvement with the DCPP, defending your rights every step of the way. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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