Foster Care Overview
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 06, 2021
Foster care refers to the temporary placement of orphaned children (or those who have been removed from their homes due to the termination of parental rights) with other families, who are called foster parents. For any number of reasons, parents sometimes end up in a situation where they can't take care of their children, either temporarily or permanently. Foster parents often adopt foster children, but that is not always the goal of the arrangement.
The Foster Care Overview sub-section of FindLaw's Family Law Center covers the history and evolution of foster care and includes articles on the different kinds of foster care, such as group homes and kinship care, the requirements for becoming a foster parent, how foster care is funded at both the federal and state levels, and other related information.
Foster Parent Criteria
If you're new to the world of foster care, the prospect of becoming a foster parent can be pretty intimidating. In selecting a suitable foster parent, state agencies look at a number of factors to determine who will be the best fit for the child.
Some factors the agencies may consider are:
- Is the potential foster parent stable, mature, dependable, and flexible?
- Does the potential foster parent have experience with children, especially children with special needs?
- Is the potential foster parent able to advocate for children?
- Can the foster parent be a team player, working with the child, the child's family, the child welfare worker, the counselor, and others involved in the child's life?
Serving as a foster parent generally means working closely with a foster agency on a regular basis, and often means regular contact with a child's biological family as well. But as challenging as this role is, it can also be highly rewarding.
What Is Kinship Care?
Relying on extended family members for support in child rearing has been a common practice across cultures throughout human history, yet public agencies have only recently acknowledged the role of kin caregivers as a resource for children who must be removed from their birth parents.
Kinship care refers to grandparents, other relatives, and even family friends who care for children. Most kinship caregivers are not foster parents and privately provide full-time care for children.
Informal kinship care occurs when a family decides that a child will live with relatives instead of the child's mom or dad. Formal kinship care involves the parenting of children by relatives after a determination by a court or a Child Protective Services (CPS) agency.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help You
Adoption from foster care is a complicated process, involving multiple parties, different laws and welfare policies, subsidies, interested family members, and other issues.
You need to have your own family law attorney familiar with the laws in your state. Consider hiring someone who is familiar with the agency policies, knows the relevant state and federal laws, and is acquainted with the people in the system. A knowledgeable and competent attorney is essential when you must go to court on a matter you cannot afford to lose.
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