In a previous blog post, we shared the Pennsylvania Foster Parent Bill of Rights as a way to resource, encourage, and equip all the wonderful foster parents who take on the role of caring for children and teens in need of foster care.
Of course, we couldn’t continue on now without sharing the equally important Foster Child Bill of Rights. Together these two seemingly simple or obvious forms of state legislature make up the standards of care for the foster care system as a whole. When we see these rights observed, respected, and upheld it almost always results in positive outcomes for the child in care.
As a Therapeutic Foster Care Agency it is our passion, job, and duty to protect the rights of children in foster care through everything we do. Reviewing the rights below will be your simple reminder of the quality of care that must be expected of a foster care agency, foster parents, and the foster care system as a whole.
The Foster Child Bill of Rights
“Children in foster care shall be provided with the following:
(1) Treatment with fairness, dignity and respect.
(2) Freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, age or gender.
(3) Freedom from harassment, corporal punishment, unreasonable restraint and physical, sexual, emotional and other abuse.
(4) The ability to live in the least restrictive, most family-like setting that is safe, healthy and comfortable and meets the child’s needs.
(5) Proper nourishment.
(6) Clothing that is clean, seasonal and age and gender appropriate.
(7) Access to medical, dental, vision, mental health, behavioral health and drug and alcohol abuse and addiction services consistent with the laws of this Commonwealth and for which the child qualifies.
(8) Information related to services under paragraph (7), including, but not limited to, medication and medication options and the opportunity to communicate a preference regarding a treatment plan, medication or medication options. If a child objects to a treatment plan, his or her objection shall be noted in the child’s case record.
(9) Opportunity to consent to medical and mental health treatment consistent with applicable law.
(10) Permission to visit and have contact with family members, including siblings, as frequently as possible, consistent with the family service plan and the child’s permanency plan, unless prohibited by court order, but no less than that prescribed by statute or regulation.
(11) The contact information of the child’s guardian ad litem, attorney, court-appointed special advocate and members of the integrated services planning team and the opportunity to contact those persons.
(12) An environment that maintains and reflects the child’s culture as may be reasonably accommodated.
(13) Education stability and an appropriate education consistent with the laws of this Commonwealth, including the opportunity to participate in extracurricular, cultural and personal enrichment activities that are reasonably available and accommodated and consistent with the child’s age and developmental level.
(14) The opportunity to work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level, consistent with the laws of this Commonwealth and as may be reasonably accommodated.
(15) The ability to receive appropriate life skills training and independent living services to prepare the child for the transition to adulthood, as consistent with Federal and State laws.
(16) Notice of and the ability to attend court hearings relating to the child’s case and to have the opportunity to be heard consistent with 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters).
(17) Confidentiality consistent with the laws of this Commonwealth.
(18) First consideration for placement with relatives, including siblings. In the absence of relatives, to have any kinship resource be considered as the preferred placement resource if the placement is consistent with the best interest of the child and the needs of other children in the kinship residence.
(19) Consider any previous resource family as the preferred placement resource, if relative and kinship resources are unavailable and the placement resource is consistent with the best interest of the child.
(20) If the child in foster care has a child of his or her own and that child has been placed in the same resource family with the parent, the child in foster care may exercise parental and decision-making authority over his or her own child, so long as there are no safety concerns on the part of the county child welfare agency or determined by the juvenile court.
(21) Permission to participate in religious observances and activities and attend religious services of the child’s preference or the religion of the child’s family of origin or culture as may be reasonably accommodated.
(22) A permanency plan and transition plan developed in conjunction with the child, and reviewed with the child, that provides the child with:
iii) Permanence and well-being, including stable and safe housing, opportunities for postsecondary education and training and employment and a stable source of income, health insurance and a plan for future treatment.
(iv) Connections with reliable adults.”
Foster Parent’s Qualifications in Light of The Foster Child Bill of Rights
Foster parent qualifications in Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and across America and the road to becoming a foster parent have been established with this bill of rights in mind. It is the job of Benchmark Family Services to ensure the foster parents we work with are capable and qualified to provide the level of care this Bill of Rights necessitates.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent or partnering with Benchmark family services in providing care for children and teens in foster care please contact our team today.