As you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, you probably have a lot of questions about what you should know and what your responsibilities will be.
Foster parenting might seem like a huge unknown, and it involves a lot of responsibilities. But you should know what rights foster parents have so that you’ll know what to expect. Once you do, you’ll have a better idea of what to do, especially when tough situations arise.
What Are Your Rights As A Foster Parent?
In a way, foster parents are in public service. They are people who step up to meet a huge need in our society and are willing to take on extra responsibilities in order to provide a safe and nurturing home for children who are in need of one.
As you embark on your journey to becoming a foster parent, it’s a good idea to take a look at the full list of official foster parenting guidelines, laws, and rules from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
This includes a list of Foster Parent Rights and Responsibilities that can help you be fully informed about where you stand so you can be ready to make the best decisions for your foster child and for yourself.
To get started, here are five of the important rights that you should know about as a foster parent.
1. Right To No Coercion, Discrimination, Or Reprisal
Foster parents have the right to be free from coercion, discrimination, and reprisal in serving foster children. Foster parents also have the right to submit complaints about retaliation or discrimination to the Office of Family and Children Ombuds.
2. Right To Confidentiality
If you choose to become a foster parent, the licensing process includes answering questions about your life experiences, your family history, and other matters. But foster parents have the right to have their personal information kept confidential, to the extent allowed by law.
3. Right To Be Informed
Sometimes, you may find yourself needing to adapt to unexpected circumstances. In these moments, remember that you have a right to information that can help you decide whether to accept a placement and help you get ready to give a child the care they need.
Before a child is placed in your home, you have a right to be informed of any known health conditions that pose a serious threat to their safety. You also have the right to be informed about any behavioral history that could pose a serious risk of harm to the child or others.
4. Right To Training And Support
Foster parents who are caring for children who have emotional, mental, or physical handicaps have the right to training that will equip them to support that child.
Foster parents who are caring for children with certain high-risk behaviors also have the right to:
- 24/7 access to DCYF to address specific concerns
- A safety and supervision plan
- Home-based, evidence-based training
- Referral to community services and training
5. Right To Decline Placement
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, it’s because you want to help provide a safe, stable, and nurturing home for a child.
But it’s important to remember that not every placement is the right placement — for you or for the child. If you feel that you aren’t the right person to care for a child, it’s okay to say so. Foster parents have the right to decline to admit or keep a child in their home.
Future foster parents have a lot of information to take in, but knowing your rights and responsibilities is a great place to start.
Thinking about becoming a foster parent? Click here to access our FREE on-demand 8-part webinar course to learn more about the importance of foster parents, the process of getting licensed, and the everyday experience of caring for a foster child.