BY: Citizens Count
What would a foster parents’ bill of rights look like?
The 18 point bill, among other things, would make the following part of state law:
- Prohibit retaliation by the DCYF against any foster parent making an inquiry as to the agency’s decisions
- Give foster parents a voice as to where a child is placed next
- Guarantee foster parents receive background information in a timely fashion on any child that is placed in their care
Foster parents need to have a voice in protecting vulnerable children
Those who support HB 1562 point out that foster parents are essential members of a child’s welfare team, yet they lack legal standing that guarantees them a role in a foster child’s final placement.
“Foster parents may deeply care for their placements, but they are not the birth parents or legal guardians of their foster children. Most birth families retain full parental rights while the state works to reunify families….I absolutely think children would be better served if their foster families were allowed a more active role.”
- Airial Sillanpaa, Portsmouth Foster Mother
Other supporters say the state needs laws to protect foster families from unfair and negligent practices by the DCYF.
Additionally, there is a current shortage of foster parents in New Hampshire, and more legal protections might encourage more adults to foster.
Those against a “bill of rights” for foster parents
Opponents of a “bill of rights” say foster parents’ rights already exist in the current rules and just need to be enforced. They argue that such a bill could create a contentious relationship between foster parents and the DCYF, which is already struggling to accomplish its mission with limited resources.
“An awful lot of the challenges that we’re seeing right now in the foster care system are a result of kind of the overall challenges we’re having throughout (DCYF) at large. Tackling those challenges would be better accomplished by increased agency resources than new laws.”
- Joseph Ribsam, DCYF Executive Director
Opponents of the bill also worry that giving foster parents more legal rights would interfere with biological parents’ rights.
Do you think there should be a “bill of rights” for foster parents? Let us know what you think in the comments below.