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Children and Family within the Foster Care System

Foster Parents and the Children and Families of the Foster Care System


There are usually many people involved in most foster care cases. Most of those involved and listed as part of the case are the children and family themselves, which are the main focus of the foster care system. It's important as a foster parent to understand what is expected from all involved and how they are connected to the case.

    Foster Child or Juvenile Offender

  • A child that is placed in a foster home, group home or other residential setting due to abuse or neglect and is in the custody of the State is considered a foster child. A child that has committed a crime, that if done by an adult would constitute a felony or a misdemeanor, and the child is over the age of ten, but less than eighteen years old, would be considered a juvenile offender. These children need support to overcome past abuse and neglect issue. They also need help in changing behavior patterns and making healthier life choices. Foster children are given age appropriate tasks to complete by their case coordinator and these are listed on the case plan. Tasks may include: stay in school, complete Casey Life Skills tests, and work on independent living skills. Juvenile offenders definitely have tasks to complete too, they may include: remain in school, finish community service hours, and pay restitution.

    Foster Parent's Role in Working with a Foster Child or Juvenile Offender

    As foster parents to children in the custody of the state, we have a lot of responsibilities. The main focus of all of this work is for the best interest of the child and the reunification of the family. As foster parents we do the following:

    • Work to help build connections with birth family and foster family to help the child build trust in the idea of family again.
    • Help children work on unwanted behaviors using various techniques while partnering with case coordinators and therapists.
    • Encourage child to be successful in school.
    • Care for the child as if our own, knowing that the child is with the family only temporarily.
    • Help the child maintain cultural and religious connections.
    • Keep child current on all medical and dental appointments.
    • Complete tasks as outlined on the case plan.
    • Maintain appropriate documentation.

  • Birth Parents and Other Relatives

  • Birth parents have lost custody of their children, often due to abuse or neglect, but sometimes there are other reasons that bring children into the custody of the state. Birth parents are given numerous court orders that they need to complete in order to be found fit to parent their children. These orders are also written into the working case plan. Birth parents are given a set amount of time to complete these tasks, usually a little over a year. This timeline was set by the Adoption and Safe Families Act.

    There are often other relatives that are interested in gaining custody of the children. These relatives may be related by blood, marriage or adoption. If the relatives are options for placement of the children, they will have to complete background checks and home visits. They may also be invited to participate in case plans.

    Foster Parent's Role in Working with Birth Parents and Other Relatives

    A foster parents role with birth parents and other relatives varies by state and case manager. Some states have foster parents supervise visits between birth family and the children, while other states keep foster parent's involvement with birth family to the minimum. A foster parent may be asked to supervise phone calls or visits. Foster parents may interact with birth family regularly, especially in passing, before and after visits, and other appointments. Foster parents can be very effective mentors of birth family and an integral part in the reunification process.

  • Non-relative or Kinship

  • Some placements are found to be appropriate for children because either the child or the parents have close emotional ties with that person or family. If the plan is still reunification, the non-relative or kinship home will be asked to complete the same tasks as a traditional foster parent. They may also receive monthly subsidy, but it will be less than a traditional foster parent. Some kinship homes become licensed in order to have more support services while they care for foster children.


Learn more about each area of the foster care system and how foster parents partner with the different people within each one:
Understanding Each Role within the Court System
Understanding Each Role within a Foster Care Agency
Understanding Each Role in Medical and Mental Health Services
Understanding Each Role in the School System
Children and Family within the Foster Care System

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