Foster care placement occurs when it is determined that a child is at imminent risk of serious harm due to abuse or neglect by a parent.
Foster care services are provided to those children ordered into the custody of the Department of Social Services by Family Court as a result of abuse or neglect proceedings or as a PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) or JD (Juvenile Delinquent). A child may be placed in a foster home, group home or institution depending on the child’s needs. While a child is in the temporary care and custody of the Department of Social Services, services are provided to rectify the problems and reunite the family.
After placement, the goal of foster care is to achieve permanency for a child. By law, our first goal is to reunite children with their families by addressing the reasons the children entered care. A services plan is devised and through diligence of effort, a caseworker assists the family in its completion.
However, if a family does not complete the services plan or is unable to benefit from services so the children can safely return home, a petition to terminate parental rights is filed in Family Court and permanency is achieved by placing the children in an adoptive home.
Foster parents play an integral part in the provision of services to children. Their willingness to open their homes to children in care assures a safe, temporary and loving home environment while allowing the children to maintain connections to their families and communities. Often times for various reasons, children in foster care cannot return home and are freed for adoption either by the parents surrendering them or through termination of parental rights petition filed in Family Court. Many of our foster parents adopt children they have cared for who become freed for adoption.
The Department of Social Services certifies families/individuals to become foster parents.
Foster parents are required to participate in MAPP (Model Approaches to Partnership in Parenting), a ten-week training program to become certified.
The training is provided by staff from our department.