Children in Foster Care

What’s happening:

Children enter foster care through no fault of their own.  They have been abused and/or neglected and are unable to live safely with their parents.   All of these children in care have experienced loss and some form of trauma causing harm to their developing brains, affecting them years later with their physical health, cognitive and academic functioning, and social emotional well being.  These outcomes can be positively influenced by the type of placement, the stability of the placement and access to services and supports.

All of MSPCC works closely with the foster family association, MAFF, to advocate for children in foster care and the families who care for them.  Ensuring that the daily rate of support for foster children is sufficient to meet a child’s basic needs means that income alone is not a barrier to an otherwise appropriate foster placement with kin and that DCF can recruit and retain a stable and diverse pool of foster homes throughout MA. Most children in care will be reunited with their biological parents.  MSPCC works to ensure children in care have access to quality health care, including behavioral health care and educational achievement.  Most children in care will be reunited with their biological parents.

What we’re doing:

Budget Priorities:

Our FY 2019 budget priorities are in development. Historically, they have focused on improving supports to improve outcomes for youth in DCF care, increase placement stability, and support the recruitment and retention of a diverse and appropriately sized pool of foster care homes throughout the Commonwealth.

Those items generally include:

The Daily Rate of Support for Children in Foster Care:

We aim to secure an appropriate daily rate of support that covers the cost of providing for the basic needs of children in foster care.

Child Care and Respite:

Access to child care including after school and summer programs is key to attracting people who work, including kin, to be foster parents. In addition, respite provides important relief which is vital to retaining foster parents especially those who care for children with complex medical and mental health conditions.

State College Tuition and Fee Waiver for DCF Involved Youth:

Youth, who have aged out of foster care or are adopted from care and are admitted to state colleges and universities, are eligible for a full waiver of tuition and fees. The waiver serves to eliminate a serious financial barrier to a college degree and eliminates looming college costs as a barrier to adoption.

Foster parents, do these items reflect your needs and those of the children in your home? Let us know at info@mspcc.org

Legislative Priorities:

Opportunity to be heard

  1. 876: An Act Relative to the Rights of Foster Parents

Foster parents spend each day with the children in their care and have regular interactions with their teachers and medical and mental health providers. This makes them the single most in-depth source of current information about the child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive status, needs and development. Their direct observations and insights can provide critical information to Courts and Judges making decisions about the best interest of a child.

However, despite federal law to the contrary, it is common practice in Massachusetts to exclude foster parents from hearings relative to the children in their care. This bill builds on federal law that gives foster parents the right to be given notice of hearings and the opportunity to present information about the child to the Court. The bill would require DCF to enact regulations governing implementation of the law including:

  • Specifying a period of 10 days’ notice of all hearings and proceedings

  • Requiring written notice of all hearings and proceedings

  • Allowing written in addition to oral testimony to be submitted by foster parents

  • Providing guidance regarding preparation of testimony

Concerning 51A Allegations

  1. 3212: An Act regarding Background Checks on Foster Parents

This bill codifies EEC background check regulations to apply to all background checks such that a DCF background check on a foster parent with no record of harming a child is always reported to the requestor as “no record”.

Foster parents are, and should be, held to a very high standard of conduct. In addition, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) must look closely at and, in the vast majority of cases, fully investigate any allegation that a foster parent has abused or neglected a child in their care. On balance however, records of investigations where no wrong doing by a foster parent was found should not hamper their opportunities for employment or housing.

Our priorities are developed in collaboration with the MA Alliance for Families.

 

What you can do:

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, you may call the DCF recruitment Line at 1-800-KIDS-508 or contact them through mass.gov/dcf.  Your contact begins a process of information gathering by both parties. Prospective foster parents fill out an application, and they agree to background checks.  They also agree that their home will meet physical standards established by state laws and regulations. Learn more about becoming a foster parent.

Sign up today for MSPCC action alerts!  Receive alerts on important legislation and we will send you the information you need to take action by writing or calling lawmakers on behalf of vulnerable children.

Sign up for Action Alerts
Join our mailing listJoin Now