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.  

What we’re doing: Budget Priorities

Keep the Daily Rate of Support on pace with USDA Rate for Raising a Child 

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.

Accessible Child Care for Children in Care

Accessible child care for working foster parents, including kin, is critical to the recruitment and retention of foster parents. Currently, child care assistance programs for children in DCF care have long waitlists and some foster parents are being asked to pay out-of-pocket for child care for children placed with them. This financial burden has made foster parenting impossible for many qualified families.

Ensuring the Department of Children and Families Youth’s Access to Higher Education

In FY 2017, the waiver supported 890 students who are working to a college degree. These students would have faced tremendous obstacles to attending college without this support- for many it would simply have been impossible. Our request supports the full year waiver for all eligible students that DCF anticipates will seek the waiver in FY 2019.

Learn more about MSPCC’s Budget Priorities here.

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

What we’re doing: 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

If you would like to learn more, email Paula Mackin at paulamackin@gmail.com

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.

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