CTFosterAdopt Manual - Chapter 2

Babysitters/Sleepovers

Careline Placements

Child Protection Overview

Confidentiality and Sharing of Information

Day Care

DCF’S Guidelines for Matching
Driver's Licenses
During the First Hours and Days After a Child is Placed in your Home
Employment and Savings Accounts
Haircuts, Piercings, Tattoos, etc.
Helping Children Deal with Separation and Loss
Immediate or Emergency Placements (during business hours)
Life Books
Matching: The Process of Selecting a Foster Family
Ongoing Contact Between You and the Child's Social Worker
Parenting Children Who Are Not Legally Yours
Possible Stages of Adjustment
Pre-Placement Visits
Questions To Ask Before a Child is Placed in Your Home

Religious Matters

Respite

Saying Goodbye when Foster Children Leave Your Home

School Pictures and Photographs in Media Publications

Special Circumstances that Call for Moving a Child from a Foster Home

The Child's Name

The Effects of Placement on the Child

The Placement Portfolio

The Role of the Foster Family in the Matching Process

The Social Worker's Responsibility to the Foster Parent Following Placement

Traveling Out of State

Treatment Plans and Administrative Case Reviews (ACR)

Vacations

Your relationships and Contact with the Birth Families

_____________________________

Child Protection Overview:  The mission of DCF is to protect children, strengthen families, and help young people reach their fullest potential. When family relationships become abusive and/or neglectful and children are no longer safe, DCF steps in. While DCF strives to strengthen and support the family relationships, if the safety of the child cannot be guaranteed in the family, DCF removes the child. DCF will make efforts to find a relative known to the child who could serve as a temporary caretaker. In many situations, however, no relative is immediately available or none are appropriate. At this point, arrangements are made for the child to be placed with an unrelated foster family.

Matching:  The Process of Selecting a Foster Family:  When a child needs to be placed in a foster home, his/her social worker sends a placement request to another social worker known as the matcher. This social worker is part of the Regional Unit known as the Foster and Adoptive Service Unit (FASU). The placement request informs the matcher about the child and the reasons for his/her need for placement. The matcher will check to see which foster homes are licensed to care for a child of this particular age and gender. If the matcher determines that your home will "match" well with the child, you will receive a phone call. The matcher will explain basic facts about the child’s circumstances so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not this is the right time for your family to receive this particular child.

It is important to know that there are times when the matcher has little information to share about the child. This happens when the birth parent(s) or other relatives are not willing to reveal information or may not be available to give it.

DCF's Guidelines for Matching:  State regulations, DCF policy and good practice govern placements into foster homes. Those considerations include, but are not limited to:

  • Placing children in as close geographic proximity as possible to the child’s own home or school;
  • Placing siblings in the same foster home unless the documented special needs of one or more siblings preclude placing them together;
  • Limiting the maximum number of children who may reside in a foster home to six (6), including foster children and the family’s biological and adopted children;
  • Not placing children in a foster home if that placement results in more than three foster children in the home;
  • more than two children under two years of age;
  • more than three children under six years of age;
  • Not placing together more than two non-ambulatory children who are incapable of self-preservation;
  • Following local ordinances whenever they specify that a smaller number of children than those allowed above may be in care.

The Role of the Foster Family in the Matching process: 

  • Children will not be placed in your home without your permission. Here are some reminders of how to reach your decision:
  • If you are phoned by a matcher concerning a placement and you are not home, please call the matcher back as soon as possible to let him/her know if you are available.
  • lease keep the matcher informed of any cell phone numbers that might make reaching you more likely;
  • Ask as many questions as you need to. You can ask to talk to the child’s social worker in addition to the matcher;
  • Discuss the child’s potential placement with your family before making a decision;
  • Make the decision that is comfortable for you and your family.

Questions to Ask Before a Child is Placed in Your Home:

Basic information about the child:

  • Name / nickname?
  • Date of birth? Gender? Ethnicity?
  • Are there brothers and sisters? Where are they? Do they have visits? How often?
  • Clothing available? Other belongings?

Background Information:

  • Why is the child in foster care? What is the child’s history of abuse/neglect?
  • Was the child in a previous foster home? Where?
  • Why does the child need a new placement?

Placement Issues:

  • What is the expected length of placement?
  • Will there be a visit with family members? How often?
  • What is the religious background of the child, if any? Are they actively participating in services?
  • Does the child's faith conflict with the foster families faith?   Is this a potential problem?

School Matters:

  • What school has the child been attending? What grade is the child in?
  • Are there school problems? Does the child attend special education class?
  • Are school records available?

Health / Medical Issues:

  • Is the child taking any medication?
  • Does the child have medical problems? Allergies? Psychological problems?
  • Does the child have a special diet?
  • Does the child have a medical card? Current or previous doctors’ names? Are any appointments scheduled? Does the child have an immunization record?

Behavior:

  • What behavioral problems or unusual habits does the child have? Does the child wet the bed?
  • Does the child use alcohol? Drugs? Tobacco?
  • Is the child sexually active?
  • Is the child attending therapy/counseling?

Legal Issues:

  • What is the legal status of the child?
  • When is the child’s next administrative case review (ACR)?
  • Please remember that every effort will be made to answer these questions. It is not possible however to answer all of these questions all of the time.

Pre-placement visits:  If the child’s placement can be planned ahead of time (e.g., if the child is coming from a safe home, residential facility, or another foster home), you and the child may have the opportunity to meet each other in a pre-placement visit. Pre-placement visits, reduce anxiety about the unknown, and allow you to prepare for the child’s arrival.

Helpful tips for the pre-placement visit: 

  • Tell the child that you and your family are glad to meet him/her;
  • Tell the child about your family, the household routine, how you share responsibilities, how you have fun, sleeping arrangements, phone calls, etc.;
  • Ask the child about favorite foods, activities, TV shows, and interests;
  • Try to answer whatever questions the child may have;
  • Do not discuss the child’s family history or the circumstances of the placement.

Immediate or Emergency Placements (during regular business hours):  Children often require placement immediately. You, your family and the child may meet for the first time at the time of the placement. When the child arrives at your home, the first few hours should be used in much the same way as described above. Hopefully, the child should be feeling somewhat more comfortable about you and your family by the time that the child’s social worker leaves. If the social worker must leave your home before the child is comfortable, reassure the child that you will help him/her get answers from the social worker about any of their concerns.

Note: Always ask the social worker if the child(ren) takes any medication(s).

Careline Placements:  Some of you may decide to have your name available for CARELINE placements (those that occur at night or on weekends or holidays). The CARELINE worker will not have a complete packet of information about the child at the time of placement because of the emergency or crisis circumstances. The child’s regional office social worker will call you on the first business day after the placement. If you do not receive a call, you should telephone the local office and ask for the child’s social worker, social work supervisor, or Program Manager in order to discuss the details of the case. If a social worker has not been assigned to the child yet, you should contact your support worker / family specialist to let him/her know you have the child. He/she can assist you in identifying the assigned social worker. You should always notify your FASU SW when you accept a CARELINE placement.

The Social Worker's Responsibility to the Foster Parent Following Placement:   There are several activities that the child’s social worker will be responsible for on the day the child is placed in your home and in the few days thereafter. These include, but are not limited to:

  • meeting with you to discuss the child’s situation and special needs;
  • answering your questions as available;
  • providing the Placement Portfolio (see below);
  • giving you or helping you take an inventory of belongings brought by the child to your home;
  • setting up a visiting schedule with birth family, child, siblings;
  • including you in discussion of case plans;
  • starting the payment process in the DCF computer system (LINK) that will result in you getting a monthly stipend check.

The Placement Portfolio:   The packet of materials that contains key information about the child which includes the following:

  • "Agreement for Temporary Care of Children" Form 469;
  • "Child Placement Information", DCF-818;
  • Health Passport (see Policy 44-5-6.2 through 44-5-6.6);
  • Medical card (sometimes you may be given the number only. The social worker should contact the medical provider to get a new card if you do not have one;
  • Legal forms; e.g., "Request for Voluntary Placement" (DCF-526) or Order of Temporary Custody;
  • Copies of necessary documents; e.g., Social Security card or number, birth certificate or copy of birth certificate, if available;
  • School registration information (if applicable);
  • "Visitation Plan and Log", DCF-822;
  • Clothing voucher or visa card, when applicable;
  • A brochure for the Connecticut foster parent association

Before you sign the "Child Placement Information" form indicating that all the material has been received or will be received, take time to go over all of the information given to you and to ask the social worker any questions you may have:

  • If the child comes with clothing, you and the social worker should go through the clothing to inventory it and make sure it will fit the child and is appropriate and in good condition;
  • Keep this information in the Placement Portfolio or in a notebook. Add new information as it becomes available. You can ask your child’s social worker for an updated "Placement Portfolio";
  • At the initial placement, the social worker will discuss his/her visitation schedule with you and the child if it has been pre-determined;
  • Review the child's Placement Portfolio (DCF-469) at the time of placement. If information is missing, work with the child’s social worker and your support worker to get it completed. You can provide better care when you know all the facts.

During the First Hours and Days After a Child is Placed in Your Home:  The initial hours and days after placement are very important, both to your family and to the child who is coming to your home. Every situation, every child is unique. Here are a number of important activities and considerations:

  • Before the child’s social worker leaves the child in your home, check again to see that you understand all the materials that he/she left with you. For example, is there medication for the child and, if so, what is the schedule for taking it?;
  • It is normal for you, your family, and the child to have apprehension about each other. Expect that, at first, everyone will feel a little uncomfortable. If possible, arrange things so that the first hours are as free of stress as possible;
  • If discussion turns to the subject of the child’s family of origin, use that opportunity to be as supportive as possible. A child will likely feel the rejection of his/her family as a rejection of him/herself. Reassure the child that you are not a replacement for his/her family of origin;
  • During the first few hours, show your child the bedroom, the bathroom, where his/her personal belongings will be kept. Later, discuss some of the household routine and schedule, but expect to repeat this the next day. Let your child know what is expected (like eating supper all together) so that he/she will get a sense of how your family functions;
  • If your child arrives with no extra clothing, make sure that you keep the clothes he/she arrives in. Wash them and save them even if they are not appropriate for further use. These clothes are an extension of him/her and may be the only reminder the child has of his/her family of origin or previous placement. If you need to purchase clothing, the child’s social worker may be able to obtain a clothing voucher to help you until you receive your first check for the child. Before taking a clothing voucher to a store ask the child’s social worker or call the customer service desk at the store to confirm that the voucher can be used there. Retain receipts for clothing in the Placement Portfolio;
  • Ask the child if there is a special item that s/he wish were with them (blanket, doll, etc). Ask the social worker if s/he could get this item or on the next visit with the parents, discuss it with them;
  • Let your child take charge (depending upon the age of the child) of the speed the initial adjustment takes. For example, if the child does not want to remove his/her coat, you could say something like, "You can leave your coat on for now. Let’s go look at your bedroom and then we’ll go to the kitchen for a snack";
  • If you have other children in the home, include them in the welcoming process for the new child. Children often respond more quickly to other children. The other children could even help by explaining family events, routines and rules;
  • For the first meal, ask your child if he/she has any favorite foods: For example, hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese, or rice and beans. Serve something simple that most children like;
  • From the very first greeting, work on relationship building with the child. Tasks or behaviors you will expect from the child, e.g. proper table manners, will come more easily when a positive relationship has been established;
  • Discuss with your child what he/she will call you. Expect your child to have some mixed loyalties. Don’t insist that they call you "Mom " or "Dad";
  • Recognize the importance of the relationship between the child and his/her social worker. If the child wants to telephone the social worker, it is important to make plans for that to happen;
  • Adjustment periods are different for each child. Some children make adjustments quickly and then "test" you and your limits to see if you really do want them to stay in your home. Other children try desperately to please you at all costs. When siblings are placed, the oldest child may assume the parental role with his/her younger siblings. Most often, over time, everyone will make the necessary adjustments;
  • Give the child extra attention during the first few nights with you. Let the child know where you will be during the night;
  • Ask the child what would give him/her comfort: For example, a night-light? A story? The door partially open? A stuffed animal? A special blanket?;
  • Have a plastic cover over the mattress and under the sheets. Depending upon the age of the child let the child know that if he/she doesn’t wake up in the night in time to go to the bathroom, no one will be angry with him/her;
  • Be aware of how each member of your household is adjusting to the addition of a new member. There will always be adjustments;
  • Remember to give extra hugs to your own child. Bringing a new child into the home may cause them to feel a little insecure and anxious. Also remember your partner and that changes in a family effect everyone;
  • Remember, you are strangers to this child. You may want to write the names of family members and pets on a piece of paper or place them on photos in the child's room. Let the child know what to call you and ask if they are comfortable with that.

The Effects of Placement on the Child:  The separation of a child from parents, home, neighborhood, friends, school, toys, routines, responsibilities, from everything familiar, is traumatic. Although each child may have a slightly different way of reacting to loss and separation, the following will likely occur for each child:

  • interruption of emotional, social and even physical development, e.g., temporary regression in toilet training for young children and loss of concentration in school for older children;
  • feelings of helplessness and abandonment;
  • taking on blame and responsibility for the breakdown of the family;
  • being angry or depressed.

Possible Stages of Adjustment:

  • Moving toward the foster family (a "honeymoon" period, during which the child is cooperative and well behaved, but filled with feelings of anxiety and numbness);
  • Moving away from the foster family (a "withdrawal" period, during which the child is hesitant, depressed, distrustful, unresponsive, and remote);
  • Moving against the foster family (a "rebellious" period, during which the child is frequently challenging, demanding, forceful, angry, and hostile);
  • Adjusting to the foster family (when the child is more content and self-confident and is less anxious and challenging).

Helping Children Deal With Separation and Loss:  Both you and the child’s social worker should provide age-appropriate information to the child about the reasons for the separation from the family and reassurance that the child is not "cut off" from family and friends and that the child is not to blame;

  • You can make comments like the following, "Your parents do care about you. DCF is helping them learn to express their love in ways which will nurture you and allow you to develop in the best possible ways";
  • Encourage your child to express feelings of loss and anger;
  • Encourage contact with the child’s family of origin and be part of the visitation plan.

Your Relationships and Contact with the Birth Families:  During the licensing process, you learned that you would be required to be involved with, to assist with, or to facilitate the child’s contact with his/her birth family. Regular contact, when possible, is important since statistics show that most children placed in foster care do eventually return to their birth family. You may be asked to help with transporting the child to a family visit. If it is in the best interests of the child and safe for all involved, you may be asked to have the visits in your home.  When you can and when appropriate, include the biological family as much as possible in the child’s life.  Examples include school plays, choir, band, doctor’s appointments, hair appointments, holiday activities, etc. These events are important because they benefit the child and they allow the parent(s) to function in that role to some extent. The child’s social worker will ask for your opinion as to the quality of the family interactions for future planning.

The child placed in your home may have physical injuries and/or emotional scars that are the result of actions taken by his/her birth parent(s). In these circumstances, it may be very difficult for you to be non-judgmental about the child’s family and to support and cooperate with the plans for visitation.

Social workers often have the same feelings. However, both social workers and foster parents are professionals who are responsible for helping foster children maintain relationships with their birth families. It will be important for your foster child to be able to express feelings about his/her family, to know something of that family’s circumstances and to know that others place value on those relationships.

It will be important for you to discuss issues about the child with his/her social worker. You may also want to talk about the feelings associated with your role in supporting your foster child’s birth family relationships. If so, you are encouraged to call your family specialist/support worker and ask about the liaison, helpline, buddy system, and support groups, or call your local Foster and Adoption Services Unit (FASU) for the times, locations, and contacts for foster parent support groups. There are several groups in each region.   Foster Parent Support groups:   http://cafafct.org/our-services/support/

The child’s social worker will inform you about the visitation plan. Frequent visits are preferred and will allow the child to deal with feelings of separation and loss. Whenever possible, visits in the foster home are preferred. Foster parents play an important role in these visits. When biological parents and foster parents meet they have an opportunity to share stories and concerns about the child. Often biological parents will feel better knowing who is caring for their child.

The child’s social worker will let you know about any limits on phone calls or correspondence between your foster child and his/her family (especially if the calls are long distance). In addition, the social worker will let you know if there have been any court rulings regarding family contact.

In the event that your foster child receives a visit or a phone call from his/her family which is not planned or more people show up for a visit than had been expected or the family member arrives and is upset or is displaying behavior which has not been seen before, you may end the visit. Always contact the child’s social worker or the social worker’s supervisor or, if at night or on weekends or holidays, call the Careline (1-800-842-2288) for assistance.

If you are confronted by people you do not know, at a time which was not anticipated, or behavior which is upsetting, unpredictable, and/or unfamiliar, you are not expected to let these people into your home. If, during a phone call between your child and his/her family, you feel that the conversation is inappropriate, you have the right to take the phone and politely end the conversation. Notify the social worker to inform them of what occurred so they can look into the matter. If your foster child has a visit with family members outside the foster home and is not returned to you at the agreed upon time, contact the child’s social worker or, after regular business hours, the Careline.

Treatment Plans and Administrative Care Reviews (ACR):  The goals, plans, services and expectations for the children and families in DCF care are put into written documents called treatment plans. In order to review and evaluate the efforts being made to implement those treatment plans, DCF holds regular meetings called administrative case reviews. As licensed parents you will receive a letter inviting you to these meetings along with the child’s Social Worker, the child’s parent(s), attorneys for the child and parent(s) and other persons key to the treatment work. These meetings occur at least every six months and are facilitated by DCF staff who have this special role. You are encouraged to attend when you can in order both to learn and contribute. Such meetings are an important part of keeping everyone focused on the tasks that will enable the child to return home or develop other possible goals.

Life Books:  It is essential that you, as much as possible, facilitate contact with the significant people from the child’s past. Maintaining connections is important to the child’s well being. If the child placed with you does not come with a life book, contact his/her social worker and make plans together to get it started. If there already is a life book, begin to maintain it from the first days. Give the book a special importance. This will be a significant gift you can give whose importance will grow with the years.

Life Books chronicle a child’s life in care.  It is a critical tool used to help the child walk through their time in care and have a guide displaying those experiences. It not only connects his or her past and present life experiences, but also helps develop a more positive self image.  It is not unusual that several significant people may have come and gone through the child’s life.  It is important to acknowledge these individuals and these memories.  The process of creating a Life Book affords the child the opportunity to explore and understand his/her past. 

It would be hard for most of us to imagine not knowing even basic pieces of information about our own history.   What if we didn’t know much about our own parents?  What if we were not sure how or why we came to live in the home we are in?   What if we had been in more scools than we could remember?  What if we had no pictures of ourselves or of family members taken before we were in high school?   Sadly, many adults who grew up in foster care have stories full of questions.

 

DCF has a format for Life Books that it presents to all its social workers.  Instruction in this format is typically offered to licensed parents, as well, at the annual CAFAF conference.  The following are some suggestions from the DCF curriculum for topics to be included in the book:

  • Introduction (i.e. the purpose of the book)

  • Birth announcement

  • Baby pictures

  • Birth family pictures

  • Explanation of why the child came into DCF’s care

  • Pictures of foster families and written information on where they lived … and when the child was there

  • Pictures of social workers who were significant in the child’s life Journal entries

  • School pictures and information

  • Cultural and religious information

  • Certificates / awards

  • Favorite friends

Ongoing Contact Between You and the Child's Social Worker:  Your child’s social worker will make plans to visit your home on a regular basis to stay in touch with the child and with you and your family. While such visits will likely be more frequent in the beginning and at particular times of need, the frequency will typically be about once a month.

Special Circumstances That Call For Removing A Child From A Foster Home:  It is possible, however, after placing a child in foster care, that a relative will be identified who can be licensed and whose home would be appropriate for the child. At such times it is important for the foster family to understand that this move is for the long range benefit of the child. Your support will make the transition easier for all involved.

Under other circumstances, it may best for all concerned that the child placed in your home should leave. This possibility might be first identified by your family or by the child’s social worker or by the child. It is crucial for the adults involved to discuss all the issues before making statements to the child about whether he/she will, in fact, be leaving your home.

While there are any number of reasons why a child’s placement may not work in his/her foster home, it can often be said that the child’s special needs could not be met in that home. This does not mean that the child or the foster family "failed."

Saying Goodbye When Foster Children Leave Your Home:  When it is time for your foster child to move on, whether it is to reunify with his/her family of origin, to be placed with a relative, an adoptive family, another foster family, or to move to somewhere else, it is important for everyone to say "good bye" to each other. It does not matter how long the child has been a member of your family. In order to move on, everyone needs to acknowledge his/her time together.

The acknowledgement could be as simple as a handshake or a hug between the foster child leaving and each member of your family. The acknowledgment could also include a chance for everyone to speak about the things that were enjoyed together.

Everyone could make cards for the foster child to keep so that he/she would always remember you; you could put pictures of the child’s stay with you (in his/her life book); each child and adult could say something positive to the child about his/her stay in your home.

Explain to all of your children that saying "good bye" to another person is a way of saying, "I care about you and I wish you well wherever you go." Without a "goodbye," some foster children may wonder if it ever mattered to the family that they were there or not. The relationship you establish with your foster child is part of the foundation of healthy attachments that will benefit your foster child as he/she grows and develops.

It is important that the child take all of their possessions with them. If you have stored any clothing that came with them originally, you need to make sure it goes with the child. All toys, personal items, pictures, clothing, the life book, etc., need to go with the child.

You likely will become attached to the children who are placed with you and who become part of your family. However, it is important that you let go and give the child permission to leave your home when the time comes. Doing this along with your expressions of affection is a special gift. You are welcome to contact your family specialist / support worker or foster family support organization liaison to help you deal with the issues arising when the child leaves. Your own family members also need to deal with the child leaving. Talk to your children, partner and friends about how they feel and share with them your feelings.

Parenting Children Who Are Not Legally Yours:  Once the child is in your home, you take on the role of parent and make many daily decisions. There is a need, however, to keep in mind that the child has, as part of his/her identity, other parents, memories, and that the child’s legal guardian is someone other than yourself. There are some permission forms you cannot legally sign and there are some parenting decisions about which you will need to consult the child’s parent(s) and/or social worker. Whenever possible, it is beneficial to the child if you can work cooperatively and respectfully with that child’s parent.

The Child's Name:  The child was placed in your home with a full legal name. This is the name which must be used for school registration and all official documents. The child must be aware that this is his/her legal name. Many children have nicknames or use a middle name as their first name. It is important to honor a child’s preference, however, you and the child must always be aware that their legal name cannot be changed or altered.

Many pre-adoptive families have a desire to change a child’s name to a name of their choice. Children have feelings and attachments to their names and changing names legally upon adoption finalization should be done only after careful thought and discussion has been devoted to this subject. A child’s name is part of their identity and their history as it was given to them by their birth parent. Please do not begin to refer to the child by another name (first or last) until the courts have finalized an adoption and the child is in agreement with the change.

Haircuts, Piercings, Tattoos, etc.: A child placed in your home comes with a hairstyle, some clothing, and perhaps piercings. Many of these characteristics were choices made by the child’s birth parent(s). An important "rule of thumb" is to review these matters with the child’s social worker whose role it is to discuss them with or help you discuss them with the birth parent(s). If a child is placed in your home wearing pierced earrings, you must help this child learn to care for their pierced ears (or other piercings). Do not remove the pierced earrings without discussing this with the child’s social worker. Similarly, do not allow a child to get tattoos, piercings or haircuts without permission from the child’s worker/birth parent. A child’s parent may have strong opinions about these issues and some choices are permanent, and licensed parents should not make these decisions alone.

As licensed parents you have your own preferences for clothing styles and hairstyles. If a child is placed in your home with clothing that is not appropriate in terms of size, design or season, it is expected as a licensed parent that you will be purchasing the clothing a child needs. Save items that came with the child if they have some special value for the birth parent(s) or child. When you include the birth parent in decisions by asking their preferences for color or style, you can show your foster child and parent that you respect their opinion. For matters that impact health, consult with the child’s doctor.

Traveling Out-Of-State:  It is necessary to obtain the necessary authorizations from the child’s social worker before traveling with him/her out-of-state.

Religious Matters:  As a licensed parent you may want to provide your child with some religious training.  Licensing regulations require that you show tolerance and sensitivity to a child’s religion and provide an opportunity for religious training and/or participation in their religious denomination.

The child may not have had any experience with religious training prior to being placed with you. The child’s parent(s) may have a religious preference for their child.  When you are considering religious training for your foster child, please discuss this with the child’s social worker whose role is to discuss this with the child’s parent. The parent may be in agreement with your family’s religious choice.  If the parent or child wishes that the child be enrolled in religious classes different from that of your family, it is your responsibility to make these arrangements.  Perhaps you have friends or neighbors who can take the child to a different service.

Likewise, you cannot make or force a child to participate in any religious ceremonies without the parents' permission. Check with the child’s social worker if this becomes an issue.

Employment and Savings Accounts:   A foster child should experience life as being as normal as possible. When they turn 15 or 16 years of age, they may want to get a job. Discuss this with the child’s social worker to determine the impact a job will have on the child’s school or other social functions.

If the child earns a paycheck, they should be able to provide for some of their own needs, such as entertainment, as learning to handle money is part of growing up. Foster parents are not expected to stop providing for a child’s basic needs due to the child’s employment.

The monthly foster parent reimbursement includes money to provide an allowance to the foster child. An allowance is a good way to teach about money management, savings, and how to maneuver banking systems. . Children can open a savings account in their own name.

Drivers Licenses:  If a youth is committed to DCF and is between 16 and 17, they may want to take a certified driver’s education course in order to obtain a driver’s permit or license. DCF will pay 50% of the cost of the initial driver’s education course. If additional hours are required, the extra cost will be the youth's responsibility.

All requests for permission for a youth to drive a car and to pursue a driver’s permit must be submitted to the youth’s social worker. Requests are carefully reviewed with the youth, foster parent or caretaker to determine if the youth is a responsible individual and that a driver’s permit is desirable. At 16, the youth may take the written exam to obtain the driver’s permit. The permit only allows the youth to drive with someone 21 or older. The owner of any car that the youth plans to drive must be willing to carry the required insurance and assume responsibility for the actions of the youth while he/she is driving. The youth may take the driving test to obtain the license six months after obtaining the permit. Regional Administrators or their designees are authorized to sign the Department of Motor Vehicles Form 2D "Parents’ or Guardians’ Certification" which is needed for a driver’s license. A licensed parent cannot sign permission for a DCF child to obtain a driver’s license.

School Pictures and Photographs in Media Publications:  In keeping with the standard that foster children should be able to lead as normal a life as possible, you are encouraged to have school photographs taken. Sometimes children participate in sporting events and are photographed for the local newspaper in single or group shots. If this occurs and the child is identified by name there is generally no concern. The child should not be identified as a "foster child" in addition to their name.

Foster children cannot be photographed, identified as foster children, and used in media publicity. For example, if you, as a licensed parent, are being featured as a foster parent in a local newspaper, do not allow the foster children to be photographed for the article.

If you have questions about your child being photographed or about a picture being published in the newspaper, please consult your social worker. Each child has a right to privacy and may have unique background concerns that need to be considered.

Please refrain from posting any photos or information on social media websites about the child/ren in your care. Their presence in your home should be treated as confidential information is not to be referred to on any social media websites.

Confidentiality and Sharing of Information:  Information given to you by DCF about your foster /pre-adoptive/relative child and his/her family of origin must not be disclosed to anyone without DCF's permission. The child’s social worker will let you know what to tell the school, the school nurse, health care providers, and substitute caregivers.

You are encouraged to think about potential situations where confidential matters regarding the child placed in your home might be questioned. Even explanations to your own extended family and friends should be handled carefully. Discuss these with your child’s social worker in advance so that you are sure to keep significant issues confidential.

DCF, in turn, has the same responsibility for your privacy. Under most circumstances, DCF must not disclose to anyone any information about you and your family without your permission unless mandated by statute. An example would be sharing information when asked by a representative of a law enforcement agency.

DCF must share with you information about the child in your care as it becomes available or as it changes. Under the foster care regulations, you also have the responsibility to share information with DCF about you, your family, and your household as any changes occur (for example: new work hours; changes in household members; a serious illness or death of a family member; a new daycare provider).

Daycare:   Day care is an important support for many licensed families and the children they serve. Day care is needed when a licensed parent works outside of the home and needs supervision for a child on a predictable basis. Day care is very different from needing an occasional baby sitter that enables a parent to attend to personal matters on a periodic basis. There are three key issues to be addressed when considering day care:

  • Assessing the need for day care;
  • Finding the appropriate day care provider;
  • Determining how payment will happenl;
  • Assessing the need for day care;

When a DCF child is to be placed in your home, inform the child’s social worker of your work schedule and your proposed daycare arrangements. Together review what is in the child’s best interest and all the options for supervision in your absence. Any time your work schedule changes and your arrangements change, inform the child’s social worker and FASU of these changes.

Finding the appropriate day care provider:  There are many factors to consider in determining which day care provider is best. Are your own birth/adopted children already in day care? How close/convenient is a day care provider to your home or work? How will transportation be arranged?

There are three types of day care: day care centers, day care homes, and exempt day care homes. According to the Department of Public Health (DPH), "exempt day care providers" are:

  1. persons providing day care in the home where the child(ren) is living; or
  2. relatives of the child(ren); or
  3. persons providing day care for less than three (3) hours a day on a regularly recurring basis.

If an exempt day care provider seems to be the best choice for a child in DCF custody, the provider and, if applicable, the provider’s home must be approved by FASU. You must call your FASU support social worker to request that the exempted day care provider you have chosen be evaluated for approval. The worker will explain the process.

Determining how payment for day care will happen:  The Department of Social Services (DSS) receives some money from the federal government to help fund day care for parents most in need, including parents licensed by DCF. The DSS day care assistance program is called "CARE 4 KIDS." Once a family is accepted into the program and day care is being provided, DSS sends payment directly to the provider. This payment may not cover the entire cost of the day care. DSS can pay any of the three types of providers: licensed center, licensed home and exempt home.

DCF requires that all licensed parents for whom it is determined that day care is appropriate, must apply to DSS for assistance. The key steps to apply for DSS assistance are:

  • Call CARE 4 KIDS at 1-888-214-KIDS and ask for an application;
  • Complete the application and mail it to CARE 4 KIDS;
  • Notify CARE 4 KIDS promptly if there are changes in your status as a licensed parent or if children come or leave your home.

In some cases DSS may not have adequate funding for this population or the DSS payment may not sufficiently cover the daycare expenses. In these cases, the licensed parent can request that DCF assist with payments by submitting a request for the day care payment to the child’s worker, including documentation of the cost of weekly day care, hours needed and the DSS payment or verification of the denial of DSS funds. (Note: Conditions regarding DSS payments are subject to change. It is always best to check with your family specialist/support worker before applying for DSS day care payments.) The licensed parent is expected to contribute $25.00 per week from their monthly stipend for daycare while DCF will pay up to $100.00 per week. Should additional funding be required, a request would be submitted by the child’s social worker to the Regional Administrator.

The FASU support worker/family specialist is responsible for ongoing oversight and biennial re-approval of the exempt day care provider. The child’s social worker will make unannounced visits to the selected day care provider, including both licensed and approved exempt providers, on a quarterly basis. If the exempt provider provides day care in his/her home, the child’s social worker will make unannounced visits to that home at least once a year.

Respite Care:  Respite care is a support service for licensed families in which the child(ren) placed in the home spend some amount of time (not to exceed 14 days per calendar year) in another licensed or authorized home. Respite is designed to:

  • Provide a scheduled break from ongoing parental responsibilities;
  • Allow for the planned care of DCF children by alternative licensed providers with no disruption to the foster parent’s reimbursement;
  • Assist in decreasing placement disruptions.

Licensed parents in good standing with DCF are eligible for up to14 days of respite care per calendar year. Exceptions may be made on a case- by- case basis and require the approval of a program director. (One day of respite care covers all DCF children in the licensed home on that day, regardless of whether those children were previously involved with respite care in another foster home.)  Those who can provide respite include:

  • licensed parents in good standing who do not have a placement or who are below their licensed bed capacity;
  • authorized respite providers;
  • a relative or friend who is not licensed but who is approved by the child’s social worker, and your FASU support worker/family specialist who will provide the respite in your own home. This approval will include a criminal background check and a protective service background check.

Procedure for requesting and arranging Respite Care:

  1. Contact your FASU support worker/family specialist to inform him/her of your respite needs;
  2. Notify each child’s social worker of your need for respite care;
  3. A social worker will provide you with the name, address and telephone number of the approved respite provider;
  4. Arrange transportation with the respite provider.

You should be prepared to give the respite provider the following:

  • a completed form DCF-1095, "Child Profile for Respite Care";
  • medical card;
  • special instructions regarding the care of the child (e.g., allergies, medication);
  • information regarding any visit or telephone calls to the child’s family;
  • information regarding food likes and dislikes, sleeping habits; and particular kinds of behaviors to be expected;
  • supplies such as diapers, formula, clothes, car seat, favorite toy.
  • When respite begins or ends on a weekend, you must arrange transportation with the respite provider.

Vacation:  Use of respite care money for vacation: You are encouraged to take the DCF children on family vacations. A vacation may be considered to be a respite period for the foster family and the foster child.

Money for vacations for the DCF child is included in the foster care reimbursement rate. However, there may be unusual situations when taking a DCF child on vacation would create a financial hardship for the licensed parents. In these situations, instead of placing the child in a respite home, the licensed parent may request approval to use respite care money to enable the child to accompany the family on vacation. If the request is approved, the licensed parent will receive payment equaling up to the annual maximum of 14 days of respite care money.   Verification of travel is required for reimbursement.

Note: Contact the FASU matching social worker when the respite care has ended. The matcher will notify the child’s social worker, who will authorize the payment of $25.00 a day for each child for 24-hour care. The respite care rate for medically complex children is $42.00/ day.

Babysitters / Sleep-overs:  Licensed families can make arrangements for the supervision of children without having to ask for background checks in the following situations:

  • arranging for a babysitter to care for DCF children to enable the foster parents to attend to personal matters; for example, medical or school appointments or social functions;
  • arranging to have a DCF child stay with another family for a child's social function such as a sleepover

In these situations, the FASU support worker/family specialist will:

  • discuss with the licensed parents any problems or concerns related to such situation; and
  • emphasize with the licensed parents the importance of their judgment that the babysitter or host family will provide the child with good care and a safe environment.