In addition to managing the health and well-being of the children and young adults in their care, foster parents also serve as important advocates for their foster children. For this reason, under the federal Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA), foster parents must be given notice of-and an opportunity to be heard in-any review or hearing involving the child or children in their care.
One of the most significant hearings in a foster child’s life is the 12-month permanency hearing, held within 12 months of his or her entry into out-of-home-care, during which a judge makes a determination of whether and when a child will be returned home, placed for adoption, referred for legal guardianship, or assigned another permanent living arrangement. As a foster child’s primary caregivers, foster parents can provide valuable information to assist a judge in making this important decision.
Under the Court Participation Initiative, we at Foster Forward work with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to ensure that any foster parent who chooses to be heard in court at the 12-month permanency hearing-and/or any other hearing involving their foster child or children-does so effectively.
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