In the State of Pennsylvania, foster care children are legally guaranteed certain rights according to the 2010 Children in Foster Care Act. Like the United States Bill of Rights, this legislation is meant to protect the rights of a certain group of people, in this case the young men and women in the foster care system. As a foster parent, it is important that you are familiar with and understand these rights in order to provide the best possible home for the child. Here are some of the most important. You can visit this page for a complete list.
Your Foster Child’s Legal Rights
Freedom From Discrimination
The Children in Foster Care Act states that a child in foster care has the right to freedom from discrimination based on the typical culprits: race, sex, religion, etc. Ideally, you should not have to be reminded not to discriminate against anyone, let alone a child placed in your care, but we’re going to remind you anyway. Be sure not to make any assumptions about any of the children in your care, especially ones based on the child’s ethnicity, culture, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc. After all, you expect the same treatment for yourself at your home, workplace, and community, don’t you?
Access to Health Services
The foster child in your care has the legal right to access to health services, including medical, dental, and vision. Any resources the child qualifies for regarding mental health issues or a drug or alcohol addiction are also included in this right. Just as you would do everything in your power to keep your own children healthy, the same is expected for any foster children in your care.
Freedom From Abuse
Too many of the children in the foster care system have ended up here because of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, so one of the most important rights your foster child has is his or her right to freedom from abuse. Under the Children in Foster Care Act, this includes any form of harassment, corporal punishment, and unreasonable restraint. Put bluntly, these kids have been through enough already, and they have the right not to be put through any more. Keep your discipline methods non-physical, and try your best to approach problem behaviors with open communication, not just reprimands.
Education Stability & Access to Activities
The foster child in your care has a right to a stable and appropriate education as well as approval to participate in after school sports, clubs, and other enrichment opportunities. It is important for the child in your care to have all of the same opportunities any other child has. That may mean you have to sacrifice your Wednesday book club to take him or her to sports practice, but this is the nature of parenthood. Enjoy watching your foster child at his or her games just as much as you would for your own child.
These are just a few of the legal rights guaranteed to foster care children. Have a question about foster care or want to become a foster parent in Pennsylvania? Contact Family Care For Children & Youth online.