Know Your Rights
Foster Parent Information
All foster parents should obtain this manual from your foster care agency.
This is located on the Administration for Children services website where you can print and download.
Information on Allegations
Allegations that uncover licensing violations or substantiated abuse claims can cause additional stress. Depending on the severity of the infraction, foster parents may be placed on probation, be issued a correction order, or have their license temporarily suspended or permanently revoked. Serious allegations may result in a criminal charge that could land a parent in jail, and forever ruin chances of fostering or adopting another child.
The number one piece of advice I can give people who have been falsely reported for abuse or neglect is to hire a good lawyer or an advocate. (I am not a lawyer, by the way, so please don't take any advice from this website without consulting a lawyer first.) But don't just hire any lawyer. Your lawyer or advocate must be familiar with family law and social services law. He or she must also be aggressive. Child Protective caseworkers and social service lawyers are very aggressive, and they will run right over a mealy-mouthed lawyer. I know because it happened to the first lawyer that a foster parent obtain when the lawyer who was not familiar with family law. He took 4,000 and lost the case. Don't just pick a lawyer because you need one do your homework.
Here is the steps that foster parents need to take when CPS comes to your home to conduct a investigation. All of your constitutional rights are in force, and you need to maintain them.Get the investigator's name and business card if possible. Speak as little as possible and as politely as possible. Before closing the door, ask what the allegations are. CPS will not give you a copy of the report but will generally tell you what the allegations are. Ask the investigator to read the report to you and write it down word for word. Cooperate with them and answer all questions and let them talk to your children or any household members that live in the home.
What to do when CPS comes to your home?
Once CPS leaves you should contact Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc or your attorney, begin gathering any evidence you can to refute the false charges. These may include medical, dental and psychiatric records. If the allegations involve abuse, ask your lawyer about getting your child an immediate physical examination with accompanying photographs. If the false allegations involve a specific day and time, try to remember what you were doing at that time. If you were with other people, call them and ask them to be witnesses.It's enormously important that you know all of your state's laws regarding Child Protective Services, neglect, abuse, as well as your rights under your state's constitution and the United States' constitution. Learning these laws now, before anyone falsely accuses you, will save you a lot of trouble in the future. And don't assume your lawyer knows the law. Make sure both you and he know the law.Whatever you do, keep records of everything. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of documenting everything if you have been falsely reported. Get a blank notebook. Record the date and time of every conversation you have with Child Protective Services caseworkers, every visit, every visit or phone call with your lawyer and any visits you make to your child's doctor or counselor. In short, document everything that might have any bearing on your case.
Foster Care agency Procedure:
Foster parents can request a Foster care conference only if the removal has not occurred. Foster parents should also request an Independent Review. Your agency is suppose to schedule a agency meeting with you no later then 5 days before they remove the child from your home unless it is a safety issue. During this time you are suppose to receive a written notification of removal form CS-701D 10-day notice form in writting from the caseworker. This form contains information explaining the reason for the removal and also provides information relating to the foster parents right to contest the decision by requesting a review
This form is given to you by your caseworker or staff member of the agency. Foster parents you are not to sign the form for any reason. You may waive your right for a hearing by signing this 10 day notice. Agency staff members will tell you to sign the 10 day notice but you are violating your rights by doing so. Section 443.5 provides foster parents may request a conference with the social services official or designee whenever a social service official or another authorized agency proposes to remove a child in a foster family care from the foster family home.
This conference is called Independent Review at such conference scheduled within 10 days of receipt of the request for the conference, the foster parents, with or without a representative,may appear to have the proposed action reviewed,be advised of the reason for the removal and be afforded an opportunity to submit reasons why child(ren) should not be removed. During this request the child shall not be removed unless it is a safety concern.
If you are a foster parent that did not receive a 10-day notice from the agency you will not know what steps to take next because the number is on the back of the 10 day notice to request a indenpedent special review hearing. Here is the number that you call listed below.You have 10 days to request this meeting. The agency will send you a letter with a decision within 5 days. If you do not agree with the decision you are to request this hearing by phone within 10 days or you can lose your right to have this meeting.
There are two types of removals
1- Planned removals the foster parent must receive the notice at least 10 days of removal ,except where the health or safety of the child requires that the child be removed immediately from the foster home.
2-Emergency Removals- Notice of removal should be given at the time of the removal or as soon as is practicable thereafter( send by certified mail the next day.) The foster parent may request a Independent Review. Note the foster home cannot be closed until the Inpendent Review decision is rendered.
Independent Review Hearing Number- 212-676-9002
When you call the number you are to leave your name and number and someone will call you back to schedule this hearing. During this time you are to start collecting your documents for this hearing.
Appealing the decision of the Independent Review
After you receive the decision from the independent review and do not agree. You may request a New York Sta
te Fair Hearing by writing the Bureau of Special Hearings listed below.
Allegations The Untold Truth:What Community Need To Know
You are not alone FPA-Foundation is here for you
What are my rights if I am named in a report?
If you are the alleged subject of a report, your county Child Protective Services (CPS) office is required by law to notify you of the report in writing. You are entitled to a copy of the report, however any information pertaining to the identity of the source will be redacted as will any information about those who assisted in the investigation if the release of that information might reasonably jeopardize the safety of such person.
You can request a copy of the record of the SCR by writing to:
State Central Register
P.O. Box 4480
Albany, NY 12204
The determination of the investigation will be either that the report is unfounded or indicated. If the report is unfounded, you will receive written notification from the Statewide Central Register. If the report is indicated, you will receive written notification from the local CPS (or investigative agency). This notice will also inform you of any right to appeal the decision of the investigative agency to indicate the report.
Persons who are subjects of child abuse or maltreatment reports are entitled to copies of information concerning themselves on file with the Statewide Central Register (SCR). Write to:
State Central Register
P.O. Box 4480
Albany, NY 12204
Please give your full name, date of birth, your children's names and dates of birth, and the address where you lived at the time you believe you may have been reported. If you know the case I.D., please include this information in your letter.Depending on the circumstances, you may still have the legal right to request that the report be amended or expunged (destroyed). Make your request in writing, and the reasons therefore, to the SCR, at the post office box listed above.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services takes false reports of child abuse and maltreatment very seriously. Both the taking of the false report and the ensuing investigation are a misuse of valuable resources intended for the care and protection of New York State's vulnerable or at-risk children.According to Section 240.50 of the New York State Penal Law, falsely reporting an incident to the State Central Register is a Class A misdemeanor. If you are the victim of a false report, you should contact your local District Attorney's office to discuss what options are available.
What can I do if someone has filed a false child abuse or maltreatment report against me with the Statewide Central Register?
What do you do if after the hearing, you receive a decision from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, that your indicated report was upheld?
You can accept the report and live with it. However, that means your name will be in the State Central Register until your youngest child turns 28 years of age. This can affect you if you attempt to get employment in any job which involves children.If you chose to fight the decision, you have to file for an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court.The Supreme Court of New York State is not the highest court in the state. It is a trial court, and is normally located in your county courthouse.You have four months maximum to file an appeal under New York State Civil Practice Laws and Rules. However, you should file your appeal right away for two reasons. One, in case there is a another law that limits your time to appeal to less than four months. Two, because your memory of the fair hearing is fresh. If you delay, you may forget some pertinent information.If I were appealing a hearing, I would not try to do it pro se, representing myself. In fact, I think it is advisable to have a lawyer during every step of the way when you are dealing with Child Protective Services and Family Court.
A 30-60 minute consultation with an experienced attorney will do a lot to inform you whether or not you should proceed with an Article 78 appeal. If I were looking for an attorney, I would try to find one who is familiar with Child Protective Services, fair hearings, and who has had experience filing Article 78 appeals.
On what basis, can you file an appeal?
One argument you can raise is that the agency didn't follow its own rules when it made the decision. Two of the other things the court can consider are 1) whether the decision was "arbitrary and capricious" or 2) not supported by "substantial evidence". These words have special legal meanings. "Arbitrary and capricious" means not reasonably related to the facts of the case. "Substantial evidence" is evidence that a reasonable person would accept as enough to support the agency's decision. If you lost a hearing, you probably feel that you should win on both of these issues. New York courts very often decide in favor of the agency if the agency has written down some reason for its decision, even if many people would think the decision was wrong."One way to find out if the Office of Children and Family Services followed its own procedure is to familiarize yourself with the New York State Manual for Administrative Law Judges. This is the manual that the administrative law judge should have followed at your hearing. I have previously discuss how it appears that the New York State Office of Children and Family Services contracted foster care agencies violates this manual.
Sample Letter to the State
Here is a sample letter that you must write up to the state. You must send additional information up to the state. Please do not send this letter up by itself. You will risk losing your case if you do.
Intake Stage Id:
Date of intake
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register
P.O. Box 4480 Albany, New York 12204-0480
To Whom it May Concern:
I am requesting that the unfounded/ indicated report(s) against me in the State Central Register be amended and legally sealed. Additionally, I request that the unfounded/indicated report(s) against me be deemed irrelevant to and not reasonably related to employment, adoption or the provision of foster care.
Further, pursuant to Section 422(7) of the Social Services Law, I am requesting a copy of all records associated with my case.
Date of Birth
Copyright © 2016 Fostering Progressive Advocacy. All rights reserved.
Learn How to Survive as a Foster Parent
Make sure you know and understand your entire agencyâ€™s licensing rules and regulations. Never bend the rules or slack off on them. Read your foster parent manual. Maintain clear communication with your childâ€™s treatment team. Ask for help when behaviors arise that you donâ€™t know how to handle.
If you have concerns that your childâ€™s needs are not being met contact the caseworker then supervisor and then director if no one helps you. Maintain a cordial and professional working relationship with all professionals. Extend that to include the childâ€™s birth parents. Call your advocate for help when you need support.
1-Before you accept any new foster child placement into your home, get as much information as possible about the child.
2-Decide if the child being offered for placements is within your capabilities to parent. Can you help this child with his needs?
3-From the first day of placement until the day the foster child leaves your home. Keep your own case records. Use a composition notebook. Use a separate book for each child.
4-Write down anything out of the ordinary that happens. If your child falls down and skins his knee write it down or take a picture. How did this occur? What did you do about it/ how did the child react. Always contact caseworker and write down date and time that you called?
5-Develop family rules and post them for all family members to see.
6-If your child tells a lie write it down, leave out your feelings about it and include only the facts and circumstances. Write down how you handled the situation.
7-If you don't write things down they become lost or distorted.
8-Learn about the children; previous behavior including lying, destructiveness, combativeness, ability to get along with others, eating patterns. Sleeping patterns, social skills, school performance, and other behaviors within the first 30 days of placement you should receive this information from the agency.
9-Ask if the child was ever a victim of sexual abuse. If the child was a victim there is a greater chance that he/she will victimize someone else.
10- Find out if the child had previous foster care or relative placements. If so why did the placements fail? Ask to speak to the former foster parent on what went wrong.
11-Has the child ever made false allegations against anyone? How was it investigated and resolved.
12-Has the child been sexually active or promiscuous? You need to have a plan not to leave the child alone with a member of opposite sex.
13-Inquire about the childâ€™s biological family. What will be the degree of difficulty working with them? Does the child have visits with them? If so are they supervised? By whom? Has the birth family made allegations in the past?
14-What medication is the child on? For what reason. What are the side effects? Get the complete medical history.
15-Will the child be in special education classes? Will riding the school bus be a problem? Has the child had suspensions from school in the past?
16-Does the child have a history of abusing animals?
17-Write down how your child behaves both before and after the parental home visits. Include comments that seem out of the ordinary made by the child and biological parents.
18-Document the time the child left your home and the time the child returned.
19-Keep track of absences from school, contacts with school personnel, school performance and behaviors. Include reason for absences and other contacts.
20-Document all contacts that you made with your case workers and counselors or professionals. Include the topic of the conversation and where the meeting took place time of day and suggestions made by the worker or any professionals. Write down any important information you provided to them.
21-.Write down things that trigger behavior with your foster child .Triggers are memories, sounds songs pictures or events.
22-You have the most contact with that child and knowledge about your foster child. You are with them 24 hours a day write it down and date it as soon as possible. If your agency is not helping you and you feel that you are not being supported call us.
We are hear to assist you and support you the best way we can. Most social workers and case workers donâ€™t understand the difficulty of your job as a foster parent and trials unless they walked in your shoes.
They will never understand how difficult your job is! Here at Foster Parent Advocacy Foundation Inc we understand and we are here to support you. Become a member today. Call us today 1-646-402-6133
Do you know what your agency role is?
No one ever told you what the â Role of your Foster Care Agency is, their obligation to you as a Foster Parent, we thought you might be interested in exploring this subject.
Most of the time as a foster parent everyone is always talking to you about what your role is, but what about the Agency where you placed your license issued by your state?
The first thing we need to understand that agencies are different, just as states are different and lay out their own set of rules and regulations (Administrative Law) .
In the case of the foster care agencies, these are called â Administrative a rules and regulations; in state they are called State Statutes. So in pulling off just one of the states randomly lets see what those obligations are;
The agency shall:
Provide the foster parent with accurate information about the foster child, including the reason the foster child is in foster care, within three business days after placement;
Provide the foster parent with medical records, including immunization records, for the foster child, within three (3) business days of placement;
Help the foster parent to understand her or his rights and responsibilities;
Include the foster parent in the development of any service agreements for each foster child in her or his care;
Inform the foster parent of the foster child permanency plan, keep the foster parent updated as to the progress of the achievement of that plan, and allow the foster parent to provide input into the plan;
Explain payment criteria, including foster care board and care payments, clothing allowance,and any supplemental expenditures made to meet the foster childs needs;
Evaluate the foster parents ability to provide for the needs of the household on a case by case basis. If a foster parent has a financial problem, the agency may assist the foster parent in accessing assistance through community resources;
Provide appropriate supportive services, when available, that will enable the foster parent to meet the unique needs of the foster child and deal effectively with problems inherent in the foster childâ€™s adjustment to care;
"How Important is Documentation?
Documentation is imperative to your survival as a Foster Parent, it is your only line of defense. â€‹It is unfortunate that your Foster Parent trainings do not cover the vital subjects that we are exploring here on. They are in the most part defeating the purpose of the trainings. You see, if they would provide their foster parents an education, containing truth about the allegations that is heading their way, from which the only defense is documentation, it would give foster parents the opportunity to prepare for their case
Instead, foster parents find themselves stress out and confused with no where to turn. Wondering why someone was not honest with them. While their lives are in turmoil due to an allegation then it is too late to instruct you in a documentation.
When they live through the traumatic experience an allegation they no longer wish to continue as foster parents. Can you blame you? Partial solution to the problem, a new approach, be truthful with you, warn you about allegations and teach you to document properly.
Remember what the rules of instruction are. What, why and how. So let us cover exactly what documentation is; Websters dictionary defines this word as; The paper that furnishes information, proof, or support of something else. This is what we are doing when we document. We are establishing a method of proving/documenting any events/incidents that take place in or outside of our homes. Documentation is a record another word commonly is journaling.
I think the why in this subject is obvious; we are trying to save ourselves from the humiliation and unnecessary financial/emotional ruin from an impending allegation. Documentation is our only defense.
KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
Until you face a false allegation charges, it is a little known fact that FOSTER PARENTS HAVE NO RIGHTS. You must fight for your rights every step of the way. The Bill of Rights, which is part of the United States Constitution, is the lawâ€¦But when faced with false allegations by CPS foster parents are coerced and bullied into believing they have NO RIGHTS. You must fight to preserve your rights every step of the way. It is unfortunate that we, as foster parents, have allowed ourselves to get into this position. We often do NOT know exactly what our rights are. Through our own ignorance, we have allowed the state courts and the a system to strip us of those rights. In ignorance, we never raised a voice in our own defense We never protested the steps taken to deny us the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. You might wonder how this could happen. Well, it happened one small step at a time day after day, year after year until the system is as it is today. CPS has whittled away at our Constitution and Rights piece by piece and changed it to fit their agenda and in doing this they have constructed a â€œreigning set of laws that will devastate anyone who dares to question their validity. To challenge CPS is to challenge GOD and anyone who dares to take this path is in for the fight of his/her life. We must take a stand and reverse this trend.
WE MUST DEMAND OUR RIGHTS!
We must challenge the laws of the state of the court and its rulings of the county and its policies that have been made a local law. It is evident that the system is broken and it no longer works. It is our responsibility to change this broken system and fix it. We CAN challenge and we CAN change it IF we are persistent in following the American dreams and ideals that we grew up believing. We can no longer rely on anyone else to protect our rights. We must become informed and do it ourselves. LEARN THE CONSTITUTION and keep a list of the rights that were violated in your case. Later on, you might be able to use these violations and information for a civil suit, IF you decide to pursue that road. CPS will tell you that you cannot sue themâ€¦That they are immune from prosecution. Donâ€™t believe them. Laws are changing and these unethical, corrupt people are coming under close scrutiny.
CONTACT YOUR COUNTY GRAND JURY
Many Grand Jury investigations of Child Protective Services are being done. The investigations are confidential and CPS or the public may not even be aware that they are being investigated. It is important to notify the county Grand Jury if CPS is violating your rights or NOT following their own regulations. It might be that the Grand Jury needs to acquire a certain number of complaints before they can act and your letter just could be the one that will make the difference. By contacting the Grand Jury you will be helping yourself as well as those past and future.
Join the FPA-The Peoples Movement Chapter in your State
FPA-Committee is comprised of the people effected by the child welfare system. The reason for FPA Committee is to bring Constitutional, fair and lawful practices into use for people effected by the child welfare system.
1. Help other people who are not aware of the Dangerous Truth
2. Communities of color need to know about CPS. Parents need to know what their rights are and foster parents need to know what their rights are. Why FPA-Foundation national movement is so important to the people that are most impacted. We want to help other's so their lives and their children's lives are not ruined.
3. The community need to know why there is a movement, nationwide.
4. The community needs to understand why foster parents are leaving and/or have already left foster care
5. Foster Care is necessary for the well-being of children. The community need to fight for there rights and equality.
6.may prevent a foster parent from being put into jail or the State's Central Registry from false (untrue) allegations. FPA addresses the lack of basic civil rights of the foster parents & youths in many areas.
7. Are you in the process of being accused and need help? There is help and support available. You are not the only one.
Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
â€‹Failure to Report
Soc. Serv. Law Â§ 420 -â€‹Any mandatory reporter who willfully fails to report as required shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
Any mandatory reporter who knowingly and willfully fails to report as required shall be civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by such failure.
Penal Law Â§ 240.50(4)
A person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed, or circulated to be false or baseless, he or she reports, by word or action, an alleged occurrence or condition of child abuse or maltreatment that did not in fact occur or exist to: The statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment
Any person required to report cases of suspected child abuse or maltreatment, knowing that the person is required to report such cases, and with the intent that such an alleged occurrence be reported to the statewide central register .Falsely reporting an incident in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor
Procedures Foster Parents Need To Know
Written by- Maxine Ketcher, J.D., senior staff attorney at LSNY-Bronx, &
Barbara Winter, MSW, of Lansner & Kubitschek
Foster parents should get an advance, written, "ten (10) day notice" that their foster children will be removed, unless there is "imminent risk" (immediate, serious danger to the children's physical or emotional well-being). The notice should say why the children are being removed and how the foster parent can stop it (usually foster parents can't go to Court to stop the removal or obtain return of the children). Foster Parent should never sign the removal because you are waiving your rights.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE TO STOP A REMOVAL?
1. Administrative (or Agency) Conference. Within 10 days of receiving the notice, the foster parent must call or write the foster care agency (or the Administration for Children's Services [ACS] in New York City, if no other foster care agency is involved) to ask the agency to reconsider. DO
THIS BEFORE THE CHILDREN ARE REMOVED. At the same time also contact ACS's Office of Advocacy at (212) 676-9241; 150 William Street, New York, New York 10038, to ask that the children not be removed until after both the "Administrative Conference" AND "Independent Review" determinations have been made.
2. The Administrative Conference is usually held at the foster care agency a few days after the request. The caseworker and supervisor attend, other agency and ACS workers may be there too. It is usually very informal; the agency explains its concerns to the foster parent, then determines if the foster children should stay in that home. If there is no agreement:
3. Independent Review. This is an informal hearing, held at ACS's Office of Advocacy. An ACS worker, other than the regular ACS case manager (and, if involved, ACS's Office of Confidential Investigation's, [OCI], worker) listens to both sides of the story, then determines if it is in the best interests of the children to remain with (or return to) that foster parent or move to another foster home.
4. The Independent Review must be set up within 10 days of the request; written notice must be sent at least 5 days in advance. A written decision must be sent within 5 days after the Review ends.
5. IF A FOSTER PARENT LOSES AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW, and the children are not already removed, they cannot be removed until 3 days after the decision is sent, or the day the removal was originally scheduled, whichever is later. The foster parent should immediately ask the NYS Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS) for a Fair Hearing and a "stay" of the children's removal. Without OCFS's "stay", the children can be removed before the Fair Hearing occurs.
6. From this point on, anytime a foster parent has to appeal, s/he must ask for a "stay" to prevent the children's removal during the appeals. The stay can be given by the Judge whose determination is being appealed or by the court to which one is appealing.
7. Fair Hearing. This is a State review of the decision from the Independent Review. You have only 60 days after an unfavorable Independent Review decision is mailed to ask for a Fair Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will decide whether the foster care agency and ACS abused their "discretion" by removing your foster children ("agency discretion" means the agency can move a child if it believes that is in the child's best interests). If the ALJ decides the agencies made a reasonable decision, the Fair Hearing will confirm the agencies' decision. There are instructions for requesting a Fair Hearing at the end of this brochure. If you lose the Fair Hearing, you can go to:
8. "Article 78." This is the name for an appeal in NYS Supreme Court from a Fair Hearing decision. It can be filed in any borough where the agencies have offices, or where you live, or in one of the "Appellate Divisions" of Supreme Court. Where you file depends on what legal claims you can make and several other issues. For these reasons, it is very helpful to have a lawyer, or get advice from one, if you need to do an Article 78 of this type. You can call Legal Services of New York City (212-431-7200) to get the number of your local Legal Services office or call the local Bar Association's Referral Service. (Check your phone directory or call Information.) No matter where you file your Article 78 you have only four (4) months from the date the Fair Hearing determination was mailed to you to file your Article 78.
9. Appeal. If you lose your Article 78, you can appeal further. You must file within 30 days of receiving notice that an order was made against you.
All foster parents must follow these steps unless a judge makes an order saying something else. There are no exceptions, or special rules, for foster parents who are related to the children (kinship foster care) or who were planning to adopt their foster children.
10.IF YOU HAVE A COURT ORDER SPECIFICALLY SAYING THE CHILDREN SHOULD STAY WITH YOU WHILE IN FOSTER CARE
If you have a court order saying the children are "placed with ACS" or "placed with the Commissioner of Social Services" [of the City of New York] "to reside with" you, ACS and/or the foster care agency must ask a judge to change that order before the children can be removed (unless they were removed due to an emergency). If the children have already been removed, you can go to court and file a "petition to enforce" the judge's order and ask for the children to be returned, unless the judge was already asked to change his/her order. The judge will also decide whether you have to follow the usual steps we've described, or whether s/he will review the matter in court.
IF THE FAMILY COURT JUDGE ORDERS THE REMOVAL OF YOUR FOSTER CHILDREN
If you were in court when the judge made the order to remove the children, you can appeal to an Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court (see above) and/or ask the judge to reconsider his/her decision. You have only 30 days to do either of these things.
If you were not in court when the judge made the order, you may still be able to ask the judge to review his/her decision, and consider the legal arguments you would have made if you had been there (called "modifying" or "vacating" an order, depending upon whether or not you had notice of the case).
EMERGENCY REMOVALS OF FOSTER CHILDREN
If the agency believes the children are at imminent risk, they may legally remove them from their foster homes without written notice being given to their foster parents. Foster parents still have the right to follow the steps described above to try to get their foster children returned.
There are four other common times when foster parents will not receive a ten day notice of removal: (1) a judge orders the removal; (2) the foster parent asks for the removal; (3) the children are being returned to their parents or (4) the law requires that a foster parent be "de-certified" (no longer qualifies as a foster parent).
REMOVALS EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO NEGLECT OR ABUSE
The agency decides what is in the child's best interests. Some common reasons for placing a child in another foster home are: (a) the child needs a more structured setting or more supervision than s/he currently has; (b) the child is being (re)united with relatives; (c) another home will better meet his/her permanency goal. Only if the foster care agency "abuses its discretion" might the agency's actions be overturned after a "Review" or "Hearing".
IF A FOSTER PARENT IS ACCUSED OF NEGLECT OR ABUSE OF FOSTER CHILDREN
ACS' Office of Confidential Investigations (OCI) will investigate the accusations, and may also report them to the State Central Registry (SCR). OCI has up to 60 days to finish its investigation. You should receive a notice from the NYS Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS) that the report was made against you. If OCI and OFCS believe you have neglected and/or abused a child, you should receive a State notice that the report is "indicated" or "founded."
OCI then decides if your foster children should be taken out of your home. If OCI decides they should, you have the right to follow the procedure discussed above to prevent the removal or to try to get them back.
You have the right to ask for a separate Fair Hearing to "clear your name" so the State does not use the record against you. You must ask for this Fair Hearing within 60 days of getting the Notice of an Indicated Report. Officially this is called a hearing to "seal"(only ACS, law enforcement, or certain courts can know the report exists), "expunge" (physically destroy) or amend the report.
Asking for this Hearing does not stop ACS or the agency from removing the child. To prevent the removal, you have to follow the steps outlined above; it may involve another, separate "removal" Fair Hearing. Understand that these two Fair Hearings are always separate, even though they involve the same events.
PLACEMENT OF OTHER FOSTER CHILDREN WITH YOU
The removal of a foster child, even against your wishes, is not necessarily a reason not to place other foster children with you. Placement of other children in your home depends upon the reason your foster child was removed. For example, if a child was removed because of the need for a more structured setting, the agency may be willing to put less demanding children in your home. If you were found neglectful, however, you are less likely to get other children.
If the agency and/or ACS decides no more foster children should be put in your home, you should receive another, separate, written notice that your (foster) "home" is being closed." Again, you can ask for a separate Fair Hearing on this issue. See information at the end of this website.
Sometimes the agency and/or ACS simply do not re-new a foster parent's license, certification, or approval letter. Before your license, certificate, or approval letter expires, ask the agency or ACS if they will renew. If they say no, or don't answer in 30 days, you can ask for a Fair Hearing on this issue. Call or write the same place you would for a Fair Hearing about your home being closed.
These Fair Hearings are different and usually separate from a Removal or "Name Clearing" Fair Hearing. Sometimes three Fair Hearings are needed in order for a foster parent to continue caring for certain child(ren).
To ask for a Fair Hearing you can go in person, or call, or write. The best way is to go in person to:
New York State Department of Family Assistance
14 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, New York or you can call
518 or 474-8781 (long distance) or you can write to:
New York State Department of Family Assistance
40 N. Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12243
Attn.: Fair Hearing Request Unit
Regarding removals: Attn. Special Hearings - Fair Hearing Request Unit, (express mail, if possible)
Regarding an SCR report: Attn: Post-Intake Unit
On closing your home: Attn: Special Fair Hearings Request Unit .
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New York state central register on child abuse and neglect seriously flawed. By Daniel Weaver
Almost everyone knows that New York State maintains a sex offender registry, but few people know that New York State, in deed all states, also maintains a child abuse and maltreatment registry, known as the State Central Register.
While the sex offender registry serves a useful purpose in that it makes the public aware of convicted sex offenders, the nature of their crimes, and where they are currently living; the child abuse and maltreatment registry is seriously flawed and is injurious to thousands of people who have never been convicted of a crime.
That's because you do not have to be convicted of a crime to have your name placed on the child abuse and maltreatment registry.
Just how does your name get on the registry? After a phone call is made to the child abuse hotline, a report of the call is made to Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS launches an investigation that can take up to sixty days to complete. When the investigator completes her investigation, she either indicates the report or declares that it is unfounded.
An unfounded report means that the investigator found no evidence of neglect or abuse. An indicated report means that the investigator found some evidence of neglect or abuse. Once a report is indicated, the person who allegedly abused or neglected a child is immediately placed on the child abuse registry.
All it takes then to be placed on the registry is one personâ€™s investigation, resulting in her belief that there is some evidence that abuse or neglect took place. The investigator is not required to find that there is a preponderance of evidence pointing to guilt, but only some evidence.
It's true that some of these cases end up in court and the person named in the report is found guilty of neglect or abuse, but there are also many cases where the person is found innocent. If a person is found innocent, his or her name is not automatically removed from the registry.
A separate hearing has to be held to do that and the alleged perpetrator has to formally request that hearing within a certain time frame.
Many times a report is indicated, particularly in neglect cases, and no criminal charges are lodged. I know of cases where a CPS investigator indicated a report of neglect, but no charges or petitions were filed in either family or criminal court.
My guess is that the investigator did not really believe there was any neglect, but wanted to protect herself in case more evidence surfaced in the future.
What is disturbing about the child abuse and maltreatment registry is that, regardless of whether or not a person is guilty, he or she is placed on the registry before having a chance to defend his or her innocence.
And he or she is placed on that registry based on the investigation of one person. This is akin to a person being placed on the sex offender registry before going to trial, based on one detective investigation.
This becomes even more troubling when one realizes that the registry is not just a list of people who have been accused of child abuse and neglect and investigated by one person who believes there is some evidence of neglect, but it is also a form of punishment.
While the child abuse registry is not available to the general public, it is available to employers who employ people in jobs--such as daycare, teaching or pediatric nursing--where they have contact with children.
When you apply for a job working with children, your prospective employer will most likely send an inquiry to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to see if your name is on the register.
If your name is on it, the employer is not likely to care whether or not you are innocent or whether or not you got your day in court. He is not likely to hire you, and with law suits and liability insurance being what they are, you can hardly blame him.
The real culprits here are not employers who use the list, CPS investigators who put people on the list, or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services which maintains the list. The real culprits are the New York State Assembly and Senate which passed the laws setting up the registry and the rules for getting placed on the list.
These laws are unfair and most likely unconstitutional, but no one has challenged them. Most of the people on the list, whether guilty or innocent, are the kind that can't afford an attorney to represent them at a fair hearing a to get their name taken off the list, much less afford to challenge the laws that put them on the list in the first place.
Civil liberties groups have challenged sex offender laws, laws that often affect convicted criminals, because of their unfairness. The same attention needs to be paid to parents, foster parents, grandparents and others who have been placed on the child abuse and maltreatment registry before having their day in court and in some cases without ever having their day in court.
Attention Foster Parents
Foster Care is Temporary care for a child that is in foster care. TheGoal is always RETURNTO PARENT. We do not support trying to take a child away from their parents in no way. We are here to educate and inform you of following policy & procedure as a foster parent. We cannot support foster parents that violate the Foster Parent State Manual. We cannot support foster parents who hit foster children. You will half to get a lawyer on your case.
FPA-Foundation supports REUNIFICATIONin every way. Foster parents are trained in your MAPP Training to also support reunification. Reminder: Your job is to care for a child until they return home it can be 1 day to 1 year but thegoal is RETURN TO PARENT. Foster parents are license by the state to conduct and work as a professional care giver to children in need. Foster parents signed a contract from your foster care agency that will hold you accountable if you violate the policy.
These are not your children and they come with trauma and need to be treated different from your own child. Foster children/youths must receive allowance and know what their rights are while they are in foster care. Children in foster care do have rights. They have a right to express their concerns that arise in your home.
Foster parents must apply skills and training to help you work with foster children. Unless something permits the child from returning home. We encourage reunification of families. A child should be placed with a relative first and than a foster parent if there is no resource. State laws are put into place for relatives to have first preference. Grand parents have laws put into place to have visitation with their love one.
Document, Document, Document
The single most significant thing you can do is write everything down.
Keep a daily log. Write down the events of the day, the child’s behavior and interactions, and your observations. Document doctor and therapist appointments, visitations, discipline issues, and your corrective actions. Write down the stories of your family life – fun things you did, places you went, funny or significant things the child did or said. Write everything down. Send it periodically to the social worker, case manager, and the Guardian Ad Litem/CASA.
Put your commitment in writing.
If you are committed to being a parenting resource for this child, put your commitment to the child and his/her future in writing in the child’s file. Write a letter with words to this effect:
“We love this child and we are willing to adopt her, if she becomes available for adoption. We are committed to this child’s future, and wish to be a resource no matter what the outcome of this dependency. We wish to be the first placement you consider should this child re-enter the system. If we ever in the future state that we do not wish any more placements, she is the exception. She is always welcome in our home.”
Send this letter to the case manager and CC:
it to everybody, the judge, the guardian ad litem, the social worker, the supervisor, and the ombudsman (if an ombudsman is involved).
Write letters voicing your concerns.
Anytime you have a concern that is not being addressed, write it down and send it CC: to everybody, as above.
Working with the Birth Parent(s)
It is in the best interests of the child that you work with the birth parents and cooperate with visitations, for many reasons:
The child may be returned to the birth parents even if you believe their fitness is marginal. Parental rights are so strong, the child may be returned even if the department and the court agree with you. If the child is going to be returned to thebirth parents, you want the birth parents to be the best they can be.
If the birth parents realize you are trying to help them, you may develop a positive relationship that will allow you continued contact even after the child has been returned. This allows you to help them parent the child that may well have emotional and behavioral issues. It also helps the child deal with the transition, and helps you be sure that the child really is okay.
If the case moves towards termination of parental rights (TPR), and you have an established positive relationship with the birth parents, it is more likely they will agree to an open adoption. This is often preferable to TPR because it establishes permanency for the child sooner, often a year sooner.Cooperating with visitations makes you the good guy. Failure to fully cooperate demonstrates to the court that you do not act in the child’s best interests.
Lots of visitation can help maintain the parental bond that was hurt by removal. It can also reveal deficiencies. Throwing lots of visitation can make the parent succeed or fail early, so that permanency can be established sooner.
If you and the department are bending over backwards to help the birth parent succeed in visitations, and the birth parent still cannot get out of bed or stay sober, it makes the case for TPR all that stronger. If, however, you have not cooperated with visitations, it gives the birth parent another excuse.
Ways you can help with visitations:
First and foremost – help the child. The child may feel anxiety, uncertainty, fear, and anger around visitation days. You may find regressions in many behaviors, such as language skills, nightmares/night terrors, wetting or soiling themselves, tantrums, aggressiveness, or intentionally hurting themselves or others. Be prepared. Be loving, comforting, understanding, and get the child into therapy if needed. Write down what happens in a daily log – see the section Document, Document, Document, below.
If the birth parent has a hard time showing up for visitations – give him/her a wake up call. They’ll be shocked. But your kid won’t have to deal with a long drive for a no show, and you won’t have to deal with a child with a crushed heart.
If scheduling is an issue, offer to supervise a visit if you feel comfortable doing that. It helps you form a relationship with the parent, and helps the child to see the important adults in his/her life cooperating and getting along. It also makes the visit less scary if you are there.Gently offer to help the parent with advice on handling the child’s behaviors. This is tricky; a birth parent may be offended at the suggestion that they need your help. A soft sell might help: “That’s a good way to deal with that. Can I show you another way?” or, “I know that’s really hard. Sometimes what I try is…”
Never make disparaging remarks about the birth parent. Children cannot feel positive about two adults that do not feel positive about each other. They can’t handle that conflict. To set the child up with negative feelings causes them to feel bad about their parents, themselves, and you. Acting out on these feelings can make abuse more likely. And it simply is not fair.Be positive about visitations, even if the child does not feel positive about them. Any implication from you that there is something negative about visits makes them even scarier for the child. As mentioned above, get the child therapy if needed and document all issues.
Be understanding of the birth parents when they freak out if their child calls you “mommy” or “daddy.” Don’t take it personally. The parents are going through their own guilt and emotional issues over the process. Gently explain that you understand why they are upset, and that the child is just trying to make sense of a very confusing situation. Explain that you don’t tell the child to call you “mommy”, but you don’t forbid it, either. The child needs the freedom to call you whatever helps her make sense of her world.
Keep your eyes open during all visitations. Look for signs of drug use or criminal activity, or adults present that aren't in the parenting plan. If they is associate with known drug users or criminals, that is reason enough to deny placement. There should be a background check on any adult in the home, but quite often that is overlooked.
Join the FPA-Foundation's People's Movement
You want a positive outcome for your child. The best way to get it is for us all to band together for positives outcomes for all the children. There are thousands of us foster parents. We have a voice that is respected. We have an issue with which none can argue – the safety and well being of children.
Do your legislators know your story? Have you ever called them in support of foster kids? Do you even know their names? If you want the laws to change you have to speak up. In New York City, Meet your legislators, and let them how much pain is out there.
Write a citizen concern letter to your council members and congress about your experience as a foster parent. What changes need to be made in laws.When we stand together we are a powerful force for the children, and for change.And don’t give up. You aren’t alone.
Foster Parent's Right to Be Heard
Your right to be heard at all dependency hearings is established by State and Federal law. U.S. Congress amended the United States Code, 42 U.S.C. 675(5)(G) with the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006, to read:
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