Foster parents’ bill of rights. — 1. (1) The children’s division and its contractors, recognizing that foster parents are not clients but rather are colleagues in the child welfare team, shall treat foster parents in a manner consistent with the National Association of Social Workers’ ethical standards of conduct as described in its Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues. Foster parents shall treat the children in their care, the child’s birth family and members of the child welfare team in a manner consistent with their ethical responsibilities as professional team members.
(2) The children’s division and its contractors shall provide written notification of the rights enumerated in this section at the time of initial licensure and at the time of each licensure renewal following the initial licensure period.
2. (1) The children’s division and its contractors shall provide foster parents with regularly scheduled opportunities for preservice training, and regularly scheduled opportunities for pertinent inservice training, as determined by the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Advisory Board.
(2) The children’s division and its contractors shall provide to foster parents and potential adoptive parents, prior to placement, all pertinent information, including but not limited to full disclosure of all medical, psychological, and psychiatric conditions of the child, as well as information from previous placements that would indicate that the child or children may have a propensity to cause violence to any member of the foster family home. The foster parents shall be provided with any information regarding the child or the child’s family, including but not limited to the case plan, any family history of mental or physical illness, sexual abuse of the child or sexual abuse perpetrated by the child, criminal background of the child or the child’s family, fire-setting or other destructive behavior by the child, substance abuse by the child or child’s family, or any other information which is pertinent to the care and needs of the child and to protect the foster or adoptive family. Knowingly providing false or misleading information to foster parents in order to secure placement shall be denoted in the caseworker’s personnel file and shall be kept on record by the division.
(3) The children’s division and its contractors shall arrange preplacement visits, except in emergencies.
(4) The foster parents may ask questions about the child’s case plan, encourage a placement or refuse a placement without reprisal from the caseworker or agency. After a placement, the children’s division and its contractors shall update the foster parents as new information about the child is gathered.
(5) Foster parents shall be informed in a timely manner by the children’s division and its contractors of all team meetings and staffings concerning their licensure status or children placed in their homes, and shall be allowed to participate, consistent with section 210.761.
(6) The children’s division and its contractors shall establish reasonably accessible respite care for children in foster care for short periods of time, jointly determined by foster parents and the child’s caseworker pursuant to section 210.545. Foster parents shall follow all procedures established by the children’s division and its contractors for requesting and using respite care.
(7) Foster parents shall treat all information received from the children’s division and its contractors about the child and the child’s family as confidential. Information necessary for the medical or psychiatric care of the child may be provided to the appropriate practitioners. Foster parents may share information necessary with school personnel in order to secure a safe and appropriate education for the child. Additionally, foster parents shall share information they may learn about the child and the child’s family, and concerns that arise in the care of the child, with the caseworker and other members of the child welfare team. Recognizing that placement changes are difficult for children, foster parents shall seek all necessary information, and participate in preplacement visits whenever possible, before deciding whether to accept a child for placement.
3. (1) Foster parents shall make decisions about the daily living concerns of the child, and shall be permitted to continue the practice of their own family values and routines while respecting the child’s cultural heritage. All discipline shall be consistent with state laws and regulations. The children’s division shall allow foster parents to help plan visitation between the child and the child’s siblings or biological family. Visitations should be scheduled at a time that meets the needs of the child, the biological family members, and the foster family whenever possible. Recognizing that visitation with family members is an important right of children in foster care, foster parents shall be flexible and cooperative with regard to family visits.
(2) Foster parents shall provide care that is respectful of the child’s cultural identity and needs. Recognizing that cultural competence can be learned, the children’s division and their contractors shall provide foster parents with training that specifically addresses cultural needs of children, including but not limited to, information on skin and hair care, information on any specific religious or cultural practices of the child’s biological family, and referrals to community resources for ongoing education and support.
(3) Foster parents shall recognize that the purpose of discipline is to teach and direct the behavior of the child, and ensure that it is administered in a humane and sensitive manner. Foster parents shall use discipline methods which are consistent with children’s division policy.
4. (1) Consistent with state laws and regulations, the children’s division and its contractors shall provide, upon request by the foster parents, information about a child’s progress after the child leaves foster care.
(2) Except in emergencies, foster parents shall be given two weeks advance notice and a written statement of the reasons before a child is removed from their care. When requesting removal of a child from their home, foster parents shall give two weeks advance notice, consistent with division policy, to the child’s caseworker, except in emergency situations.
(3) Recognizing the critical nature of attachment for children, if a child reenters the foster care system and is not placed in a relative home, the child’s former foster parents shall be given first consideration for placement of the child.
(4) If a child becomes free for adoption while in foster care, the child’s foster family shall be given preferential consideration as adoptive parents consistent with section 453.070.
(5) If a foster child becomes free for adoption and the foster parents desire to adopt the child, they shall inform the caseworker within sixty days of the caseworker’s initial query. If they do not choose to pursue adoption, foster parents shall make every effort to support and encourage the child’s placement in a permanent home, including but not limited to providing information on the history and care needs of the child and accommodating transitional visitation.
5. Foster parents shall be informed by the court no later than two weeks prior to all court hearings pertaining to a child in their care, and informed of their right to attend and participate, consistent with section 211.464.
6. The children’s division and their contractors shall provide access to a fair and impartial grievance process to address licensure, case management decisions, and delivery of service issues. Foster parents shall have timely access to the child placement agency’s appeals process, and shall be free from acts of retaliation when exercising the right to appeal.
7. The children’s division and their contractors shall provide training to foster parents on the policies and procedures governing the licensure of foster homes, the provision of foster care, and the adoption process. Foster parents shall, upon request, be provided with written documentation of the policies of the children’s division and their contractors. Per licensure requirements, foster parents shall comply with the policies of the child placement agency.
8. For purposes of this section, “foster parent” means a resource family providing care of children in state custody.
(L. 2002 S.B. 923, et al., A.L. 2007 S.B. 25)