Stay Connected:

  • facebook
  • twitter

For Inquiries, Please Call: 478-477-1289

What Are Foster Parents Not Allowed to Do? Discover the Rules

When it comes to foster care and foster parenting, there are certain dos and don’ts that you need to keep in mind. Rules and guidelines exist in the foster care system for the protection of the children involved, their families, and also for parents like you. The goal of foster care is to provide a safe and nurturing experience to every child and to avoid preventable issues that could cause complications for the child, the biological family, or the fostering family.

While there are many things you are allowed to do with or for your foster child, here are some things to avoid doing to protect the safety and security of your foster child while they are in your care:

1. Do Not Share Your Foster Child’s Face on Any Social Media Platform

Sharing your foster child’s face on any social media platform may seem innocent enough, but doing so is strictly prohibited because it violates the child’s right to privacy.

No matter the platform and no matter if your account is public or private, neither you, your friends, nor your family are allowed to share their face on social media. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Snapchat
  • BeReal
  • YouTube
  • Any blogging platform
  • Any other platform

While biological parents do not require permission from their children to display their faces on social media, foster children have a unique right to their privacy. Posting images or videos that allow viewers to identify your foster child directly violates that right.

Foster children are granted their right to privacy for several reasons, the main one being protection against exposure of their foster care status.

Exposing your foster child’s status could result in:

  • Stigmatization
  • Bullying
  • Further traumatization
  • Additional emotional or physical harm

This is not to say that you cannot let people know you have become a foster parent on social media. However, you definitely cannot upload their name or face at any point while the child is still in foster care. If you want to celebrate a birthday, accomplishment, or milestone in your foster child’s life, keep it vague—or better yet, keep it off the internet.

2. Do Not Make Drastic Changes to Your Child’s Appearance Without Permission

Major changes that have significant effect on the life of a child in foster care require the approval from the county Division of Family & Children Services. Altering the child’s appearance is one of them. This includes cutting/applying chemicals to the child’s hair, body piercing, tattoos, and more.  Approval must come from the child’s case worker.

There are a few reasons foster parents cannot freely change a child’s appearance, including:

Further Disruption in the Child’s Life

Your foster child has undergone a significant upheaval, and their sense of identity is most likely rattled to some extent, either moderately or significantly. And hair is a big part of anyone’s identity. Changing your child’s hair, even a little, can become yet another thing that throws off their sense of identity and can lead to further distress for your child.

When maintaining your child’s hairstyle, you likely do not need to ask permission. However, if your child is asking for a change in length or style, you will need to get approval.

Cultural Complications

Some children enter foster care from cultures that place significant value on their hairstyle or clothing choices. It can be deemed insensitive to alter your foster child’s hairstyle. Cultural respect is really important to help maintain and even boost your child’s sense of identity and connection to their culture.

Parental Overstepping

By taking it upon yourself to change your foster child’s hair or appearance in any way, either through new haircuts or new piercings, you could overstep in your role as a foster parent and appear to disregard the rights and wishes of the child’s biological parents. It’s your role to provide love, nurturing care, and stability to the children who enter your home, and changing up their appearance is not necessary to accomplish that.

When in doubt, always ask the child’s caseworker for permission.

3. Do Not Make Assumptions in Regards to Leaving A Child Unattended Or With A Babysitter

Leaving them Unattended

As we’ve mentioned, the safety of your foster child is paramount. Leaving your child without adult supervision could compromise their safety, even if you believe nothing bad could possibly happen. Should an accident occur or an event take place that requires an adult to be present, your foster child could be left on their own in an unsafe position.

Youth 14 and older may be left unattended as long as the parent is complying with the “Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards.” Youth 14 years and older are faced with a host of potential problems including higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, pregnancy, and lower levels of education. One important way states are working to improve young peoples’ transition from foster care into adulthood is to ensure that youth have the opportunity to engage in a range of developmental- and age-appropriate experiences necessary for healthy emotional and social development.

The federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 now requires states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parenting standard,” giving foster parents the authority to make day-to-day decisions affecting children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, social, or sporting activities. A number of states define reasonable and prudent parenting standard to mean “careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety and best interest.” Georgia statute further identifies factors that a caregiver is to consider when using the standard:

  1. The child’s age, maturity and developmental level.
  2. Potential risk factors and the appropriateness of the activity.
  3. The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth and providing the child with a family-like living experience.
  4. The behavioral history of the child.
  5. Does it fall within your decision-making power (RPPS)?
  6. Has the child been placed long enough for you make reasonable and prudent decisions about them?
  7. Do you understand the child’s developmental needs?
  8. What would it mean for the child if said “no” or if you said “yes”?
  9. If this were your child, would you approve the request?
  10. What information has DFCS or agency provided you about that child? Have they shared any precautions that you need to consider?

Under a given circumstance, a parent can make reasonable and prudent parenting decision to leave a youth over 14 unattended. Potential justifiable instances could include them spending time at the movies with a friend, leaving a child at the library to study, etc. As long as the parent has considered the factors, they can make a reasonable and prudent parenting decision.

Foster children are the responsibility of not only you but a whole team of people in charge of their care and safety. This team is relying on you to deliver a safe, nurturing experience to the child placed with you, and there are compliance rules in place to ensure that happens.

Unapproved Babysitters

The “Reasonable & Prudent Parent Standard” (RPPS) also applies to babysitting for children and youth. The foster caregiver may approve babysitting without prior approval from the agency as long as it meets certain guidelines. The babysitter should:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be prepared and able to meet the needs of the children placed in their temporary care
  • Have reviewed the DFCS discipline policy and been provided with behavior management instructions
  • Be provided with information regarding the child’s care needs
  • Be given emergency contact information

Babysitters are classified as either routine or occasional. Routine babysitters must be screened and approved by DFCS. Routine care means care provide more than once a week, usually at designated times. Occasional care means care provided once a week or less with no more than three occurrences. Upon completion of the third occurrence, the occasional provider is considered “routine” and is subject to the same safety screening requirements.

All babysitters should meet the babysitter guidelines. Unapproved routine caregivers could pose a threat to the child’s safety.

4. Do Not Allow Co-Sleeping Arrangements With Your Foster Child

In most instances, foster families are required to provide a separate bed and sleeping space for the foster children they welcome into their home, unless the child has a sibling who is under 5 years of age, of the same sex, and they have a double or larger bed to sleep in. If you have other children in your home, they can share their bedroom with the foster child under the right circumstances or within the appropriate boundaries. Or, the foster child can always stay in a bedroom that is all theirs.

However, foster parents may not establish co-sleeping arrangements with their foster children, even if the child is an infant or toddler. There are several reasons for this, including:

  • It can be triggering – It’s very possible that you welcome a foster child who has been removed from a sexually abusive home. Co-sleeping with children who have experienced sexual abuse could quickly stir up memories of the abuse, triggering traumatic thoughts and trauma responses. It’s your goal to provide safety and comfort, but arranging for co-sleeping could result in the exact opposite.
  • It muddies the boundaries – as a foster parent, you are to provide stability and safety for your child. Part of achieving that is by establishing and sticking to firm boundaries with your child. Allowing your child to share your bed or not providing them with their own bed and sleeping area significantly weakens those boundaries you are trying to establish.
  • It can be dangerous – From accidental suffocation to falling off the bed, sharing a bed with a child can lead to painful injuries or even death.
  • It’s simply against the rules – Sharing your bed with a foster child is against the rules set by the Department of Family and Child Services because it poses too much of a risk for the child’s safety.

5. Do Not Move Out of State or Out of the Country With Your Foster Child

There are (hopefully) obvious reasons for why you should not and cannot move out of state with your foster child. If you are moving to a different area of town or a nearby city, that is usually permissible. However, uprooting yourself and your foster child to another state or country is against the rules for reasons that include:

  • Loss of stability – Your foster child is depending on you to provide a stable home life. Moving them away from their school, community, and even biological family can result in further feelings of turmoil and instability.
  • Interference with reunification – The goal of foster care is always “reunification first, other arrangements second.” Part of reunification includes the child seeing their biological parents or family members when permitted. By moving to another state or country with your foster child, it becomes harder for everyone involved to maintain visitation arrangements and the appointments needed to achieve reunification. Plus, biological parents still have certain rights, and uprooting the child can interfere with their ability to act on those rights.
  • Inability to foster in another state – If you become licensed to foster in Georgia, that does not mean you are licensed to foster in the other 49 states. Moving out of state with a foster child under your care creates complex legal complications you will have to sort out.
  • Legal complexities of moving to a new country – on top of all the legal complications that specifically relate to fostering from another country, you have the added issues surrounding immigration, visas, and everything else that comes with moving to a different country.

Another non-negotiable is traveling out of state. All out of state travel must typically be approved by the county DFCS Director. Foster caregivers can request such travel from their caseworkers, who will provide the foster caregiver with a written travel approval letter once approved.

6. Do Not Refuse to Vaccinate Your Foster Child

Foster children are required to receive the appropriate vaccinations to keep them healthy. If you do not believe in the safety or efficacy of vaccinations, you must still ensure your foster child maintains their vaccination schedule while the child is with you.

It’s your job and the state’s job to ensure your child remains safe, which also means ensuring their safety from dangerous viruses or infections. Plus, your foster child has a right to their health, which is maintained through vaccinations that also work to protect the public.

No matter what your stance is on vaccines for children, you must ensure your foster child receives theirs, unless the child legal guardian specifies otherwise.

For a complete list of dos and don’ts when it comes to fostering a child in Georgia, talk to the caring professionals at Generational Child Care.

Our team knows the parameters for foster parents and will be glad to answer all your questions about fostering, including, “What are foster parents NOT allowed to do?”, “What ARE foster parents allowed to do?”, and more. If you have questions, let us provide the answers and advice you’re looking for.

Contact us today at 478-477-1289.

Recent Articles

What to Expect During Your First Year as a Foster Parent

What Does Foster to Adopt Mean?

What Are the Types of Foster Care in Georgia?

A Deep Dive Into Partnership Parenting

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *