Foster Parent Bill of Rights
The Foster Parent Bill of Rights became law on July 1, 2004 and outlines 23 rights for DFCS foster parents. The law covers issues such as non-discrimination, distribution and disclosure of information, financial reimbursement, and the right to have input into case planning for children. It includes a provision for advocates who can provide support to foster parents during child protective services investigations or through the grievance process. The Bill of Rights also allows for foster parents to file grievances when they believe that any of these rights have been violated. The 23 rights are listed below
The right to be treated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Resources and other partners in the care of abused children with dignity, respect, and trust as a primary provider of foster care and a member of the professional team caring for foster children.
The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, color, creed, gender, marital status, national origin, age, or physical handicap.
The right to continue with his or her own family values and beliefs, so long as the values and beliefs of the foster child and the birth family are not infringed upon and consideration is given to the special needs of children who have experienced trauma and separation from their families. This shall include the right to exercise parental authority within the limits of policies, procedures, and other directions of the Division of Family and Children Services and within the limits of the laws of the State of Georgia.
The right to receive both standardized pre-service training, including training in Division of Family and Children Services policies and procedures and appropriate ongoing training, by the Division of Family and Children Services or the placing agency at appropriate intervals to meet mutually assessed needs of the child and to improve foster parents´ skills and to apprise foster parents of any changes in policies and procedures of the Division of Family and Children Services and any changes in applicable law.
The right to be apprised of information, laws, and guidelines on the obligations, responsibilities, and opportunities of foster parenting and to be kept informed of any changes in laws, policies, and procedures regarding foster parenting by the Division of Family and Children Services in a timely manner and at least annually
The right to receive timely financial reimbursement according to the agreement between the foster parents and the Department of Human Resources from funds appropriated by the General Assembly and to be notified of any costs or expenses for which the foster parent may be eligible for reimbursement.
The right to receive information from the Division of Family and Children Services on how to receive services and reach personnel 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
The right prior to the placement of a child to be notified of any issues relative to the child that may jeopardize the health and safety of the foster family or the child or alter the manner in which foster care should be administered.
The right to discuss information regarding the child prior to placement. The Division of Family and Children Services will provide such information as it becomes available as allowable under state and federal laws.
The right to refuse placement of a child in the foster home or to request, upon reasonable notice, the removal of a child from the foster home without fear of reprisal or any adverse effect on being assigned any future foster or adoptive placements.
The right to receive any information through the Division of Family and Children Services regarding the number of times a foster child has been moved and the reasons therefor; and to receive the names and phone numbers of the previous foster parents if the previous foster parents have authorized such release and as allowable under state and federal law.
The right, at any time during which a child is placed with the foster parent, to receive from the Division of Family and Children Services any and all additional pertinent information relevant to the care of the child.
The right to be provided with a written copy of the individual treatment and service plan concerning the child in the foster parent´s home and to discuss such plan with the case manager, as well as reasonable notification of any changes to that plan.
The right to participate in the planning of visitation with the child and the child´s biological family with the foster parents recognizing that visitation with his or her biological family is important to the child.
The right to participate in the case planning and decision-making process with the Division of Family and Children Services regarding the child as provided in Code Section 15-11-58.
The right to provide input concerning the plan of services for the child and to have that input considered by the department.
The right to communicate for the purpose of participating in the case of the foster child with other professionals who work with such child within the context of the professional team, including, but not limited to, therapists, physicians, and teachers, as allowable under state and federal law.
The right to be notified in advance, in writing, by DFCS or the court of any hearing or review where the case plan or permanency of the child is an issue, including periodic reviews held by the court or by the Judicial Citizen Review panel, hearings following revocation of the license of an agency which has permanent custody of a child, and permanency hearings.
The right to be considered, where appropriate, as a preferential placement option when a child who was formerly placed with the foster parents has reentered the foster care system.
The right to be considered, where appropriate, as the first choice as a permanent parent or parents for a child who, after 12 months of placement in the foster home, is released for adoption or permanent foster care.
The right to be provided a fair and timely investigation of complaints concerning the operation of a foster home.
The right to an explanation of a corrective action plan or policy violation relating to foster parents.
The right, to the extent allowed under state and federal law, to have an advocate present at all portions of investigations of abuse and neglect at which an accused foster parent is present. Child abuse and neglect investigations shall be investigated pursuant to DFCS policies and procedures, and any removal of a foster child shall be conducted pursuant to those policies and procedures. DFCS will permit volunteers with the Adoptive and Foster Parent Association of Georgia (AFPAG) to be educated concerning the procedures relevant to investigations of alleged abuse and neglect and the rights of accused foster parents. After such training, a volunteer will be permitted to serve as an advocate for an accused foster parent. All communication received by the advocate in this capacity shall be strictly confidential.
When there is a presumed violation of these rights and any others determined by the Agency, foster families can file a grievance. The grievance process is comprised of 3 steps:
- Step One Grievance: Submit a written complaint to the local DFCS County Director via Foster Parent Grievance Notification: County Director.
- Step Two Grievance: If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved within 15 business days from the date the complaint was received by the local DFCS, submit a written complaint to the State DFCS Division Director via Foster Parent Grievance Notification: State Division Director along with a copy of Foster Parent Grievance Notification: County Director, the local DFCS response, and any other pertinent documentation to the State DFCS Division Director or his/her Designee for resolution at:
- If the complaint is not satisfactorily resolved within 15 business days from the date the complaint was received by the State DFCS Division Director, submit a written complaint to the State Mediation Committee (SMC) via Foster Parent Grievance Notification: State Mediation Committee along with the entire complaint packet, including responses from the local DFCS and State Division Director to:
- Confirm acceptance of the review/staffing appointment from the SMC via telephone, facsimile, or letter before the complaint will be placed on the SMC’s calendar.
- Comply with any requests from the SMC for additional information within three business days of receipt.
- Accept the outcome from the mediation as final and determinative of all issues.
See the Foster Parent forms
Division of Family and Children Services
2 Peachtree Street N.W. Suite 19.490
Atlanta, GA 30303
State Mediation Committee
Office of the Child Advocate
State of Georgia
7 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 347
Atlanta, GA 30334
NOTE: If the Step Three Grievance is not filed within 10 business days of the Step Two (DFCS Division Director Response), the grievance is considered closed and no mediation will occur
NOTE: The mediation will result in a written agreement signed at the mediation or an impasse. Either way, it is the end of the grievance process.
The State is committed to establishing a partnership and support for caregivers. The Caregiver Ombudsman serves as an advocate for caregivers. The Ombudsman is a neutral or impartial dispute resolution practitioner for foster caregivers. The Ombudsman will focus on the following:
- Provide assistance to foster caregivers acting as a source of information and referral.
- Assist in the resolution of concerns and critical situations through the Foster Parent Grievance process
- Investigates complaints and make recommendation for resolutions.
- Volunteer Coordinator
Contact Caregiver Ombudsman via email at 877210Kids@dhs.ga.gov.