If your situations has advanced to the point where you child has been placed by Child Protective Services (CPS) into foster care, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities.  (See also: How to Obtain an Attorney for Your Case)

The basic premise of foster homes in these situations is that they are used by CPS to provide temporary care.  They are licensed by your state and supervised by a licensed CPS worker.  The hope his that your foster parents have been appropriately trained to both provide care for your child and work with CPS and you with the ultimate goal of having your child returned to you.  A case plan is put in place that details what actions are necessary to ensure and expedite reunification of child and family.  Case managers from CPS are to visit regularly with the foster family to ensure that your child is receiving appropriate care while the case plan is being met.  That care includes, at a minimum:

  • Food, shelter, clothing
  • Medical care
  • Education

To the extent possible (and we urge you, through your attorney, to insist upon this where practicable), children determined to require intervention and protection may be placed with relatives for the duration of case plan corrective actions.  Your relatives are subject to appropriate background checks, an in-home evaluation, and to sign an agreement drawn-up by CPS the details the requirements allowing placement with them.

There are services available for families who become engaged with CPS, foster care, and associated case plan activities.  Oftentimes, these services are provided without cost after consultation with the CPS case manager.  Some services possible include, but are not limited to:

  • Family counseling and professional guidance (including relationship counseling and/or individual counseling, as appropriate)
  • Food, clothing, healthcare, housing, education
  • Psychological evaluations
  • Daycare accommodations
  • Job training and job search assistance
  • Parenting classes and parenting aid services
  • Drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation programs

You, as the parents, have significant responsibilities to ensure a speedy reunification with your child.  You must be prepared to work with Child Protective Services to resolve any issues and take appropriate corrective actions.  Attend and actively participate in all reviews, conferences, and hearings associated with your CPS case.  Provide all appropriate information regarding your child.  You must always keep CPS up-to-date about any significant changes to your status (address or telephone changes, income or employment changes, marital or relationship status, etc.)  You must visit with your children regularly while they are in foster care.  You must be sure to keep all appointments made with or via Child Protective Services with others involved in your case, be they CPS themselves, attorneys, therapists, counselors, etc.  Of course, it is critical that you follow all court orders pertaining to your case.

Now that you’ve done everything that you’re supposed to and your child is returning home, this is when your responsibilities are extra-critical.  You’ll remain under the watchful eye of CPS and hopefully all matters have been rectified to their satisfaction.  Now – you have to keep it that way to avoid any further intervention from CPS and worse – risk losing your children permanently.  It is also quite possible that services you may have been granted during the course of CPS involvement can continue after the child has been returned home to you.  The rest is up to you.

Keep the children safe, happy, well taken care of and CPS should stay away for good!