Foster Care ProgramThe Children's Foster Care Program provides placement and supervision of children who are temporary or permanent court or state wards. This includes children who cannot remain at home because their families are unable to provide minimal care and supervision. State wards are youths whose parents' parental rights have been terminated and who are legally free for adoption. The foster care program is based on the following principles:
· Whenever possible, the department should preserve the child's family. A child should be separated from his family only when the family is absent or is unwilling or unable, even with assistance, to provide a minimally acceptable family life.
· If the child cannot be protected from abuse or neglect in his home, and removal is necessary, the primary focus of services is directed toward problem resolution so the child may be returned.
· The purpose of foster care is to provide continuity, consistency and permanency in a family setting for the growing child. If return home is not possible, alternative permanent plans must be pursued. Current foster care policy directs the case worker to appropriate service delivery and timely permanent planning decisions. Independent living services must be provided to older youths to ensure a successful transition to adulthood once they exit the foster care system.
· To improve results for children and families in the foster care system, four key Family to Family strategies are used: active community partnership, neighborhood-based recruitment and retention of foster homes, self evaluation and data-driven decisions and team decision meetings with the involvement of both birth parents and foster parents.