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Foster Care FAQs

Transforming lives, one child at a time.

Frequently Asked Questions

01

Foster
Care

What is foster care?

Foster care is the planned, temporary, or extended substitute family care and family living for a child whose parent(s), for any number of reasons, cannot care for him/her.

What is the purpose and objective of foster care?

The purpose/objective of foster care is to provide experiences and conditions that enhance maturation, protect from injury, and correct problems that until now blocked personality developments, thereby helping the child to become personally and socially responsible.

It is also to promote the completion of the plan for permanency, whether it is to (a) re-unite the child with family of origin or relatives, (b) provide family living pending adoption, or (c) remain in foster care to prepare for adult living after graduation from high school.

What is the difference between family foster care and adoption?

Family foster care provides for temporary care of children when there is necessary separation from their biological families. Biological families still maintain legal rights of the children, but the state takes the role as temporary custodian for the children. Foster families provide for the individual needs of the children through the strength of family living and through family and community supports. If you are a foster family, the agency has either temporary or permanent guardianship or responsibility for the children. “The goal of family foster care is to provide opportunities for healing, growth, and development leading to healthier infants, children, youths, and families, with safe nurturing relationships intended to last a lifetime.”

Adoption is the means of transferring to a child and parents all the legal rights that they would have if that child had been born to those parents. If you are an adoptive family, the agency has custody of the child until the adoption is finalized. The value of adoption is that it provides children with stability in legal and social realms. Adoption also teaches commitment in relationships. The goal of adoption is to provide a child with a family that intends to offer a lifetime relationship.

What are the different level of services for children and what do they mean?

Basic Service Level

Angelheart will serve all basic service level children.
The Basic Service Level consists of a supportive setting, preferably in a family, that is designed to maintain or improve the child’s functioning, including: routine guidance and supervision to ensure the child’s safety and sense of security; affection, reassurance, and involvement in activities appropriate to the child’s age and development to promote the child’s well-being; contact, in a manner that is deemed in the best interest of the child, with family members and other persons significant to the child to maintain a sense of identity and culture; and access to therapeutic, habilitative, and medical intervention and guidance from professionals or paraprofessionals, on an as-needed basis, to help the child maintain functioning appropriate to the child’s age and development.

Moderate Service Level

Angelheart will serve most moderate service level youth.
The Moderate Service Level consists of a structured supportive setting, preferably in a family, in which most activities are designed to improve the child’s functioning including:

  • More than routine guidance and supervision to ensure the child’s safety and sense of security
  • Affection, reassurance, and involvement in structured activities appropriate to the child’s age and development to promote the child’s well-being
  • Contact, in a manner that is deemed in the best interest of the child, with family members and other persons significant to the child to maintain a sense of identity and culture
  • Access to therapeutic, habilitative, and medical intervention and guidance from professionals or paraprofessionals to help the child attain or maintain functioning appropriate to the child’s age and development

In addition, a child with primary medical or habilitative needs may require intermittent interventions from a skilled caregiver who has demonstrated competence.

Specialized Service Level

Angelheart serves some special service level children depending on behaviors; Angelheart will not serve actively suicidal youth, fire setters, chronic runners, and children with ongoing significant substance abuse issues.

The Specialized Service Level consists of a treatment setting, preferably in a family, in which caregivers have specialized training to provide therapeutic, habilitative, and medical support and interventions including:

  • 24-hour supervision to ensure the child’s safety and sense of security, which includes close monitoring and increased limit setting
  • Affection, reassurance, and involvement in therapeutic activities appropriate to the child’s age and development to promote the child’s well-being
  • Contact, in a manner that is deemed in the best interest of the child, with family members and other persons significant to the child to maintain a sense of identity and culture
  • Therapeutic, habilitative, and medical intervention and guidance that is regularly scheduled and professionally designed and supervised to help the child attain functioning appropriate to the child’s age and development

In addition, a child with primary medical or habilitative needs may require regular interventions from a caregiver who has demonstrated competence.

Intense Service Level

Angelheart does not service intense service level children.

The Intense Service Level consists of a high degree of structure, preferably in a family, to limit the child’s access to environments as necessary to protect the child. The caregivers have specialized training to provide intense therapeutic and habilitative supports and interventions with limited outside access, including:

  • 24-hour supervision to ensure the child’s safety and sense of security, which includes frequent one-to-one monitoring with the ability to provide immediate on-site response.
  • Affection, reassurance, and involvement in therapeutic activities appropriate to the child’s age and development to promote the child’s well-being
  • Contact, in a manner that is deemed in the best interest of the child, with family members and other persons significant to the child, to maintain a sense of identity and culture
  • Therapeutic, habilitative, and medical intervention and guidance that is frequently scheduled and professionally designed and supervised to help the child attain functioning more appropriate to the child’s age and development

What rights do I have as a foster parent or family?

You have a right…

  • To be treated with dignity, respect and consideration as a team member who is making an important contribution to the agency’s objectives.
  • To a clear understanding of your role as a foster-adopt parent, the role of the agency and the roles of the members of the child’s legal family.
  • To continuation of your own family patterns and routines, thus acknowledging the ebb and flow of family life and its normalizing benefits to the child in your care.
  • To select pertinent training and be given support in your efforts to improve your skills in providing day to day care and meeting the special needs of the child in your care.
  • To know how to contact the agency and receive help, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
  • To timely, adequate financial reimbursement for your knowledgeable care of a child.
  • To view all legally available information placed in your foster home record by agency staff immediately upon placement of the information in the record.
  • Prior to placement, to review a child’s case file as it pertains to the child, to assist in determining if this would be a proper placement for your family if there are unanswered questions of concerns after speaking with the child’s caseworker.
  • An obligation to say no to a placement or to have a child moved when absolutely necessary, without reprisal, unless you have a specific agreement with the agency that indicates otherwise.
  • To ask for “a break” or “time off” as needed, with follow-up contacts by the agency.
  • For your family to be considered first when issues of health and/or safety occur.
  • To have a clear understanding of Angelheart’s plans concerning placement of children in your home.
  • To be notified of meetings in order to actively participate in the case planning and decision-making process regarding the child in your care and to have your input treated in the same manner as information presented by the other members of the professional team.
  • To be provided all pertinent information regarding the child, in a timely manner both prior to placement and on an ongoing basis. (Information shared with the foster-adopt family after a placement is terminated is contingent upon the legally responsible party’s permission).
  • To reasonable notification of changes in the plan of service or termination of the placement and the reasons for the changes in the plan of service or termination of placement.
  • To file a grievance if any of the above rights have been violated or denied or if you want to appeal an agency decision made about your home. If you have a grievance, either call or write to your Child Placing Staff. If the Child Placing Staff does not respond to your satisfaction, call or write to the Program Director. If the Program Director does not respond to your satisfaction, call or write to the Regional Director. If the Regional Director does not respond to your satisfaction, notify the Board of Directors of Angelheart, and the Board will respond to your grievance either at the next regularly scheduled board meeting or sooner if the board deems it necessary.

02

Angelheart and
Foster Care

What is Angelheart’s philosophy on foster care?

In serving the youth, it is imperative that the whole family is served in the process of facilitating the goals of the permanency plan. Without the familial support, changes children undergo while involved in the program will not be stable.

A “team” approach has been considered the most effective, with ANGELHEART workers, the foster-adopt family, school personnel, counselors, pastors, and any other available resources being applied to the child and the family to reach appropriate goals for each individual child.

What criteria does Angelheart consider when placing children (number, ages, needs)?

Number of Children:

Angelheart looks at the square footage of the bedrooms designated for foster children and follows TDPRS minimum standards.

For the first year of licensure (for families who have never provided foster care), Angelheart will place no more than four children in the home for the first 6 months. The progress of the family in evaluated at the first quarterly review. On the second quarterly review, the number of children for which the home is verified will be increased if:

  • Both Angelheart and the foster family agree that the foster parents have demonstrated an ability to meet the five competencies (taken from the PRIDE course) for the children currently in their care
  • Their in-service training is current
  • Foster parents have demonstrated the ability to complete and turn in paperwork within Angelheart regulations
  • The family has not had any citations from either Angelheart or RCCL
  • All items on the foster-adopt family file checklist are in compliance

In addition, Angelheart maintains a 1:4 ratio of foster-adopt parent to foster children

Group Homes
Angelheart does not verify new foster families as a group home unless there are extenuating circumstances that demonstrate the need to do so. A family must be verified with Angelheart for at least a year before being verified as a group home. At that time, the family is only verified as a group home if the Administrator and Case Manager/Treatment Director agree that the family is capable of providing care to an increased number of children. The family is evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Foster parents have consistently demonstrated all of the five competencies for the children currently in their care
  • Foster parent training is current
  • Foster parents have demonstrated the ability to complete and turn in paperwork within Angelheart regulations
  • The family has not had any citations from either Angelheart or RCCL
  • All items on the foster-adopt family file checklist are in compliance

Above all, Angelheart staff must feel comfortable that if a family becomes a group home, the individual needs of the children in the home will still be met.

Transfer Families
Angelheart verifies transfer families based on the same criteria as above. If the family currently cares for more children than what ANGELHEART recommends, the PD will document that (s)he is aware of the reasons for licensing the family in a way that is different than ANGELHEART policy. This is included in the home study.

Ages

Angelheart verifies all foster families for children ages 0-17 in order to allow the families to provide respite care for any child in need of such care. If, during the home study process, a family requests to work with a specific age range, ANGELHEART will comply with that when considering foster placements.

Needs

The Pre-PRIDE process adequately prepares prospective families to meet the needs of the therapeutic children that Angelheart places. During the home study process, each foster family documents any behaviors with which they do not feel comfortable working. Angelheart respects the families’ desires and includes them in the home study. If the family does not specify certain behaviors with which they will not work, Angelheart considers them able to work with any therapeutic child and states this in the home study. If agency staff discovers through the pre-PRIDE and home study process that there are certain needs that the foster-adopt family will have a difficult time meeting, Amgelheart staff discusses this with the prospective family and excludes them from the list of eligible placement needs.

Any exceptions to the above requirements must be approved by the Administrator.

Are there any additional criteria? If so, what are they?

Yes. On a regular basis, the Child Placing Specialist/Treatment Director, Therapists, and Administrative staff meet to select the most appropriate setting for new intakes consistent with the child’s needs. The staff members reach a consensus based on discussion of criteria that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Placement with his/her siblings, where there is a family group
  • Physical capacity of the foster home
  • Current circumstances of the family
  • Amount of time since last placement was made
  • Amount of time since last child left placement
  • Culture of the family and community
  • Religious preferences
  • Temperaments and desires of the family
  • Desires, interests, age of the foster child as these compare with the desires and capabilities of the family
  • Experiences of the foster-adopt family
  • Rural vs. urban issues, and whether the foster home is in reasonable proximity to the child’s family and home community
  • Issues affecting other residents in the home, e.g., Angelheart will not place teenagers of differing genders in the same home unless they are part of a sibling group and the Clinical Director or Program Director have approved the placement because of extenuating circumstances
  • Aggressive teens will not be placed in a single parent’s home without an adequate staff plan
  • Child’s needs as compared with the training completed by members of the foster family, e.g., children with special medical needs will be placed only with foster families who have completed specialized training in caring for those needs
  • Proven performance of the foster parents
  • Facilitate placement process and supervise case planning for the child.

Angelheart, in collaboration with the child’s legally responsible party, provides an individual service plan for each child in care. The legally responsible party for the child shall determine the parameters of the biological family’s participation, the frequency of communication and the type of communication to be shared.

How does Angelheart facilitate the placement process?

To facilitate the placement process, Angelheart will:

  • Consult with selected foster family regarding taking the selected child
  • Provide the family with as much background information as is necessary and available to make an informed, wise decision and help the child in placement
  • Inform the family of the legally responsible party’s plans for the child, i.e., placement with family of origin or relative, adoption, or permanent foster care and preparation for adult living
  • In addition, if the plan for permanency is re-unification, Angelheart coordinates with the child’s legally responsible party to facilitate the reunification of the child to the biological family
  • Supervise placement and provide direct social services
  • Angelheart Child Placing Staff/treatment supervisors visit with the children/foster families at least once per month, depending on the program in which each child is placed, in order to evaluate needs and intervene as necessary.
  • Angelheart visits with the child and foster family using the following guidelines (visits are face-to-face):
    1. Basic Level –Child Placing Staff will visit with the child at least once a month
    2. Moderate Level – Child Placing Staff or Treatment Specialist will visit with the child twice a month or more often if determined necessary by the treatment team
    3. Specialized Level – Treatment Specialist will visit with the child twice a month
  • Home visits will be conducted by the Child Placing Management Staff, Foster Home Developer, or treatment supervisor at least once a quarter.
  • Plan for children’s educational needs
  • Officially request enrollment of child in school and ensure necessary records transfers
  • Accompany parents and child to enroll child in school (as needed)
  • Request and approve (or gain approval) necessary intervention if needed
  • Request and approve tutoring if needed
  • Request and approve necessary psychological, psychiatric, dental and/or medical services
  • Angelheart collaborates with each school district to provide the best education possible for each child placed in Angelheart’s care.
  • Angelheart communicates with school personnel about the needs of individual children and attends all necessary meetings (ARD meetings, parent/teacher conferences)
  • Angelheart staff may also request meetings with school personnel if concerns arise about the educational services being provided to a certain child
  • Provide support and supervision for foster families
  • Provide foster-adopt families with quarterly case progress review revisions and results
  • Conduct in-service parenting enrichment training. (The schedule of requirements may vary with individual family needs).
    Provide counseling support to the foster family on issues pertaining to family relationships, insight into child’s behavior and how to effectively manage it, feelings involved in child’s learning, and other important issues involving the child and family
  • Provide regular payments, established by the Board of Directors, in addition to reimbursement for other Angelheart approved expenses incurred in the process of providing the child therapeutic resources, e.g., initial clothing allotment, transportation for requirements of the plan of service in excess of 25 miles radius of the foster home. Foster-adopt family reimbursements are made on the 15th and last day of each month for the two-week period beginning four weeks prior.
  • Provide consultation and support 24 hours per day, seven days per week, as needed. Foster-adopt parents may call the office during working hours (8:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday and the on -call number after hours).
  • Provide information for the legally responsible party.
  • Angelheart provides services as dictated by current contracts, which assists the child’s parent(s) in maintaining and enhancing parental functioning and parental care in accordance with the child’s plan of service
  • Angelheart provides the legally responsible party with information that will assist it in its permanency planning
    Provide services for the biological family
  • Angelheart provides an orientation of the foster care service to the child’s biological parent(s), dependent upon what is specified in the court order and the child’s plan of service. The orientation process consists of a discussion about the foster care service, the biological parent(s)’ continuing involvement with the child and the agency, and a discussion of their rights and responsibilities while the child is in foster care.
  • Angelheart makes arrangements, where necessary, to allow for at-risk children to return home. If services are not available in the agency, the agency coordinates to the fullest attempt possible for the provision of the required services.
    Long-term foster care may indicate that additional face-to-face interviews take place as indicated in the child’s case plan
    Ensure safeguards for the least restrictive plan for permanency
  • Prior to being placed in a foster home, ANGELHEART and the legally responsible party will explore the need for long-term care as follows:
    1. Ensure that adoption, family placement, extended family, and temporary foster care options have been evaluated
    2. Ensure that children under the age of twelve are considered for other placement options, if possible
    3. Ensure that all possible options for children over twelve are considered prior to long-term placement.

What is Angelheart’s discipline policy?

Parental discipline of children is necessary to instill self-discipline and a proper role in relation to authority. The assumption here is that humanity is naturally interested in the self, without regard for others. Therefore, the purpose of discipline is to teach a child to become sharing, not selfish; cooperative, not defiant; respectful, not disrespectful; and considerate of others, not inconsiderate.

Angelheart stands firmly against abusive punishment, punishment administered in anger, punishment that will break the child’s spirit (personal worth), punishment administered in a fashion that implies that the child is unwanted, unnecessary, foolish, ugly, dumb, a burden, an embarrassment or a disastrous mistake.

Angelheart is interested in teaching foster families (and biological families) effective parenting techniques and healthy family relationships that will obviate punishment.

Discipline, properly administered, should promote a value of self-control, hence positive regard from others and for self. Only foster parents or adult caregivers approved by Angelheart may discipline a child in the care of Angelheart. Foster-adopt parents must adhere to the following:

  • The Rules, Rewards and Consequences of Angelheart (below) are the only interventions permitted by Angelheart except as outlined below, included in the child’s plan of service, or authorized by Angelheart Case Manager/Treatment Supervisor or Program Director, and documented in the child’s file.
  • Quiet time is voluntary, but may be a part of a routine schedule. Caretakers must grant quiet time and permit a child use of quiet time until (s)he is ready to terminate the quiet time unless the plan of service indicates otherwise. If a child wishes to terminate quiet time and the caretaker requires the child to remain in the quiet time area, the quiet time procedure becomes subject to the requirements and restrictions of time-out (below).
  • The caretaker initiates time-out. Children must be permitted to physically leave the designated time-out area, but consequences (explained to the child prior to initiating the time-out) may be attached to the child’s leaving the designated time-out area. Use of time-out is subject to the following parameters:
    1. Before initiating time-out, the caretaker must explain to the child the behavior necessary to end time-out, and the caretaker must terminate time-out in accordance with the pre-set commitment.
    2. Each use of time-out that exceeds 30 minutes must be documented in the child’s record and must be reviewed at the child’s next review of his/her plan of service. Documentation must include the reasons for initiating time-out, the length of time spent in time-out, and the outcomes for the child.
    3. Staff may not prevent or physically restrict a child from leaving the area except as is required under the guidelines for passive physical restraint policy and procedures (below).
    4. The child in time-out cannot be prohibited from attending school.
    5. Caretakers must not use time-out for their convenience or as a substitute for program treatment.
  • Angelheart does not permit mechanical restraints and seclusion.
  • All discipline practices below are prohibited, including:
    1. Ridicule, verbal abuse or threats, or derogatory or humiliating remarks.
    2. Physical punishment inflicted upon the body (e.g. spanking or shaking).
    3. Punishment for bed-wetting or actions related to toilet training.
    4. Delegation of discipline to another child or group of children, except as part of an organized self-government program that is conducted in accordance with written policy and directly supervised by staff.
    5. Denial of: mail, food, water, shelter, sufficient sleep, clothing or bedding, elements of the Progress Review, communication with or visiting by or with the family.
    6. Assignments of physically strenuous exercise or work solely as punishment.
    7. Requiring a child to remain silent for long periods of time.
    8. Group punishment for the misbehavior of an individual child.
    9. Delegation of discipline to person(s) other than adult care giver(s) of the child.
    10. Threats of removal from the foster home.
    11. Placement of a child alone in a locked room.
    12. Restriction to the foster home for more than 24 hours without expressed consent of Angelheart.
  • Punishment that accounts for a child’s special needs is most desired. Angelheart provides training before and after foster families become licensed which deals with these needs in detail. Generally, expectations should be clear beforehand and the punishments should be set as well. Logical and natural consequences, withdrawal of privileges (which, preferably, are not opportunities that are beneficial to the child); time out (see above Time-Out policy); restrictions and “grounding” (either pre-set or in consultation with the Angelheart Case Manager/Treatment Supervisor, generally long enough to be effective but not so long to foster bitterness and resentment); and fines (in an amount equitable with the infraction and the child’s available resources) are some examples of punishments which can be utilized. The reason for any punishment or restriction must be explained to the child when the measures are imposed.

Angelheart will likely receive complaints of abuse or neglect on the part of the foster parents. Angelheart and state officials determine whether or not they are true and investigate all such complaints. When you cooperate with Angelheart and the state officials during an investigation, the entire process can be completed efficiently.

Children who are in foster care can be demanding and bring extra stress to the foster family. The children may even “look for” abuse, because they have been abused and may relate that to being “loved.” If you find yourself on the verge of abusing a child in some way, contact the child’s Case Manager/Treatment Supervisor immediately regarding your concerns.

What is Angelheart’s policy on “Safe Touch”?

Since 85% or more of children placed in treatment foster care have been sexually abused, Angelheart recognizes the need to minimize the risks associated with sexual acting out for the foster parents, the children, and the agency. Therefore, Angelheart requires the following safety precautions:

  • Training for all staff and foster parents during their orientation periods re: the “Safe Touch” program of Angelheart. Fully executed “Family Safety Contract” (below) for each child in placement (as appropriate developmentally) at intake and reviewed with each child at each “Progress Review.”
  • Additional precautions (“Safety Plan”) for foster homes in which children who are placed are deemed by the clinical director a “high risk” for sexual acting out.
  • “Safety Plans” are valid only if they ensure the safety of children when they are followed, i.e., if the direct care staff/foster family execute according to instructions, the risk of sexual molestation is zero.
  • No children sleep in the same bedroom that are more than 35 months different in age unless specifically approved by the clinical director and documented in the children’s records. Such exceptions need to be reviewed by the clinical director at each Progress Review and whenever information regarding the children’s risk levels indicates a need for review.
  • Every foster home with more than one child in placement must have a monitoring system approved by the clinical director unless exempted by the clinical director and documented in the foster home record. The exemption must be reviewed at each “Quarterly Foster-Adopt Home Review and whenever information regarding the children’s risk levels indicate a need for review. Monitoring systems must be of sufficient reliable quality to alert caretakers 100% of the time to the need for preventive intervention.