(a) It is the policy of this State to strengthen and preserve the family as a unit consistent with a high priority of protecting children's welfare. When a child requires care outside the family unit, it is the duty of the State to assure that the quality of substitute care is as close as possible to the care and nurturing that society expects of a family. However, the State recognizes there are instances when protecting a child's welfare outweighs reunifying the family unit, and as such, the care of residential care facilities providing high quality services that include meeting the children's educational needs as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services can satisfy the standard of protecting a child's welfare, regardless of the child's age, particularly when the sibling groups can be kept intact. To that end, the General Assembly promotes the following in the provision of foster care:
(1) A safe foster home free of violence, abuse, neglect, and danger.
(2) First priority regarding placement in a home with siblings.
(3) The ability to communicate with the assigned social worker or case worker overseeing the child's case and have calls made to the social worker or case worker returned within a reasonable period of time.
(4) Allowing the child to remain enrolled in the school the child attended before being placed in foster care, if at all possible.
(5) Having a social worker, when a child is removed from the home, to immediately begin conducting an investigation to identify and locate all grandparents, adult siblings, and other adult relatives of the child to provide those persons with specific information and explanation of various options to participate in placement of a child.
(6) Participation in school extracurricular activities, community events, and religious practices.
(7) Communication with the biological parents if the child placed in foster care receives any immunizations and whether any additional immunizations are needed if the child will be transitioning back into a home with his or her biological parents.
(8) Establishing and having access to a bank or savings account in accordance with State laws and federal regulations.
(9) Obtaining identification and permanent documents, including a birth certificate, social security card, and health records by the age of 16, to the extent allowed by federal and State law.
(10) The use of appropriate communication measures to maintain contact with siblings if the child placed in foster care is separated from his or her siblings.
(11) Meaningful participation in a transition plan for those phasing out of foster care, including participation in family team, treatment team, court, and school meetings.
A violation of subdivisions (1) through (11) of this subsection shall not be construed to create a cause of action under this section against the State, the Department of Health and Human Services, or a person or entity providing foster care pursuant to this Article.
(b) The purpose of this Article is to assign the authority to protect the health, safety and well-being of children separated from or being cared for away from their families. (1983, c. 637, s. 2; 2009-408, s. 1; 2013-326, s. 1.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014