Should foster parents have a "bill of rights" codified in state law?

Feb 13, 2018

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

HB 1562, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sean Morrison (R-Epping), would create a foster parent “bill of rights.”

What would a foster parents’ bill of rights look like?

The 18 point bill, among other things, would make the following part of state law:

  • Prohibit retaliation by the DCYF against any foster parent making an inquiry as to the agency’s decisions
  • Give foster parents a voice as to where a child is placed next
  • Guarantee foster parents receive background information in a timely fashion on any child that is placed in their care

Foster parents need to have a voice in protecting vulnerable children

Those who support HB 1562 point out that foster parents are essential members of a child’s welfare team, yet they lack legal standing that guarantees them a role in a foster child’s final placement.

“Foster parents may deeply care for their placements, but they are not the birth parents or legal guardians of their foster children. Most birth families retain full parental rights while the state works to reunify families….I absolutely think children would be better served if their foster families were allowed a more active role.”

- Airial Sillanpaa, Portsmouth Foster Mother

Other supporters say the state needs laws to protect foster families from unfair and negligent practices by the DCYF.

Additionally, there is a current shortage of foster parents in New Hampshire, and more legal protections might encourage more adults to foster.

Those against a “bill of rights” for foster parents

Opponents of a “bill of rights” say foster parents’ rights already exist in the current rules and just need to be enforced. They argue that such a bill could create a contentious relationship between foster parents and the DCYF, which is already struggling to accomplish its mission with limited resources.

“An awful lot of the challenges that we’re seeing right now in the foster care system are a result of kind of the overall challenges we’re having throughout (DCYF) at large. Tackling those challenges would be better accomplished by increased agency resources than new laws.”

- Joseph Ribsam, DCYF Executive Director

Opponents of the bill also worry that giving foster parents more legal rights would interfere with biological parents’ rights.

Do you think there should be a “bill of rights” for foster parents? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Comments

Sean Morrison
- Epping

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 12:09am

I worked diligently to ensure that NO birth parent rights are infringed upon. This bill is a compilation of DCYF rules and current law that simply do not happen. The intent is to ensure that the rights of the CHILDREN in state care are protected, and that a state agency does not continue to neglect the best interest of the children they’ve taken out of their homes. In order for the children to be represented honestly, the ones who see them the most during these times, foster parents and therapists MUST have the ability to stand up for the childrens’ Best interests. That is all this bill attempts to do. Director RibsamJr had never met with NH foster parents to hear their concerns before testifying against this bill. I’m fact, 2 days prior to the hearing he told me personally he hadn’t seen them. And don’t forget that he comes from the New Jersey Child Care system, which had to be sued in federal court into reform. Foster care in this state is in crisis, because of the opiod epidemic. Mistreatment of children and volunteers who open their homes to them must cease. We can not afford it any longer, not with this crisis.

Terese Grinnell
- Loudo

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:49pm

This is absolutely needed....Foster Parents are often the most reliable source of information on how the child is doing with visitations and what is truly in the best interest of the child yet if feedback although specific and factual is not positive the information is dismissed or the foster parent is labeled as not working towards reunification. System needs to protect those who are able to provide the information needed for the courts to keep these children safe....Foster Parent Bill of Rights promotes just that!

LEAVE A COMMENT

Log in or register to post comments

RELATED REPRESENTATIVES

Representative, NH House of Representatives (2016 - present); Paramedic; Firefighter; Veteran, US Army

Join Citizens Count

Join our constantly growing community. Membership is free and supports our efforts to help NH citizens become informed and engaged. 

JOIN TODAY ▸

©2018 Live Free or Die Alliance | The Live Free or Die Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.