This is commonly one of the first concerns when your child is placed in foster care. The term “foster care” is a broad one but usually refers to any situation in which children are placed in the State’s custody. Also, your children may stay with relatives in a licensed foster home or a state residential facility commonly referred to as a group home.
There is good news, however, and you must remember that foster care is not forever in many cases. Children can and do return home to their families. Attempting to get the family safely back together is nearly always the first goal and is most often considered in your child’s best interest.
You need to note that every one of these cases is legally complex and involves many singular circumstances. That being said, applying the foster care system can give your family dedicated support and time to become stronger than before. If you fully participate in your foster care plan and its services, you can strengthen your parenting skills and become the best parent you can be for your children.
Remember that if the Arizona courts deemed it necessary to place your children in foster care, there may be valid reasons. The safety of the children is always the court’s primary concern.
Currently, however, like many others involved in Arizona’s child-welfare system, safety concerns sparked by health concerns (the coronavirus), and your behavior, may have upended the way your family connects for visitation in person.
In more normal times, children who have been taken from their homes and placed in foster care get regular visits with their parents, especially when trying to regain custody. Commonly today, these visits can be moved from in-person to virtual online, face-to-face meetings.
This entire legal area is complex and depends greatly on the circumstances of your case and the specific reasons your children have been put in foster care. The foster parents, relative, placement- commonly called “kinship placement” etc., must follow the court’s mandates to the letter. So, typically your best chance is to consult with an Arizona family law firm knowledgeable in all aspects of your case. In this way, you have the best chance of setting up visitation (if allowed) through the courts, to which the foster parents must adhere.
What Are Some Of My Rights If My Child Is Placed in Foster Care?
Federal and state laws provide rights for you if your children are in Arizona’s foster care system.
- If you are suspected of child abuse or neglect, you have the right to be notified of the specific allegations against you and the outcome of the agency’s investigation.
- The foster care system ensures your children are placed with relatives whenever possible. The state must locate and notify relatives (on both sides of the child’s family) of children who are removed from their homes within 30 days.
- States must try to keep siblings in foster care together.
- In some cases, however, depending on the specific circumstances involved, the courts may limit or suspend certain rights you have as parents.
- You must be informed about the entire process, including any court hearings and what is expected of you.
- Most importantly, you must be allowed and have legal representation by a attorney working on your behalf.
- Participate in developing your family’s case plan and be informed of any changes.
If the courts allow it, you also must be allowed regular visits and contact with your children while in foster care. However, the specifics of your case and how they are presented may not allow this to be done immediately or at all.
If I Cannot Visit My Children, How Can I “Strengthen My Family” So I Can Do So?
When your case plan is set up, it’s not just about “checking boxes” to see your children or get them home. The plan’s goal is to create a stronger parent and family for your children and yourself.
You can start his process by building “protective factors” or strengths that help you through these challenging times.
Some of these factors include:
- Ways in which your family members show that they love and care about each other.
- You are gaining valuable information about raising your children and what they require at different ages.
- You are strengthening your ability to “bounce back” after complex challenges.
- A lot of support from family and friends.
- Ways to meet day-to-day needs (like housing, food, clothing, etc.).
- Exploring new ways to help your children have a good relationship with you and others.
Remember, with the invaluable help of your Arizona family law team; you will participate in this plan. Your lawyer will address all the pertinent issues that need to be addressed. Your lawyer will also provide unbiased and valuable information and direction in working towards increasing visitation and even getting your children back home.
Can I Do Anything To Facilitate Getting My Children Home?
There are many things you can do. While your children are in foster care, you should accept and completely understand why they are there, maintain the right attitude, and participate in your care plan. This is all done to make your home safe for their return.
If anything changes and the plan becomes difficult for you to follow, talk to your caseworker or your Arizona family lawyer immediately. Make sure your lawyer knows that the services described in your plan do not meet your current needs, are not available, are too expensive, or are too difficult to access.
If your plan includes it, visit your children regularly and work with your team. It’s also vital to document your progress, including keeping track of visits with your children and participation in services. Also, if the foster parents or kinship placement are not allowing you to participate in legally mandated parts of your plan, your lawyer and the court must know that too!
My Child’s Foster Parents Are Not Allowing Visitation as Mandated; How Should I Proceed?
No matter the circumstances, having your children placed in foster care isa stressful situation. Remember, you do have rights! Immediately consulting with an experienced, empathetic Phoenix family law team is always the best path.
Your lawyer will analyze all the details of your case and help you work with the Arizona court to protect your and your children’s rights from beginning to end. If those rights, such as visitation, are abused, they will make sure the matter is legally and aggressively presented and corrected. Consult with them first, and never deal with the Arizona foster care system alone.