Foster care

What is foster care?

Foster care is the child’s temporary placement (with or without his/her parents’ consent) with a family other than his/her biological family to be raised and cared for. This is a protection measure allowing children deprived of parental care to be raised in a family environment and get the chance to develop as a person.

Children in need of foster care: Who are they?

Foster care is targeted at children whose biological family is no longer capable of providing adequate care:

  • Parents are deceased, unknown or deprived fully or partially of their parental rights, or are permanently unable to care for the child.
  • Parents are consistently failing to provide care for the child; the child is a victim of family violence and the risk of his/her physical, mental, moral, cognitive and social development being damaged is high.

Types of foster care

Placement may differ in terms of duration depending on the child’s needs:

  • Short-term placement: for a period of up to one year in order to provide support to the biological family and then return the child to them;
  • Long-term placement: it is used when the attempts to ensure a safe family environment for the child (reintegration in the biological family or adoption) were unsuccessful within the period of short-term placement;
  • Emergency placement: it is used in cases of immediate threat to the life and health of the child in an emergency situation;
  • Substitute foster care is provided to a child for a short period of time in order to support those who take care of the child in various situations (foster parents fall ill, annual time off, etc.).

Foster family

The foster family may be comprised of two spouses or an individual with whom a child is placed to be raised and cared for on the basis of a contract.

Every foster family is selected, assessed and trained before a child is placed with them. This is done to ensure that foster parents are responsible people with the right qualities to raise and care for a child.

Foster families may be voluntary or professional. They are assessed and approved according to the same procedure. The only difference between them is that professional foster families get paid for their work, while voluntary foster families do not. All foster families get a monthly allowance to cover the child’s needs.

What kind of care do foster families provide?

Foster parents accept the child as part of their family and take care of him/her in their own home. They must provide a safe and secure environment, food, healthcare and education; they must cater for the child’s emotional needs, develop his/her independent life skills and provide opportunities for the child to maintain contacts with the biological family.

Foster parents work in close cooperation with child protection officers, the foster care team, and the child’s parents and relatives.

Foster care as a social service

Foster care is organized by the government through the Child Protection Departments of Social Assistance Directorates and is delivered by social service providers.

The service includes:

  • Conducting awareness campaigns to recruit candidate foster parents;
  • Assessment and training of candidates;
  • Matching (selection of a family that is suitable for the child);
  • Monitoring and support for the foster family.

The decision to approve a foster family is made by a regional Foster Care Committee based on a social assessment report. Then the director of the regional Social Assistance Directorate would issue an Order for the inscription of the candidate family in the Register of Approved Foster Families.

The selection of a suitable foster family for a particular child who needs foster care is done by the Social Assistance Directorate taking into consideration all the needs of the child.

A placement contract is signed with the foster family which governs the responsibilities of the foster family with respect to caring for and upbringing the child.

After the child’s placement, the foster family is monitored by the Social Assistance Directorate to ensure that they comply with their foster parents’ obligations to care for and raise the child placed with them.

Foster families receive support in their efforts to raise children placed with them. They are entitled to financial support to meet children’s needs and have the possibility to obtain additional training, counselling and supervision.

Every foster family must cooperate with social workers from Child Protection Departments and foster care teams by granting access to the child and the home and sharing information with them in relation to the child’s development. Foster families should also participate actively in various forms of professional development (continuing education, supervision, mutual help groups etc.).