The National Voice of Foster Parents

 

NFPA Position Statements

PLEASE NOTE: The following documents are position statements developed by NFPA representatives and voted on by the membership. The documents are listed in chronological order, beginning with the most recent.


123.12 - Privacy of Foster Parent of Information

Whereas foster parent's information contained within any state agency is personal and private and whereas such information should remain confidential from all persons except those persons authorized to obtain such information.

Whereas such information includes but is not limited to social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, income and financial information, health insurance, drivers license, marriage and divorce history, information gleaned from pre-service training classes

Whereas foster parents have a detrimental reliance on appropriate safeguards being set in place to protect such information with regard  to agency policy and procedures

Therefore be it resolved; the National Foster Parent Association encourages , all foster parent licensing agencies  to establish clear policies which safeguard electronic, written and oral transmission of foster parent information within their respective states and beyond.  Further we ask for the agency to set in place policy that limits who can view and access such information supported by requisite training programs for employees regarding the importance of protecting the privacy of foster parent’s records.  Be it further resolved that foster parents have a right to examine any and all information in their respective files upon request.

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122.07 - Smoking & Secondhand Smoke

Whereas, secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of cancer in humans, and

Whereas, secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke, and

Whereas, secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children and is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year and causes 1,900 to 2,700 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the United States annually, and

Whereas, secondhand smoke exposure may cause buildup of fluid in the middle ear, resulting in 700,000 to 1.6 million physician office visits per year, and

Whereas, secondhand smoke can also aggravate symptoms in 400,000 to 1,000,000 children with asthma, and

Whereas, in the United States, 21 million, or 35 percent, of children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke in the home on a regular basis, and

Whereas, approximately 50-75 percent of children in the United States have detectable levels of cotinine, the breakdown product of nicotine in the blood, and

Whereas, the U.S. Surgeon General, in 2006, issued a profound report compiling the scientific and medical research that supports the conclusion that secondhand smoke exposure is dangerous, particularly to children, causing such conditions as decreased lung function to increased rates of lower respiratory tract infections (pneumonia and bronchitis) and middle ear infections, the harm to children cannot be ignored (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/lkibrary/secondhandsmoke/report/), and

Whereas, it has been demonstrated that there has been no diminution in the number of available placement homes in states that limit the use of tobacco products in their foster homes, and

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association supports legislation and other rules that prohibit the use of tobacco in foster or kinship homes and in vehicles while transporting a child in foster or kinship care.

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121.07 - Fair & Equal Consideration of Foster & Adoptive Parents

Whereas, many children and young persons require foster care and adoption services, and

Whereas, children should receive these services in the least restrictive setting within their community, and

Whereas, these children come from all races, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic groups and backgrounds, and

Whereas, the continued need for additional foster and adoptive parents is critical, and

Whereas, it is the fundamental right of children to be placed in a home that meets their individualized needs and this right supersedes and is secondary to the rights of any group, and

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association believes that every child deserves a loving, supportive family and supports the position that every loving, responsible adult should have a fair and equal opportunity to become a foster and/or adoptive parent.

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120.06 - Education

Whereas, many children and youth entering foster care in the United States are three grade levels behind their peers, and

Whereas, all children and youth in foster care are entitled to a wide range of supports, services, and opportunities that promote educational successes such as timeliness of all educational processes, a circle of support, permanency, access to current educational programs offered by both public and private entities, access to post secondary education, and the facilitation of life skills, and

Whereas, there must be timely transfer of credits, immediate enrollment in a new school, timely continuity with regard to educational records when moves to other schools occur, flexibility with educational planning, such as the ability to choose classes, understanding of reasons for multiple absences, credit recovery programs, and summer schools to help youth trying to stay on track with their education, and

Whereas, to promote education and learning, foster children and youth need a circle of support, such as foster parents, siblings, mentors, homework buddies, coaches, guidance counselors, teachers, educational advocates and tutors (those charged with supporting the educational achievement of the youth they work with), and

Whereas, custodial agencies have a responsibility to maintain placements to support permanency efforts making it easier for children and youth in foster care to:

    * Be placed with a family within their home school district when in the best interest of the child;
    * Build relationships at school with caring adults;
    * Create a peer group of close friends;
    * Alleviate always being the new kid in school by eliminating moves;
    * Respond to an environment of stability that facilitates learning;
    * Have access to special programs to accommodate behavioral issues, and

Whereas, post secondary educational endeavors should be supported by creating federal and state policies that encourage creation of financial resources to support such items as tuition, waivers of tuition, support for room and board, cash assistance and scholarships, and

Whereas, youth in foster care need both formal and informal learning opportunities to acquire, practice, and utilize basic living skills to include competency-based skills (completion of high school and the pursuit of post secondary education) as well as skills such as a sense of self-confidence, purpose, and the ability to make good decisions, and

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association supports and encourages the development of state and national Task Forces to address the many challenges facing foster children and youth in the educational system. The Task Forces should consist of elected officials, educators, child welfare agencies, foster parents, youth in care, and other community members to create and implement standards or policies that promote educational success such as completion of high school, the pursuit of post secondary education, and the learning of life skills development.

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119.05 - The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

Whereas, there is a critical need for programs to provide services to both youth in foster care who are preparing to transition to adulthood and youth 18-21 who have already left foster care and need assistance, and

Whereas, The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program was created in 1999 with passage of the Foster Care Independence Act, to meet these needs by giving grants to states and increasing the funding by 100% for the independence program, and

Whereas, The State is afforded great flexibility with these funds to be creative in implementing the 5 initial purposes and one added purpose of the program as spelled out in the legislation:
  1. To identify children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age and to help these children make the transition to self-sufficiency by providing services such as assistance in obtaining a high school diploma, career exploration, vocational training, job placement and retention, training in daily living skills, training in budgeting and financial management skills, substance abuse prevention, and preventive health activities (including smoking avoidance, nutrition education, and pregnancy prevention);
  2. To help children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age receive the education, training and services necessary to obtain employment;
  3. To help children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age prepare for and enter post secondary training and education institutions;
  4. To provide personal and emotional support to children aging out of foster care, through mentors and the promotion of interactions with dedicated adults;
  5. To provide financial, housing, counseling, employment, education, medical and other appropriate support and services to former foster care recipients between 18 and 21 years of age to complement their own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to assure that program participants recognize and accept their personal responsibility for preparing for and then making the transition from adolescence to adulthood;
  6. (Added in 2001) Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendment that has separate funding to make available vouchers for education and training, including post secondary learning and education, to youths who have aged out of foster care;
      Therefore, be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association strongly supports the implementation of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. Be it also resolved that the National foster Parent Association encourages the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) that is required by the legislation as soon as possible, so that information regarding the effectiveness of states’ Chafee Programs will be available. Furthermore, the National Foster Parent Association strongly encourages continued full funding of the John H. Chafee Program, as well as full additional funding of the Chafee Educational and Training Voucher Program at $60 million per year as authorized in the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendment.

118.05 - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning Youth

Whereas, the basic mission of child welfare services is to safeguard children from harm and to act in their best interest, and

Whereas, through the use of foster care, states provide a temporary safe haven for children whose parents are unable to care for them, and

Whereas, recognizing that when children are moved from their homes and placed in foster care, their world is thrown off balance and they may experience feelings such as being scared, ashamed and nervous about the unknown, and

Whereas, foster parents, group homes, youth shelters, and institutional residences help ease and restore balance to the child's world by comforting the child, determining needs, taking steps to meet those needs, providing support, and love, and

Whereas, it is crucial that child welfare agencies develop plans to assure safe and proper care consistent with the child's best interest and special needs, it is also crucial that child welfare agencies establish standards, policies, and training programs to protect all foster children and youth including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and

Be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association acknowledges gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are present in the foster care system and encourages and supports establishment of standards, policies, and training programs for foster care providers and professionals based on non-discrimination principles and sensitivity to the sexual orientation of all foster children and youth.

117.05 - Permanency

Whereas, every child has the need for permanency, security, stability and continuity within their living environment and their relationships, and

Whereas, children in the foster care system have been, too many times, caught in limbo in the child welfare system - a system of care designed to be temporary that often ensnares large numbers of children to remain in care for long periods of time causing them to grow up without permanent homes or families, and

Whereas, in recognition of this problem, efforts to redirect the priorities of the child welfare system to provide permanent homes for children, with their biological parents or other permanent parents through adoption, guardianship, or planned long-term foster care, have been initiated, and

Whereas, the importance of permanency planning for children within the child welfare system has now been well established in literature, in U.S. federal law and administrative regulations, and

Whereas, permanency planning is recognized as a value, as well as a set of activities assessments, treatment of the child, family treatment that combine to make the child ready for a family and a family ready for a child, and

Whereas, the goal of permanency planning is to give each child the opportunity to grow up in a family, and

Whereas, the behavior of the child or the situation of the biological parents often complicates the goal of permanency for children in foster care, and

Whereas, in order to accomplish permanency, foster care programs should:

    * Recruit, train and support foster families committed to living and working with children dealing with issues of abuse and/or neglect and the resultant behavioral, psychological, and/or physical problems
    * Place children in homes that can reinforce their cultural and ethnic identity
    * Treat child behaviors that place the child at risk for placement disruptions
    * Work with biological parents or extended family members, including the clan or kinship network, to prepare them for reunification/placement
    * Recruit, train and support foster/adopt families for children who cannot return home
    * Design the treatment/service plan to complement the permanency plan
    * Prepare the child for the transition to the permanent home, and

Whereas, both public and private agencies must cooperate and collaborate to minimize the number of placements for the child while determining responsibilities and accountabilities for permanency planning, and

Be it resolved, that the National Foster Parent Association supports and encourages efforts to work aggressively and creatively toward a goal of permanency planning beginning at the time a child is placed into the foster care system.

(Excerpts from the FFTA Position Statement on Permanency Planning in Treatment Foster Care)

116.04 - The Movement of Children in Foster Care

Children are traumatized by separation and loss. Since the children in the foster care system have already experienced trauma, special care must be taken by service providers not to compound it. The attachments children form with their parents and other caregivers should be recognized and respected.

Children in foster care often develop strong attachments to their foster parents, at times these are as strong as the bonds they have with their biological parents. The younger the child and the longer that child is in placement, the greater the impact of moving that child from the foster parents to whom the child has become attached.

It is sometimes necessary to move a child because of imminent danger. However, moving a child from a successful foster care placement should be done only as a last resort, after support and services have been offered to the child and family to prevent the move. If a child must be moved, there should always be a transition plan for the child, developed with the child's age and attachment needs in mind, as well as the depth of the child's attachment to the foster parents and foster siblings.

115.03 - Disclosure

Whereas health and safety are primary concerns in the placement of children, for the protection of the child and the care provider, it must be mandatory, that all known background information which includes medical, physical, psychological, behavioral, educational, and placement history must be disclosed prior to, and continue through placement.

Therefore the National Foster Parent Association supports legislation that would establish Federal and State Statutes to mandate such disclosures.

114.03 - Respite Care

The NFPA supports the development and implementation of respite care programs, with respite care providers being approved and reimbursed and compensated to care for children on a short term, temporary basis. Respite care providers shall be support families for foster families, thus providing consistent care for children and youth. The National Foster Parent Association advocates that foster parents will receive at least two days of planned respite care per month for each child placed in their home.

113.03 - The National Association of Foster Care Reviewers

The National Foster Parent Association recognizes and supports the mission and goals of the National Association of Foster Care Reviewers, that mission being the promotion of safe, permanent families for children in foster care, by assuring that every child in foster care receives independent, timely, culturally responsive, quality case reviews; and advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children at the case and policy levels.

The National Foster Parent Association further encourages foster parents to attend and participate in the review process by providing input, advocating for the children in your care and assistance in clarifying problems or obstacles to permanency.

112.02 - False Allegations of Abuse in Foster Care

The National Foster Parent Association's first concern is to ensure that no child suffers harm while in foster care. The Association does acknowledge that some foster parents are capable of maltreatment.

Foster and adoptive families are at risk and vulnerable to charges of false allegations because they are so visible in the community. They frequently have large families, children from culturally diverse backgrounds, or children with physical and/or emotional disabilities. There is a need to care for the children but also to address the issue of protection and retention of foster and adoptive homes.

Currently, an estimated 168,000 foster families are providing care for more than 743,000 children in placement across the nation and this number is steadily increasing. These children are frequently exhibiting a wide variety of behavior problems including making false allegations of abuse toward their foster/adoptive parents. Research has shown that children who have been abused, particularly children who were sexually abused, may make false abuse allegations against subsequent parents or caregivers.

It is estimated that as of 1997 there was a one in eight chance of having false abuse or neglect allegations made against foster and/or adoptive parents. This number is growing and in some areas of the nation has increased by as much as 400%.

NFPA believes foster parents, upon being licensed and/or approved, should always be provided with a manual that gives specific clear directions on how allegations and investigations of abuse in foster care are handled in their agency. NFPA believes foster parents, in order to function with maximum effectiveness as a part of the team, need helpful, relevant and current information, the best and most skilled agency support services, and a clear view of expectations to enable them to perform their role as competent parents.

111.00 - A National Standard of Reimbursement Rate

Whereas, the financial cost of caring for a foster child continues to rise, and whereas the United States Department of Agriculture issues a document each year detailing those cost, and

Whereas, all states are not uniform in the rate of reimbursement to foster care providers, and

Whereas, most states reimburse foster care providers at a rate far below the actual costs,

Therefore, it is our position that the National Foster Parent Association shall adopt a recommended minimum national standard rate of reimbursement, based on the USDA Guidelines for the cost of raising a child for each region, and shall maintain this position at Federal, State and local levels, and the NFPA will advocate for federal legislation to adopt this minimum national standard.

110.97 - Adoption Subsidies

Whereas, the environment in which families are raising children has changed dramatically in the last several years, and there are increasing threats to child safety as reflected in an increase in reports of child abuse and neglect; and

Whereas, this country has over 500,000 children in foster or substitute care; and

Whereas, each child in foster care must have a permanency planning goal; and

Whereas, adoption is an appropriate permanency goal if reunification with the parents is not in the best interest of the child; and

Whereas, this country has over 27,000 children waiting for adoption; and

Whereas, many adoptive children have special needs requiring additional financial support; and

Whereas, the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program has been maintained as an entitlement program; and

Whereas, the federal government will continue 50 to 80 percent of foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payment; and

Whereas, in addition, states can continue to receive federal reimbursements for 50% of eligible administrative costs and 75% of eligible training costs;

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association strongly suppor6ts the need for continued funding for adoption subsidies. We ask for support in the state and federal budget to continue a supportive funding program which encourages adoption and permanency in the lives of our children.

109.91 The Concept of Orphanages

Family foster care is an essential and valuable child welfare service for children who must be separated from their parents because of the tragedy of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, maltreatment, special medical needs, or other circumstances.

The value of family foster care is that it can respond to the unique individual needs for children and help them grow emotionally and physically healthy and learn enduring family relationships within the structure of a nurturing family.

Therefore, the National Foster Parent Association totally rejects the concept of placing children in institutions or facilities classified as "orphanages".

108.89 Corporal Punishment

Whereas, the National Foster Parent Association would be remiss if it did not join the groundswell of public and professional protest against corporal punishment of children, in the home and in the schools, as well as the stated opposition to corporal punishment by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Welfare League of America, American Bar Association, and others, the assembled members of the National Foster Parent Association adopt the following position statement:

Numerous studies have overwhelmingly confirmed that hitting, spanking, slapping and other forms of physical punishment are harmful methods of changing children¹s behavior and alternative forms of discipline are more effective, and, a workshop on violence and public health, convened by Surgeon General Koop, recommended that a major campaign be carried out, with the help of the media, to reduce the public's acceptance of violence in general and violence against children in particular, including physical punishment, and further, that the American people come to understand that corporal punishment should be abolished, and the use of physical punishment is deeply ingrained in American society and will be difficult to eliminate, but the detrimental effects of physical punishment indicate that the time for action is immediate and urgent, the National Foster Parent

Association adds its voice to those urging the abolition of corporal punishment of children and those efforts to heighten public awareness of other forms of discipline more effective and less damaging to the bodies and spirits of children.

107.88 - Participation of All Foster Parents & Child Care Workers in Foster Parent Associations

The National Foster Parent Association, herein referred to as NFPA, is an organization of foster parents agency representatives, and community people. We strongly feel that all foster parents should be aware of foster care issues. We also believe that the teamwork approach in foster care will improve the quality of service that children in placement receive. Local and state foster parent associations provide information to their members on foster care issues. Members of these organizations also exchange ideas and share information. The teamwork approach is encouraged through continued training offered and promoted by the association. Professionalization of foster parenting is becoming a nationwide movement. The agency is beginning to recognize foster parents and associations as valuable components in providing services to children. NFPA therefore believes that service providing agencies should encourage all licensed foster parents and child care workers to actively participate in local and state foster parent associations.

106.88 - Liability Insurance for Foster Parents

NFPA supports implementation of a liability and property damage insurance package to protect foster parents from liability for acts of the child in care and for suits brought by the biological parent, the child, or others arising out of the foster parent/child relationship.

Foster parents are volunteers who open their doors to unknown liability each time they take a new foster child. NFPA believes that since the agency retains complete legal guardianship of these children, injuries, damages and thefts against any person or property caused or committed by the agency's wards should be the agency's responsibility. NFPA strongly feels that state or local agencies should provide public and private liability coverage, including additional automobile insurance, for all foster parents.

105.88 - Mandatory Training for Foster Parents

NFPA has learned that many foster parents in the United States lack the special skills and do not have the knowledge necessary to properly deal with the special problems that children currently being placed in foster care have. These children are more difficult, have more severe problems, and are more demanding of foster parents than in years past.

NFPA believes that training is necessary to obtain the skills and acquire the knowledge to deal with these problems. Since many foster parents do not realize that training will equip them with the necessary skills and, therefore, do not avail themselves of training opportunities, NFPA supports mandatory training for all foster parents. Training should take place on three levels:

   1. Pre-service
   2. Apprenticeship
   3. Ongoing

Foster parents must have a major role in determining training standards and choosing and monitoring quality training programs in each state.

NFPA further supports provision of funding by federal and state governments for such training. Funds should be made available for development and implementation of comprehensive and specialized training programs for foster parents. The federal government is encouraged to require those states receiving federal foster care dollars to receive them contingent upon implementing and mandating a foster parent training package as outlined above. Funding should include monies for child care and transportation costs, thus enabling foster parents to attend without suffering a financial hardship.

104.87 - Foster Parent Recruitment & Retention

Whereas quality foster parents are being under- utilized or not utilized by child-placing agencies; and

Whereas the need for foster home recruitment is at an all-time high; and

Whereas the resources for recruitment are at an all-time low; Be it resolved that the National Foster Parent Association supports the utilization of current licensed and/or approved foster family homes and the implementation of program and support services to current homes in order to retain the skills and quality resources of the foster family home population.

103.86 - Videotaping Children's Testimony

The National Foster Parent Association, recognizing that sexual abuse testimony in court is very traumatizing for children who are victims, supports video-taping of the child's story to allow the child to express feeling and circumstances of the abuse in a secure way.


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102.83 Services to the Child in His Own Family

The NFPA advocates the best level of protection services - i.e., those services provided to the child and his family to prevent placement. It supports all aspects of service planning and delivery which maintain, protect and enable the child to remain with his own family. It supports and advocates a high quality of supportive and educational supervision of line staff serving, investigating and making recommendation for removal and admission to in-family placement. NFPA supports the point of view that placement portends much for the child in the midst of family crisis, thus the decision should not be made unilaterally; it should be a decision made and situation verified by the line staff person in consultation with the agency supervisor(s).

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101.82 - Taxation of Payments for Foster Care

The NFPA advocates that IRS recognize that payments made to foster parents for children in their care, where paid by a pre-determined formula for all children of similar nature, to all foster parents as a class, constitute maintenance payments based on a pre-determined status and as such cannot constitute income, regardless of variation between states in amounts of payments.

Even where there are additional payments to foster parents for special-needs children, where payments are uniform for all children in that category these payments cannot constitute income. Only where payments are made to foster parents for special skills and services above those of parenting can such pro-rated amount be construed as income.

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