What Are Foster Parent Rights in Alberta?
According to Human Services Alberta approximately 4500—5000 child interventions occur every month across the province. The number of children in child protection and family enhancement programs is over 10,000 a month. Some of the major reasons for child protection services intervention include neglect, physical abuse and exposure and/or witnessing partner violence (witnessing physical, mental or emotional abuse).
What Is Foster Care?
Foster care is a living arrangement made for a child or children, when a child protective services officer and the court have combinedly decided that they cannot live safely at home anymore. An agreement between the biological parents and a caseworker is also used as mechanism to place a child or children in foster care. Foster care arrangements include nonrelative foster homes, relative foster homes (kinship care), group homes, institutions and pre-adoptive homes. If a caseworker determines that a child may be in danger, the child may be removed and placed in foster care under a Temporary Guardian Order (TGO) until the court determines a favourable outcome.
A foster parent becomes the legal guardian of the child while maintaining the child’s name, contact with the family and rights of inheritance. Most foster children have faced violence, abuse and/or challenges prior to being placed in foster care. The immediate objective is to nurture stability and a sense of belonging and attachment for the child or children and help towards a successful transition to adulthood. It is the legal guardians who have physical custody during foster care, and not the child’s biological parents. However, biological parents maintain their parental rights, even when they don’t have physical custody. Their rights are not terminated by the guardianship – they’re suspended. However, biological parents may lose parental rights if a court order is issued based on the recommendation of a caseworker to permanently separate the child or children from their parents.
Foster Parents Rights in Alberta
Foster parents have significant obligations to make sure the children under their care are given safety, security and the development of psychological, emotional and future wellbeing. Some of the rights foster parents are empowered with include but are not limited to:
- The right to be involved in the development of plan of care for the child and be informed of any changes effected to the plan;
- The right to enforce the conditions set out in the plan and the right to know any complaints relating to the decisions;
- The right to take appropriate measures needed to ensure the physical and psychological protection of the child including health and safety;
- The right to request assistance to fulfill the needs of the child;
- The rights to receive support services and stabilize a placement;
- The right to request support when situations arise that involve verbal or physical abuse of the foster family by a child or youth in their care;
- The right to make decisions with respect to providing care and daily needs including food, clothing and other routines.
- The right to supervise the activities of the child and take appropriate permitted measures to meet the developmental needs and wellbeing of the child
- The right to upgrade professional development with respect to caring for children, and to participate in professional foster parent network; and
- The right to know the reasons when a child is removed from the foster home as soon as possible; and
Foster Parents Rights in Child Custody Disputes
At Verhaeghe Law Office – we have seen instances where biological parents may be undergoing a separation/divorce and with their children under foster care, situations like this can be very sensitive when navigating the legalities of the divorce as well as taking foster parents legal rights into consideration. Each situation is very unique from one another, so we strongly recommend you seek legal counsel if this situation pertains to you.
If you are a foster parent or biological parent and are looking for legal assistance with respect to child custody disputes – contact our Edmonton law firm today and speak directly with an Edmonton family lawyer. We are conveniently located in the Mayfield Business Centre and have helped thousands of clients across Alberta with legal assistance with respect to child custody disputes.
*Please note the content of this blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek legal advice from a family lawyer for any answers related to child custody matters in Alberta.