HONEST AND COMPASSIONATE LEGAL GUIDANCE FOR FAMILIES
Focus on Fostering: Addressing the Issues and Questions Facing Foster Parents
When to Become an Interested Party
January 16, 2021
Foster parents serve a special role in the child welfare system. They provide a safe and stable environment for children in state custody while simultaneously supporting the case plan goal, whether that be reintegration with the child’s parents or some other form of permanency such as adoption or a permanent custodianship. In the majority of cases, a parent will successfully reintegrate with their child and a foster parent’s role will be focused on providing stability and security to the child during that process. While a foster parent plays an important role in the process, they are not automatically a party to a Child in Need of Care case. However, upon a motion from foster parents, the court may grant them interested party status so that they can file motions or other pleadings in the case. When deciding whether a foster parent can become an interested party in a Child in Need of Care case, the court will consider:
How long the child has been residing with the foster parent.
The relationship between the foster parent and the child: both a biological relationship if the placement is a relative, as well as the emotional ties between the foster parent and the child.
Whether or not it is in the best interest of the child for the foster parent to become an interested party. The Court will often consider input from the child’s Guardian ad Litem and others on the case when making this determination.
As a foster parent, when should you request interested party status? You may wish to do this when you have concerns about the direction the case is going, whether it be concerns that the child may be moved from your home to another home that you don’t believe is in the child’s best interest, or perhaps the parties are looking to proceed with an adoption of the child with a resource that you don’t believe is best. If you are granted interested party status, you can file motions with the court to attempt to prevent moves of the minor child, request direct placement of the minor child for adoption, or express concerns over the efforts being made by the state agencies required to provide services to the child. In most Child in Need of Care cases, foster parents will not need to become interested parties. The cases will successfully proceed through reintegration or some other form of permanency. However, if there are concerns in a Child in Need of Care case, foster parents can request interested party status so they can advocate for their position in court.
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