Supporting Foster Parents | 2019 Legislation

1/7/2020

Parents with foster child

 

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2019 State Legislation to Support Foster Parents

With more than 437,000 U.S. children and youth in foster care, and an opioid and substance abuse crisis affecting families and communities, states have an urgent need for more foster parents.

In the 2019 legislative session, state lawmakers enacted legislation that:

  • Allows foster parents to participate as contributing partners in state child welfare systems.
  • Establishes foster parent and foster child bills of rights laws.
  • Allows foster parents to participate in court proceedings.
  • Creates ombudsman offices for foster families or other dispute resolution programs.
  • Provides family and medical leave benefits for foster families.
  • Offers additional financial assistance to foster families, including child care subsidies, travel reimbursement, support services, financial subsidies to cover various costs, tax credits, educational credits for exceptional needs children in care and foster care payment rate increases.
  • Provides health and mental/behavioral health services and supports to children in foster care.
  • Supports kinship and relative caregivers, including creating Kinship Navigator programs, adding “fictive kin” to the definition of relative, setting eligibility requirements for kinship guardianship assistance, establishing pilot programs for child care payments for relative caregivers, tracking relative placements and mandating studies of kinship care.
  • Establishes a reasonable and prudent parenting standard that allows foster parents to make everyday decisions about cultural, social and extracurricular activities for children and youth.
  • Requires recruitment and retention plans to attract and keep qualified foster families.
  • Addresses foster parenting issues of concern to tribes.

Listen to NCSL’s “Our American States” podcast on “Foster Parents Supporting Older Teens in Foster Care” and visit Supporting Foster Parents for more state legislation to support foster families.

2019 Session State Legislation to Support Foster Parents

Bill of Rights for Foster Families and Foster Children

State Measure Status Description

Florida

SB 1432

Laid on table

Foster parent bill of rights.

Florida

SB 1209,

Chapter 2019-156 (Companion to SB 1432)

Enacted

Foster parent bill of rights. The legislation establishes goals for the child welfare agency to treat foster parents, kinship caregivers and nonrelative caregivers with dignity, respect and trust while ensuring the delivery of child welfare services. The goals require the agency to provide a clear explanation on the roles of the child welfare agency and the child's biological family, and the rights and responsibilities of the caregiver; and, to provide training, support and information, with parental approval, on the child’s health and mental health. Additionally, the legislation creates a dispute resolution process for a caregiver who believes the goals are not being met and that such failure is harmful to the child or is inhibiting the caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs.

Florida

SB 646

Died in appropriations

Specifies the rights of children and young adults in out-of-home care; requires the Florida Children’s Ombudsman to serve as an autonomous entity within the Florida Department of Children and Families. Requires that a case plan be developed in a face-to-face conference with a caregiver of a child; requires a caseworker to provide information about subsidies provided by early learning coalitions to caregivers; provides additional requirements for the licensure and operation of family foster homes, residential child-caring agencies and child-placing agencies.

Iowa

HF 134

Pending

Foster and adoptive children’s bill of rights.

Kentucky

HB 158, Chapter 33

Enacted

Establishes foster children’s bill of rights.

Massachusetts

SB 2395, H 4162

Pending

SB 2395 and H 4162 both would establish a bill of rights for foster, pre-adoptive and kinship foster parents. Both would require that the foster family be provided training, a 24-hour emergency hotline, access to information on the child, be informed of case planning, advance notice of court hearings, information on available resources, payments, supports, respite care, reasonable and prudent parenting standard, and a grievance and fair hearing process.

New Mexico

HB 383, HB 496

Died in committee

HB 383 establishes foster parents’ rights. HB 496 requires the child welfare agency to issue rules regarding foster parents’ rights.

Virginia

HB 2108, Chapter 336

Enacted

Requires the child welfare agency to issue rules regarding foster parents’ rights.

Courts and Foster Families

State

Measure

Status

Description

Indiana

HB 1167, SB 1, SB 151, SB 431, SB 534, SB 251

Pending

HB 1167, SB 1, SB 151, SB 431, SB 534 and SB 251 would give foster parents the right to intervene in court proceedings.

Kentucky

HB 446

Enacted

Allows foster parents to be parties to termination of parental rights proceedings.

Missouri

SB 360

Pending

Establishes foster parents’ rights to intervene and present evidence in court proceedings.

New Mexico

HB 309

Pending

Mandates foster parent court intervention.

Dispute Resolution/Ombudsman/Quality Improvement for Foster Families

State

Measure

Status

Description

New Mexico

HB 496

Died in committee

Creates the foster family ombudsman office and requires the Children, Youth and Families Department to adopt and promulgate rules establishing the rights and responsibilities of foster parents statewide.

Oregon

HB 2337

Pending

Creates the foster care ombudsman and foster care advisory committee.

Virginia

HB 2108, Chapter 336

Enacted

Establishes a foster parent dispute resolution process, including outlining the rights and responsibilities of foster parents.

Virginia

SB 1339, Chapter 446

Enacted

Allows the commissioner of Social Services to develop and implement a corrective action plan for, or assume temporary control over, the foster care services of a local board of social services if it has failed to provide foster care services or make placement and removal decisions in accordance with applicable laws or regulations or has taken any action that poses a substantial risk to the health, safety, or well-being of any child under its supervision and control. The legislation also requires the creation of a foster care health and safety director position; establishes a confidential hotline to receive reports and complaints from foster parents; directs the Department of Social Services to develop and implement a more reliable, structured and comprehensive case review and a quality improvement process to monitor and improve foster care services; and, requires the commissioner to establish and update annually a caseload standard that limits the number of foster care cases that may be assigned to each foster care caseworker.

West Virginia

HB 2010

Enacted

Creates a foster care ombudsman.

Family and Medical Leave Benefits for Foster Families

State

Measure

Status

Description

Illinois

SB 1723

Pending

Authorizes family and medical leave for families adopting or fostering children.

Louisiana

SB 186

Pending

Mandates family and medical leave for families of foster and adoptive children.

Maine

LD 1410

Carryover

Requires family and medical leave benefits for families of foster and adopted children.

Missouri

SB 162

Pending

Establishes a family and medical leave program for families of foster and adopted children; the bill must be submitted to voters in the 2020 elections and becomes effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast.

 

 

Ohio

HB 91

Pending

Authorizes a family and medical leave insurance program for families of foster and adopted children.

Vermont

H 107, S 88, H 395

Pending

H 107 would establish a family and medical leave insurance program to include foster children; S 88 proposes to create a Parental and Family Leave Insurance Program within the departments of labor and of taxes that will provide employees with paid parental and family leave, to include leave for employees with whom foster children have been placed, and that will be funded by contributions from employers and employees. H 395 proposes to enable the governor to enter into a contract with a private insurance carrier to provide family and medical leave insurance benefits to state employees, to include benefits for employees with whom foster children have been placed, which shall also be available to other employers and individuals who elect to enroll in the insurance program.

Financial Assistance to Foster Families

State

Measure

Status

Description

California

A B337

Pending

Foster care payments will include a reasonable travel reimbursement for childrens’ transportation to enable them to remain in their original schools.

Florida

SB 1144, HB 1367

Both died in committee

 

Child care subsidies for foster parents. Would provide an early education or child care subsidy for certain foster parents.

Florida

HB 1367,
SB 1144

Both died in committee

Provides an additional subsidy for caregivers required to place children in early care and education programs. In addition to the foster care room and board rate, a caregiver who is required under s. 39.604 to place a child in an early education or child care program must receive a subsidy of up to $300 per month to pay the difference between the amount of the subsidy provided by an early learning coalition and the full cost of the services.

Mississippi

SB 2196, Chapter 412

Enacted

Creates a foster care fund to support services for foster parents and foster children; the fund will receive money from state appropriations and from state assessments from persons upon whom a court imposes a fine.

New Mexico

SB 130

Died in committee

Requires the department to pay for the costs of driver education, licensure and motor vehicle insurance of children in foster care; makes an appropriation for expenditure in fiscal year 2020 to fund those costs.

New York

A 785

Pending

Sets a 3% increase in foster payment rates.

North Carolina

H 580, S 636

Pending

Increases foster care and adoption payment rates.

Oklahoma

SB 893

Enacted

Would reinstate the tax credit for taxpayers who have incurred expenses for the provision of care for a child who has been in care for more than six months during the tax year.

Oregon

HB 2868

Pending

Specifies tax credits for foster parents.

Pennsylvania

HB 296, SB 445

Pending

Establishes an adoption and foster care tax credit program.

South Carolina

H 3221

Pending

Expands educational credit for exceptional needs children, including foster children.

Health and Mental/Behavioral Health

State

Measure

Status

Description

California

AB 1005

Pending

Creates the Family Urgent Response System. The bill would require the department of social services to establish a statewide hotline, operational no later than Jan. 1, 2021, as the entry point for a Family Urgent Response System to respond to calls from caregivers or current or former foster children or youth when a crisis arises. This bill would also require, no later than Jan. 1, 2021, county child welfare, probation and behavioral health agencies to establish a joint county-based Family Urgent Response System that includes a mobile response and stabilization team to provide stabilization services. The bill would require those agencies to submit a single, coordinated plan to the department of social services, no later than Nov. 1, 2020, describing how the system would meet requirements.

Illinois

HB 0219

Pending

Creates a Children’s Mental Health Integrated Fund and local children's mental health collaboratives. Defines "local children's mental health collaborative" as an entity formed by the agreement of representatives of the local system of care, including mental health services, social services, correctional services, education services, health services and vocational services, for the purpose of developing and governing an integrated service system.

Maine

LD 1378, Chapter 162

Enacted

Requires the department of social services to provide a foster parent an overview of the child's medical condition and the name and contact information of the child's health care provider at the time of placement, to the extent known by the department.

North Carolina

SB 549

Pending

Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Social Services, in collaboration with the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services (Division), to establish a two-year child welfare and behavioral health pilot project in Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stoke counties, to provide easier access to comprehensive services for children in foster care in regards to continuity of care, alternatives to therapeutic foster care, and uninterrupted care and services pending treatment of trauma. The pilot's purpose is to provide a trauma-informed integrated health foster care model to facilitate partnerships between county departments of socials services and local management entities/managed care organizations regarding children placed in foster care. Sets nine goals of the pilot, including addressing safety and health needs of children with the application of trauma informed tools, and allowing for wrap-around services for the child to support a singular, unified goal of children in foster care having a single placement.

Texas

HB 3746,

SB 1095

Both pending

Allows foster parent access to health records of medically fragile children.

 

West Virginia

HB 2010, Chapter 44

Enacted

The secretary shall transition to a capitated Medicaid program for all children in foster care under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act who are living in the state by July 1, 2019. The program shall be statewide, fully integrated and risk based; will integrate Medicaid-reimbursed eligible services; and will align incentives to ensure the appropriate care is delivered in the most appropriate place and time. The department of Health and Human Resources shall evaluate the transition to managed by July 1, 2022 and report its findings to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability. The transition of foster care to managed care shall terminate on June 30, 2024, unless continued by the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Virginia

SB 1339, Chapter 0446

Enacted

Requires dedicated staff to monitor medical services to foster children and establishes a director of foster care health and safety position in state department.

Kinship Care Supports

State

Measure

Status

Description

Arizona

HB 2644

Pending

Allows the department to issue a provisional foster home license to a kinship foster care parent for six months, if the kinship foster care home is acceptable to the department for placement. Specifies requirements and states that the kinship foster care parent is eligible to receive full foster care benefits, and that the department may waive any non-safety licensing requirement if the requirement would be a hardship.

Kansas

SB 166

Pending

Expands eligibility for the Grandparents as Caregivers program.

Kentucky

HB 2, Chapter 073

Enacted

Tracks data on relative and fictive kin placements and requires the child welfare agency to develop custodial, permanency and service option assistance program for kin.

Nebraska

LB 328

Pending

Creates a kinship navigator program.

Maryland

HB 1212, Chapter 77
SB 24, Chapter 78

Enacted

Adds fictive kin to the Kinship Foster Care Program.

Minnesota

SF 12, Chapter 9

Enacted

Directs the Department of Human Services to review kinship navigator models eligible for reimbursement under the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. Kinship navigator models would assist relative foster parents with home studies and licensing requirements and provide ongoing support to the relative caregivers and children in out-of-home placement with relatives.

New York

A 569, Chapter 399

Enacted

County departments of social services are to provide information to kinship caregivers on their eligibility for options and services.

South Carolina

S 191

Pending

Adds fictive kin to the Kinship Foster Care Program and allows relatives to foster a child before full licensure.

Tennessee

HB 4, SB 11, HB 1150, SB 847

Pending

Would establish a pilot program for child care payments to relative caregivers.

West Virginia

HB 2010, Chapter 44

Enacted

Mandates a study of kinship care, improving services and equalizing payments.

Virginia

S 1679, Chapter 0688

HB 2014, Chapter 0282

Enacted

Defines “fictive kin" as persons who are not related to a child by blood or adoption but have an established relationship with the child or his family. Requires that Qualified Residential Treatment Centers (QRTPs) maintain contact information for any known biological family and fictive kin of the child placed in the QRTP. Adds “fictive kin” to the family and permanency team.

Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard

State

Measure

Status

Description

Arkansas

HB 1469, Act 664

Enacted

Adheres to the reasonable and prudent parent standard, as that standard is defined by Pub. L. No. 113-183, in the care of any child placed in the home by a child placement agency.

Colorado

HB 1219

Enacted

Requires the county department of social services to document in the family services plan, and that the court reviews, whether the child’s or youths’ placement is following the reasonable and prudent standard and whether the child or youth has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age-appropriate activities.

Florida

SB 646
HB 823

Died in committee

Specifies that an individual selected by a child to be a member of the case planning team may be rejected at any time if there is good cause to believe that the individual would not act in the best interest of the child. One individual selected by a child to be a member of the child's case planning team may be designated to act as the child's advisor and, as necessary, advocate with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard to the child.

Nebraska

L 219

Pending

States that a caregiver of a child in foster care who obtains a driver's license is not liable for harm caused to the child or by the child, for actions arising from the child learning to drive or driving a motor vehicle, if the caregiver has acted in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parenting standard.

Nebraska

L 328

Pending

Requires that the Department of Health and Human Services is to contract with providers to create a full array of services for children in care statewide. A child in foster care may be placed in placements that include those that the department deems capable of adhering to the reasonable and prudent parenting standard.

Oklahoma

S 141

Enacted

The permanency plan for the child in transition to a successful adulthood shall be developed in consultation with the child and, at the option of the child, with up to two members of the permanency planning team to be chosen by the child, excluding the foster parent and caseworker for the child, subject to the following provisions: One individual selected by the child may be designated to be the advisor and, as necessary, advocate of the child, with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parenting standard to the child.

Recruitment and Retention of Foster Families

State

Measure

Status

Description

Florida

HB 823

Died in committee

Lead agencies are required to develop plans to recruit and retain foster families.

Massachusetts

H 133

Pending

The Department of Children and Families is to study the feasibility of a foster parent recruitment campaign.

Minnesota

HF 399, SF 190

Pending

Appropriates $75,000 to Hennepin County for foster parent recruitment.

New Mexico

HJM 10

Adopted

The secretary of Children, Youth and Families is to convene a task force supporting resource families and for collaboratively working toward better recruitment and retention of resource families.

Virginia

SB 1339, Chapter 446

Enacted

Requires the Department of Social Services to develop a data-driven plan for the recruitment and retention of foster families.

Virginia

SB 1339, Chapter 446

Enacted

Requires the Department of Social Services to establish and update annually a caseload standard that limits the number of foster care cases that may be assigned to each foster care caseworker.

Tribes

State

Measure

Status

Description

California

AB 686, Chapter 434

Enacted

Requires, when the tribe does not exercise its right to approve a home for a specific child, the county department of social services is to apply prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian community when approving a resource family for that child. The bill would require the state Department of Social Services to issue all-county letters or similar instruction to provide guidance regarding consistent implementation of that provision. The bill would also clarify that tribal home approvals that comply with specific requirements are not subject to resource family approval requirements.

Miscellaneous

State

Measure

Status

Description

California

AB 865, Chapter 810

Enacted

Commencing Jan. 1, 2021, requires county department of social services to include information on providing care and supervision to children who have been commercially sexually exploited as part of the mandatory preapproval caregiver training. The bill would also require resource families that care for children who are 10 years of age or older to attend, within 12 months of approval as a resource family, a training on how to use best practices for providing care and supervision to children who have been commercially sexually exploited.

California

AB819, Chapter 777

Enacted

Requires county department of social services and foster family agencies, when a resource family seeks approval by a subsequent foster family agency or transfer of their approval to a county, to request or provide documents in the resource family case file, including any updates to the family case file.

Georgia

HR 839

Adopted

Establishes Foster Care and Adoption Day at the Capitol.

New Mexico

HM 20, SM 4

Both adopted

HM 20 establishes Foster Parent and Advocate Day. SM 4 establishes Foster Parent Appreciation, Advocacy and Awareness Day.