FOSTER CARE

TAKING CHARGE
OF MY RIGHTS

Search or Tap for Answers Here:

Do I have the right to see and talk to my family?


Yes. Your worker will set up ongoing visits between you and your family, including any siblings that you have. The connections that you have with your family are to be supported as long as your safety and well-being needs are being met.




Do I have the right to refuse placement in agency custody?


No. As a minor (under the age of 18), the state has an obligation to intervene on your behalf, especially when there is a concern for your safety. Your parents or guardians also have this right.




If I’m in foster care and I have a child, do I automatically lose custody of my child?


No. Your caseworker will work to make sure that you have the skills and resources necessary to care for your own child(ren) while you’re in foster care, and post-permanency. It is important that you also do your best at advocating for what you and your child(ren) need.




Does everyone at school have the right to know that I am in foster care?


No. Your being in foster care is confidential and should only be told on a “need to know” basis. No one has the right to know this information and it should not be talked about to any and everyone, even amongst the school staff.




What does the law say about my medical and mental health care?


While in agency care:

  • You have the right to free, quality medical and mental health care that meets your needs.
  • Your caseworker is responsible for ensuring that the services are in place.
  • Your foster caregiver(s) are responsible for getting you to and from the providers/doctors as needed.
  • If you are prescribed any medications, you have the right to comply or refuse to comply.




Do I have the right to access birth control as a youth in agency custody?


Yes. As a youth in foster care, even minors, you have the right to consent to and be provided with birth control. Your physician cannot disclose that you are on birth control with anyone unless you consent to the disclosure.





Can I expect any privacy when it comes to communication? Unless a court order says otherwise,

  • You have the right to private phone conversations;
  • Social media accounts;
  • Unopened mail and;
  • Engaging with family and peers outside of foster care
You also have the right to talk privately with your caseworker. The things you discuss with your caseworker will be kept in confidence, unless the information shared involves your safety or the safety of someone else. In this case your caseworker would have the right to share this information with another helping professional. Your caseworker can only share information that your family has given written permission to disclose.




Can I have and express my own religious or spiritual beliefs?


Yes. It is your right to practice the religion of your choosing. You cannot be forced to practice religion or attend religious service.




Can a birth parent ask that the adoptive files be sealed?


  • Adoption records are automatically sealed until the adopted child reaches the age of 21.
  • Birth parents can refuse to allow adoption information to be released, or they can file a ‘Release of Information’ allowing the records to be opened when the child reaches adulthood.
  • If the adopted child is between 18 and 21 years of age, the information is released, upon request, to the adoptive parent.
  • If the adopted child is 21 years of age or older, the information is released to the adopted child directly.
It is always possible that new legislation might change the age restriction, so birth parents should keep informed of the current laws.




Will I be able to find my birth parent(s) if I decide to search?


Usually, you are only able to find a birth parent(s) who wants to be found. Under current Ohio law, birth parents must file a ‘Release of Information’ with the Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics, they can indicate whether or not they want their identifying information to be released.





MY RESPONSIBILITY

AS A YOUTH IN CARE

Search or Tap for Answers Here:

Do I have the right to see and talk to my family?


Yes. Your worker will set up ongoing visits between you and your family, including any siblings that you have. The connections that you have with your family are to be supported as long as your safety and well-being needs are being met.




Do I have the right to refuse placement in agency custody?


No. As a minor (under the age of 18), the state has an obligation to intervene on your behalf, especially when there is a concern for your safety. Your parents or guardians also have this right.




If I’m in foster care and I have a child, do I automatically lose custody of my child?


No. Your caseworker will work to make sure that you have the skills and resources necessary to care for your own child(ren) while you’re in foster care, and post-permanency. It is important that you also do your best at advocating for what you and your child(ren) need.




Does everyone at school have the right to know that I am in foster care?


No. Your being in foster care is confidential and should only be told on a “need to know” basis. No one has the right to know this information and it should not be talked about to any and everyone, even amongst the school staff.




What does the law say about my medical and mental health care?


While in agency care:

  • You have the right to free, quality medical and mental health care that meets your needs.
  • Your caseworker is responsible for ensuring that the services are in place.
  • Your foster caregiver(s) are responsible for getting you to and from the providers/doctors as needed.
  • If you are prescribed any medications, you have the right to comply or refuse to comply.




Do I have the right to access birth control as a youth in agency custody?


Yes. As a youth in foster care, even minors, you have the right to consent to and be provided with birth control. Your physician cannot disclose that you are on birth control with anyone unless you consent to the disclosure.





Can I expect any privacy when it comes to communication? Unless a court order says otherwise,

  • You have the right to private phone conversations;
  • Social media accounts;
  • Unopened mail and;
  • Engaging with family and peers outside of foster care
You also have the right to talk privately with your caseworker. The things you discuss with your caseworker will be kept in confidence, unless the information shared involves your safety or the safety of someone else. In this case your caseworker would have the right to share this information with another helping professional. Your caseworker can only share information that your family has given written permission to disclose.




Can I have and express my own religious or spiritual beliefs?


Yes. It is your right to practice the religion of your choosing. You cannot be forced to practice religion or attend religious service.




Can a birth parent ask that the adoptive files be sealed?


  • Adoption records are automatically sealed until the adopted child reaches the age of 21.
  • Birth parents can refuse to allow adoption information to be released, or they can file a ‘Release of Information’ allowing the records to be opened when the child reaches adulthood.
  • If the adopted child is between 18 and 21 years of age, the information is released, upon request, to the adoptive parent.
  • If the adopted child is 21 years of age or older, the information is released to the adopted child directly.
It is always possible that new legislation might change the age restriction, so birth parents should keep informed of the current laws.




Will I be able to find my birth parent(s) if I decide to search?


Usually, you are only able to find a birth parent(s) who wants to be found. Under current Ohio law, birth parents must file a ‘Release of Information’ with the Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics, they can indicate whether or not they want their identifying information to be released.





GETTING SUPPORT:

As a young person in foster care, you have the right:

  1. To know your rights in foster care, to receive a list of those rights in written form and to know how to file a complaint if your rights are being violated.
     

  2. To be told why you came into foster care and why you are still in foster care.
     

  3. To live in a safe and healthy home where you are treated with respect, with your own place to store your things and where you receive healthy food, adequate clothing, and appropriate personal hygiene products.
     

  4. To have personal belongings secure and transported with you.
     

  5. To have caring foster parents or caretakers who are properly trained, have received background checks and screenings, and who receive adequate support from the Agency to help ensure stability in the placement.
     

  6. To be placed in a home with your brothers and sisters when possible, and to maintain regular and unrestricted contact with siblings when separated (including help with transportation), unless ordered by the court.
     

  7. To attend school and participate in extracurricular, cultural, and personal enrichment activities.
     

  8. To have your privacy protected. You can expect confidentiality from the adults involved in your case.
     

  9. To be protected from physical, sexual, emotional or other abuse, including corporal punishment (hitting or spanking as a punishment) and being locked in a room (unless you are in a treatment facility).
     

  10. To receive medical, dental, vision and mental health services.
     

  11. To refuse to take medications, vitamins or herbs, unless prescribed by a doctor.
     

  12. To have an immediate visit after placement and have regular visits ongoing with biological parents and other relatives unless prohibited by court or unless you don’t want to.
     

  13. To make and receive confidential telephone calls and send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.
     

  14. To have regular contact from and unrestricted access to caseworkers, attorneys, and advocates and to be allowed to have confidential conversations with such individuals.
     

  15. To be told by your caseworker and your attorney about any changes in your case plan or placement and receive honest information about the decisions the PCSA is making that affect your life.
     

  16. To attend religious services and activities of your choice and to preserve your cultural heritage. If possible your placement should be with a family member or someone from your community with similar religion, culture and/or heritage.
     

  17. To be represented by an attorney at law in administrative or judicial proceedings with access to fair hearing and court review of decisions, so that your best interest are safeguarded.
     

  18. To be involved, where appropriate, in the development of your case plan and to object to any of the provisions of the case plan during case reviews, court hearings and case planning conferences.
     

  19. To attend court and speak to a judge (at a certain age, usually 12) about what you want to have happen in your case.

  20. To have a plan for your future, including an emancipation plan if appropriate (for leaving foster care when you become an adult), and to be provided services to help you prepare to become a successful adult.
     

https://www.fosterclub.com/article/your-rights-foster-care

 

GLOSSARY:

Adjudicatory Hearing - a hearing held in juvenile courts during which a judge or magistrate will determine whether or not the facts presented at court are true or not. There is no finding of guilt or innocence.

 

Emancipate - the legal term used when a youth has reached the age of 18 and is no longer under the care, supervision or custody of the child welfare system.

 

Entitlement - a government program that provides benefits to any individual meeting certain eligibility requirements.

 

Grievance Procedures - the process by which complaints or wrong-doings are filed, processed and followed through on within an organization in an effort to resolve conflict.

 

Legal Custodian - person(s) who a court has granted legal authority and responsibility to for the purpose of making caring for a youth and to make major decisions for the youth (i.e. medical, education, religious, education, etc.).

 

Medical Proxy - a person who has been identified and legally documented to be able to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so.

 

Opt-In - to decide/choose that you want to do or participate in something.

 

Permanency - the experience of unconditional belonging and connectedness as experienced by youth; what permanency looks like in practice can only be defined by the young person

 

Public Children Services Agency (PCSA) - an agency that provides child protective services and placement of children/youth in foster care or other approved placement settings.

 
 
 
 

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Disclaimer:

Content in this online FAQ does not constitute legal advice.

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