Tag: children in foster care
  • 2023 Child Welfare Legislative Changes

    As the 2023 Legislative Session continues, many session laws that amend child welfare statutes, including abuse, neglect, dependency; termination of parental rights (TPR); adoption of a minor; and foster care licensing became effective on various dates. Some of these changes are significant. Some session laws focus on specific statutory changes involving an individual juvenile or family; other session laws make changes to state systems. Continue Reading

  • Proposed Federal Rule Change Seeks to Increase Support for Relative and Nonrelative Kinship Foster Placements

    **UPDATED 11/10/2023** The rule changes discussed in this post were finalized and adopted on September 28, 2023 and are effective November 27, 2023. As my colleague Sara DePasquale noted in her post summarizing 2023 child welfare legislative updates, 88 Federal Register 66700 (September 28, 2023) “amends the definition of ‘foster family home’ at 45 C.F.R. 1355.20(a) for the purposes of Title IV-E eligibility to allow for states to establish a set of licensing requirements and approval standards for relative foster family homes that are different from the standards that are used to license and approve non-relative foster family homes. A relative foster home licensed with the lower standards must receive the same payment as a licensed non-relative foster home (amended 45 C.F.R. 1356.21(m)(1)). This provision will only apply if North Carolina DHHS chooses to participate.”


    The federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is proposing regulatory changes that could have a significant impact on the placement of children removed from their parents due to suspected abuse, neglect, or dependency. This post discusses the proposed changes and the reasons supporting them and highlights the importance of relatives and nonrelative kin in juvenile abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D) proceedings.

    (Note that while the proposal refers generally to Title IV-E agencies, this post refers specifically to the Department of Social Services (DSS), the petitioner in North Carolina A/N/D matters. Additionally, this post cites to the ACF’s proposal but omits internal citations within the proposal. See the proposal if you are interested in the research and other sources cited to by the ACF.)

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  • Legislative Changes Focus on Foster Parents

    During the 2021 Legislative session, there have been numerous and significant amendments made to the laws addressing child welfare, most of which are in G.S. Chapter 7B (the Juvenile Code) and became effective October 1st. This is my third post explaining those legislative changes. Today’s post focuses exclusively on legislative changes that relate to foster parents. The issues addressed include the consideration of foster parents for placement at nonsecure custody, their participation in permanency planning hearings, required training, and the creation of a Foster parents’ Bill of Rights.

    My earlier blog posts are here (summarizing S.L. 2021-100 (H132)) and here (summarizing S.L. 2021-132 (S693)). As the 2021 Legislative Session continues, more changes may be made, and if that happens, I will post about them as well. Continue Reading

  • Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 5 – The Child’s Voice in Court: The Role of the Guardian ad Litem

    We’re back with Episode 5, “The Child’s Voice in Court: The Role of the Guardian ad Litem,” for our Beyond the Bench Season 2 podcast. In this episode, we take a break from our court cases to focus on the child. Find out how the child’s perspective is represented in court, through a guardian ad litem and the child him or herself. Continue Reading

  • The Indian Child Welfare Act: New Binding Federal Regulations You Need to Know About!

    In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). 25 U.S.C. §§ 1901 – 1963. Through ICWA, Congress declared

    it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture….

    25 U.S.C. § 1902.

    For the first time since its passage, ICWA now has federal regulations that states must follow. 25 CFR Part 23. One of the purposes of these new regulations is to ensure the consistent application of ICWA protections across the states. 25 CFR 23.101. The regulations become effective on December 12th and apply to all “child custody proceedings” and “emergency proceedings” starting on or after that date. 25 CFR 23.103, 23.143. Continue Reading

  • School Stability for Children in Foster Care

    *Since this post was originally published, NC DHHS Division of Social Services has enacted a policy to address the issue of educational stability for children in foster care, which you can access here (see section XIII).

    It’s September, which means that children have gone back to school. When the school year starts, most children know which school they are attending. But, a child who has been removed from his home and placed in foster care may not know which school he will be going to. Is it the old school? Is it a new school where the placement is located?  If a child experiences multiple placements, does the child change schools each time the placement is in a different school district? Changing schools impacts children. That impact may be even more significant when a child is also experiencing a change in both her home environment and caretaker. As of December 12, 2016, a new federal education law goes into effect that prioritizes educational stability for children in foster care. But educational stability for a child in foster care is something that can be addressed now.

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  • It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cry if I Want To; Is That the Norm for Children in Foster Care?

    Today is my birthday (for those of you who are wondering, 46). It is my absolutely favorite day of the year. It’s not because of presents or the fact that I can easily justify why I should be the center of attention for the day (yes, I am a Leo). It’s because every year, on August 12th, I know no matter what my sister, my brother, and my mother will call me. It’s not a text; it’s not an email; it’s an actual phone call, with a real conversation. I can count on that predictability. Knowing I’m going to talk to each of them makes me really happy. My mother will call first; my sister will sing me some happy birthday jingle she made up, and my brother will wish me a happy birthday while asking how I’m going to celebrate and what else is happening in my life.

    As my birthday approached this year, I found myself thinking about children in foster care and their birthdays. Is there any predictability? Is there a family visit? Are there phone calls? Is the day even acknowledged? I searched the relevant statutes, regulations, and state’s policy manuals, and I couldn’t find anything that addressed a child’s birthday (if there’s something out there that I missed, please let me know). But, the statutory, regulatory, and policy silence does not mean that the court order or the child’s case plan should also be silent. Continue Reading

  • Children in Foster Care and Sex Trafficking: New NC Policy to Know About

    For the last 15 years, there has been an increased awareness of human trafficking in the U.S. That awareness has resulted in various federal and state laws seeking both to prevent human trafficking and protect the victims of human trafficking.  See Trafficking Victims and Protection Act of 2000, 22 U.S.A. Chapter 78 (reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2013).  Today’s post recognizes that January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and discusses recent federal laws and accompanying state policy that focus on identifying and providing services to children who are in foster care and are victims of sex trafficking. Continue Reading

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