By Bob Katzen
The House and Senate approved and former-Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill establishing a foster parents’ bill of rights, which will govern the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) relationship with, and responsibilities to foster parents, and would be publicly available on the department’s website.
Provisions include requiring foster parents to be treated with dignity, respect, privacy and consideration; prohibiting foster parents from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, color, creed, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability; requiring the department to give the foster parents information about the foster child, prior to placement, including the child’s physical and behavioral health history, any history of trauma or high-risk behavior and his or her education needs.
Another provision requires DCF to provide a current foster parent, with the permission of the previous foster parent, the name and phone number of the previous foster parent if DCF determines that contact between the current foster parent and previous foster parent would promote the foster child’s best interest.
“I am thrilled that the House and Senate passed the Foster Parents Bill of Rights legislation,” said sponsor Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “Foster parents are true unsung heroes, providing unmatched dedication, commitment, compassion and love to those who need it the most. This bill creates a framework for foster parents to be honored with dignity, respect, privacy and consideration in caring for children, so they can provide nurturing, loving homes. As a foster parent myself, I filed this bill to strengthen our vital foster care system.”