We’re Here For You Every Step of the Way.
Welcome to the AFAPA family! Being a foster parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things you can do, and children throughout Alabama need you! The information below may be found in more detail in the Alabama Foster Parent Handbook. We hope the resources listed below are helpful, and if you have any additional questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we are here to help!
Your Responsibilities as a Foster Parent
Foster parent responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Providing the child with a home, food, and clothes.
- Meeting the child’s educational needs (sending him or her to school, participating in parent/teacher conferences, school events, Individualized Education Plan meetings, etc.)
- Ensure the child’s medical and dental needs are addressed
- Communicating with the child’s DHR caseworker in case of emergencies
- Providing the child with tools needed for developmental activities (reading material, toys, experiences, etc.)
- Participating in Individual Service Plan (ISP) meetings
- Assisting the case worker with scheduling/supervising family visits
- Providing the child with the opportunity for social and/or religious development
- Adhering to the Minimum Standards for Foster Family Homes
- Preparing a “lifebook” for each child.
And MOST IMPORTANTLY, foster parents must address the child’s emotional needs by providing the child with love. The child may not be able to show this love in return, but foster parents are expected to provide a positive, healthy, and happy home to children who have experienced traumatic events and may need extra parental support.
Supports for Foster Parents
The State of Alabama provides supports for foster parents, including:
- Respite Care:
- Respite care provides temporary assistance to foster parents and relative caregivers, by allowing the foster parent to take a scheduled “break” from parenting responsibilities of children in care with no disruption to board payments.
- Children may be cared for in the foster parent’s home or in a respite provider’s home, if the home and/or caregiver has been approved.
- Respite care is limited to seven days per calendar year, and can be taken consecutively or separately.
- Travel Reimbursement
- Foster and adoptive parents may be reimbursed for mileage costs incurred in transporting foster children in situations that eliminate the necessity of worker travel
- Routine, daily transportation is not included in travel reimbursement.
- Foster Children as Dependents on Taxes
- The child must share a residence with the foster parent for more than 6 months of the tax year.
- Typically, the child must be 19 or younger.
- You must demonstrate qualifying financial support for the child.
- Local and Regional Foster Parent Associations
- Click the link above for more information.
- Board Payments
- Foster Parents receive a monthly stipend to address the care of foster children in their care:
Maintaining Foster Parent Licensure
Foster parent licensure is re-evaluated each year to ensure that foster parents remain in compliance with Department of Human Resources standards. Foster parents must submit:
- An updated foster care application
- An updated financial statement
- Evidence of current CPR training
- Updated medical evaluation (every 2 years)
- Evidence of current car insurance
- Evidence of a current driver’s license
- Updated Foster Parent Assurances form
- Updated HIPAA Agreement form
- Evidence of current vaccinations for any pets in the home (if applicable)
- Evidence of 15 hours of approved foster parent training
- Visit our Training Opportunities page!
- Evidence that the foster care provider’s home remains in compliance with safety standards (as indicated via a home visit).
Meet your Foster Care “Teammates”:
The Child’s Social Worker:
- Places the child in the foster home.
- Arranges services for the child through the use of community resources.
- Plan the child’s return to his/her birth parents or other placement
- Provide supportive services to the child and foster parents
- Make face-to-face contact as required by agency policy
- Maintain case records
- Arrange and authorize board payments.
- Represents DHR and coordinates ISP team meeting
- Arranges for immunizations, physical examinations, and psychological examinations as necessary and shares the information as necessary for planning services for children in care.
- Assists in addressing educational needs of the child.
Your Resource Case Worker
- Arranges for respite care as requested.
- Ensures the foster family remains in compliance with licensing requirements and conducts annual and semi-annual home visits.
The Biological Parent(s)
A foster child’s biological parents have the right to participate in ISP meetings and court proceedings, and to have an active role in planning for their child while the child is in foster care. Many of their rights (such as visitation, communication, education services, and health services) are listed in the ISP. For more detailed information of birth parent rights, please see the Alabama Foster Parent Handbook.
The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) The GAL is a “licensed lawyer appointed by a court to defend or represent a child in any action to which such child may be a party.” Their duties, as defined by the Code of Alabama 12-15-304, are as follows:
- Meet with the child prior to juvenile court hearings and when apprised of emergencies or significant events impacting the child.
- Explain to the child what is expected to happen before, during, and after each juvenile court hearing.
- Conduct a thorough and independent investigation.
- Advocate for appropriate services for the child and family.
- Attend all juvenile court hearings scheduled by the juvenile court and file necessary pleadings to facilitate the best interests of the child.
The Juvenile Court Judge
- The judge has authority to make legal decisions on behalf of the child, including changes to placement, return to biological parents, and termination of parental rights.
Foster Parent Rights
Foster care relies on teamwork – professionals, the child’s biological family, and foster parents working together to ensure the child receives services and supports that are in his or her best interest. As an important member of that team, you have rights that have been listed in the Foster Parents Bill of Rights:
Foster Parents Bill of Rights
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) and who can participate?
- We have all the details of the ISP process included in the Alabama Foster Parent Handbook, but are also linking information about ISP procedures right here!
What do I do if I feel my foster parent rights are being violated?
- The first step is to communicate with your DHR caseworker, his/her supervisor, or the County Director when appropriate. Put all information writing: send emails, and document phone conversations as well.
- You may contact the AFAPA for the assistance of a trained foster parent advocate by calling 1-888-545-2372 or emailing email@example.com. AFAPA advocates are knowledgable in state policies and procedures and are available to empower and assist foster parents in their interactions with DHR staff.
- You may file a Conflict Resolution Team Referral. The conflict resolution process is outlined in detail here. In addition, you can click here to find a fillable version of the Conflict Resolution Process Referral Form
What should I do if I have concerns my child’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is not completing his or her responsibilities?
- Guardian ad Litems are not overseen by DHR; they are overseen by the Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts.
- Take the initiative to communicate any concerns about your child to the Guardian ad Litem directly. Document all communications with the Guardian ad Litem.
- Communicate your concerns (in writing) to your child’s DHR caseworker and the County Director as soon as possible.
- Contact the AFAPA to speak with an advocate about additional steps. Call 1-888-545-2372 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May I participate in my foster child’s school Individualized Education Program (IEP) as a parent?
- According to the Alabama State Department of Education: “When the rights of the biological or adoptive parents have been terminated and the student is placed in a foster home, the foster parent can act as the parent under the IDEA. However, if there is a known biological or adoptive parent whose rights have not been terminated who is still involved in the student’s life who wants to assert his/her parent rights and be treated as the parent under the IDEA, the school must work with the biological parent as the “parent” under the IDEA, even if the student lives with the foster parent and the foster parent knows the student better. The presumption under the law is that when a biological or adoptive parent that wishes to participate as the “parent” under the IDEA, that biological or adoptive parent maintains the IDEA rights.”
- “A DHR caseworker is NOT a “parent” for purposes of the IDEA. DHR is a state agency and its representatives may not serve or sign as ‘parents’ under the IDEA.”
Foster/Adoptive Parent Handbook
Minimum Standards for Foster Parents
Foster Parent Bill of Rights
Guardian ad Litem Responsibilities
ISP Procedures and Questions
Conflict Resolution Process
Conflict Resolution Form (Fillable)
Alabama DHR County Contacts
Alternative Caregiving Chart
After Hours Phone Numbers for Children in Care