What You Need to Know About Working With Biological Parents as a Foster Parent

A foster parent often works with social services and their foster child’s biological parents in order to reunite the child with their birth parents. Here’s everything you need to know about working with biological parents as a foster parent.

Foster parent(s) can collaborate with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and their foster child’s biological parent(s) in order to return the child to their birth parents. This can only occur when the birth parents have proven that they can provide a stable, safe, and supportive environment for their child. It is important to note that the birth parents need not be convicted of any child abuse crime or they will not be reunited with their child.

Related: Co-Parenting vs Parallel Parenting in California

Collaboration Among Social Services, Foster Parents, and Biological Parents

The best interest of the child is at the heart of this process. Whether it be keeping the child in their current foster home arrangement or making strides toward returning the child home to their birth parents, this decision requires collaboration between everyone involved. Collaboration can be considered a form of co-parenting. In this way, foster parents provide the safe, stable, and healthy home life that a child needs to grow and thrive, yet maintain contact with the child’s birth parents and social services to evaluate when the child’s birth parents can do the same.

The Role of the Caseworker/Social Worker in the Process

The caseworker or social worker will help all parents develop and monitor the case plan. This means that they will help arrange the visits between foster parents and biological parents, as well as visits with the biological parents and their child. The social worker will also draft evaluative reports for the court on the family’s progress. It is important for the foster parents and biological parents to form a good relationship with their social worker in order to help them understand the details of the case and allow for the most effective reunification process as possible.

Both foster parents and biological parents are encouraged to ask their social worker any questions they may have regarding the process or any steps along the way. The social worker can share their advice, resources, and set expectations for the case to ease the transition for everyone involved. It will also be helpful for the foster parents and biological parents to keep the social worker updated on any changes in their lives or the child’s.

The Role of the Foster Parent

The foster parents are responsible for taking care of the child in the absence of their biological parents. It is critical for the foster parent to be willing to work with the biological parents in order for a visiting schedule to be created and adhered to. Communication between all parties is essential for this process to go smoothly. Keeping frequent contact in between visits will ensure this process is as seamless for the child as possible. If the child is able to witness their foster parent trusting their biological parents, they might be more comfortable doing so as well. The foster parent can also help the biological parents understand the child’s likes, dislikes, feelings, fears, and goals. A healthy relationship between the foster parent and biological parents provides the child with a prime example of good co-parenting, and allows for everyone to be on the same page with what is happening in the child’s life.

Biological Parents Bonding with the Child

Depending on the age of the child and whether or not they have established a relationship with their birth parents, more time may be needed for a birth parent-child bond to form. It would be beneficial for the birth parents and foster parents to establish a good relationship in order to collaborate better and allow for a smoother reunification process. At any stage of a child’s life in foster care, they may feel more comfortable opening up to their foster parents and may not be familiar with their birth parents. Perhaps the child resents their birth parents and does not wish to know them. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration. The process of bringing a child home should be seen as a way to strengthen the family unit on the whole, rather than solely “checking boxes” in order for the child to return home.

If a birth parent is allowed to visit their child while they are in foster care, it is important for them to be patient with the process and keep an open mind. Strong parent-child bonds may not be formed overnight, especially if the birth parent has been out of the child’s life for some time. It is important for the birth parent to think of creative ways to interact with their child, allow for open channels of communication, and provide space for the child to express their feelings. It is key for the birth parent to maintain a positive attitude–– especially because co-parenting is a unique opportunity for them to reconnect with their child in a way that might not have been available before.

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If you or a loved one have any more questions about working with biological parents as a foster parent, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our experienced Family Law Attorneys today!