How to Report Unfit Foster Parents
Foster parents can be a blessing for neglected children. They provide the necessities and love for these children who would otherwise not have anyone there to do that for them. But with the many happy stories about foster care comes many unhappy stories about these homes, where children deal with large bouts of abuse from foster parents and other foster children in their houses and sometimes even abuse and neglect from the very people they were placed with to get away from abuse and neglect 1. It then becomes vital for that child’s well-being to report unfit foster parents.
Contact the local authorities or school resource officers. If any sort of neglect or abuse is suspected, then it needs to be reported to the proper authorities so that it can be further investigated. Because this type of investigation involves children, some states have laws that only allow a limited number of adults to inquire about alleged neglect or abuse once it is suspected and any questioning period that follows that has to be with the parents 1. For example, in Florida, a child can not be asked about suspected neglect or abuse more than three times or by more than three adults 1. Once they have, the authorities are obligated to contact the child’s guardian and if the child is questioned a fourth time and reveals something, that information is void. Any information you can obtain from a child about his well-being is important so this is why once abuse is suspected, those who know how to deal with it should be contacted.
Contact the state’s Department of Children and Families (sometimes called Department Health and Human Services). The Department of Children and Families, or DCF, strives for the safety and welfare of all children within the state. They also handle all foster-care services and each foster child is given a case worker. Though there will be a report made with the authorities, it needs to also be documented with the child’s case worker and the department. You want there to be multiple accounts of this neglect or abuse so that it can be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Make sure to receive documentation of your reports. Demand copies of your reports or put the claims in writing and keep a copy for yourself, just in case there is a claim that nothing was ever reported. With the amount of work case workers have, claims can be lost, reports misplaced or, worse yet, discarded so you want to make sure that these children’s welfare is kept a top priority.
- DCF: Q & A about Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau. Child maltreatment 2018. January 2020.
- Sedlak AJ, Mettenburg J, Basena M, Petta I, McPherson K, et. al. Fourth national incidence study of child abuse and neglect (NIS–4): report to congress. Washington, DC. 2010.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway. Making and screening reports of child abuse and neglect. 2017.