H. B. 2297
(By Delegates Cowles and Stowers)
[Introduced February 13, 2013; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new section, designated §49-2-12b, relating
to establishing a bill of rights for foster parents.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new section, designated §49-2-12b, to read as
ARTICLE 2. STATE RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE PROTECTION AND CARE OF
§49-2-12b. Foster Parent's Bill of Rights.
_____(a) Legislative Findings -- Foster parents provide a critical
service to the State of West Virginia caring for thousands of
foster children every year, allowing the State of West Virginia
substantial financial savings each year through providing loving homes enabling children to endure the hardship associated with
separation from family at extremely low cost to the state. These
services come with tremendous sacrifice and selflessness,
representing a commitment to make a meaningful difference during
the most important years of a person's lifetime.
_____(b) The Department of Health and Human Resources shall ensure
that each foster parent has all of the following rights:
_____(1) The right to be treated with dignity, respect, trust,
value and consideration as a primary provider of foster care and
a member of the professional team caring for foster children.
_____(2) The right to receive information concerning the rights
enumerated in this section.
_____(3) The right to a concise written explanation of their role
as foster parents in partnership with children and their families,
the department and other providers, the role of the department and
the rights and role of the members of the birth family of a child
in foster care.
_____(4) The right to training and support for the purpose of
improving skills in providing daily care and meeting the needs of
the child in foster care.
_____(5) The right to training, consultation and assistance in
evaluating, identifying and accessing services to meet their needs
related to their role as foster care providers. This includes, but
is not limited to, all foster care policies, the Foster Parent Handbook and a mediation process.
_____(6) The right to provide input to the department in
identifying the types of resources and services that would meet the
needs of children currently in their care and of their families,
and advocate for the same without threat of reprisal.
_____(7) The right to information concerning behavioral problems,
health history, educational status, cultural and family background
and other issues relative to the child which are known to the
department at the time the child is placed in foster care prior to
the child's placement with a foster parent or parents. When the
department knows this information after placement, the department
shall make that information available to the foster parent as soon
_____(8) The right to a written explanation of the plan concerning
the placement of a child in the foster parent's home. For
emergency placements where time does not allow prior preparation of
the explanation, the department shall provide an explanation within
seventy-two hours. Prior to placement, the department shall allow
the foster parent to review a written summary of information
concerning the child including, but not limited to, assessments,
evaluations and case plans and allow the foster parent to assist in
determining if the child would be a proper placement for the
prospective foster family. For emergency placements where time
does not allow prior review of the information, the department shall provide the information within seventy-two hours of
placement. Confidential information shall be kept confidential by
the foster parents.
_____(9) The right to a staff person representing the department on
call twenty-four hours a day seven days a week for the purpose of
aiding the foster parent in receiving departmental assistance.
_____(10) The right to fair and equitable payments from the
Department of Health and Human Resources based on a system of daily
board rates and other financial reimbursement as specified in a
plan adopted by the department after consultation with foster
parents, subject to the availability of funds.
_____(11) The right to accept or refuse placement within their home
or to request, upon reasonable notice to the department, the
removal of a child from their home for good cause without threat of
_____(12) The right to information of scheduled meetings and
appointments concerning the foster child and permission for the
foster parent to actively participate in and provide input to be
used in the case planning and decision-making process regarding the
child in foster care including, but not limited to,
multidisciplinary team meetings, foster care reviews, individual
educational planning meetings and medical appointments.
_____(13) The right to request that a person or persons serve as
volunteer advocate and to be present at all meetings with the department including, but not limited to, individualized service
planning, administrative hearings, the grievance/mediation process,
the adoption process and the allegation process where the foster
parent is present. All communications received by the volunteer
advocate shall be in strict confidence.
_____(14) The right to notice and an opportunity to be heard
including timely information concerning all court hearings. This
notification may include, but is not limited to, notice of the date
and time of the court hearing, the name of the judge or hearing
officer assigned to the case, the guardian ad litem, the location
of the hearing and the court docket number. The notification shall
be made upon receipt of this information by the department.
Although not a party to the case, the foster parent may attend
court hearings at the discretion of the judge.
_____(15) The right to communicate with professionals who work with
the foster child including, but not limited to, therapists,
physicians and teachers who work directly with the child.
_____(16) The right to communicate with the child's birth family,
other foster parents of the child and prospective and finalized
adoptive parents of the child without the threat of reprisal.
_____(17) The right to necessary information on an ongoing basis
which is relevant to the care of the child including timely
information on changes in the case plan or termination of the
placement and reasons for the changes or termination of placement to the foster parent except in the instances of immediate response
of child protective service.
_____(18) The right to first consideration as the resource for a
child in a foster parent's home who becomes free for adoption or
another planned permanent living arrangement.
_____(19) The right to a period of respite upon the request, with
reasonable notice, of a foster parent.
_____(20) The right to information, in person and in writing, of
allegations of maltreatment of children in the home of the foster
parent alleged to have been perpetrated by a member of the foster
parent's household, the process for disposition of these
allegations and any review process for reports of indicated child
abuse and neglect upon receipt of the allegations. A written
notification of any report in which a finding is not indicated on
the county level shall be provided to a foster parent within five
days of the findings.
_____(21) The right to copies of all information relative to their
family and services contained in the personal foster home record.
_____(22) Except in emergencies, foster parents shall be given two
weeks advance notice and a written statement of the reasons before
a child is removed from their care. When requesting removal of a
child from their home, foster parents shall give two weeks advance
notice, consistent with division policy, to the child's caseworker
except in emergency situations. Recognizing the critical nature of attachment for children, if a child reenters the foster care system
and is not placed in a relative's home, the child's former foster
parents shall be given first consideration for placement of the
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide a bill of rights
for foster parents.
§49-2-12b is new; therefore it has been completely