National Foster Care Month

Erin Houchin, State Senator

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan created National Foster Care Month for the month of May, aimed at bringing attention to the needs of foster children and recognizing those who work in the foster care system. As a former Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) caseworker, supporting foster children and their families is important to me, not just this month but year-round.

This session, I co-authored Senate Enrolled Act 233, which requires a Foster Parent Bill of Rights to be created in collaboration with DCS, foster parents and others in the foster care field. This statement will outline the rights and responsibilities of foster parents and create clear guidelines for their reference. The Foster Parent Bill of Rights will be distributed to current and prospective foster families and made available on the DCS website.

When foster families make the decision to open their homes to the foster care system, they are giving children the greatest gifts they can offer – a loving family and a roof over their heads. As a former DCS caseworker, I have seen what some of our most vulnerable children face, and am thankful to those who step up to shelter and raise them in their time of need.

While it is important for foster families to understand what is expected of them, it is equally important for DCS to hear concerns from current foster parents and understand issues that may be present in the system. SEA 233 seeks to create an open dialogue where these concerns can be expressed, heard and addressed. It empowers foster families and holds child-placing agencies accountable to specifically outlined and agreed-upon terms.

Foster families dedicate their lives and homes to care for children in need, and it is critical for them to feel supported and be fully informed about the system and the available resources. I was proud to co-author this legislation, and am committed to continuing to support foster families and children across our state.

With the signing of SEA 233, Indiana became the 18th state with a Foster Parent Bill of Rights law.

If you have any thoughts or questions on these or other issues, please contact me by email at by phone at 800-382-9467.

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