What is the duration of a foster care project?
It depends. Foster care and hospitality come in various forms, and a project’s duration, too, may greatly vary:
– Emergency / short-notice care (up to three months);
– Short-term foster care (up to one year);
– Medium- or long-term foster care (a minimum of one year);
– Permanent living arrangements (may continue after the minor’s 18th birthday)
Is foster care for married couples alone?
No: eligibility extends to unmarried partners, whether childless or with children, and to single citizens. There are no explicit age limits or specific economic requirements to be met.
Who takes the decision to place a minor in foster care?
It depends. Struggling parents may spontaneously contact a social worker for help, or social workers may decide to intervene on the grounds of a report filed by a public safety official. In certain instances, a judge will rule to that effect.
What is a placement plan?
A placement plan is case-by-case multidisciplinary protection project revolving around an individual minor and his/her social world. It is drafted by the Social Services in cooperation with other parts involved (family associations, family networks, a foster family, a legal tutor etc.). A typical plan features an analysis of the situation and a description of the hardships the child and its family are currently going through. Additionally, it will contain:
– An estimate of the overall duration of the foster care placement;
– Details on the time slots and places in which meetings between the minor and his/her birth parents may occur;
– Stipulations on the reciprocal position of the child’s birth parents and foster family;
– A list of the duties that the Social Services entrust to the foster family and to the birth parents, respectively;
– Detail on check-up visits and support initiatives;
– A description of the conditions that, once fulfilled, will warrant the return of the minor to his/her birth family.
What are the duties of a foster parent?
Foster parents welcome a minor into their home and provide for board, education, and schooling in a spirit of respect for the child’s individual dispositions and – when warranted – for its birth family’s cultural habits. Instructions imparted by the Social Services will also need to be followed closely. Other than that, foster parents are fully endowed with the power to act in loco parentis in their ordinary dealings with educational and public health authorities.
Foster parents are required to keep in regular contact with the child’s birth family and to facilitate the return of the minor to his/her birth home, according to the parameters laid down in the placement plan.
Regular meetings with the child’s birth family are a paramount requirement. It is vital that the minor’s birth parents do not feel marginalized, but rather be actively involved in caring for their child and helping it grow. They must be encouraged to perceive the foster family as “allies”, not enemies.
Who are the minors in placement?
They are for the most part school age children and young boys/girls, occasionally teenagers, Italian or not, issued from homes that cannot, for the time being, provide for their material, educational, and emotional needs.
The minor may already have been a guest in a help community or come from previous spells of foster placement in support families. When the minor has siblings, these may either remain in the care of their birth parents, be transferred to help communities, or be designated for placement in other foster families.
In the latter case, it is crucial to ensure that the minor remains in touch with all the family members that may be considered relevant for his well-being, according to the placement plan.
Who are the birth families of the minors in placement?
They are families experiencing a momentary spell of trouble. More often than not, the Social Services have been familiar with their case for some time. These families have temporarily lost the ability to care for their children and to guarantee them an adequate mental and bodily development, but are still considered able to rebuild a parental competence in due time. When the birth parents themselves are aware of the difficulties they are experiencing, they can ask the Social Services for help and lay down their conditions for a consensual family placement. Foster care, at any rate, is never employed as a punitive measure: it is and should always be an experience of support and solidarity in the interest of the minor and his/her family.