Foster Parents: How much info do you get after court hearings? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-14-2011, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all new to me and I don't want to make anyone (casa workers, cps workers, ect) uncomfortable by asking questions I have no right to have answered.  So, how much info are we "allowed" to ask for?  Who would I ask about how the hearing went?  Can I know the mom's 'plan' or timeline?

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#2 of 14 Old 07-14-2011, 10:33 PM
 
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This varies so much place to place. I know where i live the FP has the right to be notified, attend, and speak at all court hearings. The only ones i ever went to were the ones for the trial and then post TPR hearings. The worker did NOT want me to come and kept saying things like "you dont need to be there" and i had to really push. Once the GAL knew i wanted to be involved he made sure that i knew when they were. They didnt ask me anything during that actual trial, i was more of an observer but at each post termination hearing (every three months, as required by law) the judge called on me, asked me questions, etc. She was super nice to me and by the reactions of her and the prosecutor and everyone else i got the feeling around here FPs never show up. It was like "oh you're the FOSTER PARENT?!?!" then a big fawning grin. Amazing. I thought each hearing was super interesting and gave me such knowledge of the case. I can actually tell my daughter things like "i know you want to believe xyz...but the judge said this...and she decided that...." or "i know you want to believe your mom didnt do xyz, but she actually admitted to it in court under oath..."

 

That being said, if its just a review hearing while visits are still ongoing, im not sure how those go. But if you can try to make it, i'd try. I so wish i would have attended my first fs' court hearings, but i was such a newbie and no one even told me when they were. I know next to NOTHING about anything in his case (i've adopted him), and any scrap of info would have been valuable to me.

 


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#3 of 14 Old 07-16-2011, 06:27 PM
 
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I'm a caseworker, not a foster parent...

 

...I work in NY and here, we expect that the foster parents come to court for all permanency hearings.  Things like fact-findings or dispo hearings they aren't expected to be at though.  In fact, when we do our permanency hearings, in the county my agency does our primary work in, the foster parents receive a copy of the permanency hearing report (with all updates and details) and a notice to appear in court.

 

If they don't want to go through or can't because of work, we don't force the issue.  Sometimes the judges will ask where the foster parents are and we will explain why they aren't there, but it's not a big deal.

 

Also, in NY, caseworkers and foster parents are not allowed to give information to CASA workers at all.  We have to provide regular access to the child, but can't provide them with any information.

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#4 of 14 Old 07-16-2011, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I spoke with our case worker and she told me all she knew. She said I would get a report sent to me as well.  Also, she did suggest that I attend all permanency hearings as well.  


-T, Wife and Best Friend to R 3/2005; Mommie to E 8/2007; and G 3/2009

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#5 of 14 Old 07-16-2011, 11:02 PM
 
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Quote:

 

Also, in NY, caseworkers and foster parents are not allowed to give information to CASA workers at all.  We have to provide regular access to the child, but can't provide them with any information.



To my knowledge we dont have CASA workers here, but rather GALs (guardian ad litem, the child's lawyer), but i'm curious...why are you not allowed to give info to the CASA? (and what do you mean by "information"?) Does the CASA not ask the FP about the child when s/he visits? I had extensive conversations with my children's GAL, and he really advocated for not only the children but me as well in court (that is, if he knew i had info the court needed he would call it out in court, bring it to the judge's attention....or if there was something i told him the agency wasnt doing, like following up on clothing allowances or whatever, he'd go ahead and address that with the foster worker in open court, it was pretty awesome.)


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#6 of 14 Old 07-17-2011, 07:35 PM
 
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Literally, no information.  According to the lawyer for the local department of DSS, it's a state regulation, and my only guess is that somewhere down the line, somebody, a caseworker or foster parent or whoever, provided information they shouldn't have.  I really have no idea, but I do know that several years ago, we were all told, without exception that we were no longer to provide CASA workers with information regarding the children (with the exception of contact info of course).  I have seen both caseworkers and foster parents get a "talking to" when it's obvious where some information in the CASA worker's reports came from them.

 

And yes, I am sure it must be very awkward for our foster parents to have these people in their homes without being able to talk to them about the kids, even just making small talk about the kids because that's where the CASA workers generally meet with the kids.  And, yes, there have been times where something was brought up in court that could have been much more easily resolved if caseworkers and foster parents were allowed to dialogue with CASA workers.  I've worked with both good and bad CASA workers though (just the same as good/bad caseworkers).

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#7 of 14 Old 07-17-2011, 11:10 PM
 
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There is no "shouldn't have" when it comes to the CASA...?!?!?  I was a foster parent, but I was also trained as a CASA.  Sounds to me like someone's citing a reg that doesn't exist so that there's nobody in the court room bringing up things the state doesn't want discussed.  The whole POINT of the CASA is to gather all of the facts and meet with all of the players to give the judge an OBJECTIVE opinion because the CASA has nothing to gain or lose--no goals or objectives to meet.  I've known CPS offices that get resentful about it and say "WE have the best interest of the child!" but the reality is that CPS has the best interest of the FAMILY.  Which isn't wrong or a problem, but it's not the same.

 

To the OP:  what we got from cws depended upon the worker and the case.  It shouldn't have mattered because until you have an adoptive contract with the state, the kids cases are all foster care cases and they should be subject to the same rules.  But our experience was that some cws were on a power trip and wouldn't even tell you the stuff you were ENTITLED to (like whether the parent showed up to visitation) and others would tell you what they felt like sharing based on their idea of where it was headed, what they felt like they thought you would want to know or what they thought would be too hard for you to hear, etc.

 

Federally, we are entitled to show up to a hearing and make a statement.  In NJ, that meant showing up, being escorted in when the judge was ready to hear what you had to say, making your statement, and being escorted out.  Period.  In one county in TX, ANYone could sit in the courtroom during hearings.  Any. one.  Related to the case or not.  I was there.  Multiple times.  So the range of what's acceptable/allowable is broad.  I would ask the head of your local fp association or support group what you're entitled to in your state because sometimes the workers tell you what they want you to think vs. what is real.  And some of them honestly don't know.  We had a very seasoned worker who got very annoyed with me over something she insisted wasn't legally possible... until it got to the capital and she was corrected.  And she was a great worker with a ton of experience, but either the rule changed at some point and she missed it or she misunderstood.  But she got pretty nasty with me over it.  :/


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#8 of 14 Old 07-18-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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Yeah that doesnt make sense to me. Isnt the CASA supposed to report to the court? How is s/he supposed to give an opinion about the case if no one will tell them anything?! So, if the child goes to a visit and every time comes back and has behavior problems, or is inconsolable, the FP can't tell the CASA that? If the worker noticed at the last several visits, the bmom was acting rough with the child and the child was upset (or conversely, that visits seem to be going really well and she thinks the mom is doing better), she shouldnt share that perspective? Thats just crazy.

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Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post

There is no "shouldn't have" when it comes to the CASA...?!?!?


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#9 of 14 Old 07-18-2011, 07:53 AM
 
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Bella I'm interested to know whose policy it is that says the foster care worker and FP should not cooperate with CASA (and merely giving access to the child is not cooperating, what does the FP do when the CASA asks them questions about the child??? Say "im not allowed to discuss that"?!? That would NOT go over well here at all!) Is it a DHS policy? Were they called out too many times by CASA and now this is how they are acting? How do judges feel about that because i'm sure that is brought to their attention by the CASA? According to the NY CASA website the role of the CASA is:

 

"Gathering objective information from all parties involved in a case—the child, family members, foster parents, service providers and other knowledgeable individuals. The advocate then submits a report to the judge to help the judge select the best option for the child’s permanent safety."

 

But from what you've said FP are not even allowed to provide "objective information"...how can the court report then be accurate? Is the CASA supposed to read minds? Thats just so disturbing to me.


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#10 of 14 Old 07-18-2011, 05:26 PM
 
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Simply because the CASA worker isn't speaking to the foster parent or caseworker doesn't mean that the judge isn't getting relevant information about what is going on with the case.  I finished a permanency hearing report today that was 18 pages long, and we submit reports to the court 90 days after every court appearance, so the judges are getting information they need to have, including information about how visitation is going.  The CASA workers are also presumably speaking to mental health providers and school officials, and of course, and most importantly, the kids themselves.

I've already said I don't know how the policy came about or why.  And when I said "shouldn't have", I didn't mean information the CASA shouldn't have, but something someone may have told someone that was not meant to be shared.  Although unless a bio-parent has signed releases allowing their service providers to share information, there is absolutely information that a CASA worker "shouldn't have", otherwise it's a breech of confidentiality.  I can't even get information about a bio-parent who is court ordered to work with me unless they have signed a release.

The judges are well aware of the fact that caseworkers and foster parents are not sharing information with CASA.  If it bothers them, they don't seem to indicate either way.  And the CASA workers know this too, and work around it, and since most of their reports are fairly lengthy, they do seem to be getting enough info.  It's not a hostile relationship at all either, at meetings where they also attend (and yes, I inadvertently have to share information), we are friendly and make small talk.  One CASA worker is often asking me about the baby I just had six months ago.

Whether I agree with it or not, the county has custody of the children we work with and they have the right to tell their employees who they can and cannot share information with about the child.  As someone employed by an agency contracted with the local counties, I have to abide by their rules or I risk losing my job, and the foster parents risk losing the children placed with them.  

 

OP, good luck getting the information you need to do right by the kids you have or will have.  I hope you're provided what as much information as possible.

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#11 of 14 Old 07-18-2011, 06:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bella99 View Post

 The CASA workers are also presumably speaking to mental health providers and school officials, and of course, and most importantly, the kids themselves.
 


Do infants and toddlers typically not have CASAs then? I'm not familiar with them, our kids have GALs, and they are the children's lawyers, they pretty much seem to have the right to everything. They speak for the kids, and of course when a child can't give info directly to the lawyer, s/he will rely on info from adults in the child's life who can help shed light on the child's situation (not the ONLY thing they will rely on of course.)

 


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#12 of 14 Old 07-21-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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Here our kids have non-attorney GALs, but are not called CASAs. They function in the same role and the CASA website directs you to the GAL office. Foster parents are absolutely allowed to talk with the GALs. We have as much (or more) information than any other professsional involved with the child. DD had a wonderful GAL. I didn't see DS's one much but he was very involved with his sister's case.

 

I go to every court date and team planning meeting. I think I've only missed one court date and one team meeting in five years. I'm given all information when I'm not able to attend.

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#13 of 14 Old 08-05-2011, 09:53 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

This varies so much place to place. I know where i live the FP has the right to be notified, attend, and speak at all court hearings. The only ones i ever went to were the ones for the trial and then post TPR hearings. The worker did NOT want me to come and kept saying things like "you dont need to be there" and i had to really push. Once the GAL knew i wanted to be involved he made sure that i knew when they were. They didnt ask me anything during that actual trial, i was more of an observer but at each post termination hearing (every three months, as required by law) the judge called on me, asked me questions, etc. She was super nice to me and by the reactions of her and the prosecutor and everyone else i got the feeling around here FPs never show up. It was like "oh you're the FOSTER PARENT?!?!" then a big fawning grin. Amazing. I thought each hearing was super interesting and gave me such knowledge of the case. I can actually tell my daughter things like "i know you want to believe xyz...but the judge said this...and she decided that...." or "i know you want to believe your mom didnt do xyz, but she actually admitted to it in court under oath..."

 

That being said, if its just a review hearing while visits are still ongoing, im not sure how those go. But if you can try to make it, i'd try. I so wish i would have attended my first fs' court hearings, but i was such a newbie and no one even told me when they were. I know next to NOTHING about anything in his case (i've adopted him), and any scrap of info would have been valuable to me.

 


As the child's legal parent, you may be entitled to his CPS file if you requested it. 

 


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#14 of 14 Old 08-10-2011, 12:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

 I know where i live the FP has the right to be notified, attend, and speak at all court hearings.


Same for where I live. I got a copy of their "plans" and have attended the hearings. I am notified more now with current FD, then with previous, but her case was so fast.

 


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