Foster Kids: You Have Rights Too

Reviewed Oct 18, 2018

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Summary

  • All foster kids have the right to good care.
  • If you’re treated badly, get the help you need. 

A child living with foster parents or in a group home has the right to be treated with honor and respect. Foster children of all ages also have legal rights. The federal government does not have its own list of rights for foster children, but each state has its own rules and laws protecting them. There are people who are trained to protect children under foster care.

If you’re in a foster home or group home, you should see a social worker or another counselor at least once a month. Ask them to give you a copy of your state’s “bill of rights” for foster children. Then go over it, line by line. If you have questions about your rights, that’s a good time to ask them.

Your state’s list of rights will tell you what you can expect from your caretakers and from the court that handles your case. It should also include phone numbers to call in an emergency, or if you feel your rights are being denied. Keep that list in a safe place, and don’t be afraid to use it.

Basic rights for all foster children and youth

No matter where you live or how old you are, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect
  • Live in a clean, safe and healthy place
  • Eat three meals a day
  • Have the clothing you need for school and play
  • Be able to go to school, church and extracurricular activities
  • Have friends
  • Have a safe spot to put your belongings
  • Be able to see a doctor or dentist if you are sick
  • Be able to call, write or see members of your own family, unless a court says you can’t
  • Be able to voice your opinion on where and how you live

Sometimes, when kids come from bad home situations, they are confused about what happens in foster homes. They’re not sure what is normal and what is abusive.

Can foster parents make you work to cover the cost of your care? Is it OK if a foster parent punishes you by not letting you eat supper? What if other children in the home bully you or steal your belongings? The answer to all three questions is no.

If you wonder if someone is treating you badly, ask your social worker. Even if it’s the way you were treated before you came into the home. Don’t be afraid of getting someone in trouble, or of being punished for complaining. Your social worker is working for you.

No one should ever hit or threaten you, lock you in a room, stop you from going to school, or look through your mail or personal belongings unless the court has ordered them to. No one should touch you sexually or hurt you in any way. If someone does, don’t waste any time waiting for the problem to go away. Get help right away.

If you feel threatened and can’t reach your social worker, talk to a teacher, school nurse, police officer, or other adult you trust, and ask that person to help you.

If you’re over 14

As you get older, you’ll have a right to more info about your case and the court will include you in more choices about your care. Be sure to get involved.

Everyone wants you to succeed when you grow up, including your foster parents and the court. That’s why states give special training to help teens plan for life after they turn 18. Ask your social worker for details.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have no voice in your care. That’s not true. No matter what your age or situation, you have the right to tell the court what you want to happen in your case.

Depending on your age, you have the right to know why you are in foster care, and how the court expects to care for you until you are old enough to take care of yourself. In most states, you have the right to your own lawyer, and can talk to a judge directly to talk about any questions you have about your foster care. Whether you’re having trouble or not, it’s a good idea to tell your social worker, lawyer, or judge how you feel about your foster family and the people assigned to your case.

Every state has its own list of important phone numbers for people who can help you get what you need. Ask your social worker for that list, and keep it somewhere you can find it. 

Here are three hotlines to call if you find yourself in an emergency and don’t know where to turn:

  • Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 448-4663
  • National Runaway Safeline: (800) RUN-AWAY
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4-A-CHILD

Resources

Foster Child Bill of Rights (State of Massachusetts)
 
Foster Club, the national online network for young people in foster care

Youth Communication, an online magazine written by youth for youth in foster care

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Matt Anderson, L.C.S.W., Missoula, MT, social worker and producer of "From Place to Place," a documentary about young people aging out of the foster care system; Laura DuShame, attorney and foster parent, Northampton, MA
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, C.R.S.S., C.P.R.S., Wellness & Recovery Program Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • All foster kids have the right to good care.
  • If you’re treated badly, get the help you need. 

A child living with foster parents or in a group home has the right to be treated with honor and respect. Foster children of all ages also have legal rights. The federal government does not have its own list of rights for foster children, but each state has its own rules and laws protecting them. There are people who are trained to protect children under foster care.

If you’re in a foster home or group home, you should see a social worker or another counselor at least once a month. Ask them to give you a copy of your state’s “bill of rights” for foster children. Then go over it, line by line. If you have questions about your rights, that’s a good time to ask them.

Your state’s list of rights will tell you what you can expect from your caretakers and from the court that handles your case. It should also include phone numbers to call in an emergency, or if you feel your rights are being denied. Keep that list in a safe place, and don’t be afraid to use it.

Basic rights for all foster children and youth

No matter where you live or how old you are, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect
  • Live in a clean, safe and healthy place
  • Eat three meals a day
  • Have the clothing you need for school and play
  • Be able to go to school, church and extracurricular activities
  • Have friends
  • Have a safe spot to put your belongings
  • Be able to see a doctor or dentist if you are sick
  • Be able to call, write or see members of your own family, unless a court says you can’t
  • Be able to voice your opinion on where and how you live

Sometimes, when kids come from bad home situations, they are confused about what happens in foster homes. They’re not sure what is normal and what is abusive.

Can foster parents make you work to cover the cost of your care? Is it OK if a foster parent punishes you by not letting you eat supper? What if other children in the home bully you or steal your belongings? The answer to all three questions is no.

If you wonder if someone is treating you badly, ask your social worker. Even if it’s the way you were treated before you came into the home. Don’t be afraid of getting someone in trouble, or of being punished for complaining. Your social worker is working for you.

No one should ever hit or threaten you, lock you in a room, stop you from going to school, or look through your mail or personal belongings unless the court has ordered them to. No one should touch you sexually or hurt you in any way. If someone does, don’t waste any time waiting for the problem to go away. Get help right away.

If you feel threatened and can’t reach your social worker, talk to a teacher, school nurse, police officer, or other adult you trust, and ask that person to help you.

If you’re over 14

As you get older, you’ll have a right to more info about your case and the court will include you in more choices about your care. Be sure to get involved.

Everyone wants you to succeed when you grow up, including your foster parents and the court. That’s why states give special training to help teens plan for life after they turn 18. Ask your social worker for details.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have no voice in your care. That’s not true. No matter what your age or situation, you have the right to tell the court what you want to happen in your case.

Depending on your age, you have the right to know why you are in foster care, and how the court expects to care for you until you are old enough to take care of yourself. In most states, you have the right to your own lawyer, and can talk to a judge directly to talk about any questions you have about your foster care. Whether you’re having trouble or not, it’s a good idea to tell your social worker, lawyer, or judge how you feel about your foster family and the people assigned to your case.

Every state has its own list of important phone numbers for people who can help you get what you need. Ask your social worker for that list, and keep it somewhere you can find it. 

Here are three hotlines to call if you find yourself in an emergency and don’t know where to turn:

  • Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 448-4663
  • National Runaway Safeline: (800) RUN-AWAY
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4-A-CHILD

Resources

Foster Child Bill of Rights (State of Massachusetts)
 
Foster Club, the national online network for young people in foster care

Youth Communication, an online magazine written by youth for youth in foster care

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Matt Anderson, L.C.S.W., Missoula, MT, social worker and producer of "From Place to Place," a documentary about young people aging out of the foster care system; Laura DuShame, attorney and foster parent, Northampton, MA
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, C.R.S.S., C.P.R.S., Wellness & Recovery Program Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • All foster kids have the right to good care.
  • If you’re treated badly, get the help you need. 

A child living with foster parents or in a group home has the right to be treated with honor and respect. Foster children of all ages also have legal rights. The federal government does not have its own list of rights for foster children, but each state has its own rules and laws protecting them. There are people who are trained to protect children under foster care.

If you’re in a foster home or group home, you should see a social worker or another counselor at least once a month. Ask them to give you a copy of your state’s “bill of rights” for foster children. Then go over it, line by line. If you have questions about your rights, that’s a good time to ask them.

Your state’s list of rights will tell you what you can expect from your caretakers and from the court that handles your case. It should also include phone numbers to call in an emergency, or if you feel your rights are being denied. Keep that list in a safe place, and don’t be afraid to use it.

Basic rights for all foster children and youth

No matter where you live or how old you are, you have the right to:

  • Be treated with respect
  • Live in a clean, safe and healthy place
  • Eat three meals a day
  • Have the clothing you need for school and play
  • Be able to go to school, church and extracurricular activities
  • Have friends
  • Have a safe spot to put your belongings
  • Be able to see a doctor or dentist if you are sick
  • Be able to call, write or see members of your own family, unless a court says you can’t
  • Be able to voice your opinion on where and how you live

Sometimes, when kids come from bad home situations, they are confused about what happens in foster homes. They’re not sure what is normal and what is abusive.

Can foster parents make you work to cover the cost of your care? Is it OK if a foster parent punishes you by not letting you eat supper? What if other children in the home bully you or steal your belongings? The answer to all three questions is no.

If you wonder if someone is treating you badly, ask your social worker. Even if it’s the way you were treated before you came into the home. Don’t be afraid of getting someone in trouble, or of being punished for complaining. Your social worker is working for you.

No one should ever hit or threaten you, lock you in a room, stop you from going to school, or look through your mail or personal belongings unless the court has ordered them to. No one should touch you sexually or hurt you in any way. If someone does, don’t waste any time waiting for the problem to go away. Get help right away.

If you feel threatened and can’t reach your social worker, talk to a teacher, school nurse, police officer, or other adult you trust, and ask that person to help you.

If you’re over 14

As you get older, you’ll have a right to more info about your case and the court will include you in more choices about your care. Be sure to get involved.

Everyone wants you to succeed when you grow up, including your foster parents and the court. That’s why states give special training to help teens plan for life after they turn 18. Ask your social worker for details.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have no voice in your care. That’s not true. No matter what your age or situation, you have the right to tell the court what you want to happen in your case.

Depending on your age, you have the right to know why you are in foster care, and how the court expects to care for you until you are old enough to take care of yourself. In most states, you have the right to your own lawyer, and can talk to a judge directly to talk about any questions you have about your foster care. Whether you’re having trouble or not, it’s a good idea to tell your social worker, lawyer, or judge how you feel about your foster family and the people assigned to your case.

Every state has its own list of important phone numbers for people who can help you get what you need. Ask your social worker for that list, and keep it somewhere you can find it. 

Here are three hotlines to call if you find yourself in an emergency and don’t know where to turn:

  • Youth Crisis Hotline: (800) 448-4663
  • National Runaway Safeline: (800) RUN-AWAY
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 4-A-CHILD

Resources

Foster Child Bill of Rights (State of Massachusetts)
 
Foster Club, the national online network for young people in foster care

Youth Communication, an online magazine written by youth for youth in foster care

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Matt Anderson, L.C.S.W., Missoula, MT, social worker and producer of "From Place to Place," a documentary about young people aging out of the foster care system; Laura DuShame, attorney and foster parent, Northampton, MA
Reviewed by Trenda Hedges, C.R.S.S., C.P.R.S., Wellness & Recovery Program Manager, Beacon Health Options

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