Foster Care Frequently Asked Questions

Foster parents can appeal a placement move if the child has been placed with you more than twelve (12) months and the move isn’t due to exigent circumstances.  Policy 16.27, Notice of Removal from a Foster Home, provides guidelines to this process.

Depending upon the type of placement that can vary.  However, the worker delivering the child should always provide you a copy of the following:

  • Child’s Initial Intake, Placement and Well-Being Information and History form (updated if not first placement)
  • Placement contract

Other documents could include:

  • Authorization for Routine Health Services
  • Medical Consent form
  • Education Passport
  • Copy of TennCare card
  • An approved contact list for the child(ren)

Depending on the child’s needs/behaviors, the following could be included:

  • Child’s medication
  • Child Safety Plan   

Under the Foster Parent Advocacy Program, a minimum of one Advocate is assigned to each region.  Advocates will provide direct support, intervention, and education to existing resource parents (traditional or kin/relative) approved by either the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) or contracted private providers, regarding Serious Investigations, violations or education related to the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, policy related issues, or other interventions as determined by DCS or the statewide foster/adoptive parent association.

A group of seasoned foster parents trained to provide support, guidance, and education to newly approved resource parents (traditional and kin/relative) or experienced foster parents who may be needing additional support in an area. 

Anyone who cares about the child and family or is important to the child and family may attend the CFTM. This may include parents, close relatives, extended family, and other friends, neighbors, or community members who are close to or a support to the family.  Other members of the CFT, including DCS workers, supervisors, provider agency workers, attorneys, Guardian ad Litem, school personnel, CASA workers and others who may offer value to the planning or decision-making process, may be in attendance.

Foster parents are entitled to actively participate in the case planning and decision-making process regarding the child in foster care, and DCS must consider foster parent input in the ongoing development of the case plan.  Concerns regarding CFT decisions should ideally be raised in the CFTM setting for the team’s consideration and discussion.  If a foster parent does not feel comfortable voicing concerns in the CFTM setting, the concerns may be reported directly to the FSW or supervisor.  Foster parents may also present their concerns directly to the Court at a hearing.  See Policy 16.31 and T.C.A. § 37-2-415(a)(11), (13).

Unfortunately, pet vaccinations cannot be waived.  This is a state statute that we feel must be enforced to ensure the safety of children placed in a foster home.

DCS requires the following sleeping arrangements for foster children.  More details regarding sleeping space can be found in Policy 16.4 Foster Home Selection and Approval.

  • Children have their own bed that includes a mattress, box springs (unless bunk beds) and bed frame.  Platform beds are also acceptable.
  • Children three years of age or older may not share the bedroom of the foster parent except for brief periods of illness or emotional distress.
  • Children ages four years old and under, of the opposite sex and are siblings are allowed to share a bedroom.
  • No more than two children share a bedroom.  Some exceptions are allowed for relative/kinship foster homes.
  • Unfinished attics, basements, hallways or other outbuildings may not be used as a bedroom.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (HR 4980) signed into law September 29, 2014, attempts to expand the opportunities for youth in foster care to participate in developmentally appropriate activities such as field trips, sleepovers and other extracurricular activities. These experiences allow youth to build skills, while developing talents, and healthy relationships with peers and supportive adults. New experiences and opportunities--even healthy risk taking--helps youth discover who they are and learn important decision-making skills when they are supported by nurturing caregivers. The new law requires states to support the healthy development of youth in care through implementing “reasonable and prudent parent” guidelines for decisions made by foster parents or caregivers.  DCS and contract agencies adhere to the practice of care provided by a foster parent or caregiver in determining whether to allow a child or youth in his or her care to participate in age and developmentally appropriate activities.

The foster care board rate includes two days of respite each month.  Foster parents may select a respite care provider with friends, family members or other approved foster parents. If assistance is needed with making respite arrangements, contact with FPS occurs ten (10) business days prior to placement need.  For more information, refer to the Protocol for Respite Care and Other Events.

For emergencies immediately dial 911.  When applicable, begin administering CPR/First Aid until first responders arrive.  Notify the child’s Family Service Worker as soon as possible.  If a foster parent for a provider agency, also notify your agency worker.  Please confirm that the information was received by the worker and notify the worker’s supervisor if you do not receive a response.   

A requirement of being a foster parent is that you mentor birth parents as they work their plan for reunification.  So, yes, they will know your name if you are participating in Child and Family Team meetings and parent/child visitation and routine calls with birth parents.  Birth parents are not routinely informed of your home address, and FSWs should be sensitive to whether foster parents want their identifying information shared in CFTMs and summaries.  See Policy 16.31 However, in today’s world of social media and Google searches, this information can be easily accessed.  Additionally, your home address could be released pursuant to court order or the legal discovery process, though DCS makes every effort to shield this information from release when possible.