Prudent Parenting & Normalcy
Newly enacted legislation, signed into law on March 29, 2016, will help ensure that children and youth in foster care have opportunities to experience more of the same growing up activities that are typical among their peers who are not in foster care. The legislation (SB 2530 and HB 1530) requires that foster parents and congregate care staff follow a new “reasonable and prudent parent” standard in decision-making when determining whether to allow the child in their care to participate in activities, such as social or extracurricular activities. The legislation also exempts a caregiver acting in compliance with the standard from civil liability relating to injuries the child may incur in such activities.
The legislation gained broad support, including support from young people who have experience foster care personally and youth-serving organizations.
The requirement originated in federal law. It applies to foster parents and other designated caregivers of children and youth in foster care in every state, and aims to remove any barriers to normal age-appropriate activities that are important for healthy development. The legislation builds on the Department of Children’s Services agency protocols for which invited input from young people with foster care experience.
The reasonable and prudent parent standard is characterized by careful and thoughtful, parental decision-making that is intended to maintain a child’s health, safety and best interest while encouraging the child’s emotional, developmental and academic growth. This will generally be impacted by the child’s length of stay in the placement and the foster parent understanding of the child’s strengths and needs.
Normalcy is important because:
- Normalcy helps build life skills.
- Brain research supports the theory that normal adolescent experiences are necessary for development.
- Normal experiences help youth develop social capital.
- Normalcy can help youth build skills to overcome the effects of trauma.