Many foster parents across the United States are unaware of many facts as they begin serving in this capacity. They are, simply not told of the may pitfalls that they can face as foster parents.
For instance, allegations can and do happen to good foster parents.
Until you face an accusation filed on you, it is just a word.
Fact; allegations are a very real danger to every foster parent across this nation. If the claim; is a violation of the rules and regulations of your agency, depending on what the allegation consists of, they may decide to offer you a C.A.P. Before explaining what a C.A.P. is, first, you must understand your agencies involvement in the process. Each allegation called into to the hotline will be followed up with an investigation. Once the investigation is completed, your agency must take some form of action. C.A.P. stands for a Corrective Action Plan. An allegation cannot remain an open file in any agency. They must take some action to close it. If after the investigation the decision returns as substantiated, you are determined responsible for some form of "child abuse." They may offer you a C.A.P. depending on the seriousness of the allegation. This is an option open to your agency for you to maintain your foster care license and to keep you functioning as a foster parent, but, for you it is, in essence, a confession.
WARNING; If you have violated their rules and regulations, this may be an option, but, if the outcome of the investigation is wrong it is not a remedy. Do not take this option.
In other words, make sure that whatever statement that is typed out and ready for your signature is an accurate statement of the facts and not exaggerated or a lie. Just the truth and just the facts period. Make sure that you agree with every word in it before you sign it.
One more thing you need to be aware of. If the decision is substantiated your name may be listed on your State Child Abuse Registry.
A bit of review. After the investigator determines your allegation to be substantiated, Indicated, or Founded. (depending on which terminology utilized in your state) You will receive your copy of the outcome of the investigation. The next step is be determined by the agency. Sometimes offers you a C.A.P. and/or an Administrative Inquiry and/or Hearing. You will be notified of the scheduled date when your Administrative Inquiry will take place. Depending of course on the outcome of the Administrative Inquiry The next step would be an Administrative Hearing.
Remember, the agency may offer you a C.A.P. at anytime during this process.
Now, to expound on this process. If the evidence presented at the Administrative Hearing concludes with a decision as to the allegation being substantiated then, in essence, they have established, with what they feel is proof that you did whatever the allegation indicated.
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you know what an Administrative Inquiry/Hearing is? Do you know what it entails? If you answered no to one or both of these questions, we urge you continue learning and seek one of the resources listed at the end of this article. This way you will be able to read all of the articles of interest to you, in this; Did you know, series.
Now let's go on; If you have a second or third allegation called into the hotline or your agency, within their time limit given, this allegation you just signed a C.A.P. to end can be reopened. Your foster parent license will be in danger of revocation, simply because you have had multiple allegations. This is known as a "preponderance of the evidence." Their theory is where there is smoke there is usually fire. Always remember the purpose is to protect the children within the Foster Care System, not you!
REPEAT; One more thing you need to be aware of; if the investigation decision is substantiated your name is subject to listing on the State Child Abuse Registry.
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Marilyn Harrison YOUR ADVOCATE