Children in foster care are granted some sense of normalcy with a new federal law.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 is a Federal law that allows some flexibility for caregivers and overall child well being for abused and neglected children in foster care and/or kinship-relative care. The idea of the new law is to make it easier on resource providers (foster parents, kinship providers and relative providers) to make day-to-day decisions based off of prudent parenting. Basically, if you would allow your child to visit that friend across the street-then your foster child can too. The “normalcy” portion of the law allows for regular extracurricular activates such as work, play and experiences.

Annie E. Casey Foundation states, “Normalcy means allowing children and youth in out-of-home care to experience childhood and adolescence in ways similar to their peers who are not in foster care. For young people in foster care, normalcy can be defined in various ways.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation (2015), youth have defined “normalcy” as:

  • Being part of a caring and supportive family
  • Developing and cultivating friendships with peers and relationships with supportive adults
  • Engaging in extracurricular and everyday activities (e.g., participating in sports and clubs, getting a driver’s license, going on school trips, etc.)
  • Being a person, not a label (i.e., “foster child/youth”)
  • Having the authority to make their own decisions, try new things, and make mistakes”

The U.S. Department of health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families and the Children’s Bureau put together some amazing resources which can be through this active link: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/resources-foster-families/parenting/normalcy/

Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association will be offering Reasonable & Prudent Parenting training in January through our monthly In-Service training program. Missouri has the duty to uphold the federal law and the law indicated clearly, “The Federal Law tells states that they must: Put in place a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” for decisions made by a foster parent or a designated person in an institution like a group home.” CMFCAA will be assisting the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division by partnering with our state agency to bring this new information to you. There is a wonderful series of videos called, “Authentic Voices Video Series” that educates all of us on the culture and normalcy importance of children in care. There has been much harm done to kids both in foster care and congregate care by the many labels, and strict restrictions placed on their lives. The outcomes for youth “aging out” of care is telling us a story and the voices of foster care alumnus are leading the way of change.

You can view the video series here: https://capacity.childwelfare.gov/states/info/authentic-voices-videos/

In a nutshell, the law breaks down Reasonable & Prudent Parenting as such, “In the past, lengthy and complex approval processes were required before children and youth in foster care could participate in activities such as sleeping over at a friend’s house or going on out of-State trips. The approval processes made otherwise “normal” childhood and adolescent experiences atypical for children and youth in out-of-home care.

To address this issue, President Obama signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P. L. 113‒183) into law. This Federal law includes the reasonable and prudent parent standard (RPPS), which allows foster parents and caregivers greater discretion in making decisions regarding the typical daily activities of the children and youth in their care.” (Capacity Building Center for States, 2016)

This includes pictures on social media; school sports pictures, pictures in local media outlets, etc. Our kids can have social media pages with their pictures; you can post pictures of the kids you are caring for. They are part of our family and they want to feel like it. The only caveat is you don’t want to label the children in the photos “foster.” Otherwise, post away and create a sense of bonding and attachment for the kids we care for. Imagine the sense of attachment that creates and love our kids will feel.

Enjoy the New Year and remember perfection is NOT required.

Walking with you,

DeAnna Alonso, CEO