Legal Rights for Indiana Foster Parents

Submitted by PeterAKenny on December 29, 2020

Indiana foster parents have many legal rights to assist in caring for their wards. Know your rights and use them when appropriate. Here are the more important ones:

  • To be notified of all case conferences involving your foster child at least two days in advance.

  • To call a case conference and to participate in discussing the rehabilitation of your child and his birth parents, setting visitation arrangements, and helping identify services to meet the special needs of your child.

  • To be represented by an attorney of your choosing.

  • To be notified at least seven days ahead of all court hearings involving your foster child, including date, time, place, and purpose.

  • To be heard in all court hearings and to make recommendations.

  • In a Dispositional Hearing, you are granted the additional right to dispute any part of the predispositional report already in evidence.

  • In a Periodic Review and Permanency Hearing, the additional rights to submit a written statement, to present oral testimony, and to cross-examine witnesses.

  • In a Termination of Parental Rights case, the additional right to submit a written statement.

  • To petition to intervene as a full party in court proceedings. Without status as a party, you cannot normally request a court hearing or offer your own witnesses.

  • A new Indiana law (2019) gives foster parents who have had the child for at least 12 months the right to request a court hearing before a child is removed from their home without their consent. This right can be found in Chapter 6, Section 4 of the current DCS Policy Manual.

The above rights are primarily contained in the IC 31-34… sections of the Indiana code. My advice to foster parents: Know the outcome you want. Then work with your attorney to use the appropriate legislation to proceed in case conferencing or in court.

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