Foster parents testify at the State House

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CONCORD, NH – On October 17, representatives from FOSTERING CHANGE: Alliance for NH Foster Parents testified in front of the state’s Health and Human Services Oversight Committee, the commission assigned to oversee DCYF and keep tabs on the management, policies and practices of NH’s child protection services.

The newly formed Alliance for NH Foster Parents shared their mission with members of the Oversight Committee and stressed the need for changes that protect children and support foster parents. A source of foster parent frustration noted was ambiguous DCYF rules that are not carried out in a consistent manner throughout the state. Representatives requested that DCYF be held accountable for information given to foster parents by case workers and in the Foster and Adoptive Resource Guide so that state laws, rules and guidelines can be enforced and foster parents can gain a better understanding of what is expected of them.

Alliance representatives appeared eager to have rights that resemble similar laws for foster parents throughout the country, and endorsed the proposed Foster Parent Bill of Rights submitted to the legislature a few weeks ago by State Representative Sean Morrison. The committee meeting, that lasted practically four hours, included stories from foster parents about the challenges they have faced with DCYF and other collateral agencies and stakeholders. Many of the committee members asked pertinent questions to better understand the issues at hand.

On October 25 at 11 a.m. a foster care sub-committee, recently approved by the Oversight Committee, will meet to discuss the improvements needed to preserve a foster child’s well-being, support foster parents and to strategize how to recruit and retain more foster homes.

Foster parents, as well as the general public are encouraged to come to the State House in Concord at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Legislative Office Building. In addition to foster and adoptive parents, those who have children or care about children, pediatricians, teachers and former foster parents are also encouraged to attend this meeting. State Representative Mariellen MacKay posted on her Facebook page, “If there are concerns, issues, suggestions and compliments involving the system we want to hear it, learn from it and in the end find ways to find resolution and solutions.”

The Alliance cares about supporting children and families and the state’s child welfare system as a whole to grow, connect, improve, and move forward. This organization has a comprehensive website that is filled with information especially designed for foster parents, guardians and kinship care providers in NH. Daily postings on their Facebook page and Twitter provide readers with a plethora of information, messages of encouragement and up-to-date news about child welfare issues both local and national.

NH foster parents do not need to choose between the Alliance or the NH Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (NHFAPA), a social group that has been in existence for many years providing training and support to state foster parents. It’s clear that both organizations aim to provide a consistent voice on behalf of children and families with children in care.

For those foster parents who are seeking tools and helpful suggestions about how to navigate the foster care system, they will be pleased to find the Alliance promotes foster care reform and provides resources designed to help them advocate for themselves, and also safe and healthy reunifications with birth-parents. It’s been almost two months since the inception of the Alliance and their following appears to be building a strong coalition throughout NH. At a time when our state is facing such a serious substance misuse epidemic, the Alliance will be a strong voice advocating for the best interests of foster children.

For more information about FOSTERING CHANGE: Alliance for NH Foster Parents visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

Action steps:

  • Don’t forget to head to the State House – Legislative Office Building at 11 a.m. October 25. Come share your ideas for foster care reform or to advocate for the most vulnerable children in our state!

Can’t make it on Wednesday, but have an idea for foster care reform?
Email the Alliance at fosterchangenh@gmail.com to share your input. This is a valuable opportunity to “foster change” in your community!