Foster Care is a temporary Service that provides short-term care and supportive services to children who are unable to live at home because of child abuse or neglect. Foster children live in family foster homes and group care settings.
Twenty-three counties in Maryland and Baltimore City operate foster care programs. Foster care caseworkers work with the birth and foster families to develop the most appropriate permanency plan for each child. Reunification with parents, placement with relatives, or adoption are examples of permanency plans. If for some reason a child cannot reunite with their family, the child, depending on their age, receive services that teach them to be independent young adults. The foster care caseworker assists the birth and foster families in obtaining the services, such as counseling and health care needed to meet the goals of the permanency plan. Each Local DSS is responsible for recruiting, training, licensing and retaining family resource homes.
The foster care program in Maryland features a family to family theme that encourages foster parents to play an active role with the birth family in planning and carrying out the goals of the permanency plan. Using the family to family premise, foster children are place in homes that are in their own community thereby keeping the children connected to their home school, friends and resources within their neighborhood. Besides offering family to family foster care services, adolescents that are unable to reunite with their family are eligible to receive Independent Living Services that are geared toward self sufficiency.
Foster Care Program Goals
- To place all foster children into a permanent living arrangement within a maximum of 15 months from the date they enter foster care.
- To increase the number of foster parents willing to work with birth families.
- To assist teenagers in the foster care system in becoming self-sufficient.
Who are the Children in Foster Care?
Children in foster care are children from your community. They are children who want to remain attached to their families despite their experiences. They are children whose families need the help of your family. They can be of any age, race from infants to teenagers of either sex. They are abused or neglected and some have been exposed to domestic violence or substance abuse.
At the end of January 2009, there were 9,074 children in foster care placements. The foster care program expenditures for FY 08 were $350,000,000 million dollars. Foster care is funded with a combination of state and federal funds and child support.
Relationship between the Social Services Administration and the 24 Local Departments of Social Services
The Social Services Administration writes and interprets regulations and policies, monitors the local departments’ compliance and provides technical assistance to all 24 local departments of social services.