More than 50,000 California children are in the foster care system, many removed from their homes after suffering abuse and neglect.
Foster families, also known as “resource families,” provide a temporary living situation for kids whose parents cannot care for them.
The preferred placement for a child removed from their parents is to place them in the care of a relative. However, if a suitable relative cannot be found, foster parents or foster families can be a solution to provide care until a child can be reunited with their birth parents or other relatives.
What are the Requirements for Potential Foster Families?
Not just anyone can become a foster family. Becoming a foster parent or family is a commitment with many legal requirements.
- In CA, some of these requirements include:
- You must have a room for a foster child in your home
- You must be financially able to support yourself and a foster child
- A foster license is required
- A background check is required
- Health screenings ensure you can care for a foster child
- Family evaluations and interviews will be completed
- Proper training must be completed
Are Foster Parents Mandated Reporters in CA?
One of the training requirements for potential and current foster parents in California is mandated reporter training. A mandated reporter is a person legally required to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.
Under CA penal code 11165.7, mandated reporters include
“an employee of a childcare institution, including, but not limited to, foster parents, group home personnel, and personnel of residential care facilities.”
What are the Legal Duties of a Mandated Reporter?
For foster parents who are legally required to be mandated reporters, it’s important to be aware of your legal responsibilities.
When a Report is Required
A report is required when a foster parent or other mandated reporter, “in his or her professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, has knowledge of or observes a child whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.”
What is Abuse or Neglect
One of the most difficult parts of being a mandated reporter is understanding what falls under the category of reportable abuse or neglect. While some instances are easy to identify, other symptoms and signs of abuse or neglect may not be so easy.
How to Report
Each state has a very specific process for reporting, such as what information is included in a report and how that report is submitted. In CA, reports must be made to any police department or sheriff’s department (not including a school district police or security department), the county probation department (if designated by the county to receive mandated reports), or the county welfare department.
Do Foster Parents Need Mandated Reporter Training?
Under CA penal code 11165.7, “the absence of training shall not excuse a mandated reporter from the duties imposed by this article.”
In other words, not getting trained is not a valid excuse for failing to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect, which is a criminal offense that comes with a financial fine and jail time for those convicted.
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or are a current foster parent who has not received mandated reporter training, it’s imperative that you get trained.
Mandated Reporter Training is offered California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP).
You can take the online training at any time from the comfort of your own home at https://mandatedreportertraining.com/california/.
Foster families play an important role in helping to provide safety and security to a child during a time when they are separated from their families. It’s an important role to play, one that can have an impact on a child’s welfare and physical and emotional well-being. Preparing to host a foster child is a big responsibility that includes keeping a watchful eye out for signs of abuse or neglect and making a report if you notice those signs.
To learn more about mandated reporter training in California, visit mandatedreportertraining.com.