INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Just a few months ago, a state legislative measure promising to create a foster parent bill of rights was signed into law.
Now, that Indiana bill of rights is taking shape.
Heidi Curtis, a foster mother, said “I’m excited about that. It’s important.”
Curtis loves being a foster mother but she sees challenges in the foster system within the state Department of Child Services.
“We’re disrespected as if we’re just glorified babysitters,” she said.
That was one of the reasons she was so glad she was included in a group of people creating a foster parent bill of rights.
Curtis said, “I’m anxiously waiting for it to be done, so we can use it. It’s important that everything gets put in there that needs to be put in there, so, as foster parents get heard. It matters to the life of the child.”
Curtis said she wants foster parents to be heard in the courtroom. “So that we would be able to submit a court report that the judge can see. A judge sits there, and they are given all kinds of information from different parties,” Curtis said. “But, nine times out of 10, they’re not seeing a report from the foster parent. We are on the frontlines with that child.”
Kristi Cundiff, CEO of the Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents, met with Department of Child Services officials two weeks ago, about the bill of rights.
Cundiff said, “We’re waiting on the draft to come out. We’ll either have another discussion on that or make changes and hopefully it will be approved soon.”
Republican State Sen. Erin Houchin, of Salem, co-authored the legislation. She said she believes it’s important for foster parents to be heard.
Houchin said, “We should have this document to give them some support … to be clear, to the Department of Child Services … what we expect, as a General Assembly expect, in the treatment of our foster parents.”
Foster mother Curtis said she knows the process is not quick or easy, but the reward and peace of mind for the children and foster parents is priceless.
“It’s going to lessen the turnaround is our hope, of course,” Curtis said. “The current foster parents that are already in the trenches, frustrated, to keep them from quitting.”
Curtis said she hopes the foster parent bill of rights is in place by the end of this year or early next year.