The number of children without a stable home to call their own is staggering and heartbreaking. The California foster care program serves hundreds of thousands of youths in the state. Many of these youths face incredible challenges in getting the education and care they need to avoid threats of persistent poverty, teenage pregnancy, and abuse.
Although there isn’t a permanent solution to this crisis, there are several ways that caring adults can help a child in need of loving care. Some ways include adoption, legal guardianship, or foster parenting. This article discusses the difference between legal guardianship and fostering.
The Responsibilities of a Foster Parent
Before you can legally foster a child, you must be approved by a California court to provide ongoing care for a child. The foster parent’s home must also be licensed or certified by the state as an appropriate foster home. Social workers place foster children with foster families that the workers believe will best meet the interest of the children. Although the agency will retain legal custody of the foster children, the foster parents will provide the children’s day-to-day physical care and needs.
More specifically, as foster parents, you will be responsible for providing food, shelter and care for the child entrusted in your home. The State agency, however, will provide financial assistance to pay these costs. Foster parents do have the right to make ordinary decisions regarding the child’s welfare. But they will not have full custodial rights make certain major decisions, such as medical care or provide consent for major life decisions like getting married.
The Role of a Legal Guardian
Unlike a foster a parent, a legal guardian takes on more responsibility for a child. A guardian is court appointed to take care of a child on a long-term basis, with the notion that the biological parent may come back into the picture at a later time to resume the parent-child relationship (which would not occur in an adoption scenario).
The general responsibilities of a legal guardian include providing food, shelter and care, in addition to exercising the same types of rights over the child’s life as would a legal parent. For instance, a legal guardian can make major medical decisions, determine the child’s educational needs, and even move with a child to a different location or out of state with permission of the court. A legal guardian can also consent to the child getting a driver’s license, joining the armed forces, or get married.
Under certain circumstances, legal guardians can apply for state funding.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Family Law Attorney
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley family law attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.