Foster child - interaction between youth welfare office, biological parents and foster parents

According to the Federal Statistical Office, there were about 60,600 child welfare threats in Germany in 2020. This corresponds to an increase of 9% over the previous year. Of the child welfare endangerments, a total of 45,400 in-custody interventions by the youth welfare office took place. Neglect and psychological abuse are the two most frequent types of child welfare risks. Nearly half (approx. 41%) of all custodial interventions took place because the parents or one of the parents was unable to cope. If the natural parents are no longer able to provide for the child's well-being, the youth welfare office and foster families come into force.

The 10 most frequent reasons for taking into care in 2020
Types of risk to the well-being of children 2020

What is a foster child?

A foster child lives with foster parents and not with his or her family of origin. Due to the endangerment of the child's well-being, the child may have been taken from the family of origin by the youth welfare office, for example; this may also be due to an acute emergency situation (e.g. violence, etc.). In some cases, the natural parents may ask the youth welfare office for help and support. Custody remains with the natural parents or the youth welfare office. Foster parents have the power to decide things in the child's daily life. However, if fundamental decisions are involved (e.g. operations, ear piercing, etc.), the birth parents and the youth welfare office must be involved.

Requirements foster parents

In order to be able to take in a child for care, an aptitude test of the applicants is carried out in advance by the Youth Welfare Office. Applicants must be at least 25 years old and willing to cooperate with the Youth Welfare Office and the natural parents. The age difference between the child and the foster parents as well as the family form play a minor role. What is important is the health, income, available time, living conditions, parenting skills and a clean criminal record of the foster parents. Another aspect is that no drugs are used and there is no addictive behaviour with regard to alcohol.

Once the aptitude test has been successfully passed, the foster parents attend seminars on how to deal with foster children. Then the waiting period begins until they get to know a suitable foster child. If the meeting is successful and all parties agree to the foster care, a written foster care contract is drawn up between the youth welfare office and the foster parents.

Children with luggage

Most children who are released for care have a difficult past. Due to child welfare risks, the children have experienced neglect, abuse and maltreatment in frequent cases. Therefore, dealing with the children can be challenging, for example, many children have behavioural problems or there can be surprises as the complete history of the children is not always known. This can be the case, for example, if the birth mother used drugs during pregnancy and the long-term consequences for the child are still unknown. On the part of the foster parents, patience and empathy are required in such cases.

Interaction with youth welfare office and natural parents

In order to offer the child the best opportunity to grow up, cooperation with the youth welfare office and the birth parents (if possible) is important. A support plan is drawn up in which the extent of contact (e.g. once a week) with the natural parents is regulated. This support plan is adjusted annually and a visit by the youth welfare office takes place once a month. If there are far-reaching changes in the current year, the support plan can be adjusted. Foster parents are also obliged to inform the youth welfare office about important events (e.g. accident of the foster child etc.).

Types of care

Foster care is divided into standby care, permanent care and short-term care. Children are placed in standby care, so-called crisis intervention families, due to an acute emergency situation and are in the foster family for a short time until it is clear what will happen to the children. Permanent care is a permanent form of care. Short-term care is, for example, the period during which a single mother is in hospital and needs care for the child for this period.

Financial support

Depending on the age of the child and the federal state, the foster parents receive a foster care allowance. In addition, there are grants and allowances (e.g. school trips, old-age provision, etc.) that can be applied for for the foster child. The foster care allowance is usually paid until the foster child reaches the age of 18, in rare cases until the child reaches the age of 21 or 27.

From our point of view taking in a foster child is associated with challenges and nevertheless a beautiful opportunity, to realise the wish to have a child and children a a better future. As the focus is on the focus we are in favour of this alternative to childbearing..

This article is a rough summary of the topic of foster children.We will cover this topic in more detail with checklists and our P4B check.

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