How Do I Know When My Foster Care Placement Has Run Its Course?

How do i know when my foster care placement has run its course?

Foster parents should be prepared for challenging behavior when they decide to open their home to vulnerable children. But once you’ve gone forward with the decision and you find yourself in a situation beyond your control, what do you do? Who can you turn to? What are your options? Here’s how you know when your placement has run its course.

How Do I Know When My Foster Care Placement Has Run Its Course? Learn More about Your Foster Child

When you’re feeling like your current placement might be more than you can handle, it’s important to step back, take a breather and identify exactly what aspect of your foster child’s behavior is making you feel that way. If there is a specific behavioral problem like Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that’s causing you and your family the most stress, learn more about the problem. A quick call to your FAFS Family Advocate can help ease your mind and set you on the right path. Additionally, a wealth of online sites and forums with topical information on behavioral problems in children, both from experts and parents just like you, are always just a few clicks away. They can be great sources of information for foster parents looking to manage problem behaviors.

If the source of stress between your family and your foster child is harder to identify, talk to your caseworker and try to learn more about your foster child’s history. Learning about what types of abuse or neglect your foster child faced can make it easier to identify where, when and how problem behaviors might arise. The more you know about your foster child, the better suited you’ll be to handle the challenges he presents.

How Do I Know When My Foster Care Placement Has Run Its Course? Learn More about Yourself

Before deciding that your foster child is more than you can handle, take a moment to think about why you decided to foster. If your decision involved helping vulnerable children keep in mind that the job will never be easy, nor will it ever be finished – that is precisely why it is so important.

Just like in any truly important job, there’s bound to be quite a bit of stress involved. Foster children can push anyone to feel bouts of anger, frustration and sadness – even those with expert coping mechanisms and strong support. It’s very normal and quite alright for any parent to feel this way. Remember that help is never too far away and that you are not alone.

Next, think about your strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve arrived at the crossroads where you’re considering ending the placement, it’s likely that your foster child is exploiting a weakness in your family. This could be your anger and frustration with his difficult behavior, for example, or your concern for the well being of your biological children. There’s no shame in recognizing that your foster child has hit you where it hurts the most. The only shame would be in missing the opportunity to increase your knowledge, build up your defenses and get better prepared for next time.

How Do I Know When My Foster Care Placement Has Run Its Course? Take a Hard Look at the Bottom Line

The bottom line of every family unit is to collectively make sure that all its members are healthy and happy. Removing someone from the family is an absolute last resort. But when your family or your foster child is unsafe, you’ve tried everything you can possibly think of and there’s no other way, protecting everyone’s health and happiness is paramount. Make sure you’ve marked everything on this checklist before contacting your caseworker regarding removing a placement:

  • I have identified the problem behaviors that are causing my family the most harm and done everything I could to learn about new approaches to managing them from experts and other parents.
  • I have put the approaches I learned about into practice for significant period of time.
  • I have contacted my caseworker to learn more about my foster child and explore ways we could manage problem behaviors together.
  • I talked to each member of my household individually and together to set a plan in place that can help mitigate the problem behaviors.

Removing a foster child from your home can be as difficult for your family as it can be for the foster child. However, if problem behaviors persist after you have followed the steps above and those behaviors jeopardize your family or your foster child’s physical or emotional well being, it may be time to seek an end to the current placement.

Author: Thomas Castles, FAFS Communication and Development Associate

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9 thoughts on “How Do I Know When My Foster Care Placement Has Run Its Course?

  1. We just recently got our first placement a 5 and 2 year old. We don’t have our own kids so obviously have never patented before. It’s been a week and I am already thinking saying yes to two has been a mistake. The behavior issues of the 2 year old are way more than we can handle and it’s frustrating. It has driven a wedge between me and my spouse because I don’t want to continue with the placement but he does because he thinks we haven’t tried. I realize it’s only been the first week but when you know it’s not the right thing you know? Any advice?

    1. Caring for children with or without challenges can be very difficult for some caregivers. Each caregiver is different just as each child is different. It is important for caregivers to try their best; however it is also important for caregivers to understand and accept their limits. If you feel that a child whether a behavioral issue or something else is beyond your limit to assist them, then it is usually best to notify the caseworker so the child can be joined with another family that can best meet their needs. It is imperative that the best interest of the child is always put first.

    2. what happened? We are hitting the week mark and in same situation except we have kids. Our kids are having a tough time and we realize this isn’t for us too. This child has many issues and it is very hard. It’s our first placement.

  2. Please help. I have a friend who was in foster care from the age of 3 to 10 years. He was a good child and had a loving pair of foster parents. His placement with them was abruptly ended when he was 10 and he was sent to a bad next foster home… he to this day has no idea why his foster parents who he thought loved and cared for him 7 years (age 3 to 10) suddenly ended the relationship and had him taken away. It was an AWFUL situation for him. He was a good child and he kept asking them “why are you sending me away” – they would not give him an answer and to this day, he’s now in his 30’s, this has broken his heart and hurt him greatly… WHY?! Why did this couple (he said they treated him well and decently and seemed to “love” him) send him away. He was their only child. He said he will never keep something from a child the way they did with him. He said he really would have need their honesty and openness at that time. It’s left a terrible psychological scar. I told him to reach out to them as they are probably wondering what happened to him as well. But, he’s afraid to contact them and hear why they basically “dumped” him after 7 long years… HELP – I want him to reach out to them and find closure. What do you recommend. Please email me at


    1. When children in care are moved from a resource home, previously referred to as a foster home, it can be for multiple reasons. The resource family can request for the children to be moved or Child Protective Services can move children if they deem it necessary. They are many factors that play into children moving out of a resource home and they should never be taken lightly.

      In regards to your friend, no one other than the resource family and Child Protective Services would know why he was moved to another home. If your friend resides in NJ, it may be possible to obtain some information regarding his case by contacting NJ CP&P Adoption Registry at 609.888.7474. NJ Adoption Registry keeps records of children in care that have been adopted through NJ CP&P. Contacting them may assist with obtaining further information and at very least a direction for your friend to follow in order to obtain more case information.

  3. 21 months ago we took in 2 foster children ages 8 and 15 months. The 8 yr old was severely physically abused, neglected and sexually abused. The baby was physically abused and neglected. Our bio kids were 17 and 13 at the time. Over these long months our foster son has been institutionalized for trying to harm others and himself. He has been found torturing our pets. The school has called dozens of times because he was not safe to have in the classroom or on the bus.
    Yet he’s very charming.
    Long story short our bio kids don’t want and will not be around him.
    The three year old has blossomed into a sweet and wonderful child. We’ve discussed this with caseworkers and due to the severity of our foster son’s behaviors they will separate them.
    I feel like a monster doing this but my family has been driven apart and we do fear for our and our pet’s safety. We are going to surrender him. We just recently discovered that we are not licensed to foster him, never had the training for a child with his issues. I feel we are doing him a disservice. How do we cope with the guilt?

    1. You are doing what is right for yourselves and for both foster children. The older child will receive more specialized care that he needs. the younger child will not have to live in the anger and chaos that a child with severe behavioral / emotional disturbance can raise in the home. they can still visit and will always be siblings.

      thanks for sharing your story. We are also going through our first foster care removal after having the kids with us for more than a year … and we’ve been foster parents for 7 years / 9 kids. We just can’t take the angry vibe that his bad behavior brings to our home any more. We gave it a good shot with therapy, etc. I also feel guilty / like I have failed them , but I hope and pray there is a family out there that can live with them in peace.

      I think the only way to deal with the guilt is to name it, pray about it, and know that you are not alone.

  4. As a foster parent are we force to keep a child that has problems and is out of our control whom doesn’t listen and is abusive? This kid is 6yrs old and has issues we contacted the agency to get him removed and instead they are removing his brother from our home which I mention if they split them up that I would rather keep his brother because he isn’t a problem and instead they won’t remove the child from the home cause it’s part of our “agreement”. The child’s agency is pretty upset at the county. They’re the ones that don’t want to remove him and instead decided to remove his brother which makes no sense? County worker ignores my calls and hasn’t gotten back to me? Who can I contact with this matter to get him removed? I already had put in a notice to find him another home and they don’t want to remove him and they’re also saying that we can be charged if we give them the kid back and or take him to the cps office which i wouldn’t do but they’re leaving me no choice. I’ve been a foster parent for 7yrs now and never has this been an issue till now. I know how it works when a home is available for the kid they would remove him but instead as I mentioned above the county thought it was a brighter idea to remove his younger brother????. Please help thank you

    1. Hi Alex,
      Thanks so much for reaching out to us with your questions. I am sorry that you are going through this situation. In NJ, resource parents (foster parents) are required to “notify CP&P immediately if, for any reason, they are thinking of asking for the child’s removal from the home; allowing CP&P up to 5 work days to make a decision regarding the best plan for the child; and, once a decision has been made to remove the child from the home, allowing CP&P up to 15 work days from the original request to find another placement for the child.” I cannot vouch as to how the decision was made to remove one child and not the one you initially requested; however, I would highly recommend that you use the chain of command and ask to speak to a Supervisor about the issue at hand.
      If you live in NJ, please call us at 800-222-0047 and ask to speak to the Family Advocate who covers your county, for further support and/or resources in order to further assist. If you do not live in NJ and do not know who to contact in the state that you reside in, feel free to give our office a call and we will try our best to get you to the correct agency. Thank you for reaching out and I wish you nothing but the best.
      Jessica Hernandez
      FAFS Family Advocate

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