Important Information for Children in Foster Care
If you are reading this, you have met with a CPI (Children Protective Investigator) who moved you from your home with a parent or caregiver because there were concerns for your safety.
You can and should be a part of the decisions that affect your life!
You must be:
- In a safe and stable home as soon as possible
- Free from being hurt
- In a place where you have food, clothes, and a bed
You can and should:
- Ask questions
- Be aware of what’s going on in your case
- Know what the plan is for your future
- If possible, be in the same home as your brother(s) and/or sister(s)
- As long as it is safe, live with a relative or someone else you know while you are away from your parent(s) or caregiver(s)
- If there is someone you want to live with, give their name to the CPI or case manager – they will find out if that is a safe place for you
- Stay in the same school
- Have activities you like doing
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling
You have the right to:
- Practice your religion, spiritual beliefs, and culture
- Be taken to a doctor and dentist
- If you don’t feel well or you have a toothache, let your caregiver and case manager know
- As long as it is safe, have contact and visits with your family
- Know about dates for court and meetings about your case called “staffings.” If you want to go to court and/or staffings, let your caregiver and case manager know, so they can make sure you get to court and/or staffings.
There will be new people in your life whose goal is to make you and your family safer.
You can write down their names so you don’t forget. For some people, you should also write their phone number.
Case Manager and Phone Number
Definition: A person who: (1) checks on you every month; (2) gets you services you need (doctor appointment, tutoring, therapy, etc.); (3) works with your mom/dad to help them make a safer home for you; (4) tells the Judge and other people in your life how you and your family are doing; and (5) makes sure you go back home safely or finds another safe and loving home for you.
Caregiver(s) and Phone Number(s)
Definition: A caregiver can include a foster parent, relative (aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc.), non-relative/family friend. A foster parent is an adult who is trained by the state of Florida to take care of you while you can’t live with your family or someone else you know.
Lawyer for the Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Definition: A lawyer who tells the Judge what DCF thinks about what should happen with your family. DCF is part of Florida’s government that makes sure children are not abused or neglected, and have safe and stable homes.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and Phone Number
Definition: The GAL’s job is to meet with you and your family, find out what you need, and decide what they think is best for you. They have a lawyer who will tell the Judge what the GAL thinks is best for you. If you don’t have a GAL, you can ask the Judge for a GAL or you can ask your caregiver or case manager to speak to the Judge for you. Please note: You might not have a GAL in your case.
Lawyers for your Parent(s) or Caregiver(s)
Definition: A lawyer who meets with your parent(s) or caregiver(s) and tells the Judge what your parent(s) or caregiver(s) want to happen with your family.
Your Lawyer and Phone Number
Definition: If you have a lawyer, your lawyer will meet with you, tell you about your case, and find out what you want. Their job is to tell the Judge what you want to happen with your family. There is a special rule that applies when you talk to your attorney. Your lawyer can’t tell other people what you say unless you say it is okay. This is called “confidentiality.” If you want a lawyer, you can ask the Judge to appoint a lawyer to represent you. Please note: Not all children have a lawyer.
Judge and Courtroom Number
Definition: The Judge listens to all the people in the case and makes the final decisions about what should happen with your family. These decisions include what is best for you, what your parents should do to make you safer, and where you should live.
Still have questions?
If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.