TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A new state law is putting an Indiana group to work to help foster parents.
Earlier this week a state law went into effect requiring the Department of Child Services established a group to create a Foster Parent Bill of Rights. It would detail the rights and responsibilities of foster parents.
The group, consisting of foster parents and child placing agencies, met for the first time in Indianapolis, Thursday.
Foster mom and Indiana Foster and Adoptive Parents Group CEO Kristi Cundiff has been pushing for the Bill of Rights and was at the first meeting.
She says, "I think that that's huge for us just to be able to have an open communication and be treated with respect for what we do with foster children. There are many foster families that take in kids and they're the ones that spend the most time with them but yet we've always felt like they have the least amount of say in the case."
Cundiff worked with State Senator Jon Ford to get the law on the books. Ford was also there for the first group meeting. He says they discussed the need for better communication and support for foster parents.
State Senator Ford says, "We really want foster care parents to believe they are a part of the system, part of the team because they are so important."
The group also talked about confusion and turnover within DCS.
Cundiff says, "We want to see more consistency of offices all doing the same thing and maybe not one office following whatever policy and then another office clearly not knowing the policy."
The next meeting is set for August and the goal is to have a Bill of Rights ready to go in October.
Ford says, "Just depends on how many meetings we have and if we can come to a good consensus but we're going to take our time to develop something that's meaningful and insightful."
Cundiff says she is optimistic this will lead to positive change for Hoosier kids and the people who care for them. She adds the IFAAP group is close to eight thousand members strong. she is taking input from group members to ensure they are represented on these meetings.