Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why doesn't the press cover foster care?

by David Sharp

There is always rhetoric in the press about so many things, for now it is guns!! I wish the children living in our nation's foster care system could get this kind of press. There are no "sides" to take and no big disagreement on how to fix the problem ... no, this issue's only enemy is awareness. If all these pro- and anti-guns folks were asked if we should help innocent and helpless orphans and abused children, they would all say "yes."

However, this issue is not interesting enough to the press because most people believe they are unaffected by it.

Ben Franklin once said, "For change to occur the unaffected must be as outraged as the affected." That statement is true as demonstrated by most of the comments we've seen lately.

Scholarships available for 2013 SAIGE Native Youth Program

The Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE), a national non-profit organization that advocates for American Indian and Alaska Native Government employees, is hosting its annual Native Youth Program. This program is designed to provide Native American students an opportunity to learn about careers within the federal government, to participate in professional and personal development workshops and leadership training, and to network with Native American professionals.

The Native Youth Program will be held during SAIGE's 10th annual National Training Program, Guiding Our Destiny with Heritage and Traditions, June 3-7, 2013 in Spokane, Washington, at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino, owned by the Kalispel Tribe.

SAIGE is offering a limited number of scholarships for Native students to attend the 2013 Training Conference June 3-7, 2013 in Spokane, Washington. The scholarships will include conference fee, airfare, hotel accommodations and meals. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

From our mailbag: 2013 Horatio Alger Recipient

It's a win-win for our members and supporters to stay connected to us through this blog and social media.

"We are pleased to announce to you the 2013 Horatio Alger National and State Scholarship recipients! Just wanted to also share with you that we ask the scholarship recipients to indicate how they heard about the scholarship programs and this year we had one recipient who indicated she heard about the scholarship through the National Foster Parent Association. She is a Delaware Scholar." 
Lindsay Paul
Educational Programs Coordinator
Horatio Alger Association

There are a few more scholarships available for students in Idaho, Louisiana, Montana and Tennessee (deadline April 15). Visit the Horatio Alger website for more information.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Foster care education reform signed into law

by David Sharp

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) joined in a letter of support for the A Plus Act, also referred to as the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (S. 3472 and H.R. 5871). The legislation amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to enable child welfare agencies to access the educational records of children in foster care to help improve their educational success. The agency may disclose the records to other parties with a court order.

FERPA, originally created to protect the confidentiality of education records, has been a barrier to child welfare agencies, as well as foster parents even when educational agencies are willing to collaborate in the exchange of information. Bipartisan sponsors in the Senate are Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Al Franken (D-MN). The House lead sponsors are Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Michelle Bachmann (R-MN).

This bill was passed by Congress on January 1, 2013, but was not enacted before the end of its Congressional session, however was signed into law by President Obama this week! While this bill will be a big WIN for children and their agencies, it does fall short of giving the most important stakeholders, i.e., foster parents, access to their dependent children's school records.

NFPA will continue to work with congress to amend this bill to include all stakeholders in a child's life.

David Sharp is the Public Policy chair for NFPA.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

FAPAs around the web

We've rounded up a few foster and adoptive parent associations (FAPAs) from around the web. The list is in no particular order but please feel free to submit your own FAPA website or Facebook page to for future inclusion in the list.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

NFPA releases Privacy of Foster Parent Information position statement

by David H. Sharp

Every day we read of privacy violations, identity theft, and other incidences of our personal data and information being released into the wrong hands. Be it the hacking of computer systems jeopardizing our finances, or other types of identity theft, the problem is real, serious, and a concern for many Americans.

This reality is even a greater threat for many resource (foster, kinship, adoptive) parents throughout many parts of our country. Sadly it is not uncommon to see the files of these parents left open on desktops where they are easily accessible to the public. Conversations regarding these files are often overheard in elevators and restrooms amongst caseworkers and child welfare professionals.

Resource parents are required to disclose large amounts of personal, financial, and family data and information to receive licensing and approval to help with our nation's children trapped in the child welfare system. Sadly their privacy can be violated and compromised if procedures are not in place to protect them.

Below is a suggested privacy statement from the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) addressing this critical issue. Please consider adopting this policy or creating similar protections throughout your organization. The linchpin to providing services to America's displaced children is an active and involved core of resource parents. Your assistance in strengthening the ability of these individuals to provide necessary services is crucial.

Thank you for your time and efforts on behalf of children and resource parents.

123.12 - Privacy of Foster Parent of Information

Whereas foster parent's information contained within any state agency is personal and private and whereas such information should remain confidential from all persons except those persons authorized to obtain such information.

Whereas such information includes but is not limited to social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, income and financial information, health insurance, drivers license, marriage and divorce history, information gleaned from pre-service training classes.

Whereas foster parents have a detrimental reliance on appropriate safeguards being set in place to protect such information with regard to agency policy and procedures.

Therefore be it resolved; the National Foster Parent Association encourages all foster parent licensing agencies to establish clear policies which safeguard electronic, written and oral transmission of foster parent information within their respective states and beyond. Further we ask for the agency to set in place policy that limits who can view and access such information supported by requisite training programs for employees regarding the importance of protecting the privacy of foster parent’s records. Be it further resolved that foster parents have a right to examine any and all information in their respective files upon request.

David Sharp is the Public Policy chair for NFPA. You may also find this and other Position Statements on NFPA's website.