Foster Care Removal FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Removal of Childrean from a Foster Home

See the General Hearing FAQ for questions not answered here.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Questions

What does the foster care agency or district (the “agency”) need to do to remove a child from my foster care home?

The Agency must provide a written notice ten or more days prior to the date of removal. In the event of an emergency, the Agency may remove the child without providing prior written notice. The notice usually states the reason for the removal.

What rights do I have if the foster care agency or the Social Services District removes a child from my foster home?

You have the right to request a hearing pursuant to Social Services Law Sec. 400, before the Bureau of Special Hearings. In New York City (NYC), you can request a conference with the Agency to discuss the removal of the child. These conferences are called “Independent Reviews.” The conference must be requested within ten days of the removal determination. In NYC you also have the right to a hearing pursuant to Social Services Law Sec. 400, before the Bureau of Special Hearings. You can request a conference first (NYC), and if you lose, then request a hearing, or you can simply request a hearing without having a conference.

What are common reasons for foster children being removed from a foster home?

Some common reasons for foster children being removed from a foster home are:

  • The children are being returned to their parents by court order, either on a trial basis, or permanently.
  • Sibling Reunification.
  • Placement in kinship care.
  • By court order.
  • Health and safety concerns, for example, inappropriate discipline, unsanitary household conditions, or failing to keep medical appointments.
  • Allegations of maltreatment or abuse which require an investigation.
  • Failure of the foster parent to comply with technical requirements (e.g., failing to recertify or failing to report changes in household composition).
  • Inappropriate placement (the child needs a higher level of care, or the foster parents cannot meet the permanency goal of the child).
How long do I have to make the request?

You have ten days to request an “Independent Review” conference in NYC. You have 60 days from the date of the removal, if no conference was held, or 60 days from the date of the conference decision if a conference was held.

How do I request a hearing and what should I include in the request letter?

See the General FAQ for the address to write to a request a hearing as well as some of the information to be included in that written request.

Additionally, for foster care removal hearings, you should also include:

  • The name of the foster children at issue, and their dates of birth.
  • The name of the foster care agency or social services district which removed the children.
  • The date (or approximate date) the children were removed from your home.
  • It is helpful if you can tell us whether you had a conference or independent review, and can provide a copy of the decision, and can provide a phone number and/or email address to contact you.
What is decided in a hearing?

The sole issue to be decided is whether the Agency’s determination to remove the child was arbitrary and capricious. If the Agency proves that it had a rational basis for the decision to remove the child, then it establishes that its determination was not arbitrary and capricious.

What happens if I win the hearing?

See General FAQ. If the hearing is close in time to the removal, the Judge may order that the child be returned to your household. If the hearing is not close in time, then the Judge will direct the Agency to evaluate whether the child could be returned to your household at the present time.

Can I contest the agency’s determination to involuntarily close my foster care home?

No. There is no provision in the Social Services law for a hearing to contest the closing of a foster home. The determination as to whom to hire as a foster parent is solely within the discretion of the Agency. The only time that the hearing will direct the home to be reopened is for the purpose of caring for a foster child at issue in the hearing.

How do I request a conference or hearing to contest the removal of a foster child from my home.

Conferences may be requested by contacting the local social service district. In New York City, the independent review may be requested by contacting Kathy Guertin of ACS at (212) 676-9002.

Hearings concerning foster care removals may be requested by writing to:

Office of Children and Family Services
Special Hearings Bureau
52 Washington St.
Rensselaer, NY 12144

How do I request a hearing to contest the foster care rate I am receiving?

Foster care rate hearings are held by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

See the General Hearing FAQ for questions not answered here.