If unable to care for a child, a parent or guardian may sign what is known as a voluntary placement agreement. This agreement allows the child to be placed in temporary foster care through a social services agency.
The foster parents with whom a child is placed may be relatives of the child. The child may also be placed in a group home.
If the child is to remain in foster care for longer than 30 days, the social services agency responsible for supervising the child's foster care must file an L petition in Family Court.
358(a) Hearing: A judge reviews the voluntary placement agreement signed by the parent or guardian to determine whether the placement of the child in foster care was both voluntary and necessary.
The judge will approve the placement as long as the following conditions are satisfied:
- The placement was voluntary and made knowingly by the parent or guardian
- The placement is in the best interests of the child
- Reasonable efforts were made by the social services agency to prevent the removal of the child from the home
- Reasonable efforts were made by the social services agency to return the child to the home before the 358(a) hearing
The judge may also make a determination as to whether the child has been properly placed and the length of the voluntary placement.
After the child has been in foster care for 1 year, the placement will be reviewed in a permanency hearing as required by the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).
In most New York counties, an Attorney for the Child (law guardian) is appointed by the court to represent the child in these proceedings.
A parent or guardian who cannot afford a lawyer in such cases also has the right to have one appointed by the court.Family Court Home Page