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Child custody matters involving foster care can be complex

When a child is not receiving the proper amount of care, state authorities will act to remove that child from his or her home and place the child into a temporary living situation. This is known as foster care, and it exists in Florida and across the nation. Foster parents play a vital role in keeping children safe, as well as ensuring that their emotional and social needs are met while the authorities and the courts work to determine if that child's parents are able to reach a point where they can regain custody. The ultimate goal of foster care is to reunite children and parents whenever possible, or to find a placement for a child that maintains the family bond. Often, foster care involves complex child custody matters, which can lead to lengthy court battles.

An example is found in a recent case in which a child was removed from the care of her biological mother after being born in prison. The infant was placed into foster care, and multiple relatives tried unsuccessfully to gain custody. The family reached out to a distant cousin, who is married and has been trying to start a family. The couple were elated, and began taking steps to have the baby placed into their care.

They went through the process of meeting with social workers in the state's Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), passed a home evaluation and even went through an eight-day training course for prospective foster parents and adoptive parents. They participated in a family planning meeting and were given a timeline for the process through which the child would be transitioned into their home. However, before those plans could come to fruition, the DFCS changed course, and instead backed the wishes of the foster family to adopt the child.

This has left the child's biological relatives with little hope of bringing this child into their lives. It is unclear whether an adoption has already taken place, or if the couple plans to take the matter before a court. What is clear, however, is just how quickly child custody matters can become incredibly complex and challenging, whether in Florida or elsewhere.

Source: 11alive.com, "Families fight over foster child's future", Rebecca Lindstrom, March 30, 2016

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