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A foster parent may seek custody of a child in their care, but it is important to understand that the goal of the foster care system is to reunify children with their birth families whenever possible.

With a goal in mind to safely place a child back with their birth family, the foster parent is limited in the amount of custody rights they actually possess as well as what they can legally fight for.

Foster parents and permanent guardians

In the eyes of the state, foster parents and permanent guardians play two very separate roles. Foster parents are considered temporary guardians who possess no custodial rights over a child and are expected to solely provide temporary day-to-day care and housing. While in foster care, a child’s custody remains in control of the local child welfare authority up until a court decision is declared to place the child back with their birth family or a legal adoption has been made.

In some cases, such as when a birth parent’s parental rights have been terminated, foster parents may have the opportunity to adopt a child in their care. The process for adopting a foster child is similar to the process for adopting any other child. Therefore, it is important to work with an attorney and foster care agency to understand the legal requirements. Adopting a foster child can be a rewarding experience, as it allows the child to become a permanent member of the family.