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Contents:

Child Abuse and Neglect:
Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
Cross-Reporting Among Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect
Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect
Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records
Establishment and Maintenance of Central Registries for Child Abuse Reports
Immunity for Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect
Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
Parental Drug Use As Child Abuse
Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
Review and Expunction of Central Registries and Reporting Records

Child Welfare:
Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies
Concurrent Planning for Permanency for Children
Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children
Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents
Determining the Best Interests of the Child
Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Infant Safe Haven Laws
Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy
Placement of Children With Relatives
Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children
Standby Guardianship

Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 287 KB) publication.

Citation: Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-507(b)(1) & (4)(cc), (c) (LexisNexis through 2007 Ark. ALS Ch. 586 & 703)

When any individual listed below has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to child maltreatment or has died as result of child maltreatment or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment, he or she shall immediately notify the child abuse hotline by telephone call, facsimile transmission, or online reporting.

The following individuals are mandated reporters: Any clergyman, which includes a minister, priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed to be so by the person consulting him or her, except to the extent he or she:

  • Has acquired knowledge of suspected maltreatment through communications required to be kept confidential pursuant to the religious discipline of the relevant denomination or faith
  • Received the knowledge of the suspected maltreatment from the offender in the context of a statement of admission
No privilege or contract shall prevent anyone from reporting child maltreatment when he or she is a mandated reporter as required by this section.

Citation: Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-518(b)(1) (LexisNexis through 2006 Reg. Sess.)

No privilege shall prevent anyone, except between a lawyer and client or between a minister, including a Christian Science practitioner, and any person confessing to or being counseled by the minister, from testifying concerning child maltreatment.

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Cross-Reporting Among Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Cross-Reporting Among Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 267 KB) publication.

Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-507(d)(1), (e) (LexisNexis through 2007 Reg. Sess.)

If the child abuse hotline receives notification that a client or a resident of any facility licensed or registered by the State of Arkansas has been subjected to child maltreatment while at the facility, then the department shall immediately notify that facility's licensing or registering authority of the child abuse hotline's receipt of initial notification of suspected maltreatment.

When a person, agency, corporation, or partnership then providing substitute care for any child in the custody of the Department of Human Services or a Department of Human Services employee or employee's spouse or other person residing in the home is reported as being suspected of child maltreatment, the investigation shall be conducted pursuant to procedures established by the Department of Human Services.

Such procedures shall include referral of allegations to the Department of Arkansas State Police and any other appropriate law enforcement agency should the allegation involve severe maltreatment.

  • The Department of Arkansas State Police shall investigate the allegations.
  • The investigating agency shall immediately notify local law enforcement of all reports of severe maltreatment.
Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-509(a)(2)(C) (LexisNexis through 2007 Reg. Sess.)

Notification of any report of child maltreatment will be provided within 5 business days to the:
  • Legal parents of any child in foster care who is named as an alleged victim or offender
  • Attorney ad litem of any foster child named as the victim or offender
  • Attorney ad litem of all other children in the same foster home if the maltreatment occurred in the foster home
  • The prosecuting attorney on allegations of severe maltreatment

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Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 442 KB) publication.

Physical Abuse
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Abuse means:
  • Extreme or repeated cruelty to a juvenile
  • Engaging in conduct creating a realistic and serious threat of death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily organ
  • Any injury that is at variance with the history given
  • Any nonaccidental physical injury
  • Throwing, kicking, burning, biting, or cutting a child
  • Striking a child with a closed fist
  • Shaking a child
  • Striking a child on the face or head
  • Interfering with a child's breathing
  • Tying a child to a fixed or heavy object or binding or tying a child's limbs together
  • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a poisonous or noxious substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions
  • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to alter the mood of the child, including, but not limited to, marijuana, alcohol, a narcotic, or an over-the-counter drug if a person purposely administers an overdose
  • Exposing a child to a chemical that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions, including, but not limited to, a chemical used or generated during the manufacture of methamphetamine
  • Subjecting a child to Munchausen's syndrome by proxy or a factitious illness by proxy if the incident is reported and confirmed by medical personnel or a medical facility

Severe maltreatment means sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, acts or omissions that may or do result in death, abuse involving the use of a deadly weapon, bone fracture, internal injuries, burns, immersions, suffocation, abandonment, medical diagnosis of failure to thrive, or causing a substantial and observable change in the behavior or demeanor of the child.

Neglect
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Neglect means failure or refusal to:

  • Prevent the abuse of the juvenile when the person knows or has reasonable cause to know the juvenile is or has been abused
  • Provide necessary food, clothing, shelter, and education
  • Take reasonable action to protect the juvenile from abandonment, abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, or parental unfitness when the existence of the condition was known or should have been known
  • Provide for the essential and necessary physical, mental, or emotional needs of the juvenile, including the failure to provide a shelter that does not pose a risk to the health or safety of the juvenile
  • Provide for the juvenile's care and maintenance, proper or necessary support, or medical, surgical, or other necessary care
  • Assume responsibility for the care and custody of the juvenile or participate in a plan to assume such responsibility
  • Appropriately supervise the juvenile resulting in the juvenile's being left alone at an inappropriate age or under circumstances that puts the juvenile at risk of harm

Neglect shall also include:

  • An illegal substance present in the child's bodily fluids or bodily substances as a result of the pregnant mother's knowingly using an illegal substance before the birth of the child
  • At the time of the birth of a child, the presence of an illegal substance in the mother's bodily fluids or bodily substances as a result of the pregnant mother's knowingly using an illegal substance before the birth of the child
    • Illegal substance means a drug that is prohibited to be used or possessed without a prescription.
    • A test of the child's bodily fluids or bodily substances may be used as evidence to establish neglect.
    • A test of the mother's bodily fluids or bodily substances may be used as evidence to establish neglect.
Sexual Abuse
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Sexual abuse means:
  • By a person age 10 or older to a person younger than age 18:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion
    • Indecent exposure
    • Forcing the watching of pornography or live sexual activity
  • By a person age 18 or older to a person not his or her spouse who is younger than age 16:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
  • By a sibling or caretaker to a person younger than age 18:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact
  • By a caretaker to a person younger than age 18:
    • Forcing or encouraging the watching of pornography
    • Forcing, permitting, or encouraging the watching of live sexual activity
    • Forcing listening to a phone sex line
    • An act of voyeurism as defined by § 5-16-102
  • By a person younger than age 10 to a person younger than age 18:
    • Sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion
    • Attempted sexual intercourse, deviate sexual activity, or sexual contact by forcible compulsion

Sexual exploitation means allowing, permitting, or encouraging participation or depiction of the juvenile in prostitution, obscene photographing, filming, or obscenely depicting, posing, or posturing a juvenile for any use or purpose.

Emotional Abuse
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Abuse means acts or omissions that result in injury to a juvenile's intellectual, emotional, or psychological development, as evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of the juvenile's ability to function within the juvenile's normal range of performance and behavior.

Abandonment
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Abandonment means:

  • Failure of the parent to provide reasonable support and to maintain regular contact with the juvenile through statement or contact, when the failure is accompanied by an intention on the part of the parent to permit the condition to continue for an indefinite period in the future
  • Failure to support or maintain regular contact with the juvenile without just cause
  • An articulated intent to forego parental responsibility
Standards for Reporting
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Abuse is any intentional or knowing acts, with physical injury and without justifiable cause.

Persons Responsible for the Child
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Responsible persons include:
  • A parent, guardian, or custodian
  • A foster parent
  • Any person age 18 or older living in the child's home
  • Any person who is entrusted with the child's care
Exceptions
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-503

Abuse does not include reasonable and moderate physical discipline.

It is not considered neglect when the parent's failure to provide for the child's needs is due to financial inability, and no services have been offered.

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Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Disclosure of Confidential Child Abuse and Neglect Records: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 574 KB) publication.

Confidentiality of Records
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-506

A report made pursuant to this subchapter shall be confidential and shall be used or disclosed only as provided in this section.

If the allegations are determined to be true in accordance with § 12-12-512, disclosure, including protected health information, is absolutely limited to the individuals listed below.

Persons or Entities Allowed Access to Records
Ann. Code § 12-12-506

Disclosure of true reports is limited to:

  • The administration of the adoption, foster care, protective services, or child care licensing programs of any State
  • A Federal, State, or local government entity having a need for the information
  • Any person who is the subject of a true report
  • The administration of any federally assisted program that provides assistance
  • A person or organization engaged in bona fide research
  • A properly constituted authority, including multidisciplinary teams, investigating a report or providing services to a child or family that is the subject of a report
  • Child abuse citizen panels or child fatality review panels
  • A grand jury, court, or administrative hearing officer when necessary for the determination of an issue
  • The current foster parents of the child
  • Individual Federal and State senators and representatives and their staff members
  • A court-appointed special advocate or attorney ad litem of the child

A local educational agency or a school counselor shall forward all true reports of child maltreatment whenever a child transfers from one local educational agency to another and shall notify the Department of Human Services of the child's new school, and address, if known.

Within 10 days following an investigative determination, the department shall inform the mandated reporter of the results of the investigation.

Any record of a screened-out report of child maltreatment shall not be disclosed except to the prosecuting attorney and an appropriate law enforcement agency.

Information on a pending investigation shall be released upon request to:

  • The department
  • Law enforcement
  • The prosecuting attorney
  • A multidisciplinary team
  • Any licensing or registering authority, including a school board, superintendent, or principal
  • Individual Federal and State senators and representatives and their staff members
When Public Disclosure of Records is Allowed
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-506

The findings or information about a case of child abuse or neglect that has resulted in a child fatality or near fatality may be released to the general public. The central registry may redact any information concerning siblings, attorney-client communications, and other confidential communications.

Use of Records for Employment Screening
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-506

Disclosure may be made to:
  • The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education and the child care facility owner or operator who requested the registry information on an individual who is a volunteer, has applied for employment, is currently employed by a child care facility, or who is the owner or operator of a child care facility
  • An employer or volunteer agency for purposes of screening an employee, applicant, or volunteer who is or will be engaged in employment or activity with children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, or individuals with mental illness

This disclosure shall be for the limited purpose of providing central registry background information and shall indicate a true finding only.

The registry shall release only the following information on founded reports to the employer or agency:

  • That the employee, applicant, or volunteer has a founded report
  • The date the investigation was completed
  • The type of founded report

A report of an investigative determination that is true shall be disclosed to the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, by written report only, for purposes of enforcement of licensing laws and regulations.

Any licensing or registering authority in receipt of initial notification of suspected child maltreatment may access the central registry to the extent necessary to carry out its official responsibilities, but the information must be maintained as confidential.

The Department of Human Services may disclose the investigative determination of any offender when the offender is engaged in child-related activities or employment, and the department has determined that children under the care of the offender are at risk of maltreatment by the offender.

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Establishment and Maintenance of Central Registries for Child Abuse Reports

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Establishment and Maintenance of Central Registries for Child Abuse Reports: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 310 KB) publication.

Establishment
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-505
There is established within the Department of Human Services a statewide central registry.

Purpose
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-505
The registry is used for the collection of records of cases involving allegations of child maltreatment that are determined to be true.

Contents
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-505
Records of cases where allegations are true shall be retained by the registry.

Maintenance
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-505
If an offender is found guilty of, pleads guilty to, or pleads nolo contendere to an act that is the same act for which the offender is named in the central registry, regardless of any subsequent expunction of the offense from the offender's criminal record, the offender shall always remain in the central registry, unless the conviction is reversed or vacated.

Information included in the automated data system shall be retained indefinitely to assist in future risk and safety assessment.

Hard copy records of unsubstantiated reports shall be retained no longer than 18 months for purposes of audit.

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Immunity for Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Immunity for Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 174 KB) publication.

Citation: Ark. Code Ann. § 12-12-517 (LexisNexis through 2008 1st Ex. Sess.)
Statute:
Any person or agency required to participate and acting in good faith in making notification, taking photographs or radiological tests, or removing a child while exercising protective services, shall be immune to suit and to liability, both civil and criminal.

If acting in good faith, all other persons making notification shall be immune from liability.

Any publicly supported school, facility, or institution acting in good faith pursuant to § 12-12-510(a)(1)(2) shall be immune from liability.

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Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 619 KB) publication.

Reporting Procedures

Individual Responsibility
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507
A mandated reporter who has reasonable cause to suspect a child has been maltreated shall report immediately to the child abuse hotline by telephone call, facsimile transmission, or online report.

Facsimile transmission and online reporting may be used in nonemergency situations by an identified reporter who provides the following contact information:

  • Name and phone number
  • In the case of online reporting, the email address of the identified reporter

A mandated reporter who wishes to remain anonymous shall make the report through the child abuse hotline toll-free telephone system.

Content of Reports
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507
For an investigation to commence, the report must contain sufficient information to identify and locate the child or the family.

Special Reporting Procedures

Suspicious Deaths
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507(a)
Any person with reasonable cause to suspect that a child has died as a result of maltreatment may immediately notify the child abuse hotline.

Substance-Exposed Infants
Not addressed in statutes reviewed.

Screening Reports
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 12-12-507; 12-12-509
The child abuse hotline shall accept a report when the allegations, if true, would constitute child maltreatment as defined by law, and sufficient identifying information is provided to identify and locate the child or the family. The hotline shall accept a report of physical abuse if any specified intentional or knowing acts are alleged to occur, but the report shall not be determined to be true unless the child suffered an injury as the result of the act.

The hotline shall accept a report of neglect only if the reporter is a nurse, physician, or other medical personnel, and the reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been subjected to neglect as defined by law.

The Department of Health and Human Services shall cause an investigation to be made upon receiving initial notification of suspected child maltreatment. All investigations shall begin within 72 hours, unless the report alleges severe maltreatment, then the investigation shall begin within 24 hours.

At the initial time of contact with the alleged offender, the investigator shall advise the alleged offender of the allegations made against the alleged offender in a manner that is consistent with the laws protecting the rights of the person who made the report.

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Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 633 KB) publication.

Professionals Required to Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507

The following persons are mandated reporters:
  • Physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, resident interns, coroners, dentists, dental hygienists, nurses, or medical personnel
  • Teachers, school officials or counselors, daycare center workers
  • Child care workers, foster care workers
  • Social workers, foster parents, or department employees
  • Mental health professionals
  • Domestic violence shelter employees or volunteers
  • Employees of a child advocacy center
  • Law enforcement personnel, peace officers, prosecuting attorneys, domestic abuse advocates, judges
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program staff or volunteers
  • Juvenile intake or probation officers
  • Members of the clergy, including ministers, priests, rabbis, accredited Christian Science practitioners, or other similar functionary of a religious organization
Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507

Any other person with reasonable cause to suspect child maltreatment may report.

Standards for Making a Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-507

A report is required when:
  • A reporter has reasonable cause to suspect child maltreatment.
  • A reporter has observed the child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment.
Privileged Communications
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-518

No privilege is granted except the attorney-client and clergy-penitent (including a Christian Science practitioner) privileges.

Inclusion of Reporter's Name in Report
Not addressed in statutes reviewed.

Disclosure of Reporter Identity
Citation: Ann. Code § 12-12-506

The identity of the reporter shall not be disclosed unless a court determines that the reporter knowingly made a false report.

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Parental Drug Use As Child Abuse

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Parental Drug Use As Child Abuse: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 306 KB) publication.

Citation: Ark. Ann. Code § 12-12-503 (LexisNexis through 2005 Reg. Sess.)

Statute Text:

''Abuse'' includes any of the following intentional or knowing acts, with or without physical injury, by a parent, guardian, custodian, foster parent, person 18 years of age or older living in the home with a child whether related or unrelated to the child, or any person who is entrusted with the juvenile's care by a parent, guardian, custodian, or foster parent, including, but not limited to, an agent or employee of a public or private residential home, childcare facility, public or private school, or any person legally responsible for the juvenile's welfare, but excluding the spouse of a minor:
  • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a poisonous or noxious substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions
  • Giving a child or permitting a child to consume or inhale a substance not prescribed by a physician that has the capacity to alter the mood of the child, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Marijuana
    • Alcohol, excluding alcohol given to a child during a recognized and established religious ceremony or service
    • A narcotic
    • An over-the-counter drug if a person purposely administers an overdose to a child or purposely gives an inappropriate over-the-counter drug to a child and the child is detrimentally impacted by the overdose or the over-the-counter drug
  • Exposing a child to a chemical that has the capacity to interfere with normal physiological functions, including, but not limited to, a chemical used or generated during the manufacture of methamphetamine

''Neglect'' shall include the causing of a newborn child to be born with:

  • An illegal substance present in the child's bodily fluids or bodily substances as a result of the pregnant mother's knowingly using an illegal substance before the birth of the child
  • A health problem as a result of the mother's use before birth of an illegal substance

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Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Penalties for Failure to Report and False Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 166 KB) publication.

Failure to Report
Ann. Code 12-12-504(a)(1), (b), (d)

Any person, official, or institution negligently or willfully failing to make notification when required by the reporting laws shall be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.

Any person, official, or institution required to make notification of suspected child maltreatment who willfully fails to do so shall be civilly liable for damages proximately caused by that failure.

Judges or prosecuting attorneys who fail to make notification when required by the reporting laws shall not be subject to any of the penalties outlined in this section.

False Reporting
Ann. Code 12-12-504(a)(2), (a)(3)

Any person, official, or institution willfully making false notification pursuant to the reporting laws, knowing such allegations to be false, shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Any person, official, or institution willfully making false notification pursuant to the reporting laws, knowing such allegations to be false, and who has been previously convicted of making willful false allegations shall be guilty of a Class D felony.

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Review and Expunction of Central Registries and Reporting Records

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Review and Expunction of Central Registries and Reporting Records: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 502 KB) publication.

Right of the Reported Person to Review and Challenge Records
Ann. Code § 12-12-512

In every case in which a report is determined to be true, the Department of Human Services shall notify each subject of the report of the determination.
  • If the offender is a juvenile age 10 or older and in foster care, the department shall notify the juvenile's public defender or counsel and his or her legal parents or guardians.
  • If the offender is a juvenile age 10 or older, the department shall notify his or her legal parents or guardians.

Notification shall be in writing by certified mail, restricted delivery, or a process server.

Notification to an offender who was an adult at the time of the act or omission that resulted in the finding of child maltreatment shall include the following:

  • The investigative determination, true or unsubstantiated, exclusive of the source of the notification
  • A statement that the person named as the offender of the true report may request an administrative hearing and the potential consequences to the person as a result of the person's name being placed on the central registry
  • A statement that the request must be made to the department within 30 days of receipt of the notice
  • The name of the person making notification, the person's occupation, and where he or she can be reached
  • A statement that the administrative hearing may take place in person if requested by the petitioner or the petitioner's attorney within 30 days from the date that the petitioner receives notification, provided that the hearing officer may conduct the hearing by video teleconference in lieu of an in-person hearing

Notification to an offender who was a juvenile age 10 or older at the time of the act or omission that resulted in the finding of child maltreatment shall include the following:

  • The investigative determination, true or unsubstantiated, exclusive of the source of the notification
  • A statement that the matter has been referred for an automatic administrative hearing that may only be waived by the juvenile offender or his or her parent in writing
  • The name of the person making the notification to the juvenile offender, the person's occupation, and where he or she can be reached

The administrative hearing process must be completed within 180 days from the date of the receipt of the request for a hearing, or the petitioner's name shall be removed from the central registry, provided that:

  • Delays in completing the hearing that are attributable to the petitioner shall not count against the 180-day limit.
  • The 180-day limit shall not apply if there is an ongoing criminal or if delinquency investigation or criminal or delinquency charges have been filed or will be filed regarding the child maltreatment report.

If the petitioner prevails at an administrative hearing or a circuit court hearing and a report is changed from true to unsubstantiated, the department shall tender a list of persons to whom a disclosure had previously been made that the report was true.

When Records Must Be Expunged
Ann. Code § 12-12-505

The Department of Human Services shall identify in its policy and procedures manual the types of child maltreatment that will automatically result in the removal of the name of an offender from the central registry. If an offender has been entered into the central registry, the offender's name shall be removed from the central registry when the offender has not had a subsequent true report of this type for 1 year, and more than one 1 year has lapsed since the closure of any protective services or foster care case opened as the result of this report.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, with regard to offenders who were juveniles at the time of the act or omission that resulted in a true finding of child maltreatment, the department shall:

  • Not remove the name from the central registry if the offender was found guilty, pled guilty to, or pled nolo contendere to a felony in circuit court as an adult for the same act for which the offender is named in the central registry unless the conviction is reversed or vacated
  • Remove the name from the central registry if more than 5 years have elapsed since the true finding of child maltreatment and there have been no subsequent true findings of child maltreatment, or the offender can prove by a preponderance of evidence that he or she has been rehabilitated

If an offender has been entered into the central registry, the offender may petition the department requesting that the offender's name be removed from the central registry when he or she has not had a subsequent true report for 5 years and more than 5 years have elapsed since the closure of any protective services or foster care case opened as the result of the report.

If the department denies the request for removal of the name from the central registry, the offender may request an administrative hearing within 30 days from receipt of the department's decision.

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Child Welfare

Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 696 KB) publication.

When Case Plans Are Required
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-402; 016 15 Code of Rules 011, Policy IV-A

A case plan shall be developed in all dependency-neglect cases or any case involving an out-of-home placement, and:
  • The case plan shall be developed and filed with the court no later than 30 days after the date the petition was filed or the juvenile was first placed out of home, whichever is sooner.
  • If the department does not have sufficient information prior to the adjudication hearing to complete all of the case plan, the department shall complete those parts for which information is available.
  • All parts of the case plan shall be completed and filed with the court 30 days after the adjudication hearing.
Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-402; 016 15 Code of Rules 011, Policy IV-A

The Department of Human Services shall be responsible for developing case plans in all dependency-neglect cases, and in family in need of services or delinquency cases when custody is transferred to the Department of Human Services. The case plan shall be developed in consultation with:
  • The juvenile's parent, guardian, or custodian
  • The juvenile
  • The juvenile's foster parents
  • The Court Appointed Special Advocate
  • The juvenile's attorney ad litem
  • All parties' attorneys
Contents of a Case Plan
Ann. Code 9-27-402; 016 15 Code of Rules 011, Policy IV-A

When the juvenile is receiving services in the home of the parent, guardian, or custodian, the case plan shall include at a minimum:
  • A description of the problems being addressed
  • A description of the services to be provided to the family and juvenile, specifically addressing the identified problems and timeframes for providing services
  • A description of any reasonable accommodations made to parents in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to assure to all the parents meaningful access to reunification and family preservation services
  • The name of an individual who the petitioner, parent, guardian, or custodian knows is claiming to be or who is named as the father or possible father of the juvenile and whose paternity of the juvenile has not been judicially determined
  • A description of how the juvenile's health and safety will be protected

When the juvenile is receiving services in an out-of-home placement, the case plan must include at a minimum:

  • A description of the permanency goal
  • The specific reasons for the placement of the juvenile in care outside of the home, including a description of the problems or conditions in the home of the parent, guardian, or custodian that necessitated removal of the juvenile and the remediation of which will determine the return of the juvenile to the home
  • A description of the type of out-of-home placement selected for the juvenile, including a discussion of the appropriateness of the placement
  • A plan for addressing the needs of the juvenile while in the placement, with emphasis on the health and safety of the child, including a discussion of the services provided within the last 6 months
     
  • The specific actions to be taken by the parent, guardian, or custodian of the juvenile to eliminate or correct the identified problems or conditions and when the actions are to be taken
  • The visitation rights and obligations of the parent, guardian, or custodian, and the State agency during the period the juvenile is in the out-of-home placement
  • The social and other family services to be provided to the parent, guardian, or custodian of the juvenile, and foster parent, if any, while the juvenile is in placement and a timetable for the provision of those services, the purposes of which shall be to promote the availability to the juvenile of a continuous and stable living environment, promote family autonomy, strengthen family life where possible, and promote the reunification of the juvenile with the parent, guardian, or custodian
  • To the extent available and accessible, the health and education records of the juvenile
  • A description of the financial support obligation to the juvenile, including health insurance of the juvenile's parent, parents, or guardian
  • A description of the location of siblings, and if siblings have been separated, the efforts that will be made to enable the siblings to maintain regular contact while separated
  • When appropriate for a juvenile of age 16 or older, a description of the programs and services that will help the juvenile prepare for the transition from foster care to independent living
  • A written notice to the parent or parents that failure of the parent or parents to comply substantially with the case plan may result in the termination of parental rights and that a material failure to comply substantially may result in the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights sooner than the compliance periods set forth in the case plan itself

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Concurrent Planning for Permanency for Children

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Concurrent Planning for Permanency for Children: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 200 KB) publication.

Citation: Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-303(46)(D) (LexisNexis through 2007 Reg. Sess.)

Statute Text:

Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian or permanent custodian may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts to reunite a child with his or her family.

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Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 528 KB) publication.

Schedule of Hearings
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-337; 9-27-338; 9-27-359
A review hearing shall be held no later than 6 months from the date of the original out-of-home placement of the child, and every 6 months thereafter until permanency is achieved.

Permanency hearings shall be held:

  • No later than 12 months after the child enters care
  • When the child has been in placement 15 of the previous 22 months
  • No later than 30 days after the court orders no reunification services
  • Annually, as long as the child remains in placement

If the court determines that the permanency goal is termination of parental rights, the Department of Human Services shall file the petition to terminate parental rights within 30 days.

A hearing shall be held to determine whether the department shall file a petition to terminate parental rights if:

  • A juvenile has been in an out-of-home placement for 15 continuous months, excluding trial placements and time on runaway status
  • The goal at the permanency planning hearing was either reunification or another planned permanent living arrangement
Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-337; 9-27-338
The following persons may petition the court:
  • The Department of Human Services
  • The attorney ad litem
  • The parties and their counsel
Determinations Made at Hearings
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-337; 9-27-338
At each review hearing, the court shall determine whether:
  • The case plan, services, and placement meet the special needs and best interests of the child, with the child's health, safety, and educational needs specifically addressed.
  • The State has made reasonable efforts to provide family services.
  • The case plan is moving toward an appropriate permanency plan.
  • The visitation plan is appropriate for the child, the parent or parents, and any siblings, if separated.

In making its findings, the court shall consider the following:

  • The extent of compliance with the case plan, including, but not limited to, a review of the department's care for the health, safety, and education of the child while he or she has been in an out-of-home placement
  • The extent of progress that has been made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes of the out-of-home placement
  • Whether the child should be returned to his or her parent or parents and whether or not the child's health and safety can be protected by his or her parent or parents if returned home
  • An appropriate permanency plan for the child, including concurrent planning

At every permanency planning hearing, the court shall make a finding on whether the department has made reasonable efforts and shall describe the efforts to finalize a permanency plan for the child.

Permanency Options
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-338
At the permanency planning hearing, the court shall enter one of the following permanency goals, listed in order of preference, in accordance with the best interests of the child:

  • Returning the child to the parent, guardian, or custodian
  • Terminating the parent-child relationship so that the child is available to be adopted
  • Obtaining a guardian for the child
  • Obtaining a permanent custodian for the child, including permanent custody with a relative
  • Continuing the goal of reunification, only when the parent is making significant progress toward reunification
  • Authorizing a plan for another planned permanent living arrangement that may include independent living, if age appropriate

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Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 553 KB) publication.

Requirements for Foster Parents
Citation: Ann. Code 9-28-409
 
  • A child maltreatment registry check is required for foster parents and all household members age 10 and older. Licensure will be denied to any applicant with a record of founded child maltreatment.
  • A State criminal records check for certain convictions is required for foster parents and all household members age 16 and older if they have lived in Arkansas continuously for 6 years or more. An FBI criminal records check for certain convictions is required for foster parents and all household members age 16 and older if they have not lived in Arkansas continuously for 6 years.
  • A person may not be a foster parent if he or she has been convicted of any of the following crimes:
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Spousal abuse
    • A crime against children, including child pornography
    • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
  • A person may not be a foster parent if he or she has been convicted of any of the following crimes committed within the past 5 years:
    • Physical assault or battery
    • A drug-related offense
  • Because of the serious nature of the offenses and the close relationship to the type of work that is to be performed, the following shall result in permanent disqualification:
    • Murder
    • Kidnapping
    • First- and second-degree sexual assault
    • Endangering the welfare of a minor
    • Incest
    • Arson
    • Endangering the welfare of an incompetent person
    • Felony adult abuse
Requirements for Adoptive Parents
Citation: Ann. Code 9-9-212(b)(5)-(8); 9-28-409
  • A State-of-residence criminal background check, if available, and a national fingerprint-based criminal background check are required for an adoptive parent and all household members age 16 and older as part of the home study.
  • If a prospective adoptive parent has lived in a State for at least 6 years immediately prior to adoption, only a State-of-residence criminal background check is required.
  • A child maltreatment central registry check is required for all household members age 10 and older, if such a registry is available in their State of residence. The person must have no history of true abuse and/or neglect.
  • Additional national fingerprint-based criminal background checks are not required for international adoptions as they are already a part of the requirements for adoption of the Federal Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Each prospective adoptive parent shall be responsible for payment of the costs of the criminal background checks.
  • Any person who is found guilty of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to an excluded criminal offense pursuant to 901-28-409(e)(1) shall be excluded as an adoptive parent. These offenses include:
    • Murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide
    • Kidnapping or false imprisonment
    • Battery, assault, or terroristic threatening
    • Any sexual offense
    • Permitting abuse of a child, endangering the welfare of a minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, or engaging children in sexually explicit conduct or sexual performance
    • Incest
    • Interference with visitation or custody
    • Engaging in conduct with respect to controlled substances or distribution to minors
    • Public display of obscenity, prostitution, or promoting prostitution
    • Criminal attempt, complicity, solicitation, or conspiracy
    • Any felony or misdemeanor involving violence, threatened violence, or moral turpitude

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Determining the Best Interests of the Child

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Determining the Best Interests of the Child: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 385 KB) publication.

Citation: Ark. Code Ann. 9-27-102 (LexisNexis through 2007 Reg. Sess)

Statute Text:

The General Assembly recognizes that children are defenseless and that there is no greater moral obligation upon the General Assembly than to provide for the protection of our children, and our child welfare system needs to be strengthened by establishing a clear policy of the State that the best interests of the children must be paramount and shall have precedence at every stage of juvenile court proceedings.

The best interests of the child shall be the standard for recommendations made by the employees of the Department of Human Services and for juvenile court determinations as to whether a child should be reunited with his or her family or removed from or remain in a home wherein the child has been abused or neglected.

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Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 444 KB) publication.

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights
Ann. Code 9-27-341

An order forever terminating parental rights shall be based upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child, including consideration of one or more of the following grounds:
  • The child has been found to be dependent-neglected and has been out of the custody of the parent for 12 months and, despite a meaningful effort by the department to rehabilitate the parent and correct the conditions that caused removal, those conditions have not been remedied by the parent.
  • The child has lived outside the home of the parent for a period of 12 months, and the parent has willfully failed to provide significant material support in accordance with the parent's means or to maintain meaningful contact with the child.
  • The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the child, and the welfare of the child can best be served by terminating the parental rights of the presumptive legal father.
  • A parent has abandoned the child.
  • A parent has executed consent to termination of parental rights or adoption of the child.
  • The court has found the child or a sibling dependent-neglected as a result of neglect or abuse that could endanger the life of the child, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation, any of which was perpetrated by the child's parent or stepparent.
  • The parent has manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the parent's circumstances that prevent return of the child to the custody of the parent. The inability or incapacity to remedy or rehabilitate includes, but is not limited to, mental illness, emotional illness, or mental deficiencies.
  • The parent is incarcerated for a period of time that would constitute a substantial period of the child's life.
     
  • The parent is found by a court of competent jurisdiction, including the juvenile division of circuit court, to have:
    • Committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of any child or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such crime
    • Committed a felony battery or assault that results in serious bodily injury to any child or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such crime
    • Subjected any child to aggravated circumstances
    • Have had his or her parental rights involuntarily terminated as to a sibling of the child
    • Abandoned an infant, as defined by 9-27-303(2)

''Aggravated circumstances'' means:

  • A child has been abandoned, chronically abused, subjected to extreme or repeated cruelty, sexually abused, or a determination has been made by a judge that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification.
  • A child has been removed from the custody of the parent or guardian and placed in foster care or in the custody of another person three or more times in the last 15 months.
Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights
Not addressed in statutes reviewed.

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Infant Safe Haven Laws

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Infant Safe Haven Laws: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 660 KB) publication.

Infant's Age
Ann. Code 9-34-202

A child who is 30 days old or younger may be relinquished.

Who May Relinquish the Infant
Ann. Code 9-34-202; 5-27-205(c)

A child may be relinquished by his or her parent or a person designated by the parent.

Who May Receive the Infant
Ann. Code 9-34-202

The child may be left with any medical provider or law enforcement agency.

Responsibilities of the Safe Haven Provider
Ann. Code 9-34-202; 9-34-203

Any medical provider or law enforcement agency shall, without a court order, take possession of a child who is 30 days old or younger if the child is left with or voluntarily delivered to the medical provider or law enforcement agency by the child's parent who does not express an intent to return for the child.

A medical provider or law enforcement agency that takes possession of a child shall perform any act necessary to protect the physical health and safety of the child.

Upon delivery of the child, the law enforcement officer or an appropriate hospital employee shall take the child into protective custody for 72 hours and immediately notify the Division of Children and Family Services of the Department of Human Services.

Immunity for the Provider
Ann. Code 9-34-202

A medical provider or law enforcement agency shall incur no civil or criminal liability for any good faith acts or omissions performed pursuant to this section.

Protection for Relinquishing Parent
Ann. Code 5-27-205(c)

The fact that a parent voluntarily delivered a child to and left the child with, or voluntarily arranged for another person to deliver a child to and leave the child with, a medical provider or law enforcement agency serves as an affirmative defense to a prosecution for endangering the child.

This section specifically does not constitute a defense to any prosecution arising from an act of abuse or neglect committed prior to the delivery of a child to a medical provider or law enforcement agency.

Effect on Parental Rights
Ann. Code 9-34-203

The department will initiate a dependency action [to place the child in a permanent home].

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Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy (PDF - 472 KB) publication.

Statutes:

Website for Statutes: www.arkleg.state.ar.us/SearchCenter/pages/arkansascode.aspx
Citations:

  • Adoption: Title 9, Subtitle 2, Chapter 9
  • Child Protection: Title 9, Subtitle 3, Chapter 30
  • Child Welfare: Title 9, Subtitle 2, Chapter 16; Subtitle 3, Chapters 27-29, 32, 34

Regulation/Policy

Website for Administrative Code: www.sosweb.state.ar.us/rules_and_regs/index.php/rules/search/new
Note:
See Department of Human Services

Other Resources

Department of Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services

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Placement of Children With Relatives

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Placement of Children With Relatives: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 310 KB) publication.

Relative Placement for Foster Care and Guardianship
Citation: Ann. Code 9-9-102; 9-28-502; 9-28-503
In all custodial placements by the Department of Human Services, preferential consideration shall be given to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver.

''Kinship foster parent'' means any relative within the first, second, or third degree of consanguinity to the parent or stepparent of a child who is:

  • Related through blood or marriage
  • Approved to be a foster parent to a child who is in the custody of the department

When a child has been removed from his or her home and is in the custody of the Division of Family Services of the Department of Human Services, the division shall attempt to place the child with a relative for kinship foster care.

Requirements for Placement with Relatives
Citation: Ann. Code 9-9-102; 9-28-503
The relative caregiver must meets all relevant child protection standards, and it must be in the child's best interest to be placed with the relative caregiver.

Kinship foster parents shall meet standards and requirements established by the division for all foster parents, including, but not limited to:

  • Training
  • Background checks
  • Home study requirements

If the relative is approved by the division to provide foster care services in accordance with rules and regulations and a placement with the relative is made, the relative shall be eligible to receive payment for the full foster care rate for the care of the child and any other benefits that might be available to foster parents, whether in money or in services.

Relatives Who May Adopt
Citation: Ann. Code 9-9-102; 9-28-402

In all custodial placements by the Department of Human Services, preferential consideration shall be given to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver.

''Relative'' means a person within the fifth degree of kinship by virtue of blood or adoption.

Requirements for Adoption by Relatives
Citation: Ann. Code 9-9-102; 9-9-212
Preference to the relative caregiver will be given when the relative meets all relevant child protection standards, and it is in the child's best interests to be placed with the relative caregiver.

A home study shall be conducted by any child welfare agency licensed under the Child Welfare Agency Licensing Act, 9-28-401 et seq., or any licensed certified social worker. The home study shall contain an evaluation of the prospective adoption with a recommendation as to the granting of the petition for adoption and shall include:

  • A State-of-residence criminal background check, if available, and national fingerprint-based criminal background check on the adoptive parents and all household members age 16 and older
  • A child maltreatment central registry check for all household members age 10 and older, if such a registry is available in their State of residence

Unless directed by the court, a detailed, written health history and genetic and social history of the child is not required if:

  • The petitioner is a stepparent.
  • The petitioner and the child to be adopted are related to each other within the second degree of relationship.

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Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 368 KB) publication.

What Are Reasonable Efforts
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-303
''Reasonable efforts'' are measures taken to preserve the family and can include reasonable care and diligence on the part of the department or agency to utilize all available services related to meeting the needs of the juvenile and the family.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-303
Reasonable efforts shall be made:
  • Prior to the placement of a child in foster care to prevent the need for removing the child from the child's home
  • To reunify a family after a child has been placed out of home to make it possible to return safely home
  • To obtain permanency for a child who has been in placement more than 12 months, or 15 of the last 22 months
When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required
Citation: Ann. Code 9-27-303
Reasonable efforts to reunite a child with his or her parent or parents shall not be required in all cases. Reunification shall not be required if a court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has:
  • Subjected the child to aggravated circumstances that may include abandonment, chronic abuse, cruelty, or sexual abuse
  • Committed or attempted to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of any child
  • Committed felony battery or assault to any child that results in serious bodily injury
  • Had parental rights terminated to a sibling of the child
  • Has abandoned an infant

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Standby Guardianship

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Standby Guardianship: Summary of State Laws (PDF - 256 KB) publication.

Who Can Nominate a Standby Guardian
Citation: Ann. Code 28-65-221(a)
Any parent who is chronically ill or near death may have a standby guardian appointed by the court.

How to Establish a Standby Guardian
Citation: Ann. Code 28-65-221(a); 28-65-204(b)(1)-(2)
The parent must use the same procedures outlined in the subchapter for establishing a guardianship.

The court shall appoint as guardian the person who is most suitable and is willing to serve, having due regard to:

  • Any request contained in a will or other written instrument executed by the parent
  • Any request for the appointment of a person as his or her guardian made by a minor age 14 or older
How Standby Authority is Activated
Citation: Ann. Code 28-65-221(a)
The standby guardian's authority would take effect as outlined in an order of standby guardianship, upon:
  • The death of the parent
  • The mental incapacity of the parent
  • The physical debilitation and consent of the parent

The standby guardian shall immediately notify the court upon the death, incapacity, or debilitation of the parent and shall immediately assume the role of guardian of the minor children. The court shall enter an order of guardianship in conformance with this section.

Involvement of the Noncustodial Parent
Citation:

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Authority Relationship of the Parent and the Standby
Citation: Ann. Code 28-65-221(a)
The parent does not surrender parental rights with the appointment of a standby guardian.

Withdrawing Guardianship
Citation: Ann. Code 28-65-401
Guardianship is terminated upon a minor's death, adoption, emancipation, attainment of majority, or by order of the court.




One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had, nor what my clothes were like, but that the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.


The beautiful pictures on cakid.org are graciously used by permission and copyrighted by Darrel Tank at www.darreltank.com.  These and more may be seen at http://www.cakid.org/Darrel_Tank/thumb.html.  Thank you, Darrel, for your contribution to the foster parents of Arkansas.  We thank you, and our kids thank you!


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This Page Was Last Updated on 07/30/09



All information, forms, manuals, and other material on this web site are freely available to all
foster parents (in any role), potential adoptive parents, DCFS staff, CASA workers, guardian ad litem's,
county judges, legislators, and any other state officials or state employees that may need it.

Contact Us


The webmaster who maintains this web site (Stephen Rea, a foster parent) can be reached at srea1957@maristream.com.
Please let me know if you have any other resources or information for foster parents that we can post here.
Your contributions would be greatly appreciated by us and the other foster parents across the state!

Dedicated to Olivia