We all know those moments – those moments when a child does something adorable and you reach for your phone to snap a photo to post on Facebook. Or you start sharing with your neighbor or someone from church about your child’s life. But when it comes to foster children, their privacy is paramount.
When you foster, you must respect a child’s right to confidential information. Private information about a child in your home and what they been through is between you, FaithBridge, the child and others who are involved in the child’s foster care placement. No one else has any right to such information.
Tips for maintaining confidentiality
• Keep records in a safe, private place.
• Don’t discuss details about the child and his or her case plan with others – even family, friends and neighbors. This includes the child’s family situation and background.
• Use care in public places and when leaving messages.
• Don’t put photos of your foster children on Facebook, Snapchat, blogs and other public sites.
• Protect your child’s identity and be ready and willing to advocate for him or her if privacy is violated.
Every foster child who comes into your home will bring with him or her a story and history, but that story is not yours to tell. Be respectful of the child’s personal information and privacy and please watch what you say.
You will get many questions about how a foster child came to be with you. You should prepare yourself for this. Don’t be offended by the questions, but be ready to give answers that explain sufficiently, but still protect the child.
Children will also struggle dealing with questions and curiosity about themselves. Help them learn how to handle these with as little hurt or embarrassment as possible.
Tips for Helping Children
• Teach your child the importance of privacy and that they have a right to it. Privacy is about respecting oneself enough to set boundaries, and your child should understand that they have no obligation to tell someone their private story or information.
• Protect your child. Your job as a parent is to protect this child from further abuse and harassment. This includes the trauma that can come from teasing, bullying or other verbal or emotional harassment.
• Help your child learn how to answer questions honestly and simply. Also, help them understand that there is no need to answer every question.
The following are two examples where confidentiality was violated recently by our foster parents/church partners:
- We recently had a foster parent post pictures and details of a child’s case on social media after the child went back to live with her parents. She thought that it was OK because the child was no longer in foster care and placed with her. Even though the child is not in care anymore, confidentiality still applies.
- A church partner recently posted a video of a foster child being dedicated. DFCS and the bio parents had agreed in writing to the dedication ceremony (which is a requirement). They did not agree for the pastor to tell the congregation that this was a foster child or for that to be posted on social media. The child was allowed to be dedicated, but confidentiality was violated when the child was identified as a foster child.
As a reminder:
This is in the DFCS handbook:
No foster child may be photographed by the press or included in any newspaper articles, television, and/or radio programs without prior expressed written consent from DFCS. In the age of social media, careful attention must be paid to the posting of images, information, or location of foster children on internet websites, chat rooms, and social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and other similar internet media outlets. Additionally, taking photographs and placing them in public venues is not authorized. Protecting the confidentiality and privacy of children, families, and resource caregivers is an essential and vital part of our agency’s mission.
This is in the FaithBridge handbook:
You’ve signed multiple privacy policies and confidentiality agreements, and it is very important that you abide by those. Foster children have had a lot of rights stripped from them, but privacy is one that should always remain.
Here is a 20-minute webinar about confidentiality that we require FaithBridge staff to watch: www.Bit.ly/FaithbridgeStaffWebinars.