Signing Yourself Out Of Care
Once you turn 18, you have the right to sign yourself out of foster care and leave with your baby. Of course, like any other young person in foster care, you also have the right to choose to remain in care, with your baby, up until your 21st birthday. Always speak to your lawyer before signing any agreement to leave foster care OR any agreement to stay past your 18th birthday. If you decide to sign yourself out, it's important that you have a plan for a safe place to live and for getting all the services your baby needs.
Transitioning out of foster care is a big step, and when you sign yourself out, you are taking on a new set of responsibilities, both for yourself and for your child. Many parents transition successfully out of foster care, but some run into problems.
If you decide to sign yourself out of care, but you do not have a plan for a safe place to live with your baby and for a way to make sure your baby gets all the services she needs, you may be at risk of the agency calling in a report and ACS filing a neglect case against you. This is one of the reasons it is important to talk to your lawyer before you decide to leave foster care. If ACS files a neglect petition against you, you might not be able to take your baby with you when you leave foster care. If you need help putting a plan in place to make sure you have safe housing and all the services you and your baby need, talk to your caseworker and your attorney.
If you sign yourself out of care with your baby, but your plan doesn't work out and you want to return to foster care, you may be able to come back into foster care. To come back into care once you sign out you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You must be under 21;
- It must not be more than 24 months (two years) since your final discharge from care;
- You must not have a reasonable alternative to foster care;
- You must agree to your re-entry in foster care;
- You must agree to enroll in and attend an appropriate educational or vocational program, unless it is unnecessary or inappropriate, based on your individual circumstances;
If you are interested in coming back into foster care after having signed yourself out, contact your attorney immediately.