Support Services can help!

Support Services is a service of the Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association, designed to provide support to foster parents and local foster parent associations.

Support Services are provided by PSRFA Support Staff who receive on-going training so that they can help foster parents deal with problems.

Support Services will listen to your concerns and help you find the best resource for addressing them. PSRFA Support Services know the laws and regulations governing foster care, and can explain them to you.

Support Services is able to provide listings of resources that can assist you in answering questions about your children.

How Can Support Services Help?


WILL listen to you,

WILL help you identify your options,

WILL help you find resources to meet your needs,

WILL provide technical and financial assistance to your local foster parent association,

WILL clarify laws and regulations including what decisions you can appeal and how to do this,

WILL maintain your confidentiality according to state laws,


CANNOT get involved with your investigation,

CANNOT give you legal advice,

CANNOT provide financial assistance for legal fees,

CANNOT decide who is right or wrong.

State Regulations For Foster Parents

§ 3700.31. Number of children allowed in a foster family home.

FFCA’s shall limit the number of children living with any foster family to six.
The maximum of six children includes’ the foster parents own children. Exception to this requirement may be obtained in writing from the appropriate regional office of the Department

§ 3700.36. Discipline policies.

The FFCA shall provide foster parents with a copy of the discipline policy as described in § 3700.63 (relating to foster child discipline, punishment and control policy)

§ 3700.62. Foster parent requirements.

(A) Foster parents shall be at least 21 years of age.
(B) Foster parents shall pass an initial medical appraisal by a licensed physician prior to being approved. The appraisal must establish that the foster parents are physically able to care for children and are free from communicable disease. Further medical examinations may be required by the agency if the agency has reason to believe that additional medical appraisal is appropriate.
(C) Effective January 1, 1986, foster family care agencies shall require prospective foster parents to comply with section 23.1 of the Child Protective Services Law (11 P.S. § 2223.1) and Chapter 3490 (relating to child protective services—-child abuse).

§ 3700.63. Foster child discipline, punishment and control policy.

(A) Discipline.
(1) Foster children shall be directed with techniques that stress praise and encouragement.
(2) Foster children may not be subjected to verbal abuse, derogatory remarks or threats of removal from the foster home.
(B) Punishment. The following forms of punishment are prohibited:
(1) Abusive discipline practices.
(2) Physical punishment inflicted upon the body.
(3) Punishment for bedwetting or actions related to toilet training.
(4) Delegation of punishment to another child.
(5) Denial of meals, clothing or shelter.
(6) Denial of elements of the service plan or ISP
(7) Denial of communication with, or visits by, the child’s family.
(8) Assignment of physically Strenuous exercise or work solely as punishment.
(C) Control Passive physical restraint is the only allowable method of restraining a child.

§ 3700.64. Assessment of foster parent capability.

(A) The FFCA shall consider the following when assessing the ability of applicants for approval as foster parents:
(1) The ability to provide care, nurturing and supervision to children
(2) A demonstrated stable mental and emotional adjustment. If there is a question regarding the mental or emotional stability of a family member which might have a negative effect on a foster child, the FFCA shall require a psychological evaluation of that person before approving the foster family home.
(3) Supportive community ties with family, friends and neighbors.
(B) In making a determination in relation to subsection
(A) The FFCA shall consider:
(1) Existing family relationships, attitudes and expectations regarding the applicant’s own children and parent/child relationships, especially as they might affect a foster child.
(2) Ability of the applicant to accept a foster child’s relationship with his own. parents.
(3) The applicant’s ability to care for children with special needs, such as physical handicaps and emotional disturbances.
(4) Number and characteristics of foster children best suited to the foster family
(5) Ability of the applicant to work in partnership with an FFCA.
§ 3700.65. Foster parent training.

A foster parent shall participate annually in a minimum of 6 hours of agency approved training.

§ 3700.69. Annual reevaluation.

(A) The FFCA shall visit and inspect annually each foster family to determine continued compliance with the requirements of §3700.62 – §3700.67 (relating to foster parent requirements; foster child discipline. punishment and control policy; assessment of foster parent capability; foster parent training; foster family residence requirements; and safety requirements).
(B) The FFCA shall give each foster family written notice regarding the results of the annual evaluation. The FFCA shall give written notice to foster families of its decision to approve, disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family. The written notice shall inform the foster parents that they may appeal the FFCA’s decision to disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family.

§ 3700.70. Temporary and provisional approvals of foster families.

(A) Foster families may be temporarily approved to provide foster care to children.
(1) Temporary approval is a time-limited status which may be authorized by an FFCA when a complete assessment of the foster family has not been made prior to the placement of a foster child.
(2) The FFCA may authorize temporary approval only if a partial assessment of the family indicates that a foster child’s health or safety will not be jeopardized if placed with the temporarily approved foster family. The partial assessment shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(I) An on-site visit to the home.
(II) An inspection of the physical aspects of the home.
(III) A brief assessment of the social and emotional qualities of the parents as they affect their ability to care for a foster child.
(IV) The willingness of the parents to accept FFCA involvement and work cooperatively with the FFCA.
(V) The ability of the parents to meet the special needs of a child taken into the temporary protective custody of an agency.

(3) Temporary approval of a foster family may be authorized for a maximum of 60 calendar days, starting from the date on which the FFCA places the foster child with the foster family.
(4) If an assessment verifying compliance with the requirements of § 3700.62 – §3700.67 (relating to foster parent requirements; foster child discipline, punishment and control policy; assessment of foster parent capability; foster parent training; foster family residence requirements; and safety requirements) is not completed by the FFCA within 60 days, the approval of the home terminates automatically, and foster children shall be removed from the foster family.

(B) Foster families may be given provisional approval to care for foster children.
(1) Provisional approval of a foster family may be authorized by an FFCA when a previously approved foster family is determined, in a reevaluation, not to meet one or more of the requirements in § 3700.62-§ 3700.67.
(2) The FFCA may authorize provisional approval only if the identified areas of regulatory noncompliance will not result in an immediate threat to the health or safety of foster children placed with the foster family.
(3) During a period of provisional approval, the FFCA may not place additional children with the foster family.
(4) For foster families approved before October 1, 1982, provisional approval may be maintained until children placed before October 1,1982 have left the foster family.
(5) For foster families approved after October 1, 1982, provisional approval may be maintained for no longer than 12 months. The FFCA shall terminate the provisional approval of a foster family unable to achieve compliance within 12 months of receipt of provisional approval.

§ 3700.73. Foster parent appeal of child relocation. (A) Foster parents may appeal the relocation of a child from the foster family except under one of the following conditions:

(1) The child has been with the foster family less than 6 months.
(2) The removal is initiated by the court.
(3) The removal is to return the child to his parents.
(4) The removal is to place the child for adoption.
(5) An investigation of a report of alleged child abuse indicates the need for protective custody removal to protect the child from further serious physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or serious physical neglect as defined in Chapter 3490 (relating to child protective services—-child abuse).
(B) The FFCA shall inform foster parents in writing that they may appeal the relocation of a child in accordance with subsection (a) at least 15 days prior to the relocation of the child.
(C) Foster parents who wish to appeal the relocation of a child shall submit to the FFCA a written appeal to be postmarked no later than 15 days after the date of the notice of their right to appeal the child’s relocation.
(D) Upon receipt of the foster parent’s appeal, the FFCA shall date stamp the appeal and submit it to the Department’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, Post-Office Box 2675, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105, within 5 working days.
(E) If a foster parent submits an appeal in accordance with subsection (c) and the foster parent has the right to appeal in accordance with subsection (a), the child shall remain in the foster family home pending a decision on the appeal.
(F) Parties to an appeal of a child’s relocation may be represented by an attorney or other representative.

It Can Happen to You – Allegations of Abuse


Out of a total 22,589 investigations of allegations of abuse in 1998, 530 or 2.3% involved foster families. Of these, 73 (less than 14%) were substantiated.

Despite these small numbers affected by allegations of abuse, the impact on the individuals is enormous. Even an investigation of an unfounded allegation leaves the family shocked, angry and depressed. Their reputation with their Agency and community can be irreparably damaged.

During an investigation, children may be removed from the home and sometimes these children don’t return. Foster parents planning to adopt are now unable to do so.

Many families decide they can no longer take the risks necessary to care for foster children. Some families are, so devastated the family itself brakes down The stages of the grief process typically prevail denial, anxiety, anger, guilt, depression, and fear.

Families typically feel abandoned by their agency during an investigation. The agency must step back, try to be impartial, and cooperate with, the investigator. They cannot come to the defense of the family.


Foster parents are typically investigated by the Regional Office of Children, Youth and Families. An investigation will begin within 24 hours of the report. In most cases the subject of the report will receive a letter within 3 days stating that, they are being investigated.

The child involved in the allegation may be removed from the foster home if the investigator feels s/he may be at risk. Other children in the home, including birth children, may also be removed if they are perceived to be at risk.

If possible the investigator will speak with the child and the reporter, as well as the subject of the report. They will also question any others they feel may have information on the incident reported.

Reports are confidential, and the investigator will not discuss details of the investigation with others.

An investigation must be completed within 30 days from the report, unless there are extenuating circumstances to be resolved. Then the investigation must be completed within 60 days.

There may be a police investigation of the allegation at the same time as the DPW investigation. The two investigations are separate and require different levels of evidence.


The subject of the report will receive a letter stating the results of the investigation. There are three possible findings — unfounded, indicated and founded. These last two are sometimes grouped together as substantiated.

“Unfounded” — there is not enough evidence to qualify as indicated or founded.

“Indicated — substantial” evidence that abuse exists based on:

  • Available medical evidence
  • CPS investigation
  • An admission by the perpetrator
  • “Founded” there is a court decision of abuse.

The subject of the report can get a copy of the report of the investigation by writing to the agency involved or to Childline.

If the report is indicated or founded, the Regional office staff and the agency staff will decide on the need for services for the child and the perpetrator. The agency must also submit a plan to assure the safety of that child and the other children in the home.


If a report is Indicated or Founded, Childline will notify the alleged perpetrator of the appeal procedure.

The subject of an indicated or founded report can appeal the decision by writing to the Secretary of Public Welfare within 45 days. The Office of Children, Youth & Families will review the investigation, make a decision, and notify the subjects of the report in writing.

This decision may be appealed by writing to the Secretary within 45 days of notification for a hearing before the Department’s Bureau of Hearings and Appeals. This step is optional. the subject may bypass this review and request a hearing.

The Bureau of Hearings and Appeals will send a letter and the necessary paperwork to the subject and schedule an appointment for a pre-hearing conference. This is a telephone conference to explain the procedures, rules of evidence, and burden of proof. A hearing will be scheduled at least 30 days after the conference call.

During this hearing the alleged perpetrator has the opportunity to call witnesses, present evidence and cross examine witnesses.

The decision of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals may be appealed by the losing party for reconsideration by the Secretary of Public Welfare within 15 days of the decision. It may also be appealed in Commonwealth court within 30 days.

The foster parent may choose to have a lawyer represent them at any stage in this process, however, a lawyer is not required.


  • Be sure you know and follow the state and agency guidelines for discipline of foster children.
  • Attend and request training on parenting skills.
  • Record information on each foster child daily, especially difficult behaviors and your responses, injuries, incidents, and problems.
  • Report all injuries and incidents to the child’s caseworker promptly.
  • Report all injuries, even slight, to a physician promptly. Take the child to the doctor’s office or the local emergency facility.
  • Have the caseworker document any injuries received while visiting the birth family.
  • Recognize and deal with stress.
  • Know your limits and talk to the caseworker about them.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

Support Resources Statewide

Childline & Abuse Registry
Report suspected abuse

Connect Information Service
Information and literature about child development, early intervention and special education

Department of Public Welfare (DPW)
Clarification of state policies & regulations

DPW Central Region
Clarification of state policies & regulations

DPW Southeast Region
Clarification of state policies & regulation, status of investigation

DPW Northeast Region
Clarification of state policies & regulation, status of investigation

DPW Western Region
Clarification of state policies & regulation, status of investigation

Education Law Center
Information and advocacy for special education needs; free brochures for parents
Philadelphia: 1-215-238-6970
Pittsburgh: 1-412-391-5225 – Disabilities rights network of PA

Juvenile Law Center
Information on Juvenile Law

Parent to Parent of Pennsylvania
For families of children and adults with special needs. Connects families with similar situations to share experiences, offer information and provide support

PIN of PA (Parent Involved Network)
Advocacy for parents to be involved in planning services for their child

PSRFA (Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association)
organization provides training & support services, legislative advocacy

Special Education Consult Line
Help for families and advocates of children with special needs about special education regulations and complaint system

Special Kids Network
Making connections for children with special health care needs

SWAN (Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network)
Special needs adoption issues, information & support