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Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard

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“Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard” means careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety, and best interests. (Welfare & Institution Code Section 362.04 and 362.05)

Goal of the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard:

  • Provide the youth with a “normal” life experience in out home care.
  • Empower the out-of-home caregiver to encourage youth to engage in extracurricular activities that promote child well being.
  • Allow for reasonable parenting decisions to be made by the out-of-home caregiver without waiting to obtain the social worker or Juvenile Court approval.
  • Remove barriers to recruitment and retention of high quality foster caregivers.
  • Reduce the need for social workers to either give permission or to obtain Juvenile Court approval for reasonable care giving activities, should be care-giving. 
  • Respect the rights of youth in out-of-home care.

Occasional Short-Term Babysitting:

Every caregiver may arrange for occasional short-term ("Short-term" means no more than 24 consecutive hours.) babysitting of their foster child and allow individuals to supervise the foster child on occasions, including, but not limited to:

  • When the foster parent has a medical or other health care appointment
  • Grocery or other shopping
  • Personal grooming appointments
  • Special occasions for the foster parents
  • Foster parent training classes
  • School-related meetings (such as parent-teacher conferences)
  • Business meetings
  • Adult social gatherings
  • An occasional evening out by the foster parent

Caregivers shall use a reasonable and prudent parent standard in determining and selecting appropriate babysitters for occasional short-term use.

  • The caregiver shall endeavor to provide the babysitter with the following information before leaving the child for purposes of short-term care:
    • Information about the child's emotional, behavioral, medical or physical conditions, if any, necessary to provide care for the child during the time the foster child is being supervised by the babysitter.
    • Any medication that should be administered to the foster child during the time the foster child is being supervised by the babysitter.
    • Emergency contact information that is valid during the time the foster child is being supervised by the babysitter.
  • Babysitters selected by the caregiver to provide occasional short-term care to a foster child under the provisions of this section shall be exempt from any department regulation requiring health screening or cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification or training.

Application to Foster Family Agency (FFA):

Each state and local entity shall ensure that private agencies that provide foster care services to dependent children have policies consistent with the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard. Policies that are not consistent with this section include those that are incompatible with, contradictory to, or more restrictive than this section.

  • Every child adjudged a dependent child of the juvenile court shall be entitled to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
  • No state or local regulation or policy may prevent, or create barriers to, participation in those activities.
  • Each state and local entity shall ensure that private agencies that provide foster care services to dependent children have policies consistent with this section and that those agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.

Application to Group Homes:

A group home administrator, a facility manager, or his or her responsible designee, and a caregiver shall use a Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard in determining whether to give permission for a child residing in foster care to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities. A group home administrator, a facility manager, or his or her responsible designee, and a caregiver shall take reasonable steps to determine the appropriateness of the activity in consideration of the child's age, maturity, and developmental level.

A group home administrator or a facility manager, or his or her responsible designee, is encouraged to consult with social work or treatment staff members who are most familiar with the child at the group home in applying and using the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

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