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Florida, other states promoting foster/biological parent contacts

For decades, the prevailing thought regarding children placed into foster care was that it was best to keep the biological and foster parents cut off from communication with each other. That mindset has changed in recent years, though, as experts have realized the benefits of communication between those two sets of parents.

Now, Florida and other states are enacting changes that go against the grain of once-popular thought in hopes of creating a situation more beneficial to the fostered children. That includes providing opportunities for biological and foster parents to meet with one another and discuss how the child will be cared for when in his or her temporary child custody.

Similar programs are sprouting up in several states across the country, and the effects so far have been positive. Increased communication helps both parties and allows a foster child to be raised in a manner approved of by the biological parents. It also gives the biological parents an opportunity to enjoy visitation and shared time with their children.

There are some restrictions, such as in cases involving abuse -- offenders typically aren't given access to their children or the foster parents. But many states are starting to provide mentorship, legal representation and other resources to biological parents to assist them in their efforts to rehabilitate and recover custody of their children.

One of the main motivations behind these programs is to improve the eventual living situation faced by children when they return to their parents. Experts note that most children will eventually leave foster care and return home to their parents, so improving that living situation is key to any successful program.

Source: Boston Globe, "Agencies work to unite foster, biological parents," Kelli Kennedy, Oct. 25, 2012

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