What is Normalcy?

When you are in foster care, you might feel like you have been taken away from everything you know. Nothing may feel “normal” because you are in a whole new place with people you have never met before. While in foster care, you should have as much “normalcy” as possible. This means having the same opportunities as other kids your age such as being involved in hobbies, sports, seeing friends, and more. Caregivers use something called the “reasonable and prudent parent standard” when deciding whether the activity you want to do is appropriate for you. This means they must make decisions for you as a reasonable parent would.

What kind of activities am I allowed to do?

You should be allowed to do age appropriate activities while in foster care. Appropriate activities are activities that are typical for other kids your age to do. Laws about normalcy were created so that kids in foster care can do activities without everything having to be approved by a case manager, at a staffing, or at a court hearing. Basically, the law is meant to let you live as normal a life as possible and to do activities other kids your age get to do. For example, if your friends play sports after school, are involved in different clubs, go away to summer camp, or have sleepovers, these are all activities you should be able to ask your caregiver to do.

Will I always get to do everything my friends are doing?

No! Not exactly. When considering whether an activity is appropriate for you, your caregiver is going to consider a lot of different things. For instance, if your grades are low, your caregiver may encourage you to work with a tutor first before starting a new sport. Basically, the caregiver acts like a parent would in making decisions about what is best for you.  

Who is my Caregiver?

Your caregiver is the person you were placed with. He or she is responsible for making decisions for you and making sure your needs are met. Each group home must have one of the staff members serve as your caregiver; it must be a person, not a committee or office. Your caregiver should help you to get involved with things like hobbies, sports, school clubs, and social activities.

What is the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard?

The reasonable and prudent parent standard is the standard your caregiver uses when making decisions for you. Your caregiver should be looking out for your best interests and making sure you are safe and healthy when making decisions for you.

For example, maybe you really want to go on a field trip at school, but you are coming down with a bad cold. Your caregiver could have you stay home from the field trip because you are sick because he or she is looking out for your health. However, needing a permission slip or consent form signed should not stop you from going on a school trip or joining a sport.

A picture of an adorable blue cartoon pit bull named Scrappy.

SCRAPPY TIP: Your caregiver can decide what activities you can do using the reasonable prudent parent standard.

Does normalcy affect me?

Yes! Normalcy is important for many reasons. One of those reasons is so you can learn life skills you need for the future and get to experience things like other kids your age would. Having normalcy makes sure you are able to live as “normal” of a life as possible while in foster care.

What is considered “normal”?

“Normal” activities are activities which other youth your age are doing. Caregivers should be involved in your decisions and activities. When caregivers use the reasonable prudent standard, they are figuring out if the activity is appropriate, or okay for you to do. Some examples of appropriate activities are:

  • Clubs
  • School and community sports
  • Youth group activities
  • Service organizations
  • Birthday parties and sleep-overs
  • Outings with friends
  • Driver’s education classes
  • Vacations with caregiver’s family or other families
  • School or camp field trips
  • Summer and school break camps
  • Getting your driver’s license or learners permit once you turn 15

What else should my caregiver do for me?

Your caregiver must:

  • Mentor or work with your biological parents when needed
  • Assist with visits between you and your family when it is required
  • They must not make any bad comments about your family
  • Go to school conferences
  • Make sure you go to all health care and mental health appointments
  • Give you life skills training if you are 13 or older
  • Let your case manager know how you are doing and how visits with your family are going
  • Be supportive of transitions such as reunification, adoption, or any other change of placement

The Law

Fl Stat Sec 39.4091, Fl Stat Sec 409.145, Fla. Admin. Code 65C-28.019

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