Foster Care Law and Legal Definition
Foster care is a system enabling a child without parental support and protection to be placed with a person or family to be cared for, usually by local welfare services or by court order. The foster parent(s) do not have custody, nor is there an adoption, but they are expected to treat the foster child as they would their own in regard to food, housing, clothing and education. Most foster parents are paid by the local government or a state agency.
The child's parents may retain their parental rights, and the child may ultimately return home. Under permanent foster care the agency has guardianship; the child may then be available for adoption by the foster parents or others. Foster care can also provide a supervised setting for adults with mental or emotional disabilities who cannot care adequately for themselves. The concept of foster care has been extended in recent years to include care for elderly persons, on a fee basis, in the homes of people who are not family members.