Promoting Normalcy

Kayla Eckerman was pleased when she learned that a new federal law will require states to implement a “reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard” allowing a foster parent or designated official at a group care facility to make day-to-day decisions typically made by parents of children not in foster care. Kayla championed this issue while serving on the Iowa Collaborative for Child and Family Services in 2013 and early 2014.

As a result of Kayla’s advocacy, the Collaborative’s final report to the Iowa Department of Human Services included a recommendation to promote “normalcy” for children and youth in foster care by modifying rules and practices to remove barriers to participation in age- or developmentally-appropriate activities. The five-year timeframe included in the Collaborative’s recommendation just got accelerated by the new federal mandate, which directs states to implement a Prudent Parent Standard by the fall of 2015.

Promoting normalcy is intended to make it more likely that all youth in care will have more opportunities to participate in developmentally appropriate activities such as field trips, sleepovers, and other extracurricular and social activities.

“That’s just what we need,” says Eckerman. “It’s hard not being able to do things that other kids do because it takes so long to get someone’s official permission.”

As Iowa moves forward with its Prudent Parent Standard, Kayla is ready to help.

"During my time in foster care, I had to give up a lot. One of the things I was forced to give up was an age appropriate social life. I wasn’t able to go to spend the night with my friends, drive around with friends, go out of town with my friends to a basketball game or to go shopping, and the list could go on and on. I felt left out, different, and very bitter.
- Kayla Eckerman