When a foster child comes into your home, you are their primary caretaker. You provide them with a home, a family and a safe place. When a foster child is placed with you, this foster child is under a separate set of laws and guidelines than your biological children.
When agreeing to become a foster parent, you must sign a contract with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). The signing of this contract may violate your individual right to religious freedom and the rights to take care of your foster children in the best way that you see fit. One of the most important tasks involved in parenting is teaching your children to behave.
Corporal Punishment is defined as “punishment that involves hitting someone: physical punishment”
In Massachusetts, the lines between child abuse, spanking, and other forms of physical discipline have been foggy regarding the different rights that biological parents, foster parents, and school officials have.
According to Cobble v. Commissioner of Dept. of Social Services (1999), in Massachusetts any parent has the right to use corporal punishment to discipline their child if it is not excessive force and does not create permanent damage. However, foster and adoptive parents are an exception to this right. In accordance with most state laws, foster parents and adoptive parents are not allowed to use . For example, spanking, slapping a child’s hand, paddling, and washing a child’s mouth with soap are unacceptable forms of discipline for foster children and adoptive children.
When someone becomes a foster parent, or adopts a child they are often put into a position to manage difficult behaviors. Children in foster care have usually suffered abuse and/or neglect and often express their emotions through behavior. As a result, foster and adoptive parents are advised to try other discipline techniques and to avoid corporal punishment due to many children’s past experiences with abuse and neglect. Other discipline techniques can include:
- Rewarding good behavior
- Taking away privileges
- Time outs