Foster Care in the Philippines

With the passage in the Philippines of the Foster Care Act (FCA) in 2012, children suited for adoption now have a chance at finding a family atmosphere faster. Before FCA, adoption is filed in court and as we all know, court proceedings take years before completion. This is true despite the fact that 90% of adoption proceedings are non-adversarial. The FCA authorized the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to recruit foster parents, submit home study reports, issue foster care licenses and supervise foster placements after the matching is done by its accredited agencies. There is no need to go through the courts.

The FCA is a welcome development for prospective adopters and adoptees. The process is quicker and there is less pressure on the part of the foster parent to confer legal rights to the foster child. When one legally adopts, the adopted child enjoys the rights and privileges of a legitimate child, such as full entitlement to the parents’ inheritance. No such legal rights are conferred on the foster child. The foster child, however, is protected against corporal punishment and enjoys the rights of a child to parental assistance, proper care and nutrition, a home, love and care, and opportunities for growth and development, albeit temporarily.

The most radical reaction to the passage of the FCA came from eager prospective adopters whose goal is to have a child he or she could call his or her own. There is no need to fret. Article VI of the FCA provided for the right of the foster parent to apply for a Long-Term Foster Placement Authority (LTFPA), provided the child has been under the care of a foster parent for a period of at least seven (7) years. Other conditions for the grant of the LTFPA are as follows: (1) the child’s return to his biological parents or placement in an adoptive family is not imminent; (2) the foster parent continues to possess the qualifications required under this Act and a valid foster family care license for the entire duration of the foster care.; (3) the child, if ten (10) years of over, duly assisted by a social worker, gives written consent for long-term stay with the foster parent; and (4) aside from the regular monitoring visits, the DSWD shall reassess and re-evaluate the foster home situation every three (3) years, to determine whether it is in the best interest of the child to continue living in the foster home on a long-term basis (Section 15, FCA).

Moreover, the foster parent is not barred from adopting the child should he or she wish to do so. In such a case, the procedures for adoption shall be governed by the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 or the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995, whichever is applicable.

Certain incentives were also provided for in the law to encourage those who may want to become foster parents. The foster child will enjoy financial subsidy from the DSWD unless the same is waived by the foster parents. The foster parents will also enjoy tax exemptions such as the 25,000 Pesos exemption for dependents. Further, agencies are exempt from income tax and its donors are allowed to deduct the amount donate to its gross income and may further claim exemption from donor’s tax.


Adoption Foster Care

Life Skills for Teens

Picture the world at large as a vast ocean, awesome in its beauty and frightening in its power. You are the captain (or co-captain) of a family-owned ship that is traversing the waters. The crew has been with you for over a decade. Within a short time, several members of the crew will leave the ship to pilot boats of their own.

The ship in this metaphor is your home, the crew your family. The co-captains are the parents in charge of preparing their teenagers for independence. What abilities will these adolescents need in order to sail the waters of the world safely?

They will need the skills that are encapsulated by the acronym, “STORMS.”

Self-care

Time management
Organization and cleanliness
Relationships
Money and finance
Stress management

Following is a brief description of each of these skills:

Self-care

By the end of adolescence your children need to be capable of taking full responsibility for themselves. The most effective way to prepare them for this level of independent functioning is to gradually lessen your involvement in their daily lives and allow them to take the helm.

It is indeed difficult to let go. Yet, if you try to maintain control by deciding everything for them, you stifle their growth, endanger their self-esteem and run the risk of alienating them. Your role at this stage is to supervise your teenagers to make sure that they “stay the course,” i.e., remain within healthy guidelines.

Time Management

This skill overlaps with the previous one because utilizing time to meet one’s needs is essential to self-care. Managing time well is evident, for example, when your teenager is able to awaken on time to meet the school bus, arrive promptly for appointments, and finish school projects before their deadlines.

A deficiency in time management may be caused by any number of factors beyond simple “laziness.” The cause may be physical, emotional or neurological. Therefore, if you see that your teenager is consistently late or seems unmotivated to get things done on time, it may be a sign that your child needs help. Consider all possibilities and seek guidance.

Organization and Cleanliness

You’ve already laid the groundwork for organizational ability by means of consistent and reliable parenting. In addition, you’ve probably spent many hours teaching your children to pick up their clothes and put their toys away.

Now it’s time to close the door to their rooms if your adolescents are too messy by your standards. In that way, you can keep the rest of the house organized and your relationship with your adolescent intact.

Relationships

Teenagers, while involved in peer relationships, still look to their parents for guidance. Parents and other important adults serve as role models for them. Take the opportunity whenever possible to validate your teenagers’ feelings by communicating with them in a mature, respectful manner.

Your ability to listen to an adolescent’s opinions, even when the latter are contrary to your own or seem to make no sense, will strengthen your relationship with each other.

Furthermore, adolescents are skilled observers of what goes on in the house. Therefore, the way that you handle conflicts and disagreements with other members of the family demonstrates to your children what they might expect when they try to speak up. When you control your own emotions, you create a safe environment in which adolescents can express themselves.

Money and Finance

Teaching one’s teenagers how to handle money means that they need money of their own to spend. They can acquire money through birthday and holiday gifts, weekly allowances or payment for completing chores. The goal is for them to realize that they are using their own limited funds rather than spending money from an unlimited source.

Another way of preparing your teens for future budgeting is through storytelling. When you relate your own financial struggles as a young adult you convey a true, first-person account of what it’s like to live through lean times. Be careful, however, not to lecture your adolescents. They will learn best by hearing your stories and then drawing their own conclusions.

Stress Management

Stress management is an all-purpose skill that is useful in every area of life.

One might think that teenagers lead a stress-free life. But adolescence is a time of tremendous changes, both internal and external. As a result of these changes, our adolescents expect more of themselves and we expect more of them as well. Higher expectations, in turn, lead to higher levels of stress.

Stress management involves two crucial steps:

1) Awareness of signs of stress overload; e.g., changes in sleeping or eating patterns, avoidance and withdrawal from friends and family, or unexplained sadness or depression.

2) An ability to lower the stress level by means of healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, relaxation techniques and supportive relationships.

Many adolescents cope well with the stress in their lives, especially if they have close friends who can serve as confidants. However, even friends may not suffice if the pressure rises above a threshold that they can handle.

A Nautical Summary

Your adolescent is now ready to practice some crucial life skills. Stand back and watch them as they try to guide the ship through variable waters. When there is a squall ahead, do the best that you can, standing at your child’s elbow, reinforcing lessons already learned. Continue to manage the rest of the crew and model the behaviors that you want to see. It takes time to get through basic training. When they’re done, they will have the aptitude to steer through STORMS.

Books of Interest

Family for Life, by Kathy Peel (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2003)

Fighting Invisible Tigers: A Stress Management Guide for Teens, by Earl Hipp (Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, 1995)


Adolescent Care