The removal of a child from the parents’ home does not sever the parental rights. It is the right of both the parents and the child to maintain their own religious and cultural beliefs.
A resource parent has the authority to determine whether the child will attend religious functions as a part
of their family unit as long as they do not conflict with the religious preferences of the child or parents. A resource parent may integrate the child into their religious practices, but resource parents may not impose their own religious preferences over those the child has already established. The child’s personal religious beliefs must be respected.
Resource parents may include children up to the age of 12 in their religious practices, unless the child is in temporary custody and the child’s parents object. In this situation, the resource parents and the child’s parents should work together to afford the child an opportunity to attend the church of the parents’ preference or to arrange supervision appropriate to the needs of the child while the resource parents attend church.
A youth 12 years of age or older may declare his or her informed preference not to participate in a formalized religion. If a youth 12 years or older has not expressed an informed preference not to participate, but, as an act of rebelling, declines to participate in attending church, the resource parent may act as any prudent parent in encouraging the youth’s participation.
If requested, reasonable efforts will be made to allow the child to attend the religious services of the child’s or parents’ choice. This may include providing or arranging for transportation to services different from the resource parents’ own, if those services are available within the same town or community.
Formal admission to a religious faith, such as confirmation or baptism, cannot be made by the child without parental consent when parental rights have not been terminated. If rights have been terminated, the consent of DHS is required. A resource parent must discuss with the child’s Child Welfare Specialist any desire to have a child baptized, confirmed or otherwise made a part of a religious community prior to taking any action in this area.
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