If you suspect foster care abuse, neglect, or mistreatment it is important to contact the proper authorities. The correct agency to contact differs between countries and jurisdictions, so you may have to do some research. First check to see if there is a nationwide help line that can direct you to the correct local authorities, and if there is not you should contact your state or other local government directly. It is important to contact the correct authorities early on, since some areas have legal limitations regarding whom can question a child about foster care abuse and how many times such questioning can occur. Your best course of action is typically to document your suspicions, contact the correct authorities, and then maintain records of your reports.
In the United States, there is a nationwide hotline that you can call any time of day regarding any type of child abuse, including situations that involve the foster care system. This hotline can provide services such as crisis counseling and also point you towards the state or local agency to which you can report foster care abuse. Other countries may have similar services, or you might have to contact the government directly to determine the correct agency and process.
Different agencies can have varying requirements to make a report, though you will generally need to have some basic information ready when reporting foster care abuse. To file a report, you typically need to provide the name and address of both the child and the foster parent or caregiver. You will usually also need to provide details, such as the time, duration, and nature of the abuse. If you are aware of previous instances of abuse to the same child or to other children in the home, you may also include that information.
After you have made a report, it is a good idea to ask for copies so that you can maintain your own record. In many areas, the case workers associated with foster children have many of these reports to follow up on, so you may want to be vigilant so that your report does not get lost, misplaced, or overlooked. If you continue to see instances of foster care abuse and the situation has not been addressed, you may file multiple complaints. You can also follow up on your initial report, though the law may not allow a case worker to discuss the child's welfare with you.