The Truth about Social Media
There are a lot of incorrect beliefs floating around about social media. Some people are very confused about this subject and it has caused a lot of hard feelings and confusion for many birth families, foster families, and even case managers. We hope to clear that up here.
First, it is against policy to post or publicly make note of the fact that any child is a “foster child,” “ward of the state,” or that the child is “in care” or “removed from their home.” The state recognizes that this can make for some awkward conversations. We would encourage phrases such as, s/he will be visiting us for a while. It is also against policy to allow the child’s photo in the paper or other public resource and if it is done, the child should be listed with initials or by their first name-no last name AND it should be approved by the team. Discussions should be had with the whole team about special events such as school clubs or organizations as these groups often post group photos in local news media. FST meetings are a great time and place to bring this up if you have enough notice to that effect. Please refer to the links at the bottom of this page for the official wording of the state mandated policies that apply to this topic.
So what about Facebook, Snapchat, and other photo oriented social media platforms? Well, believe it or not, you are legally allowed to post your foster children’s pictures on your Facebook. We would very strongly encourage you to make sure your privacy settings are such that your posts/snaps are not public. Sharing with biological families is encouraged provided that sharing is in line with the case goals and should be decided with the team at Family Support Team meetings on a case by case basis. The previously mentioned State of Missouri regulations still apply. Children still can not be labeled as foster children, in care, wards, etc., in any way, but they are part of your family so the State of Missouri does understand that if you have a social media presence in which you share aspects of your life with close friends or family, then you would obviously desire to share pictures of children placed in your care as well.
State of Missouri Child Welfare Manual regarding public photos and public performances:
Official statement from the State of Missouri regarding prudent parenting standards including information on social media: