Maine

"Our organization is concerned with the problem of child abuse and neglect allegations which are made against foster and adoptive families throughout the country. We are the victims of the adoptive and foster care system. It is time to stop the devastation to innocent families which is occurring daily across the country.
Won't you join us in our cause?"

~Director~
Vickie
email

Home | What You Can Do | Facts | State Chapters | Resources | When An Allegation Is Made | Our Support Group

 

Topic for your consideration: Suggested Reforms In Foster Care By Former Foster Children And Families Learn More  The primary author is the late Bill Ritchotte, a former Foster Child and Advocate for Foster Reform

1.      Reference:

A Dedication to Changing Child Welfare  

  A Family for ME

Adoptive & Foster Families of Maine

Agency List

 Allegation Support

 Attorney General's office

  Bureau of Child and Family Services Policy Manual

 Child Protection

 Child Welfare Training Institute

 Child and Family Services   Children's Ombudsman

 Constitution, Statutes and Session Laws of Maine

 Foster and Adoptive Parenting

Governor's Office

Guardian ad litem

 Maine Home Page

 Maine Legislature

 Maine courts

3.      Suggested Reforms

a)      Suggested Reforms In Foster Care By Former
Foster Children And Families

By William Ritchotte, Andrea Oliver, Joe McMahon, Tracey Brumfield   

This collection of suggested reforms in foster care was addressed to State House,
 Maine, USA, and sent to board@nkmr.org from "Bill Ritchotte" <billritchotte@mediaone.net>, on 8/28/2001.

The NCHR endorses most of the suggestions put forward by the "Coalition". The NCHR therefore publishes this document for the governments and the social bureaucrats in the Nordic countries, the USA and the rest of the world to learn from, and for the benefit of foster children and their parents.

The Swedish law on the care of the young states that help to the child should start out of the home and that taking into care should be a temporary measure with reunification of the family as the goal. Judging from the contents of the collection of suggestions for reform in foster care, the law in the USA stipulates similar requirements. These laws give rise to very important questions viz

1 - If the goal is to reunite the family, why separate the parents and children from the start?  Are the legislators and the social workers not aware of the fact that separation of children from their parents is traumatizing for the families involved?

2 - Why do the legislators in our respective countries not invest a fraction of the money spent on foster care on the children's natural families?

 

 

To:                  State House, Maine, USA

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dear Publishers, Editors, Journalists, and Concerned Citizens,

We are a coalition of groups concerned for the physical and emotional safety and well being of children in foster care. Our groups represent many sides of the child welfare equation. We are former orphans, foster children, and adoptees. We are parents who have wrongfully lost their children temporarily, and we are foster parents as well. We've come together in response to the State of Maine's announcement that it was reviewing its foster care policies. They asked the public for ideas and said they would consider ideas for change.  A committee was formed and meetings have been set.

 

Our coalition has sent copies of our reform suggestions to both of the committee chairmen through the United States Post Office and by e-mail. We feel that it is vitally important that any measures for reform include input from people that have experienced similar systemic problems first hand. Such then will our coalition try to assist in their request for reform suggestions.

 

We have worked for a month; ten of us sharing ideas and while not always in agreement, our hearts were all in the same place. We all hope to protect children and families.

 

We hope that you will publish our reform suggestions in your media. Hopefully, more former foster children and families at risk might be reached, and possibly respond to these suggestions, and perhaps lend a few more.

 

Below is a copy of our reform suggestions document.  A hard copy can be sent upon request or can be printed out from this email.  Thank you for your consideration and assistance in this endeavor.

 

Sincerely,

William Ritchotte, Andrea Oliver, Joe McMahon, Tracey Brumfield   

 

 

William Ritchotte, 21427 l  Campbell Drive, Brooksville, Florida 34601, 603-669-6660 (summer Telephone), billrbill@hotmail.com

Andrea Oliver, 1790 N. Linker Dr., Dover, Arkansas 72837, 501-331-3750, guardian_olal@hotmail.com

Joe McMahon    Director  F.C.A.C.Inc., 217 West Thirteen Mile Rd. Royal Oak, Michigan 48073, 248-589-9287, firthstar@home.com

Tracey Brumfield, 150 Vaughn Rd. # 2, Athens, GA 30360, 706-546-6358, TrixieSparkle2@aol.com

 

http://communities.msn.com/FormerOrphanFosterChildrenSupportGroup

http://communities.msn.com/helpforparentsandchildren

www.fostershare.org    Foster Care Alumni Connection Inc.

http://communities.msn.com/FosterCareReforms

http://www.welcomehome.cjb.net/

www.Trixieland.homestead.com

http://www.geocities.com/fight_4_family_rights/

 

We have brought our groups together as a COALITION to present to you this document.

 

Senators, Representatives, and Interested Citizens

You have the power and the ability to make a difference in a child's life.

Require foster care and adoption agencies to give children in their care the help they need to deal with life and understand all the injustices that they have been subjected to.  Most of the children, who are in foster care, believe that they are the cause of their current predicament and that they have been removed from "THEIR" families because they did something wrong.

They are in care because adults have done something wrong. While some of the individuals actually responsible for the child's problems, walk the streets as if nothing they have done was wrong.

 

Reform Suggestions

These recommendations can be adopted nationwide. They not only apply to each state, they can become a national model for change.

We encourage the federal government to adopt these recommendations as a major national plan.  We together, as one, can bring about change in the foster care system and the child protective system.


Our first concern is to ensure that no child suffers harm while in foster care.  "We do acknowledge that foster parents are capable of maltreatment," as stated by the Ohio National Director, National Foster Parent Coalition for Allegation Reform (NFPCAR).

Our presentation comes because we are in touch with many former foster children and families who are in a process of healing their hurts caused by abuse or sub standard living conditions or maltreatment from their foster providers while they were in care by their respective states.

 

This is a sensitive subject that we address with much thought, understanding, and experience. Sensitive care is needed for the children who are separated from their biological families under traumatic conditions.

 

Not only are they separated from their families and friends, but the very schools that they have developed a relationship with.  If a child must be placed into a family setting other than their own, we must make sure that the new family is not a temporary one and the child moved around until the agency can place the child in a planned living environment that will be successful.  Children must, at all costs remain in the same school system that they were attending before they were removed, because new schools discriminate against foster children also.  Unless the abuse alleged was from that school the child must remain there. With such considerations and care, we present the following:

 

 

(1)  REFORM # 1:

  Foster children need someone other than the agency to report abuse to.  When the agency has to investigate an abuse claim against a Foster Care Provider, they are in effect investigating themselves.

 

Suggested Improvement:  That foster children have a toll free telephone number to call when they experience abuse while in care and custody of the states.  The number must not be to the agency responsible for the child; but to the state police, who have full capabilities of investigating allegations of abuse and or neglect.  Every child entering the protective care of the states should be given this toll free number at the time they are placed in protective custody.  Also, the toll free number is listed in the phone book for easy access to any one needing to find it.

 

 

(2)  REFORM # 2:

  Any child that reports abuse must be transferred to another location that is safe for that child while the investigation process goes on against the foster care provider or agency member that is responsible for the alleged abuse.  That the investigation of allegations is done to include any evidence - that which can validate the allegation.  When a complaint is made, the child must be transferred to a new living place, as the bond that may have been at the last home will be gone.  If the allegation is unfounded or could not be proven, at least the child will already be relocated.

 

We must take into account the allegation type, history of the foster provider, other complaints, and the child.  Has the child made complaints against other foster parents?  What were the findings?  Etc.   There is the possibility that a child makes a false accusation in order to force a move from a placement s/he doesn't want to deal with because the foster parents are forcing the child to deal with difficult issues.


Background Information:  The child welfare investigation process looks for evidence that will validate the allegation.  Since in the child welfare investigation process a caregiver has no opportunity for due process - an opportunity to defend themselves against the allegation with counsel to assist - and since the standards of parenting are different within the foster parenting rules. Foster caregivers find themselves accused and substantiated with findings of neglect and abuse.  We feel that investigations by the Attorney General's office or the state police can be done with everyone's rights protected.

 

When there is an investigation against foster caregivers or parents, for allegedly abusing or neglecting children, there must be a professional investigation done by the Attorney Generals Office or the State Police.

 

Foster parents are entrusted with the care of children that have been traumatized and allegedly abused prior to there arriving in foster care.

 

Suggested Improvement:  Establish allegation review committees composed of an agency person from another agency, foster parent licensed by another agency, adult former foster child, and a member of the state attorney general's office to review the investigation prior to the issuing of a substantiated finding.  If criminal charges are made by the state police, the review board will not have a say so, as the defendant will have the usual court rules and appeals if necessary to follow.  Any complaint that there are no criminal charges brought about from the review board will evaluate what is in the best interest of the child and determine whether or not the foster parent will continue his/her duty as such a care giver.  The board will keep proper record of each meeting by recording them and will contact the persons necessary to carry out their ruling.

 

 

(3)  REFORM:

  Foster Caregivers are often unaware of a child's physical and mental health when a child arrives.  This does not enable the Foster Caregivers an opportunity to provide the child with proper medical, mental, and dental treatment, which could result in health problems or even death.

 

Suggested Improvement: When a child is brought into care, the agency will have an assessment of the child's medical and mental health done.  The child must be taken to their own physician for a full physical; also a referral to a hearing test.   If an OBGYN is needed, children must receive that care as well.  They must be taken to their own dentist for evaluation of needs.

Children must be taken to an eye doctor for a vision test, and a mental health professional for evaluation.  Using the children's own family doctors will largely improve on the child assessment as the doctor, a professional, will already be knowledgeable with the child and family.

At that time the family doctor will do all referrals as needed.  If there is a need for further visits to any of the doctor's, appointments shall be made and later kept by the person responsible for the child.  Treatment must be provided to foster children with services that help them succeed and stay out of institutions. This could include effective counseling, child-driven transition planning, and wrap around approaches for kids with more intensive needs. If at any time medical treatment is denied or not given, the caregiver, agency, or foster parent must be held responsible for medical neglect.

 

 

(4)  REFORM

  Upon entering care the agencies must allow visits of biological parents and siblings on a daily basis even if supervised, as children are often removed as a matter of course when an allegation is made against a caregiver or biological parent.  However, these visits are not to be forced upon the child or children.  The children must request a court order to stop visits by the family to ensure that the agency does not use the excuse that the children do not want to visit, as a way to stop the family from visiting together.

 

While some allegations merit immediate removal of children from the home, a removal is always traumatic to the child and the other children in the family.  Parents and foster parents are likewise affected when contact is shut off while an investigation is under way which can sometimes take months only to find out the allegations were unfounded. Many have suffered from such investigations and the damage they can cause can be irreparable and may follow those involved for the rest of their lives.

 

Given the trauma of removal and foster care, given the increase in false allegations to get CPS to harass enemies, given the knee-jerk response of take first, investigate later, we think the measure for removing children should be raised much higher.  There needs to be a higher standard of proof, i.e. approaching or equaling criminal charges.

 

This is why the state police must do any investigations on child abuse. When it comes to a parent or foster caregiver the state police must do their investigation so that probable cause of abuse or neglect can be determined and criminal charges filed against anyone who abuses children like any other crime if warranted.

 

Proceedings to terminate parental rights must not begin until after the parents have been found unfit in a criminal trial.

 

 

(5)  REFORM

 Moving of children from foster home to foster home must stop. If a proper evaluation is done when the child is entering foster care, there should be no more than two moves in the child's life in foster care. This will reduce the trauma that the agency causes by continually uprooting the child from familiar environments.

 

We have been told that sometimes children are moved many times but one child was moved 25 times and the child was only 11 years old. Although moving kids from foster home to foster home are caused not by bad social workers but because they don't have enough foster families, so they have to place a child with whoever has an empty bed.  Not surprisingly, that placement may not work so they have to try another quick fix placement.

 

It is not surprising that the states do not retain the many foster caregivers they recruit and use.  The agencies need to stop playing games with foster parents like, caseworkers lying to foster parents, not giving information about a child's history to the foster parents, not providing services like mental health, medical, and dental services to foster parents.

 

Agency personnel are not making sure the personal things are forwarded to foster parents.  Examples:  the paper work for medical insurance and school records, clothing and personal things of a foster child are not always transferred to the new foster parents, support for the children should be given when they have achievements in school and sports by providing fees necessary to join up in social activities in the community, etc.

When an agency uses moving children from caregiver to caregiver as an excuse for not providing services for mental health because they do not want to spend the money needed to properly care for a child, that must stop.  If a child is being moved more than twice an evaluation of that child's mental health must be a consideration and a specialized foster home will then be required even at the additional expense.

 

 

(6)  REFORM

  After foster care, programs must be set up to help former foster children with the problems of independent living.  Very few people can succeed at 18 years of age, especially children without family support.

 

Help with housing, food stamps, employment, job training, higher education, medical insurance, and support groups, is of great importance to the success of these now adult foster children.  These children need a place to seek help with everyday things that a child without a family cannot know or find without a family.  Examples:  how to obtain a drivers license, get a permit for a yard sale, purchase proper food to have a balanced diet, general cleaning knowledge, how to properly manage their money, how to get utilities hook up where they live, and how to pay their bills, etc.  We must understand that most of these children do not know how to have general relationships with their peers such as neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.

 

This is another area that JOB CORPS can come into play for foster children as they have an age limit of about 21 years old. Our group received some flack from some citizens for wanting former foster children to come from years on welfare while on foster care to adulthood at 18 years old to be placed on welfare again.

 

Well that may be true but at 18 years old someone at the welfare office will work with the new adult to have them gain independence by helping with job development, housing, medical issues, and other issues in becoming an adult.  After all the years on welfare in foster care the state will just drop that child once they want to become independent.  Only if the child is attending school will the states continue assisting them. Why don't they just do this while the child is in foster care?

 

 

(7)  REFORM- SHELTERS

.  Shelters must be held to the same standards as foster homes, if there are foster children residing in them.

Background:  As stated by a foster parent, the states do not hold the shelters to the same standards as the regular foster homes.  We have a shelter in our city, and a non-profit group runs it.  The children come in and leave with the same things they had.  They get donations of used clothing, toys, etc all the time.  Foster children were sent to foster homes with clothes that were too small or too big.  No one cared what these children looked like or how medically they were feeling.  The agencies, we were told, ran out of a place to house these children.

 

 

(8)  REFORM

As addressed in REFORM # 6, higher education needs to be more available for former foster children.  We must take into consideration that many of the homes that these children come from (foster homes or low income adoptive homes), cannot afford the costs of college.  Many of these children do not have parents that set up a college fund when they were born. Therefore, their parents are the state.

 

The state should provide for its children.  There are federal grants that low income students can benefit from, however, many times these grants are not enough to pay all the costs of college, such as books, room and board, supplies, and food & medical.  Often these children cannot get federal grants because they must report their adoptive or foster parents' income, if that income exceeds the limit that is allowed, they cannot receive funds.

 

Below is an example of Kentucky's attempt to remedy part of this problem, however, it does not cover all college expenses.

Example:  U. Kentucky (U-WIRE) LEXINGTON, Ky. -- College isn't cheap. If there's anything we've learned from our University of Kentucky careers, it's that education is a costly enterprise. A lot of us receive huge support from our parents, whether it's in the form of tuition money or a place to live while attending school. Other students, however, have not been so lucky.

Sometimes, parents of adopted children or foster children find they can't afford the ever-increasing price of higher education. The Kentucky legislature has enacted a law to help these parents and students out. Under a new Kentucky law, all foster children, children adopted from state custody and children in the state's care will receive free tuition at state universities, including technical and vocational schools. The universities will absorb the cost for these waivers. We wholeheartedly applaud these efforts.

 

 

(9)  REFORM-BOOT CAMPS. 

They should have tough standards to regulate them in order to protect children.  Legislatures with conservatives who take a skewed view that oversight and regulation should be left to the free market is wrong. There have not been any real efforts by anyone to campaign the cause of foster children in boot camps.  Sometimes you need a jolt to drive home the issue.  With these latest tragedies of children dying at different camps through out the country, I do believe we should get involved.

For now, the industry is trying to devise its own standards.  Of course, meeting those standards, providing doctors and better-trained personnel, for instance might also increase the cost of running the camps, making them less affordable to poor and middle class income families.

The data on these are not impressive.  In fact there is increasing evidence that they may have a harmful effect.  In the Surgeon General's Report on Youth and Community Violence they seem to think an alternative that seems to work is Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care, which was developed by the Oregon Social Learning Center.

 

 

(10)         REFORM-KINSHIP CARE:

Kinship Foster Care - It is important that relatives be allowed to become foster parents using kinship care so that they can be assisted in raising their relatives with financial and medical help from the agencies.

 

We want the state to do a real search for relatives and have a written record in the case file showing what they have done to locate relatives.  A record that if ever asked what they did, they can go to that record and show what work was done on the children's behalf.  The agencies must show proof that there were no available relatives to care for the child in question.

 

See a couple of reports below of how the state did not find any relatives.

Record # 1:  I am much impressed with the amount of work this group has been doing and with what you've got going here. I have been reading along, and it is about time we as a group suggest change.

At the age of forty-six I've just recently met aunts, uncles, and many cousins of my original family on my father's side. It seems our heritage goes back prior to the Revolutionary days in Maine. I have a great-grandmother who was the first woman doctor in Maine, and a great-grandfather, also from Maine, who died as a result of the Battle at Gettysburg, and my dad was wounded badly in WWII. We had a Clan Gathering on Sunday July 15, 2001 and I'm still absorbing the impact of it all. I met a cousin about my age who is a foster parent. I hope to get to know them better soon.

 

Record # 2:  At 14 years old thinking I was orphaned without any relatives at all as I was told my parents were dead by the agency social worker and foster parents. I had no other relatives alive other than my older brother that was in care with me for almost 18 years.  At 19 years old and stationed in Boston, Massachusetts I found over 200 relatives that never knew I was in foster care, as the state did not look anywhere for my family. Not one single effort was recorded in my file that the state had. I had a father, and mother and their brothers and sisters and cousins just like any family.  Because of the abuse and the mental abuse by the social workers and the foster parents they conspired to cover that I had any relatives until I was 14 years old when a mother appeared. Because I was told so many bad stories about the family I was never able to find a place in my heart for her when she appeared and we never were able to put the past behind.  They never did anything to find any relatives so we would not have to be in care of the state.

 

I was in care from 5 months old until almost 18 years old and was abused for all those years on a work farm.  Where foster children had to work eight hours a day and go to school, the foster parents were paid to raise us but instead they slaved us before school and after school and weekends.  Seven days a week we worked usually five or six of us foster children.  If we did not want to work we would get beaten with leather halters, or what ever they could grab.  We went to bed with out meals and had little time to study for schoolwork.  We were in fear for our lives and the social workers were told about the work we did but could not keep a confidence with us as they told the foster parents and we got beat worse for telling and had threat of having to live in a reform school if we did not like the farm.

 

We were made to produce food for the War Effort and never were paid for it. We produced food for two wars WW11 and Korea.  The farm we were on so many years never had a paid hired hand.  They never paid a foster child for a single day's work.  The Farm in Massachusetts had raised over 35 foster children in as many years and the average stay was over ten years.  They received payment from the government for 350 years of free labor or more and the agency never noticed any abuse?

 

The agency never spelled my name correctly until I was almost 18.  When I wanted to join the U.S. Navy and I found out that my name was incorrectly spelled all those years.

 

 

(11)         REFORM-RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED

All too often foster parents and biological parents are unaware of their rights and what they are being accused of when the social workers come to remove their children.  If parents had a better idea of what to do or even what is going to happen, they could better prepare them for reunification.

Suggested Improvement:  Anyone being accused of child abuse or neglect should be given a booklet of that explains what their legal rights are and how the investigation process works.

The booklet should include a list of any and all laws pertaining to parental rights and the rights of the accused.   The agency should present this booklet at the time of removal of children or first interview with the family or persons involved.  At that time, the social worker should also present a document for the accused to sign stating that the accused did indeed receive the booklet.  This document would ensure the rights of both the accused and the agency.

 

 

(12)         REFORM-IMPROPER RECORD KEEPING AT INVESTIGATIONS

Often social workers do not take adequate notes at investigation interviews, therefore, they could forget what a person says or did not say during the interview. This causes confusion and sometimes-wrongful treatment and handling of cases.  As some investigative personnel have gone back and wrote case files months after the interviews were done and just filled in the blanks with made up information, to suit the agency as needed.

Suggested Improvement: Tape recordings of all interviews of any party pertaining to an investigation of child abuse or neglect would solve this problem.  To protect the rights of the parent, foster parent, or other accused and the social worker involved, a copy of the unedited taped interviews should be given to the person with whom the interview is with.

 

 

(13)         REFORM-MAKE REUNIFICATION A PRIORITY

Reunification is not always made a priority in child abuse cases involving biological parents. Therefore, it should be held of great importance.

Suggested Improvement:  To ensure that reunification measures are used and properly interpreted to the biological parents, there should be a checklist of family reunification procedures and suggestions.  A copy of this checklist should be given to the biological parents in order of the parents to achieve all possible steps to being reunited with their child.  The social worker should check on the form all suggestions that pertain to the case that the Parents must fulfill, explain what is expected of them, and write in ways that the parent could achieve them. The social worker must not be able to continually add suggestions and improvements that the parent must complete. When new issues come up, and they do, (the question must be asked) is it necessary to the reunification?  They must be added by court order.

 

The social worker or caseworker cannot add improvements to the list after the checklist is given to the Parent; to use as a weapon or a delaying tactic.

 

The CHECKLIST must be given to the Parents within seven (7) days of the removal of the child, no exceptions.  At the time that the Parent receives the list, the social worker and Parents must sign and date it.  The time that the children will be returned will depend on the parents completing programs based on the requirements needed on an individual case plan.

 

At the time that the Parent has fulfilled the suggestions the social worker must obtain proof that the Parent did take such actions as to fulfill the suggestion and sign both copies of the check list (social workers copy and Parents copy).  When all suggestions have been completed, the child should be successfully returned to the Parent.

 

 

(14)         REFORM-CHILDREN'S OPINIONS

Foster children's opinion or any child for that matter, are often left out of what is in their best interest.  Many times children have no say in where they live and with whom.  If children cannot communicate their concerns and needs themselves, they need someone who can and will do that for them in a court of law.

Suggested Improvement: All children in foster care must be provided an attorney that will represent their needs and concerns.  The attorney must not be affiliated with the child protection agency. (NCHR's emphasis).

The attorney must meet with the child in private at least twice before every hearing.  The attorney must be able to provide proof of the meeting between him or herself and the child to the court at each hearing.

The attorney must convey the child's wishes to the court and pursue a judgment in the child's favor (best interest).  The attorney must be experienced in handling these types of cases and know how to work well with children.

 

 

(15)         REFORM-IDENTIFY AND SUPPORT FAMILIES AT RISK:

Create programs that enable families identified to be at risk of failure to become successful. These programs may already exist, but they need to be made more accessible. Adequate health care, career oriented jobs and skills training, home ownership assistance, drug and alcohol addiction resolution assistance, anger management, depression and mental health support programs.

 

Foster Care must be a last resort and never the first option!

 

 

(16)         REFORM-CHILDREN MUST REMAIN IN THE LOCAL AREA.

When children must be separated from their immediate family, all efforts must be taken to relocate the children within the extended families, i.e. aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents, etc. Also, every effort must be made to keep sibling children together. If the parents were not taking adequate care of the children, the children were most likely caring for each other. To separate them only compounds their devastation. If they cannot be kept together then they must be afforded regular visitation rights.  It is important to keep children in the same school system that they were in prior to foster care.

 

 

(17)         REFORM-JOB CORPS

.A federal program that will allow foster children 16 to 21 years of age to learn a trade, and to get their high school diplomas.

JOB CORPS is a program already in place. With very minor work on the part of the agencies, this can be implemented immediately. The states are in luck, as this program will cost them nothing. It is a federal program and already exists.

 

Any foster child who is doing well in public school (with grades of C or better) could remain in public school, with the option of going to Job Corps before they are 21 years old.

 

Children who are failing, or are possibly going to drop out and cannot be emancipated, would be sent to Job Corps to learn a trade, study for G.E.D. or high school graduation, develop independent living skills, and generally learn both how to take care of themselves and to work as a team with the Job Corps group.

 

There must be very few exceptions made and stipulated in this program. It is a way to give kids an additional push before letting them be on their own if they are heading for failure in the public school system.

 

We as a coalition do not believe the public schools respect or give equal education to all children.

 

Our facts are as follows:

We have been told that less than 30% of all foster children graduate high school and over 90% of the other children graduate high school.

This is not acceptable as foster children have so many more barriers to cross than a child from a biological family.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

We want children protected while in care and we want the states to take responsibility of the children they are parents to, which amounts to over 750,000 at this moment.

 

This is such a large responsibility that it should be removed from the welfare people because everyone thinks that the children are welfare grubbers and we as children have nothing to do with what the states do with us.

 

Every state in the country cloaks its foster care system in secrecy, prohibiting the disclosure of any information about children's experiences in foster care. Though these statutes often were enacted to protect children, they routinely are used by state officials to conceal illegal and unconscionable practices. These confidentiality laws have served the system, only, by not exposing the abuses caused to children.

 

The job is much too large for the government to have full, undisclosed, and private responsibility of it and no one can see when he or she falters in his or her responsibility. The only ones that are hurt are the children like myself.

 

A recent TIME Magazine article references a troubling report commissioned by the Reagan Administration in the late 1980s, which concluded:

Foster care is intended to protect children from neglect and abuse at the hands of parents and other family members, yet all too often it becomes an equally cruel form of neglect and abuse by the state.

 

In California, two Grand Juries in San Diego County would echo these concerns, concluding: "Professionals working in the field of child abuse voiced strong concerns that the children removed from abusive homes were being abused again by a system designed to protect them.

 

A Santa Clara County Grand Jury would reach a similar conclusion, having determined that children often face greater risks in its existing foster care program than they do in their own homes.

 

Sometimes, foster care placements are made that are just as abusive, if not more so, than the home from which the child was removed. The Grand Jury learned of placements where sexual and physical abuse took place. There was even a case where the infant died in Washington State, a blue-ribbon Governor's task force concluded.

 

The effect of our present foster care system is disastrous. Children are moved from one foster home to another, their school attendance is disrupted and healthcare needs often go unmet. Other children in care sometimes expose them to abuse.

 

Elsewhere, a recent report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services "has no assurance that the quality of care being given to foster children placed by child-placing agencies was adequate." Federal reviewers found "many cases" of children "in potentially harmful situations." At least one fire or health deficiency was found at 40 of the 48 homes reviewed. In 28 of the 48 homes, no record could be found to prove that required criminal background checks had been made. The report described some foster homes as filled with trash.

 

The basic question is why are we removing any children with abuse reports coming from all over the country. Each day we read in some newspaper another investigation of child abuse in foster care. Then we look at the numbers of foster children among the homeless and prison population and that is either close to 50% or more than half of that population came from foster care.

 

There must be some after foster care services for children aging out of foster care.  Former foster children must be able to visit a special office sponsored by the state or non-profit agency that will assist former foster children in their ability to find success in society when they leave care.

 

CPS is not acting responsible by removing children without any substantiation of the facts of the cases and cannot even apologize when they do make mistakes. We cannot have CPS targeting the very group that they are paid to educate and develop independent living with, when they become adults. The removal of children of former foster children must stop and CPS must be forced to work with the families first.

 

The agencies must be made to have probable cause before removing these children and must be made to prove their evidence upon removal, or they must be made to work with the families first. One of the most tragic aspects of many of these cases is that the children suffer needlessly. For in their zeal to protect them against the perceived shortcomings of their natural parents, child protective workers place them into dangerous homes that inflict upon them precisely the injury they had hoped to prevent or worse.

 

There is a place for protecting children, and a place for children to be removed from their families, but why would we allow an agency to remove children and not prove their allegations after receiving the anonymous charges.

 

What's It Like...

To have a mother hug you because she is proud?

To feel proud of something and tell your parents?

To play catch with your dad?

To be able to say "my family"?

To say "my house"?

To say "mom and dad"?

To hear "C'mon Son!"?

To show your dad you can ride without training wheels?

To feel it "neat" to introduce your teacher to your parents?

To hear your life stories from your family?

To answer, "what does your dad do"?

To get a family heirloom?

To say you have lived here for X number of years?

To know a "family friend"?

To say "I love you" and mean it?

To have Christmas with family?

To not feel "attention seeking" when telling your life story?

To answer the question...

"So... where are you from"?

What's It Like?

 

Words from a former foster survivor:

Johnny Francis Dunn

 
If you are interested in joining our support group, use the link below to subscribe.
Subscribe to fosterparentallegations
Powered by groups.yahoo.com

God Bless, GranPa Chuck
Weekend WebMaster