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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is "the system" working? I suppose we could find some examples where it helps and some where it doesn't. I keep finding myself wondering about the big picture and can't help but think that there has to be a better way to take care of kids and families. Am I being too idealistic to be searching for a better way?
 

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That was a question that was possed by one of the Foster parents in our PRIDE training class. And the answer was, from our long time foster parent coach - she wouldn;t do it if she didn't think she was having a positive impact.<br><br>
Granted the system is FAR from perfect, and up here in canada it seems they are changing the rules every 5 years so just as they get comfortable with one set they have to start over.<br><br>
Agencies are run by people, and people are imperfect and often times in this line of work - opnionated. Some of them get a bit of a god complex where they feel they know what is best all the time and if you don't fit exactly the picture they want then they don;t make it happen for you ( i believe that was the reason we had such a hard time in Barrie)<br><br>
If you have the heart to help out with foster care, than don't give up. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Stick Out Tongue">
 

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I think it depends on your definition. Is foster care preventing children from growing up in abusive situations? Yes. Do kids in foster care continue to be abused? Sometimes, yes. But I see examples of it "working" all the time. Usually, when its NOT working, it hits the news <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Without a doubt, CPS workers need more training and MORE TIME. Its startling the limited knowledge the people who are in charge of making decisions actually ahve. Workers get jaded, over worked, over whelmed, and forget to look at the big picture. (Sometimes. Of course, there are great workers out there, too).
 

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I think it is also something that is hugely variably, depending on where you live. Some systems are much better than others.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>robynlyn80</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11557865"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think it depends on your definition. Is foster care preventing children from growing up in abusive situations? Yes. Do kids in foster care continue to be abused? Sometimes, yes. But I see examples of it "working" all the time. Usually, when its NOT working, it hits the news <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> Without a doubt, CPS workers need more training and MORE TIME. Its startling the limited knowledge the people who are in charge of making decisions actually ahve. Workers get jaded, over worked, over whelmed, and forget to look at the big picture. (Sometimes. Of course, there are great workers out there, too).</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">:<br><br>
I know that one of my foster children would have been dead if she were allowed to leave the hospital with her mother. Actually, her mother probably would've been, too. But she went home at 10months old to a recovered mother who truly beat the odds... both of them healthy. Mom was motivated to get her child back and without the baby, she was able to get through her recovery.<br><br>
I know that my foster daughter sisters would have been on the streets in a HEAVY gang neighborhood doing and enduring God-knows-what if they had stayed with their mom (in addition to the countless health problems from eating every meal at McD's). Their mom loved them, but was developmentally disabled. The 8yo couldn't read, was diagnosed "selective mute" (incorrectly) and wouldn't even engage in a classroom--wouldn't speak, eat, drink or use the bathroom in a school. Through foster care, the 8yo learned to read, actually ENJOYED school and got the help she needed because we lived with them and were on top of the issues. The older one learned how to not enable the younger one. They went to a relative with some services in place to help where they needed it. That was last August. In December, the little one had gotten on stage and recited a line in a play. They're doing great... thanks to foster care.<br><br>
And the last serious handful we had (and had to have removed) now has the APPROPRIATE help and medication management because when he was removed from his environment--which included some very seriously panicked parents (panicked about the kid--prior to his removal)--you could see what the issues really were. He suffered 4 psych hospitalizations in the prior year... at the age of 12. He was being managed in a way that was reinforcing the problems. We were able to observe and give a clear accounting of what was going on. He went home--with DIFFERENT services. THAT was a kid headed for suicide for sure. I still worry about him, but I know that he's got a much better chance now than he did before.<br><br>
So it has worked for the ones that came through me--that's for sure. I don't think I could continue fostering if I didn't feel they left far better off than when they came. Yes--there are the news headlines; but you hear the handful of horror stories... just like those of teachers and priests. I believe children have a right to be protected. When you see what "minimum sufficient level of care" is and what it takes to remove a child (usually), then I feel at ease with the kids who are in care BEING in care. I can't imagine the child who is beaten or neglected never being saved. And knowing that most of them go back home or at least to relatives makes me feel like it works better than doing nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Maybe it would help if I focused more on the individuals (like the ones you described, heatherdeg) and didn't think so much about the huge problems of drug addiction, poverty, violence, etc. that sometimes seem so overwhelming to me. I want to end those cycles, for good, and perhaps that is too big of a goal for my lifetime.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamasee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11561362"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Maybe it would help if I focused more on the individuals (like the ones you described, heatherdeg) and didn't think so much about the huge problems of drug addiction, poverty, violence, etc. that sometimes seem so overwhelming to me. I want to end those cycles, for good, and perhaps that is too big of a goal for my lifetime.</div>
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Yep, definitely think smaller. Much smaller. I've fostered for almost two years and worked with low-income families for 12. You have to work to make change on an individual level.<br><br>
I wish I could break the cycle of abuse, poverty, and addiction for all children. But I can't. It would be impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>BethNC</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11562073"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Yep, definitely think smaller. Much smaller. I've fostered for almost two years and worked with low-income families for 12. You have to work to make change on an individual level.<br><br>
I wish I could break the cycle of abuse, poverty, and addiction for all children. But I can't. It would be impossible.</div>
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Thanks to all of you for your feedback. I think the "think smaller" approach may be just what I needed to keep me going.
 

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It's again 'big picture', but the thing that bothers me about the system is the generational aspect. We fostered when I was a kid and I've worked as a child protection worker. Many of the children in care are born to people who were in care themselves, sometimes going back several generations. So clearly their lives are improved (often) in some way, but they're still not growing up with the skills they need to parent appropriately, themselves.<br><br>
I'm not sure how to fix it though.<br><br>
Erica
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>JERENAUD</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11628151"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It's again 'big picture', but the thing that bothers me about the system is the generational aspect. We fostered when I was a kid and I've worked as a child protection worker. Many of the children in care are born to people who were in care themselves, sometimes going back several generations. So clearly their lives are improved (often) in some way, but they're still not growing up with the skills they need to parent appropriately, themselves.<br><br>
I'm not sure how to fix it though.<br><br>
Erica</div>
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I totally agree. We had one of those kids (a newborn) and it was horrible to hear about how the family's surname was just an everyday word in the office.<br><br>
On the flip side, we had another baby--the one whose mother beat the odds--whose mother appears TO have broken the cycle. I found out that she had been in foster care herself (briefly). She even lost rights to a prior child (8 years earlier) for the same issues that had her lose custody of the baby we had. I marvel at what she has done to get the baby back. She even quit smoking on top of all the other things she was tackling.<br><br>
People make it out. It's not as common, but it happens. I'm glad to be a part of it.<br><br>
I'm not sure you can teach someone out of their culture. And by culture, I mean family culture--which goes beyond race or ethnicity. It is individual to that family and all it's offspring. That's a hard one to train someone out of. And really, it's touchy: who's to say what's good or bad? I know there have been enough stories on here about NFL/AP parents whose kids were taken first and questions asked later for things like bfing at 5yo. We at MDC know how wrong that is. We understand the benefits of long-term nursing. But the mother I saw at Sesame Place whose 4yo was fussing with her flip-flop and took said flip-flop, whacked the kid HARD 4-5 times and told her to get moving apparently knows something about the efficacy of that kind of discipline on her child (kid barely even cried and complied). We can argue the long-term negativity of that just like someone will tell me that I'm only nursing my 4-1/2yo for my own psychotic reasons--making me an unfit mother.<br><br>
So it's not an easy thing to tackle even if you had the power to do so... kwim?
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>heatherdeg</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11628322"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I'm not sure you can teach someone out of their culture. And by culture, I mean family culture--which goes beyond race or ethnicity. It is individual to that family and all it's offspring. That's a hard one to train someone out of. And really, it's touchy: who's to say what's good or bad?<br>
So it's not an easy thing to tackle even if you had the power to do so... kwim?</div>
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That's very true. I know that the whole system, at least where/ when I worked in it, was very much designed around a 'typical' middle class lifestyle. Children were expected to have their own beds in their own rooms, very few responsibilities, etc.<br><br>
So the Mennonite family whose 10 year old was babysitting the 2 year old while the parents were bringing in harvest (it was the first year that the 14 year old was harvesting) were investigated and admonished. This particular 10 year old had actually made a very mature decision to call the police because of something he'd seen, CAS was brought in when the police arrived and found the 2 year old in the care of the 10 year old.<br><br>
Clearly a 10 year old babysitting isn't always a great idea - but in this family, chidlren were expected to have a lot more responsibility than the same child in another family might have. Doesn't make it *wrong*, but because it didn't fit the cultural norm of the area, it was a problem.<br><br>
Erica
 

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This is such a difficult subject to deal with. As a former foster child myself and someone who went on to advocate for my siblings while they were in care as well as walked my mom through the termination of her parental rights and the eventual adoption of my siblings......I can attest to the many areas where it is clearly broken. Without writing a book on the subject, I can provide numerous examples of when kids were probably better off with their parents than they are in the foster homes. While working in the central city of Milwaukee I also witnessed kids who were clearly better off with their parents than in the homes of people who were more interested in the money than they were the care of the kids. I want to be clear and say that I know of foster parents who were in it for the "right" reasons, but it's unfortunate that these parents are few and far in between. When children are treated as possessions instead of the precious human beings that they are.....nothing good can come out of the situation. I also feel that in order for there to be some hope of rehabilitating the system, there has to be more funding for social workers to monitor foster families and most of all.....listen to what the kids are saying and follow through. Anyway.......I could go on for hours, but the short answer to your question, IMHO.....is no.
 

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Wow, Gumby, I've had the exact opposite experience. 90% of the foster families that I know are wonderful. When I taught in the inner city years ago, I met a few that were probably in it for the money, but since then, I've only met terrific ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>gumby74</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11676531"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I can provide numerous examples of when kids were probably better off with their parents than they are in the foster homes.<br><br>
I also feel that in order for there to be some hope of rehabilitating the system, there has to be more funding for social workers to monitor foster families and most of all.....listen to what the kids are saying and follow through. Anyway.......I could go on for hours, but the short answer to your question, IMHO.....is no.</div>
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It sounds like you and your family went down a long and difficult road with "the system" of foster care. How do you think things would have turned out had you not been removed from your mom's care? Also, was there anyone else helping your family?<br><br>
Do you think that more funding / smaller caseloads would make a huge difference in the system? What else do you think would work to improve the system we have - or do we need a different approach altogether?<br><br>
I kind of feel like this is one of those situations where there is no single magic solution, but I hope that by having this discussion with you all that I can find inspiration to continue to contribute what help that I can offer. I am a foster parent (we do shelter care and have no kids as I write this - that could change at any moment). I am also going to learn more next week about a program in our community that helps moms with drug/alcohol rehab while providing residential care for the kids as well (so they keep the moms and kids "together" with lots of support and supervision).
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamasee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11677981"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It sounds like you and your family went down a long and difficult road with "the system" of foster care. How do you think things would have turned out had you not been removed from your mom's care? Also, was there anyone else helping your family?<br><br>
Do you think that more funding / smaller caseloads would make a huge difference in the system? What else do you think would work to improve the system we have - or do we need a different approach altogether?<br><br>
I kind of feel like this is one of those situations where there is no single magic solution, but I hope that by having this discussion with you all that I can find inspiration to continue to contribute what help that I can offer. I am a foster parent (we do shelter care and have no kids as I write this - that could change at any moment). I am also going to learn more next week about a program in our community that helps moms with drug/alcohol rehab while providing residential care for the kids as well (so they keep the moms and kids "together" with lots of support and supervision).</div>
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I would love to answer this, but I don't have enough time right now. I should be able to be on the computer more this afternoon. Thanks for bringing this topic up. I think it's an important topic and I'm enjoying this discussion. I'll be back later!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/Bolt.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="bolt">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamasee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11677981"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It sounds like you and your family went down a long and difficult road with "the system" of foster care. How do you think things would have turned out had you not been removed from your mom's care? Also, was there anyone else helping your family?<br><br>
Do you think that more funding / smaller caseloads would make a huge difference in the system? What else do you think would work to improve the system we have - or do we need a different approach altogether?<br><br>
I kind of feel like this is one of those situations where there is no single magic solution, but I hope that by having this discussion with you all that I can find inspiration to continue to contribute what help that I can offer. I am a foster parent (we do shelter care and have no kids as I write this - that could change at any moment). I am also going to learn more next week about a program in our community that helps moms with drug/alcohol rehab while providing residential care for the kids as well (so they keep the moms and kids "together" with lots of support and supervision).</div>
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I was in care when I was about 10. It was while we were living in California and my parents in their desperate attempt to run from their grief after my brother passed away, never gave much consideration as to where we were going to live once we got to California. We ended up in a camp ground with not much more than the clothes on our backs. Someone, with good intentions, turned my parents in for neglect. The thing is, it wasn't neglect.....it was two parents who were struggling with the loss of their son and had very little coping skills. They loved us, but they were poor. My sister and I were placed ina foster home that regularly fed us out of the garbage bin at a local grocery store as well as locked us out of the house for hours at a time and allowed the foster father to abuse both of us. When our concerns were presented to the social workers, no one believed us. I'm sure it was because of a lot of things. The first was that they didn't really know what to do with us then. The second I am sure was because if they took us away from our parents because they thought we were neglected, then how would it look if the same people who were supposed to protect us, abused and neglected us? In any case, we were eventually returned to our parents, who immediately packed up and left for the state of Wisconsin again. I am not saying that my parents did not have issues, but that entire ordeal didnothing to help us kids or our parents. Instead it made everyone a little more fearful of the system.<br><br>
In 1998, my dad passed away. I always said that my dad was the glue that held our family together. My mom and him were soulmates. When he died, her world around her crashed. She was unable to take care of herself, much less the needs of her, at the time, five children under the age of 18. There were many times that she left the youngest who were 18 months and 2.5 to fend for themselves. At the time I was a college student about five hours away. From a distance I did as much as I could......charging my credit card up to pay for food, household items etc... It came to a point when I had to take a step back and realize I was enabling the situation more than helping. It was then that a sister and I made the very hard decision to turn our mom into CPS. For a year and half we worked with the system to help my mom become the type of parent we knew she could be and advocate for my siblings in care. My siblings were bounced between foster care homes over and over. One family was busted using drugs in front of siblings and another family was physically, emotionally and mentally abusing my siblings. It was regular practice for one foster mom to tell my sister, before she walked out the door in the morning, "you and your siblings should never have been born." Great thing to tell the child before she goes off to school. When ever the foster mom would get tired of dealing with the kids, she would lock them in a room with nothing to do for hours. She was also big on drugging the kids so that she wouldn't have to deal with them. All this was happening while they were collecting almost 2400/month in foster care subsidies. This money was also money they never had to claim. They almost never bought the kids clothes, or presents at holidays and birthdays. The one year, they would never have known it was Easter if it wasn't for my dh and I. The foster parent's actually had the nerve to allow their children to open up gifts while the "other" kids looked on. All this and yet you should have seen the cars they drove and trips they took. Routinely, they treated my siblings like second class citizens.<br><br>
Through all of this, I made several calls to the social worker and his supervisorin in an attempt to change the situation. The result was that my siblings took the blunt of it. The foster mom only became more angry at them and started denying me access to them.<br><br>
In Feb. of 2002, an attempt was made to allow my brother and sister who were the oldest of the children, a chance to join my mom in the house she was living in. The reunification failed. My mom had a bad anxiety attack and the kids had to be removed again. It was then that we started the termination of parental right procedures. The day my mom gave up her parental rights, all of us children were in the court room. It was by far the hardest day of my life. Now as a parent., I can't even begin to comprehend how horrible of a feeling that must have been for her. She was devistated. The plan was that we were going to take two of the children and adopt them and my sister was going to take the other two children. We would move her closer to us, so that she could still be a part of their life, but they would continue to be safe.<br><br>
In july of 2002, my mom passed away from a heart attack. I truly beleive she died of a broken heart. Now that her kids were in safe hands, she was able to let go and join my dad. She was 46.<br><br>
I mention all of this because I want to give a better picture of where I am coming from. I realize that there are good foster parents, but I have met so many that try and say the "right things." Only to not back up what they are saying with actions.<br><br>
I think lower caseloads for social workers would have helped. Foster parents need the support and have to be willing to accept the support as well. Respite for foster parents and parents who are struggling has to be increased. All the parenting classes in the world would not have helped my mom. I think she had too much on her plate, emotionally. What I do know is that the foster parents were abusive towards my siblings and my mother. It was a situation that was doomed from the beginning. Someone should have stepped in and removed those children from those foster parents. The effects of what they did still linger in the sister and brother I adopted. Thanksfully, they eventually voluntarily gave up their foster license. A little too late in my opinion.<br><br>
My extended family was absolutely no help in this whole situation. They were all of the mindset "what happens ina family, stays in the family." Basically, they wanted nothing to do with being the solution to the problem they helped create. It was very easy to look at them and understand why my mom was the way she was.<br><br>
As far as the inner city foster situations go. I'm glad to hear there are foster parents out there that are making a difference. I can just say that from my experience of really getting to know these foster parent's, the system in Milwaukee is a disaster. Again, I have many examples. Children should not ever be allowed to become someone's money making opportunity. Especially children who are in desperate need of care that can allow them to trust again. Ohhhhhh I could go on......Anyway, thanks for allowing me to babble<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Gumby74, thanks for sharing your experiences. It helped to reinforce my commitment to being a foster parent. I'm glad that you were able to rise to the challenges of your family's situation and provide so much support for your mom and siblings. Thanks, again, for sharing.
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">, gumby.<br><br>
It would be hard for me to believe that anyone has seen more sides of the foster care system than you have, or in greater detail. I know it's different from city to city and state to state, but when it comes to your personal experience in your city, I know you've seen it all. How you stayed positive in your job, working with some of the families you did, with your own family's experience in your memory, I'll never know.<br><br>
Thank you for sharing your family's experience. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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gumby-<br>
wow<br>
that a painfully real account. thank you for telling us. wow. i cant even think of words.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/grouphug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="grouphug">
 

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Thanks for sharing, gumby. Dh and I took the summer off from fostering. At first, it was a miscommunication about our desire to take off that landed us "on hold--per our request" (which was NOT the case!). That situation made us decide to stay on hold for the summer and re-evaluate our involvement in foster care.<br><br>
I belong to another board of the kind of foster parents that you want to know exist--so I don't often get to see the other side.<br><br>
But reading your post reminds me that I became a foster parent so that kids would have a GOOD home to go to. It's very hard to be that kind of home sometimes--dealing with the systems in ways that help the family and get the kids what they need and deserve. We had decided to go back to it in the fall and take one child at a time. Reading this, I will probably take as many as we can realistically handle (which varies depending on the type of children that land here and their individual needs).<br><br>
So thanks. And much hugs...
 
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