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Old 05-27-2016, 10:33 AM
 
258 posts, read 158,352 times
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More Than 11 Reforms I’d Like to See in Foster Care and Foster Adoption

Like many people, I believe that the foster care system is terribly broken.

Robyn Chittister May 20, 2016

Back in November, when I wrote, “7 Reforms I’d Like to See in Private Domestic Adoption,” I was asked when I was going to do the post for foster adoption. May is National Foster Care Month, so I thought now was a good time. This post was a lot harder to write. Like many people, I believe that the foster care system is terribly broken. It’s hard to single out specific reforms when you think that the entire system needs to be razed to the ground.

1. Replace the confusing patchwork of state and county laws with federal laws.
2. Improve communication.
3. Give everyone counseling and do it sooner, rather than later.
4. Take a long look at the budget, and put money where it’s going to help children and families the most.
5. Define “neglect.”
6. Lighten those loads for social workers.
7. Listen to the child’s voice.
8. Social services cannot continue to operate above the law.
9. Children and their biological families deserve due process.
10. Recruit foster parents who support reunification.
11. Recognize that race matters.

The entire article is located here: https://adoption.com/more-than-11-re...oster-adoption

I guess there is more than one crazy person that has the gall to criticize the foster care system.

I'll also add my number 12.

12. Potential Adoptive Couples deserve due process.

I will also state that I cannot support item 10. There are too many cases where the system pushes reunification too far. This reunification at all costs results in too many deaths.
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Old 05-27-2016, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Geneva, IL
12,982 posts, read 12,226,685 times
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This is all worthless without additional funding for CPS/DCF.
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:25 PM
 
Location: East TX
2,090 posts, read 2,017,845 times
Reputation: 3188
Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340 View Post
1. Replace the confusing patchwork of state and county laws with federal laws.
2. Improve communication.
3. Give everyone counseling and do it sooner, rather than later.
4. Take a long look at the budget, and put money where it’s going to help children and families the most.
5. Define “neglect.”
6. Lighten those loads for social workers.
7. Listen to the child’s voice.
8. Social services cannot continue to operate above the law.
9. Children and their biological families deserve due process.
10. Recruit foster parents who support reunification.
11. Recognize that race matters.

The entire article is located here: https://adoption.com/more-than-11-re...oster-adoption
1. The federal government has proven to be grossly inept at running any social welfare program or reforming any existing program. Not only that, but there are too many challenges to operating a centralized foster care system that would require local implementation and interaction with local agencies. At best, a federal minimum standard of care and minimum guidelines for definitive terms such as neglect, abuse, and protocol for termination of parental rights. Leave the day-to-day administration at the local level.
2. Communication with whom? Social workers? They are so overworked they cannot answer the phone while talking to one person and another already on hold. Bio parents? They don't show up or come to meetings when court ordered, how in the heck will we improve communications? Need to define a process with dates and clear expectations at the local level so people are involved in helping kids in the community.
3. "Give everyone counseling..." for what? Who is included in everyone? Far too generalized statement for effective implementation.
4. Self evident. Now, tell us who is going to make that decision regarding where the money goes?
5. Agreed. Definitions of many terms need to be standardized and made clear for all agencies to use same terms and same guidelines.
6. Agreed. See #4 above.
7. The problem is that many of the children will go back to a horrible situation because it is all they know. They miss their mommy or their family. The situation doesn't matter, it is innately natural for them to want to go home, and therefore listening to them is not always in their best interests.
8. Agreed. So, model after agencies or localities that are having good results and make immense increases in penalties for any agency or provider that abuses the system.
9. Not according to many posters on these forums. A common theme is that the reunification process is too long and never works...similar to the OP last statement. Unfortunately, due process takes time and lots of resources to keep kids safe and spend time evaluating kids and parents for appropriate treatment or improvement options. Not easy, not comfortable for many involved, and not cheap.
10. Agreed. This has to happen or else you are engaging in state sponsored family engineering.
11. Need to clarify this. How and why do we think race matters. My multi-racial and completely mixed up family at the grocery store is a thing of beauty. Every child knows and expresses that they are loved regardless of skin color or heritage. A loving family is a loving family.
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Old 05-31-2016, 03:47 PM
 
258 posts, read 158,352 times
Reputation: 334
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rynldsbr View Post
1. The federal government has proven to be grossly inept at running any social welfare program or reforming any existing program. Not only that, but there are too many challenges to operating a centralized foster care system that would require local implementation and interaction with local agencies. At best, a federal minimum standard of care and minimum guidelines for definitive terms such as neglect, abuse, and protocol for termination of parental rights. Leave the day-to-day administration at the local level.


So what are you saying here? Quit?

Quote:
2. Communication with whom? Social workers? They are so overworked they cannot answer the phone while talking to one person and another already on hold. Bio parents? They don't show up or come to meetings when court ordered, how in the heck will we improve communications? Need to define a process with dates and clear expectations at the local level so people are involved in helping kids in the community.
How about we start with simple things, such as social workers being licensed by their state laws? As in a MSW in Social Work instead of working on their BS in social work for 20 years. Being able to return phone calls within 24 hours? Bench warrants for biological parents that are no shows for court ordered meeting? Bench warrants for social workers and other officials that are no shows for court ordered meeting/hearing/etc?

Quote:
7. The problem is that many of the children will go back to a horrible situation because it is all they know. They miss their mommy or their family. The situation doesn't matter, it is innately natural for them to want to go home, and therefore listening to them is not always in their best interests.
Clearly, children need supervision. But the courts don't listen to the children at all, even when councilors and mental health professionals send in reports that clear outline that being returned to unhealthy situations is not in the child's best interest. Even in situations where all the child knows is very difficult situations, it still may not be in the child's best interest to return to a situation when they have been hurt, neglected, or exposed to drugs.

Quote:
8. Agreed. So, model after agencies or localities that are having good results and make immense increases in penalties for any agency or provider that abuses the system.
Nice plan, but have you ever seen accountability in the foster care system? Even when the state system is required to pay back the federal system for systemic problems in their foster care system after failing to comply with their improvement plan, I've never seen any accountability. The most I've seen is a shuffling of personnel. And in most states it is not uncommon to see the head of the foster care system replaced on a yearly basis as atonement for the deaths of hundreds of foster care children. A new yearly improvement plans that changes every year with yet another new political appointee does not help the situation.

Quote:
9. Not according to many posters on these forums. A common theme is that the reunification process is too long and never works...similar to the OP last statement. Unfortunately, due process takes time and lots of resources to keep kids safe and spend time evaluating kids and parents for appropriate treatment or improvement options. Not easy, not comfortable for many involved, and not cheap.
I've never seen due process take years in regard to property taxes or income taxes, I wonder why we put up with this excuse for foster care and keeping foster care children safe? Federal laws says 18 months for due process. I never see a county comply with that federal law and I always wonder why?

Quote:
10. Agreed. This has to happen or else you are engaging in state sponsored family engineering.
Dream on. How many children have to die waiting on their biological parents to become fit parents?


Quote:
11. Need to clarify this. How and why do we think race matters. My multi-racial and completely mixed up family at the grocery store is a thing of beauty. Every child knows and expresses that they are loved regardless of skin color or heritage. A loving family is a loving family.
Our county still judges couples upon their "cultural complacency" to parent children of another race. And I've never seen that term defined in the law. The National Association of Colored Social Workers still opposes any and all placements of black children with white couples. Tribal councils still opposes any and all placements of native children with couples other than native couples. They could care less about lack of foster families. Race is very much a factor in these placements even with MEPA. Our county is fined each and every year for violations of MEPA and ICWA. "Cultural complacency" is still a big part of our county's home study process. The only placements that are not challenged in our county is when a white child is placed with a white family. RACE is a huge factor in foster care and needs to be addressed.
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Old 05-31-2016, 04:07 PM
 
Location: East TX
2,090 posts, read 2,017,845 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340 View Post

So what are you saying here? Quit? I said nothing about quitting. My point is that we cannot rely on feds to make a workable plan. It will never happen.

How about we start with simple things, such as social workers being licensed by their state laws? In WI they are. As in a MSW in Social Work instead of working on their BS in social work for 20 years. A Masters has nothing to do with competence or skills. Some of the worst social workers we ever had to deal with were highly educated and had no skills for day to day reality. Being able to return phone calls within 24 hours? Bench warrants for biological parents that are no shows for court ordered meeting? Already happens and is ineffective due to underlying mental health, addiction, or other problems that need to be addressed outside of punitive actions. Bench warrants for social workers and other officials that are no shows for court ordered meeting/hearing/etc? You suggest that we penalize the overworked staff that are trying to do the right thing by issuing bench warrants because they have an unmanageable case load? I don't understand this at all.

Clearly, children need supervision. But the courts don't listen to the children at all, even when councilors and mental health professionals send in reports that clear outline that being returned to unhealthy situations is not in the child's best interest. Even in situations where all the child knows is very difficult situations, it still may not be in the child's best interest to return to a situation when they have been hurt, neglected, or exposed to drugs. To quote a judge on the bench, "The child's best interest has nothing to do with the laws that legislators have forced us to work under." Foster parents need to advocate and work for the childs best interest because id10T lawmakers have removed "childs best interest" from the existing system. This is another example of why the feds will never come up with a workable system. Government ain't the answer.

Nice plan, but have you ever seen accountability in the foster care system? Yes. When our count DA refused to do TPR's because they were bad for her career, the local county agency hired an outside prosecutor and took the cases outside the county's legal system. Foster parents formed a local support group and actively advocated on behalf of each other and the system has vastly improved. Good coordinators, social workers that actually worked with the foster parents, and kids that received very good care. Even when the state system is required to pay back the federal system for systemic problems in their foster care system after failing to comply with their improvement plan, I've never seen any accountability. The most I've seen is a shuffling of personnel. And in most states it is not uncommon to see the head of the foster care system replaced on a yearly basis as atonement for the deaths of hundreds (really, hundreds?) of foster care children. A new yearly improvement plans that changes every year with yet another new political appointee does not help the situation.

I've never seen due process take years in regard to property taxes or income taxes, I wonder why we put up with this excuse for foster care and keeping foster care children safe? Because taking children from their parents is inherently difficult and highly emotional with huge repercussions that last a lifetime. Trauma on top of trauma is not a solution. Federal laws says 18 months for due process. I never see a county comply with that federal law and I always wonder why? Because the feds have put an unrealistic timeframe on the process. You cannot get physical, mental, and emotional evaluations done and counseling plans in place in less than six months most of the time. Then you need to evaluate the results of those interventions/corrections and then wait for a court date to explain it to a judge who only spends 30 minutes reviewing what you've been living for the last year. Every step takes time, and every little thing is subject to appeal by the bio parents if not done right.

Dream on. How many children have to die waiting on their biological parents to become fit parents? In most states, that number is nonexistent for the most part.


Our county still judges couples upon their "cultural complacency" to parent children of another race. And I've never seen that term defined in the law. The National Association of Colored Social Workers still opposes any and all placements of black children with white couples. I don't do politically correct. Then tell them to get foster parents of the same ethnicity on board or quit talking. Tribal councils still opposes any and all placements of native children with couples other than native couples. Separate nation has separate guidelines based on treaty rights and very complicated agreements that will never be clear to me. Agreed, some of these are ridiculous. They could care less about lack of foster families. Race is very much a factor in these placements even with MEPA. Our county is fined each and every year for violations of MEPA and ICWA. "Cultural complacency" is still a big part of our county's home study process. The only placements that are not challenged in our county is when a white child is placed with a white family. RACE is a huge factor in foster care and needs to be addressed. Apparently we fostered in utopia because we had Hispanic, African American, and Caucasian all in our home, usually at the same time. Never dealt with race issues outside of learning how to do hair properly for our biracial daughter.
I am curious, xy340, if you are a foster parent?
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Old 05-31-2016, 06:35 PM
 
258 posts, read 158,352 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rynldsbr View Post
I am curious, xy340, if you are a foster parent?
Currently, I'm the chair of our Citizen review board. Previously, I'm was a CASA. CASA used to be a rubber stamp to whatever actions that our foster care agency wanted. Likewise, my husband is an attorney and a GAL. Previously, we had unqualified persons pretending to be GALs. (disbarred attorneys, librarians, etc) We changed that. We are also changing the behavior of the Citizen review board. You may not like the current laws on the books, but I think it's important for our county to comply with the current laws. The county/social workers/citizens is welcome to lobby the legislature to change these laws, but they must comply with the current laws until they are changed.

Likewise, I don't like qualified immunity. I don't like it when our foster care director uses it to justify why she does not have a degree in social work. I also don't like it when they use it to delay hearing that lengthen a foster child stay in foster care because they don't have time to attend a hearing.

I'm also not a fan of the federal government, but I'm a big fan of having one standard, one set of laws that apply to everyone. Too many times I see a great deal of services going to one child and no services going to another child. No explanation as to how services are apply to individual children. No justification as to how budget are allocated to provide care for all the children in care.

I also think government officials should be held accountable for NOT doing their job. The example of your DA is a perfect example. Why isn't your DA doing TPRs? Why isn't your DA not being brought up on criminal charges?

Adoption and Safe Family Act says 18 months. That the law of the land and given the fact that we have over 284 children in foster care for over 48 months, I think this standard is something that my county should focus on. That many children in foster care for that many months is nuts! If you want to change the number to something more realistic feel free to lobby Congress, but I don't think any of the states are doing a good job of providing permanent homes to these children. The government officials in my county are very contemptuous of any laws that inconvenient to them, but at the same time demand all the residents of this county to comply with all their ordinances, state laws and federals laws. Can you say double standard?

Lastly, my county treats foster parents like indentured servants. Mess with me and I'll ensure you never adopt. There attitude of we need several years to get to know you after you pass your background checks and home studies is highly questionable. There insistence that foster parents not retain an attorney to help you finalize you adoption or question records from foster care are also highly questionable. Blackballing families that demand their rights has been illegal for many years, but many questionable incidents still occur in our county.

Perhaps where you are fostering is a Utopia, our county has much work to do just to comply with current federal law and create the environment that you currently enjoy.

P.S. I forgot to include the number of children that died in care last year. 182 for 2015 up from 153 from 2014. So for this year our foster care agency has killed 64.

Last edited by xy340; 05-31-2016 at 06:38 PM.. Reason: Forgot to include number of children that died in foster care
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Old 05-31-2016, 07:09 PM
 
1,879 posts, read 1,856,889 times
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I came across this article while ago which is social workers giving their opinion on how the system can be improved:

Quote:
There are more than enough horror stories about social workers discovering
children who’ve been abused or neglected within the foster care system
or—perhaps worse yet—reports of social workers who knew of abuse or neglect and
failed to address or report it. The investigations will go on, and the details
of these tragedies will be dissected.


But is there hope for change, and if so, what important strategies must be
implemented? Social Work Today consulted foster care
experts and, noting the recurring themes among their varied suggestions, gleaned
the following five strategies for change.
Fixing Foster Care ? 5 Strategies for Change

It might surprise many on here but I'm not a fan of constant reunification. I am in agreement with their first paragraph which is more about supporting strengthening of families first rather than removal then reunify. Note that of course that is not an "all or nothing" solution, there are obviously cases where removal is best and other cases where supporting families is best. Each case is different.

Btw I have heard that when it comes to Intense Family Preservation Services, Homebuilders is considered one of the best:

Programs for Intensive Family Preservation and Intensive Family Reunification - Institute for Family Development

It was developed in Washington State.

I have also included this analysis because I think it is quite evenhanded in its discussion of the above program:

http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/__da...ion_review.pdf
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:35 PM
 
Location: detroit mi
666 posts, read 471,446 times
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I jave interned for foster care. In my state the case workers are limited to 14 cases which is very manageable. To the extent that the case workers have time to go shopping, do other personal errands and play on social media.

The foster parents are supposed to have reunification as their top priority and the ones that do not are easily detected, not that they are called out but its well known. Placing with family members is always the first option when possible. Foster children are visited once a month and talked to.one on one with case workers so they can discuss and problems there might be.

Parents have a year and a lot of times longer to get their life in order. Yea they do have a lot to do but in reality it isn't that hard. Go to counsling, take your random drug tests, don't do drugs, keep your house clean, keep food in the house, go to the foster care meetings, go to supervised visits, don't hang out with the wrong people, take an attorney with you to court, actually show up to court, do not talk to much in person or on the phone as it is all writen down. You know, live a nice leave it to beaver life style for a year.

Personally I would like to see the foster parents evaluated more strictly before kids are just dumped into their laps. Some of them obviously use the kids simply as a means to make a pay check and do the very minimal.

Lastly, if CPS shows up at your door, they have to have a warrent to enter the home just like a cop does. Your best to talk through a window keeping your door and blinds shut.

It actually takes quite a lot for kids to be taken out the home. Cps and foster care will never be perfect and will always only help a very small percentage of kids that actually need help no matter how much cash they have. Most case workers do the bare minimum. Trust me, there are some horrable parents I seen and some that shouldn't be in the system but most the parents that had their kids taken, needed it.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:17 AM
 
Location: Illinois
4,754 posts, read 4,309,337 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340 View Post
I've never seen due process take years in regard to property taxes or income taxes, I wonder why we put up with this excuse for foster care and keeping foster care children safe? Federal laws says 18 months for due process. I never see a county comply with that federal law and I always wonder why?
Because children aren't taxes or inanimate objects. They are living, breathing, growing beings, and families are more important and more complicated than a tax assessment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340
Our county still judges couples upon their "cultural complacency" to parent children of another race. And I've never seen that term defined in the law. The National Association of Colored Social Workers still opposes any and all placements of black children with white couples. Tribal councils still opposes any and all placements of native children with couples other than native couples. They could care less about lack of foster families. Race is very much a factor in these placements even with MEPA. Our county is fined each and every year for violations of MEPA and ICWA. "Cultural complacency" is still a big part of our county's home study process. The only placements that are not challenged in our county is when a white child is placed with a white family. RACE is a huge factor in foster care and needs to be addressed.
It's cultural competency and in certain cases it is vitally important. The ICWA exists for a reason and there have been proven cases where licensed Native foster families and Native family members have been passed over or not even contacted so kids can be placed in white homes. It is cultural genocide. Read up on the cases in South Dakota.


Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340
Currently, I'm the chair of our Citizen review board. Previously, I'm was a CASA. CASA used to be a rubber stamp to whatever actions that our foster care agency wanted. Likewise, my husband is an attorney and a GAL. Previously, we had unqualified persons pretending to be GALs. (disbarred attorneys, librarians, etc) We changed that. We are also changing the behavior of the Citizen review board. You may not like the current laws on the books, but I think it's important for our county to comply with the current laws. The county/social workers/citizens is welcome to lobby the legislature to change these laws, but they must comply with the current laws until they are changed.
I used to be a CASA too. Your county sounds like a nightmare, but that doesn't mean the foster care system is broken in all cases, everywhere. If you're doing good work in your county, great. But you've come across on this board as so angry at biological families and "the system" that I don't believe you have a remotely unbiased view of what these families go through.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:32 AM
 
Location: East TX
2,090 posts, read 2,017,845 times
Reputation: 3188
Quote:
Originally Posted by xy340 View Post
Currently, I'm the chair of our Citizen review board. Previously, I'm was a CASA. CASA used to be a rubber stamp to whatever actions that our foster care agency wanted. Likewise, my husband is an attorney and a GAL. Previously, we had unqualified persons pretending to be GALs. (disbarred attorneys, librarians, etc) We changed that. We are also changing the behavior of the Citizen review board. You may not like the current laws on the books, but I think it's important for our county to comply with the current laws. The county/social workers/citizens is welcome to lobby the legislature to change these laws, but they must comply with the current laws until they are changed.

Likewise, I don't like qualified immunity. I don't like it when our foster care director uses it to justify why she does not have a degree in social work. I also don't like it when they use it to delay hearing that lengthen a foster child stay in foster care because they don't have time to attend a hearing.

I'm also not a fan of the federal government, but I'm a big fan of having one standard, one set of laws that apply to everyone. Too many times I see a great deal of services going to one child and no services going to another child. No explanation as to how services are apply to individual children. No justification as to how budget are allocated to provide care for all the children in care.

I also think government officials should be held accountable for NOT doing their job. The example of your DA is a perfect example. Why isn't your DA doing TPRs? Why isn't your DA not being brought up on criminal charges?

Adoption and Safe Family Act says 18 months. That the law of the land and given the fact that we have over 284 children in foster care for over 48 months, I think this standard is something that my county should focus on. That many children in foster care for that many months is nuts! If you want to change the number to something more realistic feel free to lobby Congress, but I don't think any of the states are doing a good job of providing permanent homes to these children. The government officials in my county are very contemptuous of any laws that inconvenient to them, but at the same time demand all the residents of this county to comply with all their ordinances, state laws and federals laws. Can you say double standard?

Lastly, my county treats foster parents like indentured servants. Mess with me and I'll ensure you never adopt. There attitude of we need several years to get to know you after you pass your background checks and home studies is highly questionable. There insistence that foster parents not retain an attorney to help you finalize you adoption or question records from foster care are also highly questionable. Blackballing families that demand their rights has been illegal for many years, but many questionable incidents still occur in our county.

Perhaps where you are fostering is a Utopia, our county has much work to do just to comply with current federal law and create the environment that you currently enjoy.

P.S. I forgot to include the number of children that died in care last year. 182 for 2015 up from 153 from 2014. So for this year our foster care agency has killed 64.
1. You have strong opinions. As Moonbeam33 stated, you do come across as very angry at certain participants in the process.
2. Your county sounds like they certainly need to make changes.
3. It may be valuable to consider the point of view that the bio parents may have of a system that "takes away" their kids. Regardless of personal opinions (see bolded above) they also have rights that need to be protected.
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