I am going to take a small detour from the continuing story of our journey through the Foster Care system to address you, Sir and Madam- our elected officials. You are the ones who have to make the changes necessary in this Broken System.
While I do not mind at all sharing our personal story, the main goal of this series is to fix the Broken System of Foster Care. To accomplish this goal I am going straight to the top-you- the lawmakers of this nation.
Over the last 4 years I’ve talked to many people about my concerns. I’ve started all the way at the bottom, and gone all the way to the top. I’ve made phone calls, I’ve written letters, I’ve written emails, I’ve filled out online forms and I’ve actually sat and had conversations in person. I’ve talked to Case Workers, Supervisors, Investigators; I even contacted one of my State Representatives, but never received so much as a “thank you for contacting me” email.
I am now going straight to the top and I am not going to stop until somebody, somewhere, listens to me and commits to helping me bring light to this Broken System. I am determined to be the voice for these children who “slip through the cracks” way too often!
There are simple things that can be done immediately that would cost nothing, yet would streamline things drastically!
One specific thing is requiring that all communications be shared with all parties involved with the child’s case. I was shocked when I found out that it is not a requirement as a foster parent to send weekly reports to all case workers, attorneys, etc. I was required to send a report once a month to my private agency case worker.
I am a firm believer that communication is the key to the success of any relationship. Without communication a relationship- no matter what it is- will fail. Invariably.
As a foster parent, when I would send my monthly reports to my private agency case worker, or any other correspondence that dealt directly with the child, I automatically copied the ad lidem assigned to the child, the CPS case worker, and anyone else who may be involved in the case. Without fail, I was told by every single CPS case worker that I was the only foster parent who had ever included them in correspondence regarding the child. This bewilders me to this day!
With the technological capabilities that we have today there is absolutely no reason at all why everyone involved with a child should not be on the same page. If you are following our journey, you know that with our first two foster children, there was a court case deciding their case , yet neither my private agency case worker nor myself knew that a court date was scheduled! When the judge ruled that the children were to go to a relative immediately I was given 1 hour to collect their belongings and explain to them that they would be leaving our home. To children who have already had their lives disrupted this is just another upheaval in their lives!
Had I been aware that there was a court date I could have better prepared myself, the children, and their belongings. As it were I was the one that informed my private agency case worker as to what was going on, not the CPS case worker!
As I stated in my opening article for this series, the ENTIRE system needs to be completely overhauled! We must start with changing the laws that are written to protect the rights of the biological parents more than the rights of the children.
We must weed out judges who give these abusive parents chance after chance after chance to get their lives together, all the while the children are left with their lives in limbo. Every child needs permanency! While the “goal for permanency” is touted in the Foster Care system, the implementation of making permanency happen in the lives of these children in an acceptable time frame is missing!
Too often CPS case workers are just there to “do a job” rather than making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, there are many case workers who do have a true passion for the children they work with. However, there are many who see their position as simply a paycheck. Because they are government employees they are protected more than they could dream of in a private sector job!
I have experienced personally how private agencies often view these children as nothing more than commodities rather than the precious lives in upheaval! As I continue to tell our story you will get a first-hand account of this actually happening!
I know of foster parents who see these children as nothing but a paycheck. They do the absolute barest minimum to care for these children, yet take advantage of the system at every available opportunity.
It is my hope and prayer that by telling our story someone, somewhere will help me completely overhaul the Broken System that consistently fails our children in Foster Care. We have to be their voice! I will not be silent until someone listens to me!
I ask you, Congressmen, Senators, Governors- will you listen? Will you step up to the plate and fight to make the necessary changes?
The purpose of this series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?