My wife and I completed the homework as assigned last class. This was a booklet of about 20 pages asking various questions about our family history, present family composition, and future expectation with the foster children. Some of the questions were very “nosey” wanting to know personal things that most people do not tell strangers. It was asking for family history of drug and alcohol abuse, family psychiatric history, family secrets, and family characterization. I really do not see how this has to do with what kind of foster parents we will be. As a psychologist I understand the importance of having a good history when treatment is a consideration. I also understand that if we have some major “skeletons” in our closet then Children’s Division (CD) might need to know about it. But whether my uncle is an alcoholic and drug addict does not really determine if I am going to be a good enough foster parent.
As the class began tonight, we noticed the older lady I was worried about from the first class and I referenced in one of the other articles in this series, which can be found here on infobarrel, was not there. Her niece is also a participate in the class and informed the moderators and the class, her aunt was not going to continue in the class. Her aunt believes the requirements for foster care was too much for her at this time. She was a caring lady, but she did seem overwhelmed. I could see how people without a good support system may become overwhelmed and I do not fault the lady. She tried and that is more than most people even do. I wish there were more people who had the interest this lady had. I wish this lady was able to do it. There are many children out there who need a loving, caring foster home.
We talked about the role of the Children’s Division tonight and how it is their main goal to protect the children. The people that do this job have a huge heart. They are performing a role in society that most people could not do. These workers at CD go into people’s home and take the children who are in danger, out and separating them from their parents. The workers are called many names, threatened and probably assault just doing the job they were hired to do and performing the duties that must be done. They are harassed by the parents and by the children. The situation is not good and these CD workers performing it because they know they are making a difference.
The role of the CD worker is important and the tough job does not end when the child is removed. From the minute the child is removed from the unsafe home, the worker has to constantly be looking for the path to safety for reunification of the child to return to the same home. Hopefully, the worker is not forced to place the child back in the same situation but it does happen. The parents can straighten up long enough and follow the rules to get the children back but then go back to the same behavior that was the cause of the child being removed in the first place.
As soon as the child is removed from the home the CD worker must start looking for a home to place the child in. With the shortage of foster care families this can take a very long time. One worker told me she removed a child at around noon and did not get to go home until after midnight when she finally found a placement for the three siblings. One foster parent told me she was constantly getting calls to place children in her home after dark. Apparently a lot of children are removed from the home at night. This makes it even harder to find a foster family willing to take the child in on a short notice and at night. Again, this is the reason we need more foster family and the main reason I am writing this series of articles encouraging others to open their homes to these special children.
Some parents do turn the situation around and improve. These are the instance the CD worker holds onto to know they are doing the right thing. The situations of success and the strengthening of the family is the goal for every child, but the failure of the parent is not the failure of the CD worker or the child. Every parent is given the same situation to turn it around and given many resources to do so. Alas, after an extended period of time of the parent not doing as they are told, the CD workers job becomes harder and termination of parental rights (TPR) is started. TPR is where the parent will have to go in front of a judge and that judge will determine if it is in the best interest of the child to keep being placed with the parent who is not willing or cannot straighten up.
The CD worker must follow the mandates of the state and of the judge when dealing with these families in their time of distress. They must help the biological parents to get their act together in order to have reunification with their children. The worker must also work with the foster care families to help them help the children and to make sure the foster families are doing okay. On top of all of that, with budget cuts and more unfunded mandates, these workers have to do more and more with less and less. In tonight’s class, one couple stated the county they live in are having a lot of problems with funding and cannot do the home visits often enough to get new foster families approved.
Another topic brought up in tonight’s class was about the profession team that is established once the child is removed from the home. This team consists of the CD worker, CASA workers, foster parents, teachers, doctors, mental health workers, the biological parents, and etc. These people are working for the reunification. We talked specifically about the role of the foster parent, because that is what the class is for. As a psychologist, I have been a part of these professional teams. I have seen the parents who have done what they needed to do and I have seen the opposite. This team has the decision to make recommendations to the judge, who usually takes the recommendations of the team. The responsibility of this team is tremendous because it is affecting the life of the child. The role of the foster parent on these teams is even greater because they are seeing the child everyday and the parent-child interactions when visits are happening.
Tonight, we watched a lot of video scenarios depicting children in the foster care system. These videos are old and out of style, but are still relevant to the concerns of foster parents, children, CD workers, and others. They are boring I must admit. What keeps me motivated is I know it is a necessary evil to get the license to become a foster care provider and help these children.
In every class, I have ever been in there are those students who can just talk and talk about nothing of importance. This class is no difference. I question some of these people on their effectiveness of becoming a foster care family, but most I do not question their heart. There are a couple in this class I do wonder about.
If you decide to take on this endeavor and I hope you do, be prepared that not everyone has the same attitude about becoming a good foster parent. They may be doing it for some other reason. If it is for the money, that is not for the right reason. If they are doing because they want to help others and it makes them feel good to do so, you have a potential winner as a foster family. No money or credit card can give you the enjoyment of helping these children. The rate of return on this investment (ROI) is greater than any IRA or stock you could ever buy.
I hope this article has provided you with valuable information that will help you decide if becoming a foster parent is right for you. I hope it encourages you to become a foster parent. Feel free to leave any comment or question you may have. Make today and everyday a great day.
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