No place to go: Foster care system can’t keep pace with kids in need

NO VACANCY: Despite the efforts of state, county, and private social service organizations, a shortage of foster care homes and facilities is creating a housing crisis as more children in need enter the foster system. Photo courtesy of CARING For Children.

Imagine someone coming to your home in the middle of the night, handing you a box the size of a milk crate and telling you to pack whatever you can fit into it — you’re going with them. They take you to a stranger’s house to live, and there’s no telling when you’ll see your family again.

Or a juvenile court judge asks why you’re skipping school, and you tell him bluntly that your family lives in a van; you have no place to eat, sleep or shower; and school is just not a priority.

For thousands of children in Western North Carolina, this is reality. As of March 31, there were 2,386 kids in foster care in the 28 western counties, according to Fostering Court Improvement, a nonprofit that makes official state data more readily available.

And while innovative agencies and evolving state standards are making strides in streamlining the system and reuniting families, the available resources can’t keep up with the growing numbers of children needing foster care.

Buncombe County currently has 288 children in foster care — about 2 percent of the total child population, reports Angie Pittman, Buncombe county’s social work services director. In the state’s 100 counties, there were 14,831 children in the system last year, according to the N.C. Division of Social Services.

Several WNC counties are in the top 10 for their rates of foster care placements. Mitchell County leads the state with 151 per 10,000, though this is a projection, since there are only 2,979 children in the county. And Buncombe’s placement rate (44 children per 10,000) lands it in the top third statewide, according to Fostering Court Improvement. The state average is 32 per 10,000.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story, notes Renaye Owen, foster care programs coordinator at CARING for Children. “That’s only measuring Department of Social Services cases,” says Owen, who’s worked in the field for 20 years. “You can maybe not double that, but it’s pretty close.” Those statistics, she explains, don’t include things like guardian-requested foster services, juvenile detention rates and preventive services administered before the DSS steps in.

Meanwhile, the need continues to grow, while the number of local foster homes has remained stagnant, notes Pittman. Buncombe County Health & Human Services, she says, “has 85 family foster homes, and we work with child-placing agencies who also have homes available, but that’s still not enough.”

At the Black Mountain Home for Children, Youth & Families, “There’s been a year-on-year increase of children entering care since 2008,” says Foster Care Coordinator Alex Williams. “Since January 2013, we’ve had to turn away over 270 children due to lack of beds and homes.”

“I don’t think there’s one particular reason” for the increase, says Williams. “Wider social issues ultimately result in children being in unsafe home situations,” she continues. And unless systematic family cycles are broken, “Children will find themselves becoming a part of them.”

Owen says aftershocks from the Great Recession are contributing to the growing gap. “I hear all the time that things are getting better, but the jobs are very low-paying, and the cost of living here is very high.” Many working-class families, she notes, have already tapped out their resources, and cuts to things like day care vouchers have left some parents feeling desperate. “They may become drinkers or start doing drugs to make themselves feel better, or they’re fighting over money, and domestic violence gets involved.”

Uncertain journey

A child’s journey through the system begins when a social worker, responding to a report of abuse or neglect, tells a judge the child’s in imminent danger, Pittman explains. The judge decides whether the child will be temporarily placed with a relative or family friend or in foster care until the parent or guardian resolves the issues triggering the removal.

Facilities like the Black Mountain Home typically offer both residential care and temporary foster placement. The home, which has served orphaned and abused children and young adults in Western North Carolina since 1904, admits more than 100 children annually, partnering with local churches and organizations such as CARING for Children.

“Our program has four main elements: foster care, residential care, transitional living and independent living,” says Williams. There are four family-style cottages, plus separate facilities for siblings, teenage boys and girls, and a transitional living house for those about to re-enter the broader world.

For those who’ve aged out of the system, “Our independent living program enables them to stay connected to a support structure,” giving them “a greater opportunity to be successful in their young adulthood.”

Besides handling DSS-managed cases, CARING for Children, a nonprofit with a 40-year track record, offers residential group home care in Buncombe and Burke counties, a transitional group home for girls aging out of the system, Trinity Place (WNC’s only shelter for runaways), and outpatient counseling for both children and parents, says Director of Development Terri Bowman. The current focus, she notes, is expanding services in McDowell and Burke counties while continuing to serve Buncombe, Haywood, Madison and Henderson.

Still, Owen says her organization “turns down about 20 kids a week — and I have the referral stack to prove it.”

A normal life

South Asheville native Stacey Polk experienced this logjam firsthand when she turned up on the doorstep of Trinity Place in 1995. Her family, she explains, “was living in a van at the time; we were literally homeless.”

She lived with her grandmother off and on, but a volatile relationship drove her to seek a more stable environment. “My grandmother would kick me and my siblings out regularly,” remembers Polk. “She identified us with our [absentee] mother and held that against the children.”

Eventually, Polk took it upon herself to go to Trinity: “I wanted a family. I wanted to be a normal kid with a normal life, and to live somewhere where I’m not kicked out every other day.”

But while Owen sought a suitable placement for Polk, the troubled teen had to keep cycling in and out of Trinity Place. “You can stay for 28 days, then you have to leave for 24 to 48 hours before you can come back,” Polk explains. “All the while, Renaye was looking for a place for me.” When she couldn’t be at Trinity, Polk stayed with friends or her grandmother.

Renaye Owen. Photo courtesy of Caring For Children.
PILING UP: Renaye Owen, Foster Care Coordinator for CARING For Children and foster parent for more than 40 years, says that her organization is forced to turn away “twenty children a week” due to the shortage of available foster homes. Photo courtesy of Caring For Children.

Many barriers

Potential foster parents face their own daunting challenges.

“When these kids come in, they’re angry: They’ve been hurt by the people they trust,” notes Owen. “Whether they’ve been physically or sexually abused or totally neglected, you have to have the nuturance, the tolerance, the structure and security to deal with that.”

Williams, too, stresses the importance of empathy. “Any child who’s in care has gone through some trauma,” she says. “A big role for foster parents is helping children learn to trust that adults around them do care for them and have their best interests at heart.”

But foster parents, says Owen, also have to have a thick skin. “They could come in and tear your house apart, and nobody’s going to fix that for you. You have to be OK with that.”

To get licensed, foster parents must undergo about six months of training, including introductory sessions, home inspections, and basic first aid and CPR certifications. Classes in the Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting emphasize “the trauma that children in foster care have experienced and how to respond to it in ways that support the child and family,” says Pittman.

CARING for Children’s program also incorporates the “Together Facing the Challenge” model, based on a study out of Duke University. And families can indicate what types of children they’ll accept, Owen explains.

Potential foster homes are vetted to ensure compliance with the state’s tightened housing standards. Homes must now pass a fire and safety inspection involving everything from electrical configurations to proximity to water sources, says Executive Director John Lauterbach.

“If there’s a stream or pond a half-mile from your house, you have to make sure there’s a fence between your house and that pond,” says Owen; such requirements, she notes, can impose financial burdens that deter some prospective foster parents.

Meanwhile, the parents themselves must undergo background checks, a review of medical records and up to 10 hours of deeply personal interviews.

“That stops a lot of people right there,” says Owen, adding that only about three out of 10 applicants complete the evaluation process. “I have specific questions: Have you ever been sexually molested? Have you ever been raped? I’m going all the way into your world: all the dirty little secrets you didn’t want to tell anybody.”

Misconceptions about foster care requirements are yet another barrier. “People believe you have to be married,” says Owen. “You don’t. You can be single, you can have roommates, you can have pretty much any lifestyle, as long as it’s safe for children.” The nonprofit’s roster, she adds, includes many gay and lesbian couples as well as older couples on Social Security and families living in apartments.

“We have no single male foster parents in our system,” Owen says wistfully, “which is sad, because I think a lot of men out there could be great foster parents, and there’s a lot of boys who need a male role model.”

Xpress has profiled some of the foster parents working in CARING For Children’s network in an online feature, “Faces of foster care.”

Perhaps the biggest requirement, says Bowman, is simply having “room in your heart … and tolerance for people who are going to come in frustrated. You have to make them understand that it’s safe.”

Testing the limits

Polk remained based at Trinity Place for several months. Eventually, Owen “found a single attorney who’d never had kids of her own,” Polk recalls. “She wasn’t sure, because it was short-term, but something kept making her come back.”

Polk, though, wasn’t being picky. “I thought, OK, for six months I have somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat: I’m happy.” Her new guardian “said the door would never be locked, but there would be consequences for breaking the rules. So of course I put her to the test.”

Polk says she would leave for several days at a time, or throw parties when her foster mother was out of town. “I was testing the waters to see how true she would be, because the people in my life who I expected to take care of me didn’t. There were some trying times for both of us.”

Such circumstances increase the risk of foster parents simply burning out. “When you’re bringing kids into your home and working to teach them the skills they need to succeed, it takes a toll,” says Lauterbach. “If foster parents don’t think they’re able to give it 1,000 percent, they just won’t do it, and that’s one less slot available for a kid.”

In addition, notes Owen, foster parents often become the target of upset neighbors or vengeful relatives of the child. “Somebody gets mad at them and calls DSS, who does an investigation,” Owen explains, adding that few of those anonymous tips are ever substantiated. “These folks are trying to help a child find a place to live and be stable, and people are bashing them. Families just get tired of that.”

Support for foster parents

To combat feelings of isolation and fatigue, CARING for Children provides weekly home visits, a 24-hour support hotline, and monthly training and networking events.

“We hold picnics and holiday parties to get the parents together,” says Owen, a foster parent for 20 years before going to work for the nonprofit. “This allows them to talk about some of the issues they’re having.”

In addition, “When somebody new comes in, I hook them up with somebody who can answer questions they might think are too stupid to ask me” and offer positive feedback and advice.

Over the past two decades, the state has both tightened financial requirements for foster parents and increased the monthly stipends they receive. In the mid-1990s, remembers Owen, she was getting about $140 a month to provide for two children.

Monthly stipends vary from agency to agency, but the current state recommendations range from $475 to $634 per child, depending on their age, with supplemental payments in some cases. Organizations like CARING for Children sometimes provide additional funds.

“We make sure the kid can play football, go to the prom or have swim lessons,” Owen explains. “They used to be treated like a poor orphan; today it’s more like they’re just a kid trying to make it in the world.”

Reuniting families

Nonetheless, says Pittman, “Our primary goal in almost all cases is reunification.” Last year, for example, 141 Buncombe County children in foster care — 65.4 percent — were either reunited with their birth parents or permanently adopted, she notes.

Williams, too, says, “Reunification is always the first goal,” though the Black Mountain Home also supports foster parents’ attempts to adopt children who’ve been with them a long time.

For reunification to succeed, however, biological parents’ issues must be addressed. “We have to acknowledge that the vast majority of the parents of children in care were once children living in the same kind of dysfunctional homes that our children are now being removed from,” stresses Williams.

Owen agrees. CARING for Children, she says, “works with therapists, the foster parents, Helpmate” and other organizations. The team makes recommendations and counsels the parents, after which the child temporarily returns home. The home is monitored during the stay, and the family’s progress is evaluated, says Owen. “We find out how things went and work on whatever skills we need to.”

Meanwhile, CARING for Children’s Angels Watch program aims to pre-empt DSS removals. Open to kids up to 6 years old (10 if multiple children are involved), the program gives parents a temporary respite without worrying about permanently losing custody.

“Sometimes a family just runs up against hard times,” says Bowman. “Angels Watch helps them get back on their feet.” The child is placed with a trained foster family for up to 90 days while the program helps parents access needed services and execute a game plan for recovery.

“There’s always open lines of communication between the parent and the foster parent,” Bowman explains, adding that the two parties often form a mutually supportive relationship. Black Mountain Home uses a similar strategy to help families get back on track.

“By preventing those kids from going into foster care or the DSS system and that family from self-destructing,” says Owen, “you’re preventing years and years of a kid’s life being altered.”

 

SYSTEM OF SUPPORT: Stacey Polk (right) entered the foster care system in her early teens. She credits CARING For Children and Renaye Owen for placing her with her long-term foster mother and "literally sav[ing] my life." Photo by Max Hunt
SYSTEM OF SUPPORT: Stacey Polk (right) entered the foster care system in her early teens. She credits CARING For Children and Renaye Owen for placing her with her long-term foster mother and “literally sav[ing] my life.” Polk is pictured here with Owen and foster parent Teresa McMinn (center) at a recent CARING For Children picnic. Photo by Max Hunt

‘What can I do?’

To create more foster homes, both the DSS and private groups are ramping up recruitment efforts. Pittman cites Buncombe County’s “I Can Do That for a Child” campaign, launched last year, as well as a bevy of print and radio announcements.

“We have a ‘Foster Our Future’ Facebook group,” she adds. “Anything we can do to encourage people to think about their capacity to foster.”

Boosting awareness, continues Pittman, is key. “We think there are more people in our county who could step up and provide safety and stability to a child that needs it.”

Bowman urges residents to attend informational meetings “just to see if it’s a near fit,” since people typically consider becoming a foster parent for several years before committing. “You have to break down some of those preconceptions, think about it and decide that you do want to go ahead.”

“If each church in the general Buncombe/Henderson/Transylvania/Haywood County area could challenge, motivate and help support five to 10 families to become foster parents, every single child in WNC would have a home,” notes Williams. “Instead of saying, ‘How awful!’ say, ‘What can I do?’ Not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help in some way.”

Pittman suggests making a donation to the county’s foster child wish list (see box, “How You Can Help”). CARING for Children, too, needs financial support. “Things like Angels Watch are privately funded,” notes Bowman. “If the money runs out, we have to start turning kids away.”

Owen, meanwhile, cites other ways to enhance a child’s quality of life. “We have kids that sit in our office all day during the summertime. It’d be nice if we had somebody who’d come down and play checkers or read a book with them.” Short of that, she continues, “Send birthday cards to the office, so we can pass them on to the kids. Let them know that at least somebody out there in the world is thinking about them.”

Giving kids a chance

Despite the many challenges, Owen feels progress has been made. “I know people hear horror stories, but to be honest, kids are really coming out OK from this.”

Fostering, she concedes, can be difficult. “You don’t get instant gratification: It comes way later. But when you get a phone call saying this kid is graduating in June, it’s like, ‘Whoa!’”

And Williams, citing the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child,” says, “I would like to see WNC step up to this huge need and be a national leader in communities coming together, working in partnership and caring for children, youth and families who need love and support.”

Stacey Polk is living proof that all the hard work can pay off. Twenty years later, her foster mother “is my mom in every sense of the word,” says Polk. “She’s the only grandmother my daughter’s ever known.”

Those experiences have also left her better equipped to handle whatever the future may bring. “If I go through anything, my mom tells me, ‘You’ve been through worse,’” notes Polk, who now works as a regional property manager. “If I had to go back to being homeless, I could, because I’ve done it. Most people can’t say that.”

These days, she continues, “Life is pretty good. If it hadn’t been for CARING for Children, I don’t know where I’d be: They literally saved my life.”

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About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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18 thoughts on “No place to go: Foster care system can’t keep pace with kids in need

  1. Marilyn Yamamoto

    I picked ONE statement from this article to discuss. “any child who comes into foster care has suffered trauma”. I would question that, given that so many children are removed from not only good homes, but not so bad homes. The trauma comes with the removal itself. Please research the child protection agency and look hard into the fact that child protection is about parent guilt before innocence and that removals are based upon prediction of future abuse.

    • Max Hunt

      Hi Marilyn,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that removal does cause a certain amount of trauma, as I alluded to in the introduction, but I do wonder what you mean by “a not so bad home”? that seems difficult to quantify, at best. I would also say that many agencies have preventative measures that try to address issues with parents/children before HHS gets involved. And sometimes, a parent voluntarily allows a child to enter therapeutic care if they are having a hard time providing what that child needs. So I would argue that it is not about parent guilt, but a child’s welfare.

  2. Jesus

    Their are no incentives to reunite families but tons for removing children & foster to adoption.

    • Max Hunt

      That contradicts everything that I was told by both public and private agencies in the field. Please provide an example of your claims.

    • MsLily88

      That is not true. I have been working with the foster system for more than 10 years and I’ve watched how the children suffer with false hope of going home because parents won’t try to complete the reunification plan to get their children back into their homes. There are many support programs including free counseling, health care, and financial programs to help families to reunite. Getting your children back should be the incentive–and using the programs available to make it happen. The courts go to great length to allow time, extensions-etc for the parents to complete the plan before a child is deemed adoptable. These are facts!

      • MsLily88

        Just FYI–I am not a Social Worker or any state employee. I am a product of the foster system 40 yrs ago. I am a Guardian ad Litem (court representative for a child in foster care), and I started an agency that supports the children in foster care in my county.

        • Skae

          I applaud you! Thank You for truly caring & loving the children and their best welfare. God Bless you-

  3. That would be your first mistake, relying on information coming from the system itself. A simple Google search will reveal thousands of sources for CPS abuse and corruption. The financial incentives for keeping children in foster”care” or fast track adoption is much greater than the incentive to reunite kidnapped children with their families.

    • Max Hunt

      Hi LeAnn,
      Thank you for your input on this topic. I agree that there is definitely a history of ineffectiveness and corruption in various cases of CPS. I would argue however that to say that all child protective services are corrupt is a bit of a generalization. As with any public agency, cases of corruption will inevitably come to light, and it’s very important that they do, as this helps to reform the system and point out problem areas.

      Based on my research on this topic, there are also many good people working in the system who do care about the welfare of the child. I’m not sure exactly which “financial incentives” you’re referring to, but the idea that foster parents or agencies are raking in money is not the perception I got from my research. In fact, it was quite the opposite, when you factor in the cost of providing a stable, healthy environment for children who are often-times dealing with psychological and physical trauma that requires a lot of attention.

      And if there is such rampant corruption in the foster care system, wouldn’t that just be more incentive for those who want to change the status quo to get involved in foster care issues?

  4. Aileen

    This article was very informative and well written. The writer most certainly addresses a majority of the issues that I will have to say almost every single state within this country faces when it comes to the Welfare of Children and Families. I think the hardest decision to make when it comes to the Welfare of a child is the fact of the amount of psychological trauma that can or will be caused upon removal of that child from the place they have called home all their lives!!! I understand what Marilyn Yamamoto i getting at when she wrote in her comment “so many children are removed from not only good homes, but not so bad homes” What she is getting at and what a lot of people who have had the unfortunate experience where they have been involved with a DCF Social worker with a Personal Agenda. And or an Area DCF office with a supervisor who also has their own Personal Agenda. Where these Individuals no longer support the State mandated DCF Regulations when it comes to the decisions of the When, Why, How, and Who will remove a child from a loving family that has been falsely reported or has suddenly fallen on hard times and might need a little bit of help as in Social Services, But not the removal of any child. Yet these individuals due to the Fact that they are now working in support of their own agenda will make such a vital LIFE CHANGING decision which is clearly NOT in the best interest of the child’s Safety and Welfare. And that parent(s) or that family has no legal recourse due to financial hardship or other hardships that have occurred or the fact that they are just being screwed by a system that this individual DCF Social Worker absolutely knows how to manipulate for their own financial gain.

    This is where the system starts to break down. In every single state in this country there are horror stories of DCF kidnapping and doing what basically amounts to auctioning off babies to the top bidders in their nice little list of Adoption ready parents. And they know all the Judges who will pass those orders of Adoption based solely on their recommendation and never hear a word the parent or family member will have to say. And this is so very Wrong. But this is what happens in State Run Child Welfare Organizations or any Organization that take the steps and decides that children should be a financial commodity.

    The Organizations mentioned in this article CARING for Children and Black Mountain Home for Children, Youth & Families, are both non profit organizations. Now I’m not saying that every nonprofit organization working in the Child Welfare business is perfect. But with a 40 year track record in this area of State Social services is VERY IMPRESSIVE to say the least. And to read what these organizations are actually accomplishing to me sound really FANTASTIC.. If I lived in the area that these two organization operate out of I most certainly would call and offer my services to them. They sound a hell of a lot more trust worthy that any DCF I have ever encountered!!!

    The States need to stop pouring good taxpayer money after bad with the continual support of the DCF departments within each state. Child Welfare, Reunification and The Preservation of Families should be turned over to non profit organizations that are run by people who have proven track records in the field of Family reunification, Family preservation and Child Welfare and Safety! In other words Non Profit organizations that are run by individuals who actually like and want to do their job. Who want to make a positive change socially in the life of a child and or that childs family! Who do not believe that Children are a financial commodity in this county!!!

    Too much power is given to the DCF State Social Workers. Or given to any one person who will be, just by the nature of their position, the catalyst of trauma and devastation in a child’s lifetime or the ruination of an entire family unit. When one Social Worker can snatch an infant from a hospital or a child from a school and remove and hide that infant or child from their parent(s)/home, based on something they heard or the fact that this DCF SOCIAL WORKER said they did an investigation and through that investigation they found that the child was in immediate danger of some greater harm. SO they take this baby or child and place it with a pre-adoptive family then this DCF Social Worker will go before a judge (One they know on a first name basis) and have that judge sign an emergency removal order. And BOOM there goes that child or infant. And with the way the system works or with the way that Social Worker knows how to manipulate the system to work in her favor. You can bet that the parents of the infant or child will NEVER get that child back. That child will end up adopted. NO ONE in any state should ever have that kind of POWER!!!

    Too many juvenile judges are not active enough when making life altering decisions that pertain to infants and children. A parent’s rights should always be looked upon as sacred. And Yes I do understand that there are some people out there who honestly should not be allowed the awesome responsibility of another human’s life, such as that of an infant or child. But None of us are perfect because we are all humans!!! And given that fact that we are all human we all have the ability to learn.

    The cheapest way to deal with bad parenting or a bad family is to think you have destroyed it by removing the child or children, it may also seem that is the cheapest and easiest way to deal with child neglect and abuse!!!! But it isn’t. Those individuals who created those little human beings can make more of those human beings and no one will know about the new ones when that family moves away to a new state. But if they move from the state you live in then it really isn’t your problem any more. RIGHT??? No Thats WRONG. It is a human problem. That is the whole meaning behind the statement “Ignorance is Bliss” When a family is identified as “In need of Social Services”. Then that is what should be given to that family if it means the preservation of that family unit. Educating and teaching people family values is a more permanent solution to slowing the growth of abused and neglected children throughout all generation!!!!

    I know this because I know for a fact that “CHILDREN DO LEARN BY WHAT THEY LIVE!!!!!” And if we can instill this fact into every parent to be or current parents brain. I for one believe we will have a real chance of actually bringing down the percentage levels of abused and neglected children in this country to single digit values!!!

    I also believe that every parent in this country, no matter what type of parent you are ( as in Grandparent, Step parent ….) should all be working to CLOSE every single State DCF agency that has the ability to kidnap or snatch a child from their home with a Judges order. And who have the ability to keep that child and adopt that child out to whomever they feel would make a better parent to that infant or child. It is a VERY SCARY COUNTRY we LIVE IN when there are people in this Country who can in the blink of an eye, take away all your PARENTAL RIGHTS!!!!

  5. Max, you missed Eliada! Eliada has 45 foster families in the community and 46 kids living on campus, including kids 17-21 aging out of the system, and we’ve been here 113 years, longer even than DSS. I’m going to have to send you Corn Maze tickets so you will come and visit.

    Tami Ruckman, Director of Development

  6. Aileen, I really like what you said in your long post! May I quote it? If so, what name should I use for you? Thank you, Stacy, NYS therapeutic foster parent

  7. Max Hunt

    Thank you to everyone who’s provided their perspective and opinion on this topic. Foster care is a complex issue with many factors at play, and no case is the same as another. Whether you agree with the way the current system works or are opposed to aspects of it, I think it’s safe to say that having an open conversation about the foster care system and how we as a community can improve it is a good thing.

    Thank you all for your contributions to the discussion!

  8. jane roe

    The nonprofit does seem like an improvement but the assumption u are portaying is that these children R abused or neglected B4 being taken into care which in MANY cases is simply not true. I know because my mom was not abusive jusy disabled but i was still removed

    • Max Hunt

      Hi Jane, Thank you for your thoughts on this topic and for sharing your personal story. There are definitely cases throughout the country where one can point to flaws in the foster care system, and I’m sorry to hear that your own personal experience seems like one of those cases. Part of this issue, which I think I touched on, is that foster care is an evolving system, and organizations in both the private and public sector are striving to make reforms and evolve to better serve each individual case.

      For example, CARING For Children does offer a respite program that allows a temporary foster placement (voluntary as well) which allows a parent or guardian time to recover from physical ailments and devise a strategy, working with social workers and medical professionals, to figure out the best way to effectively care for a child while dealing with something like a disability. The ultimate goal of this program is reunification, and the temporary respite allows the guardian to work out an effective strategy before a DSS/DHS agency steps in, allowing families to stay together and work out an issue without having to go through government channels.

      You raise an important point that every foster care case is different, and I don’t think that anyone would argue that there is a “fix-all” solution. As agencies and organizations continue to evolve their services and programs, I believe that they will continue to fine-tune the system to serve each case to the best of their abilities, with the end goal of finding a solution that works best for the child and family and which strives to keep family units intact.

  9. I am currently going through a dss case where my kids are in foster care an honestly i think the system is very broken maybe some are good but all i have experienced isthese people who try to traumatize my children more an more an than they wonder why my children are shutting down an acting out. Dss is supposed to be put in families lives to help reunite families not tear them apart. I have 5 beautiful children who do great in school are pretty well behaved for the most part but agian it is 5 kids we are talkin about an they can be a handful sometimes but they are my little handfuls. I love my children an want them home i do not think seperating them an adopting them out is ok they are siblings an need each other an i think Dss just doesnt care how many lives they are ruining an what that childs life is goin to be like in homes an therapy for the rest of there childhood all because they are just doin there so called jobs an passing judgementl. When instead they could have helped the family with services to reunite an be a stronge family an overcomethis traumatic an sad time in there life

  10. I’m sorry if anyone misunderstood where I stand. My case is not an isolated incident of social worker ineptitude. Yes, my mother was discriminated against simply because she was in a wheelchair. But that is only the start of the story. I was placed in a home where I was abused for 13 years. My Social Workers stated and I quote “I don’t give a flying rip what happens to her,” referring to me. I was placed in juvenile hall while my abuser was never punished. My point is the whole system is flawed. Parents cannot meet the requirements for reunification not because they don’t want to or are drug addicts(10 %) but because of income and education limitations that hinder them from EVER becoming successful. These limitations only prove that they are poor not that they are abusive. The main problem with the system is that common ordinary everyday citizens and social workers cannot tell the difference between poverty and neglect. Its not that these parents don’t want a better house(50%) or a better job(25%)/ income but they have no way of achieving it.

  11. Lonnet A Roddy

    There is a great need for fostering. I have been a foster parent for several years, moved to NC a year ago from KY, I am still certified and wanted to transfer here. NC, says I have to start all over. I can u understand new background checks and fingerprints, but all the classes again? NC, makes it very hard to do what I love!

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