Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The System Today

In my real-life travels recently I ran into a staff from a residential placement run by one of our states large foster care contractors. We had a chat about what it is like to grow up and work in the system. This staff member brought up several things they found troubling about the system as it is today.

It is troubling that in our state there is no avenue to separate kids who enter the system via different avenues. So, as it was in my day…we house kids who come into the system through the juvenile justice system, with those who are severely mentally ill, with those who were abused and neglected, with those who have run of the mill “family problems”. This means that today, just like in my day we can have a child who came into the system for “family problems” walking to school every day with someone who was convicted of beating someone to death with a baseball bat…just like I did my 9th grade year. Or rooming with a 12 year old who was turned out on the streets as a prostitute by a drug addicted mother who is constantly running away back to the life she knows and loves, and bringing lice, crabs and a very foul smelling STD with her upon her return. Yep, I have known and loved a few of those.

And well, the point is…those aren’t really the kind of influences most of us would want for our kids.

They went on to say that studies show (I haven’t had a chance to verify this but I totally believe it on face value) kids who come into care thru the juvenile justice system fare much better in life than those of who come in for the generic “family problems” or for abuse and neglect. This to me makes a strange twisted bit of sense to me one is better off a criminal with family ties, than “rescued” from abuse or neglect without.

And to add insult to all that is tragic, I was told that when kids leave placements in this day and age and attempt to  reach out to staff once they have moved on to the next place, or age out of the foster care system those staff whom these wayward, connectionless kids have formed bonds with those staff are not allowed to have contact with them…even over the phone.

We need to do better by our kids. We need to stop to think before we dump a mildly troubled child into a situation which will only make tings worse. We need to tell adoptive and foster parents the truth about how much work and sacrifice caring for hurt kids really takes. We need to allow kids to form bonds with stable and compassionate adults…even when they are not the “right” ones.

Please vote to keep To Tell The Truth – Please Stand Up  in the top 25 at Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms – 2012

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