Monday, October 19, 2009

Survey Results

Responses keep coming in. It's interesting to know that this is floating around out there on the internet still, from over a year ago when I first posted it.

There's no one clear answer (shocking, right) but there's some interesting tidbits to report, as I approach 100 respondents.

First, almost all of the respondents were current or former foster parents, with 8 foster care professionals and 1 former foster child.

60% say that foster care slightly or significantly reduces the liklihood of physical harm to the child.

56% say it slightly or significantly increases the liklihood of emotional harm to the child (18% netural, only 26% say it reduces liklihood of emotional harm).

Divided across the board on whether it increases or decreases the stability of the child's life or of child's healthy attachments.


The two biggest weaknesses of the system were reported to be:
Good flow of information among birth parents, case workers, and foster parents
Retention of good case workers

The two biggest strengths were reported as:
Children receive necessary therapeutic services while in foster care
Birth parents treated with respect

Of the items listed as possible weaknesses or strengths within a given foster system, five were clearly rated as weaknesses and two as successes (others were ties).


When asked how they would change the foster system, here's how the options given are ranked after all the current votes:
1- Clearly defined standards for birth families to meet in order for child to be returned
2 - Enforcement of Federal ASFA (Adoption and Safe Families Act) rules for permanency
3 - Increased communication between case workers and foster parents
4 - Follow-up supervision and services for families after reunification
5 - Law Guardians/Guardians Ad Litem fulfill their duties as child's advocate
6 - All case workers in the foster care system required to receive MAPP training
7 - Family Court judges required to receive MAPP training
8 - Better pay for foster care professionals

The most common suggestion under "other" was to increase/improve services offered to families to prevent removal in the first place.
(I should've thought of that! :)


So, dear readers, if any of you do remain on this neglected little blog, what do you think I should do with these stats and the comments people have left?
Should I try to do more publicity and get more responses?
Should I try to get a more public venue to report this?

There are about 25 people willing to talk about their experiences publicly, too.

I was just reading a bit on Pound Pup Legacy which I had never encountered before, and there's a desire there to get better media coverage for the disaster that is the Child Welfare System. Which is my goal as well, in the hopes that media coverage leads to improvements (though with such beaurocratic agencies, it's far from a sure thing).

I am reminded of this because Dawn's blog (This Woman's Work is up for a contest for "Best Adoption Blog" and it really IS one of the best. Talks about adoption without hiding from reality and making things pretty, with deep analysis and willingness to learn. And is written well. So I was poking around there, though I don't keep current with it. And was reminded of the ridiculousness that is the foster system and my desire to do "something" about it, though I don't know what that something is.

I do have a friend who's a statistician and would probably rip holes in my methods of surveying, but could also help me figure out the best way to present my results.

Ok... what do you think? Interesting results at all? Are you surprised by them? Do you have any additional burning questions for future potential survey takers? Would you re-post the survey link on your blog or facebook or whatever if you have a community of foster parents/case-workers/kids/etc who read it? Should I just let it go?

Hope things are going as well as they can in all your corners of the universe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Will Mother's Day always be bittersweet?

The first Mother's Day that we had Squeak, we had Niblet visiting with us, as well. The 4 of us galavanted around town and had a great time. It's a time I think about when I imagine what it would have been like if she'd come back to us.

Niblet's 4th birthday was recently. I can't imagine what she must be like now. I hope she's talking up a storm. We never really heard her talk. She had a few words by the time she left us at 18 months old, and a couple more a year later, but we never heard her say sentences or really express any feelings or anything. Although she was a wonderful little person, we lost contact with her before she came into her personhood. I hope she has it now. As far as we know, she's still with her good family members and I hope they've TPRed her parents by now. She could be adopted and have a mother, father and 2 older, doting, brothers. That would be great.

But still, I mourn. She is my daughter. As much as her birthmother (even more, some would argue), I am her mother. I don't know if I wish for her to remember us, or for her family to tell her about her time in foster care, but even if she never knows, I know we are a part of who she is and I will always miss her with each passing year.

A while ago, I happened to catch sight of Niblet's birthparents waiting for a bus. Her mother was, as far as I could tell from my drive-by view, very pregnant. I have no idea if I was right, or what happened to that baby. It drove home how much is still uncertain for Niblet and how many children there are out there who are in danger or living in horrible situations. At the time I didn't know whether to hope that the baby was born addicted and taken away then, or to hope that the parents were getting help and managing to keep things together for the little one. This time. That second option doesn't stick with me very long. Because the thing about good parenting is that you have to do it forever. And I don't trust those people with a child. At. All. I'm left with the hope that the kid will get hurt like Niblet did - enough for a removal, but not enough to cause permanent damage (whatever that means).

I guess my thoughts are just all over the place. Even though we're not doing fostercare anymore, and at this point we're considering not even adopting again at all, (since Squeak is awesome enough!), I wanted to reach out there and let you guys that, at least at Chez FosterMoms, fostering is still taking a toll.

I just hope that my little girl is enjoying life to the fullest and that Mother's Day and her birthday fill her only with feelings of love and joy.