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.

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

The two biggest strengths were reported as:
Children receive necessary therapeutic services while in foster care
and
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 http://poundpuplegacy.org/ 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 http://www.thiswomanswork.com/) 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?

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

15 comments:

Divotdawg said...

I found your blog in a Google Alert and I'm going to respond from a parental rights advocate's point of view as well as a biological parent who CPS screwed to the wall. I hope you will post or publish my comments. However, it may take several different posts to say all that I want to say.

CPS has gotten completely out of control and corrupt ever since ASFA (the adoption and safe families act) was signed into law. Reunification efforts are a joke because there is no federal bonus money or Title IV-E funding when a child is returned to their natural parents or when placed in kinship care. The state of North Carolina made $85,000 in federal adoption bonus money off the adoption of just one child. They made a little over $70,000 on another. That's not to mention the Title IV-E funding. Also, it used to be that money given to foster parents stops on the day of adoption but that's no longer the case. They will continue to receive paychecks each month even after being adopted plus the Title IV-E funds, Medicaid, food stamps and WIC. Some will even receive social security income or SSI. They're trying now to pass a law that would allow adoptive parents to continue to receive these paychecks and incentives until the child turns 21. This is to keep the children from being kicked out of the home on their 18th birthday.

Having said that, every foster parent always screams that they don't do it for the money but they do it for love! Well, if that's the case then WHY do we need to extend paychecks for another 4 years so that they don't get kicked out of the home? If they're loved, they would never be sent out into the world with no place to go, no money, no job, nothing. That right there should tell the world just how corrupt both CPS and the foster care system really is.

To be continued...

Divotdawg said...

Continued...

Also, CPS gives bio parents a limited amount of time in which to complete any classes or services they're required to do in order to regain custody of their children yet they delay these services for 6 months or longer, dooming the parents to fail. Children are not being placed in kinship care as mandated by law simply because there is no money in that unless the relatives get approved as foster care providers. Again, there's no money in it for CPS so they're not going to do that.

Another major issue I have is that so many children are being badly abused, neglected, raped, sodomized, go missing and even killed while in foster care. Google Hassani Campbell, a 5 year old disabled boy who has been missing for about 2 months. He went missing just one week after his foster dad said that he was going to drop him off somewhere. The parents were arrested and charged with murder but for some reason were let go. Google Gabriel Meyers. He's the 7 year old boy in Florida who hanged himself after being placed on 3 powerful anti-psychotics known to cause suicide in children while in foster care.

CPS also fails to protect many children on all levels. They're allowed to remain in truly abusive homes all because CPS does not find them marketable. One such case is a 12 year old girl starved to death by her mother. She weighed 28 pounds (approximately) when she died. CPS claimed to have visited the home on numerous occasions but if they did, then how did they not notice that this child was being starved? They falsified papers stating they'd made home visits but to me it would have been better to just say that she fell through the cracks. This was they look complicit in this child's murder! Every day it's something new. Another child has died while in the state's custody.

So there are a lot of problems with how CPS does business. They legally kidnap and sell our children on the foster/adopt market. This is nothing less than child slavery. They don't care what the foster/adopt parents do just so long as they remain in their care so that CPS can keep raking in the money.

One last thing. If money is available to help foster/adopt parents, then it should also be made available to help parents regain custody of their children. As long as there are financial incentives in removing and then adopting them out, nothing will ever get any better. The vast majority of biological parents are not abusive or neglectful but still lose their children only to have them placed in foster homes where they are abused.

Not all fosters are bad (though I believe that most do it for the money, not for love) nor are all bio parents good. They're the minority though. We have to level the playing field and help bio parents out so that they can provide safe, loving homes so that they can be together.

brenkachicka said...

Adoption stipends continue after adoption if the child meets requirements. Our son was considered "hard to place" because he was over the age of two, and we only know 1/4 of his ethnicity and medical history. Once adopted, he does get medical assistance, but we did not utilize that benefit until my husband lost his job and we no longer had medical insurance. WIC and any other benefits were all done on the day of his adoption, until my husband lost his job. Now our son is on WIC because we qualify for it.
I never recieved any food stamp benefits for any of my foster children. I put them on WIC because I believed it would be an excellent resouce for their parents' support when they were reunified.
I would never "kick my child out" on his 18th birthday. I would still adopt even without the stipend or the medical assistance. Let me tell you in these rough time the MA has made a HUGE difference. We are able to continue therapy because of it. The adoption stipend means we have the luxury of things like sports and music lessons. In these tough economic times we would not be able to afford swimming lessons and things like that without it.
Most of my foster kids were reunified within the 6 month goal. One went to kinship after only three days in my care. All but one of my foster kids went back to their parents. The one we adopted - his mom was given a year and a half to complete her service plan. She did not comply. Then in the end she stipulated to permanency. My experience is opposite of what Divotdawg's. Parents were given ample time. My last foster baby we were innitially told that he would join his sister out of state with grandparents by age 4 months. (We got him at 2 days old.) By four months old his parents had made a complete turn around and were taking steps to reunification. I was amazed by their progress. I firmly believe that it is because we had a relationship - the parents and me. They learned from me, did not see me as a threat, but as a support. I became their cheering section as they worked their plan and got their son returned to their care.
I firmly believe that there needs to be a relationship built between the foster parents and the parents. We need to stop pointing fingers and work together to give these children love, support and relationships that will last a lifetime.
I love each child that came through our home. They were each treated as nothing less that a part of our family. Even though we knew they would not be a part of our family forever, while with us they were treated with the same love and respect that my forever children are treated with. All children deserve this.
-Kerry

Divotdawg said...

You're speaking as a foster care provider and not as a biological parent. I'm quite sure that the birth parent's point of views greatly differ from yours. Of course your experience was good...you are a foster care provider.

However, how is it even remotely fair that YOU get this money to raise someone else's child but the birth parent gets squat? If you cannot afford the child, you shouldn't be considered for the job. It's a paycheck to you for raising someone else's child yet poverty is one of the main reasons that children are removed from their homes.

I know a few BPs don't comply with the service plan but the vast majority do and still their rights are terminated. Please don't disrespect me by saying that this does not happene. I lived this so I know differently. Many of my friends experienced the exact same thing. If CPS decides your child is marketable, satan himself wouldn't stand a chance in family court. They legally kidnap and sell our children to foster/adopt care providers. They are out of control and they're dragging the foster care system down with them.

You claim you wouldn't kick them out on their 18th birthday and I have no reason not to believe you but it does prove to me that most foster/adopt parents do it for the money. Otherwise, they wouldn't be needing to extend the monthly paycheck to age 21. So please explain to me WHY I shouldn't believe that the fosters do it for the money! Also, who takes the music lessons? The foster or the bio child in the home? Who gets the nicer gifts on their birthdays and Christmas? Who gets the cheap knock-offs? Who goes to school in hand-me-downs while the bios are dressed to the nines? Who gets warm winter coats and who gets a cheap hoodie jacket, if that?

I have so many BPs who write asking me how they can get nice gifts to their family members who are in foster care. I tell them not to bother cos the fosters will never get them anyway. They'll just be given to the bio children. This isn't conjecture here, I have proof. So yeah, I have issues with the foster care system as well as the foster care providers.

I hope you're one of the good ones cos God knows the vast majority are not.

brenkachicka said...

I am deeply offended that anyone would ever think that I would treat my adopted son in such a manner. He is dressed as nicely as any of my children and gets probably better gifts at Christmas because he is our youngest and a bit spoiled by all his older siblings.
I am sorry you have had such a terrible experience. Please don't paint us all with the same brush. I have advocated for my former foster children's parents. Trust me, I am in it to keep families together. I still maintain contact with my son's birth mom. She made a brave choice when she decided after 14 months in foster care, 18 months with a case open, to let him go.
Your experience differs greatly from what I have encountered. I am sorry for that.
-Kerry

fostermama said...

Divotdawg, you have clearly been through some serious trauma with CPS. I am very sorry for the unfairness you experienced. And I realize that there's plenty of that, unfortunately.

I'm not really sure who to blame for the mess that this system is. I don't think foster parents are to blame (though we have our bad apples). I think there are a lot of crappy CPS workers and a few good ones, but I can't quite blame evne the crappy ones because their training and support systems suck so badly. The blame goes higher than that. The bureaocrats who are far enough away from the real action to not be touched by it, but who pull the strings (and yes, to some degree, reap the profit) need a reality check. I don't know how to make that happen. Even in my local system, much less on a national level.

As a former foster parent who could not have afforded to be one without the stipend, I think the stipend is worthwhile. Think about it - if you have a stipend, then lower income people aren't excluded from being foster parents and a child who is removed from a poor family (as most are) is more likely to be able to stay in their community. As for continuing it from age 18 to 21, I'm thinking this is mostly relevant for kids who have significant need for services that they can't get w/o the stipend. If they move out of their parents' home, they can qualify for assistance on their own and continue to receive services. Obviously not ideal, so the desire is to keep those services going in the parents' home for longer. It's not about making a profit off of raising a kid.

Personally, I'm in favor of abolishing the current system because it's too broken, and doing what you alluded to in providing financial support and real services to struggling birth families. But I don't expect that to happen. :/

Brenda Alexander said...

If you don't blame the crappy social workers, who do you blame? The buck has to stop somewhere. This isn't flipping burgers at McDonald's, this is a job where you make decisions that will traumatize and hurt families for the rest of their lives. You cannot have social workers making these decisions if they're not good. That just adds insult to injury right there. The deck is already stacked against the bio parent and here you have an incompetent social worker making the decision to rip your children out of your arms and placing them with strangers that get PAID MONEY to raise them. How in God's name is that even remotely fair to us?

I'm not going to convince you in this short space so I challenge you to go read my blog. Read all the stories where foster care providers and foster/adopt parents abuse, neglect, rape, and kill their foster children. It's an every day occurrence! Bio families kill their children where CPS has made multiple visits to the home but they weren't little pieces of gold to them so they left them in the home to be beaten or killed! They fail children on all levels and you want to not blame them? That's ludicrous. If they're not part of the solution here, they ARE the problem.

Please visit my blog. Read all the articles about how corrupt CPS really is. I know it's nice to live in a perfect world where your life isn't under a microscope and you can look at this with rose-colored glasses. Unfortunately, I know the reality of CPS. Please, read my blog.

cpsasystemoutofcontrol.blogspot.com

Brenda Alexander said...

One last thing, I do appreciate your not making me out to be a monster in any of your posts. I've made comments where the foster care providers called me horrible names, said horrific things about me all because I'm a bio mom who got screwed by the state.

Also, this is not a racial slur but CPS only wants the healthy, white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed gold nuggets. They're the ones who bring in the most money. I'm not the only one who feels this way. Again, read my blog and you'll find out the real truth about the corruption in CPS. It's
cpsasystemoutofcontrol.blogspot.com

Brenda Alexander said...

Brenda Alexander is Divotdawg. I just realized I was signed in to the wrong account. I apologize for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

Public awareness is a first step to stopping this corruption.

Divotdawg said...

But where do you begin? Do you start with the anonymous tipper, the social worker, the state attorney, the judge, what? Who? The whole system is corrupt. The whole idea that CPS and foster parents are paid money for these children is nothing short of child slavery. Just this month alone there has been a number of high profile cases, and some not so high profile, where foster children were beaten, gone missing and killed. Three siblings were attacked it Michigan, 1 dead and 2 seriously wounded in their foster/adopt home by their adopted 15 year old brother who is not biologically related to them. Hassani Campbell is still missing. They still can't find Rilya Wilson's body. Nothing has changed and nothing is going to change until the right people start screaming foul. Nobody believes the biological parents. They're convinced we're all baby-killers but the truth is, we're not. Our only "crime" is being poor and having children that CPS decides are marketable or good for being used as guinea pigs for the big pharmaceutical companies.

The bottom line is that CPS and their agents care very little for the children and very much for the money. They drag the foster care system down with it. They place these children in horribly abusive homes where nothing is done until it's way too late.

If they can pay fosters a monthly check to raise our children then surely they can use some of that money to help parents out of the cycle of poverty that they're in. Job training, daycare, stable and safe housing, help with utilities, whatever they need. Reunification should be the only goal they work towards until it is proven that the parents aren't interested in doing what they need to be doing to get them back. Six months is nothing. My rights were terminated at 7 months even though we not only did everything we were required to do but soooo much more. The bottom line is, they wanted that adoption bonus money and Title IV-E funding. Take that away and I guarantee you that they'll stop needlessly removing children in a heartbeat.

QuEEn oF tHe cAstLe said...

Anyone still around to blog and update on what's going on with that Squeak baby?!?!? email me
hut31999@aol.com

Hope all is well...

maryjane said...

I thought you might all be interested to know that there is a show called The Generations Project. Their new episode on Monday night will feature a girl who was raised in Foster care and how she goes on the journey to learn about her ancestors. It looks really great.

Check it out. http://www.byub.org/thegenerationsproject/

They have a lot of information on their facebook page.
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/GenerationsProject?ref=ts

Just thought you would like to know.

Sid said...

Hi! Great blog... I'm considering writing a book about adoption through foster care, and wondered if you ever did anything with your survey results. Let's talk!

tomas adison said...

Survey result is needed for developing fostering children's condition. I vote your opinion. Keep your helpful post.
Thanks a lot......

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