Foster kids don’t belong in glorified fucking taxis

March 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm 36 comments

On my way to work today, I saw a parade of taxis.  I did not know where they were going and I did not know what they were doing.  There must have been 20-30 of them all driving down the road. I did not see any people in the back seat, but in some it was hard to tell.  I did not know what was going on.  But,  what I do know is that it bought back unpleasant memories of growing up in foster care.  Memories that other foster kids DO NOT need to have, if we prohibit the fucking glorified taxi service that transports foster kids.

Here me out…

You see, foster kids have many appointments in their daily lives ~ therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, dentists, physical therapy, visitation with bioparents, social workers, court appointments, etc.  etc.   And because of this,  many foster kids find themselves in the seat of  A TRANSPORTER;which is  a volunteer who jitnies kids around when the foster parents can’t or won’t; a glorified taxi service if you want…

Read this loudly:

I HATED TRANSPORTERS.

No, not the people themselves, because I barely knew the “transporter”…. which is the point. I DID NOT know these people moving me about my life from appointment to appointment.  They did not know me, so they did not really care about me.  They “transported” me…

You see what I am saying?

Imagine this….

You come out of a therapy session needing support and caring, understanding and connectedness.  You are full of feelings and need someone you can relate to.  But oh shit, you come out to a “taxi”, because instead of  your foster parent, you get a “transporter.”

.

Imagine this….

You come out of a doctor’s appointment scared and in the middle of a PTSD reaction because of the touching of your body or the power imbalance.  You need connectedness and caring… but instead are greeted by a glorified taxi driver…your “transporter.”  Your foster parent is nowhere to be found.

It is hard enough for foster kids to attach or bond and to trust people, don’t you see how “this little thing” could effect a foster kid?

Would you put your biokids in a taxi and send them off to an appointment?

Especially young kids?

Would you?

During these jitnies, sometimes I sat in the front and the “transporter” talked to me; sometimes I sat in the back and all I heard was talk radio or really bad music… and sometimes I sat in silence.  But even if the “transporter” talked to me, THEY DID NOT KNOW ME…. They didn’t know my demons, my battles, my fears, my pains, my joys, my successes…my life.  I did not trust them, they weren’t connected to me..

I felt alone.  Alone again.

I never understand why the job of the “transporter” is to transport kids when the foster parents CAN’T or WON’T do so.   Ok, CAN”T, I can understand.  At times, people get sick, the car breaks down, so I can understand CAN’T sometimes. But WON’T…..WTF?  WON’T.  If you WON’T transport your foster child to appointments which are part of their lives, why are you a foster parent? Please tell me why?

Foster kids, already FEEL different.  But when you use “transporters,” we FEEL more different, unimportant, and just like “the foster kid.” We don’t FEEL part of the normal world, because in the normal world, a parent takes their child to the doctors, to therapy, to the dentist, etc. Everytime I went with a “transporter,” a voice screamed inside my head, “you are not important enough for us to care about you.”

Do you hear what I am saying?    Be the parent —  because you are IT when the kids are living with you. And parent’s drive their kids to appointments to be their for them…correct?

As I watched the line of taxis drive by, I remembered all the times I sat in “transporter’s” cars and looked out the window, feeling alone and not important enough for my foster parents to drive me.  No matter how many miles the distance from my foster home to the appointment, I would have rather walked because either way…  I was alone.

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fucked up rules of foster care… anyone? What makes a good foster dad? … a reader asks

36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carmel  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    In our home a transporter is necessary for visitation with parents if visits are during the weekday or if their is concern that the parents should know who we are. In most of our cases the visitations have been scheduled for what is best for the parent, they do not take into consideration the children needs (like nap time and meal times) or the foster parents schedule (like work). Since both my partner and I work we have to rely on transportation to and from visits.

    On the flip side, we have never used transportation for appointments. I couldn’t imagine doing that. These children are part of our family (temporary or not) and I take as much interest in their appointments as my own children. I take time off work and am even reducing my hours at work so that I can accomadate the several appointments of my adopted and foster children.

    Reply
  • 2. Crumble  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I understand how you could feel rejected by the foster parents when they do not take you to your appointments. They definatly were not looking after you as they would their own bio children. Maybe they would have prefered that a family friend take you to appointments when they were unable to, but there is so much red tape whenever the government is involved…

    But you are right – I don’t understand when the foster parents won’t take you. (Because they would not do that to their own children.).

    I am sorry that your needs were not met.

    Reply
  • 3. bethanylest  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Wow. I know transporters are used for all kinds of appointments as well as getting kids to after-school activities, but I agree that they should not be used for appointments or activities that would be normal parenting responsibilities.
    As Carmel suggested, I could see the importance of transporters for visits with bio-parents. It prevents any hostility or blame towards the foster parents. In your case, since you said their were no visitations, transporters should not have been used for normal parent responsibilities. That is wrong.
    Thank you for reminding us how foster kids feel in situations that they have no control over. Maybe it will help us all to make better decisions.

    Reply
  • 4. Jen  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks for another lesson on parenting foster kids. It makes sense when you explain it. I think sometimes when something’s offered as a ‘service’ people automatically assume it’s OK/acceptable/desirable.

    You also taught me a new word; I had to look up what jitney means.

    Reply
  • 5. Sandra  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    I personally think that it is HORRIBLE when FPs utilize the transporter for medical appointments or mental health appointments. I don’t understand why it is allowed.
    I can see the use for visits with biofamilies, especially dangerous or neglectful ones where RU is unlikely, but TPR has not occurred.

    Reply
  • 6. Nina  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    This is why your perspective, your voice is so important. Thank you for sharing how it felt for you.

    Reply
    • 7. Laura  |  March 30, 2011 at 12:47 am

      I agree. Many people never think how it feels for the children in care. Thank you.

      Reply
  • 8. Sunday  |  March 30, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I never had that per se, but I got expectance being dropped off my 9th grade year in a stat car or van every day in the winter. I never complained about walking the 2 miles, that is for sure!

    Reply
    • 9. Sunday  |  March 30, 2011 at 12:09 am

      that was state car

      Reply
  • 10. Breezer  |  March 30, 2011 at 1:27 am

    LT, you write in ways that help us all understand the pain you felt and the pain many are afraid to express. I so appreciate your willingness to be so open and honest. I am glad you are using your life to speak for foster kids everywhere.

    I am also really sorry you were treated that way. 😦

    Reply
  • 11. Fi  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Thanks for sharing the young person’s perspective on this.

    I’m blessed to not HAVE to work so this is never an issue….. except where my own safety is compromised with respect to bio parents visits.

    Reply
  • 12. AnnMarie  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I’d never thought of it this way either.

    On the other hand, another reason it might happen–FPs sometimes get little notice of appointments. With biokids, parents shedule docs so do it times they can be available and in advance if they hve to take off work. I know FPs who were told they day of or before an appt. They couldn’t rearrange that quickly–could be work, other kids coming home, their own doc, etc. If only FPs could make appts (some places do let them).

    We are doing foster care (soon) because my husband is a stat at home dad so he will be able to drive any time (almost). Can’t imagine doing it with two workers or as a single parent.

    Reply
  • 13. butterflysblog  |  March 30, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Sweet LT – thank you for educating me about this. I had never even heard of a transporter. Yet another way that foster kids are screwed in the system.

    Reply
  • 14. hazy55  |  March 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

    How cold to send a child to an appointment with no support. Crazy. Many adults take a friend or significant other with them to appointments because it can be emotional and so they are not alone. I am sorry you grew up experiencing this. But thank you for sharing because you are opening so many eyes.
    “Would you put your biokids in a taxi and send them off to an appointment?” Excellent point.

    Reply
  • 15. rene wallis  |  March 30, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Foster parents disengage from kids because the system beats up on them if they care.

    Consiistently research shows that more than 70% of foster parents who leave the system leave because of the way they are treated: like housing providers, not as parents and partners in raising children.

    The result is that good foster parents get out and folks who stay in are either motivated by the need for income or they emotionally disengage and try to make the best of a terrible situation.

    In this part of the country, they call the transporters “kid movers”. I never used them when I was an active foster parent.

    I left the system because a SW/therapist team decided I was not a good parent to the child placed with me and wrote horrible reports about me to the court.

    By the way, neither of those folks is involved with the child, though I continue a relationship outside of foster care.

    Reply
  • 16. Kerryjo  |  March 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

    No transporters here in my area. We are expected to do all transporting. and meet with bio parents.

    Reply
  • 17. FosteringMom  |  March 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Great writing. Our state only allows transporters for biofamily visitation. They are not allowed to use transporters for general appointments or activities. Thank you for expressing your feelings, you are adding so much to the understanding of foster youth. I think we forget at times that we are dealing with very hurt children.

    Reply
  • 18. Maureen  |  March 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I take our foster kids wherever they need to go. If in the off chance I can’t, then their social worker better come and do it. Not just any social worker, THEIR social worker. Our foster kids go where we go, they are our family for however long they are with us.

    Reply
  • 19. michelle v  |  March 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

    it seems like all one of my girlfriends does is drive her foster kids to appointments and i see how super important it is now 🙂
    great post

    ♥ michelle

    Reply
  • 20. Justin  |  March 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    My wife and I do all the driving. I can’t imagine having a transporter take our foster children to the doctors or therapy appointments or anywhere for that matter. We take them to visitation and court hearings as well. Foster children are part of our family and we did the same for our own kids. I am sorry that you grew up being transported. That is wrong.

    Reply
  • 21. h  |  March 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    LT, from the FP perspective a couple of things…first off we have no say in visitation times its up to the court and the court sets visits around bio and not FP schedule or location. We also must transport, hence why I can only have legally free kids b/c 3 visits 3 hours each per week, I would lose my job. Bottom line.

    The only transport we get is to court, again depending on how often they have to go could put someone’s job in jeopardy if they don’t use a transporter. I am not saying the FK is less important than the job, just practically one needs to pay their bills otherwise they put their own families in danger and the FK would have to be moved if FP’s do not have jobs. In my area if you receive assistance including unemployment you can’t foster.

    Doctors, therapy, well each FP must think about all of this and that is why I am clear upfront about what I can or can’t take in terms of scheduling. So I wouldn’t take kids that have to go a lot and try to schedule early morning or late day appointments.

    I do sympathize with your perspective but not sure how we could do away with transporters.

    Reply
  • 22. Nancy W.  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Like Maureen, we take our children where they need to go. Transporters should only be used for bioparent visits, otherwise it appears as if you have no time for the children. In some situations, I even have issues with transporters for visitation. At times my foster children have come back a mess from family visits and the idea of placing them in a car with strangers bothers me.

    As h said, I think you need to be up front about what you can do and can not do in the world of foster care. Clearly, you should only take certain “types” of foster children if you do not have the time needed to focus on specialized needs or higher needs children. So, whether it is transporters, or behavioral issues or physical issues, foster parents need to be honest with what they are willing to do and what their limitations are. Otherwise, the situation turns bad for everyone.

    LT, thank you for being so open and honest and sharing your thoughts and feelings. I enjoy your blog.

    Reply
  • 23. Erin  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Yuck. That does seem ridiculous. And wouldn’t an adult want to know what was said at that appointment? I mean, not if you’re seeing a therapist, but kids don’t know what the medical terminology means, and they don’t know how to keep track of meds or anything like that. It sucks. And I’m sorry you had to go through that.

    Reply
  • 24. Kari  |  March 31, 2011 at 9:03 am

    LT, your posts about foster care need to be made into a book that is used in every social worker class and at every foster parent training.

    Years ago when we did foster care we didn’t have the option of having someone else drive the kids to and from appointments. Some days it felt like all I ever did was drive but I am thankful for that now.

    One of my teen foster daughters had a therapy appointment every Monday evening in a town that was a 45 minute drive from our house. That time alone with her in the car is what I treasure most about our time together. She was a great kid who eventually went back home to her birth family. She’s in her mid thirties now and I hear from her every once in a while.

    Thank you for being so honest and brave and for teaching so many of us how to better care for children. I’m so sorry your wisdom came with such a high price. You deserved better.
    ~Kari

    Reply
  • 25. Debra  |  January 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Thanks for writing this article. I certify foster homes for the state and I’m ashamed to say this is something I never thought much about. I’m going to begin talking to my prospective foster families specifically about this when I start the home study process with them.

    Reply
  • 26. Vanessa  |  June 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    Wow! I’m so sorry that happened to you. We are foster parents but we do ALL the transporting. With the exception of a couple visits when the Great Grand Parents offered to transport. The babies looked forward to them though because they knew them. The system certainly needs to make some changes.

    Reply
  • 27. Laura  |  September 8, 2012 at 2:00 am

    As a foster parent with varying sets of kids my ability, even as a stay at home mom, to transport to different things has varied. Our first kids were a sibling group of three and we transported to most things, except a therapeutic visit with biomom that was a long distance from our home. Now we have 5 kids from 3 sibling sets. One of them has siblings in other foster homes. If we transported to all visits and appointments there would be no semblance of normalcy for any of the kids- we’d be in the car multiple times a day- most days of the week. When between the 3 sibling groups we have 8 parents and each parent has 2 regular visits plus a therapeutic visit… that is up to 24 visits a week. I transport to individual counseling and to other medical appts and normal every day stuff like after school activities…. but had to be firm with the caseworkers that we can’t transport for visitation. I have always liked transporting to visits because I get to see the kids interact with their bio parents, and meeting the parents helps me see them as real people and not just names on a piece of paper… but right now this just isn’t possible.

    Reply
  • 28. Ginny  |  September 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you! I recently suggested that I drive our foster daughter to an out of state visit – and our wonderful worker thought it was because I was concerned about her driving skills! When I explained to her that she could drive, but I would be there to support my foster daughter and reassure her that she was coming back home with me, and hold her while she cries, the case worker seemed to have never thought of it like that. (And she is one of the good ones!) I might have to deal with the after effects of her behavior after her family visit – but at least I won’t be dealing with new abandonment issues on top of it all!

    Reply
    • 29. Sarah  |  November 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      My aunt/foster mom drove me to visits with my dad, which were with a therapist, and waited in the waiting room for me. When I left the visit I was so mad at my dad and so glad to see her that I gave her a big hug (which really pissed my dad off) and walked out immediately. She may not be my bio mom but she’s still a mom. So good for you for being there for your kids. Coming from the other side of that, it really does help. Being a parent takes more than being a sperm or egg donor. It’s the support and involvement that matter. I found it funny because for the entire visit my dad sat there and said horrible things about my aunt and uncle. Insult after insult. Yet they were the ones there for me, proving him wrong just by being there. Ha!

      Reply
  • 30. Becks  |  February 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

    This is to foster carers, I was a fostered child and I found homes with fewer children to ones with lots, get a clue stop making excuses for not doing all your transportations if you havent got the time take on fewer kids so you can care for them properly the carers I had dedicated themselves to the kids and only had a max of 2 of us at a times the greedy bastards who wanted more money took on 5 or 6 on and never had enough time so some of us ended up neglected stop making excuses and sort you fucking act out other carers manage think of the kids before your fucking bank balance there sould be a limit to only 3 foster kids per family we are vulnerable and trouble and need more care and attention not less spread over 5 or more kids no one can look after that many properly but that many will take good care of your bank balance and don’t come back with this bollacks foster carers don’t get much money I know exactly what you get fucking loads stop using innocent vulnerable kids to get money.

    Reply
  • 31. Becks  |  February 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Btw I took myself to the dentist at 11 cos my so called crappy carer who had 5-7 of us at once wouldn’t take me her and her husband owned their house she never worked and her kids ad a horse each they got new trainers every week I had hoes in mine dirty clothes cos she wouldn’t wash em I was hit and allsors and that was just one carer I had over 60 not through my own fault either from ager 6-16 I’ve had the best and the worst so I know exactly how it all works grrr makes me mad if u want a fucking career u shouldn’t foster bang out they deserve better

    Reply
  • 32. Quest  |  April 16, 2013 at 4:18 am

    As a foster mother, with 3 from a sibling group, who came as an emergency 3 week stay, and are here 18 mths later, I have for the most part fully integrated with the kids except when the case worker demands they have family visits and is clear we are not welcome, however it has at times been a juggling act, I find that having taken the kids everywhere with us (including 5dogs ) has been fine except for the size of our car and our friends willingness to have us all arrive….we struggle when for respite the kids are sent somewhere inappropriate, I try to keep constant with whom they visit but am often thwarted by the system, however I often stand up like the mother lioness protecting my cubs, it is tiring, I worry as I know they have family who love and want them, but just can’t care for them and keep them safe…I wanted children to be my own, and in this position they will never be.. I am really happy that they are older and I am not changing diapers, however struggle with thinking they will never ‘be mine’ which feels like a huge loss…

    Reply
  • 33. Janice  |  April 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Hello,
    I found your article and it interests me very much. I am on both ends of this situation. My husband and I are foster parents and while we do, well my husband does since I work a full time job, take our kids to their doctor appts, etc, there are times when they have a paid transporter who will pick them up for visitation or to take to court as their court is normally like a two hour trip each way. On the other side I am also a paid transporter. I do my best to keep any child on my schedule, and I have been telling all of the decision makers that the children need any constant they can get which includes having the same transporter week after week. NOT to have one that happens to have that time available. So far we, the transporters, have been able to keep our schedules so our kids get to know us after awhile. It may not be the best solution but don’t you think that at least if you as a foster child, had just ONE transporter who does get to know you is better than having whoever happens to be picked by a person who is just getting the transports covered? I have been given the chance to let the “management” know how much better this would be so would love to get an answer from someone who knows.
    Thank you,
    JJ

    Reply
  • 34. mary  |  September 25, 2013 at 9:27 am

    im in australia and i hate kids being transported around, i take my kids wherever they need to be i am “mum” i do what a mum does, i love them, drive them where they need to be and go to appointments with them as a normal family does.

    Reply
  • […] For a former foster kid’s thoughts on how horrible being driven by stranger was, check out I Was A Foster Kid’s post Foster kids don’t belong in f*ing glorified taxis.   […]

    Reply
  • 36. Steve Rieske  |  August 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Out little foster son has a visit each week that is over an hour away. Reluctantly, we agreed that we needed to use a transporter for the first time. Our agency has made sure that we have had the same driver each time, and she has been amazing. Each week our wonderful little guy comes back singing songs and talking about the airplanes or trains that they saw on the way. When he sees her car come, he get super excited. If every driver was like our transporter (and I’m sure that there are only a few who are!) then I doubt this would be a problem.

    Reply

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