Reform the foster care system…

September 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm 75 comments

So i have been dealing with alot of shit lately, but i am still trying to survive and work and do whatever else i am supposed to be doing.  it’s too much drama to go into stuff right now…

…..So, yesterday was super lame at work, because people were bbqing, so i came up with another  list of Ways to Reform the Foster Care System…  some i’ve written about before, but maybe they are super important.  They are not in any order, because they are all tops….  Add yours if you feel like it!!

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1) Stability and kids in the RIGHT homesImmobilier

Keep foster kids in one or two homes!  Match kids, so they don’t wind up with people who can’t or won’t handle the “issues.”  Every time a kid moves around, they lose 3-6 months of schooling, self-esteem, caring, belongings, friends, etc. What this means is FIND foster parents who are equipped to deal with the child’s troubles.  Don’t just stick kids “anywhere” there is an opening.  Do you know how many times I heard my workers frantically trying to find “anywhere” to put me.  “Anywhere” does not equal stability!  fuck anywhere….

 

2) Social Workers

For pete’s sake…. REDUCE the workload so they can do their jobs.  Workers are supposed to see the foster child AT LEAST once per month.  With an average case load of 15-30 kids, how the fuck is that possible?  Seriously?  Hire more qualified workers, increase the pay and benefits, cut their workload, and give them more vacation so they don’t freaking burn out.  Young workers come and go, because the burn out rate is so high.  Sometimes these workers are the only stable person in a foster kid’s life.  Their job is important.  The system does not even treat it’s own correctly.

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3) Foster Parents Need More

Foster parents need MORE training, MORE support, MORE guidance, and MORE education regarding the children they are going to care for.  Most of us are not like your biokids— 80% of foster kids have behavioral or emotional issues and those issues need to be dealt with appropriately.  Most foster parents get very little “training” about conditions and behaviors that foster I'm_Not_Getting_Enoughchildren are labeled with.  They may know the lables, but they don’t get how to care for the child and help them heal!!!  Would you know if your kid dissociated?  Do you know why your kid is hiding food in the closet?  Do you know why your kid is shoving underwear down the tiolet??  Increase training and education, increase support.… require constant trainging and updating.  Reward the foster parents that do.

 

4)  Aging Out

Don’t kick kids out at 18.  Shit, most non-foster people can’t function at 18 without a support system.. Do you really think kids without a support system and without an education or trade are going to survive?  With no skills and no family = homelessness or = jail or = pregnancy or = drugs or = death.  I read that kids today stay at home until 28 years old……  how do you think an 18 with nothing is going to make it?

challenges_aging_out-2

 

5) Get Rid of Rdon-leave-meespite Care

This makes kids feel like crap.  “Like wow, my foster family is going to Florida and leaving me with someone I don’t know…. I must be a piece of shit and not worth a trip. ”   Do you send your biokids to respite care?  “I am such a burden, they stick me with these people”

 

Respite care is another ABANDONMENT…. don’t fool yourselves.

 

 

 

6)  Keep siblings together …..or at least make sure they visitsiblings-dont-have-to-be-rivals

Work dam hard to keep siblings together.  When you go into foster care, all you have is your siblings.  When they are split up, it is another abandonment.  If you can’t keep siblings together, make sure they see each other weekly at a minimum.  Don’t place them so far apart that it becomes a burden… because things that are burden’s, people don’t do.  Make it a requirement of foster parents that they bring siblings together.  I never saw my brother again after we were taken into foster care.  He went to RTCs and I bounced around in different homes.  How hard would it have been to keep us in contact?  Nobody cared, but i did.

 

7)  Mental Health Services

Provide consistent mental health treatment for all foster kids.  I should have been in counseling my entire childhood, not a couple months here, a couple of times there.  Trauma is NOT healed in a couple months.  Work to keep the therapist-kid relationship, even when a child moves homes.  The therapist might be the most trustworthy person to that child.

And stop drugging kids.  Fuck… if they don’t need medication, don’t force it.  Trauma is not healed by medication!!!! 

Medication is not supposed to help you control your child…. it is supposed to help the child.  <<< Notice the difference!

MedicatingTrauma-17

 

 

8) Two Strikes and They Are Outindexddddd

Two strikes and bio-parents are out.  Enough of this 15/22 crap…. kids are lingering in foster care for years.  If a bioparent is not working their case plan from day 1, strike 1.  How long does a kid have to wait for their bioparents to get it together?  Childhood doesn’t last a lifetime… and a childhood bouncing around foster care can affect a lifetime.

If a child is returned to foster care, terminate rights and push for adoption.  Kids should not be shoved back and forth throughout their childhoods.  Kids should not have to wait for everyone else to get stable for them to get stability!!

 

9) Camp with Siblingimage003s

Send foster kids to camp with their siblings.  Give them a chance to get outside in nature and have fun with their brothers and sisters that may be separated or alone too.  It keeps the bond and allows them to just be kids.

 

 

10) Let foster kids have a jobindexsssss

It provides a source of money and a source of self-esteem.  It also provides a trade or skill in case the foster kid ages out with nothing.  They will be able to get a job easier if they worked during their teen years. Having a job also teaches kids about money and how to save.  Make the foster kid put a percentage of money in the bank, so when they leave foster care, they aren’t flat broke!!

 

 

11) Get every foster kid a mentor

Every foster chilMentoring_mattersd NEEDS a mentor, someone that is there 100% for them.  CASAs or Big Brothers/Big Sisters work well.  Studies show that foster kids who have mentors do better in life.  Remember in a foster kid’s life, no-one is there for them 100%.  Workers are overwhelmed and don’t have time to be a listening ear, foster parents have rules they have to follow and if a kid is just passing through, chances are the foster kid is not going to want to confide in “another” foster parent…. Once a mentor is found, everyone should work hard to keep that relationship available… even when the kid moves.  Again, it is about stability and trust.

 

 

12.  Give kids suitcases with combination locks

When i lived in group homes, i had lots of stuff stolen.  It’s just something that happens in the heirarchy of groupWordlock-Luggage-Lock-Review-Small homes.  If i had a suitcase with a lock, my stuff would have been kept for me.  A suitcase with a lock also helps when you goto a new home and you don’t know anyone.  you can lock your stuff in your suitcase before you trust the new foster family. most foster kids don’t have alot, but some things they keep for very special reasons.  i had a collection of candy wrappers from different foster homes.  they were a way for me to remember ….  when i got older they got destroyed by some mean group home bitch who did it just to hurt me.  if i had a suitcase with a lock, i would still have those candy wrappers today.

 

I’ve written others before, but these are what I got now… you all know the statistics of kids that age-out or spend long years in foster care… it’s not good.

336510275_6401

 

how can an idiot like me see what needs to be done, but all the people in charge of the system don’t see a dam thing.  blind or blinders?

blinders

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May is National Foster Care Month? …Do you CARE? Do you remember your first Thanksgiving…?

75 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marie  |  September 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    As a fost-adopt parent of 3 kids, I agree with all of the above.

    Reply
  • 2. jnkmailacc  |  September 2, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Brilliant, I wish these would be made law!! Especially the strikes & respite care!! Why is this so insane to reasonable people but completely ok with social services? I said in the MAPP class that I thought that in 20 years people would be sitting where I was unable to believe that you could dump a 3 yr old w/a stranger while you took ” your family” to the beach. I would rather survive Ebola than drop my 4 yr old w/complete strangers for a week. Boggles my mind that this is ok.

    Reply
    • 3. Foster Mom in Training  |  September 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      I agree 100%. I could never leave any of my foster or adopted kiddos with a complete stranger. Never!!!

      Reply
    • 4. Sarah  |  September 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

      Although I have never used it, I do have a couple of arguments for respite care. What if a trip has been planned since before the child came to live with you, and the state will not allow the child to go with you (almost happened to us this year). What is to become of them if there isn’t some sort of respite care? Also, what if you have business trips? (My husband has one every two-three months.) Or there is a funeral across the country for somebody the kid has no idea who they are?

      I do not agree with respite for taking a break. If you need a break, use your support network, which probably already knows the kid. However, there are very valid reasons for having respite as well.

      Reply
  • 5. sciencedino  |  September 2, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Oh man, the training is so inadequate. Luckily, we read up a lot before we entered into “treatment” foster care for kids with behavioral special needs. Because the training is nonsense like, “be sure to get your kid school supplies.” We can get him school supplies! We don’t get training on stuff like how to manage his insane anxiety about school so that he can not self-sabotage and end up having no friends. Or how to figure out releases so his therapist can talk to his teacher. Or even how to get the documentation to register him for services that he needs. All that we have to do on our own, while they remind us that we need to buy pencils. If foster parents aren’t buying their kids pencils then *they need better foster parents!!!*

    Reply
  • 6. lifemultiplied  |  September 2, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Great list, LT! And wow, your timing was amazing. I hadn’t thought of you in a while and you were on my mind last night when i was falling asleep. I was sending you lots of peace.

    Reply
  • 7. Leca Good  |  September 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Amen LT. REally and make workers do their job. If my daughter’s worker had investigated she would’ve found out my daughter was manipulating and lying and was mentally ill before it was too late for her to have to come home. My daughter is lucky she still has a loving family but she blew through 6 homes in 1.5 years til she aged out. She is sorry now and we are trying to repair but we will NEVER get that time back. Her worker KNOWS she messed up but oh well too late. I do not know how she lives with herself. I really do not.

    Reply
  • 8. sageplant  |  September 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Hey, you rock!

    Peace,

    Sageplant

    Reply
  • 9. Jodi  |  September 2, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    LT, in my personal experience, anything the government is in charge of is nearly always fucked up beyond repair. Large salaries and perks for the administration but the workers in the trenches are the ones who bear the brunt of budget cuts and huge caseloads. Morale is low and the people who would be the most sensitive and do the best for the children leave the field. Ultimately and obviously, the children are the ones who lose bigtime. They need people like you LT, who know what the system needs to reform itself. XOXO.

    Reply
    • 10. Michael  |  September 2, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Here in Australia, just like anywhere else in the world. Those who work in high stress jobs and with burn out times that makes a V8 jealous have budget cuts, pay cuts, basically a lack of support in all forms.
      And then, when the government starts working on cost saving measures. They get cut even more whilst tbose in power get a pay riseat the same time.
      Logic just doesn’t exist. And I have yet to meet a politician that has a caring bone in their body.
      And the result of this is simple. Ambulance Workers, Social Workers in all their forms, emergency wards, and front line police are forced to do more with less. And so, the jobs have a high turnover.
      The loser thanks tpo this way of thinking is those working on the frontines. And worse, people like you LT, kids that have nothing anymore, given even less.

      Reply
    • 11. John Stanton  |  September 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      The only thing worse that public institutions are private institutions. If foster care was run by for-profit corporations things will not be better for the children. Give public organizations proper resources and require accountability. Things will get better.

      I have worked at too many corporations where I have been told to always think first about what is good for the stockholders. Customers, quality, ethics, morality, law, and truth all rate far behind making a profit for the company.

      We spend our public resources in the wrong places. The cost of a prisoner is over $50,000 per person. What do we spend per foster child? What do we spend taking care of all our kids?

      Being smart with public resources is what we need to do to improve things. Kids are our number one resource. We are not doing right by them, not any of them. Giving them a free quality education would be a good start. Making sure they are safe, well nourished, and cared for is just as important.

      Stop locking up people for using drugs and you will have plenty to take care of our kids. Stop having multiple trillion dollar wars that only make things worse and we would have plenty to spend on infrastructure. Stop cutting taxes for the ultra rich and we might have a chance to survive.

      How do you implement LT’s very good ideas? Get people to vote for people who think they are good ideas. This is my advice, LT, get people to vote for good people. The rest will follow.

      Reply
  • 12. Foster Mom in Training  |  September 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Amen, LT!!! The entire system is a mess. People forget that we are dealing with human beings, who are still growing up.

    I really like the camp with siblings suggestion. I also agree about the 15/22 months BS. The clock should not be allowed to start over because it’s easier for the prosecutor, JO, case manager, or whoever else. Get these cases to reunification or permanency quickly. We can all see the writing on the wall with a few months.

    I hope things get better for you. Keep your chin up. (((Hugs)))

    Reply
  • 13. liz  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I totally agree with all of this. Sad part is that a lot of foster parents WANT to bring their kids on vacation and not do respite. But in some states the bio parents have to give approval for any travel over 48 hours and they usually say No just to be dicks and feel in control. And then the foster families are in a bind if they want to travel to see grandma or go to family reunions or whatever. It’s a tough decision.

    Reply
    • 14. Denise  |  October 13, 2014 at 2:16 am

      Liz, what states require bio parents to give foster parents permission to take their children on vacation? I have been interested in fostering, but this sounds like an insane law to me..

      Reply
      • 15. Sarah Clarke  |  November 5, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        Ohio requires it. We just started our training to become foster parents.

        Reply
      • 16. Jared  |  November 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

        In Oklahoma we have to have permission. That could come from the court or perhaps the caseworker, but parents with rights still have a large say in the care of their children. Word on the street is that they love them, or at least that is what they’ve been pounding into us at training.

        Thankfully, we are adopting and many of the issues won’t apply to our family after it has been finalized. What I am finding out through this process and having family that worked for DHS is that they are working with what they have to the best that they can. They try to maintain relationships with the family and keep siblings together, but it isn’t always possible.

        There aren’t enough foster families, and worse, there aren’t enough foster families who are prepared to deal with many of the behaviors. I’m not sure we are as adoptive parents either. What I do know is that I’ll do everything I can to help my kids, biological or otherwise.

        Denise, if you are interested in fostering, I’d recommend contacting your local DHS. Go ahead and sign up to go through the training and decide from there. There are kids that need parents who will love them and do their best to help them.

        Reply
  • 17. manyofus1980  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Hi LT. I am a child abuse survivor like you. To all of lt’s readers, if you’d also become my our readers, we have did and ptsd, we’d love it if you’d follow and read our blog, which details our therapy journey to healing from our childhood. I must say I love your list. The blog is here if all you kind people would like to read it and follow it. http://multime1980.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • 18. cinderkid  |  September 6, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Keep writing, and stay strong. I’m listening.

      Reply
  • 19. Sonya  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I appreciate you giving this breakdown I want to be a foster mother and I often wonder what the kids that are going through all that trauma felt and you put it point blank

    Reply
  • 20. Sonya  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    I appreciate you giving this breakdown I want to be a foster mother and I often wonder what the kids that are going through all that trauma felt and you put it point blank .

    Reply
  • 21. ritalee8383  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Good to see you post again LT! I’m sorry that you are going through a lot stuff lately. Yet during this time you chose to write up a list of suggestions to try and help others. That makes you amazing. ❤

    Reply
  • 22. onemorewithus  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    LT!!! You are here! And I am so happy to read your post! We’ve been waiting for you 🙂
    If you still have your private blog, please, add me to it? Three of us have been visiting for the past many weeks, here on your blog.
    You are so important to us! They will be SO HAPPY to see you are back. I could hardly believe when I got notification of your post!
    Gloria 🙂

    Reply
  • 23. manyofus1980  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    LT, I am also happy happy happy that your back! I hope the weather is not too hot where you are. Its rainy and kind of cold here in ireland. XXX

    Reply
  • 24. LeftyChrist  |  September 3, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Hi LT,
    Did you know that since I last ready your blog, my husband and I became foster parents?
    What a ride… thanks to insight gained from your blog and from talking with other former foster kids, we went in with our eyes open and were able to put some expectations in place from the start. Your list is interesting, because it is almost identical to our list of requirements when working with DSHS (haha).
    One thing I thought you might be interested in is learning about the Mockingbird Family Model (if you haven’t heard about it already). We joined, and I am super impressed with how effective it has been in keeping the kids connected with each other, the other foster families in our neighborhood and as part of a larger community. If you haven’t, google them and check em’ out. They have a main office in Washington State.

    Reply
  • 25. Tara dSL  |  September 3, 2014 at 1:53 am

    13. Work toward putting an end to child abuse! Better education and support resources for families that need it, stiffer punishments for child abusers, federal funding for the foster care system to make it better…

    Reply
  • 26. Cee Jay  |  September 3, 2014 at 1:58 am

    Hi LT
    I understand your views and agree almost entirely. The workload on social workers is insane and at the end of the day, the only people that lose out are the children we’re supposed to be helping.
    I disagree in part about the respite care. As a respite carer I see it from a different angle. We have a girl that we have every other weekend. Her Bio-mum died and her foster carer is a single stay at home dad with his own bio-kids too. Every fortnight his kids spend the weekend with their bio-mum and “Kelly” comes to us. She gets to have a ‘mum’ figure and do girly things, shopping, learning to cook, dealing with puberty. We’re about to celebrate 2 years of respite with her.
    We also see a little man who has really challenging behaviours and the carers do need time to re-group. Respite gives them a breather and gives him time in a quiet house to settle his behaviour down. I went to a meeting with his social worker to push for him to have only one respite carer rather than several placements. Hopefully they take that on board as you are right, with multiple respite carers the message he is being sent is no-one really wants him. So, I will keep pushing the worker to find him one respite carer so he has consistency and can form some attachment with them.

    Sorry to hear you’re having a tough time lately, but know that we’ve missed hearing from you. Your views on what it’s like as a foster kid give us a huge insight. We’ve changed how we do some things since following your blog. We let kids with food issues have their own special food in their room now, MM always gets down on the floor to greet the kids, and we always have a snack when they arrive.

    Reply
  • 27. sheila  |  September 3, 2014 at 9:09 am

    love all of these – except I have personal issues with the respite care. I was a respite care provider to start- one little boy I fell in love with, in time taking him full time and after 4 years of chances to his parents, I got to adopt him. If it werent for respite – I wouldnt have crossed paths with him. We would have an absolute blast with the kids. hiking, fishing, picnics, movies, bowling – you name it. Kids loved coming to my house. We didnt have to ground them for not doing their homework or sit through the latest “take this new concoction of meds” appointment. We just got to go have fun two weekends a month with them. I only did the week long family went to disney and child couldnt go thing once. That blew- I get that. We did our best to get him to an amusement park too and have a great time but the fact is he got sent elsewhere while the fam went to disney. I think scheduled breaks with the same provider can be beneficial for everyone. But only in cases where the foster family has tried everything and cant take the child with them on vacation should the week long respites be allowed. It shouldn’t be an easy place to dump a kid and go.

    Reply
  • 28. kwiksam@aol.com  |  September 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

    As always, thank you for being the “real deal” in this ugly world of foster care. Love you! Dorothy Currie Guardian ad Litem 386 864-1141

    Reply
  • 29. Alannah T.  |  September 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    OMG OMG OMG
    Welcome back!

    Reply
  • 30. angelamarshall2013  |  September 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    WAY TO GO LT – I think EVERY person (from Director down and back up the chain ) who works in child welfare should be given this list as REQUIRED READING when they begin working with the agency and a reminder every few months.

    Take care 🙂

    Reply
  • 31. Katie H  |  September 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    LT I just found your blog and it is so, so helpful as someone preparing to be a foster-adopt parent. The core reality I have already learned in my research is that good foster parents would rather they (the parents) be inconvenienced than the kids be or feel unsafe.

    And on a personal note, my childhood trauma was nowhere near what you experienced but I have still needed psychiatric meds for the last 12 years and expect to need them long-term. I used to feel weird about it but now I feel proud of myself. I hope you can start to see yourself as those of us who get it do- as an admirable person. You are a survivor but also a kind, gentle person who advocates for other kids the way no one advocated for you.

    One thing that helped me in my recovery journey was picturing myself at the age of abuse onset and seeing that child as lovable and worthy of protection, and in this weird way appointing my adult self this child’s protector, and vowing to be kind to this child. Then when I feel that inner child feeling scared or ashamed I try to tell that child nice things, that she is a good person, that it isn’t her fault, that she deserves love. Then maybe I tell her we will do something comforting like take a bubble bath or snuggle under a blanket, and while doing that tell her she deserves to feel safe and happy like that and that from now on I’ll always protect her.

    I feel like that sounds weird but it worked for me.

    Reply
  • 32. AnnMarie johnson  |  September 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    So glad to see you back here! I’m chiming in for good respite, too. My cousin went to respite; she has various special needs and it was pretty tiring for her parents. As a parent I get respite too–by sending my daughter to her grandparents during the summer! Same thing my parents did to me as a kid. So yes, bio parents do something like respite, too. It’s just not seen as that, but we do take breaks from our kids.

    My in laws were foster parents. They had to get permission to take kids out of state. They were LUCKY to get permission to bring H. To our out of state wedding. Had they been denied, they would certainly have chosen the wedding! And they didn’t get much notice; they were still able to get plane tickets but it was under a month beforehand. They had a group of foster friends who did respite so the kids usually knew the family they were going to, as well.

    Love all your ideas and I do look at respite in a different way from hearing your perspective.

    Reply
  • 33. riverbird2  |  September 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Good to see ya back LT. Hope you’re doing ok.

    I agree with your list except for 4 and 5. The respite care issue…I get what you’re saying…but compassion fatigue (or whatever you want to call it, i’ve heard it by many names), is a very real thing. It’s about a lot more than going on vacation and not wanting the foster kids there. The foster parent didn’t cause the severe behaviors a child might have. Neither did the child of course, but if that parent isn’t able to get a break to regroup, they are never going to be able to be a successful, long-term parent to the child. A parent who is overwhelmed and run ragged by a child’s behavior is a parent who yells, screams, hits, etc. or just checks out completely and gives up. No one is superman…everyone has a limit to what they can handle. So which is better…a parent taking time for respite, or a parent giving up on raising a child because it is too much for them to handle 24/7. I used to agree fully with you on this, but as an adult I’ve had some time to reflect back…and some time to work with kids myself….and I see just how draining my actions were on anyone who tried to take care of me. I actively sought to make their lives miserable. Not my fault…it was just the way I understood the world at the time and how I reacted since I felt I was in danger all the time…but as you know there are not many who would take an angry teenager doing everything she could to ruin them. The least they could ask for is a few days to catch their breath and regroup before coming to deal with my crazy some more. Of course at the time I saw it as abandonment…or accused them of it anyway…but now I see I had drastically unfair expectations of them and their other kids (whose lives I was also making far more difficult by my actions). I would say instead of getting rid of it, try to reform it. Most foster parents I know make a point of having their kids get to know the respite provider before the actual respite time. Maybe starting with spending some time as a family with the respite family, then some regular babysitting, and then moving on to something longer term. For many kids, respite ends up being a really fun vacation for them too. It can be done if it’s set up correctly.

    As for the aging out…I don’t necessarily disagree with you on that, but in my experience many 18 year olds are offered a transition in to independent living but don’t take it or can’t follow the rules well enough to stay in it. Most I know have just decided that they’re done with foster care and want to age out, even though it ends up often having unfortunate results. Maybe that differs by area, but that’s what I’ve seen here. I’m not sure what the upper age is now but it’s at least into your 20’s. I chose not to do that because I was going to college….but I got help paying for books and meals and stuff through an independent living type program.

    Are foster kids in your area not allowed to get jobs? That’s definitely not the case here. Most foster teens I know work.

    I definitely agree with you about the training. I’ve worked with many foster parents to share my experience, and I’ve been amazed at how many times I’ve said something thinking it’s common knowledge, only to get responses of “wow I wish that had been included in our training i didn’t know that!” I’ve offered to write some training stuff but so far no agency or anything has taken me up on it. So for now I just open myself up to any questions people want to ask on my blog so they can have an anonymous place to do it…but even that hasn’t gone very far.

    Sorry for the long reply. Interesting stuff. 🙂

    Reply
  • 34. mom25  |  September 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Amen, amen, amen!!!! LT you are amazing! As a former foster youth myself and a current foster parent, the system is still the same! It is well past time to change!

    Reply
  • 35. Cynthia Stower  |  September 4, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I’m a foster parent and I have to take exception with #5. We have four little ones under the age of four and we have to have a night off here and there in order to remain sane. The natural parents accuse me of the stupidest things sometimes and I find that to be very stressful, I’m afraid and it is NOT the children’s fault. But it reminds me that we are living in a glass house, now that we have these little ones.
    We dearly love the four that we have, but they are extremely draining. We have two respite couples who know and love these kids and they treat them with the love and respect that we have for them. They keep them when we have to go away for a few days and then we have a baby-sitter who comes into our home and gives them baths and put them to bed so we can go to church once a week.
    Our children are grown so there is no problem with jealousy over belongings and clothing.
    I do see some foster homes that I don’t agree with at all. I like to see kids dressed well and treated like regular kids. Because they are regular kids!!! And they really do deserve the best!

    Reply
    • 36. Diane madsen  |  September 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

      I agree it is needed if you want foster care parents to keep practice self care. You got to take care of your self before you can take care of anyone else.

      Reply
  • 37. Samatha  |  September 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    LT, always good to hear your perspective. I could write why respite is important and needed, but it would be from my perspective as a foster carer. I might not agree with you, but your perspective is extremely valuable.

    Reply
  • 38. cojlisa16  |  September 4, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I’m starting the CASA training this weekend. I had to wait until the adoption of our little one was final. Your comments are awesome and I totally agree with all the ones I have experienced. One of my daughters got to go to camp with her brothers (third year in a row) and it was great fun for them. Be gentle with yourself and thanks for the insight.

    Reply
  • 39. Linka  |  September 5, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Lovely to hear from you LT…I haven’t been able to be part of your private blog since you started it due to technical issues, and would like to, so can you tell me how?

    As a foster care worker (and foster parent) for many years now, I wholeheartedly agree with your list, with the exception, like some others, of #5-respite. I agree with the writer who commented about sending her kids to grandma’s for some time in the summer. Most families have some kind of “respite”, be it grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, even just babysitters. I remember a weekend when I was in first grade where the neighbors took care of me and my brother for a couple of days while my parents went away. I had a friend when my child was young who I traded time with, so I could have a stress-less trip to the grocery, or a well deserved night out or weekend away with my husband. If used properly. with what is called “best practice” (the child developing a relationship with the respite provider prior to actually going there for respite, having the opportunity to l”learn” the respite home itself with day visits,etc), respite works wonders for all involved. I do agree about foster kids going on vacation with their foster family, but have seen some foster kids absolutely blow out the vacation and ruin it for everyone, so sometimes it may not be the best option…

    I am sorry you are having a rough period, but you will get through it, you always do, and come out stronger afterwards… my prayers are with you. And again, as I have said many times before, keep on doing what you are doing, because one person at a time, you ARE changing the system…Love and blessings!

    Reply
  • 40. Ruth  |  September 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I found your blog the other day and have been reading nonstop. Your advice and perspective is so helpful. Are you going to write a book? You have enough material here to write one, maybe two. All the pain you experienced, but yet you are trying to help others is really something. Keep writing! 🙂

    Reply
  • 41. Diane madsen  |  September 9, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I would have loved to read your post to my class because we are reading Pinballs and learning about the foster care system but there is way too much 4 letter language for my middle schoolers. I wish you would think about that when you are posting, if it din’t have that I would have been able to put a link on my blog to your blog. I was a foster parent, so I understand some of the frustrations but we need to get the word out there!

    Reply
    • 42. Alannah T.  |  September 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Diane,

      I can’t speak for LT, but I really don’t think this blog as a whole would be appropriate for middle schoolers even if LT didn’t use four-letter words. There’s some really harsh reality documented in here. I started reading this blog when I was 18, and even then it was almost too overwhelming to process. (Read this post on child abuse, for example: https://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/child-abuse-should-be-prevented-every-month/ ).
      The difference between LT’s blog and the sensational nonsense you will see in the news and popular fiction is that LT doesn’t dramatize things – she describes her life exactly as it was and continues to be. For that reason, I personally appreciate some of LT’s four-letter words in her writing. Four-letter words are intense and too often thrown around without care, but if anyone in this world has the license to use them, it’s LT.

      That said, I do think some of LT’s posts may be valuable for children to read to learn more about the foster care system. It would be relatively simple to censor out the four-letter words. What I really like about LT is that she doesn’t use unnecessary sexual references simply for the shock/raunchiness factor, so if you just take out the four-letter words, you should be fine.

      Sincerely,

      Alannah

      Reply
  • 43. mommaof10  |  September 9, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    As a previous foster child, long time foster parent and an adopted parent I agree with your points. I would also like to see the the system under federal jurisdiction instead of state since it varies so widely depending on which county/state you live in as to how corrupt the court system is due to local politics. I’ve seen children linger for up to 4 years because the judge was wanting to be re-elected in 2 different counties while other parents in larger counties had rights terminated in 12 months.

    Reply
  • 44. manyofus1980  |  September 12, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Hi there…those of you who read LT’s blog, I am asking you if you’d like to read our blog. We have dissociative identity disorder and PTSD, we write about our journey to healing, our therapy process, and our ups, and downs in life. Our blog is currently private because we write about some heavy topics but if you request access we will approve you. To request access visit http://multime1980.wordpress.com/ thanks for reading

    Reply
  • 45. Debbie  |  September 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Not sure how I found this blog, but I am so glad I did! I am 37 years old and have grown up in foster care. Although I grew up in the same foster home my entire life, I can relate to what you have written here. I’ve seen it all, kids coming and going, social workers not caring or not having the proper resources to check in on the true welfare of the children. My foster parents were wonderful. It was the rest of society that was cruel. Neighborhood kids would call us the ‘foster children’ as if we weren’t real actual children. Our foster parents bio kids HATED us and made us know it everyday of our lives. We were told that we were devils children and not worthy of being in their family. Til this day we are treated as if we were some strangers off the street that they never truly acknowledged. We were never given a chance to succeed. We were constantly told by the older bio kids, who lived on their own and had their own families, that we would never be a part of their family and were completely and utterly worthless, we weren’t and would never be as good as their own children who were the same ages as us. The kids in the bio family were always 100% better, prettier, more successful, etc. It’s a struggle that I still have today. I feel I will never fit and no one will ever want me around, that I am not good enough, I have not nor will ever achieve enough and am not worthy of any kind of happy life.

    If so imperative that foster children receive some kind of psychological therapy or mentoring to know that they are worth something and that we are just as good as children born in to a bio family. I would love to start a foundation like this. I was never given any kind of motivation for a future and as the majority of the foster children are thrown out at 18 (when their funding to the foster family stops) they are never given any kind of hope for a future. If we could get this going, I feel it would benefit society as a whole. I am lucky, I have a good head on my shoulders and although it took me a while to figure out, there are so many resources for foster children, such as education. If these kids had some kind of mentor to guide them before they turned 18 and out on the street, it would save so many lives! Please, if any one would like to work with me on this, feel free to contact me.

    Debbie

    Reply
    • 46. Debbie Proulx  |  September 15, 2014 at 12:19 am

      Love you sis. You put our case beautifully. I fully agree and hope we can all change the future of foster care.

      Reply
  • 47. s00147954  |  September 14, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    LT is back! *dances* man, i really have been away for a long time. we all missed you greatly LT, it’s good to hear (or see) your words again.

    Reply
  • 48. Angela Hamilton  |  September 17, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Hi there

    I work for a national fostering agency in the UK. Five Rivers Child Care (www.five-rivers.org). Would it be possible for us to share this information with our foster carers as part of our training?

    Reply
    • 49. LooneyTunes  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      yup. please just credit the blog. thanks. peace.

      Reply
  • 50. Lynn  |  September 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I hope you’re doing okay, LT! Haven’t seen a post from you in awhile, but I hope you’re hanging in there.

    You have such amazing ideas for changes that NEED to be made to the foster care system. People that haven’t been in the system would never think of these things. Your blog should be mandatory reading for anyone involved with the foster care system. I hope it will be someday!

    Take care of yourself.

    Reply
  • 51. jamz9999  |  September 19, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Thank you for the post, LT. I tell other foster parents and prospective foster parents about your blob. Hopefully your experience will help other people’s to suck less.

    My wife and I did respite and emergency care and really enjoyed it. That said, we never used it for our adopted daughters. No way I was sending them to someone else’s home.

    Reply
  • 52. Sarah  |  September 23, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I’m so glad you exist in the world and are willing to share this kind of post! I’m not linked to fostercare at all, nor have I been, but reading your posts like this one helps me to just be more alert to where my life DOES intersect with the foster system or issues faced by kids in fostercare, and to be vigilant for when I can make a difference or advocate for kids/young adults using what I’ve learned from you.

    Also, I get what you’re saying about respite being bad and I sort of think other people are missing the point. It’s one thing if a kid gets to go to camp with their sibs (which also provides respite); it’s totally another to be left behind because you weren’t wanted (or weren’t planned for, etc). I’m with you on this one. It’s framed as “RESPITE” care, i.e. a break from the foster kids. It’s not about them developing stable relationships with other adults, or getting a fun break away from the foster parents, etc., and I’m sure that for all the posters here who’ve done it right, there are tons of people who’ve done it wrong. It’s not even framed as “date night” or something about positive adult experiences for the foster parents. It’s explicitly framed as “get-away-from-foster-kids.” And that makes all the difference.

    Anyhow, thank you for this post and the conversations you start. They challenge me to step outside my own life, which has been very privileged in family terms, and to think about how I can help make things a bit better for people who didn’t get as lucky by birth.

    Reply
  • 53. Jessica  |  September 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Hello, I am an intern at a journalism organization at Youngstown State University in Ohio and we’re working on a big story about foster care. I’m looking to talk to some people who were formerly foster children, such as yourself. If you’re interested in being involved I would love to talk to you. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 54. tina  |  September 29, 2014 at 12:37 am

    hello I am foster mom of 15 years. After my divorce I become a single mom of three daughter and also become a foster mom, Never in my wildest dream did I think I would be taking kids in to my home, which turn out to be one of the best things in my life. I have seen many chances in the system throw the years, that has benefit many kids, but not enough , my kids are grown now and so are many of the kids that have become apart of my family,,I don’t take every kids in to my home never have, I pray on every call I get because before I take kids in to my home and I have to feel something when the call comes in even if my house is empty I wait I do believe moving kids around from home to home is not good at all, I want my kids to be successful I want them to know I want them in my home, that no matter what has happen you can be anything you want to be, after being a foster mom for so long I am at the point in my life where I seen so many things and heard so many things from kids that have l lived in my home that as blown me away, from the foster homes , to case worker , to visit ,to bi parents, which I like to also say no matter what bi family is bi family and its no buddy place to judge. kids don’t ask to be born and each one of us are blessed to have our kids and family. I have seen so many things that brakes my heart , lately I cant help to think about all the kids that have age out and have no one , I have talked to some of my older kids that have aged out and people I know who have grown up in foster, I feel like in my heart ,the kids that are now grown and came out of the foster yours are the one s that can make the different for the ones that are in foster care now growing up ,, after reading your list they are so many kids that feel the same way, I feel like your voice need to be heard loudly in a group together,the change is going to come from the kids that lived throw foster care, that are now grown ,I don’t know if there is a support group for adults that grow up in foster care together we can change things for the better ,my prays are that since most of the kids that grown up in foster care, never had a voice becomes the voice of foster care that makes the different so no child grows up with out love and a family , HUGS , any way I can help please reach out to me

    Reply
  • 55. Raychel  |  September 29, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    LT you are back!! I was wondering how you were doing in your search for a mom. I am 30 years old and have been trying to get myself adopted since I was like 11. I have befriended this older couple who were childless by choice, the lady seems to be enjoying being my surrogate mother, they have a cottage on their land they may be willing to let me rent. It is so hard when you are a young woman living alone by yourself in the city with no family to call on for help. But then I think what if I get rejected by then just as did by my real mother and my aunts and grandmother ’cause I was just never good enough for them…I really don’t want to trust anyone else and get hurt again. Sometimes I wonder if I should just be alone forever and only rely on myself but that makes me sad.

    Reply
    • 56. LooneyTunes  |  September 29, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      i hear yeah. trust sucks. people have too much power. just be careful you dont get used by the old couple.
      i dont think i will ever get adopted either. and i get tired of people telling me to make my own family. if you never had one, how do you do that? im grumpy tonight, so take a words with a grain of salt. peace.

      Reply
      • 57. Raychel  |  October 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm

        Thanks for replying. I have been on the phone to them since I stayed there for 2 weeks in september and they have said I am welcome to visit again – but they want me to pay the same rate as other guests, last time I was there they said they would lower the price for me specially – the lower price is all my budget will stretch to and the woman was nice, bringing me food for no reason lol. But it is like they want me to be close to them one minute and then I am back to being an ordinary person to them the next. That is how my real mother treated me – like a toy she could play when she wanted and then forget about when she got bored, so I don’t want more of it. Plus it feels weird…like I am trying to buy my self some parents or something.

        Reply
  • 58. Angela Hamilton  |  September 30, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Thank you. We will do. Angela

    Reply
  • 59. Kimberly  |  October 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I have no idea how to work/follow a blog and am wondering why I cant get to the new post. I just checked my email-its sunday oct 5 now but new post says it came in on thursday. I read it in my email but when I come to this site it just doesnt exsist. Please explain?!?

    Reply
    • 60. LooneyTunes  |  October 5, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      i deleted it. sometimes i get in those moods and delete my work.
      peace.

      Reply
  • 61. jane  |  October 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Hi,

    You shouldnt be so hard on yourself.

    You have somewhere to live, a job and pets that you are taking care of as well as yourself and you are going to therapy appointments, you are choosing to help yourself.

    You should be really proud of yourself you are surviving. Reading your blogs has really opened my eyes to things that can happen to kids in care and the fact that youve come out on the other side makes you an inspiration in my book.

    I was abused by 2 men when i was a kid. Nothing like what happened to you and my family never knew, no one did. It took my now husband being patient and taking me to counselling to ‘fix’ me.

    Just remember if its broken it CAN be fixed with the right support.

    I think you are amazing for doing this.
    I cant believe kids in care are treated like this, they are kids ffs! And not to get them ready for life on their own is shocking. I was excited about going out on my own every kid should be. I had a box with dishes and glasses and things ready for getting my first house.

    It is possible to love a kid thats not your own. I have a step daughter that i love very much and miss when shes not with us. We only see her 4 days a month.

    I would like to foster but we are trying for a baby at the moment so arent going to be acceptable applicants till our kid is a year old which i think is stupid. We are only trying at the monent there would be plenty of time to bond and you can get the kid involved in preparing for the baby coming and helping once the baby is born. I think it would make a kid feel more a part of our family. Thats what we are doing with my step daughter cause we dont want her to feel left out for one second. We are a family.

    My husbands not sure about foster care as the only things you really hear on the news are the bad side of foster care.

    Im hoping to change my husbands mind further down the line, its heartbreaking that there are so many kids out there that arent being made to feel special and wanted as all kids should be as a basic requirement.

    I watched a documentary and a girl said she wasnt allowed to use the same crockery or cutlery as the family, a boy could only eat what was in HIS fridge and often went days without food???? I cant understand treating anyone never mind a kid that way. The same documentary had an emergency foster carer who had taken in 1000 plus kids and she said out of all those kids only 4 or 5 were truely bad and even then it was due to how they were treated and was the only way they knew how to be.

    To read that foster carers dont take the kids when they go on family holidays is just sick and twisted and evil. I really cant understand these people!

    Your blog should be required reading for all social workers and familys wanting to foster they need their eyes open and kids need protected.

    Sorry for rambling just feel really strongly about this

    Wishing you all the best

    Jane

    Reply
  • 62. krista1066  |  October 11, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Happy birthday, LT…I’m sorry I missed it yesterday. It’s wonderful to see you posting again. ❤

    Reply
  • 63. butterflysblog  |  October 12, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Sweet LT – another awesome post that will help the world. One of the many wonderful things about you that make us all lucky you keep this blog. I am in deep gratitude to you. Love, Butterfly

    Reply
  • 64. Nathan  |  October 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    LT, I was very happy to see your blog updated today; even it is was you removing things. 🙂

    Reply
  • 65. Scoopy  |  October 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Love this list LT. From the parent side, I do see why some parents feel like they need respite care to recharge and do a good job meeting the high needs of a kiddo living with the effects of trauma. I like seeing it from your perspective, that a child who goes to respite needs reassurance, an alternative fun activity, to not be tossed aside. I do know that respite can feel necessary for parents who are drained and doing their best, but I appreciate seeing that it needs to be handled with great kindness, care and sensitivity, not just a “we want to have fun without you” situation.

    Reply
  • 66. cindy  |  November 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    DPS worker should have 6 monthes of training being a foster parent. Mandatory

    Reply
  • 67. Marijane Hsiao-ling Nguyen  |  November 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Just came across your blog. I’m an adoptee and social work student. I really appreciate every point you made in this post about how to reform the system. Now if we could just make it work. I also blog on adoption and just started talking about foster care recently. Would you be willing to write a guest post? You can see my blog at http://www.beyondtwoworlds.com. Cheers.

    Reply
  • 68. MaryB  |  November 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

    In some states, like OHIO, our law makers are behind the times. Grandparents still have no rights to grandchildren in the state foster system, (note I didn’t add, “care”!). That is especially true if the grandparent can’t prove their relationship to a child born out of wedlock. Why should birth parent preferences for visitors and kinship placements come before the child’s need to be with familiar loved ones, when the birth parent messed up to begin with? Clearly the birth parent doesn’t have sound judgement about right and wrong, so how could they know what would be in the best interest of their mistreated child? Seriously, does it happen every day that an alleging grandparent contacts Children Services to claim and ask for a child (or two) in their custody? In these days of scientific advancement, where DNA testing is so common place, would it really hurt to test to either verify or discredit grandma’s claim? Especially if it could make the difference between multiple homes, or granny’s undying love and attention. It is supposed to be a Services FOR CHILDREN, is it not? Then why are those children being kept from entire branches of family – because MOM claims no relative or family friend can provide them a kinship placement – even as a grandmother, (and alleging father), are begging to be considered for placement, and the caseworker well knows it? Better effort needs to go towards securing kinship placements. The foster system needs to get past the attitude that kids will adapt, (to anyone and everyone they choose for them). I actually had a caseworker forbid me to call myself grandma to my own grandchildren, and that’s all they’ve ever known me as.

    How many whose-your-daddy talk shows have to be made before society gets it that there are caring fathers out there who got a raw deal, but do want their child? Why can drug addicts be tested routinely at state cost, (probation, for example), but a single test can’t be offered to settle a paternity issue of a child in the foster system? How many more such cases will there be when substance abuse only seems to be growing amongst our young?

    I love my grandchildren. I wanted them. I grieve for them, and it hasn’t lessened in five years since they were taken. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about them. They’re somewhere out there, probably thinking I didn’t care enough to try to rescue them, and that thought breaks my heart. I constantly wonder about them, worry about whether they’re being treated well or being mistreated.

    Reply
  • 69. Morgan  |  April 11, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Just found your blog and love it. I’m an adoption social worker. This list is perfect. Especially about the workload. I have 40 on my case load. I’m always wishing I could do more or on the verge of burnout. I’ve also seen the difference between the kids that are removed once and those that go home came back to care multiple times. Makes a big difference I their odds of being adopted. Keep writing and living your life. It’s tough but honestly we’re all just trying to do the best we can and figuring it out as we go, even us workers!

    Reply
  • 70. Mama.S.  |  May 20, 2015 at 2:55 am

    I Disagree entirely with one section of this post: you are DEFINITELY not an idiot, or stupid. I’m just starting the process to become a foster parent and your posts are so helpful, insightful, witty, honest, and intelligent. In two places so far I have seen you talk down about your intelligence. Please don’t cut yourself down. You are smart. Your readers respect and appreciate you, myself included. Keep up the good work LT, you are in my thoughts 🙂

    Reply
  • 71. Chennette Carter  |  August 4, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Hi,
    Thank you for sharing. We have started a non-profit for foster children. Our goal is to provide resources, training, and referrals for the children’s needs and transition them into college or the work place.

    After reading your blog, I see there are other areas our organization can work on. May we have permission to use your article above and your name to help us reach out to help other foster children. Thank you in advance for your response!
    Chennette Carter
    C.E.O. Pro Chance, LLC
    Modern Roots Resource & Referral

    Reply
  • 72. Heather Cornwell  |  August 7, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Hi LT, I have visited your site a number of times and I am always grateful for your insight and honesty. As a foster parent I have learned from you! I am writing a judge about an upcoming TPR hearing and I was wondering if I could quote you on: Two Strikes and You are Out. My guys that I have fostered have had a lifetime of instability and I want them to have a chance at stability. Thanks for caring and sharing!
    P.S. I found my miracle dog a couple years ago and he is such a special dog…as they say… “Rescued by a Rescue.” Peace and love

    Reply
  • 73. megamadskillz  |  December 29, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I do not agree with the two strikes at all!!! Here in MN we have that. I lost my parental rights to my beautiful wonderful kids because I was an addict and couldn’t pull it together. But they took my kids too soon. I have a lot of soberiety under my belt now and am doing wonderful. If they had only given me one more chance I would still have my kids. Drugs are difficult to come off of and super hard to stay clean from without the right support. Yes I failed my kids but the system failed us. People who have been using heavily for years can relapse and they didn’t allow for me to pick myself up and try again. I’m pissed at myself AND the foster care system.

    Reply
  • 74. Kim  |  December 30, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Thank you so much for writing this blog. We are newly verified to be foster parents. We are awaiting our first phone call for a placement. I am assuming it won’t be long. I have been looking through blogs written by foster parents when I came across yours. I think this blog may help more than all of the others when it comes to hopefully making a positive impact on our future foster children’s lives. My heart breaks for all that you have gone through. I am glad you are here. I think you are making a big difference in sharing your story. Thank you.

    Reply
  • 75. Sunjay  |  May 30, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Hey

    Sorry that you sound so angry! I know that you must be hurting. Do you realize that when a foster family goes on vacation it is to get some peace from everything that has been taking place around YOU? Sorry but that’s what it is. A foster family is given a list of ALL of your rights that should be followed “or else”. So it’s a two way street/you are in Fostercare they are trying to help be it helping you are receiving the funds to help you. So look at the situation from both sides. The social workers are under pressure from the higher uppers to keep it moving so they lash out at the next person who is in line which is the foster parent and will do anything to keep their job. Do you realize that there is a shortage of foster parents? That’s because people don’t want to be controlled in their own home. Especially by older children who”know their rights” will report them and cause havoc in the home. So please please understand that YOU also have a responsibility while in the home if YOU don’t want to be shifted from place to place.

    Reply

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE

This blog is copyrighted.
I know that means you can't take my writing without my permission. If you do, something can happen.
Plus, that is just a real shitty thing to do -- take someone's thoughts -- so don't do it!

I am happy if you want to use my writing to help those involved in the foster care system, but please, leave a comment asking if it is ok and letting me know.

Peace.

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