I think everyone who reads this blog knows that we have fostered children.
Let me just say that the foster care system in this country is JACKED UP.
When a child is removed from a home a parent usually has up to six months awarded by the court to get whatever it is they need straightened out done so. Sometimes less time is given but no more than six months. After (I'm going to use the maximum amount of time - because it has been in our case) six months the parents go back before the judge and they can prove they have done what is completed. If it is - kids go home. If not - kids stay in care and the case worker can either ask for another "temporary" guardianship order or a "permanent" guardianship order. Usually after six months, unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances, the case worker will not ask for permanent guardianship but will continue to work with the family towards getting the child home.
In the time that the child/children are in care, the case worker must explore other possible placements for the child/ren in the event that return to parents is not possible.
They look to family members - this is known as kinship placement. This is the most sought after alternate care plan for the children. Family group conferences are held to try and establish who could possibly come forward in the event the parents cannot, to care for the children.
If there is family, they must pass criminal record checks and child welfare checks and their homes must be inspected and they must go through a process JUST as rigorous as any adoptive home. Those who have adopted children know that this process is very invasive and a huge pain - but absolutely necessary.
So now, twelve months have passed. HOPEFULLY by this time the parents have their shiznet together, because it is only legal to ask for temporary guardianship twice - or up to 12 months. Then the court MUST take the children and find alternate homes for them in order to provide the MOST stability and quickest resolution IN THEIR LIVES.
Here's what I think should NOT happen in foster care......
1. Kids should not be returned to parents who have no home.
2. Kids should not be returned to homes where individuals did not pass criminal record checks or child welfare checks.
3. Kids should not be returned to homes where they were removed from WHEN NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THAT HOME "just because" workers are too busy with too many cases to adequately follow up and have things like drug tests completed.
4. Kids should not go from having "2 hour supervised" visits on an unpredictable schedule to being released to homeless parents for completely unsupervised overnight (week long) visits before court because all of a sudden the court date is imminent and no transition plan has been made for the children.
5. Foster families should not be treated like chattel.
So if you are thinking of being a foster parent I have just one word of advise to you. RUN AWAY. RUN AWAY FAST before you meet and fall in love with, and care for children who will then be manhandled by a broken system.