Thursday, October 8, 2009

Consider this my blog's PSA

Dear All Readers,

Due to the spirited debate going on in the comment section of recent blog posts, I'm putting out this PSA.

Let me make my stance on this clear. I am WELL aware of the faults of the Child Welfare System. They are plentiful and egregious - the fact that children are harmed at the hands of people in a system that is supposed to help them makes me sick. The fact that social workers let their own anger or prejudice override their education and training, is inexcusable. That even one foster parent has hurt or allowed a child to be hurt in their care, is outrageous.

I left the system two years ago because I didn't think I could deal with the red tape, jaded staff, and children who fell through the cracks.

But I came back.

Why?

It certainly wasn't for the money. Despite the repeated claims that social workers earn extra money for "adopting out" children, let me set the record straight once again. My salary for the first year I worked as a caseworker, the year I completed my Master's degree, was $29,980. I have recieved two bonuses in my 7 years of social work. My first year as an intern I got a $50 gift card to Target. My first year as a caseworker, I got $225 - the exact same amount as every other caseworker in my agency because they doled out bonuses based on your title. I had not had any children move towards adoption - I did have two children return home that year. The next two years I didn't get a bonus at all because our agency's budget was too tight. Instead, we got to have a pot luck dinner at a co worker's home and exchanged Secret Santa presents. In my four years as a caseworker, I never got to see a child adopted. But I returned 5 children home to their biological families. My ending salary, just a month after I recieved a pay raise for becoming licensed, was $33, 140.

I certainly didn't return to Child Welfare because it got easier - this year, the state I live in sent everyone into a tailspin when it cancelled ALL services for children in foster care and threatened to cut foster parents' board payments. We were quite scared about children being disrupted when foster parents recieved letters stating that they were losing all their services and that payment cuts were imminient. The state budget still isn't passed and layoffs are still hanging over every staff member's head.

And I didn't come back because I "believe in the system" either. Just yesterday, I sat in on a clinical staffing with a young mother who has 4 children in the system. The worker and supervisor explained the case history with disgust. This mother called the Hotline on herself because she had lost control and hit her child with a belt the night before. She realized that she was at her wits end - and this wasn't the kind of parent she wanted to be. She called and requested parenting classes - outrageously, all of her children were removed. She has fought for the last 4 years to have them returned to her care. She has been treated horribly by the system and almost lost the rights to 2 of her children. But the agency holding the case closed and her family was transferred to my agency. In the past year, the goal was changed back to Return Home and she is having unsupervised visits with her children. The meeting yesterday was to discuss moving towards overnight visits in her home. Every single person there had nothing but positive things to say about this mom and we are all hoping that her children will be home by Christmas. It is horrible that this family has been ripped apart for nearly 5 years!

So, why did I go back?

Because I would rather be trying to change the system from the inside... than complaining about it from the outside.

Do you smile understandingly at the mother struggling with her screaming two year old at Wal-Mart?

Or are you judging her with your eyes as you check out?

Are you helping out the single mother down the street?

Or are you complaining about her grass not being mowed?

Are you offering to watch your neighbor's kids while she gets some grocery shopping done?

Or are you muttering under your breath about them needing to get their priorities straight?

Are you making efforts to be a mentor to a child?

Or walking the long way around to avoid the pack of teenagers hanging out at the mall?

Are you volunteering in a family preservation program, substance abuse program, domestic violence or homeless shelter?

Or are you telling yourself that it could never happen to you?

Are you a foster parent who can provide a safe home for a child and help them return home? A social worker who works 14 hour days to try to meet everyone's needs and insane state mandates? A CASA worker who looks out for the best interests of children in court?

Or are you stereotyping everyone by the actions of a few?

Are you actually doing something?

Or are you just sitting around and pointing out the failures of those who have at least had the nerve to try?

I have lain awake at night worrying about the major decisions I made in the lives of children and their parents. I have agonized over chosing a home for a child - only to pick them up when they ended up being kicked out a year or sometimes even a week later. I have been sick about the children that I was supposed to protect - but couldn't. I have raged with other social workers when our hands have been tied or our suggestions unheaded. I have consoled foster parents when they had to say goodbye to children in their care. I have comforted biological parents as their rights were terminated. I have cried for children that had neither foster nor biological parents who were invested in their lives.

Not just stories in the news or that I read in a blog.

Real children whose hands I have held and pain I have witnessed.

Real parents - biological, foster, and adoptive - who care about those children.

Real Social Workers - who are trying to make the best of the huge responsibility in a broken system.

*******************************************************

So please, consider this my blog's PSA:

I know the system is flawed.

I know that some of its players are flawed.

I know that I am flawed.

But I'm still willing to put myself out there and try to make it better.

28 comments:

  1. I am glad you are working in the system. There are good and bad workers in every position everywhere. In my experience I have worked with both good and bad social workers. Right now, my former foster daughter's social worker (Fiona is in an RTC) totally rocks and I am in awe of the placement she has secured for her. I think it is always better to do what you can positively than just rail against the system. Keep it up!

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  2. Amazing PSA!!! You have said it all. So many people are willing to sit on the sidelines and just complain instead of doing something to change it. I believe that "doing something" implies action NOT just words! While I do think education of the public is a good thing, I also think the best way to go about educating people is by living what you preach. All of these people from sites like Legally Kidnapped and Divotdawg's site...they never actually talk about what they are actually doing to change things. Sure they write on blogs and complain about how things haven't worked, yet what are they really doing. I think blogging is great. I think it's a great way to get the word out there, but how can you expect people to move to action without an example to follow?

    I wish you worked in our county. I think you are a great asset and I really appreciate your drive to fight for the rights of everyone involved. You fight for what's right even if it's going against popular opinion and I think you should be commended for that.

    OK off my soapbox now!! I'm just so passionate about this that I get carried away sometimes! LOL

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  3. amazing. my favorite line is "Or are you just sitting around and pointing out the failures of those who have at least had the nerve to try? "

    dont let the haters get you down. some people are idiots and will never really understand.

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  4. As for legally kidnapped and cps a system out of control who you claim doesn't tell anyone what they are doing to fix the system, well, there's a good reason for that. We don't want CPS and social workers to know what we're doing. If they do, then they will have forewarning and know how to counter it. We are not going to tip our hand and for you to think we should is ludicrous. We have called CPS on foster parents who admit that they don't want the children in their care but guess what! Nothing is done about it. Never ever underestimate the power of raising awareness either! How else is the system going to change if people aren't aware of the corruption in it?

    So you sit back and make judgments on us but we're not allowed to do it to you. We are doing things very proactively to fix this broken and flawed system. I am personally working on a bill that a few of my friends and I hope to get passed into law. That is NOT nothing. I wouldn't dare tell you what's on that bill but suffice it to say, if it works, CPS will no longer be allowed to kidnap and sell children for the federal adoption bonus money OR Title IV-E funding. They will no longer be rewarded for destroying families.

    I advocate for parents all across America, giving them help, advice, support, friendship and most of all hope that they will be successful in their fight against CPS. Is that NOTHING too?

    I have a number of blogs dedicated to CPS reform. I have two Yahoo groups. I have a social network dedicated to fighting CPS. Is that nothing too?

    I spend 14 to 18 hours per day helping families fight CPS. Is that nothing?

    I raise money and do toy/clothing drives for victims of domestic violence. I raise funds to help families fight CPS. I am the fund-raising director for a non-profit group dedicated to helping fathers who need help with child support AND for families fighting CPS.

    I have basically given up my life for this cause. Is that nothing too? I have to close now, another family is being harassed by CPS and I need to attend to them.

    So don't say I don't do "nothing." I do more in one day helping rebuild families than you do destroying them. Until you've walked a mile in their shoes, don't judge them.

    "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone."

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  5. Ok, so the system is flawed. But it is not fair for you to say that all the people working IN the system are flawed.
    Some of us want the same things you want! I understand your sentiment and passion divotdawg, I agree with a lot of it, but I do not understand your generalization to ALL social workers.
    Why can't we all work together for a solution? It just seems counteractive...

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  6. Keep up the good work! Those are good questions for us all to ask and answer.

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  7. Ok, I give up- you win. I see that you have no interest in seeing both sides of this issue.Please feel free to ignore the times. when I talk about the sadness I feel at children who lose so much, parents whose struggles I respect and thr ways I have tried to make these things better.

    It would be best if you focused on the times I have said something nice about a foster home or suggested that I may have been less than perfect. Be sure point it out when you see me slip and give anyone the benefit of the doubt. And please continue to point out how evil I must be just because I carry the title "Social Worker". I will not hold these things against you.

    I appreciate that you are supporting parents and trying to change a broken system. I wish you could see that we are in agreement about a great many things but are mearly pursuing change in different ways. You obviously have a very good reason for needing to see me as just one more pawn in the Child Welfare charade. I'm sorry that I tried to convince you otherwise.

    1 Peter 2:1

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  8. If the social worker is human, they're flawed just by virtue of being a human being. They make mistakes just like the rest of us do. To say they don't would be to call them God and they are NOT God, most just think they have His power. The difference though between a social worker and a bio parent is if a bio parent makes a mistake, they lose their child. If a social worker makes a mistake, they're immune. It's too late. The family has already been destroyed.

    I know that not all bio parents are good and loving but the vast majority of parents who lose their children to the state are never charged with a crime. Child abuse and neglect IS a crime. If you cannot be tried and convicted of it, then you should not lose your children. It's that simple.

    I'm also quite aware that there are some good social workers out there, I just have yet to meet one. I don't know if they're burned out or if they are truly sociopaths but these people should not have the power to say who gets to keep their children and who doesn't. If the parents are abusive, call the police. If they need some help, then you provide the family with every resource possible to keep the family together. In other words, if you cannot convict them, you cannot remove their children.

    You say you are trying to change the system too. How are you going about doing that? Are you reporting other social workers who remove children just so they can get adoption bonus money for the state? Are you trying to change the rules and help bio parents keep their children? In my eyes if you're not a part of the solution then you ARE the problem.

    I do everything I can to help parents who have been falsely accused of child abuse and/or neglect. Notice that I say FALSELY accused. I would never help anyone get a child back if they were/are abusive. However, out of about 250 families I have only found 2 that fell into the abusive parents category.

    I hope you do change the system and make it right. Until there is no financial incentives though to remove, terminate and adopt, I don't think it's going to get any better, no matter how good of a social worker you are.

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  9. Divotdawg- In response to your last comment... Never did I say that you do nothing to solve the issues. What I said, if you go back and read, is that you don't talk about what you are doing. I'm glad that you are doing something. Do I agree with your position. Absolutely not. Do I agree that sometimes children are removed that shouldn't be? Yes. Do I agree that they are not always returned when they should be? Yes. However, I ask you this...In your opinion, is there never a good enough reason to remove a child from their home? It also seems to me that your primary focus is fighting CPS. Could your focus not be on the kids? I know that you are going to say that kids being removed from their homes is what you are fighting, but what about the kids that are being hurt? What about the ones that don't want to go home? Why is it that you won't share what you are trying to accomplish? Is it possible that those of us that agree, change needs to happen, may agree and be able to join your cause?

    You say you advocate for parents, but I'm a parent and yet you question my motives for caring for the children in my home without knowing who I am, where I live, or really how I care for said children. Have you been in my home when I was up all night rocking a baby that was literally so sick she was dying? Were you here when my foster daughter was so devastated because her parents missed their visit once again because (in their words) they wanted to sleep in? Were you here when I called said bio parents and told them how much their daughter needed them and I would do whatever I could to help them get their kids back as soon as possible? Were you here when I was sitting alone knowing my foster daughter was dying and I could hardly pick myself up off the floor from grief because I didn't get to say goodbye because I didn't want to take time away from her birth parents?

    I would also like to know exactly how it is that I am destroying families? That's a pretty bold statement to make about someone you have never met and know nothing about. I do not make the decision as to whether or not a child is removed from their home. I do not decide when my kids go home. I do not decide anything. Do you not know or understand that foster parents have NO rights?! Nothing. I can't take them for haircuts without asking. I'm glad it's that way, but how can someone with no control or decision making power become the destroyer of families?

    Are you so hurt/jaded/cynical (whatever the case may be) that you can't remove yourself enough to be able to say that some of us (foster parents/social workers) do have the best of intentions and DO want what's best for the kids and are doing the best we can for them? Do you not understand that there are some foster families that would give their lives for these children? I would have given anything in this world to have taken the place of my foster daughter that died. ANYTHING! The fact that you can say money is my only motivation is why I think that you will never be successful in your cause. To be successful in making change, you need to be able to see and at least appreciate both sides of the equation.

    You talk about not throwing the first stone, but my friend, it is you who have gone on the offensive. I merely said that you do not talk about the actions you are taking which you, yourself agreed with saying that you didn't want to tip your hand and let CPS know what you were up to. That is not a judgment, it was a factual statement which you agreed with. Again, I never said you did nothing. You say you have given your life to the cause of fighting CPS, well I have given mine to loving the kids that come into my home.

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  10. I agree with the first comment.pointless throwing stones and not actively helping to change the situation.Whether you are a social worker or not,bad things will happen.At least with your infulence, you can try make it better for one family at a time.Keep it up.

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  11. Socialworker24/7 - that was an excellent post - so well written, thoughtful and you were able to consider the viewpoints of others while still stating your position.

    Divotdawg - Do you understand that your insistence that ALL social workers are evil and ALL foster parents are just in it for the money completely robs you of any credibility?

    You seem to disregard everything the Socialworker24/7 shares with us about her personal experience working in the system. Do you read her posts? She does not receive bonus money for adopting out kids. Did you read this part of her post - “In my four years as a caseworker, I never got to see a child adopted. But I returned 5 children home to their biological families.” Do you think that she is lying?

    You said, “I'm also quite aware that there are some good social workers out there, I just have yet to meet one.” Divotdawg, if you took the time to read this blog, with an open mind, you would see an example of a very good, very caring social worker.

    Divotdawg, you have something important and worthwhile to say. But when you state your position in such absolute terms and won't even consider for a moment that there are other truths out there and other people with experiences that differ from yours – you come across as unreasonable, close-minded and completely unwilling hear other points of view. You alienate people who might be sympathetic and willing to help you with your advocacy. It really is a shame. There is much work to be done. You could be a voice for change that inspires people to get involved. You are not that voice.

    The Blind Men and the Elephant
    A community of blind men once heard that an extraordinary beast called an elephant had been brought into the country. Since they did not know what it looked like and had never heard its name, they resolved to obtain a picture, and the knowledge they desired, by feeling the beast - the only possibility that was open to them! They went in search of the elephant, and when they had found it, they felt its body. One touched its leg, the other a tusk, the third an ear, and in the belief that they now knew the elephant, they returned home.

    But when they were questioned by the other blind men, their answers differed. The one who had felt the leg maintained that the elephant was nothing other than a pillar, extremely rough to the touch, and yet strangely soft. The one who had caught hold of the tusk denied this and described the elephant as, hard and smooth, with nothing soft or rough about it, more over the beast was by no means as stout as a pillar, but rather had the shape of a post. The third, who had held the ear in his hands, spoke: "By my faith, it is both soft and rough." Thus he agreed with one of the others, but went on to say:  Nevertheless, it is neither like a post nor a pillar, but like a broad, thick piece of leather."

    Each was right in a certain sense, since each of them communicated that part of the elephant he had comprehended, but none was able describe the elephant as it really was; for all three of them were unable to comprehend the entire form of the elephant.



    Divotdawg, time to let go of the ear and step back to see the whole elephant.

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  12. grasshopper, you said it absolutely perfectly!!

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  13. My last response was in reply to someone who said not all social workers are flawed. Well, they're human so just by that virtue, they're flawed. The few good social workers and foster care providers unfortunately don't stay in it very long. Over the course of a year, I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of social workers that were assigned to my case. They all quit DSS within a month. What is that supposed to tell me??? The same principle applies to the vast majority of parents that I help.

    Talk about absolute truths here, a social or case worker has aleady made up his/her mind regarding the fitness of a parent long before arriving at their homes. If the parents force them to get a warrant and to respect their Constitutional rights, they're labeled as trouble-makers and they WILL have the case substantiated EVEN IF THEY HAVE TO LIE. I've seen this entirely too many times.

    If all the fosters are so great, then how come they're trying to extend payments to them until the child reaches the age of 21? I'll tell you why, it's because it is NOT about the child but about the money. A real parent doesn't kick their children out on their birthdays with no job, no money or anywhere else to go. They just don't do that but foster care providers do.

    By the same token, I have talked with a few that were reasonably happy with the foster care providers for their children but not the case workers. I did have one good CPS worker that was on our side 100% but she was a parenting facilitator and when her report reflected something different than what they wanted to hear, they forced her to add something to it. I know this for a fact because the copy that she gave us said one thing but the one given to the judge said something different. Did our court-appointed attorneys do anything? Hell no!!! They're response...We don't want to piss off the judge. I've heard this same statement come out of the mouths of hundreds of families. Are we making it up? Come on, when the vast majority are using the exact same words independent of each other, then that's very telling.

    To be continued...

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  14. Continued...

    You base your opinions on your own personal experiences the same way I base mine. On the day that I hear the words...I had a great social worker, court-appointed attorney AND foster care provider for my children, then I'll concede that CPS is really all about the children and NOT all about the money. Until then, I'm going to keep right on fighting this corrupt and out of control industry. That means corrupt social workers as well. You can't have a corrupt agency with good people running it so yeah, I blame it all on the social workers. They want job security and big bonuses just like we all do and that's the only way they're going to get it, by removing children unnecessarily, terminating parental rights and adopting them out of the foster/adopt market.

    Since you told a story, let me add one of mine only this is a true accounting of just how seriously corrupt CPS and social workers are.

    I had a family on the west coast that I was helping get their children out of the state's custody. They were admitted and known meth addicts. They couldn't get off without help and they had no family members to help them out by taking their children while they went into rehab. Someone reported them, as well they should. They then searched high and low and found a program run by the Salvation Army which was an in depth 6 month program where the whole family could stay together. They did what they were supposed to do and reported it to CPS, thinking that it would be okay. Within the hour, CPS was at the program with an emergency removal order for all 3 children. WTF??? Anyway, they had to have an emergency hearing within 2 to 3 days in front of a judge but the problem was, you couldn't leave the facility for the first month, I think it was. However, they managed to attend because they agreed for another worker at the rehab center to attend court with them. The judge upheld the removal.

    After that fiasco, these 2 parents worked their butts off working this program. They attended mandatory and voluntary parenting classes, drug classes, anger management, etc. They stuck it out for 6 months and then moved on to transitional housing where there were strict, very strict, rules. They took random drug screens which all came back clean, breathalyzer tests, home inspections, etc. They accomplished more in 6 months than most parents accomplish in a year. Oh, and they also had to take CPS run parenting classes as well as their own drug tests which, again, always turned up clean. Did that help them out? No! They were also required to either be enrolled in school or get a job. They both went to school AND went to work. They found tons of resources and had everything they needed, except for toys, for their children when they finally came home.

    I have never seen a family so dedicated and so determined to do the right thing for their children. The things they did to regain custody of their children was simply amazing. Six months after the removal, they went to court with all these documented facts and CPS asked the judge to terminate parental rights and the judge did.

    So if this family cannot get their children back then there's really not much hope for the rest of the country. They did not only what was court ordered but soooo much more. It is very discouraging especially when I read the news and see where yet another child has been beaten, raped, starved, abused, neglected, gone missing and even killed while in the state's custody.

    To be continued...

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  15. It would be very nice to meet or talk to someone who had a very positive experience when dealing with CPS. Unfortunately, they're not the ones who come looking for these groups, blogs and websites as they didn't lose their children. So I guess I'll have to concede that maybe, just maybe, there's a few good people left in this business. However, from my own personal experiences and those of others going through this, the social workers AND the foster care providers made their lives a living hell!!! I just don't see CPS as the wonderful, benevolent, and altruistic industry that you do. I'm tired of fighting a system where no matter what a parent does, there is no winning.

    So if the author of this blog can tell me how to help these families without them having to stipulate to charges or deny themselves their constitutional rights, I'd be ever so grateful.

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  16. Divotdawg, I've tried to locate your email address on your blog but couldn't find it. Could you please email me at socialwrkr_247@live.com and I would be happy to try to help you in some of these requests. I don't think that CPS is wonderful, benevolent, or altruisic either. But perhaps I can give you some insight into how things happen from an "insider" perspective. This may be helpful in your pursuit of justic for these families. Thanks.

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  17. I'm sorry about that. I forgot I took down my "About Me" section that had my story in it. My email address is bwalexander3@yahoo.com.

    For the record, I never said that you are a bad social worker. You may be the best thing to happen to CPS and bio parents but I'm looking at it from a whole different point of view. I have yet to meet a good one that stayed on longer than a month.

    I have tons of questions that I want answers to be the thing is, I want honest answers and I know you're going to want to defend your profession and I respect that, I really do. However, I too want to be respected. I have had nothing but negative outcomes when dealing with CPS in my own life as well as in the life of my parents. By that I mean the parents that I'm helping. Sometimes all it takes is just for one person to be on your side. Children already have a ton of advocates but not the parents. Also, I'd never help a parent who was truly abusive either.

    So please do email me. So long as your answers will be honest as you know them to be and you don't paint out CPS to be this wonderful organization that is only about the children. We know different. I'm also not insinuating that you're a liar either. I just don't want PR, I want the truth. Thank you.

    bwalexander3@yahoo.com

    Please do not email me if you have nothing constructive to say or do. I am not giving this out so that I can be harassed by anyone. I don't mind criticism but if it's offensive, that's a different game altogether.

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  18. socialworker 25/7 seriously do not even think about emailing Divotdawg. they are a spaz and are not appreciative at all for the hard work that you put into doing your best for children and families. do your self a favor and just let them be cranky and ignorant~ don't allow them to pull you down with them.

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  19. It's funny but when I make rash judgments on social workers and foster care providers, that's horrible but yet you turn around and do it to me. Let me tell you something...I might be cranky but I am far, far from ignorant. Oh, I wish I was. I wish to God I didn't know how bad CPS destroys families. What I would give to live in blissful, oh sweet blissful, ignorance. Unfortunately, that is not my lot in life. I know far more than I ever wanted to know but now that I do, I certainly don't want to "unlearn" it. Not until it is torn down and rebuilt will I be satisfied.

    So if you're suggesting that she ignore me then that tells me that you guys are scared of what you might find out about the so-called wonderful, benevolent industry known as CPS. But you guys are a wee bit too late as she has already invited me to ask her any questions that I have. I asked 12 so far and have barely scratched the surface.

    So now that they're asked, if she takes your advice and doesn't email me back, then that's very telling. I didn't accuse her personally of anything. I asked pertinent, relevant questions that I believe I have a right to be answered. However, if she can't answer them or don't want to, that will tell me a lot also. I am going to post the entire email on my blog and if she gives me permission to post her answers, I will post them too!

    Do NOT call me ignorant again. It's childish and makes you sound like a petulant child who's not getting their way. I haven't called YOU a name and that was highly uncalled for. So if you want to get into some kind of childish argument here, that's fine but I'd much rather do this in a respectful and adult manner. And don't even begin to think you know anything at all about me and my passion to help families falsely accused by CPS.

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  20. Sorry for the many posts tonight but I want to defend my position, so to speak. If you really want to know why I am so passionate about CPS reform and the foster care system totally revamped, please visit the following website. If the foster parents love these children so much and are NOT doing it for the money, then why are they being kicked out the day they turn 18? Please, if anyone has a logical, good explanation other than the money dried up, please tell me. I'm desperate to find out that foster care providers can be good people. After all, that's where a lot of my friends' children are right now and I'd LOVE to be able to reassure them that they're loved, wanted and protected and won't be homeless on their 18th birthday. And maybe, just maybe, if CPS would stop needlessly removing children just for the adoption bonus money, this wouldn't be an issue! Just a thought, IMHO. Copy/paste the following into your browser...

    www.thedailytell.com/2009/10/new-resource-center-to-support-creation-of-safe-permanent-foster-care-families/

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  21. Let me tell you what happens when you try and do something! You write letters you can then you show all the paper work to back up things then you go into that court room and you tell it to the Judge and that Judge calls for an investagation and then CPS is knocking at your door with a false report on you then you go back to court and that Judge you thought would do something well that Judge is no longer there and now your so scared if you say anything else someone will came after you again! Now our so called leader is adding no smoking to are DCS/CPS policy but doing nothing about those foster/ relitive homes that drink around our kids or putting a stop to those bad workers who set in court and lie. See doing something does nothing but get you into trouble. I myself and my friends will all come together someday and we will show all the bad some of these workers and fosters and family do to our children and our families.

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  22. Divotdawg, You keep bringing up that foster parents take placements only for the money. Do you realize that not all of us take teenage placements? We do not, mostly because our own son is young and we have no experience raising teenagers so we prefer to stay with what we know which is children 5 and under. I can tell you that if/when we ever were to foster teenagers we would not kick them out at 18 (not that you would believe me telling you that). I have said before that I agree that there are foster parents that do it for the money and I also agree that those foster homes have their priorities clearly misplaced. You know, my biggest complaint about your arguments is that you put everyone into the same tiny box. You say you have never met a good foster home or social worker that has lasted longer than a month...well I have a hard time believing that you have met all of us in order to be able to make the judgment that we are all bad and are all doing it for financial incentive. I take great offense to that statement. I understand that your primary experiences with CPS/SW/Foster Homes have been negative due to the fact that you advocate for families that have had negative experiences, but really, honestly, it is very hard for me to respect you or your opinion when you constantly lump everyone together and assume that we are all bad. In this debate, I have not once attacked you personally or what you do, in fact, I have agreed with many of the things that you have said and are doing (as have many of the other writers here) and yet with nearly every comment you have made on this blog, you have, in my opinion, blasted me for what I do. I do NOT do this for money. I do it because for whatever reason God chose to give me one child when for my whole life, I have wanted to be a mom to many kids. I do LOVE my kids. I love them the same as I love the son that I gave birth to. The fact that you continue to say that we all do it for the money is a personal attack on my life's calling which is love, taking care of, and being an advocate for children. So for you to be angry that someone would call you a name (not that I agree with the fact that it happened) is in many ways two-faced. How can you judge others and yet be surprised when you yourself are judged? I don't know why these foster homes are kicking these kids out. I don't know who could do that to a child, but as you have pointed out, there obviously are. Once again, nearly all of us responding to this post have said that we agree with much of what you say about the system needing reform and yet you do not acknowledge that. You simply continue to put us into categories of good vs. bad and anyone involved with the system is automatically bad. Do you not read what we have been saying to you??!! Do you just not believe us? I ask you this...if it is that you are not listening to what we are saying...why would/should we listen to your position? If it is that you do not believe what we are saying...why would/should we believe you?

    I invite you too, to email me with any questions you have from the foster parent side. You can reach me at foster_mama@ymail.com . I don't and won't claim to have all the answers, but I will be honest about my perspective on the process and what goes on in my home.

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  23. Personally I don't care whether you like what I have to say or not. As far as lumping all social workers into one group, well, that's tit for tat. Almost all americans believe that if you lose your kids that you did something horrible to cause it. That is so not true. Social workers come into homes knowing that they're going to substantiate a case against you because there is a very marketable child in the home. The others might not be but they're just collateral damage.

    No, I have not met every social worker or foster care provider in the world but the ones I have met were nasty, mean, hateful and most of all liars. I had a great social worker to start with. She was simply wonderful. She did everything for us, helped us get services we needed as I couldn't work for 15 months due to a severe medical complication following a hysterectomy. She quit after only 6 weeks. She was told to remove a child and she refused. They wrote her up so she quit. The child wasn't in danger. She called us and apologized for leaving us and told us point blank good luck with the next one cos we were sure going to need it. Boy, was she right! She stopped all services to us, saying they didn't have the funds. She accused my husband of abuse when he never laid an unkind or inappropriate hand on any of my children and basically told me I had 3 days to move out or lose my girls. I had no job, no money, no car, nothing. Where the hell was I supposed to go?

    During the whole course of this sham trial (that's what it was called in the courthouse and when they said "sham trial" it was short-hand for the Alexander court case), we were given so many different social workers that I couldn't even begin to tell you who they were. Each one was worse than the one before.

    You know, I'm really tired of trying to convince you that I have every reason in the world to distrust social workers and foster care providers. I provided the author with a number of cases involving corrupt or incompetent social workers and maybe she'll share them but these are not MY cases, these made national headlines.

    Now, let me ask you a question this way. If you had never had contact with a dog in your life and you moved into a neighborhood that had a lot of mean, hateful, bad tempered dogs and they all did their best to break loose to get to you and you had to go through this every day of your life for 7 years until you moved into a neighborhood with nice dogs. How much would you trust these dogs? Would you go outside and say here doggy? No cos you would be terrified of him/her. You would base your opinion of these dogs based on your own personal experiences, even if they aren't what some people would call "rational."

    To be continued...

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  24. After talking with SocialWorker, I realize that she might actually be one of the good ones that I've heard about. I don't know. I don't know you or her from Adam. You can put anything on the internet about yourself but that doesn't make it any more or less true. She has offered to answer my questions and she is the FIRST one ever to agree to that. I have treated her with nothing but respect in my letters. I made a point of being very nice as I am a nice person. I'm just very angry at a system that everyone agrees needs reform but no one is willing to step up to the plate and do anything about it.

    Senators Pam Roach and Nancy Shaefer basically committed political suicide by speaking out against the corruption in CPS. Just google their names to listen to what they have to say. Don't take my word for it. Take theirs.
    They KNOW how bad it is. They tried to do something about it but to no avail so far.

    All I want is a chance to be heard and to be listened to. Maybe I get a little overly passionate and sound offensive but that's only because of the extreme frustration I feel. You're right and I shouldn't lump everyone all together but I do believe the vast majority of foster care providers and social workers are corrupt. Thank God I honestly believe my children's adoptive mother really does love them although she has done everything she can to alienate them from their dad and I. How can I not resent that, especially when we were found innocent of ALL charges against us but lost only because they said "too much time had elapsed." What a crappy ending to a crappy 7 years of fighting.

    Anyone can email me personally if you want to let me have it or whatever. I'll be more than happy to offer documents to back up my statements if you're interested.

    Oh and one last thing about foster care providers, no one wants to take in the teenagers and unfortunately they're the ones who need it soooooo bad. They're stuck in group homes where they don't receive any one-on-one attention and they don't have one single person that believes in them. If I could become a foster parent, I'd only take in teens. They'd never get kicked out at 18 either. Although it wasn't a legal adoption, I did semi-adopt a 16 year old girl. She was and is still very much loved. She lived with us on and off for about 6 years. She was my daughter. She chose us and my life got so much better because she was in it. My email address is bwalexander3@yahoo.com.

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  25. The system is not flawed, it is corrupt...... When money becomes involved, even a good social worker following the advice of their supervisor is subject to doing the wrong things.... No not all social workers are bad, but many of the good ones become so frustrated in what they see that they ahve to quit. To compare the reform movement with allowing abuse id rediculous. All anyone wants is accountability within this system..... If anyone is to be criticized for "not doing anyting" its the good social workers who do not expose the problems for what they really are and go about their buisness collecting their paycheck regardless of the wrongs they see.... Remeber doing nothing to thwart the wrong is just as if you are doing the wrong yourself.....

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  26. OK, wow!! This will be my last comment to you Divotdawg. All throughout my last comment, I agreed with you except for the fact that all foster homes/parents are bad. That is the ONLY point to which I disagreed. Yet, you say you don't care whether I like what you say or not??? So you don't care that I like most of what you say? You don't care that I agreed with you on every point except that what I personally am doing in my life and my home is bad!? So because I won't bash myself, you just simply cast aside all of my valid points (which are many of the same points you are making)? Do I know that teenagers need homes and are one of the hardest to place? Yes! Did I give a reason as to why we don't take them as placements? Yes! Not that you'll agree, but if teenagers are not something I feel equipped to handle, is that not a GOOD thing that I am willing to say that there's something I cannot do rather than take these children in and be of no real help to them because I am not comfortable in my ability to care for them?? Do you not read that I fight and push for not only the rights of my foster children, but also the rights of their parents. I fight for their visitation, contact, and their return. I have said all of these things and yet I do nothing? As socialwrkr24/7 said, can someone not work within the system to change it? All I get from you is that because I'm not doing what you are doing...I'm not fighting in the manner that you are fighting...it makes me bad!? THAT is why I have a hard time respecting your opinion, not your cause, but your opinion! The reason this will be my last comment to you is that I simply cannot say anymore than I have to you already about how I agree with what you have said and what I am doing in my home and in my life to change what I see as serious flaws in the system. The fact that you cannot or will not acknowledge that people can work towards the same goal and start at opposite ends, you will never be as successful as you could be in your fight. You fight from the outside and I from the inside, but I know there is no convincing you. The sad part is that you are right that in all of this, it's the families and children that are paying the price.

    I don't know you from Adam either and yet I have agreed with you and even when I respectfully haven't agreed and given you my take, I do not get the same respect. I am not you. I do not have the same life experiences as you. I do not have the same talents as you. I do not know the same people as you. Because of that, you say I should not judge you. I'm not the one that's being labeled as evil, heartless and greedy (you said I foster only for money and that I destroy families). I will continue to do what I do because I know that it's my calling in this life.

    In order to be successful at anything that requires more than one person, you need to have people in different roles. All I have been saying all along is that I agree and support your cause - I just have a different role than you. If you can't respect or understand or accept that than you will never EVER succeed the way you would like to. I wish your cause the greatest success in making the system better and I will continue to do my part. I will NOT however continue a dialogue in which my opinion is discounted simply because of my title. I will not continue a dialogue in attempts to prove to someone that I have never met and will never meet that I am a good person doing good work with good intentions.

    For the record, I'm sorry you have been hurt. I'm sorry that your interactions with all other foster homes have been negative. I hope that someday, you'll be able to have some positive interactions with some good foster parents that are able to convince you, as I have clearly not, that not all of us are the evil money-grubbing home-wreckers you claim we all are. I wish I could have been that person, but you are too hurt, too blinded, whatever the case may be, to see beyond your limited perspective to look at the whole picture. For that, I am truly sorry.

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