Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In Response to...

Divotdawg , who left the following comment on my post from yesterday...

I see a lot written on here about how wonderful and great foster care providers are (they are NOT parents) but I don't see anything about natural parents. CPS social workers lie, twist facts and exaggerate so that they can remove, terminate parental rights, and adopt them out of the foster care system for the ASFA federal bonus money AND for Title IV-E funding.

It is very apparent that foster carers do it for the money because the vast majority kick the kids out of the home on their 18th birthday. So if it's truly for love, why do they kick them out? It's because the money dries up. Now they're trying to extend monthly stipends until the age of 21 to fosters who allow them to remain in the home. They should do it because it's right, NOT because they get paid to do it. Plus they get WIC, food stamps, and Medicaid. If they so much as buy a popsicle out of their own pocket, they get reimbursed by the state. At Christmas and on other special occasions, they get the crap presents while the money they make off these foster children go towards buying their real children expensive presents. In the city I live in, every October we do a toy drive for foster kids. They're in foster homes, not in a group home either. The fosters are just too cheap and sorry to buy them gifts.

Then I talk to all of these real parents whose only crime was poverty who have to beg for every scrap of help they're entitled to because let's face it, social workers and CPS target the poor, the uneducated and the weakest of the bunch. Poor people have become nothing more than breeders for the states.

I know this won't get published and if it does, it will be quickly taken off but I had to have my say. So to anyone who reads this, I have documented proof of everything I said here. No, I am not some pissed off real parent who had their children removed. I am a really pissed off human being, appalled at how badly foster children are treated.

Children are way more likely to be abused, neglected, raped, go missing and even killed while in foster care. Google Hassani Campbell, Gabriel Meyers, or just plain Foster Care deaths. You will be amazed at what you're going to find out

First of all, I never delete comments from my blog. Yours is not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last. If you had left a way for me to contact you, via email or a blog of your own, I would have told you these things. Despite my belief that you are only seeing one side of the picture - I appreciate that your side exists.

Second, I want to address a statement that I see made all too often by those who criticize the child welfare system. That statement goes something like, "All social workers want to take children away from their parents so that they can adopt them out and get money for them". Let me tell you right now - SOCIAL WORKERS DON'T SEE A DIME OF THAT MONEY. We get paid the same pitiful amount whether we have 10 families on our caseloads or 30. We get paid the same whether children are in intact families or foster families. We get paid that same amount whether the child gets adopted or returns to their biological families. So, the person who is in charge of the case, makes the decisions, and testifies in court is NOT being bought off.

Now, do our agencies get extra money when children get adopted? I think so - that is the rumor. I've never been able to confirm it and couldn't tell you how much it is. My understanding is that the money was supposed to be an incentive to get children out of the foster care system. Without it, people would just complain that agencies wouldn't send kids home OR let them be adopted because they would lose money. Let me assure you - NO AGENCY is worried about there being a lack of cases to fill that slot. When a child goes home or gets adopted and the case closes - there is another one waiting to fill that slot. And, where I live, the state keeps paying the board payment even after adoption - unlike when a child returns home and the state is not obligated to pay that money. So, in fact, adoptions are much more expensive to the state! When a child goes home - they are free to the state! When a child is adopted - its costing the state at least $3,000 a year! So please, be reassured that money is not any kind of incentive in children being adopted.

But most important is this:

I have never claimed that all is right with the Child Welfare system. Nor have I claimed that foster parents and social workers are perfect.

I have also tried very hard to bring the biological parents' point of view into my blogging. In fact, if you'd truly read my post closely - you would have read the following paragraphs,

Sometimes I read things that I wish I hadn't - I read A LOT about how unhelpful (and sometimes downright awful) social workers can be in the lives of children, foster and adoptive families. Sometimes I side with the social worker - we are not perfect, we do not know everything, and we come at a situation with completely different perspectives and goals for children and their families.

But other times there is just no excuse for what happens to some children. I am grateful that OnceLost blogs about her experiences because, although she is anonymous, her experiences put a very "real" person in place of the statistics I hear about how often children get bounced around in foster care.

And it is sometimes very hard to hear anger and frustration directed at birth parents. I am sad every time I read, "If she really loved her kids..." or "They don't deserve this child...". Not because I have never been angry or frustrated with them though! I have had those exact same feelings! But as the social worker, I have the advantage of being able to really pull myself back and see the whole situation. I know what happened to the parents as children, I've seen birth parents overcome their past, I know that their "bad behavior" is often a coping mechanism just like the tantrums their children throw because they don't know how else to express themselves. I wish I could find some blogs written by birth parents who could tell their experiences.

If you browsed my blog a little bit longer, you would find many examples where I encourage and advocate for children being returned to their birth families - start here and here.

I have also talked about how screwed up the system is for quite some time, and I hate when people talk about the foster care system as if it were the cure for all unpleasant situations.

However that doesn't mean that there is not a need for the system at all. Children are abused by their parents. Children are neglected by their parents. Children are abandoned by their parents. These things happen for a multitude of reasons - lack of education, lack of support, lack of appropriate role models, mental illness, substance abuse, poor coping skills, death. But never the less, there needs to be a system in place to protect children when their parents can not. See this post for my thoughts on how the system should work.

But my bottom line has always been that biological parents love their children.

And that children should be with their biological parents if at all possible.

If you have further comments, please feel free to leave them - they will be read by all who come after you. If you want to encourage people to look around, help their neighbor, and try to reduce the number of children who have to be involved in the system - please do, that is something I can get behind! If you would like to suggest ways that people can make the system work better - please feel free, I'm always willing to pass them along! And, if there is something you would like to discuss, feel free to email me - my email address is listed on my profile page.

Nothing in the world will ever change if we can not have open and productive communication with people on every side of an issue. I hope that this blog can be just one little piece of the solutions.


  1. This is to the commenter...not, you, Eyes Wide Open Social Worker....

    HOW RUDE! I *AM* a foster parent...and you want to know what? You're the liar. Each and EVERY month I spend MORE than I am "reimbursed" and I have the receipts and paper trail IF YOU WOULD like to see. My Foster Daughter is clothed and provided for VERY WELL. DON'T even get me started on toys! Since she's been in our home we have purchase MORE girly toys and dolls and strollers and kitchen stuff and dress up stuff than my son has car stuff. And, he's not going without either!

    I have love EACH foster child that has come into our home as our own. Would keep them ALL if I could. My husband and I have fought as far as we can to keep the one we have right now…and come November when she leaves our home our hearts will break NOT our pocket book. My husband works and is paid well to provide for our family WITHOUT the money we are reimbursed. Let me tell you, we wouldn’t be able to pay our mortgage if we had FIVE foster children, so it’s most definitely NOT about the money.

    NOT ONE STRANGER could ever look at her and KNOW she is a foster child.

    Our BIOLOGICAL SON, he's no more spoiled than she is....often times I think I am EASIER on HER. I'm not sure WHERE you live or how much YOUR are pays, but we DO NOT get any sort of Food Stamps. As for Medicare, yes we DO get that. But, with medical so much I am THANKFUL to know that the state WILL give her medical because these said "crappy foster parents" REALLY wouldn't pay for medical as you say.

    AND YOU ARE SO WRONG about being kicked out at 18. I have written letters to her Social Worker, CASA AND HIGHER UP begging to keep her with us, but unfortunately she WILL NEVER be adoptable!

    I don't know your past, or where you've based your "comment" but I'm sorry you must have experienced with this system. I will say, I do think the system SUCKS, but it's NOT the foster parent's fault nor is it the innocent children's fault.

    I am NOT leaving a way for you to trace my comment because, frankly, I don’t want you to read about my foster parenting. Thank you and I hope this day is better than the day you wrote *that* comment!

  2. Wow. Just wow.

    I'm amazed at the quantity of website/blogs I've come across lately that speak of downright hatred for the foster care AND adoption systems. Everyone has their own opinions and experiences, and as a social work student, I believe everyone is most definitely entitled to their personal views. However, combining every single foster parent, or adoption agency or social worker, etc. into one lump pile is just downright unjust.

    You cannot base all of these systems/groups off of a bunch of bad apples. That would be just like saying that ALL teachers are molesters because some are, or that all parents abuse their children because some do. It doesn't make sense, and it so unfair to the GOOD ones. How would you like to be called a child molester when you adopt your new spouse's child, just because some step-parents are known for that sort of behavior?

    Now, I am pretty sure there are foster parents that are in it for the money. I wouldn't be surprise about this (not much surprises me, actually). However, the more I talk to people who work in the foster care system, and the more I talk to actual foster parents - what they are paid is quite actually a laughing matter. Do you realize how expensive children are? In Florida, I think foster parents get $400/month/child. HA! If you had a baby, that would all go to diapers and formula! Or daycare for a preschooler! And if a foster family gets 5 children

    Divotdawg - Regardless of your opinion of any one population or system, the ultimate goal of all of these systems working together is to REUNITE THE CHILD WITH THEIR BIOLOGICAL PARENTS/FAMILY. That is the best situation for a child - I don't think ANYONE would argue with you there. However, if the parents are not providing a healthy environment for their child, than OUR JOB is to find one. PERIOD. In the end of it all, the most important thing is the health and safety of the child. Sometimes that is with the biological parents, and sometimes, it just is not.

    P.S. I am in NO WAY an expert on any of this. These are just my thoughts. :)

  3. As a former FC as you call us, let me tell you something, we are supposed to be financially able to support our foster kids without the help of the reimbursement, you don't even break even, I always expent more money out of my pocket. Yes, we did get wic (oh yes, I drank the formula, and the baby got just water, I am evil, call CPS on me), but we are not entitle to food stamps. Foster care providers are no supposed to depend on welfare
    One of my foster kid, came to my house with nothing and when he left he had more clothes and toys that I ever had in my life. I always treated my foster kids as our own.

    It is like everything, there is good foster care providers and crappy ones, you should not stereotype. I do agree with you, the system is broken and needs to be fixed.

  4. What about the Social Workers that commit perjury, lie, falsify records, forge signatures, and use retalitation and their position to intimidate people???? What do you think about those?

    What about foster and adoptive parents that abuse and even kill the children they have been intrusted with? It happens all the time.

    What about the children who are illegally removed from good homes, while children who are actually being abuse remain in their abusive homes to suffer or die...while CPS turns a blind eye to them???

    What the commenter stated is true, it happens all the time. There is no accountability for CPS, they abuse their power, they ruin lives....The system is broken and I feel it needs to be abolished and a better system established that does not recieve bonus money for "protecting children...

    You can visit my blog at: http://stopcorruptdss.wordpress.com

  5. "What about foster and adoptive parents that abuse and even kill the children they have been intrusted with? It happens all the time."
    Can anybody give me some stats. on this? How do you know it happens "all the time" and what is your definition of "all the time"?

  6. I just wanted to commend you for trying to see all sides of the adoption triad. I am currently trying to do research on how some women are pressured to give up their children (in domestic adoption) and what happens to these women when they lose their children. It's hard work...no one seems to care about the state biological parents are left in when they lose their children.

    Everything has its good and bad, cutting down all social workers and the system helps NO ONE. I have seen foster families whose foster children are NO different their their natural ones. I have seen the small amount of money they are given every month. Don't let the bad apples represent ALL. Sure the system needs work, but tearing it down on a blog is not helping anything,

  7. You can visit my blog at cpsasystemoutofcontrol.blogspot.com and my email address is on there. I am not a liar. That title belongs to social workers. I'm sure you don't see a dime of that money EXCEPT at your yearly bonus time. It's also the only way to ensure job security. I know how the system works. I am not some disgruntled biological parent who had her children legally kidnapped and sold, I have actually done tons of research on the subject. I know for a fact that the state made right around $160,000 off of the sale of 2 little girls. I have documented proof of this. So if you want to call someone a liar, anonymous, you need to look only as far as the nearest CPS agent to find one.

    Foster parents are NOT parents. They do it for the $$$ and that's it. Otherwise why would they be kicked out of the home on their 18th birthday. You all have such a "savior" complex and I can always tell when your halo needs polishing because you run your mouth about how hard you have it, how hard the children are to raise, the bio parents are this or that, the list is endless.

    How do you explain what happened to Gabriel Meyers, Zoey Sanderbox and Hassani Campbell? CPS failed them. Foster care providers want the kids zonked out so that they're not too much trouble so they're put on all these different mood-altering drugs where very often they die! Hassani Campbell has been missing for over a month now, a week after the foster dad was heard saying that he was going to "get rid of him."

    So don't hand me any bullcrap that social workers and foster care providers are God's chosen angels. You do more harm than you ever do good.

    Feel free to search my blog for the above names. There's millions more just like them. Trust foster care providers? Not on your life!

  8. Thank you Eyes Opened Wider for making an effort in seeing all sides of the spectrum.

    I'm a bit offended at Divotdawg's need to group social workers together.

    There are several social work positions and agencies that provide family preservation services. Healthy family programs, education on several subjects, etc. Because you are not completely naive to the system and other societal issues and forms of oppression, I'm going to go ahead and assume you were already aware that social workers hold positions in these areas.

    I'm all for a proactive prevention approach. Unfortunately, there are several times when action is needed to take place after something awful has happened. People are not perfect. People don't make perfect decisions and people don't always make the right decisions. I weep for those who have had to suffer at the hand of imperfection.There are several unreported cases of abuse. I work very closely with these young juveniles who are now sitting in the system suffering themselves. Young women who reveal years of abuse that have occurred. Young women who reveal years of abuse that has occurred in foster families. So what is right? Although I have not worked directly in CPS, I have to believe that more times than not they do what is right. I have to believe that some times they are caught in a catch 22. I have to believe that their intentions are pure. I have to believe that many work for a change. I have to believe many foster families are good families. With a world full of sadistic, sad, and sick people... I have to believe that these are the people that strive for a change, who work to empower, and love the work they do.

  9. I really appreciate your blog. I love that you are not only writing about your experiences, but you are also trying to educate people on the way the system works (and the ways it doesn't).

    In response to all the comments...

    There are flaws in the system. There are big flaws. Is the system working...I would say not nearly as well as it should be. I do agree though that there needs to be a system. As far as the monetary compensation for caring for these kids...do some do it solely for the money, absolutely. Do these homes represent the majority of homes? Possibly. I don't personally know enough other foster families to know how they spend their money. I only know how we spend ours. We don't keep track of where every penny goes because we simply don't care nor do I have the energy to break all of that down. What I do care about is the happiness and health of all the children under my roof. I care that they feel at home in our home. I care that no matter where they are, they know that there's a whole group of people and family that care about them and love them. Do I make sure they are dressed nicely and have nice things to play with, yes, because that's what a parent is supposed to do. Does the money help make caring for the kids easier and even possible? Yes it does. If these kids are being cared for the way they should be, foster care is definitely not the cash cow some think it to be. I know the issue behind that is then how is it guaranteed that the kids are cared for the way they should be and I don't have an answer to that. I do believe there needs to be more checks and balances on everyone involved in the system.

    We do what we can to support the birth parents. We go out of our way to fight for visits. If a social worker cancels because of conflicts in their schedule, we ask if we can do the transportation and/or supervise so the visit can happen. We invite them to our home so they can see where their kids are sleeping and playing. We welcome phone calls and questions. We do this because these kids belong at home - THEIR home with THEIR parents and the sooner and smoother that happens the better. I think that many (not all) foster parents can become jaded and judgmental towards birth parents. I think that some foster parents get a placement and suddenly start to claim (or at least act like it) ownership of the child. I think there is a fine line between being an advocate for the child that is in your care and pushing your own agenda. It's hard to step back sometimes and do what's best not only for the child, but for the birth parents as well.

    On Saturday, my 6 mo old foster daughter passed away. She was born with a terminal illness which we knew before she was placed with us. On Friday she went to a visit and never came back. I could have gone with her to the hospice inpatient unit which is where she spent her last few hours. I even had the permission of the birth family to go with them, but I knew that if it were my child dying, I might have said it was ok, but I wouldn’t have really meant it. For this reason, I did not go. It just about killed me to not be with her or get to say goodbye or even get to hold her one more time, but I took on that pain. My being there wouldn’t have been hurtful, but it wouldn’t have been helpful either. (If you want more details, you can go to my blog and read about it all.)
    So to Divotdawg - I am a foster parent and I AM a parent. I love my kids. I love them more than my own life. I would have gladly given mine for my foster daughter. Everyone around me tells me how great I am, but that's so not how I see it. It's the kids that are great and that bless me. Not the other way around. I am not "God's chosen angel" as you put it. I'm simply someone who wants to care for kids who are hurting and be one more person to love them. Can a child have too many people love him/her?

  10. I find it quite offensive for social workers to be labeled as liars. I'm a hospice social worker and encounter very different circumstances from child welfare but I can assure you that I, like most of the social workers I know, work tirelessly for the good of my patients/clients. Just as in every profession, there are bad apples out there. Please don't lump us into one category; I'm sure you wouldn't want to be typecasted or stereotyped against.

  11. Get educated..Sure there are bad foster parents, and not so great social workers, but that is true with everything in life. Don't lump us all together in the one group.

    Before a person, or couple can become a foster parent they have to prove that they cannot support themselves, and their foster child(ren) without the monthly allowance. We don't get food stamps and we sure as hell don't get reimbursed for popsciles.

    Yes we get a monthly allowance, and a yearly clothing allotment. But we also pay out way more each month that what the state reimburses is for. Our little guy has so many appointments that myself, and my husband take off work to take him too. When we don't work we don't get paid. Sure seems like we're in it for the money. He has therapy twice a week, 3 visits a month with his case worker, once a month medication check, as well as regular sick visits.

    Our foster son no longer has scheduled visits with his birth family, but if they call me up, and ask to see him. I go out of my way to make sure they can see him. Often times we meet at a local fast food joint so the kids can play in the play place. More often that not the birth family cannot afford to buy food, so out of the goodness of our hearts, we foot the bill for his entire family.

    Should we have children in homes who are being abused and neglected? Whos parents cant feed them or afford lights? Should we leave them in dangerous situations with drug additive parents.

    We have no children of our own, yet our house is filled with toys, clothes, and other things that little boys enjoy. That we paid for with our own money. Sure seems like we are making money off this foster parenting thing.

    Our case works go above and beoynd. Within our agency we have two case works, and a supervisor for 30+ children. Someone is on call 24/7, they will come to your house in the middle of the night if needed. They answer emails, and phone calls within 30 mintunes, even on the weekends. They work more hours than the average person. They don't a bonus.

    Think before you speak, because you sound very uneducated.


Join in the conversation! Please leave a comment!