Friday, June 12, 2009

This week I went to a meeting with foster parents. I actually enjoyed it very much. Its good to get another perspective, and hang out with some people who aren't completely jaded with the system....yet.

There was one family that related a horror story where their caseworker was determined that that family should not have the kids. It was so bad, that I wondered if it was completely accurate. Don't get me wrong, I know some workers in my region sare pretty ineffective, and somewhat incompetent. This makes me really mad and I think they should be fired, but as its a government agency, thats not going to happen. However, with that said, I've yet to meet anyone truely evil (other then myself of course, being the evil social worker) with bad intentions, and trying to harm the kids.

I looked up this case. I know this worker. This worker is more bio family oriented then myself, giving parents more chances to get things together then I would, but we both work within the same system and policies, so its only on the really gray cases that we would recommend different outcomes to the court. In the case, its pretty obviouse that this worker did everything she could to help the bio family get their act together,. However, they failed and she did move onto the concurrent goal of adoption.

I don't know where the disconnect happened between the worker and the foster family. The logs weren't that clear but from emails back and forth it appeared that there was mutal respect, and pretty good communication for most of the time the kids were there. Several times the worker suggested resources, and helped the foster family with these children going through normal (for foster children) behaviors and reactions. This isn't to say that these behaviors are easy to deal with, but you can't expect children who have been abused, neglected, and now going through loss and grief (due to removal and foster home changes) to not have issues after visitation. In this case the therapist was pretty ineffective (I've worked with that one before and can state this for a fact), and so didn't help teach the family what works well, what to expect, or to recommend changes for visits.

From the emails it appears the foster parents were struggling. At one of the court hearings it appears the foster parent went way overboard. The records don't say why the kids were moved to another foster home, the one in which they were adopted. I can guess though.

I've struggled with several foster placements. I've tried to help foster families that say they want the kid moved, but everytime the fix only lasts a couple more weeks (month at the max). Now If they say they want the child out, I hear it with resignation because there is no point in trying any more and find a home as soon as posible. But, I've usually known it was coming.

I've had other homes struggle, but not ask for the kid to be removed. I've gone onto adoptions with several of these and its hard for me to tell the judge that i believe adoption to this family is in the best interest of the child. If its hard now, just wait until this kid is a teenager! Things aren't magically solved with an adoption. Re-entry to care is the last thing anyone wants. But, moving a child is also horrible. Whats the best way to go?

I had one foster mother call me up overwhelmed again and again. I worked with her, her consultant worked with her, the therapists worked for her. It just wasn't a good match. She had difficulty being supportive of reunification services (hey, for that matter so did I, but thats where its at), didn't like the kids' hyperactivity after visits, had difficulty getting the kids to their many appointments, etc. Things got worse as the kids settled into her home, and she attributed it to visits (it could've been, but I also felt that the kids were coming out of the honeymoon stage). The last time she called me up I told her it was time to move the kids. This was a long conversation, but there was some relief to her voice. I made arraingments. That night she calls, crying not wanting to move the kids, but telling me its up to me. I told her we will plan on a weekend visit with the new foster home, respite if you will. Halfway into the visit she calls me, crying saying she doesn't know what to do, she wants the kids, but not sure she can handle it. Tells me about all the health problems she is exeriencing due to the stress from parenting these kids, etc. I told her its not up to her, this isn't a decision she can, or should make. The kids are moving, but she will be their respite. This gives her some relief. A week later her consultant is calling me telling me that she wants the kids back, and that I should never have removed them from her home. Oh boy.

Perhaps in the other case, the foster parents continued to make remarks that concerned the caseworker. They weren't that suportive of reunification, and created big problems at team meetings. They also frankly crossed the line at court. (when the Judge asks for an update of the kids, just give him that, you can include concerns you have for the kids, but don't give your opinion about the parents to the Judge). Share your concerns with the GAL, share them with the caseworker, share them with your consultant, share them with the kids' therapist. If nothing is getting through talk to supervisors, get your own attorney if necessary, but also check in with others to make sure you aren't just having the wrong perspective or something (and by the way, often I give the birth parents enough rope to hang themselves by letting the case take its course. Then there is no question at the end of the case, nothing that the parents can appeal,e tc)

I just had a team meeting where foster parent was mad at perspective adoptive parent. Bio family has sided with foster parent as they don't want anyone adopting their child. Adoptive parent pushed the issue and I've been trying to tell them to just hold on, don't make waves, don't antagonize people. They aren't even licensed yet, so the child couldn't be placed with them even if I wanted to today. Once they are licensed the child will be placed with them full time. So please, please, please don't fight over visits right now. The bio family has demanded visits on the days you wanted the child, but eventually their rights will be terminated and we won't even have to have this conversation. Meanwhile foster parents, bio family, etc get a nasty feeling towards the potential family and it makes everything much, much harder.

Oh boy I've been on a rant. Don't even let me get started on visits.


Snarky Mom said...

Out of all the social worker that I worked with as a foster parent, there is only one that I would truly consider to be a total and complete liability to everyone who comes in contact with her. She is the reason that we no longer foster. I haven't blogged the story yet because Big Daddy insisted on running it all by his lawyer brother first, it was THAT bad. If it tells you how bad it got, she was a state employee and she no longer works for CPS....and not by her choice either. You KNOW how hard it is to get fired from a government job! She managed.

But on the flip side, I've seen foster parents go way over the line and then they seem shocked that the kids are moved. One even paid a private investigator to follow the mom around and take pictures of her illegal activity then the foster mom hired an attorney and took the report straight to the judge, bypassing the whole CPS system. The kids had only been in her home for a couple of months, they were on track for reunification. She did not understand why the kids were moved to another home. I mean, really? Hello?

LK said...

Wow!! That's quite the story.


Marilyn said...

Wow! Wheeee Evil!! QUITE a story!!!

You have placed all admissions needed to
wipe out this mess CPS in one session before
a court of jurisdiction, that is, most any
U.S. or State Court on habeas corpus.

Um, will you take a hundred dollars to
print and sign your story under penalty of
perjury and mail it to me?

Oh please.

SocialWkr24/7 said...

Sometimes I swear there are only two kinds of foster parents - the great and the awful. Except I think the awful ones usually start out okay... they just never "get it".. and then they become the bane of your existence. Yikes!

Privatetwit said...

You sound like you need therapy with all that going on, do you often winge online about parents and foster carers? Oh any social work team that forcefully adopts peoples children against their wishes is sick so maybe therapy is what you need...

Susan said...

I wish foster parents were given a long view of how cases go while they are in training. I am coming up on seven years and it took me years to figure out what was important and what things just didn't matter. I can just let go of a lot of things without thinking twice that I agonized over early on. In our county there is nothing in the training giving an overview of the system in general and addressing the issues of why some things are important in terms of protecting the kids down the road like being certain parents get their visits, services etc. so they can't appeal later.

co•lin fam•i•ly said...


I just found your blog, surfing from blog to blog. I AM a foster parent. I'm wondering if I could email you privately. I feel like I'm on the flipside of this email. I'm not sure the Social Worker is the ONE doing the best job. I'd like to tell you a bit about it and have you AS a Social Worker tell me if I'm holding my expectation too high for her AS the Social Worker.

Oldqueen44 said...

Are you buried under paper work?