Moves in foster care do permanent damage to the children.
Even the move away from their neglectful/abusive situation is damaging.
Now before y'all go and get your undies in a bunch - I do realize there are a SMALL PERCENTAGE of cases where kids NEED to be removed from their families.
- Miss ArguePants & TurtleTurtle (sexual abuse)
- Pumpkin (medical neglect, physical abuse & neglectful supervision of a child with severe special needs)
- Daisy (abusive head trauma)
- The Neverland Kids (murder of an infant in the home)
- Russell (starvation, neglectful supervision, and severe physical abuse)
- Whiz & Rex (domestic violence)
I get it.
I know there are kids that are being abused and if they don't get moved, they could die.
I get it.
Now...move on. Because MOST kids in foster care are NOT in life threatening situations.
- Dude & Dolly (neglectful supervision due to drug use and poverty)
- Ricky (CPS got on a power trip for no good reason)
- Alex, Eddie, Joan & Bret (neglectful supervision due to drug use and poverty)
I even struggled with putting Whiz and Rex up in the first category. Domestic violence is serious stuff. And it is horrifically damaging to children to be a part of. The only reason they're in the top category though, as opposed to the second group of kids that I list off, is because there are NO good services for a woman experiencing domestic violence if she doesn't want to leave the violent situation. If, for any reason, Mom was willing to leave her abuser and get help, Whiz and Rex would have been better off staying with her.
My situation as a foster parent is unique. We have had more severe cases of abuse/neglect than most foster families see. I'm not advocating for children to stay in seriously damaging situations. But as a whole, we HAVE to start recognizing the damage that foster care is doing to children.
The rest of this post is about the Rockstars and how I feel their case could have been handled differently. I know that some of the things I wish were possible simply aren't possible. But until we see the wrongs in The System, we can't advocate for change.
The Rockstars have very young parents. Family Based Services (FBS...a division of CPS, in Texas) started getting involved with the family sometime during Alex's first year of life (give or take). I saw the full CPS history on the family. It's rather extensive. For about five years, Mom & Dad were told they needed to be doing things differently. They were given different levels of (IMO...superficial) support. Over those five years, I don't think Mom & Dad changed any of their behaviors.
When the infant sibling was born, early this year, their family got flagged by FBS again. Mom & Dad were given an opportunity to make some changes so their family could stay together.
On June 14th, they went to court. It was on this day that the judge ordered an immediate removal of the children with placement into foster care. If CPS had better supports they could have put into place, this removal would have been completely unnecessary. FBS, obviously, didn't work. I have had several kids come into my home where FBS had been involved first. I believe that decision makers need to recognize that FBS isn't being as successful as it could be and start making changes there first. We need to do MORE to keep families together prior to even thinking about removing children.
But that didn't happen. So, according to the judge, the Rockstars needed to enter formal foster care.
I believe that CPS should have had a foster family, kinship, or fictive-kin placement in line, prior to going to court, for these kids. They shouldn't have waited until the judge ordered removal to start trying to find a home. The removal was not an "emergency". They knew the hearing was coming for weeks. CPS could have been working ahead of time to have a viable placement option in place prior to the order for removal.
I know that's hard to do. But if CPS had done that kind of work ahead of time, maybe the Rockstars wouldn't have had to have been split up. Maybe a home could have been found for all five of the kids to be together.
Do not discount how traumatic it's been for the older kids to be separated from their infant brother.
CPS didn't have a home in place ahead of time, though. Four of the kids were placed with us. The infant went to a shelter that night. The infant stayed in the shelter for several weeks. Then he was moved to a foster home.
That foster home is a brand new one. This infant was their third placement. They were told that it would be a short stay. Due to incredibly unique situations with their first two placements, they honestly thought "short" meant a couple weeks. And now, since this foster family is about 45 minutes away from where the case originated, they're having a hard time transporting to visits. We have NO transportation services in our part of Texas. So, this foster family is disrupting because they don't want to drive 45 minutes, wait for two hours, and then drive home twice a week. I can't say that I blame them. But they committed to this child and now they're dumping him. It infuriates me.
The licensing agency for this foster family is working to finalize the license for another home ASAP. They're going to move the infant to this brand new foster home. And since this move is taking place all under the umbrella of the same licensing agency, it's called a sub-move according to CPS. It's not taken quite as seriously. No one seems to care what this does to the child. It's just a sub-move that CPS will approve.
But it still means this baby is going to have yet another primary caregiver.
All the while, CPS is pushing through a home study on a fictive kin caregiver for all five children. This home study is now sitting on the program director's desk waiting for a signature. Once that signature happens, the kids will be moved.
NONE of the Rockstars know this caregiver. It will be another move to another stranger.
Said caregiver knows Mom. Thus the "fictive kin" status. Said caregiver says that they are willing to step up and care for all five Rockstars. I've heard that they'll move the four oldest kids first. Then, later, they'll place the baby with the fictive kin.
I asked CPS, last night, if they feel good about this caregiver. The answer I got back was, "On paper, they look great. And I've spoken with them three times. I've explained it's likely to be permanent. I asked them multiple times if they understand that it's five kids for the next 18 years."
And that is that. On paper it looks good. So this move will likely happen within the next couple weeks. As soon as the home study is signed by the program director, CPS wants the kids moved. They want to show "progress" to the judge before the next court hearing in October.
According to CPS, progress is another move. Not a step toward home with their parents. But a move to someone the State is now trying to push to take permanent guardianship.
I'm sick that the State is practically giving up on Mom & Dad. I'm sick that Mom & Dad don't realize the seriousness of their current situation. I'm sick that the fictive kin hasn't done anything to try and get to know the kids prior to the impending move. (I have been told that the caregiver is going to come to this Friday's family visit. That's slightly encouraging...I guess.)
There are so many times and places in this case where things could have gone differently.
In the meantime, five children have been permanently hurt. CPS barely recognizes it. The worker was in my home last night for her monthly visit. She noticed that Alex seemed like he was in a bad mood. And ya know what? He was in a bad mood. He's six years old. He knew that we were talking about him and his parents. Everything about that home visit from CPS was a reminder of how stressful his life is now. I tried to explain to CPS that he's like that a lot. But it's not exactly a bad mood. It's a constant state of stress due to the fact that he's in foster care and he wants to be home with his parents. He's stuck in a state of fight/flight/freeze due to the stress that IS foster care.
I don't think people want to see that foster care does damage to kids. They want to think that just because we plucked these five kids out of poverty and put them in "loving homes" everything is OK now. And if Mom & Dad don't follow all the punitive steps they have to follow to get their kids back, giving someone else guardianship will be better for everyone. We've got to teach Mom & Dad a lesson you know and the kids will be better off as a result.
I shudder to think of how Alex, Eddie, Joan, and Bret are going to respond when they find out that CPS is seriously considering permanent guardianship for them. They will be devastated if they can't go home.
The System is broken. Mom & Dad need REAL supports that can lift them out of the situation they're in. They need honest relationship to break the cycle and learn how to do things differently. This support could be given to them with their family intact. It could.
But it won't. These kinds of supports don't exist.
And because of that, the Rockstars will suffer even more long-term damage. It's soul crushing to me. I can only imagine how they're going to feel.