Thursday, October 9, 2008

Taking away the Weapons before Sending Us to War

As with any analogy, there are things that don't apply... and of course states differbut I've been thinking lately about foster care being like boot camp.

In foster care we are given weapons. We have a caseworker who is supposed to be at our disposal for consultation and to provide resources. Respite care is often available for foster parents. Foster children automatically receive WIC, they automatically get free lunch, they often are except from charges for sports. There are often transporters who are hired to give foster children rides to other places or, if not, mileage in some cases is covered. And in a lot of cases, foster care rates are much higher than adoption subsidy. And often, sometimes most importantly, if a If a child needs residential treatment or a psychiatric hospitalization, it is available at no cost to the foster parent.

But then boot camp is over and it's time to finalize the adoption, After court, there is no caseworker to bounce ideas off of. Finding respite care is now our responsibility and sometimes, depending on the state, is no longer paid for. Family income is used to determine WIC and free lunch and all the sudden charges for activities are at the regular charge. Subsidy in some states can be as much as half as much as the foster care rate, so the family experiences a decrease in family income.

And, most tragically, in order to get residential treatment the family must often go through a court hearing and have a CHIPS petition filed in order to get services that they don't have to pay for.

So we are sent off to war without our weapons. In boot camp we're trained to use them, but right before we're sent off to war things are taken away one by one.

If we're lucky, the war is easy -- and we were over prepared in boot camp for battles that never come. But in most situations, as a child ages their behaviors increase instead of decrease. Mental health issues become more prevalent for teens and the result can be catastrophic.

And so, without all these weapons, we are facing serious battles and the only way to get our weapons back is to be accused ourselves of neglecting or abandoning our children as a CHIPS petition is filed. Kari shared her frustration about this morning on her blog..

I don't know for sure what the answers are, and I am more than capable of arguing the other side of this issue, but it seems to me that being able to head into the battle with at least some of the weapons we've been trained to use in boot camp might not be a bad plan.

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