There is no endeavor more difficult, painful and underappreciated than inviting a traumatized state ward child into your home as a foster child.
Let no one report that this article demeans or discredits the brave people that have made their home a foster home.
What has been a voluntary and informal act of kindness and concern for vulnerable children is now a regulated and complex industry that deals with the compound needs of abused children within the state industry of child protective services.
The potential for the State’s mismanagement of well-meaning families combined with the lack of understanding and resources made available to these families has reached a crisis in most states (see the articles below).
Traumatized children bring with them behaviors and habits dangerous to the child and the foster family.
Self-harming acts like cutting and life threatening behaviors are common.
My friend Patti hid with her younger children as the 13 year-old took an ax to a bicycle in a screaming rage. She feared for the lives of her children and herself as the boy chopped a bicycle into pieces twenty feet from where she hid. She was also afraid of calling the police afterwards because the State had already proven to be extremely unsupportive in helping her raise this child.
Foster parents need more than a monthly stipend to manage the reality of trauma, psychotropic medications and the exhaustive patience necessary to parent a tortured child that has been removed from a life threatening home*.
The World Health Organization defines torture as “extended exposure to violence and deprivation”.
Every child in my decades of involvement in the child protection system has been the victim of extended exposure to violence and deprivation. The oldest child usually for four or more years.
Every child needs a safe home.
Every child needs the attachment a foster home should be able to provide.
Every state needs more foster families. The shortage of homes is a national problem that has been with us for years and shows little chance of getting better under current policies.
Every foster family needs more help to raise a healthy foster child.
80% of foster children aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.
Vulnerable, tortured children becoming adults without the skills or resources to cope with life among us and lead lives that cause themselves and the community they live in pain and great public expense.
A true American tragedy.
*The IMMINENT HARM DOCTRINE is the federal law that protects children. It allows the State to remove children “only” if their lives are in “imminent” danger. Each state gets to determine what that means.
From this CASA guardian ad Litems perspective, it means that children have no rights at a federal level in this nation (a big part of the tragedy).
Read these news clips below to observe the problems endemic to the foster care system in your state;
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children