When foster care becomes a business, children may suffer

from: southtownstar.com

July 30, 2008

It seems everyone is talking about the sad state of the American economy these days. I had a lengthy conversation recently with a Canadian banker who told me his firm had cut 170 employees, 50 of whom were partners. He didn't get the call this time but told his wife to be ready for the next wave of financial shocks.

With gas prices exceeding $4, companies downsizing and unprecedented numbers of homes going into foreclosure, the economic crisis facing Americans is front and center. It is the 800-pound gorilla in the room who cannot be ignored.

In my last column, I talked about how Chicago is going through a transformation and that what occurs in the city has an impact on us in the suburbs. In some parts of the city, the real estate market continues to flourish, but other folks are struggling to keep their heads above water.

Interestingly, one of the ways in which increasing numbers of suburbanites are attempting to cope with the crisis is through the Illinois Foster Care Program, said Dr. Barbara Jackson, author of "Throw Away Kids: A Case Study of the Unique Educational Needs of Foster Children."

"In the early 1900s, foster care homes began to replace orphanages and institutions as homes for neglected children," Jackson writes. "Early foster care parents served as volunteers and were expected to meet the child's basic needs of shelter, food, clothing and education. These volunteers were not professionals, teachers, nor social workers. They simply came forth when they heard of a situation where a child or children were neglected. In exchange for their basic needs being met, the foster care children worked in the family home, on their farm or other business.

"It was in the 1930s when states began to select and approve foster care homes. The selection, approval and the use of foster homes continued through 1960, at which time small financial rewards were instituted for the volunteers who were called foster parents."

By 1997, there was the perception that foster care was lucrative because reimbursements often exceeded $1,000 per month per child.

For many foster parents, that has made it a business. The money involved has foster parents who take children into their homes, not solely for the good of the child, but for financial gain, Jackson says.

(Jackson will discuss her book at 7 p.m. Friday at River North Coffee Cafe, 369 E. Sibley Blvd., Chicago.)

When financial gain becomes the focus, the potential for misuse and abuse of children and the system increases exponentially. We see stories cropping up across the country of children being abused to the point of death or severe injury and psychological damage.

These children become a challenge for the public school systems, which already are heavily burdened with state and federal mandates, yet are expected to perform up to state and local criteria with less-than-adequate funding. Many of these children find it difficult to focus on academic matters because their lives have been turned upside down and they are in emotional turmoil. It is a daunting challenge for teachers and administrators to reach a child in such an emotional state.

As the economic crisis in the United States spreads and increasingly erodes the middle class, it is important to remember there are thousands of faceless youths who are being ground under foot by the economic pressures of suburban mortgages, taxes, car notes and gasoline costs.

In June 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 11,0118 children are born in this country every day. About one out of four will become a foster child. Clearly, not every foster home is a source of abuse. These figures are cited only to provide some indication of the extent of the problem.

We are living in an era that calls out for change in our individual and social priorities. The first step is making people aware there is a problem so we can organize and take steps to do something about it.

David Johnson is a professor at South Suburban College in South Holland. E-mail him at djohnson@ southsuburbancollege.edu.

0

How does an economy grow from so much loss and misery?

These children become a challenge for the public school systems, which already are heavily burdened with state and federal mandates, yet are expected to perform up to state and local criteria with less-than-adequate funding. Many of these children find it difficult to focus on academic matters because their lives have been turned upside down and they are in emotional turmoil. It is a daunting challenge for teachers and administrators to reach a child in such an emotional state.

So what's the answer to this problem in schools?  Medication, of course.

Pacifying troubled kids
Some parents and advocacy groups say child welfare authorities routinely resort to drugs to pacify foster children without fully considering non-medication options.  [From: "States wrestle with medicating foster kids", http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/1634]

More disturbing (I think) is seeing who really benefits from the early drug-intervention programs many therapists advocate for their pediatric patients:

 

Gwen Olsen, a former pharmaceuticals representative who quit her job and wrote the book, "Confessions Of A Prescription Drug Pusher," knows firsthand about the impact of anti-psychotic drugs on children.

"They clamp down on the central nervous system. In effect, they reduce your mobility and that sort of thing, so they are sort of like a chemical straitjacket," she says.

Psychiatrist Christopher Correll is leading a nationwide study on the impact of anti-psychotic drugs have on all children.

"It is a serious step to use an anti-psychotic, there’s no doubt about it. But I think it is also very important to realize that these medications are used under very serious circumstances to actually help patients who have serious symptoms," Correll says.

But if the foster care system is designed to protect children who've been harmed, why would they engage in this if in anyway it was harmful to children?

"To me, the true travesty of the situation is that we take children who just got a bum rap in life to begin with and they get into the system and are further abused chemically," Olsen says. [From: "Are drugs being misused on foster kids?" http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/4525]

Meanwhile, back in the classrooms, what are kids being taught about drug-use?  "Just say no!"

Make no mistake, the foster care system knows what it's doing.... the question is, do parents?

current foster home

Both foster parents are 54 years old.
Both work outside the home.
The oldest married daughter lives with them and is pregnant.
The grandma lives on the same acreage.
They live in the country.
They have four foster children: 9, 9, 11, 13 years old.
The children are left with someone different each day:  fmother, or ffather, or daughter, or son in law, or grandma.
The children walk down the hill to the other building on the property to play pin ball machines; the children have
already cleaned and scrubbed the building and help with the in-progress renovation.  There is always one adult
with the children.
The children are sent to bed at 8pm each evening and get up at 6am each morning.  They have chores to do each
day.  They eat with whoever happens to be home.
Who is there for the regular kisses and hugs?  Who notices the youngest boy is almost mute with depression and
loss?

Another family who renews their license to get the children closer to their home so they can go to their own school
with their own friends:
54 years old and 57 years old
Known to the children, in church and in their own home
Already love the children
At home foster mother who gives many hugs and kisses
married daughter visits with the three babies who are shared with the foster kids for love, and not work
They live right in town and go places that are fun
They only take the two foster children who they already love; they are in her Sunday School class
They are always with the foster mother and not passed around
The children help with chores
The children go to bed at a reasonable time according to when they got up and how active the family was that day
They always sit down and eat together as a family
They are tucked into bed at night with prayers, hugs and kisses, with reassurance that they are going home to their
mommy soon; and do notice if a child is sad and needs extra loving

Which, if you HAD to pick would you pick for your two babies?

One Step Up From Bottom,
Teddy

Some checking up on the numbers

While I subscribe to the analysis in the article, the stated numbers don't make much sense.

The article mentions 11,0118 children are born in this country every day, which must be some sort of typo. The total figure for 2002 according to National Center for Health Statistic is 4,021,726 annual birth, which means around 11,000 births every day, so there is probably just a decimal mark missing.

The statement one out of four children will become a foster child can't be true. I checked up the number of first admissions to foster care, which for 2002 was 68,847. Assuming that annual births and first time admissions don't change too much over the course of years, we can conclude that around one in 57 children end up in foster care at least once in their life. I sent the professor an email to ask for further explanation.

Foster care reimbursments

By 1997, there was the perception that foster care was lucrative because reimbursements often exceeded $1,000 per month per child. For many foster parents, that has made it a business. The money involved has foster parents who take children into their homes, not solely for the good of the child, but for financial gain, Jackson says.

Clearly the majority of foster carers I feel do a good job and not for profit, however there are a number of rouges who do look to foster care as a means of extra income, specialy were sums in the US of over 1000 USD per month are involved. The same in European countries applies too and this can only be stamped out by better vetting of families needs. For instance the families own child/children may be less well off in real terms allowance wise than the families foster child and all children should be given the same allowance for living expenses, clothing and daily needs except in special needs cases covered by medical certificates.

Brian.

REQUIREMENTS!

IMO, with foster care payments like $1,000.00 a month, it should be REQUIRED for the foster mother to be an at-home
mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO angry that foster parents can both work while someone else watches the foster
children!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

One Step Up From Bottom,
Teddy

Pound Pup Legacy