Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Change Foster Care, How?

Foster care goals, laws and interpretation of those laws vary state to state. Information I'm researching tells a convoluted story. One article stated that some states are up to 25 times more efficient in the severing of parental rights. But then went on to tell a story of an eleventh hour decision to give a mother of several one more chance. And she took it and turned everything around.

Therein lies the problem.

How many chances do we give? What things should be on the nevermore list? What portion or percentage of a child's life is okay for experimentation? Because putting children into emotionally charged, emotionally dangerous or troubling situations is experimentation isn't it?

West Virginia and Oklahoma have high parental rights terminations but they also have some of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths. And Oklahoma has high women incarcerations as well.  Both states also have some financial woes that may effect the funds available to help those families.

Here is what I see on this side of foster care in my world, finances in action. The foster care parents receive a daily stipend per child that covers room and board and basics. Bigger ticket items like child care (state registered), some clothing (a small yearly allowance) and certain other items like after school activities are reimbursable. As a tax payer, I'm okay with this. I also see the value in the involvement of social workers. After all, someone needs to manage a system to keep folks from taking advantage of it, because unfortunately, that's pretty people like. Using. Taking care of number one. Grasping the American dream at all costs i.e. making an easy buck.

Even with the watchdogs there are abuses. Foster care parents haven't always done foster care for the benefit of the child, instead they look at it as a money maker. Tragic. This is why rules and regulations have been put into place to monitor foster parents. And they do. Monitor. Very thoroughly, based on my small awareness of how the system runs. The foster care parents are pretty regulated. Those that care really follow the rules, those that don't work around them. Life. Yep. The quality rise to the top, the bottom dwellers sink to the bottom.

All this regulation costs loads of money. Salaries of the gatekeepers, the rule makers, the regulation drafters. Those add up. Each foster family has involvement with a few agencies. And three or more social workers. The foster parents have a staff foster care advocate. The children have a foster care manager and a transport/interactive social worker. Others are involved with different scenarios as well. Then there is counseling. Each child is offered counseling. This is not always taken advantage of, but it's available.

I can understand why quick termination is beneficial to states with tight budgets. But is that the best deciding factor?

to be continued....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Something Needs to Change ~ Part 3

Foster Care was around in sort as early as the mid 1500's. 

Children were placed into homes where they could earn their keep as indentured servants. The document I've read said that this was a positive, got the children out of almshouses where they were unprotected from the unthinkable. 

In the mid-1800's New York Children's Aid Society was created due to the number of immigrant children on the streets. From there other states began to adopt their own versions of foster care.

Reunification of biological families is the end goal of foster care. There are issues that can void this goal. If a parent has killed another one of their children. Extreme abuse. Commission of a felony that resulted in injury to the child. Another big one, a registered sex offender (but only in three states). 

When I expressed concern over the psyches, the emotional upheaval of the children in our life, when their biological parents behaved badly, a social worker told me something pretty horrific. She said that the emotional well-being of the child is not part of the reunification goal. Imminent danger is the only consideration. Poor parenting, semi-neglect, indifference, lack, none of those are issues that derail the reunification process. 

to be continued...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Something Needs to Change - Part 2

Foster care has been around for over 100 years.

A lot has changed in 120ish years. Can I hear an amen?

From horse and buggy to three car garages. From one room schoolhouses where teachers often started teaching at age 16 with nothing more than an aptitude for learning and the ability to stay in school beyond the 8th grade to schools that provide computers to each student. From airplanes becoming available for passengers to some folks flying more than they drive. From a computer the size of a room to one the size of a watch. Information over a hundred years ago taking weeks, sometimes months, to today where we can know about a crisis across the globe in real time. A whole lot of change.

A hundred years ago a family often consisted of multiple generations under one roof or same neighborhood. I'm not suggesting there weren't huge problems, some people have always been capable of breathing life, others more inclined to suck the marrow from the bones of their victims. Clearly so many children needed care that the foster system was developed to meet that need. There has always been child endangerment, broken people and darkness to contend with. 

I'm also not suggesting that the system, as it was created, wasn't a great idea. Nor am I saying that there should be no such thing as foster care. Not at all. 

But because something started over 100 years ago and people are going to be people, does that mean we have to allow it continue as it has for decades without common sense changes?

One hundred years ago children were being orphaned by early parental death due to diseases and dangerous working conditions. Today it seems as if drugs are taking the parents. Not really taking them, just their ability to parent, their desire to protect their children, sometimes their very souls. A goal of reunifying a family is a lovely, lovely thing. It makes sense. Especially if all members of that family are on board that train. But my concern is that many of these today parents would rather play the system, or retain their rights, or be left alone to their addiction rather than suck it up and create a safe place for their children. 

to be continued

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Something Needs to Change Part 1

I have become very interested in an area of law and politics lately.

The Foster Care system.

My little voice isn't going to make a change, but my little voice isn't the lone voice in the wilderness, either. Change needs to happen. And maybe the more we talk about it the more it's likely to happen.

I may spend a few days (or a few weeks) talking about this issue that is so very close to my heart. I hope you will be enlightened with what I find out about the current challenges in a very real area that impacts so very many people.

If you wonder about the far reaching impact of dysfunction, addiction, broken homes etc on society I invite you to look around. How many coworkers, family members, friends and distant relatives do you know who have been touched by alcoholism, abuse, drug addictions, poverty and mental illness? I dare say those who have suffered from any of these issues outnumbers those who have not experienced one of these harsh realities.

Let's be real. We are all broken to some degree. Perseverance, resilience, faith, hope, loving people who step into the gap, are some of the ways many of us can function in life. Others don't function. Broken too deeply they turn to the vast menu of substances, addictions and anti-coping methods.

If it was just those folks, choosing to self-medicate or hide from reality, I don't think we'd have a problem. But we do have a problem. For starters let's call it collateral damage.

Collateral damage is a military term. I use it because it's a comment made by a foster care parent when she wondered if the decision being made on the behalf of a child was the best decision for the child. The term collateral damage was used to describe the unfortunate impact on the child and siblings.

collateral damage

Unintended damage, injuries, or deaths caused by an action, especially unintended civilian casualties caused by amilitary operation.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

I don't know about you, but this is unacceptable to me. This baby in this picture is real. And she is precious.

To be continued.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Kidstory

X-ta asked me in yesterday's comment what I should be called now. 

Well, I have a story. 

After the adoption was final, when the children were invited by the judge to bang the gavel, and the clapping of the 60+ onlookers died down, Daniel came up to me and said, "Kelly!"

I said, "Hey, I'm your forever grandma now. You can't call me Kelly anymore. So how about grandma?" 

He made a face. He's good at those. "Nah!"

"I heard the French word for grandma is ma mere how about that one?"

He shook his head rapidly. I tried again, "Nana?" 

A head tilt and frown. "So what would you like to call me?" I finally asked.

A huge grin replaced the frown. "Poo Poo" 

"You want to call me Poo Poo?" 

His little sister joined him. They both nodded enthusiastically. 

So, X-ta. You can call me Poo Poo! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Ours

My daughter started her foster care journey exactly two years ago. For her first month she did respite care for a family of foster kids whose foster home had gotten damaged in a tornado. It was a great practice run with adorable kids. The night before their foster mom's home was ready for them to return my daughter got another call. 

Three little kids, ages 7 thru barely 3 were in need of a home for a few months. They had been in more than one foster care home. And there were behaviors, they warned. 

And we wondered what kind of behavior problems we adults might have if we had been removed and moved as many times as they had in a year. 

Something to think about. 

In the last two years my heart has broken and grieved. It has hoped and despaired. It has soared with feelings I just can't even put into words. 

Last Thursday, after 914 days in the foster care system, they were adopted into our family. 

I am so blessed. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Enjoyin the Sunshine

Our Gladys is so homely cute. I know that sounds horrible to say that your dog is homely, right? But she's a cartoon. We got to bask outside in the sun for a bit today. I read, they explored. Glorious. Lots of squirrels to bark at, a few birds to chase. Smells, delicious (to them) smells to follow. And when they got tired, they both hopped up on my lap to chill. In the bottom picture you can see the aftermath of the kneading, pawing, repositioning on my lap. A high selfie where the only thing  you can see is a portion of my shirt and my dog covered lap. Yeah. That added a lot to my attempt to relax and read. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Outta Here.

I got bit by a wild hair yesterday. I have some furniture I just want to get rid of. 
But before that I have to get rid of the stuff in and on it. First the DVD collection. We seriously had three storage pieces full of DVDs. Can you say excessive??? We went through a phase where we would buy any movie we liked if we discovered it at a decent price. The wicker drawer unit in photo one was crammed full of DVDs. The wooden unit in picture three was crammed full of them. And the two (there were three) baskets on the bottom shelf were actually loaded as well and slid into a wooden box. So we got rid of enough DVDs to downsize into one unit , with room. YAY!!! I'm going to try a new app I read about called decluttr. You apparently scan the scan code on the CDs or DVDs and they make an offer and you ship them to them at no cost. I'm okay selling some stuff. Oh yeah. Cuz as you imagine, I'm kicking myself for the $$$ invested in our library.

Then I decided, since I was on a roll, I'd move the 3 pictured units around to new locations that make sense. The wicker unit is near my coffee counter and holds extra coffee mugs now. The unit that held the coffee mugs before is now on the other kitchen wall and holds small appliances and other items I use. 
I was able to clear off a huge baker's rack that I don't love and place those items in new places. Sigh. Satisfied. Sleeping well, tonight. Those pieces were heavy. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ More Minimizing Around the Corner Comes

Another season of purging is upon me. With the prepurchase of Joshua Becker's new book, The More of Less, I was able to sign up for a 12 week challenge/class. 
The book arrived the other day and I'm two chapters in and so glad I parted with $11.00. I already have a few folks who want to read it when I'm done. So I'm excited about that, too. I can share the information. 

What speaks to me in what I've read is the fact that too much stuff can crush our mission, our passion, our very lives. If I, as I strongly believe, have a path already set out for me before my birth. And that God has uniquely created me for that path, then the clutter of life distracts me and keeps me from finding the bumps and turns and twists of that path. 

The fact that so much of that stuff is just an annoyance. Things I don't love, things I have to move over and over again. Things. Cheaply made, ill-fitting, items I don't enjoy. Just stuff that takes up space in my physical, emotional and mental world...it just needs to go. 

Even more reason to get rid of stuff. 

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime I'm going to be Unflattering and shedding some stuff this weekend. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles - 1 Week of Lessons

We've had our pokeballs for a week.

Things I've learned about hedgehogs! (Many of these comments could be applied to people as well. just saying) 

They are as cute as can be. The disappearing and appearing ears, eyes and forehead action is just adores.

At least 2 of the worlds' beagle population are VERY leery of hedgehogs. Tonight is the first time they are sharing the same section of the room.

Hedgehogs poop when they walk or crawl around on humans. Or in the wheels or balls. It only lasts the first 10 minutes or so but poo is involved. Then there may be a warm dribble....insult to injury. Hedgie diapers....hmmm wouldn't need pins!

Hedgehogs are surprisingly cuddly. They don't mind being petted on their quills and it's not at all unpleasant as long as you don't go against the grain. They love to curl up and really like the buddy bags I made. Dark and cozy corners.

Quills are not barbed. But they are sharp. Hedgies who are startled, cranky or loners are very good at getting that across. They roll up and the quills extend. The texture is a combination of wire brush, dried out Christmas tree and dryer ball. 

Touching a puffed hedgie is touchy ( ha-ha ). You have to scoop up under their soft belly. They puff and huff sometimes while you are attempting that. And it's a scary thing to see. 

One more thing. This caught me by surprise. Daffodil chomped me. She was agitated. And I hadn't washed my hands before picking her up. Just one bite. But it was sharp and she didn't let go right away. Later, when I researched I found a few key things. 1) they are visually impaired. 2) in the wild they eat worms and small snakes. 3) food or perfume on your hands can grab their interest and make them think you are edible.
I did learn that I handled it well. I didn't put her down, scream, or toss her. Don't want that experience again but I learned from it. Win. And best of all, no scar. 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Scribbles and Scrambles - Presto Chango

You know we roll with change. Like other than the learning curve of immediate grandparents of three. Zero to three in 12.5 hours. 

Or our penchant for pet doubles. Change is kinda fun. 
This year we have been learning lots as Rob figures out life without a knee and I figure out how to be supportive and the bag and box hauler. That one hasn't been a favorite. I'm praying and hoping for next week's blood test showing he can have a new knee. 

Today I found out I get to interview for my job position as our clinic has decided to be absorbed by a bigger entity. Twenty years there, whew, this is going to be interesting. And I thought it was just a normal Tuesday when I got out of bed this morning.