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Another foster child death…

Posted by Allison on March 5, 2010

Today comes the news of another child dead while in the “care” of the Alberta government.  Sadly I have to say the inevitable news of another child dead while in the care of the Alberta government.  True my time as a foster parent was very short in the big scheme of things only 3 years.  We didn’t keep our licenses one day more than we had to, and now we are adoptive parents so we have nothing to do with the system but I think our time in gives us a unique perspective on how the day to day operations of the results in so many children being harmed and ultimately why there are so many children at risk.  I certainly don’t have all the answers but I definitely have some opinions.  Granted,  I’ve always had opinions on the subject but while we were under the umbrella of the department I kept them to myself.   I’m not into the blame game and I have met some of the most compassionate, sincere individuals working on the front lines of children services.  I worked with some extremely dedicated individuals who dedicate their lives to make things better for children in care.  I’ve been privileged to have some of the most unbelievable foster parents as my mentors and now as friends.  I KNOW the system could work better.  The road blocks while trying to get basic services are beyond what a normal person can deal with.  I know because I’m normal and if I knew then what I know now, there would be one more child in the system.  My family would never had subjected ourselves to the trauma and we would have been worse off for it.

But thing is,  as I see it the big gaping hole in children services is in the quality of care we expect for the children.  We refuse to even bother trying.  Not because we don’t know how, oh the powers that be KNOW what will stop the bleeding artery.They just won’t do it.  They blame it on money, they blame it on resourses.  There is a lot of things to blame it on.  It’s the workers, it’s the foster parents, it’s the bio parents it’s the ‘system’.  What the fuck is the ‘system’ anyway.  It’s just a collection of people.  WE are the system, and if it’s broke people, we don’t have to look any further than in the mirror.   Try for one day to get anything done with social services, I dare you.  Try something simple like getting a child who is acting out some mental health testing.  Trust me, you will want to put a rusty fork in your eye to distract you from the pain.  Every child in care has some sort of trauma.  But try to get them mental health beyond the allotted 10 therapy sessions a year for that trauma and you might as well be trying to make diamonds by squeezing a barbecue briquette.  You see, testing costs the department money and it may highlight issues that would then cost them more money….and the one thing that the department knows about is saying no to any kind of treatment that will affect the bottom line of their department.  So instead they will make the foster family feel like they are the problem.  Now I’m sure another 8 hour course on how to take care of the caregiver is helpful, but it doesn’t do anything to alleviate the issue that the child has.  Why are the workers suggesting courses for the foster parent instead of a neuropsych for the child.  Because the training comes from a different department.  And that department is not theirs.  I’m sure they think it might help but if you’ve ever been to the mandated courses for foster parents you’ll soon find out that they are 8 hours of bitching with sugar covered donuts and coffee.  No matter how many times you describe symptoms or heaven forbid suggest testing you will get the same answers.  Either, that what ‘these’ kids are like or we can’t send every child in care for mental health testing.  Really?  We allow children to be subjected to trauma repeatedly while their little brains are developing, every mental health practitioner will tell you that these traumas change how their little brains develop more than even drugs and alcohol and then we shuttle them from placement to placement, re traumatizing them until they age out of the system and create more damaged, troubled children so we can start all over again.  Perfect.  That seems to be working brilliantly.   So brilliantly that the very people who for years have been taking kids into their homes and doing an amazing job are no longer doing it.  They are running for the hills.  These are the same people who if they have been fostering for any length of time have had allegations against them, have been subjected to people’s idea that they are in it for the cash and have been navagating a land mine of beaurocacy.  The best part is that the ones leveling the accustaion would not even open their own door to these kids.  Now I’m not suggesting that every foster family is a pillar of society.  I’ve met my share of people who I wouldn’t let raise fish never mind raise children.  But guess what, they are actually doing something.  They may not necessarily to do the job I would want seen done, but at least the majority are trying.  The foster/adoptive parents who are in the trenches day to day and are doing an amazing job are underpaid, underthanked (other than a delightful card at christmas or a letter on world foster parent day) and treated with such a lack of respect it’s deplorable.  And then something tragic happens and they are lumped in with someone who intentionally or otherwise has hurt a child.  It saddens me to know end that the phenomenal foster parents that I know and love are today feeling this pain.

Okay so you say, I can’t foster because whatever, then what ARE you doing.  Why aren’t you at Spruce Avenue School or Eastwood, giving an hour a week?  During election time and reading week all the local politician come out and spend some predetermined time patting the young urchin on the head but damn if I’ve ever seen them outside of those times.  You want to stop 14 year olds from having babies that end up in care?  Give a damn, for God’s sake.  There are so many different ways to make change happen and so few people willing to do anything about it.

No one can help the little baby who was viciously killed at the hands of someone who was supposed to be giving care and nurturing to her.  She was 21 month old and probably met a horrible and violent death.  She must have had more pain in her short life than most of us can even imagine.  And now all the politicians will be forming committees and releasing statements about what they can possibly do to fix the problem.  Some will talk about the lack of frontline workers.  Others will decry the lack of training for foster parents.  How many of us will be taking a moment to remember that a little girl who should have been giggling and playing with her baby dolls is instead being autopiesed and prepared for burial.

8 Responses to “Another foster child death…”

  1. when the government is in the middle probs always arise and it is sooooo sad

  2. Cori said

    you should send this to the journal. because you’re right. [and how often do I say that??? LOL]

  3. Margaret said

    I have to agree with you. I was in foster care for 7 days before someone came to get me and my little brother and let me tell you it was the worst thing I have ever gone through. Big changes need to happen but I doubt they ever will happen.

  4. Melissa said

    I agree Allison you send this to the journal and being that Iam part of the “SYSTEM” ie Foster Parent with 6 kids in my home 2 bio 3 adopted and 1 foster child. I think we all need to look in the mirror . as it is said it takes a village to raise a child it also takes a village to change a system.. wea ll need to fianally make it about the kids and not abou the adults hense Child rens services… not Adult …

  5. I’m so sorry to hear that there are so many problems in the system 😦

  6. Such a sad story. So many people out there just want to help kids without families be loved and cared for and the system makes it so hard…and then something like this happens…

  7. lillian said

    well writen, I TOTALLY agree with you that WE are the system. I wonder if I’m really doing all I can or should be doing .

  8. Lori said

    Well written my friend , so true but there are still some of us trying to make a difference xoxo

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