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Too Poor to Parent?

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Now the smell was unbearable, and Lisa feared for the health and safety of her two young children. When the caseworker arrived, she observed that the apartment had no lights and that food was spoiling in the refrigerator. Lisa explained that she did not have the money to pay her electric bill that month, but would have the money in a few weeks. She asked whether the caseworker could help get them into a family shelter. The caseworker promised she would help–but left Lisa in the apartment and took the children, who were then placed in foster care.

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Months later, the apartment is cleaned up. Lisa still does not have her children. Troubled not only by the number of children in foster care but by their longer stays in the system, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) in 1997. Its purpose is to achieve a permanent family environment more quickly for children in foster care, but the legislation accomplishes that goal by placing time limits on family reunification–thus encouraging adoption instead of the return of children to their parents.

Gaylynn Burroughs is a staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders in New York City.

She works in the family defense practice, representing parents facing allegations of child neglect. Back to top ^ Summary: “According to one researcher, poor families are up to 22 times more likely to be involved in the child-welfare system than wealthier families. And nationwide, blacks are four times more likely than other groups to live in poverty…. Race and poverty should not be a barrier to raising one’s children. But in order to prevent the entry of poor children into the foster care system, state and federal government must confront poverty-related issues. ” (Ms.  This article explains why poverty makes black children twice as likely as white children to enter U. S. foster care..

Battling an uprooted life didn’t make it easy to stay in school. I struggled to pay rent. No programs were available for my tuition. If I didn’t graduate from high school, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness, unwanted pregnancy, prison or all of the above were ready to swallow me up. My life, however, took a decidedly different turn. Angels named the Godby family stepped in where there was only a thread of hope left in my young life. Kim Godby and I shared the same circle of high school friends.

In the cafeteria one day as I picked at a chocolate chip cookie, Kim asked, “What’s the matter? You don’t look so good. ” I told her my story. “The bell is about to ring, so come to my house for dinner. We’ll talk then. ” “You sure? ” “Meet me after school. My family won’t mind. ” After eating several dinners with the Godby family over the next week, one evening Joyce Godby pushed her plate to the side and said, “Our family has talked. We’d like you to stay with us. There’s an extra room, and you’re welcome to it. ”

I could hardly believe my good fortune. For the first time, I was finally part of a family. I no longer felt like a foster child, the unwelcome guest in a stranger’s home. I regretted losing touch with the Godbys when I moved to another city years later. Although I have been out of foster care for many years, the current system troubles me. Too many boys and girls, mostly children of color like me, continue to grow up away from home. Social workers often refer to them as “hard to place. ” They said that about me, too.

I decided to look into the issue of teens who age out of foster care to see what has changed, remains the same and needs improving since I left the system. Here’s what I found: A recent survey of youth exiting foster care by the Chapin Center for Children at the University of Chicago in 2005 showed a disturbing pattern of results. At least a third of the young people involved failed to graduate from high school, 11. 5 percent reported not having enough to eat, 14 percent lived in a homeless shelter, and some had been in a state prison.

Many had no health care. Other studies reported similarly bleak findings. So what made the difference in the life of 18-year-old Chereese Phillips of Seattle, a former foster child who aged out of the system in 2003? She’s enrolled in college, not on drugs and works part time. Her future holds promise. How did she escape the social harm that scars so many other foster teens? In 1999, Congress passed the Foster Care Independence Act to bring new hope to Phillips and the 19,000 other teens who age out every year. The landmark legislation funded the John H.

Chafee Independence program, named after its chief sponsor, the late senator from Rhode Island. It created a network of statewide independent living councils that provide important services, such as job training, tuition assistance, housing subsidies, nutritional education, health care and substance abuse prevention to teenage foster children ages 18-21. In addition to support for housing, education and health care, the goal is to prepare young people for adulthood by teaching them skills such as cooking, filling out job applications and opening bank accounts–simple tasks most teens learned at home.

Teens who lingered in foster care for years were rarely taught self-determination skills. Theresa Cameron, Ph. D. , is an associate professor of urban planning at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. She is the board president of FAAST, or Foster Angels of Arizona Serving Together, a nonprofit group that raises money for foster children. She is also on the board of Arizona Helping Hands, a nonprofit group that raises money for needy Arizona children. She is the author of “Foster Care Odyssey: A Black Girl’s Story,” a memoir about her 18 years in foster care. Debra J.

White, MSW, is a former social worker whose career was cut short by a pedestrian-car accident in 1994. She keeps busy volunteering with homeless children through Gabriel’s Angels and with animal welfare. Back to top ^ Summary: “New York State assumed the role of my caretaker when I entered foster care as an infant in 1954. In high school, I walked away from a group home without the state’s blessing and moved in with two other teenage girls, also former foster children. Battling an uprooted life didn’t make it easy to stay in school. I struggled to pay rent. No programs were available for my tuition.

If I didn’t graduate from high school, homelessness, unemployment, mental illness, unwanted pregnancy, prison or all of the above were ready to swallow me up. My life, however, took a decidedly different turn. Angels named the Godby family stepped in where there was only a thread of hope left in my young life. ” (Fostering Families TODAY) Author Theresa Cameron relates her experiences growing up in the foster care system and explains how the 1999 Chafee Act helps teens who age out of the system today (2006). Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA) Oct 19, 2008, pp. A1+

Foster Parents Told: No Smoking By Jonathan D. Silver For all his adult life, if Lee Baumann wanted to smoke a cigarette in his house, he could–whenever he pleased. That’s not the case anymore for Mr. Baumann or any other foster parent like him in the state. Now the pack-a-day Salem smoker is not allowed to light up anywhere in his house or car when his 9-year-old foster son is around for the simple fact that it is illegal. Not only that, he complains that the state changed the rules midstream. That’s not the contract that I entered into. It didn’t matter whether you smoked in your house or not. Nobody cared. Now the rules got changed,” said Mr. Baumann, a self-employed contractor and former law enforcement agent. The law, which took effect Sept. 11, forbids smoking in private homes or vehicles being used for child-care or “services related to the care of children and youth in state or county custody. ” That includes foster homes. Mr. Baumann said the boy living with him, his wife and 16-year-old son is his third foster child, and he has no plans to give him up over a cigarette.

But the self-avowed libertarian, a smoker since age 12, does not think the government should be telling him what to do in his own house. “I’ll admit that my rights stop at the nose of somebody else, but that needs to go in return,” Mr. Baumann said. “I will either quit or I will modify because I am not going to damage the potential for kids who need qualified foster parenting because I want to smoke. Let’s get real,” Mr. Baumann said. “But on the other hand, my libertarianism comes through and I say, ‘At what point are my rights violated? ‘ ” Mr.

Baumann and other foster parents represent only a small slice of those affected by the broad state smoking ban, which has aroused the ire of tavern owners and their smoking patrons. Deterrent to Foster Parenting? While figures are not available for the number of certified foster parents in Pennsylvania, on any given day there are about 20,000 children statewide in foster care, including group homes. There is no way to tell how many foster parents smoke. “I just would hate to see children already bonded to families be disrupted from that home because of a family’s unwillingness to quit smoking,” Ms.

DeLosa said. Violations “may very well lead to removal, God forbid. Honestly, that kind of sticks in my gut. What’s more traumatic for a child, second-hand smoke or possibly being removed from a situation that they’re bonding to? ” As the bill was being put together by legislators, the state Health Department advocated for the most “comprehensive” smoking ban possible, Ms. Kriedeman said. Kids Are First Priority …… It sounds simple, but there are complicated questions arising from the ban. What should foster parents do, for instance, with foster children who smoke?

How should smoking foster parents pay for cessation programs? Will foster parents who feel they are being forced to quit be able to do so if they really don’t want to? Simply being a smoker will not preclude someone from serving as a foster parent. First violations currently result in no more than a letter from the state. And state officials are not planning to pre-screen parents. Taking The Pledge “We spend all the time on that issue. How much time do we spend on alcohol? And I will guarantee you there is more damage done in this society by alcohol than by cigarettes,” Mr.

Baumann said. State Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville, whose district includes Murrysville, spoke at length with Mr. Baumann recently. Mr. Markosek said in an interview that it may be worth re-examining the ban “if it does create a problem for foster parents and perhaps recruiting or keeping fosterparents. ” However, the legislator said he doesn’t think his colleagues would risk modifying the law considering how long it took to put together and because it would be the start of a slippery slope for those wanting to change other sections.

Apart from fears among some that the ban will become an impediment to attracting foster parents, there seems to be no opposition to the desire to protect children from smoke. Back to top ^ Summary: “For all his adult life, if Lee Baumann wanted to smoke a cigarette in his house, he could–whenever he pleased. That’s not the case anymore for Mr. Baumann or any other foster parent like him in the state. Now the pack-a-day Salem smoker is not allowed to light up anywhere in his house or car when his 9-year-old foster son is around for the simple fact that it is illegal.

A little-publicized portion of the state’s [Pennsylvania] new Clean Indoor Air Act–which prohibits smoking in numerous public places like bars and restaurants and some private ones–has altered Mr. Baumann’s daily routine…. The law, which took effect Sept. 11, [2008] forbids smoking in private homes or vehicles being used for child-care or ‘services related to the care of children and youth in state or county custody. ‘ That includes foster homes. ” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) This article discusses how Pennsylvania’s new smoking ban is affecting foster parents.

Cite this Too Poor to Parent?

Too Poor to Parent?. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/too-poor-to-parent-332/

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