Thursday, August 21st, 2014 | Author: mjward
I’ve been serving on our county Foster Care Review Board for over a year. A critical question that arises is: Is it in the child’s best welfare to return to the care of his or her parents? Children are in foster care because of their parents’ failure to provide adequate physical care and suitable nurturing. The reasons vary from parents’ drug and alcohol use (even exposing babies prenatally), criminal activity or incarceration, neglect, inability to care for a difficult child, parents’ mental problems, to violence in the home.
Almost without exception, parents are provided tasks to complete before their child can be returned home. These tasks can include remaining free of drugs or alcohol, taking parenting classes, learning to avoid violence, and providing income and housing adequate for the family. The parents are given a time period to accomplish these tasks, six months for young children and twelve for older ones. The time can be extended if they are making serious efforts to meet the goals. If parents are not making progress, their parental rights can be ended and the child placed for adoption, often with a relative. The judge relies in part on the recommendation of the case manager, in part on the recommendation of the Review Board, as well as other parties.
It is usually obvious that the parents and children love each other and want to be together. This is true even when parents have done a poor job raising their children so far. Thus the questions become: (1) Is it safe for the child to return to his or her parents? (2) Will they provide good enough care for the child. Notice, that the question does not ask if the care will meet the highest standards laid out by child development specialists. It asks if the care is good enough. When we think about it, no one is a perfect parent. We all have our failings, yet most of us succeed as parents. We may want better for the children than “good enough” but it may not be just to separate parents and children if they don’t meet higher standards.
I think of one case. The boy was removed from his parents’ care when there was a suspicion that he had suffered some physical abuse. His parents were abusive toward each other and the home atmosphere was therefore unhealthy. During the year or more that followed, his parents took parenting courses, undertook anger management training, and worked out a plan to defuse any argument that threatened to become dangerous or any build-up of anger toward the child. They called on their religious beliefs to help them cope. For me, that was part of the problem. I have little or no sympathy for their religion and they were almost smug in talking about it. They planned to include their toddler son in religious activities early on. And yet — they loved their son and he obviously wanted to be with them. He would be well cared for physically and, with the help of relatives and their religious group, he was unlikely to be exposed to serious family violence. It really didn’t matter, then, that I didn’t approve of their religion or particularly like the parents. They met the criteria of offering adequate care and a safe home. Our Board recommended that he go home to his parents.

I’ve been serving on our county Foster Care Review Board for over a year. A critical question that arises is: Is it in the child’s best welfare to return to the care of his or her parents? Children are in foster care because of their parents’ failure to provide adequate physical care and suitable nurturing. The reasons vary from parents’ drug and alcohol use (even exposing babies prenatally), criminal activity or incarceration, neglect, inability to care for a difficult child, parents’ mental problems, to violence in the home.

Almost without exception, parents are provided tasks to complete before their child can be returned home. These tasks can include remaining free of drugs or alcohol, taking parenting classes, learning to avoid violence, and providing income and housing adequate for the family. The parents are given a time period to accomplish these tasks, six months for young children and twelve for older ones. The time can be extended if they are making serious efforts to meet the goals. If parents are not making progress, their parental rights can be ended and the child placed for adoption, often with a relative. The judge relies in part on the recommendation of the case manager, in part on the recommendation of the Review Board, as well as other parties.

It is usually obvious that the parents and children love each other and want to be together. This is true even when parents have done a poor job raising their children so far. Thus the questions become: (1) Is it safe for the child to return to his or her parents? (2) Will they provide good enough care for the child. Notice, that the question does not ask if the care will meet the highest standards laid out by child development specialists. It asks if the care is good enough. When we think about it, no one is a perfect parent. We all have our failings, yet most of us succeed as parents. We may want better for the children than “good enough” but it may not be just to separate parents and children if they don’t meet higher standards.

I think of one case. The boy was removed from his parents’ care when there was a suspicion that he had suffered some physical abuse. His parents were abusive toward each other and the home atmosphere was therefore unhealthy. During the year or more that followed, his parents took parenting courses, undertook anger management training, and worked out a plan to defuse any argument that threatened to become dangerous or any build-up of anger toward the child. They called on their religious beliefs to help them cope. For me, that was part of the problem. I have little or no sympathy for their religion and they were almost smug in talking about it. They planned to include their toddler son in religious activities early on. And yet — they loved their son and he obviously wanted to be with them. He would be well cared for physically and, with the help of relatives and their religious group, he was unlikely to be exposed to serious family violence. It really didn’t matter, then, that I didn’t approve of their religion or particularly like the parents. They met the criteria of offering adequate care and a safe home. Our Board recommended that he go home to his parents.

Category: About Families
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