Any CASA workers here?


#1

My wife and I have become foster parents. The first two boys we had were only with us for a couple weeks and appeared to go home to a "decent" mother. They were abit needy but fit in well with our family and looked at their stay with us like it was "camp"

We have had two little girls since May. When they arrived they were extremely tramatized. Mom and dad were arrested for felony child neglect and drug posession. The older one was nearly 4 and was not potty trained, both children had lice and sores on thier privates from wearing soiled diapers. The younger one (nearly 2) was deathly afraid of me and would cover her eyes whenever I walked into the room or if she noticed I was looking at her. Her older sister said I looked just like one of her dad's friends(?). There have been certain clues that lead us to believe that the older child has been sexually abused and we have reported them to the case worker but no action has been taken.

The two were delayed in social developement and suffer emotional and behavioral issues. We have worked long and hard to help them adjust. The younger one has made great strides in her evaluations with "Parents as Teachers" and the older one was identified as "being in need" and enrolled at the public preschool with an IEP. She too has improved but has her own issues we continue to deal with.

While the children are doing better, the parents are not. Dad is in jail again (new charges) and possibly headed to prison for a couple years. Mom has failed drug tests and started living with another noted dopehead/lowlife as soon as her common law husband went to jail. However we found out (in a round about way) that mom wants the children moved back in with her and her lawyer has filed this motion.

The girls have a court appointed (and paid) lawyer that has never spoken to them and has never spoke to us - we don't even knwo who he is. The case worker has commented several times about the mother "she would be a good mama if it wasn't for the drugs". I guess its all in what you get used to. It would appear that everyone "in power" is fine with thise proposal except for us.

We know these children will eventually go back to their mother but we do not feel that there has been enough (any?) improvement in their home living conditions. The children go home for three day visits now (even though both parents have violated their probation conditions) and come back repeating old habits we had stopped and are usually filthy.

Who do we contact to help us prevent this? Our goal is to help both the mother and the children. We hope to "force" the mother to take parenting classes (or even classes similar to what we took to become foster parents). We would also hope to force background checks on everyone living in the home (similar to the background checks we had to run on people who might babysit the children).

Is there a source out there to help guide us through this? We have no experiance in this area and don't want to make a mistake that may cost these children their future.


#2

I've got no idea.

But I just wanted to say it's stories like this which makes me admire people like you guys who take in foster children. I'm not sure I'm man enough to handle these kinds of things (like having it out of my hands that the children could just be taken and placed back in their old homes).

God bless you and your wife.


#3

OK, been there done that 3 times. I know what you’re going through. My wife and I have three girls who we adopted after being their foster parents. Our children came a bit younger (2, 10 months and 3 months) and were not as hurt as your are, but I know all about birth parents who choose drugs over children. One of our birth mothers flunked 26 out of 27 drug tests in a six month period. My wife had to scream and yell to get them to test her before a visit - she was showing up high for her 2 hour visit.

First, I would not assume that they are going back. There has to be an action plan or some sort of list of things she had to complete before the children would be returned. Something along the lines of: attend rehab and be clean and sober for 6 months, have appropriate living situation, have means of support, etc. If she is living with someone they would have to be cleared much like you were to become foster parents. Crackheads, abusers and felons won’t qualify - they have no blood relations to the child and they don’t get the benefits that law brings with that.

Find out who you child’s Guardian Ad Lightum is - that is a lawyer appointed to represent your foster children’s rights. Not the county lawyer who represents CYS. Check up on the law in your state, understand the process, your rights within that process and what must be done before a child can be returned.

Lastly, if you are interested in adopting these children, let the caseworker know. They often try and reunite families solely because the children might have a hard time finding a permanent home and the “are not in the business of creating orphans” as one case worker told me. One of our new daughters was taken to termination solely because she had a forever home. She would have been very difficult to place if we had not wanted her.

Feel free to ask any other questions or PM me.


#4

I have to also say that I am not really sure what you could do. My first recommendation would be to contact your diocesan Catholic Charities office. Even if they are not the ones who can help directly, they are in a much better position to give you advice on where to go and what to do next.

God bless you and those girls!


#5

[quote="Melchior, post:2, topic:214518"]
I've got no idea.

But I just wanted to say it's stories like this which makes me admire people like you guys who take in foster children. I'm not sure I'm man enough to handle these kinds of things (like having it out of my hands that the children could just be taken and placed back in their old homes).

God bless you and your wife.

[/quote]

Just to point it out, not meaning to make you feel bad, but this type of sentiment comes across as "I'm too tenderhearted to do this, I'm not a cold-stone emotionless person without feelings like you." It's better to just say you admire people who do this and leave it at that.


#6

[quote="ChosenAndCalled, post:5, topic:214518"]
Just to point it out, not meaning to make you feel bad, but this type of sentiment comes across as "I'm too tenderhearted to do this, I'm not a cold-stone emotionless person without feelings like you." It's better to just say you admire people who do this and leave it at that.

[/quote]

It should come across as "I would kick their parent's teeth down their throats". As someone who was abused himself, I don't take kindly to parents who do stuff to their kids. I'd probably snap and do something fairly dumb.


#7

First, I would not assume that they are going back. There has to be an action plan or some sort of list of things she had to complete before the children would be returned. Something along the lines of: attend rehab and be clean and sober for 6 months, have appropriate living situation, have means of support, etc. If she is living with someone they would have to be cleared much like you were to become foster parents.

She attends NA and has passed a most of her drug tests. The problem is their drug tests are planned on specific dates (not random), and the fact that their drug of choice is crystal meth. All they have to do is not take it the day before the test and drink some (lots) vinegar they pass. The father admitted he was using drugs the entire time he’d been on probation (passed every UA) and only failed the one they took when he was arrested for burglary. The mom had to know he was committing the break-ins (he stole and sold over $13,000 in property) and that he was still using drugs. They hae no car and spend most of their time watching TV in their apartment. She claims there is no one living with her (the transporter and the older girl say differently – she calls him “new daddy”). Her means of support is welfare. She is 23 years old and has never held a job in her life and has no plans to get one – specifically said in the initial interview she would not be working.

The SRS worker appears perfectly fine with the kids going back. We were shocked when they got unsupervised three day visits only a month into their “rehabilitation” (two weeks after getting out of jail for their initial arrest), three weeks later the mom flunked her first drug test. Two months later dad was arrested. We thought the visitation would be revoked or cut back to two days, we were shocked to hear it might be possible that mom would get a “30 day trial” unsupervised visit.

When the children were taken into custody mom was found running down the street screaming that someone was trying to kill her with a child holding each hand. She was high and deputies brought her back to the home to see if anyone was there. They found the house to be unfit for human habitation. Dad showed up, (high) and a large amount of drugs was found in the apartment. I personally went to their first meeting with the SRS and they told the social workers that the “drug issue” was recent (about 2 weeks) and had quickly spiraled out of control. After other discussion the parents left and I talked to one worker before I left. At that time they were of the opinion that they were basically good people that got caught up in a bad situation. They still seem to be operating under that impression.


#8

Harass yoru social workers abotu the condition of the girls.
Take pictures, pictures, pictures. Make sure the camera has a dating function. Get pics of what the children look like when they come back from a visit.
Keep a notebook (spiral - so others can tell if pages are torn out) about the girls' psychological well-being, comments they make about birth parents, comments from teachers, etc. Sign and date each entry.
All of this can serve as evidence to prevent them from being returned to a less-than-ideal situation.
If they should not be going back, raise heck to any and all who will listen. This is your job.
I've picked this up from reading various foster care blogs. Good luck.


#9

Hey there from a law student specializing in child abuse/neglect...Here are some ideas of things you could do or try, with maybe some success.

All of this is going to happen through a court hearing. I don't know what state you're in, but each state has statues that govern child custody. Usually it is a "best interest of the child" standard, and there are certain factors innumerated that determine what that is, but these are not exhaustive. Google "Florida statutes" or "Florida code" (change for you state, obviously) to find your states' statutes and look up the child custody provisions. If you need help, please feel free to PM me. Also, case law would be helpful--if you need help finding that, please PM me.

The judge will hear testimony from third parties at these hearings, esp if you ask politely and inform the judge that you are the children's current guardian. You can cite the statute, discuss the factors you feel are most pertinent, and discuss what YOU have seen/heard--although remember that hearsay exceptions will apply to a lot of things. The poster who said you should record everything is dead on--keep records of the parent's behavior and the children's reactions.

Hopefully, the child's lawyer will listen to you if you talk to him/her; if not, try contacting your statewide Guardian ad Litem office and asking them to get involved. If that doesn't work, try to contacting legal aid, law school clinics, or even individual attorneys and asking for pro bono services.

This might be the best you can do; most states have a huge presumption in favor of the natural parents and it takes a very long time to terminate their parental rights (esp since the Supreme Court has ruled these are constitution rights). Best of luck, friend.


Please be aware that the above suggestions are not meant to be legal advice and in no way create an agreement for services.


#10

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