Foster Parenting - Log #9


4/5/2011

It's been many months since I've written an update on our foster parenting situation. The reason: there is nothing to report.

I am as surprised by this as anyone.

When we were licensed last fall, we heard from many people that we would likely "have a placement before the ink on our license is dry." We were under the impression that there is quite a need for more foster parents and we would very likely be needed right away to take in a child or two.

Yet months have gone by with very little activity at all. We had one foster child in December, for only 2 weeks. Otherwise, we have had no calls at all. And it is not just us.

All of our county's foster parents received a letter last month stating that there has been a significant decrease in funding in the state of Indiana for foster parenting. The state Dept. of Child Services is to make every effort to keep children in their original home or to place them with relatives.

This is a difficult issue and I see both sides of it. On the one hand, I understand needing to balance the budget and make cuts wherever possible. It is more cost effective for the State to provide counseling and parenting classes and other helpful services to the families, while keeping the family together, than it is to pay for foster care for those children. As a strong proponent of living on a balanced budget, I can certain understand the need to cut costs and save money.

On the other hand, I suspect there will be children left in abusive or neglectful homes as a result of these budget cuts. I question if this is the best place to cut funds. I don't think it is, if even one child could end up staying in an abusive situation and dying as a result.

We are left with a lot of questions. Why did God have us become foster parents in the first place, if only to be licensed but sit idle as the State chooses to not use us? How long do we continue to maintain our license if this current situation continues? Is there some other way to advocate for children and orphans? Will this situation change with a different governor or congress in power?

Since I am in touch with many other foster parents across the United States, I marvel at the uniqueness of our situation. Most other foster parents are in high demand and here we sit for months without a call. It's confusing. It's frustrating. It's not at all the journey we expected to be on.

I'd feel differently if all of a sudden, parents were being better parents and there were simply no more children needing foster care because their home situations were fine. That would be wonderful - for there to be no need for foster parents at all. But instead I know that not all family situations are healthy... but whether kids will stay in those environments comes down to money and politics.

For now, there is nothing for us to do. We remain licensed until this fall, when it's time to renew. In the meantime, we are still taking some training classes to be able to renew when the time comes.

Right now, we're still feeling that God has a particular child or two out there that He will lead our way; that there is a reason He brought us this far.

So we wait.

2 comments:

Wendy said...

My heart hurts for what you are going through. :( I know the feeling of being ready to love kids, and knowing there's a huge need, but the phone doesn't ring. You are handling it with grace and patience--I can tell.

We in California are in the midst of a similarly squeezed budget that has brought about a stronger emphasis on family preservation. Family preservation is a good thing, when the situation isn't threatening immediate harm to a child, but now we are seeing it do damage as children are not pulled out until the are severely abused or neglected.

Our agency told us recently that the cases they're seeing come into foster care now are more severe than ever. We were shocked at the neglect that our boys had endured before coming to us, but they told us that this level is now a typical case!

I think the best way that waiting foster parents can help the state budget is to do exactly what you're doing... wait. And, if you can handle the wait, continue to re-license for next year. The cost to the state of recruiting and licensing new foster parents is so high, and they WILL need them again soon.

And, you being available and licensed is the best way to be a safety net for kids. Hang in there. You can do this. Sending love your way.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there! We are from Kansas and our first placement arrived the day we received our temp license; I didn't even know we were licensed because I got the call at work and my SW said you are licensed you just don't know it. That beautiful 2 week old baby girl stayed 2 weeks. A few weeks later we got another baby boy - 8 weeks who stayed 2 months and then a month later 3 kiddos who stayed 3 months AND then nothing for 5 months!
I kept asking questions and knew we had a wonderful home and our SW agreed, but it wasn't the budget a year ago, it was KS being privatized and running everything through one agency. Well, we weren't with that "preferred" agency so everytime we said yes, "preferred agency" families would step up very last minute and kiddos were placed with them over us. Relates to money though because it was bigger kick back for "preferred" agency even if these families weren't the best fit.
God has a plan though - be patient and you will see why he is having you wait.
I somewhat threatened to quit if we weren't really needed and my SW said "please don't".
Less than 2 weeks later I received a call about 2 little girls who eventually would be reunited with mom, but needed care for a few months. I said yes and was told it would be about 5 days before the would be placed with us. The very next day my SW called and said I have another situation again with 2 girls who need immediate placement, meaning in a few hours and most likely it would be permanent and possibly lead to adoption, if we wanted. I said yes right away. A year later we are now adopting these girls and will be finalized in less than 3 months. We have 3 bio children as well and an extremely busy life. God has a plan and he wants you to be available when the right children for your family arrive and need your help and love.
Stay strong - it will happen!

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