Welcome to the fifteenth edition! This newsletter is published by Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS). FAFS’ mission is to provide support, training and advocacy to meet the special needs of foster, adoptive and kinship families, who provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for children in foster care. We hope that you will find this information to be both interesting and informative. To learn more about FAFS, please visit www.fafsonline.org. Have questions or comments? Contact Us
Foster care immunization has gained the spotlight in Texas recently as the state attempts to reform its foster care system. The Texas child welfare system has been under fire since 2015, when a Corpus Christi judge delivered a 250-page ruling that declared that long-term foster care in the state was, as she put it, “broken.” The ruling came in the wake of 144 deaths of children in care between 2010 and 2014. According to the judge, this violates the 14th Amendment – the right to be free from, as the judge said, “rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability.” After receiving this criticism, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) of Texas began reform efforts, and House Bill 39 was introduced with a number of stipulations intended to keep children in foster care safe. Amidst the debate one hot-button issue has gained attention on the national stage: foster care immunization.
Immunization has been a controversial topic in the United States for years, with many groups across the country voicing opinions over the implementation of vaccines for children. Arguments tend to fall into two categories: “Are vaccines safe?” and “Should vaccines be mandatory?“ Proponents of immunization argue that vaccines are effective in preventing disease. They also have faith in major medical organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others that verify the safety of vaccines. They believe that vaccines are the primary way to protect future generations from possible disease outbreaks. For those that believe vaccines are safe, the question of whether the government requires them is moot – if vaccines are good for society and protect future generations, a mandatory vaccine schedule is entirely reasonable and acceptable. For those who doubt the safety of vaccines, however, government-based immunization schedules (including a foster care immunization plan) represent a threat to their children’s well-being.
Across the county, foster parents take children in need into their homes. In some cases, these same children become a part of their families forever through adoption. New Jersey foster parent Karen Booker knows this story well.
What has made such an impact on Karen’s life was her decision to foster over 50 children, 3 of whom she has adopted. Karen touched so many lives during her 5 years of being a licensed foster parent and continues to keep her home open to children in care.
The Booker’s journey to becoming the Outstanding Adoptive Family of the Year at Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency’s (DCP&P) Annual Recognition Brunch began when her biological children were getting ready to go to college. Rather than having another child, she said she decided to foster because she “knew that there were a lot of children out there who needed homes and needed love.”
Across the United States, addiction to opioids is on the rise. What the public once perceived to only be a problem lurking in the alleyways of our cities has now taken root in the suburban yards and farm fields of our nation. Throughout the years, opioid use has been both glamorized and demonized in our culture, but the once popular heroin chic style of 90’s models doesn’t look so pretty on today’s moms who are struggling with addiction.
While the nasal spray Narcan can potentially save the life of someone who overdoses on opioids, there is no prescription for saving their family life once their addiction reaches the breaking point. More and more, children are being placed in foster care as a result of their parents’ addictions. In their July 2016 policy brief, Families in Crisis: The Human Service Implications of Rural Opioid Misuse, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Health Services stated, “…the opioid crisis could exacerbate child abuse and neglect given that we’re seeing a link nationally. State child welfare systems have reported that they are experiencing an increase in families coming to their attention with substance use problems impacting their ability to safely parent.”
2013 was a difficult year for the child welfare system in Kentucky as budget estimates failed to cover its growth and several funding cuts were made. Among these cuts was the kinship care subsidy, which helps kinship parents shoulder the additional cost of raising their relatives. Now, kinship parents across the state are coming together through what Kentucky grandparent Norma Hatfield calls the “Grandma Underground.”
Across the nation, kinship care has largely been considered the way forward in child welfare. As covered in our previous article, “Kinship Care in the United States: An Overview,” we explained how child welfare in the US is shifting to rely more and more heavily on kinship caregivers. This comes in the wake of studies and other evidence that life with relatives provides fewer disruptions and more positive outcomes for children in care. To ensure fewer disruptions, kinship programs employ what is known as “presumptive eligibility” – that is, the state presumes that a relative caregiver is eligible to be a foster parent and will place the child with them before the standard background checks and inspections are completed, with the understanding the caregiver in question complete such processes as soon as possible. Presumptive eligibility also allows kinship caregivers to receive the kinship care subsidy while being processed.
Agencies across the world, including foster care providers, have implemented a behavior management strategy aimed at transforming socially, academically and behaviorally challenged children. This technique, known as the Nurtured Heart Approach, is aimed at awakening the greatness in all children.
Originally created by Howard Glaser in 1992, the Nurtured Heart Approach was developed for working with intense children, including those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and other behavioral, emotional and anxiety related disorders.
Intensity, according to the Nurtured Heart Approach, is a powerful quality that, if developed correctly, can help children excel.
“When a child learns to feel great about his or her intensity, the incidents of challenging behavior dissolve,” according to the training. “Now the intense child is using his or her intelligence and energies in constructive ways, and he or she often turns out to be an intensely gifted young person.”
The technique employs three stands, or guiding principles, that are aimed at transforming children. The first revolves around the refusal to give time and energy to negative behavior. For example, instead of focusing on what a child did wrong and yelling, the caregiver will save that energy for something good. Continue reading
Most teenagers can’t wait to turn 18 or 21 to enjoy their freedom. However, for teens in foster care, these ages carry with it a freedom that isn’t always wanted. Every year more than 20,000 youth in foster care age out of the system and lose life-changing services in the process.
When youth age out, they become ineligible for the state funding they have received since entering the foster care system. This funding helps them with everything from housing to medical care. Youth also no longer have caseworkers to talk with when issues arise or foster families to welcome them home after a long day. Many go from having a variety of resources and people supporting them to being alone in the world.
Prior to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (FCA), only youth under the age of 18 were eligible to be in foster care. The FCA provided states the option to receive federal funding that extends foster children’s benefits to the age of 21. Since 2008, 26 states, including New Jersey and the District of Columbia, have passed the act allowing youth to choose to stay in foster care until their 21st birthday.