Reviews | Host family: “We must not fail more children”

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For the publisher:

Re “Our foster care system is broken”, by Sixto Cancel (guest op-ed essay, September 17):

Mr. Cancel’s heartbreaking tale of his childhood as he traveled between group homes and foster homes is all too familiar. It is a tragedy that US policies and services are not designed to adequately support the 2.7 million children growing up in the care of relatives or close family friends.

For every child with parents in the foster care system, around 20 are with parents, such as grandparents, outside the foster care system. Decades of research prove that being raised by loving and supported parents, children outperform those living with unrelated foster parents.

If the parents did not intervene to raise these children, the foster care system would be overwhelmed. So why don’t we design a system that supports kinship?

I fully agree with Mr. Cancel. We must do all we can to keep families together. We need to work with related families to create programs that meet their needs and to increase services and funding for those programs. We must not let down more children, and rather rethink a system that should serve us better.

Donna Butts
Washington
The writer is the executive director of Generations United, a non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of children, youth and the elderly.

For the publisher:

In six years as foster parents, we have observed the harmful effects of group homes on children as described by Sixto Cancel. Yet to reduce the system’s dependence on institutions, we need more licensed foster parents.

It takes time to locate and approve kinship foci. During this time, it is common for social workers to call us after 5 p.m. to request immediate placement for a child. Even if the child is not in the age range that we are ready to welcome, or if we have no more beds available, the social workers keep trying because they cannot leave the office until children do not have at least a temporary place to sleep.

At the same time, the state agency is in desperate need of more foster parents, raising barriers that can frustrate those it has. Foster parents need a stable source of income, but should still have the flexibility to attend review meetings and transport a child to a school that may be miles away. Social workers with a heavy workload often do not answer phone calls or pass on relevant information.

The system is lacking not only for young people, but also for foster parents who want to take care of them.

Peter S. Cahn
Donald T. Hess Jr.
Boston

For the publisher:

I first met Sixto Cancel in 2011, shortly after becoming a Connecticut commissioner in the Department of Children and Families, when he was a young student and aspiring foster youth advocate of Home. I was immediately impressed by his passion, insight, determination and wisdom far beyond his years.

We stayed in touch and his voice was in my ear as we have dramatically transformed practices over my eight year tenure. We took a family-centered approach and were guided by the neurosciences of child and adolescent development.

These changes allowed us to reduce the percentage of children placed in group homes from 29.8% to 7.7%, increase the percentage of children placed in kinship homes from 21% to 43.1 %, while eliminating the placement of children out of state, almost 40 collective settings and shifting our spending from collective care to community supports and mental health services.

There is certainly more to do in Connecticut and elsewhere in the country. Sixto’s voice is important to listen to. I did, and Connecticut was the beneficiary.

Joëtte Katz
Stamford, Connecticut.

For the publisher:

Sixto Cancel details his mistreatment in the foster care system, but his case is the exception.

I was a lawyer for 13 years for the Kentucky foster care agency, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The many social workers I worked with were hardworking and dedicated.

When arrangements were made to remove a neglected or abused child, parents were always asked for the names of family members who might be fostering the child. Sometimes parents did not give the names of family members. Other times, parents would give reasons why the parent is unsuitable, such as alcoholism or drug addiction. If the parent was satisfactory, the child would be placed there.

The author cites his bad experiences in foster care. Like any population, some foster parents are unsuited to the job. But the vast majority are good and dedicated, loving and caring for children as if they were their own knowing that they can be taken from their homes at any time.

I agree that there are still problems in the foster care system. But the system should not be considered broken because of some bad cases.

David T. Adams
Louisville, Ky.

For the publisher:

The Sixto Cancel essay paints a damning picture of the state of our child welfare system. A proven intervention that shortens the length of care for children and adolescents, improves their well-being and academic performance, and increases their chances of reuniting with their primary caregivers or finding other safe and permanent homes is Court Appointed Special Advocates . , or CASA.

Operating in many communities in nearly every state, CASA recruits, trains, and supervises lay volunteers who work with individual children and groups of siblings to advocate for their best interests while they are in the welfare system of the world. ‘childhood. We need many policy changes to ensure that children at risk receive the services, attention, resources and safety and permanence opportunities they deserve. CASA helps you.

Martha gershun
Fairway, Kan.
The writer is the former executive director of Jackson County CASA.


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