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Advocating for Children in Foster and Kinship Care

Advocating for Children in Foster and Kinship Care: A Guide to Getting the Best out of the System for Caregivers and Practitioners

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Advocating for Children in Foster and Kinship Care
    Book Description:

    This book is the first to provide strategies for effective advocacy and placement within the foster care and kinship care systems. It also takes a rare look at the dynamics of the foster and kinship relationship, not just among children and the agency workers and service providers who intervene on their behalf, but also between children and those who take in and care for them as permanency develops. Drawing on their experience interacting with and writing about the institution of foster care, Mitchell Rosenwald and Beth N. Riley have composed a unique text that helps practitioners, foster parents, and relative caregivers realize successful transitions for youth, especially considering the traumas these children may suffer both before and after placement.

    Advocating for a child's best interests must begin early and remain consistent throughout assignment and adjustment. For practitioners, Rosenwald and Riley emphasize the best techniques for assessing a family's capabilities and for guiding families through the challenges of foster care. Part one details the steps potential foster parents and kinship caregivers must take, with the assistance of practitioners, to prepare themselves for placement. Part two describes tactics for successful advocacy within the court system, social service agencies, schools, and the medical and mental health establishments. Part three describes how to lobby for change at the agency and legislative levels, as well as within a given community. The authors illustrate recommendations through real-life scenarios and devote an entire chapter to brokering positive partnerships among practitioners, families, and other teams working to protect and transition children.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51935-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    After working many years in the field of child welfare, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and to become a foster parent for the child who is now my daughter, Leslie. She and I had known each other for more than five years: I met her when she was nine, when I was a childcare worker in her cottage. At the time I became her foster father, Leslie was fifteen years old, both developmentally and emotionally challenged, and had lived all of her life—since twelve weeks of age—in institutional settings. I thought then—and...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    • [1] In the Beginning: Assessing Commitment and Family Resources
      (pp. 3-31)

      A couple, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, are thinking about becoming foster parents. They have raised three children: one son is married, age 24, and on his own; the other son is age 22 and on his own; and their daughter is in college, age 18, and comes home to visit during breaks from college. The Johnsons have been thinking about fostering for some time but wanted to wait until their own children were grown and able to be accepting of the Johnsons’ sharing their love and their lives with additional children. Now seemed like the time to do more research...

    • [2] Knowing Limits: Finding the Right Match Between the Children in Care and the Foster Parents and Kinship Caregivers
      (pp. 32-54)

      Mr. and Mrs. Ninan decided they wanted to become foster parents. They consulted with Mrs. DeMarco, a home finder. Although they knew there were many challenges ahead of them, they were excited as well. As part of their precertification training, they needed to determine what characteristics children might have whom they believed they could foster successfully. Mrs. Ninan had some nursing training; consequently, she was comfortable with most medical situations. Mr. Ninan, however, was not. He was an engineer by trade and although he was used to interacting with a variety of people, he was not comfortable with some of...


    • [3] Advocating Within the Social Services System
      (pp. 57-76)

      Shanika, Angelina, and Tanya lived with their mother, Mrs. Brown, who was addicted to heroin, and who had conceived the girls by three different men. Child Protective Service (CPS) workers were contacted by school officials when a teacher found the children sleeping in a nearby park one night. Angelina had handprint-shaped bruises on her arm while Tanya had what looked like cigarette burns on her abdomen. The workers found the children to be in imminent danger, and therefore took them immediately into care. The Family Court ordered that the children be placed in foster care (all in the same family,...

    • [4] Advocating Within the Family Court System
      (pp. 77-100)

      Mary, Jason, and Sara were placed in foster care after Mary reported to school officials that her father, Mr. Randolf, had sexually abused her. Mrs. Randolf, their mother, is developmentally delayed, and the court determined that she could not be a “protective ally” (provided of appropriate supervision) for her children. The three children faced a variety of developmental and medical problems that impacted their health, such as microcephaly (a small head), low IQ, and delays in acquiring motor skills. Because the local department for social services home-finding unit was unable to locate a family for all three children together, Mary...

    • [5] Advocating Within the School System
      (pp. 101-124)

      One week ago, in the month of February, the Family Court ordered that nine-year-old Juan Rodriguez be placed in the temporary custody of a kinship caregiver—his great-aunt, Mrs. Maria Lopez. Juan’s mother, Ms. Rodriguez, lost temporary custody because she had abandoned him several times overnight while she used cocaine with friends. Ms. Rodriguez was ordered to complete inpatient treatment for cocaine dependency and depression; subsequent outpatient treatment; and parenting classes. Additionally, the Family Court ordered supervised visitation pending her discharge from outpatient treatment and would review the case in six months. Mrs. Lopez and her niece have a somewhat...

    • [6] Advocating Within the Health and Mental Health Systems
      (pp. 125-149)

      Thirteen-year-old Brooke came into care after witnessing domestic violence between her parents and receiving bruises from multiple beatings by her father. She was extremely attached to her mother, but because of her mother’s inability to shield Brooke from the domestic violence and protect her from her father, Brooke was brought into care, with the Williams family.

      The Williams family lived about 10 minutes from Brooke’s home, and Brooke was able to stay at her school as well as visit with her mother twice a week at the local Department of Human Services agency. Her grades were average (mostly B’s with...

    • [7] Advocacy in Interdisciplinary Teams
      (pp. 150-166)

      Ms. Penna worked at the front desk of a small motel. She loved her children but found she just could not handle Zand, age 9, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Leesha, age 8, who had been “acting up” since she was four years old. Ms. Penna began to drink more and more to cope with the stresses of being a single parent with two active children. After a time, the children were removed because of physical abuse. Their father had abandoned the family long ago.

      Mr. Taylor was a new foster dad. He enthusiastically...


    • [8] Advocating for Agency Policy Change
      (pp. 169-190)

      Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez had served as foster parents for Mytown Children Services, a subcontracted foster care agency of the Millville Department of Social Services, for seven years. Throughout their service, they had fostered twenty-five children. The Alvarezes were among the most competent, caring and reliable professional parents the agency employed.

      Overall, their experience with working with the staff at the agency had been good. The couple principally worked with three foster care workers, and, fortunately, the supervisor had remained the same for the duration. However, there was one issue that constantly annoyed them: the lack of input they were...

    • [9] Advocating Legislatively
      (pp. 191-217)

      Mr. Hanson is a social worker and former foster care worker who rose up through the ranks to become the director of foster care for a private foster care agency. Over the years he has noticed an increase in the number of youth in foster care who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ). He believes this is because society has slowly but increasingly become more accepting and therefore more youth have “come out,” that is, they have disclosed a sexual orientation or gender identity that is not the norm. Mr. Hanson also thinks that the agency’s diversity...

    • [10] Advocating in Communities
      (pp. 218-236)

      Fifty-five-year-old Anna Smith, recently widowed, had been a kinship care provider for her twin eleven-year-old grandsons (Evan and Matt) since her daughter, Ms. Williams, was sentenced to six years in prison for cocaine distribution and conspiracy (the mother did not know who the boys’ father was). Because of Ms. Williams’ incarceration and substance abuse history, Mrs. Smith decided to initiate proceedings for permanent physical custody of her two grandchildren. She found it difficult to find other kinship care providers with whom she could talk about similar experiences they might share. Specifically, Mrs. Smith sometimes grew tired of explaining her relationship...

  9. References
    (pp. 237-248)
  10. Index
    (pp. 249-254)