Caring Foster Families Help Children Thrive
Your article "Kansas Pioneers a Solution to Child-Welfare Woes" (Aug. 15) was excellent overall. I considered sending the article to my contacts at the county and state level, but I was bothered by the first few paragraphs, which relate a child's reports of "miserable years in foster care."
I am sure the author checked out the allegations, but it is very common for foster children older than four to "tell stories." The stories come from distorted home situations and from other foster children in receiving centers and institutions. Almost every foster child has a mandatory therapist; I know of several situations where a therapist's questions formed the basis of the stories. The allegations are hardly ever substantiated, and when they are, the foster license is supposed to be revoked. The first part of the article ends by saying if not for Kansas' efforts to improve its beleaguered child-welfare system, the child and her sister "would almost certainly still be languishing in foster care, instead of living with a caring adoptive family."
Apparently, this also is the Monitor's view, since the term "continue to languish in foster care" is in the first paragraph of the editorial "A Family for Every Child" (Aug. 18).
I am a wife, mother, grandmother, CPA, First Reader at my branch church, and a foster mom, with two toddlers currently in our home, one of whom we are adopting. I have been working with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the State of California promoting a bill that would raise the foster care reimbursement rate to a more reasonable level. I know a lot of good foster parents, and in the last three years have seen hundreds of foster children thrive in foster care, instead of languishing with birth families. (I also have seen the devastating effects of our county's policy to license welfare mothers as foster parents, even though they can't adequately provide for their own children.)
In our county, the "caring adoptive family" is almost always one and the same as the foster family. The adoption of our son is almost complete, after 37 months in foster care. He has been in foster care from the day he was born, so there was no reason for the adoption process to take over three years, except that the court ordered three reunification attempts with his birth mother. (The 12-month hearing process may help in limited cases, but even with the 18-month law currently on the books, most foster children languish in the system, even though they are thriving in a foster home, for two to four years.)
There is a huge shortage of foster homes. Perhaps a few well-balanced articles highlighting the overwhelming majority of good volunteer foster parents while also mentioning the problems and challenges inherent in the system, would do more to recruit more foster parents and therefore more adoptive parents. The children deserve it.
Grass-roots effort to educate
Cheers for your article "A Couple's Quest to Aid Poor Schools" (Aug. 21) and cheers for Frank and Faye Clarke, who created the Educate the Children Foundation with Mrs. Clarke's $300,000 retirement nest egg.
Cheers again for other school district patrons who now may take action to help their own schools. Mr. and Mrs. Clarke are retired. They could be spending their time playing golf or taking trips, but they love the children, see the need, and have made the decision to actively do this good work.
Mary Virginia Lucas
New Canaan, Conn.
I hope your story on Mr. and Mrs. Clarke is on the front page of many more newspapers. I imagine that this family knows what it is to be thrifty to earn and save such an amount. We're fortunate to have people who show us what success really is.
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