Tuesday, March 22, 2016

To The End of June

"To The End of June" by Cris Beam

Oh boy, this was a heavy, hard, yet interesting read.  If you are interested in the foster system, are a foster parent, know a foster parent, or work within the system, I recommend this book.  The author explains how our system began, the changes that have occurred along the way, and how our system is failing those it is meant to help.  Cris followed several foster kids and their families over a period of time to help show what it is like being a foster child and a foster parent.  As one who volunteers with foster kids, I know first hand the faults in our system but this book gave me a different look at the biological parents and their struggles.  Honestly my eyes were open to views I hadn't thought of before and I highly recommend this book.  "I know that foster children are twice as likely to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder than are veterans of war."  And that sentence was on the first page!  What are we doing?  "This is one of the reasons why a lot of people go straight for adoption, that they don't bother with foster care.  It's because of the investment-you see your investment go down the drain in months."  Foster parents put a lot of work into these kids only to have them be moved to another home.  It's hard, selfless work and it takes such courage.  "That's why nearly every kid in foster care is diagnosed with ADHD or even Oppositional Defiance Disorder-they don't have impulse control, because they never had proper attachment.  Unfortunately, the system tends to tackle the symptoms rather than the cause, by medicating the children for their hyperactivity or aggression, without addressing the underlying loss, which can take years to repair."  So much of this system is reactive and not proactive and I believe this alone is why we fail our children.  "But if you live in a state where your're going to be charged with child abuse for your addiction, or you know your kids will be taken away if you show up at a treatment site, you're stuck regardless."  Can we get them help before we take their children?  Would there be better success for the child and the parent?  "We've been building a city for children on a sinking foundation."  "Parents should do it because the kids need.  Otherwise they're going to be disappointed.  More money, more training, all of these things would be a boost, but foster parenting, by definition, means personal sacrifice.  You do it because you want to help a kid, and because you enjoy seeing them grow.  The gratitude for what you've done might come later.  Like after five years of hell."  Or honestly, maybe not at all.  "For her doctoral dissertation, Eliana interviewed one hundred kids in foster care, asking them why they thought they were there.  Ninety percent said it was because of something they did."  And that is what these children carry with them.  "Kecia explained that the first of her theories was the most basic and obvious: group homes led to jail because of the connections that you made in care.  The kids you met could lure you into trouble, and the adults were strangers you couldn't trust.  One thing led to another."  Group homes were not meant to raise kids.  "There's one commonly cited statistic-that 80 percent of all inmates have spent time in foster care-"  That figure alone should make us take a good look at our system.  "These kids said they would have rather been abused at home with their parents than abused by the state.  We realize now that the outcomes for children in foster care are going to be worse than if they had stayed in the home."  That statement blows my mind.  I can't even wrap my head around it.  "The agencies and the foster parents dont' know how to manage what every single foster child seems to need-that need to go back.  We need to get better at this part of the foster care trajectory because that journey back is land-minded for self-destruction."  No matter the abuse, no matter the circumstances, a child will always want to go back.  "This is why child welfare experts try to fix the myriad problems in child welfare and fail: the problems are rooted in a society that cares little for its children, for its poor, its mentally ill, undereducated, incarcerated, addicted, and isolated."  As a society we have proven this through our failing systems. "And the poverty aspect of foster care is particularly troubling, as the one shining truth in my research was this: the poorer you are, the more likely you are to get entangled with child welfare."  The author doesn't offer solutions, she wrote the book as mere information.  It leaves the reader wondering how do we fix this, how do we help these children and families?

No comments:

Post a Comment