So I started my 30 hour foster care training class this weekend so I'm sure the next few weeks will be full of my musings around the foster care system. I won't take offense if your eyes glaze over. =-)
Did you know that the first legal action (and beginnings of Child Protective Services) for child abuse was given to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals because it was determined that the lady treated her dogs better that she did her foster daughter? Ugh! Things aren't perfect but they've come a long way!
Many ideas of foster care include children revolving through 10-20-30 different placements, basically growing up in foster care, continued abuse etc. Since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, there are new timelines and "thinking" that have changed all that.
As a foster parent I can expect a home visit from the social worker every 30 days. The court hearing for a child to be placed in foster care must be within 72 hours of the child being removed from the home and the "fact finding" hearing must be withing 75 days. Then there's a hearing at 6 months and a Permancy Planning Hearing at 12 months with another court hearing every 6 months until the child is permanently placed (reunification, kinship care, adoption, guardianship, long-term foster care).
There is much more emphasis on "permanancy" and finding the right long-term, stable, nurturing situation for the child. This is even extending to adoption services to make sure the adoption "sticks".
Have you ever heard of a disrupted adoption? (I'm talking state adoptions here, not private adoption.) The foster child becomes legally free to be adopted. The child is placed with an adoptive family. 6 months later the adoption is final. Now the new family has 18 months to send the child back if they want...and if they do that is a disrupted adoption. Can you imagine being the kid in that situation?