For Foster parents

DCFS goals: One home, one county

The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) recently published a report about Phase 1 of addressing the foster care crisis in Arkansas. There were a lot of great things in there that will help us at The CALL and will help foster families. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing some of these things with you.

DCFS has created a list of goals for 2017 and at The CALL we’re going to do what we can to help with those goals, which means encouraging foster families to help with these goals.

When a child who has been abused and neglected comes into care, DCFS wants to get them placed in a home as soon as possible, but they want to introduce stability as quickly as possible too. They want the first placement to be the only placement.

When a child is introduced to stability and loving encouragement the first time, without experiencing the additional trauma of being moved, they do better overall. Well-meaning foster parents can sometimes add to the terrible series of events unfolding in a child’s life. Loving foster parents tell DCFS, “We can take them until (insert circumstance).” Foster parents with big hearts say, “Yes,” to DCFS without asking themselves, “Is this a good placement for the child, our family, and current foster children?” Tired foster families sometimes give up too soon and ask for children to be placed somewhere else.

Another growing problem is children being placed in counties outside of their own. Only 46% of children are placed in their county while in foster care.

Here’s what happens when well-meaning foster family, the Zookermans, accepts a child from another county:

  • The Zookermans’ case worker, who already had 25 cases on her desk (about 73 children), now has a 26th case to add to her pile.
  • An out of county placement means visitations, court dates, meetings with bio families, etc…ALL happen out of county. More driving, more gas, more struggle for the case worker, foster family, and biological family.
  • The child is already living in a different home with a different family, but now they’re in a different county, different school, different teachers, etc…It makes things very hard for them especially in the beginning (think back to your PRIDE sessions).
  • The Zookermans’ case worker, who is probably slightly upset about another case, doesn’t have anywhere in county to place the child she had to take into care earlier today. This child will now have to go to an out of county home  and the ugly cycle repeats itself somewhere else.

It’s hard when you get that heartbreaking phone call. We understand. In the end it’s all about making the decision about whats FIRST best for the child and SECOND what’s best for your family. If it isn’t in the child’s best interest to be in your home, they shouldn’t be there. If it’s not in your family’s best interest then it’s not in the child’s best interest.

DCFS has a goal of making sure there will be enough homes so that 55% of children are placed in their home county by August. DCFS is trying to figure out how to best help the child. Help us help DCFS help the foster children in Arkansas meet their potential.

Click here to review the questions you should ask before accepting a placement.

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