I’ve worked in the foster care field for nearly 25 years, and over that time span, I’ve formed strong opinions about what probably works better than foster homes for some kids in foster care. There is also another reason I have these opinions, which I’ll reveal later.
I believe family foster homes are best for some children, say age 10-ish and younger. Why? I think the littler kids adapt better to a foster home and foster family than older kids do. Perhaps younger kids, and especially sibling groups, need a family atmosphere more than older kids. In my experience, I’ve found that the older kids actually do much better if placed in group home or residential settings compared to foster home placements.
Here are some reasons this may be true:
1. Group homes are more structured than foster homes. There are few opportunities to do something wrong or overstep one’s bounds in a rule-driven, scheduled environment.
2. Group homes have staff as opposed to parents who aren’t theirs.
3. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own parents and the staff, since the roles are nothing alike.
4. Kids’ loyalties aren’t torn between their own home and a group home, because the setting is totally different.
5. Kids don’t feel like they have to pretend people are their parents when out in public with staff, the way they do when out in public with foster parents.
6. The perception of others in a child’s home neighborhood or school is often one of blaming the child for his placement in a group home. Alternatively, when a child is placed into a foster home, the blame more often is placed on the child’s parents by others. It’s very difficult for kids to know others hold their parents in low regard.
7. When kids return home from a group or residential setting, they have a little bit of “status”, as some sort of survivor.
8. When kids return home from a foster home placement, they are often the subjects of unwanted pity for having such losers as parents.
The prevailing trend in foster care placement is to place all children in homes instead of group settings. The national average of kids in out of home care who are placed in group settings is 6%. Some states pride themselves in having a lower percentage, and strive for a lower percentage. I wonder if the outcomes and futures of these children back up the perception that family home settings are best for all kids. I can find no long-term follow-up studies of children’s well-being 5 years, 10 years, 20 years after aging out of foster care. Believe me, I’ve tried. The only other reliable source I have for my beliefs listed above is myself, because, you see, I was a child in foster care many years ago, and experienced all those things and thrived much better in the group setting in which I was finally placed.
In May of 2017, 66-year-old former foster parent Clarence “Charlie” Garretson was sentenced to life in federal prison for sexually abusing and raping at least 14 out of the 35 foster children entrusted to the care of he and his wife by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The crimes took place between 1998 and 2004, when Garretson would take children on over-the-road “trucking trips” and then abuse and rape them in the truck’s sleeper compartment. Following these acts of depravity, big bad Charlie would then threaten the children into not telling what had happened.
Garretson was not charged with any of these crimes until he raped yet another child in 2014. This rape was reported by the child’s parent, resulting in the involvement of the FBI, who then discovered all the other crimes that had occurred while the Garretsons were licensed foster parents 10 years earlier. In court, at least one victim revealed she had tried to tell state caseworkers, Mrs. Garretson and DHS investigators repeatedly, but no one believed her. Another victim said she was too scared to tell anyone at the time, fearful of being moved to another home and thus separated from her siblings.
When Garretson spoke in court, he claimed he didn’t even remember the 7 victims who gave victim impact statements. That’s how trivial and meaningless these crimes were to him. He offered a hollow “I’m sorry to anyone I’ve hurt.” BFD. The judge who handed down the life sentence got it right, though. U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes made sure Garretson, who should have been a safe haven for the already-traumatized children placed in his “care”, will never have the opportunity to hurt another child.
The Arkansas abuse and neglect hotline number is 1-800-482-5964.
Woman accused of sex with teen foster son:
Foster parent faces felony charges of sodomy, rape:
40-year-old Jennifer Ann Montag of Hooper, Utah was arrested for allegedly having sex with her 14-year-old foster son over the course of the month of October.
When discovered by a family member with the naked 14-year-old boy she allegedly exclaimed that “You will ruin our family. I could go to jail, and if I do, I will kill myself.”
The victim was also unwilling to cooperate with police for fear of getting Montag into trouble.
I like how she tried to blame everyone else for ruining the family but herself for her sick and twisted actions.
If you’re not getting enough at home go have an affair or something. The foster parent program isn’t your personal escort service.
Thanks to Monique for the tip.
Foster Mom Accused of Taping Pacifier To Baby’s Mouth:
9-month-old Curtis Williams was placed in the custody of foster mother Angela Dukes in Columbia, South Carolina when Curtis tested positive for marijuana. His biological mother was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
However Dukes is charged in the death of Curtis after he died from asphyxiation from having a pacifier taped to his mouth. To make matters worse Dukes is a neonatal intensive care nurse so she above all people should have known better.
She sounds like just another foster parent who was in it for the money. I am not saying that all foster parents are like that but there are too many who are taking advantage of the system.
Thanks to Christina for the tip.
Foster mother charged with killing boy, abusing girl:
Infant Christopher L. Thomas Jr. and his 2-year-old sister were removed from their parents care. Their mother had mental problems and their father was sent to jail on drug charges. They were both placed with caring foster parents. For some reason when the foster parents who were taking care of Christopher tried to adopt him Christopher and his sister were moved into the care of their aunt Crystal P. Keith. Keith began abusing them almost immediately…
Keith told police, whom she called to her home Monday, that she repeatedly slapped Christopher in the face for not eating, according to the criminal complaint. She said she choked him, hung him upside down and pressed his head on the floor. At some point, the infant’s eyes rolled back into his head and he began to vomit. He stopped breathing. She then stuck the handle of a hairbrush down Christopher’s throat, she said, in order to revive him.
Christopher died the next day.
Christopher’s sister would endure scaldings from Keith. Keith would bandage over the blisters but then the blisters would burst adhering the bandages to her flesh.
Maybe someone with a little more knowledge can enlighten me. Why would the state take Christopher out of the original foster parents home because he was going to be adopted?
Thanks to Nurse Sarah for the tip.