Tuesday, September 2, 2008

DHS RANT

Please feel free to bypass this rant.
It's part of the reason I am C R A N K Y.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. For everyone except my foster son, because at this juncture we don't know WHERE he will be going to school.

For those of you that don't know the system, by the time they become teens, most kids have been in and out of foster homes, have some kind of history of bad stuff (abuse, violence, drugs, stealing, etc.), and don't go to regular public schools, blah blah. Maybe this isn't true about all foster teens, but I only take the hard to place teens, which means there will be some significant back history that makes schooling challenging.

When I took this teen in (mid-way through July), I said that I wanted schooling addressed as soon as possible, to be able to work on creating a success story before he even walked in the door. Knowing where he would be, visiting, meeting teachers before, helping them understand how to manage his behaviours, giving him an early idea of what to expect. Mental preparation. But in August we got switched to a new case worker, we can't sort out who his prescriber for meds is (so he's out), his special care nurse has not called to make an appointment, AND WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHERE HE WILL GO TO SCHOOL! Because of his situation, we can't just walk in and enroll him in a school. His records need to be gone through, multiple meetings need to happen to determine the best placement, etc.

So, what this means is that we are starting out in the red. Negative Balance, here. No meds, no mental preparation, and lots of stress and anxiety.

His case worker is wonderful. Really. And doing the best he can, but he has over 200 kids on his case load, and he's supposed to be caring for ALL of them. It's no wonder nothing gets accomplished.

Sigh.

It's my job to help this kid be successful, but I can only go so far, and the State is not supporting me. Not because they are bad, or because it's personal. It's not. But this system, our foster care system, is BAD. It's diseased. It's amazing it works at all.

6 comments:

Shine said...

Hang in there.

Elizabeth said...

Mtnhigh:
I recently resigned as a CASA over frustration (which I held off for a longtime) over these kids not getting the attentions and the resources that they need. I was always advocating for the educational component, since it seems to me that that is the ticket out. Good luck with this. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say...E

Mtnhighmama said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm sorry to hear that they (and those kids!) lost you. It makes me want to howl each time I hear that someone has been driven away.

I hate that it's the squeaky wheel that gets the attention. I want to teach these kids to ask, to be patient, to walk life with grace, and instead what they see is that is a constant fight to get their needs met. Instead of them deserving to be treated equally, they are constantly treated as problems, drains on resources, $$$, etc. This infuriates me! They don't see my foster son, who has done amazing work at learning to self-manage his challenges, they don't see his success at learning to work through his history, and they don't see his wonderful charms. They see labels, meds, and diagnoses. They see history.

I can love him as much as I can, but how do I fight the system that seems hell bent on keeping him down?

He is a wonderful kid. Bright. Loving. Gentlemanly (he always opens my doors, makes me walk on the inside of the sidewalk, does the heavy lifting--all because he respects and cares). Funny. Takes his role as a big brother very seriously. He is a GREAT kid, and I am lucky to have him.

I want them to see that too.

*sigh*

Elizabeth said...

mtnhigh"
They haven't lost me, I am just planning to re-invent my role, knowing what I know now. It is just amazing to me that so many people (shrinks, doctors, contractors of various sorts,) are actually invested in a financial way in the failure of the child. If the child is thougt of as healthy then there is not role for some of these, excuse me, vultures. I could go on...I would love to brainstorm with you sometime. I was told that I ought to combine my interest in art and in arts power to create confidence, with my interest in these great kids. They are not broken, they are the product of a broken system.
XOXO
E

Mtnhighmama said...

I'd love to brainstorm, Elizabeth, and see what you have in mind as far as the Arts.

It kills me when everyone starts talking about the money. These kids are PEOPLE, and your comment about the vultures is so right on. I understand that the state supports these kids, but so much of what could be going to the kids is meted out to others and it makes me want to slam my head against the wall.

We had friends in town a little while back,and they were staying at a hotel with a pool, so we all went over there to play with them.

I didn't realize what a big deal it would be to my foster kids. Neither had ever stayed in a hotel, and as we walked through the door they were talking about how fancy it was, etc. It wasn't, it was just a typical decent hotel.

But it hit home to me how much of typical life these kids never experience. They don't travel, they don't get extracurricular classes, and both of mine didn't even have library cards! One of mine talked about rationing our food items because of the extreme poverty in his own home.

I don't have much, I work part-time so I can be available to my kids, and so there's little extra, but we don't have to ration food! I can't imagine the amount of stress that must be to carry around. Thinking, Can I eat this or will it be taking food from someone else?

*sigh, sob*

I could just go on and on, and I know you've seen all these stories too. When I went into foster care, it was because I couldn't stand the thought of kids not being loved. But since then, It's changed. I still feel that way, but I also so strongly just want them to see what it's like to not be so scared. To have a home where people function, where they listen, where they are seen as someone of value, rather than a drain.

It feels so weighty to me right now. I wish I could take them all. But I can't, so I take the ones that are hard to place. Because my family can do it. And because they remind me so keenly of the will to survive.

Alyce said...

Could he maybe attend WellSprings?
They have patience and experience with challenging kids...

http://www.wellspringsfriends.org/