Sarah Ford | May 19, 2014

Struggling With the System as a Foster Family

By Kelly

Being a foster family was both a rewarding and frustrating experience.

My husband and I heard about babies being placed in overcrowded, unsafe shelters and wanted to help. We were ready to love and take care of these infants, and provide them a safe, stable home. But we had no idea about the struggles that we would encounter. Just getting the most basic care for our new family members was trying.

Most of the babies we picked up from our local shelter needed medical care that the state failed to provide. They suffered from ailments like scabies, lice and dehydration. Twenty three of the 27 babies we cared for required medical attention in the first 24 hours in our home.

In order for the children’s medical care to be covered, we had to provide doctors with their state-issued medical numbers. But it was very hard to get this information from the state. I made many calls in an attempt to gain it, but my efforts frequently went nowhere. I knew the babies needed treatment, so I often ended up paying for expensive medicine that would have been covered by the state.

I tried to make sure the babies received everything they needed to help them have a better life. Sometimes, what they needed was to see siblings or parents, but my efforts to advocate for these visits were often blocked. The visits were set up and supervised by state social workers, so when the social workers dropped the ball, there was nothing I could do to help. Even my calls to their supervisors would go unanswered.

My heart broke every time we had a baby for a month or more who had no visits, then was removed from our home. These little ones did not have any memory of their parents and got comfortable with us, only to be ripped from our family and placed in another home. And some of them continued to move from home to home after they left our house.

It was tough. The worst part was that I didn’t feel like the state did what was best for the child all of the time.

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