Sunday, October 12, 2008
Here's the thing with private agency-based foster care: it's feast or famine. With state foster care, though, it's always feast. The folks I know who foster through the state are inundated with calls each and every week--whether they are at capacity or not. They are begged and bribed to take "just one more" even when they are above capacity. A friend in my neighborhood literally had four children under the age of 1 year for a while, PLUS her own three bios. She was licensed for TWO. Finally, the state upped her license to three and removed one of the children. For the first time in her 20 months as a foster parent, she is within the constraints of her license.
But the calls keep coming. On Friday, she turned down two placements.
Sometimes I am tempted to envy the foster parents who get calls at all hours. In some wistful moments, the steady stream of possibilities is better than the routine of daily life punctuated with the special ring I've assigned to our social worker on my cell. A voice on the other end of the line means something new. A change of pace. A little one to keep safe. And maybe, just maybe, a baby to hold for a few days.
I've heard the special ring a lot in the last couple of days. It seems like there's been a bevvy of children who fit our "parameters" (read: potentially adoptable girls under 5 years old with no s@xualized behaviors and little if any visitation) in need of a home for a few days, months or forever.
There was the three month old who was abandoned.
The seven week old who was failure to thrive.
And now a five year-old whose adoptive family has decided to divorce.
All in two days worth of phone calls, people. Two day's worth of pre-screened, "this is what we have that fits your profile" phone calls. These calls don't even represent the myriad children who are over age 6. Kids who are a ways from termination. Who have multiple visits per week. Who are in emergency placement. Who never get put into the database that private agencies pull from. Who are ((shudder)) boys. (Please note: while we would happily take another little boy, our license says that we can only have three boys in our "boy bedroom." So, girls it is!)
The fields are ripe with children in need, but the workers are few. Please consider this my plea for action.