Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Care for families

One major gaping whole in our current system is, I believe, a lack of care for families as families.

I think often of David's mom. She was 17 when she had her first child. She was uneducated, abused, abandoned, and probably had cognitive impairment. Her third and fourth children were born with FAS. I wonder what might have happened if after they took the father of her first two children away, after he went to prison for his attempt on her life, there had been any sort of system to take care of her while she parented her first two children.

What if there had been a place in the world where she could have lived with her two healthy pre-school kids? She was not competent to take care of herself and her kids. She was not a bad person. She did not mistreat her kids. Within her abilities she took the best care of them that she could.

There should have been some sort of assisted living facility for her where she could live with her kids. I know it might not have worked. She might have refused to go. She might have walked out.

But I think she would have gone at least for a while. If she had, she might not have ended up immediately involved with an addict who also abused her and her kids. She might not have ended up later alone with four boys, the youngest two of whom had FAS.

The bottom line is that she needed care herself. The services that were available to her once she was an adult and a parent were not services which she had the competencies to take advantage of.

So many of the kids in foster care had mothers who had their first children as teenagers. We need a way to do early intervention and long term support. We need a way to take care of these women as they care for their children.

Surely it would have cost less than it did to put all four of those boys in separate therapeutic foster homes.

3 comments:

  1. rossecorp2:14 PM

    Yes! I've thought of this, too! The only places we have that work like that now are shelters (for homeless women and for women who are victims of domestic violence), homes for teen mothers, and substance abuse recovery programs. Why not similar programs for families struggling with other problems? (The answer to that of course is that no state will agree to long-term support for an intact family.)

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  2. Yep. We have to wait until the children are deeply damaged and really expensive to care for before we will help.

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  3. Living under the same roof is not the same thing as intact. I wish the states (all of them) would wake up and realize this.

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