Friday, May 02, 2008

Ann's Story Part 13: Mandy & John

My husband and I are teachers. Our students are about as far apart as it possible to get, but we are both teachers. We love what we do. We put time and energy into it. We also "do it for the money." If I could not get paid to do, I would have to do something else.

I hate it when I hear people talk about foster parents "doing it for the money." Most foster parents get less in reimbursement than it costs to take care of them. Most get less than the average child support payment. So first it bothers me because it is false. It bothers me secondly because I think it ought to be possible for people to be professional foster parents and be respected for doing it. Doctors, teachers, and hair dressers all get paid to do what they do. Getting paid does not mean that they do not care or that they treat those they care for poorly

"Challenge" is a local private program with which the state contracts. They do have a group home, but they also have foster homes. Challenge homes all have one room with a keyed lock in which every sharp object and household chemical is kept. Challenge requires that at least one adult be home full-time. I don't know what the reimbursements are, but I know that they are higher to compensate for that requirement. The women I know that do Challenge care have previous careers in retail and filing. They report that the reimbursement levels from Challenge did allow them to leave those jobs. They are pleased to be able to help support their family by doing something which they know few other people can do as well.

Mandy's life is especially difficult. I have seen several girls really turn around while they were living with her. As soon as they do, they start complaining about the behavior of the other girls and they are moved. When all of this was going on with Ann, Mandy and John had a couple of other kids to whom they were especially attached. Girls who were beginning to get their lives together and whom they were hoping would actually be allowed to stay.

The official recommendation for Ann was that she live in a home with few or no other children. Essentially Mandy and John were told that they could have Ann back if they gave away their other children and if Mandy went back to work at the grocery store.

It was not surprising to anyone that they appealed the recommendation in every way they could think of.

Part 14

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