foster care case in Oregon

2 entries (can be in one post).

1) Materials in Week 6 notes. After reading the case study of a typical foster care case in Oregon, the child abuse types and consequences, the information on the effects of parental drug abuse on children, and the list of some of the services available to families in Oregon (all in week 6 notes) , post your reactions to the circumstances in the case, your thoughts on the services offered to that family, the future of the children, and what, if anything, could have been done differently.

2) Let’s look at solutions! Just as there were plenty of awesome organizations working to improve the quality of our health, food and environment, there are also organizations and programs to help families, children, juvenile justice, etc. If you know of an organization firsthand that fits this category, please mention it and describe it’s mission and the services offered. If not, maybe use the list of services and do an internet search in your area to see what kind of help is available, and choose an organization to briefly mention and describe as requested above.

Week 6 notes
The exploration of child abuse and foster care will continue, but we will be looking at Oregon data mostly. You will be reading Turning Stones chapters 3,4 and 5 if you haven’t already.  Reviewing the instructions for the annotation first will be helpful.
For some of this, I am using Oregon’s  Child Welfare Data Book 2009. The link right below is one of the links that  you will need for your annotation and it is a publication of 2012 data.
I get a popup about the safety of this site when I click on the link. You may or may not, but just below is the result of my scan for the safety of this website:

The link you need for your assignment, 2012 data: Child Welfare Data Book.pdf

2009- Overview and progress- 4 pages- nice synopsis that is no longer updated (that I could find)

In 2009, Oregon had almost 873,000 children in the state. The number of child maltreatment victims was 11, 802 and the foster care entry rate was 5.2 (per 1000 children.)
On 9-30-09, there were 8689 children in foster care.
When it is safe, the victim of child abuse or neglect remains in the home. A safety plan is developed. That safety plan has received much emphasis in Oregon  over the past few years. Case workers and supervisors are trained to look for safety service providers who can either move into the child’s home, or stop by every day, or as often as is deemed necessary, to ensure the child is being cared for properly. This may prevent the need for a placement in foster care. In 2009, 9140 children were served in-home, either pre or post a  foster care experience.  On 9-30-09,  2539 children were simply served in their homes .  On September 30, 2012 a total of 2,110 children were being served in their homes, exclusive  of children post-substitute care that were on a trial home visit. Note that system changes limit comparability to historically reported data for children served in-home.

The case workers in Oregon who are ongoing or permanency case workers have a caseload of children in foster care and their families. Over the years, depending on the budget given to DHS Child Welfare, the number of children on  a caseload has fluctuated from an overwhelming high of around 50 or 60, to a more manageable, but still challenging level, of 25 to 30. The responsibility of the case worker includes:
•    visiting the children at least every 30 days, along with parents, foster parents
•    attending meetings with providers for the parents and children (i.e. a child’s teacher, or the parents’ drug treatment counselor,)
•    working with the parents to create and maintain an action agreement for them to follow that outlines their services and the specific goals
•     preparing court letters and attending court hearings on all cases and advocating for the needs of the children m based on the parents’ progress in services.
•    Other aspects include setting up and coordinating the child’s visits with the parents and relatives, referring the child for a mental health assessment and counseling,  or a child abuse evaluation.
•    Supervisors are apprised of most case planning decisions  and it is policy for them to sign off on any placement changes.
•    There are also intake workers who respond to the initial child abuse report and they investigate the referral and, if the children are placed in foster care, they usually have the case for about 3 to 4 weeks,  and transfer it to a permanency worker (foster care) or an in-home worker (child is in-home.)
•    There are also case workers who have case loads of teenagers, especially those in treatment settings, and
•    there are workers who are adoption workers , and they work with prospective adoptive families.
In 1997, the U.S. House and Senate passed a law, ASFA, Adoption and Safe Families Act, which was deemed to promote adoption of children in foster care. The state of Oregon was already seen as being progressive and had implemented many of the changes required by this law. The state of Oregon passed its own law requiring similar time lines for children in foster care to achieve permanency. No longer was it legal to allow a child to stay in foster care over a period of a few years. Of great importance, lawyers and judges were trained regarding the new law, and neither could allow continuance after continuance in cases while children waited for permanency. Over the past few years, things have drastically changed.  In Oregon , at 12 months a permanency hearing  is held and a decision is made as to the direction a case is headed: return to parent still, adoption, guardianship, or other plan (such as long term residential treatment.) If there is not agreement at that time, a contested permanency hearing is set to occur as soon as possible and at the latest, by about 15 months of the child being in foster care, the plan is supposed to be implemented (child has returned home) or the plan has been changed to the plan of adoption and the state begins the legal process of terminating  a parent’s rights so the child can be placed adoptively. This process takes a few months during which time, the parent can :a) voluntarily relinquish their rights; b) make concerted efforts to prove they are making such gains in services that the agency and judge might view this as a circumstance to grant an exception and allow more time; or c) wait for a  Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)  trial that may last several days and involve a dozen or two witnesses.   The state does not take a parent’s rights lightly, and it is only after 15 months or more of reasonable efforts   by DHS, to the parents, as deemed by the Court, that the state may choose to pursue TPR.  Even after a TPR process has begun, during those months, if the parent has changed their circumstances, sometimes the TPR process is stopped if it is believed that a child can return home to their parent. So, in essence, the parent has sometimes close to 2 years to make the changes necessary to be a safe parent to their child.

I’m going to ask you to look at some Child welfare data specific to Oregon now (from the 2012 report) and I will guide you through some pages.  This is the same link as above. Child Welfare Data Book.pdf
The report is 38 pages, compared to the  national report that was 227. It is a bit easier to manage.  I will be guiding you through some of the data, similar to if we were in class and I was pointing out some important data. You are welcome to skip the guide and just scan the charts and tables and see what interests you, and what you need for the annotation. Having the instructions for the annotation handy will be a big help. Note: for purposes of clarification, the term family foster care refers to a family in  a regular home, who provides foster care for children. It is sometimes one parent, or a couple, or it could be a mother and an adult daughter, who have a regular house and they may have anywhere from 1 to 5 foster children at any time. Family foster care is differentiated from facilities  that provide care in a more formal and structured setting.

page 1 &2- fast facts- skim
p. 3 & top of 4 – Note the trend in child abuse reports made. Note the number that were founded at the top of page 4.
p. 4- Note the source of reports…36% came from schools and law enforcement!
p. 5 Note the raw numbers and ages of child abuse victims. Note how many child abuse victims stayed in the home and did NOT enter foster care.
p. 6 Note how certain races seem to be under or over-represented in the child abuse statistics.
P.7 – the different  types of abuse is shown in a pie chart. Neglect often has long-lasting emotional effects.
P. 8  covers the section on child fatalities. Note that in 2012, 17 children died from abuse. In 2011, the number was 19.
p. 9 shows that parents are most often the perpetrators of child abuse. For all that the media portrays about stranger abductions, and strangers hurting children, it is a child’s family members who are most likely to hurt him or her.
P. 10 shows the types of family stress factors
P.  13/14- reasons children entered foster care- note high placement of the category parental drug abuse.
p. 14- #of children entering and leaving foster care- some years more enter than leave, which creates an acute  need for foster homes.
p. 16- breakdowns by racial groups and placement in foster care
p. 17 shows the number of placement s for children in foster care, and some improvements
p. 18/19 discusses teens in foster care
p. 20- Note the pie chart that shows where children went after foster care…quite a few families and children are served well in foster care and are subsequently reunified.
p. 22-The number of adoptions finalized are just those children adopted through Child Welfare. They do not include any other kind of adoption- private, international, stepparent, etc.
* In 2009, there was a chart that showed  the adoptive family’s relationship to the child–68.68% were adopted by relatives or their child’s foster parents. The child was able to maintain important connections.  This chart is not represented in the 2012 data, that I could see.

Drugs and families-
The majority of Child welfare cases have some link to drug abuse.  Because children need permanence and because laws have changed regarding time lines, it is imperative that parents participate in drug treatment early  in the case. But, addiction experts report that addicts are often in denial, they often relapse at least once or twice before they grab on to recovery in such a way that seems to be long term. Addictions experts will caution that there is always a chance of relapse, and addicts in recovery understand that, too, and they realize how important it is for them to create an environment that is supportive. .

While children are resilient, sociological family theory shows that one’s parents are a critical source of influence.  Parents who are drug addicts may have periods where they function fairly well. They attend school events and parent-teacher conferences. They help with home work. But drug abuse often includes cycles where one can do well, either because they are clean, or because they are maintaining their addiction in a way , and at an early stage, that  has not affected their parenting in hugely visible ways. Charles Horton Cooley developed a concept called The Looking Glass Self, which comes underneath the umbrella of Symbolic Interaction theory. He hypothesized that human beings look out to society for feedback about who they are. People use society as a kind of reflection of their self-image. This is critical for children and parents, as children look to their parents first and foremost about who they are. When parents are stable, nurturing and loving, children gain a positive self-image. Parents who are neglectful often provide negative feedback and that affects their children’s self-image.
Severe neglect of infants and toddlers is extremely detrimental, as they are in a small window for developing secure emotional attachment. An addicted parent is at high risk of neglecting their children, as  are severely depressed parents.
Some other precarious situations for children include exposure to sexual behavior, exposure to chemicals, and a transient lifestyle.
Methamphetamine users often use the drug to enhance their sexual pleasure. It becomes a primary part of the use of that drug and people will make sure they have some left to use before they are sexually intimate. Many methamphetamine addicts report this as a regular part of their sexual interactions. Addicts report they are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior when high on methamphetamine. The drug and the sex high become everything. Poor judgment is often used. Children of methamphetamine often report having viewed sexual acts and  pornography.
The hazards of chemicals are serious. Often children from drug raids  (especially where there was a lab) have to be tested for drugs that they have been exposed to,  as the drugs  can be absorbed into the skin. Often parents who are addicts are careless about leaving syringes around. Drug paraphernalia is a risk factor for children and it is taken seriously. Police often make a note in their report of drugs and or paraphernalia that  is within view or reach of a child.
Lastly, when the addiction has caused unemployment or underemployment, often  a family moves around and lives a transient lifestyle. The children suffer educationally and socially as they miss school, and move around so much that they may attend several schools in just one year.

For this week, I ask that you view a documentary about methamphetamine (47 minutes)and then answer some questions about it, and discuss it, in our annotation, and also in the discussion boards.
National Geographic: The World’s Most Dangerous Drug: Methamphetamine: (free)
Also free on Netflix streaming if you are a subscriber.
While the use of methamphetamine has been at the forefront of child welfare concerns, and for good reason,  I would be remiss in not pointing out some new recent trends. Many have you may have heard that heroin use is on the rise. There have been some celebrity deaths that were linked to heroin use, and their notoriety has helped to bring this problem to light more in mainstream media. Actor Cory Monteith of the show Glee, is one celebrity who died, allegedly after using heroin and alcohol. Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Feb 2, 2014. According to the medical examiner, the drugs in the actor’s system at the time of his death were heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety) and amphetamines (uppers like Adderall).
Mixing heroin and cocaine is often termed speedballing. It’s the same mixture that killed Chris Farley, River Phoenix, and John Belushi.

If interested here is some 2014 data and a 2 minute clip of an interview of someone in a rehabilitation program, trying to get clean, and stay clean.
Optional 2-minute clip:

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