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Moreover, it is unclear whether Jim has attempted to reestablish any meaningful contact with his children; rather, his entire focus has been on becoming a better person. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that goal in and of itself (it is, after all, a universal human quality), he appears to have pursued this goal to the total exclusion of making any substantive reparations to his family. Finally, it is interesting that Jim somehow feels compelled to tell others -- including potential employers -- about his criminal past and his current status in treatment, as if this ongoing commitment to all-out honesty somehow absolves him from a deceptive and duplicitous history, or at least helps to explain it (which it does if one is interested). According to Jim, "Entering into society again was very difficult. I had lost my business, my friends and was now divorced. After leaving jail, I sent out 86 job applications before I found my first position (as a night manager at a fast food restaurant). I was happy to find any work and to be honest about where I was in my recovery and treatment" (para. 2). Good grief! It is little wonder that Jim had trouble finding a job. Employers want to know if applicants can do the job and most will certainly not inquire about the applicants' sexual abuse history or their current status in treatment unless this information is volunteered. After reading this story, the main feeling that emerged was that unless this is a condition is Jim's release from prison, he should shut up about his "special status" as a recovering sex abuser and alcoholic, actively participate in his therapy and try to make some money to support his children. If appropriate, this individual's treatment plan could include contact with his children provided they are amenable to such contact. After all, he could certainly have stopped the sexual abuse before he was forced to and sought therapy, and it was only after being prosecuted and incarcerated that he had this epiphany (this was the feeling that emerged, anyway and it is likely that Jim is required to divulge his status as a sex offender in most jurisdictions (O'Malley, 2002), but perhaps not on initial mailed applications for an interview).
The importance of substance abuse as a contributing factor to Jim's behaviors, though, was also noted in "Edward's story" (http://www.stopitnow.org/story_ edward). Edward's story differs somewhat from Jim's in the type and frequency (apparently an isolated incident that did not involve physical contact) and the ongoing contact with his children that defines the successful outcome in his treatment plan.
The research to date suggests that foster mothers demonstrate more empathy than the physically abusive mothers from which children had been removed and that one of the best predictors of child abuse was the birth mother's perception of her child's behavior as being problematic (Mennen & Trickett, 2011). Increasingly, though, social service agencies are electing to keep natural parents and their children together to the maximum extent possible, even in those cases where abuse or neglect may still occur. This type of cost-benefit analysis is driven in part by the scarcity of social services resources, but this tendency also takes place in jurisdictions where adequate foster homes are available (Mennen & Trickett, 2011). In this regard, Norman (2000) emphasizes that, "Agencies today are faced with a sustained demand for their services in a world of rising insistence on accountability, increasing fiscal austerity, and heightened competition for scarce resources" (p. 127).
Many of the young people in the Kid's Count video likewise made it clear that being separated from their mother and siblings was one of the hardest parts of going through "the system." From the perspective of social services agencies, a foster home placement might be successful if there were no reports of additional abuse or signs of neglect. By very sharp contrast, the children placed in these foster homes consistently emphasized that they were subjected to far different treatment compared to foster parents' natural children and this distinction was further reinforced in various ways, including how they were introduced to others and what chores were assigned compared to the natural children of the family. (These foster children might be interested to know that all parents tell their own children that they should be grateful for what they receive while they live under their roofs, but these admonitions usually also falls on deaf ears in these cases as well.)
The effectiveness of foster care for many of the young people interviewed in this video related to a desperate need to be accepted, nurtured and loved without qualification or the fear of being removed at a moment's notice. Indeed, besides love, all of these young people yearned for stability in their lives and adults who treated them like members of their own family. People treat their pets like members of their own family, and those who would volunteer for foster care services should recognize that these troubled children need all of the reassurances they can get, and when they are treated differently from other birth children of the family, they internalize these behaviors in ways that makes it difficult for them to respond affectionately or to become overly friendly with their foster parents' natural children. These empirical observations are congruent with the clinical research that has been conducted in this area. Although the research in this area is limited, studies have shown that "families with children by both birth and adoption were at greater risk of difficulties than families with children only by birth" (Horner, 2000, p. 82), but there were few differences otherwise in responses to foster place with or without siblings. These clinical findings, though, appear to fly in the face of the importance these young people placed on staying with their brothers and sisters whenever possible.
One of the overriding issues that emerged from these stories of foster care was that despite its drawbacks and potentially harmful effects, these young people were all physically fit, articulate and downright bubbling with enthusiasm about the future. In fact, they all seemed intent and of a like mind on changing the way their families operated and being the beginning of a new chapter in their family history that avoided the pitfalls that destroyed their families in the past -- including drug and alcohol abuse. If nothing else, their parents provided a model of what to avoid. The resiliency demonstrated by these foster care charges may not be entirely typical of "the system," but it is hard not to like their odds for the future. In fact, most of the interviewees were able to point to at least one foster parent who provided the type of loving and secure home that they wanted, but these children were physically and emotionally "normal" rather than special needs as discussed further below.
Answer 7-2. Children with severe physical or emotional or other developmental disabilities may present too much of a challenge for many adoptive parents (Shannon & Tappen, 2011). Unfortunately, children with developmental disabilities are more likely to be abused or neglected than are children who do not have developmental disabilities (Shannon & Tappen, 2011). The research to date shows that children with disabilities are almost four times (3.8) more at risk for neglect, more than three times (3.1) more at risk for sexual abuse, almost four times (3.8) more at risk for physical abuse and emotional abuse (3.9) compared to other children, and severely disabled children being three times more likely to be abused by a parent (Shannon & Tappen, 2011). It is not surprising, then, that fully 66% of children in foster care are experiencing developmental delays and many children enter child protective service systems have developmental needs that are not being met (Shannon & Tappen, 2001). Moreover, children with disabilities routinely receive more serious physical and sexual offenses, are more likely to report repeated sexual abuse and to report more injuries related to physical abuse compared to other children (Shannon & Tappen, 2011)
Outcomes for these special needs children can be improved through early screening and intervention (Shannon & Tappen, 2011). In addition, follow-up support following place in child services settings is an important component for successful outcomes. In this regard, Powers (1999) emphasizes that, "Thousands of children with special needs await adoption and the number is rising rapidly. States have taken steps to facilitate and encourage adoption, but few states provide support for families after adoption" (p. 37).
The adults interviewed in the Kids Count video were shown to be the type of people that define exemplary parenting. Everyone should be as lucky as the children placed in the care of these extraordinary foster parents and the same themes of unconditional love and stability were mentioned over and over. Clearly, when young people receive the level of attention and support these interviewees experienced, they can thrive and overcome the challenges and obstacles that were constraining their development…[continue]
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