I told her that there had been three caseworkers since I had been in foster care this time, but none of them had ever gone to visit my mom. She had been alone in all of this. It wasn't fair for her.
The third caseworker visited my mom and saw how hard she was trying. I was able to go home overnight and then, finally, we were all back together again after two years of being apart. I'll never forget how my being bad affected my family. It makes me mad, and mad at myself, but my counselor has helped me to understand what has happened and I can deal with it"
Calvin's mother is a more patient and understanding mother now and is currently a parent advocate for the ACS (Timmons, p. 1).
This story is a good story, compared to the story that a young girl named Peggy, who is still in the system, told.:
I am only eleven years old, but I have been in five different foster care homes. I try to be good, but somehow my foster parents get impatient with me, since I am so hyper, and take me back to the group home. I stay in the group home in the spells between foster homes, and once I even had to stay in an office building because there was no room in the group home. We didn't have showers or a kitchen in the office building, so we went to the restrooms at night, down the hall, and washed off in the sinks. We had cots put up in one of the offices and me and a whole bunch of other girls slept all together in one room. I remember my real mom some. She was young and pretty and blond. But she wasn't married and my dad wasn't married and they wouldn't marry each other, so I had to go. I want to be like my mom."
When I was ten I was finally put into a foster home where the people seemed to be really nice. My foster mother was really nice to me and cooked lots of good food for the family. There were two other foster girls in the family, too. I was the youngest. I had to sleep in the same room as the other girls because the house had only two bedrooms. But Pop sometimes came and got Tammy up in the night and took her somewhere for hours. I found out that he was making her do things that she didn't want to talk about, in the bathroom.
This began to make me and Trish real nervous. Tammy began to tell us other girls that we had better look out because when we got older Pop would do it to us, too, this 'molest' thing.
A didn't want to grow up, so I started peeing in my pants and getting my clothes dirty. I had temper tantrums like a baby on the floor. I acted like a baby. Mother couldn't understand what was wrong and tried to make me feel better. I couldn't tell her that I didn't want to grow up because I was afraid of Pop. He acted really nice and normal during the day."
Finally, I was so bad in school that the teacher said she couldn't teach me any more. She had sent reports home to my foster parents and warned them that I was uncontrollable. Finally, one day when I had done something really bad, I was suspended from school and my foster mother came and got me. She was crying. She said she was going to have to send me back to the juvenile system because she couldn't take it any more. She didn't understand why I was acting so bad when I had been so good when I arrived.
It made me very upset that she was crying and I didn't know what to do, so I said I wanted to be a baby because I didn't want to grow up and let Pop molest me. She stopped crying and was quiet for awhile, and then she began to ask more questions. When I finally answered them, she was quiet and the next day we all and our bags were picked up by the caseworker. My foster mother had also packed a bag and said she was leaving, too. It was a very sad scene. We were all crying except for Tammy, who was smiling and acting stupid.
Now I'm back at the group home and I hope I get a good foster family next time. But I don't really care. I have lots of friends in the home."
Nearly half of all girls in foster care have been pregnant by the time they turn 19. Almost one-third of foster children have had a child by 19, whereas the national average is that only 12.2% of girls aged 19 have had a child. Foster children with children themselves are overwhelmed and unprepared for life. Their children are sometimes put into the foster system, as Peggy was. The figures make things clear. There is a need for group homes for teenaged foster children who are mothers that are sufficiently funded so that these mothers may be educated, get training on how to be a parent and obtain a degree so they can work and support their child. In these homes, there needs to be security and privacy for each new mother (Hope, p. 2).
In a real-life case, Melanie (not her real name), a mother of a newborn son, was sent to the New York Foundling's Crisis Nursery Program in lower Manhattan where she could get up to three weeks of free childcare for parents facing a crisis. She also received emergency cash and goods, as well as counseling to deal with city agencies and the service plan that connected her to support in her home community. She was relieved to find a place she would leave her baby for awhile, while she received guidance on being a parent. She had been a victim of domestic abuse, but had decided to keep her son when she found she was going to be able to keep him safe. The counselor and services helped her obtain an order of protection against her abuser, counseled her on domestic abuse and gave her information about support groups and services.
Keeping families safe and together is the goal of the Crisis Nursery. They offer services that parents need in a crisis because facing a crisis without support can break up a family that normally would have stayed together. And trying to hand crises alone can be more than some people can handle, so the city will bear the burden of raising children in foster care if the family breaks up. The Crisis Nursery is needed to keep families safe now and in the future.
But many parents do not trust them. Some have been in foster care themselves or had bad experiences with agencies. "Because the nursery gets funding from ACS and must report evidence of physical abuse, parents fear that it wants to take their children away from them." The message that the Crisis Nursery is trying to get out is their goal is to help parents care for their children, without separating families. "We understand that they don't know who we are," said Pena. "The challenge is fear, and we work with that." (Walker, p. 1).
Need for Group Homes
There is a need for group homes in New York. As is outlined in the second half of this paper, the California Youth Authority (CYA) (State agency that oversees correctional facilities and supervises paroles for youth aged 12-24) has created many group homes throughout all the counties in California for youth with problems. This small setting, community-based facility seems to be the most successful of all types of treatment facilities, with a 90% success rate for the treatment of youthful offenders. It is evident that there is a need for group homes in the New York foster care system.
Group homes are obviously needed for children who are between foster homes. An office building is not the place for children to live, no matter how long or short their stay.
Group homes are needed for foster girls who are pregnant and still in school, as they have special needs for education, training in parenthood, vocations and health needs.
Group homes are needed for parents who have a crisis and need a place to leave their children while they adapt to such crises. The Crisis Nursery is a good example, but there need to be more of these available and in other sites.
Group homes are needed for young offenders, as outlined in the Juvenile Justice System program below.
It appears that the most successful means of treatment and care are small facilities in neighborhoods or communities where the clients receive individual care and attention. Statistics show that the success…