Doyles study demonstrates that foster care experience interferes with graduating from high school, holding a job, and statistically seems to be linked to teenage pregnancy.
Doyle found children who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and were more likely to keep a job or earn a better salary. Doyle tracked 15,000 Illinois children ages 5 to 15 from 1990 to 2002 for the study funded by the National Science Foundation, which child welfare experts are calling the largest study conducted on the effects foster care.
See newspaper story at:
The same story quotes Professor Richard Wexler, the author of “Take the Children and Run: Tales from the age of ASFA” as follows:
MIDDLETOWN ? Killed last summer in foster care, Marcus Fiesel could be the poster child for a recent unprecedented study that found children fare better staying with their troubled families than in foster care.
Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, has argued for nearly a year that Marcus should not have been removed and has argued for years that children like Marcus are better off at home.
The child discussed, Marcus, was left in a playpen in a closet while his foster parents went to a family reunion – and died. Those foster parents, who I am sure are NOT the norm are serving life sentences. But foster care even at its best is no panacea for the foster child.
More about Marcus:
The 3-year-old developmentally disabled boy was removed in April 2006 from his mother, Donna Trevino, after he was found wandering the streets alone and was almost hit by a car. Police said they found poor living conditions at his North Grimes Street home in Middletown. Nearly four months earlier, he fell from his home’s second-story window.
Placed in a Clermont County foster home in May, Marcus was dead by Aug. 6 after being bound and locked in a playpen inside an upstairs closet for nearly two days while his foster parents, Liz and David Carroll Jr., went to a family reunion in Kentucky. His body was later burned and remains dumped into the Ohio River. The Carrolls are both serving life sentences for his death.
Now, Wexler said he has the evidence to prove children like Marcus should remain with their families.
I hope that Angelo McClain, the new Commissioner of DSS is aware of this study, and that where the issues that lead to removal are homelessness, or poor child care [for example] separating parent and child should not be the answer.
For Professor Wexler’s article, “Take the Children and Run: Tales from the Age of ASFA” – go to: http://www.nccpr.org…
I’m sorry I didn’t see your post earlier, because it looks to be about to fall off the roll. I’ll hvae to sit down and actually read the thing. But reading your summary brings the inevitable question – should foster care system be eliminated completely and replaced with some kind of whole family care, or should we keep it but use it much more sparingly. if the latter, are we able to discern the kids who really do need to be removed from parents for their own safety from kids who don’t?
I have to believe that there is a split in the two groups of children (those who remain at home, and those who are placed in foster care) right from the time of that decision is made: that those children whose home situations are relatively worse are placed in foster care, and those children whose home situations are decent or not as bad are allowed to stay in their homes. Unless this is controlled for in some way, this would taint the study?s results, since the children allowed to stay in their own homes started off in a better situation. Put another way, if the children who were placed in foster homes were allowed to stay in their own (relatively dangerous) homes, they could have fared worse in their own homes than in the foster homes.
This is not to say that the foster care system is not in need of serious help. And even one instance of a truly horrific result for a child ? like Marcus?s tragic fate ? is too many. But we can?t presume to completely bash a system that might have saved thousands of children from continued abuse in their original homes.
According to its author this issue was controlled for. Also, in my experience whether or not a child is removed is often solely due to the “chemistry” between the child’s parent or caretaker and the DSS investigator – and also how good appointed counsel for the parent is if a court case ensues.
To me it seems quite random at times whether or not DSS seeks to remove a trial – that is my view from “the trenches” dealing with hundreds of lives.
If you read my older post on the “black hole” in the Massachusetts statute, you would see the interlocking problem – unlike most states, Massachusetts does not define reasonable efforts, and DSS cannot be required to make effort of any kind towards family preservation. All our statute says is a statement “DSS shall make such reasonable efforts as it deems necessary” – combined with the impact of two SJC decisions in 1995 – Care and Protection of Isaac and Care and Protection of Jeremy – there has been less and less over sight and/or commitment to family preservation.
The result is that there seem to be fewer services such as day care slots, housing workers, and parent aids to assist a family in crisis – and a greater and greater push to turn the goal to adoption sooner due to the impact of ASFA as well as Isaac and Jeremy.
There is also disproportionate removal of children of color, and of childfren whose parents are viewed as “less then” – not dangerous, but handicapped or “unable” with no assist towards – say – stable housing. I had one client who had the goal for his child changed to adoption and his parental rights terminated because “he took too long to get housing, showing a lack of commitment to his child” – this guy had no drug history, and paid child support post divorce all the way through college -had worked for a local town government for 15 years – but he was a black guy who had a child with a younger white woman with a substance problem….no daycare, no help with housing, and – well I could go on and on.
It is also so “personal” if a worker “likes you” you get assistance and time – but a parent who is “too uppity” gets nothing.
I am hoping this will be different with a new Commissioner – and family preservation actually does pay for itself. Now that the feds pay a bounty for termination of parental rights and so forth, the foster care population has skyrocketed again…