Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Trans/interracial placements

August 20, 2008

This post may generate some anger from various segments of the population, however it is something that we feel needs to be discussed.

Trans-racial or interracial placements are not new, in fact the placement of children of one race with a family of another has been a topic of debate for a number of years.  The reality of it is, there are children in the foster care system who, if they were not placed with a family of a different race would never get placed.  Unfortunately, there are not enough foster and adoptive homes available to place every child in a same race home.

The federal government saw this problem and in 1994 passed the Multiethnic Placement Act (amended 1996).  MEPA was passed to prevent discrimination in the placement of children.  In other words, if a minority child was in the system, the state could not keep that child from going to a qualified foster home of a different race or ethnicity.  Unfortunately Congress did not realize that they were opening up a flood gate of controversy.

Arguments have been made on both sides of the debate as to whether placing a child from one ethnic or racial group with a family of a differing ethnic/racial background was in the best interest of the child.

David Herring of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law concludes in his paper, The Multiethnic Placement Act: Threat to Foster Child Safety and Wellbeing

Based on behavioral biology and social psychology research addressing kinship cues and superficial similarities that give rise to in-group favoritism, one can formulate a hypothesis that non-kin, same-race foster care placements may be safer and healthier for children than non-kin, different-race placements.

We would argue that allowing a child to flounder in group homes, institutions and similar placements while awaiting a same race placement is more dangerous to a child’s well being than placing that child in a different race home.

We have heard that a child cannot learn about their culture if they are not living within their own community.  We have heard DCS case managers state that a white family should not have a black child placed with them because they will not know how to take care of the child’s hair.  We have heard from both sides that a child should be “with their own.”  In this century one would have hoped that the bigotry and divisiveness that permeated American society for so long would have finally died.  However, when it comes to taking care of the most vulnerable in our society, political correctness seems to be the most important criteria.

Here are a few stats from the Indiana DCS Foster Fact Sheet:

There are more than 500,000 American youth and young adults in foster care, according to a 2005 report by Casey Family Programs.
Although there is no “typical” foster child, trends and statistics help assess the state of foster care across the United States. The Child Welfare League of America, the nation’s oldest and largest child welfare organization released its most recent national statistics in 2004. This snapshot of U.S. foster care provided the following facts:

Children in Care:  On September 30, 2004, 518,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system.

Age of Children in Foster Care:  The average age for children in foster care is 10.1 years.
Only five percent of foster children are less than one year old. One of out four foster children are between the ages of one and five, and 20 percent of kids in foster care are ages 6-10. However, nearly half of foster children (49 percent) are teens and pre-teens in search of permanency.

Gender:  Of the children if foster care nationally, 53 percent are male and 47 percent are female.

Length of Stay (Nationally):  For children in foster care on September 30, 2004, the average foster care stay was 30 months. Twenty-nine percent of children leaving care in 2004 had been away from home for a year or longer. More than half of the young people leaving the system (53 percent) were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

Foster Homes:  In 2002, there were 170,000 licensed relative and non-relative foster homes nationwide. In 2004, 24 percent of youth living in out-of-home care were residing with relatives.

Adoption:  In 2004, 59 percent of adopted children received a permanent home with their foster parents, while 24 percent were adopted by a relative.

Relative Care:  More than 2 million U.S. children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care, siblings often can stay together. Relative foster care also improves stability by allowing children to live with their families and maintain familiar community connections

Given these statistics, one would hope that those who oppose interracial placements would rethink their objections.  Every child deserves to have a loving and stable home.  Ideally, every child would be able to grow up in their own biological, two parent home.  However, due to drugs, crime, an inability to parent, or other reasons children are removed.  It is vital to us as a society to provide these children with the safe, loving and nurturing homes they need.  Not just to secure their future, but ours as a society.  If that means placing a child outside of their ethnic or racial community, then so be it.  They deserve a chance.

CFLs – The next heavy metal band?

August 12, 2008

The debate as to whether global warming is man made or something that occurs naturally is one that will probably rage for a generation.  Since this site is NOT dedicated to discussing such far reaching topics, we will avoid all discussion regarding this matter.  However, given the fact that there is an immense amount of discussion on the use of energy saving devices, and if you are like we are, thrifty (okay, cheap) anything that will lower monthly costs and expenses is welcome.

Compact fluorescent light bulb

Compact fluorescent light bulb

This brings us to the topic of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.  Granted this may not be as interesting as what is going on at DCS or the latest news regarding other issues for foster parents, however it is something that should be discussed and understood.

CFLs have been touted as a great energy saving device, and may save consumers up to $30 over the life of the bulb.  The Energy Star website states the following about CFLs, “ENERGY STAR qualified bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Save about $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime. Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.”  For us that was enough to go out and buy some bulbs.  However, we started to read that there was something the consumer was not aware of.  Mercury.

CFLs contain this heavy metal, and this poses a health risk to humans and animals in the event that a bulb breaks.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website has a detailed explanation of what to do if a bulb breaks.

Before Clean-up: Air Out the Room

  • Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.

Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

  • Carefully scoop up glass pieces and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.
  • Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.

Clean-up Steps for Clothing, Bedding and Other Soft Materials

  • If clothing or bedding materials come in direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from inside the bulb that may stick to the fabric, the clothing or bedding should be thrown away. Do not wash such clothing or bedding because mercury fragments in the clothing may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.
  • You can, however, wash clothing or other materials that have been exposed to the mercury vapor from a broken CFL, such as the clothing you are wearing when you cleaned up the broken CFL, as long as that clothing has not come into direct contact with the materials from the broken bulb.
  • If shoes come into direct contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from the bulb, wipe them off with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels or wipes in a glass jar or plastic bag for disposal.

Disposal of Clean-up Materials

  • Immediately place all clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or protected area for the next normal trash pickup.
  • Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
  • Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states do not allow such trash disposal. Instead, they require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.
  • The State of Maine did its own study of CFLs, their report, all 200+ pages can be read here, Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Study. The Maine study states:

    Mercury concentration in the study room air often exceeds the Maine Ambient Air Guideline (MAAG) of 300 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3) for some period of time, with short excursions over 25,000 ng/m3, sometimes over 50,000 ng/m3, and possibly over 100,000 ng/m3 from the breakage of a single compact fluorescent lamp. A short period of venting can, in most cases, significantly reduce the mercury air concentrations after breakage. Concentrations can sometimes rebound when rooms are no longer vented, particularly with certain types of lamps and during/after vacuuming. Mercury readings at the one foot height tend to be greater than at the five foot height in non vacuumed situations.

    Another group, the Mercury Policy Project stated this in their summary:

    Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are important energysavers and are being widely substituted for less-efficient incandescent light bulbs. But CFLs also contain small amounts of elemental mercury. Much of this mercury is released when a CFL is broken. Several studies of mercury releases from broken fluorescent bulbs suggest that, under certain conditions, CFL breakage can pose a health risk, especially to an infant or young child who spends time near the site of the breakage. While this risk raises valid public-health concerns, there is no reason for consumers either to avoid using CFLs or to panic if one is broken. However, parents should consider avoiding using CFLs in situations
    where breakage is likely, especially in infants’ or toddlers’ rooms. To prevent breakage and to increase recycling of CFLs at the end of their useful life, consumers need more and better information about risks posed by broken lamps, clear and consistent instruction on safe clean-up and disposal of a broken CFL, and guidance to help find energy-efficient light bulbs with minimal mercury content.

    While we would never tell someone how to run their household, we would ask that people use common sense.  Is the savings of $30 over the life time of a bulb worth the potential health risk that CFLs may pose to small children?  That is something that the individual must decide.  However, the federal government has decided to make the decision for us.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 effectively bans standard incandescent light bulbs by 2014.  Given the current information of CFLs and the potential for health risks, especially to small children, we would think that the federal government would allow market forces and consumer ideology to determine what kind of bulbs we use to light our homes.

    WELCOME!

    July 28, 2008

    Welcome to the Indy Foster Parent weblog.

    The purpose of this blog is to provide an on-line forum for persons and families that are or were foster parents.  We encourage you to post your successes, failures, questions, comments and concerns.

    We are based in Indianapolis, Indiana, and therefore will be touching on topics as they relate to foster care in Indiana.  However, if you are not a Hoosier, feel free to add any pearls of wisdom or concerns you may have.  The issues that Indiana foster parents face are the same issues that many across the nation face.

    Some of the topics that we would like to discuss are:

    Dealing with disruptive placements

    State/county placement issues

    Going from foster care to adoption

    The heart break of sending a child home

    “Why do you do it?”

    Extended families and there view of foster children

    Inter-racial placements

    You can post anonymously, we know how the state can get touchy about speaking out.  Your anonymity will be protected as best we can.

    It is our hope and prayer that this site will prove to be a useful resource to all the families out there who have opened their homes, lives and hearts to children who need our help.