As foster and adoptive parents serving in the state of Florida, we have conflicting feelings after reading USA TODAY’s investigative piece on abuse in Florida’s child welfare system (“Foster kids starved, beaten and molested, reports show. Few caregivers are punished“). We are thankful for the investigative reporting, and at the same time incredibly disturbed.
The fact is foster parents are under attack. Each article, conversation and debate recites all of the many horrible statistics in child welfare. And there are many horrible statistics showing all of the things that foster parents have done wrong. We are not going to sugar coat or make light of any of that. This letter is not an attempt to dispute those facts.
The bottom line is it is time for reform. We, foster parents, are calling for reform. Across the country, foster parents are partnering with youth who have been in the system, parents who have had their children removed and child welfare professionals to suggest reforms to a system that we know is not working.
Here’s what we know:
►There should not be double standards for foster and biological families. What constitutes good parenting, abuse or cause for removal should be the same.
►We need to implement known systems that work to eliminate bias within the system against families of color and families living in poverty so that their children aren’t unnecessarily removed in the first…