In my 12 years as a foster parent there has not been better time for us to step forward and make changes in how the foster and adoption processes work in our State.
Foster and adoptive parents have always known that we need a better system/process to care for children who through no fault of their own had to be placed in Arizona’s foster care system. In the past, we have had Director’s that had the passion and experience to do so. There are dozens of excellent case managers and CPS managers that knew change was needed. But never before has our governor, legislative leaders, community leaders, those who provide services to the children and the head of the agency all been so aligned to make a difference. Let’s capitalize on this awareness and really make meaningful changes in how we care for the most vulnerable children in Arizona.
The goal is not to advocate specifically for more money or for specific personnel changes or even for a specific change in how one thing should be changed. The goal should be to take a look at the entire system, use a little common sense, to review data that other states and experts have developed where they had success and ask ourselves: “how can we do this better in Arizona”?
Why is this important? There have been multiple studies done with the AZ Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents and every single time the question is asked as to why a foster parent stops fostering the answer is the same: “Because it is too hard to deal with CPS to get what the kids in their care need to thrive”. Over and over we hear this. There are many reasons why folks become foster parents but most do so for the simple reason of helping a child(ren) in need. It just should not be so hard to care for children!
I have personally met a couple of times and communicated with Charles Flanagan, the person the governor has assigned to take on this weighty project. Director Flanagan has the energy, the commitment and the experience in leading struggling agencies to step up to this task. He is not a child welfare professional, but I am OK with that. There are lots of professionals he can lean on for that. I also believe he needs to community to provide input, ideas and support as well. That’s where we come in.
Please share this blog, visit our Facebook page and add feedback to my thoughts and add others. All I ask is that you think forward, not backwards. Follow along … let’s do our best to hold CPS accountable for making meaningful change. It is important and the kids deserve it!