If Aretha Franklin were a foster or adoptive parent, this might have been her theme song for this part of her career as well. Funny thing about respect, for it to work it has to be a two way street.
In many meetings of foster and adoptive parents and even recently in a CPS Oversight Committee meeting, the word respect is used often when talking about the lack thereof for foster and adoptive parents by CPS workers. I often wonder why this happens. It doesn’t seem logical.
Many foster and adoptive parents are highly skilled at what they do. May of us have or are successfully raising our own bio kids. Many of us have welcomed dozens of children in to our homes resulting all kinds of real-life experiences we can draw from. Most important, we have been through training and continue to have on-going training very year. So why is it that so many foster and adoptive parents say that CPS workers do not respect what they have to say about the well-being of the child(ren) they are caring for?
I think it is pretty simple. Foster and adoptive parents and CPS workers are often just not on the same page. I believe that is driven by CPS and its own process and culture. Let me share an example … a couple of weeks ago a friend was asked to sit in a meeting with CPS because they were going to develop a training class to teach case workers how to have more respect for foster parents. When I heard this, my first reaction was my best Amy Poehler imitation from Saturday Night Live … “REALLY”??
What logical person really believes that a 3-hour training class will change the hearts and minds of any case workers? In 1964 the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. Does anyone really believe that once that legislation passed everything changed overnight in the hearts and minds of every US citizen? Of course, not. People pushed for years and still push back even knowing that it is about equal rights, period. If major legislation can’t change hearts and minds, how will a 3-hour class do that?
A more logical step might be as simple as to require case workers to attend PSMAPP training. This is a requirement of all foster parents. Don’t you think that if we all had the same training it would help us communicate better. In time, if we change the culture of how to communicate and do so based on the same ideas from PSMAPP,
But don’t think this is just CPS or they are alone in this. Governor Brewer has assembled a task force that I believe is led by her Chief of Staff. This task force is making recommendations on how to structure CPS as a separate agency from DES. And do you think there is a foster or adoptive parent who is not working in government on that committee? No there is not. REALLY!
Come on people of Arizona, respect comes by sharing ideas, aligning the needs of all constituencies and inviting all to the table to find ideal solutions. Until the people in the people leading our state government and the agencies that serve the most vulnerable children realize that there are foster and adoptive parents who are equally or even more qualified than they are to help figure out the future, we will continue to flounder.
Raising children is not an easy thing. But a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for foster and adoptive parents by treating them as an equal in the process via common training, inviting them to the table and including them in every process, we can make this better.
Foster and adoptive parents, please add your thoughts to this as well!