The issue is that too many kids are staying in foster care or aging out of care without families. Their moms might have been able to be that family again if they had only received some specialized help and training.
To gain a better understanding, we recommend the "ReMoved" videos. These videos don't offer much hope for the moms, which honestly is often the case. They give a view into the brokenness and dysfunction. A child who has been in care longer than 30 days has a 75% chance of never returning home.
Children enter foster care for a variety of reasons but generally due to drug use, incarceration, physical or sexual abuse and neglect. Social services often try to keep the family intact and will often try to assist with services to prevent removing a child. However, if it is no longer safe for a child to remain, they are placed in foster care. Social services will then provide parents a list of goals to achieve to fix the situation that led to the removal. Reunification of the family is often the initial goal of foster care.
Is it the Mom’s fault?
These moms have made choices and decisions that have put their children at risk, and sure, sometimes they are just selfish or evil. However, we must take a step back to look at the bigger picture. Often these women have layers of trauma and stunted maturity which impact their world view and ability to make appropriate choices. They often live and react to life with fear. If we don't try to understand a mom's story we may be tempted to respond ourselves with thoughts such as, “She deserves to lose her kids. "How could anyone choose drugs over their children?” “She's lazy and just needs to go get a job,” “She's got to stop sleeping around and get herself together,” The mother's issues are complex and not easily understood or healed. We must take the time, effort, and grace to help these women recover and develop positive coping and decision-making skills.
Isn't the job of DSS to care for the birth mothers?
The system and structure of our local Departments of Social Services are overwhelmed with the burden of caring for these families. The workers tasked with reunifying families often have large caseloads that prevent the time and attention needed to address the underlying issues in the family. We've found that the mothers are often so overwhelmed with this system that they get lost on which steps to take. Patty’s Hope does not seek to replace social services, but rather come alongside mothers as they navigate the system and link them to community resources and communities.
What are the issues these mothers face before their child goes into care?
They are vast and varied. Some of the stories from the mothers Pete and Leila have already worked with are unbelievably tragic. Mothers have sometimes been in foster care themselves and experienced domestic violence, mental, physical, and sexual abuse themselves. They often struggle to maintain stable employment and housing. We have found that the skill of making good choices and maintaining healthy boundaries often exacerbates any issue.
What are the issues mothers face in getting their child or children home?
The foster care system is confusing at the best of times, let alone when dealing with the trauma of losing your child. The Department or courts usually give a list of requirements the parents need to achieve within a particular time frame to get their children home. Be assured that these are often very appropriate requirements and especially required for raising children safely. They may include issues such as employment, parenting classes, childcare, safe and stable housing, financial stability, and drug-free living. For many of us these requirements seem simple to achieve, but if you have never been taught basic skills on how to get a job, how to set goals and finish tasks, fill out forms, find housing, create a budget, or access positive support systems, these lists become difficult to fulfill. It is also possible to check off items on the list without ever addressing the psychosocial reasons behind the presenting issues that led to the removal of children. Patty’s Hope seeks to assist moms in achieving real and lasting change to last throughout their lifetime and be passed on for generations.
What are the issues mothers face after reunification?
If a child is returned home after being in care, the battle is far from over. With DSS rightfully checking in, mothers must maintain the healthy changes made to their lifestyle, their job, housing and parenting skills, and so on. It is not uncommon for children to return to foster care. We believe that this is due to the real, deeper issues of why this happened in the first place. Patty’s Hope seeks to assist these families in moving beyond merely surviving to truly thriving by encouraging women to build a safe and healthy network of people and resources that can help the family function in a way that provides an enriching environment for raising children.