Children In Foster Care

††††††††††††The following cases are representative of the life-circumstances experienced by maltreated children before they come
into care. In the cases, you will read about the events and
conditions that resulted in the Courtís awarding custody of the
children to Social Services (SS) and to the children being placed
into care. Of course, any information that might unintentionally
identify the specific children and their families has been
changed or removed.


††††††††††††After each case, write your responses to the questions about
that case in the space provided.


{Questions}


††††††††††††A.††††††††What would it be like being a child living in this
family?


††††††††††††B.††††††††What would be the effect on the child when he is
removed from the family and placed into the home of
strangers?


††††††††††††C.††††††††What behavior and adjustment problems do you think the
child might have while in care?


††††††††††††D.††††††††How would you specifically help the child with the
problems (signs) you have identified as potential
issues?


††††††††††††E.††††††††What outside resources and assistance do you think you
may need to help the child?


Case 1:


††††††††††††SS has, in the past, received referrals regarding neglect of
these two children, ages 5 and 8. The Agency has substantiated
past referrals and determined that the parents weren't providing
for the needs of the children. As a result of earlier actions,
the parents are currently on probation for child endangering.


††††††††††††The Agency has found the following current circumstances
that put the children at risk: Parents have a history of chronic
housing instability including numerous evictions and substandard,
unsanitary living conditions. Children and parents are currently
residing in a single motel room. The motel manager reports that
the room is 'filthy' and that the plumbing is backed up. The
children have missed numerous days of school and aren't receiving
appropriate care or adequate nutrition. SS worker observed that
the childrenís behavior was seemingly uncontrolled and that they
were difficult to manage. Both children show mild developmental
delays and routine medical care hasn't been provided.


Case 2:


††††††††††††SS became involved with this 12-year-old child when she
disclosed sexual abuse by mother and motherís boy friend. Father
petitioned the Court and received custody of this child and her
11-year-old brother. Visitation privileges of mother are
suspended.


††††††††††††Father agreed to arrange for therapy for his daughter and
allow no contact between the children and mother. Therefore, the
case was closed.


††††††††††††The case was once again opened when both children disclosed
sexual abuse by an older child in fatherís home. This case was
also closed since the alleged perpetrator left the home and
father agreed to continue work with the therapist.


††††††††††††The case was opened again when the boy was hospitalized. The
hospital wouldn't release the child home because father didnít
come in to see either the boy or hospital staff, except to
authorize treatment when the child was admitted. The hospital
wanted mental health case management in fatherís home before
discharging the child.


††††††††††††SS was concerned about alcohol use in the home and ensuring
services were in place for both children. A case plan was
developed addressing services for the children, the alcohol/drug
use in the home, and the childrenís sexual abuse allegations. A
safety plan was also in place, stating that no contact between
the children and mother should take place.


††††††††††††Father hasn't complied with the case plan or safety plan. SS
learned that father allowed the children contact with mother.
Father admitted to allowing them to spend the night with mother.
Mother still resides with her boy friend, the alleged perpetrator
of the oldest child. That child has regressed indicating possible
re-abuse.


††††††††††††SS received a report of alleged abuse of the youngest child.
The child had a swollen and severely bruised right eye. This is
the second documented injury to this child. SS is also aware of a
history of domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse, and neglect.
When all concerns were brought to father's attention, he didn't
deny any of them and stated he was too stressed to provide care
or protect the children.


Case 3:


††††††††††††SS has been involved with this family for fourteen months. A
3-year-old brother of this child is currently in the custody of
SS and is in care. Mother had threatened to harm that child, was
involved in an abusive relationship, and needed assistance
learning to safely care for her children.


††††††††††††Mother's second child, a 7-year-old boy, is at home. Mother
and son have been receiving in-home protective services and
mother has been having visits with her youngest child. To support
this family, the agency was making routine stops to the home to
ensure mother was properly caring for the 7-year-old and to
provide assistance with the care. Despite these efforts, a
neighbor called the police, reporting that the 7-year-old was
home alone and that mother hadnít been seen since the preceding
evening. The police arrived, found the child alone, and contacted
SS for assistance. The agency was given emergency custody of the
child. The police later arrested mother.


Case 4:


††††††††††††These three children, ages 2 months, 3 years, and 6 years,
were placed into care after their mother, an admitted cocaine
addict, continued to put her children's safety at risk by using
drugs and by not participating in any treatment program for her
addiction. The youngest child was born cocaine positive and the
middle child was born prematurely. Mother admitted to having used
drugs prior to giving birth to the two youngest children.


††††††††††††Mother continues to use drugs as confirmed by drug tests.
She has recently been sanctioned for not attending treatment as
ordered by SS JOBS Program.


Case 5:


††††††††††††SS received a referral expressing concern regarding mother's
and maternal grandmother's ability to care for this 8-year-old.
They both have histories of mental illness. Mother is mentally
retarded (IQ established at 47) and has schizophrenia. She
stopped taking prescribed medication five months ago. She
recently had a psychiatric evaluation done and began taking a new
medication, but she isnít at a therapeutic level at this time.


††††††††††††Grandmother has been diagnosed with major depression and is
on medication for the condition. There were also reports that
grandmother doesnít protect her retarded daughter (the childís
mother) from being sexually taken advantage of by grandmother's
boyfriends. Due to the severity of family problems and potential
risk to this child, SS was granted custody and the child was
placed into care.


Case 6:


††††††††††††SS received this referral from the hospital emergency room.
A 9-year-old girl was in the ER due to what parents said was an
accident. The child had a broken arm and severe bruises on her
left leg, the left side of her face, and on her lower back.
Medical personnel said that, although it was unlikely, the
bruises could have been caused by the type of accident the
parents reported. The child would only tell the hospital staff
that she fell and hurt herself, the way her parents said.


††††††††††††On further examination, medical personnel determined that
the childís arm had been 'twisted' and that the injury couldnít
have happened the way her parents and the child reported.
According to the medical personnel, the injury was 'inconsistent'
with an accident and 'consistent' with an intentionally caused
injury. They suspected child abuse, probably inflicted by the
father, according to hospital personnel.


††††††††††††On investigation, SS learned that this child had been taken,
by her parents, to five different emergency rooms within the past
thirty months, with each event attributed to accidental injury.
On one of those occasions, the childís leg was broken and on
another she was diagnosed as having a concussion caused by a blow
to her head. Parents reported that the head injury happened when
she had been playing baseball and was accidentally hit by a bat.


††††††††††††When interviewed alone and confronted with the series of
injuries, mother admitted that she gets frustrated and angry with
the child when she wonít behave and loses her temper. When father
was confronted with the events and with what mother had said, he
admitted that he had been covering for mother and trying to
protect her.


††††††††††††Mother is hospitalized for psychiatric observation and
father has been charged for his role in the abuse. The child was
placed into care.


Case 7:


††††††††††††SS received a phone call from the police department stating
that children had been left home alone. After seeing deplorable
conditions in the home and no food, the Police Department removed
the children from the home. The youngest child was left with an
inadequate babysitter a few doors down from mother's home. SS
learned that mother had left early in the morning for an outing
with the father of the youngest two children and their
grandfather.


††††††††††††Before mother left on her outing, she had placed her oldest
child, age 9, in charge of his younger brother, age 8. The older
child was instructed that he and his brother were to go to the
neighbor's house where the youngest child was staying when they
woke up that morning. When the Police Department was on patrol
over two miles from the neighborhood, they found the 8-year-old
wondering along a busy highway. They took that child home and
discovered that the 9-year-old hadnít seen their mother since the
night before. Mother has a history of being involved with SS
because of poor parenting skills, inadequate choices regarding
the supervision of her children, and dealing with the stress of
being overwhelmed with her children. All three children were
placed in the home of the paternal grandmother of the oldest
child, after police conducted a background check.


††††††††††††Grandmother canít continue caring for the children and
mother has been charged with child endangering.


Case 8:


††††††††††††SS has been involved with this family for four years. During
this time, there have been ongoing concerns regarding mother's
inability to maintain a safe and stable home, provide for her
children's daily needs, and use appropriate parenting approaches.
These problems stem from mother's ongoing drug use.


††††††††††††Mother previously had two of her children removed from her
care with permanent custody awarded to SS because of these
problems. She has been unwilling to seek substance abuse
treatment and has failed to make any progress on her case plan.
The safety and well-being of her youngest child, age 4 days,
would be seriously jeopardized if allowed to leave the hospital
in motherís care.


Case 9:


††††††††††††A child, age 15 months, and her mother, age 16 years, were
living with motherís aunt. Following a domestic dispute, mother
was admitted to a youth shelter. The situation in the auntís home
is very volatile and poses a risk to mother, who sustained
injuries in the domestic dispute. Mother is unable to return to
that home and her child shouldnít remain in that home without
mother. Mother and child were, thus, placed together into care.


Case 10:


††††††††††††At 2:00 a.m., SS became aware of a domestic dispute between
this teenager and adult members of the family with whom he was
living. The child was taken to a youth shelter after the police
were called to the home. Both the child and the family refused to
consider his return to the home.


††††††††††††The child has a bruise on his forehead and bruises on his
scalp as a result of the altercation in the home. The shelter
nurse reported that the injuries werenít serious. Other
professionals involved indicate that the situation is volatile
and that the child shouldnít return to the home. The childís
biological parents both reside out of state and refuse to provide
care for their son.


Case 11:


††††††††††††The custody of this child, age 6, was given to SS by the
court because of severe conflicts between the parents regarding
custody of the child. The child had been subjected to several
physical exams connected to numerous accusations of physical and
sexual abuse or neglect by one of the parents against the other.
A case plan was developed and both parents were interviewed along
with the child. Due to continued allegations of sexual abuse, the
child was referred for a medical exam. Genital warts were
discovered. There remains a possibility of sexual abuse but the
perpetrator is unknown. To date, there are no clear statements
from the child.


††††††††††††Parents have a history of hostility toward each other,
distorting factual events to various service providers, and
making charges with the police against each other or family
members. The child is being used as a pawn between the parents.
She appears to be painfully aware of her parents' animosity,
emotionally shutting down to the point where she wonít discuss
her parents or her personal experiences in even non-threatening
conversations. Parents are unable to protect the child from their
mutual, extreme hostility and are unable to understand the
emotional harm the child is experiencing from repeated
investigations and ongoing suspicions and arguments in the
child's presence.


Case 12:


††††††††††††This family was referred to SS by the police who indicated
that a 3-week-old child was in a dangerous environment. Police
had received reports of abuse by his father. The agency worker
visited the home and spoke with mother. She admitted that father
had 'spanked' the baby leaving black and blue marks on the child
the week before. Father was upset with the child for crying.


††††††††††††Mother also admitted to the worker that she had been beaten
by father the night before and had severe bruising. Mother
refused all services.


††††††††††††Police were contacted and they confronted mother and father
about the abuse and domestic violence issues. Mother admitted to
them that father had beaten her and spanked the baby leaving
black and blue marks. She refused to leave the home with the baby
or to leave father. She is very dependent on father and wonít
voluntarily disassociate herself or the child from him, even
temporarily so that he can obtain help for his problems. Father
was arrested for domestic violence and was released on bond.
Since mother wouldnít keep the child away from father, the child
was placed into care.

For more information and additional foster care resources, visit American Foster Care Resources (AFCR)





By Gary A. Crow, Ph.D.; Letha I. Crow, MSW March 23, 2017