Saturday, April 30, 2011

Color of the Law<< A term we All need to know

 Just thought I would share a few posts on one of the many discussion groups that I am a member.

There are 3 Posts given below:
  1. My response to the two posts.
  2. Post of a member where the "System" appears to be Working?
  3. Post of a member where the "System" Is NOT Working?..ie "Color of the Law"
1. My response to the two posts

I could expand on each of these two posts given below. The posts, one might say are two opposite ends of the scale:
  1. Is a great post on how our system can work if each participant is qualified to do their job. Plus I am assuming All or most of the facts were presented; and
  2. Is a great post that can give negative results if some of the participants are not qualified to do their job. Plus I am assuming many of the facts were not presented.
Everyone must remember, if the judge is doing his/her job correctly, and without bias, the judge makes their decisions on what is presented and not necessarily the "Truth". End result = a variation on the out comes.

Myself and many others, who have shared opinions, have found that actually the statutes and policies, in most states, if followed correctly, should give a positive outcome. However, from the few statements given above this has not been so. That is why we repeatedly state "Know the statutes and policies in Your State particular to Your Concerns."

In the title of my response, I added the term "Color of the Law" A basic definition is "Something or Someone that looks like, talks like..etc. but really isn't what they are supposed to be." Here is the link to the definition from my favorite source, wiki>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_%28law%29

Again, I do appreciate each and everyone sharing their experiences. I firmly believe we can not come to an appropriate decisions unless All Sides are heard and truly understood.

May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
GranPa Chuck
Keeper of the web files for http://nfpcar.org
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2. Post of a member where the "System" appears to be Working?

I am always surprised about how much variation there is from place to place. I've never seen developmental screening/evaluation/services for foster kids be any different than it is for other kids. In fact, it's all done through the early intervention unit, not through social services. I can't imagine it being done any differently. And the private, but Medicaid-accepting, psychologist that  we use for therapy services is terrific. As are the OTs that we've used.

My kids have had amazing GALs. In my state, the GALs aren't the children'  lawyers, they function as the CASA. The county attorney represents the children. But, my son's GAL was a respected psychologist. I didn't need his help but DS's older sister really benefited from his knowledge. My daughter's first GAL came out to my home at least once a month and played with her on the lawn or in my living room. I was so sad when she had to resign because of a personal situation.

  My daughter's birth mother's lawyer is a state senator who represents our district. She's fully committed to children's services. Her birth father's lawyer was excellent. She didn't win the TPR hearing but put up a good fight.

  Just a few of my personal experiences.

3. Post of a member where the "System" Is NOT Working?..ie "Color of the Law"

RE: "But in the end the judge decided to move him based on the GAL recommendation-the GAL who never even saw this child but in court said to us you are not family and bio mom will never get him back, so that argument is null. To these children we are family and they are family to us."

We've been surprised at how UNknowledgeable the GALs we've encountered are. They make a cursory appearance before court hearings (only b/c I call them and ask them if they plan to see their clients). They stay maybe 10-15 minutes. They don't really try to assess our worthiness of caring for persons for whom they are supposedly guardians. Shouldn't they be making sure that their clients are in the best home possible? It is such a racket. I can't believe that people make pretty decent livings doing very little work.

We've also been appalled at how awful the parents' lawyers often are as well. It is as though they got their legal degrees from a Cracker Jack box. On a case for a different child, the bio mom's lawyer's cross-examination of the caseworker actually made the mom look even worse than before the  questioning.

While I don't think the bio mom deserved to get her children back as she didn't make any attempt to get off drugs and her visitation history was inconsistent to non-existent, I also know that she probably had the worst lawyer whom I've ever seen in action, next to the lawyer who was representing our foster child at the time. It was painful to watch in court b/c you could just tell that these people were probably the bottom of the barrel in law school.

I also think that the developmental services are a joke. In one child's case, the developmental coordinator wrote reports on our foster child whom she had never met. She had made appointments but never showed. At least in our state, the developmental coordination for foster kids is a significant cut below services that I've seen for non-foster kids. Sigh.

The system costs so much money. While I'm very much in favor of government support in the abstract, in practice, I'm appalled at the expense given that many kids don't end up much better from where they started before they entered the system.

And if people actually did their jobs, it could be a different story. The foster care system could be designed to help children and actually make the world a better place. I believe that for most cases, reunification should be the initial goal. With that said, I think that there should be a limited amount of time that parents are given to turn things around. During that time, they should be given opportunities to better themselves. Relatives should be contacted at the start of the case about initial placement and future placement. If relatives don't act within a given period of time, then their involvement should be forfeited so that children can move on and develop relationship/bonding with people who are able to do it sooner than later. I think that "best interest" should involve more than a low standard of "Will the child have a pulse at the end of the day if placed with this relative?" Is it too much to ask for GAL to try to get to know their clients AND those people who want to be the children's forever family? Is it too much to ask for social workers to think and observe?

Is it too much to ask for developmental coordinators to (a) actually monitor the kids, and (b) truly know something about development?

 OK. I better get off my soap box for the evening. Thanks everyone for contributing your thoughts.
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Remember, I am just the messenger!
May you find Strength in Your Higher Power,
 GranPa Chuck
    Defend Yourself>>