I have a longtime friend who has been providing foster care in Cuyahoga County Ohio for decades now. She has done so much good for dozens of children over the years - yet the supposedly 'reformed' system has recently showed her it's very dark and tragic side.
Why am I writing this, instead of her? Because I feel partially responsible for the living nightmare she is facing now, even though I know if the system there was functioning correctly and responsibly, this never would have happened the way it did.
What awful thing did I do? I invited her to come visit me here in Maryland for four days, that's what. I hadn't seen her in years, and she hadn't had a vacation in close to ten years, so I invited her. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back in early September, she notified her ODJFS workers that she needed substitute care for four days in mid-October for her 9-year-old foster daughter (currently her only foster child). This foster mom is certified for family foster care, which in Ohio means Levels 1 or 2 kids only. Apparently the social workers sat on this notification for nearly six weeks and did not reply. Two days before my friend's flight out here, a social worker came to my friend's home and abruptly removed the foster child, adding that the child will be put under level reassessments and evaluations in a group childrens' home, and that was going to take one full month. This kid has been raised by my friend since she was 2 weeks old. Nine years later, she gets removed from the only home she knows - - not for just 4 short days, but for a full month. Needless to say, this last-minute news managed to put a damper on our brief reunion here.
After returning to Ohio, this foster parent received notice from her ODJFS workers that due to a little inter-agency communication glitch, that one month assessment period they had mentioned was actually going to be three months..... and oh, by the way, she was only allowed to come visit the child once a week, so as not to "get in the way of the child's treatments". How touching.
The foster parent requested an interagency meeting ASAP. This meeting took place shortly before Thanksgiving. At this meeting, the foster parent was informed that the child's recent Level of Care assessment was a Level FIVE - the highest needs level, requiring institutionalized care. The nine-year-old would not be returned to the only mom she ever knew and loved..... the mom certified only for Levels 1 and 2 kids.
THIS CHILD WENT FROM A LEVEL ONE OR TWO ALL THE WAY UP TO A LEVEL FIVE, WITHIN A ONE MONTH PERIOD? And it all happened solely because the foster mom wanted a four day break.
THIS is a 'reformed' system, working in the best interest of foster children?? How tragically and pathetically sad.