In December of 2017, Missouri First Lady Dr. Sheena Greitens announced that the state’s Children’s Division will be enrolling in a study to investigate the decrease in foster care providers.
Leading the study is Dr. Elise Dallimore, Associate Professor of Organizational Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Dallimore and her husband have been transitional foster care parents in the state of Massachusetts for over seven years.
Dallimore shares how the study originated, “Needless to say that what became or what started as a personal passion, soon crossed over to my academic research. In fact, the organizational course I teach I have had students during the last year, during 2017, assisting me with a small portion of this project, so they received exposure and experience working with this type of social action research."
She states that the purpose of the study is “to help state agencies do a better job of recruiting and retaining foster families”, and calls the decrease in foster care providers a “humans rights crisis.” The study will be conducted by following foster providers from the moment they express an interest in foster parenting to when they leave the system.
According to the National Foster Care Association, about 60% of foster care providers quit within their first year.
Sara Crowe, an investigational case worker for the Missouri Children’s Division, explains why she thinks foster families leave the system after just one year: “The foster family does a lot of work. The alternative care workers do a lot of work, and I think a lot of people sometimes lose faith in the system.”
Rayma Anderson, a former foster care provider of six years, explains why she left the foster care system: "I closed my license at six years when I … had a child placed back in my care that they decided to work a reunification plan with the biological family. And I personally felt like they had been given too many opportunities, and I didn't feel like I could support the efforts of the state to reunify that child with his biological family.
"So I closed my license and got out of it at that point. I just feel like I agree that reunification needs to be a goal, but there needs to be a point where we are willing to make a decision for a child, that that's not in their best interest anymore and then give them an opportunity to become a permanent member of a healthy family."
A high school sophomore currently in the foster care system, Kayla, shares why she believes foster care providers are leaving the system, “The DFS system has been having a hard time. Caseworkers are quitting, and all that is putting pressures on the foster family. And, it could also be because of their kids seeing their parents sometimes, because after the kids come home from seeing their parents, they act completely different.”
Crowe offers her criticism and advice on the foster care system’s recruitment methods, “How many times do you see advertisement to become a foster parent? Probably not that much. There's no advertisement for it, when we do it's boring, long. It's just not good. We have booths set up some places. We need to be in hospitals, schools … we need to be in good places.”
Dallimore shares the current status of the foster care study in the state of Missouri: “It has been approved and we're just waiting for the study to launch, which was originally going to happen end of November, first of December, and is now slotted to launch anytime.”
Missouri Children’s Division will use the results from the study to aid their ongoing efforts to recruit and retain foster care providers.
The study is already occurring in Mississippi in order for the state to avoid federal receivership. Other states are still considering joining the study.
Missouri evaluates foster care system with need to retain quality home care providers..
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Reporter: Kaitlynn Mulcahey Photographer: Greta Cross
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