Florida’s child welfare system is repeatedly rocked and shaken by an over burdened system that removes children from their homes and places them in temporary settings. Regrettably, those placements in temporary settings can often cause a disconnect between the biological family and the child rendering them isolated and confused. As a result, family connections for children within the child welfare system are often too few and minimally maintained and with the new structure of the family it challenges the system in an effort to keep up.
The definition of family has changed drastically over recent years taking on many forms from the traditional, to the single parent, and now to same sex parents. This is a phenomenon as recent as of the last two decades. Moreover, as our families begin to transform the children that come into foster care and their view of family also changes. Many feel somewhat lost as they are often put within a family that has a culture, structure, and varied economic dynamics that are vastly different from their own.
According to www.childrenrights.org, there are 424,000 children in foster care in the United States and more than 14,000 in Florida (Adoptukids.org). Most often, children who are removed from their parents are done so from school or a non threatening environment, if possible. In some occasions, there is no time for the child to identify or call out to someone to “rescue” them but at what point does someone say or ask, “do you have family that you can live with?” Surly, aunts and uncles throughout the state have not turned a blind eye to young family members no longer seen at family functions. If given those names are the family members contacted at the investigative stage or much later? One has to wonder! Are Florida’s investigators, so quick to investigate their case and pass it on to a services worker that the child’s need for family is ignored?
There is much attention in the literature regarding family connections but little attention on the massive affect associated with that feeling of abandonment by the parents and the biological family. Most often it is rare that a child regardless of age receives an understanding and compassionate conversation about why they are not taken to family instead children are often left wondering why they can’t go and live with a family member.
Now on the eve of Trauma Informed Care management within these agencies are beginning to take notice of the impact and they are exposing their workers to training but is it enough? But what of the children who are seeking a familiar connection to family? Is the training enough to provide comfort and show compassion to the children in care or is it too little too late?! Soon enough, Florida will embark on another Adoption Day filled with glorious and thunderous applaud but what of the biological families, what of the ties that bind!