This guest blog post was written by Linda Gross.
Youth Today recently published an article about a program in Georgia where "cold" foster care cases are being reopened to consider adoption options for children that have been otherwise left alone for multiple years. The project began a few years ago, and is managed by an attorney named Michelle Barclay who works under Georgia's Committee on Justice for Children.
The article serves to provide insight into the long-term experiences of foster care youth and resurfaces myths supporting the passive allowance of youth living and aging-out of foster care. One such myth is that during the child's initial case, all that could be done, was done. While ideally this would be true and could be assumed, given tight timeframes, limited budgets and the occasional bad worker, it could easily be that the child has never truly had the child welfare system work intensively on his or her behalf to find a new family for them to build permanence with. The second myth is that once all options are exhausted in the search for a permanent place for the child, they are exhausted for life. An important example of this are kin who at the time of the child's first need for placements, may have been under life circumstances that didn't allow them to feel they could take on caring for the child. However, several years later a more stable life situation combined with a child closer-aged to self-sufficiency and independence, could result in kin able to open their homes to another person.
The article also brings to light the interesting collaboration between child protection and the hire of private investigators for the purpose of family finding. While several agencies have begun incorporating more formal family finding models, the use of investigators for the purpose of finding additional kin to broaden placement options, this is a collaboration we can only hope grows. In 2006, a 60 Minutes broadcast entitled Lost and Found featured Kevin Campbell, an expert on family finding. The episode demonstrated his field's ability to contribute to the connectedness these youth have, with one two-hour search providing enough for one young woman to have a virtual depiction of her own family tree.
Bringing these lost youth, discounted to becoming foster-care children for life, into new and resurged prospects for permanency is a true demonstration of hope and potential for the future of America's next generations.
To read the article at Youth Today click here.
To view Lesley Stahl discussing her 60-minutes feature, Lost and Found, click here.