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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

No easy solution to state foster care

Thursday, November 14, 2002

"At the core of the problem of course is the sticky issue of parents incapable of being parents."

The foster care program in the state of Missouri obviously has abundant problems. The first in a series of state public hearings on foster care got under way this week. The dialogue was aimed clearly at the policies of the Division of Family Services and how they decide if and when to remove a child from a home. I believe the result will be stronger legislation coming out of the new General Assembly.

When reports of abuse are forwarded to the Division of Family Services, caseworkers clearly err on the side of the child. But unfortunately, many foster home environments are not much better than the family home and the cycle of abuse and neglect continues.

As I've said in the past, for some, foster parenting is strictly a business. The state pays healthy amounts of money to house a child in a foster home. For others however, foster parenting is clearly a labor of love and an important ingredient in our society.

But within this debate, there's got to be a better way to handle the growing issue of children in need of foster homes. We can only hope our elected legislature will address the issue and propose solutions.

I believe that the Division of Family Services is overworked. They often deal with the dysfunctional side of society where problems are a daily occurrence. This is just the fact of the matter. But within that overcrowded caseload are the children we so desperately want to protect. It's a problem in search of a solution and it won't be easy.

At the core of the problem of course is the sticky issue of parents incapable of being parents. Far too many children are born in our state to parents - all too often a single parent - who lack the skills and network to raise those children. The kids then become a problem for society with a price tag that is beyond the imagination.

Look for the legislature to tackle this issue come January or February. And look for it to cost more for the taxpayers of Missouri. But regardless, this issue will not go away until the state revamps their foster care program. And it won't be solved overnight.

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