Friday, August 13, 2010

One Chance at Childhood

Arcadia Child My photos that have a creative c...Image via Wikipedia
One Chance at Childhood was supposed to provide a stable home environment for kids in care under the age of 4 years who were on long term orders or in their second and third short term placements.

It would have meant that these kids would have had a place and a family to call theirs. They would have known where they were going at the end of each day and who they were going home to.

When the One Chance at Childhood (OCC) initiative was announced by former Child Safety minister Margaret Keech in February 2008, she said if families involved with the new unit failed to address their parenting issues within 12 months, the department would cease reunification plans, recognising the importance for children of a stable, safe home environment and a loving relationship with a carer.

Courier Mail 6/11/2009

But the program has been scrapped.

Too hard basket I think.

How do you tell a parent that they can never have their kids back?

Who supports that parent through the permanent loss of  a child that they love, (yes they do usually)?

Communities Department director-general Linda Apelt and current Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves said there was no 12-month deadline applied to parents, who through the OCC program have access to intensive specialist support and remedial services.
"Child protection is complex and it would be inappropriate to attempt to restrict families' opportunities for reunification where they are clearly working with departmental officers to ensure the safety of the child," Mr Reeves said.
 Courier Mail 6/11/2009

This policy was developed after a lot of consideration and much research and thought. Why dump it?
How long is long enough for parents to get their act together and be considered suitable parents again?

I can tell you, the amount of paperwork and screening as well as household safety checks and psychological profiles that my partner went through to be carers was just nuts. But, I understand it was necessary to see that we were 'fit' to look after someone else's child. Bruce (my parnter) did point out however, that he's already raised two of his own kids and wasn't required to go through any screening process!

How long do you think parents should be given?

How many short term placements is too many for a child under 4? (a short term placement is anywhere from one month to two years)

How many times should the child be placed back with the parent and then taken into care again before enough is enough?

There is so much research out there to say that children develop appropriate emotional responses to situations and people in very early childhood. Moving them around delays or prohibits this entirely!

My grandparents fostered two boys. The boys were 7 and 9 I think when they came to them. They received the same love and care that their own kids would have got. They were in care till age 18 and always welcomed home whenever they turned up. They were assisted financially and emotionally during their first years away from home, (which was only when they needed something). I'd like to say this story has a happy ending, but it doesn't. I don't even think these two people know their carers (my grandparents) are dead.

I'd like to think these kids would have had a better chance of forming a bond with their foster parents if they had been able to be adopted or been in care at a younger age.

Who knows though?

Love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments section about this post. I'm tempted to say that all kids who have been in care for a certain amount of time under the age of 4 need to be adopted. But I have my doubts.


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danielle said...

wow where do i start...that would be one of the best policies that could be bought in. it is not fair on the kids to take them away than restore them over and over or if the parents cant clean their act up in 12 months or at least be well o...n their way, than that in itself proves they dont have the children as their top priority im not saying they dont love them cause many of them do in a strange way that many of us cant understand. but in saying all that many of them will just go and have another baby and another baby, and i think that it is getting worse in the last few years how many of them are having more and more i dont know if its just in my area or not but off the top of my head i know of 5 mothers of kids in care who are pregnant or have just had another baby. but that is another story of its own and if i dont stop now im going to get myself a bit worked up. lol.

Anonymous said...

This makes me cry just reading it. This may sound harsh but when you're handed your tiny bundle the time to step up is then, not in 12 months or 2 years. Why should they get a second chance when the first should have been enough. We are talking about children not animals. We considered fostering but when I was informed of the "rehabilitation with the families I had to admit I just didn't think I could hand them back and walk away. I'm disappoionted to think there is a little treasure out there missing out on the love and protection my family so willingly offered.

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