Previously I talked about the case plan. One of the first goals of the case plan is reunification, as CPS is mandated to try first to maintain the family unit. But what if there was never any “unification” in the first place?
Say a child has parents that were never married and don’t currently live together, and she was removed from the father’s home. She never lived with her mom for more than three months in her entire life. She is thirteen.
She is now put into foster care because her father is on drugs and his home is not a suitable placement for her. Her mother doesn’t want to have anything to do with her since Mom now has two younger kids, say ages three and five. Mom has problems with drugs and poor taste in boyfriends, and the younger kids are taken from her and put in foster care too.
The wake up call works, and she cleans up her act. She gets a job, gets rid of the boyfriend, and does everything she needs to do to get the kids back. In the meantime, visits take place between her and the kids, and she decides she would like to have her teenaged daughter live with her. The daughter is all excited, she likes the younger kids and hey, it’s better than foster care…right?
So, the younger children are returned to Mom, and the teen is moved to a new foster home so visitation can take place. Things go okay for a short time. Then Mom abandons the younger children, and is never seen again. The girl remains in foster care, and does really well in her new placement. The plan is then that she will age out in this home, and her CASA fully supports this.
She is in this home for about two years, and things are going well. She is staying out of trouble, school is good and she has friends. All of a sudden, the plan is changed to reunification with some family members in another state, and an ICPC (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) is started. It is almost her 16th birthday, and she doesn’t know anymore where her home is.
Is this a good thing? She will be with her “family”, but at what cost? Where were these people when she first came into care?