Aug. 22, 2017: TRUTH-OUT.Org -- New Legislation Would Soften Foster Care Rules That Tear Extended Families Apart

August 22, 2017

Link to complete, original story HERE:

When April's paternal nephews first came to live with her, one was two months old and the other was one-and-a-half years old. She had to fill out the paperwork necessary to retrieve the older boy from foster care, where he had been placed months earlier after being removed from his mother.

Under California law, if a potential caregiver -- any adult in the household or any adult who might have "significant contact" with the children has an arrest or conviction for anything other than a minor traffic violation -- they must apply for a criminal record exemption. Granting the exemption is at the discretion of each county -- and often the social workers assigned to the family. This has led to an uneven application of the law and, as April and her family learned, can result in tearing families apart.

April filled out lengthy application forms; she and every adult in her household (her husband, her roommate and her babysitter) were subjected to background checks and repeated interviews. Finally, she was approved.

Her nephews became part of the family, which included not only April and her husband, but also their two preteen children and April's 17-year-old sister. The entire family adapted to its new, larger configuration. "My kids loved them like they were little brothers," April recalled. (April has asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her family's privacy.)

April and her husband traded their existing car for a larger model with seven seats. They brought the children to fairs, cooked meals that the smallest kids would eat and, in general, rearranged their lives to accommodate their newest members. "Everything we did was kid-friendly," April told Truthout. "It was like family time all the time."

But it wasn't always easy. Studies have shown that children who have been subjected to frequent foster care moves experience adverse psychological and health consequences. That was certainly the case for April's older nephew who, during his 18-month life, had already been bounced around to three different homes.