MA Foster Parents to Get Bill of Rights

We are Robert Raskin and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, and today we’d like to talk to you about a subject we don’t touch upon here on StopDHR Corruption too often, and that is the needs of foster parents.

Becoming a foster parent is a tremendous commitment, it requires 30 hours of training, and the financial compensation is minimal, just $25 per day. When people are willing to go through intrusive home inspections and background checks in order to take at-risk kids into their homes, we need to make sure they have the resources they need.

What the Foster Parents Bill of Rights Will Accomplish

  • Relieve the frustration foster parents experience
  • Grant foster parents more autonomy
  • Increase spending on and access to health services, including mental health
  • Require DCF to share more information
  • Offer additional training

The State of Massachusetts is planning a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul of their system with a focus on consistency, which is sorely lacking. Another focus of this overhaul is to improve communication with foster families, including the addition of an online system that will allow the state to post messages to foster families while maintaining their privacy.

When foster parents don’t have the necessary resources, they risk burnout, and society risks ending up without enough foster parents to place the number of children who require placement. One other item on the agenda is the potential addition of exit surveys that will be sent via email to foster parents who have exited the system so the state can learn more about how to improve the foster parent experience going forward.

Why are Massachusetts foster families dropping out of the system? One common complaint is the lack of access to information and mental health services for traumatized children. Children who have been subjected to horrific abuse are placed in foster homes that have no information about the children’s specific needs. When mental health services are needed, the wait list stretches on for months. It’s simply too much for many families to handle.

Another problem is inconsistent rules. The rules for foster children can vary wildly from agency to agency. Families become frustrated with the lack of consistency and with always wondering if they are breaking rules without realizing it. Who wants to put themselves at risk of being penalized for breaking a rule that was fine in one place or with one child but not okay with another?

Approximately half of Massachusetts foster families have dropped out over the past five years, so this is a crisis that needs a solution, and fast. Will the Foster Parent Bill of Rights be enough to attract quality families back to the system? That depends on how serious legislators are about passing it, enforcing it, and making sure it’s not just more pointless lip service. Right now, the state’s policies are making things harder on foster parents. It’s completely unnecessary, and it’s time to do something about it.


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