Thursday, March 10, 2016

Foster Dad Reflections

How “Protective” is Child Protective Services Anyway? 

Early in my teenage years, I developed a passion for parenting. I couldn’t wait to be a father; the thought of it fascinated me. By the age of twenty-two, the desire for becoming a daddy was intensifying, but I had not yet found my soul mate. Looking through the newspaper after church one afternoon, I noticed an advertisement – foster parents were needed.

When I contacted the agency, they told me I was old enough to foster and that my marital status was a non-issue. I was thrilled! I was going to get to be somewhat of a substitute father for children whose parents had either abandoned them or passed away.

While going through the approval process, the agency’s recruiter asked about my religious affiliation. I told her I was a Baptist, attended church faithfully, was teaching a Sunday school class for children, and working in a Wednesday evening youth program. She seemed concerned, “I don’t want you to cram your religion down the throats of our children.”

Eventually, I got approved and then the training process started. Do you know therapeutic foster parents have to be trained in basic self-defense? When I was first told about the class, I thought that was insane.

Boy was I wrong! Over the seven years that I fostered, I had a seventeen year old boy try to commit suicide in my house twice, an eleven year old make multiple attempts to kill me, and I lost count of the number of kids who hit, kicked, spit on, and bit me. That training sure did come in handy! The sad part is, most of those kids weren’t that poorly behaved prior to entering “the system.” Once Child Protective Services took them, they were turned into monsters.

I’m going to briefly tell you about some of the other things I witnessed as a foster parent just to give you an idea of what happens once Child Protective Services removes children from their biological families to “protect” them:
  • At the age of 22, having no experience working with people with mental disorders, a 17 year old boy with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia moved into my home. In a short amount of time, he ran away from my place, got drunk, made inappropriate gestures toward a female, and got chased by two men in a truck while he was on foot. I had no business trying to raise a boy who was my size, nearly my age, and suffering from such severe mental disorders. But the state placed him in my care.
  • I called the foster care agency’s crisis line late one evening because one of my foster sons was going crazy. She asked if he had taken his Clonidine yet. When I told her he had, she told me to give him another pill. After staying on the phone with me for about twenty minutes, she could tell the medicine was not calming him down. The social worker said, “Give him another pill.” She was not a doctor. She had no authority to tell someone to overmedicate that child. But she did.
  • Once, another one of my foster children had been acting out severely and his case manager decided to place him with another foster family for one weekend to give us a break from each other. When the boy came back, he had flea bites all over him, even on his face. He explained that the home he went to didn’t have enough beds for him and the foster mother made him sleep on a cat’s bed and the cat kept walking over, staring at him, and meowing all night long. That was completely unacceptable!
  • I agreed to take in a new foster child and was asked to pick him up at the foster care agency. When I got there, the case manager told me they had put his belongings in a storage room. They recommended I put them in the trunk to get them home and then keep them in the basement until the odors came out of them. Sure enough, his clothing smelled straight up like urine. He was not new to foster care. He had supposedly just came from a foster family who lived on a farm and every ounce of clothing he had reaked unbelievably. They blamed the farm, but I have known many people who live on farms and none of them had clothing that smelled that foul. If a biological family sent their child to school smelling like that, CPS would have been called to investigate. But because CPS was the ones who placed the child there, there was no one to report the abuse to.
  • A social worker wanted me to accompany her to a medication management appointment for a new foster child I had taken into my home. At the appointment, I was shocked when the doctor asked the social worker, “So you don’t think this medicine is strong enough? Do you want me to increase the dosage?” I was even more shocked, when the social worker answered with “Yes, why don’t you increase this one and also add such and such.” The doctor complied with the social worker’s directives. The social worker was not a medical professional. I later found out that case manager did not even have her license. She had went to college for social work, but had never passed the tests she needed to pass to be licensed, yet she was supervising foster homes and foster children.
  • Another foster parent I met told me that she had informed the foster care agencies to only place teenage boys in her care. That was because she needed help with cutting her grass and wanted them to do it. She drove a Lexus and it was not uncommon to see her allowing her dog to ride up front while her foster son(s) had to ride in the back. One of her former foster children moved into my home. He told me that he sat down on her couch on one of his first days there and she said, “This is MY couch. You can sit on the loveseat.” When he asked her why he couldn’t sit on the couch since she was only on one cushion, she said, “Because maybe I’ll feel like laying down in a little while. You are never to sit on MY couch.”
Those are only a few of the stories I could tell you about what goes on inside of the foster care system, which is filled with children by Child Protective Services.

 I am sick and tired of seeing the news media post articles about Child Protective Services rescuing children from abusive and neglectful homes. I have never seen children and teenagers abused like what I saw in the foster care system.

Once, I tried to stand up against a corrupt CPS worker and the next thing I knew, the director of the agency I fostered through called to say CPS was threatening to have my foster care license removed. I was told to shut up or lose my license.

On another occasion, with a different legal guardian from the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), I stood up again. I demanded a meeting with the DHHR, the case manager and the director of the foster care agency, and even the boy’s principal. When the meeting kicked off, I pulled out some paperwork and showed them what laws they were breaking. The DHHR worker said, “Nehemiah, I would highly recommend you not even think about bringing a lawsuit while this boy is still in the state’s care. It would not look good on you at all to have all of us against you. It would be your word against ours.”

Why I fostered so long is beyond me. I guess I wanted to make a difference and somehow, I thought I could. But what I learned is that when Child Protective Services is in control of a minor, they control that child, his family, and everyone around them. They are without a doubt above the law.

This guest blog was written by Nehemiah Flynt, author of “Legal Discrimination.” He also has his own blog, which you can check out at

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