Mike Canfield, Co President of the Foster Parent Association of Washington State on Senate Bill Bill 5393 (Providing for unannounced visits to homes with dependent children)
Introduced by Sen. Jim Hargrove, (D-Hoquiam) on January 24, 2011, to require the department of social and health services and the supervising agencies to randomly select no less than ten percent of the caregivers currently providing care to children in out-of-home care and in-home dependencies to receive one unannounced face-to-face visit in the caregiver’s home per year.
“We just plain and simply don’t need this to be a law. If foster parents need this type of ‘support’ to assure the kids in care are safe, I lay this at the feet of the social service system and their inability to create a better system, not foster parents. Lets move forward creating a well educated team of folks caring for kids. Let’s create a system where being a foster parent doesn’t make you a suspected child abusing money grubbing bottom dweller. We praise and applaud people for stepping up and taking in the communities needy children. We say things like, “you are so wonderful, I could never do that.” Soon after we license them we start chipping away at their civil rights as we ask them to assume part of the cost. We need to change the culture of foster care so more people feel that it is something they can do.
Do we really want people doing foster care that say, “I need a law that says I need surprise visits to keep me on my toes.” If we suspect a foster parent to be unworthy of our trust, why don’t we just tell them the truth. Tell them that we don’t trust them and are going to be coming by often. Maybe we set up a relationship with a trusted foster parent and an experienced social worker teaming to mentor and support the un-trusted foster parent. If these foster parents are really incapable of regaining our trust, they will likely choose to do something else.
We have many foster care alumni that are foster parents themselves. We should listen to them as well. Are they saying they need this law to be better foster parents? We all want a safer system for kids. This bill will not keep kids safe from the people that want to abuse children. It may unintentionally continue the perpetuate a culture of distrust. It will arm the weaker social workers with a law that allows them to increasingly abuse the power they abuse already. Sometimes it is easier to trash a foster parent then do good social work. Easy isn’t always better.”