Skip to main content

Semaj Crosby

Illinois has been in the news recently for the death of a child who was seen by an investigator just hours before she was reported missing and then found dead underneath a couch in the home where she was living.  Semaj Crosby was just 17 months old. The house was condemned by the county the next day and a few days later is was burned to the ground. Investigative reports have shown severe failings by the agency and some pretty horrific details are emerging about how DCFS is operating. That includes this gem about a contest for investigators who closed the most cases in a month. There were also at least 10 abuse/neglect cases against the family and they were allegedly receiving what is referred to as "in-tact" services.  That is where DCFS is supposed to be supporting the family with services such as parenting classes, counseling, and social services without removing the children.

While I'm glad there is a spotlight on this major tragedy, I'm worried about the inevitable knee jerk that tends to come from these types of investigations.  In this situation it seems clear that a lot of people failed to take action.  The flip side is that there are kids taken into custody that maybe shouldn't be, and then they are kept there because the court system moves so slowly. After a tragedy like this the agency tends to be over-cautious and then we have this pendulum going.  This happened a few years ago when several toddlers died that had been in care.  And then the budget got severely cut and the agency had a revolving door of directors and it seems we have ended up back here again.

I don't want children to die but I also don't want them to linger in foster care unnecessarily.

I'm simply stunned by what happened.  Its very hard to reconcile this type of case in my area with the three I've actually been the foster parent in.  My forever kids had in-tact services.  When Sheila broke the safety plan, they entered care. Which kept them safe from the immediate danger but then exposed them to the trauma of foster care and multiple placements. Even their adoption lingered on.

The Fab Four had one physical abuse incident that brought them into care.  And while they needed the help, they probably could have benefited from in-tact services and not removal (remember those budget cuts?). Perhaps Jelly Bean could have been safe from the molestation of the foster parent and the other kids could have skipped all of their foster-care related trauma?

And in Solana's case, she probably could have been out of foster care a year ago.  Her Dad had been out of jail.  His "crime" was not against her. He was working his case plan and never missed a visit.  And yes, he was a young, new, single father and perhaps benefited from a gradual introduction to parenthood, she was not at risk of being harmed with him as her caretaker.  Sure she was with her siblings, and being with us helped her avoid a lot of foster care related trauma, but she still wasn't with her Dad as much as she should have or could have been.

And then we see the opposite where kids aren't taken into care when there is call after call. How can there be such inconsistency? I just can't wrap my head around it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She Never Cried

Sheila called to wish Sarah Happy Birthday and she shared a story with her that as a baby she never cried. Not when she was hungry, not when she was tired, never. She never cried.
A little later Sarah said to me:
"Mom, my Mom said I never cried. I don't really believe that. That can't be true can it? Don't all babies cry sometimes?"
Oh my sweet girl. The red flag went up for her too. As I listened to Sheila share this story fondly, I felt sad. That was a sign of her RAD. That was because she couldn't count on adults. That was because she cried and no one came so she learned not to cry.
"It doesn't sound right to you, does it?"
"No."
"I know your Mom shared that story because she thinks it's cute you never cried. It made me sad. You are right babies cry so adults take care of them. You know how you had a lot of different adults that were supposed to take care of you as a baby?"
"Yeah, like 10 foster parents."
"Well …

Minimum Parenting Standards - Monday's Post

I can't figure out Blogger's time zone and I may not have time to write Monday evening so here is Monday's post.

This week we are having another "team" meeting. This time to discuss the "minimum parenting standards" that the kid's Mom has to meet in order to be "good enough" to parent them.

Now I have all kids of issues with this entire exercise. The first being that these kids deserve better than the minimum. The second, that good enough isn't going to cut it with their issues. The hardest part though is being asked to write down a guide to being their parent FOR their parent. Putting my commitment to first reunify a family to the test. It is one thing to suggest ways in which she can be a better parent and to support the goal by not bad mouthing her and encouraging the kids to share their true feelings. It is an entirely different thing to sit down and write a guide for a woman who has yet to grasp the basics after two years.

It wa…

Reader Question: Did You change their names?

Yes we did. We actually started using their new names shortly after their good bye visit with Sheila last August. So the only name that really changed this week was their last name (kind of, one of them actually had our last name). We had started using them so we wouldn't have to try to do a name change mid-school year. Plus the kids had only been in the school the last 1/2 of the year so they didn't know everyone yet. The school was great about going with the new first names.
At some point Simon spontaneously asked his teacher if he could change his name tag on his desk to our last name. He was tired of waiting on the legal stuff. He started to write Simon Almost Last Name on his papers. So we asked all the kids and they asked for the same update. Their report cards and benchmarks still had their legal names. 
The name change was a bit cumbersome at first. We sounded like owls because someone would ask for a person by their birth name and we would all answer "Who?". W…

FAQs

I had some questions asked of me recently that I thought I would answer here:

1) How do you keep doing this after so much crap?
I actually had two different foster moms ask me this. One dealing with a false allegation and one in a kinship case with a pregnant, unstable bio mom.

I'm not sure I have an eloquent answer to this question. I think I've reached a point where I see the bigger picture - the kids.  That's not to say this stuff doesn't drive me nuts or make me emotional. I would be spitting fire if we had to deal with a false allegation. I'm really upset about the potential of having to make a decision about another baby. But if not me, who? We are good at this. There are kids that need me. And I probably need them. I am a caretaker by nature.  What would I be doing with myself if I didn't have 15 different obligations all at once? I have no idea because I've always been this way. And right now all of the current drama is related to my children. I s…

It is a process

It's a physical ache. A pain in the middle of my chest.  And it causes hot tears, the kind that sting my eyes.  It settled over me today and I couldn't shake it.

It started with news that more people in our lives are expecting and today, I just couldn't muster the happiness.  I heard complaints of not feeling well and my ability to plaster the smile on my face just vanished from my body. I left the house to "run an errand" but really I just needed an escape.

All week I've been able to communicate and tell people about Solana leaving without any trouble.  I probably sounded like a PSA for "How to be the role model foster parent".

People were asking:

So will you get to adopt the little one? Is she staying?

Well no, actually.  She is going home in a few weeks. That's the goal of foster care. We are really happy for her dad. He really gets it. We've built a relationship. I'm so glad she doesn't have to go through the pain of adoption or …