Earlier this week there was a tragedy in the Iowa foster care system.  A seventeen year old foster boy is charged with killing his five year old foster brother.  It is a tragedy....horribly sad.

The news is filled with articles about the foster family and the older child.  Questions about their ability to supervise, questions about whether those boys should have been placed together.  Questions about the "anger issues" the teen had.

While I don't know the details of this case I have A LOT to say about it, because I understand how the system works and I understand "anger issues".

First of all...the foster parents.  GIVE THEM A BREAK.  This teen was in their home for three years.  THEY ARE GRIEVING.  I suspect they loved this boy and they were doing everything in their power to help him.  Here's why I think don't have behaviorally challenged foster kids in your home "for the money".  No amount of money covers what you are required to manage on a daily basis.  The story said he was in many placements.  That tells me others have tried and it was too much.  They have hung in there for this kiddo for three years.  They deserve to be able to grieve in peace and not be accused.

Why were these boys in the same home?  Because the five year old was also behaviorally challenged.  There are NO WHERE NEAR enough foster homes period.  Behaviorally challenged....a handful.  Unfortunately these homes could be overflowing with kiddos.  The five year old had also had multiple placements.  These people were willing to take him on.  I am sure others were approached, but knew they didn't have the skills to handle it.

"Anger issues"...that phrase literally gives me "anger issues".  I would challenge you to find ANY TEEN in foster care for three years or more and find a file that doesn't say "anger issues".  You would be angry, too, if you had moved from home to home without explanation and had no indication you would either be going home or have any other sort of permanency.  You have no control.  You have had tons of trauma in your life and you are a survivalist.  You should be able to be a you are ANGRY.

I wonder what the boy was getting in terms of therapeutic help.  I know how it goes.  He's a foster kid.  He isn't getting "the best" therapists out there...he is getting what his insurance will pay for.  He might need multiple kinds of therapy, but he can't get it, because there has been too much fraud in the system. 

What other services was he getting?  If he was LUCKY maybe some, but probably not. 

He is in jail.  His foster parents are no longer connected to him that means the only person he will see is his caseworker.  That means he will have someone visit once a month and have NO ONE to call.  The foster parents might be able to petition for visits, but they may not be granted.

So again...this boy is on his own.  Surviving. 

Do I think what he did is right?  Absolutely not, but this kiddo is likely not evil.  He is a victim of someone elses original behavior and he didn't have the skills to manage his situation.  Few of us do even as adults.

My heart goes out to everyone in this case.  The family of the five year old.  The seventeen year old.  The foster parents.

Something, my friends, has to be done to help these kids.  They are all worth saving.
1 Response
  1. Anne Kimball Says:

    There's GOT to be a better way!

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