Tuesday, May 29, 2012

SHOULD FOSTER CAREGIVERS BE CALLED 'PARENTS'?


Subsequent to yesterday’s blog statement I found a Master of Social Work thesis written by Serena Kullar in which on page 24 using her research she supports the notion I presented yesterday. I said that the term ‘foster parents’ is confusing, not to adults but rather to the children. Caregivers for children who are removed from their biological family are generally of acceptable character and respectable intention and performance. Nonetheless, a child with a mom and or a dad, is abruptly expected by virtue of title to accept one or two strangers as parent. Whether the biological parent-child relationship has been satisfactory or deplorable, to identify someone else as mom or dad is a problematic expectation. It can break a child's heart or reinforce a horror. In a wholesome family like Derek's, the longer this foster relationship is sustained the more cavernous the distance between the biological parent and his child. In a case like Ayn’s this is an injustice for which the government will never be called to account.”

Serena Kullar has written, “When children are brought into care, the caregivers are referred to as foster “mothers” and foster “fathers” by the children and this results in birth mothers being stripped of their mothering role (Greaves et al., 2001). Instead, the authors suggest that foster carers should be referred to as aunts or uncles because this still allows children to acknowledge them in a close way, but more importantly, allows the mother to keep her title (Greaves et al., 2001). In the United Kingdom, the term foster parent is foreign, and the terms foster carer or caregiver are used to maintain connection to biological parents.”

Although in her paper entitled, "THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF SUBTANCE USING WOMEN IN BC’S CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM," the subject of Ms. Kullar’s paper is women in B.C. and particularly aboriginal women, prompting her to write that this nomenclature, ‘foster parent’, “symbolizes the devaluation of mothering by women of colour,” I contend that the terminology devalues biological mothering and fathering. A foster care-giver is not synonymous with mom and dad. My position on this I grant you is coloured by cases with which I am focused, namely those in which the parent or parents are able and responsible and in which the best interests of the children would be met by their return to their true mom's and dad’s care.    
 
Ms. Kullar is a senior member of the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society
745 Clark Dr
Vancouver,  BC V5L 3J3
Canada

2 comments:

  1. OH DEAR,OH DEAR, OH DEAR. What a typical approach, so lacking in depth and experience. A good job she qualified that she is only talking about kids who are clearly in temporary care. Do not get hung up about defining what children should call their care givers. Do not lay this on anyone else.
    Let us look at how a well-trained ethical, sensitive and intelligent social worker handles this. When a child is in temporary care and the plan is clearly to return the children, the social worker should regard the parents, the foster parents and the social worker as a team, all working together for the welfare of the children. All members of the team should have their input respected. One of the priorities will be to encourage contact and mutual respect between parents and caregivers. Visiting will be encouraged and maintained. Where the plan is temporary, visiting should usually be unsupervised and the parent can pick up and drop off children at the foster home. I never used supervision in such cases. One of the things that should be discussed is what the children would like to call the foster parents. This should be agreed by Mum foster home and the children where old enough.
    Also important, give the parents every help in getting back the children. You may have to beat the social assistance staff on the head to do it.
    When it is clear that you are dealing with parents who are totally unfit to be parents and long term care is inevitable, you want permanence as soon as possible and you do differently. Another reason to final court as quickly as possible.

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