Foster Care – Kentucky

Court: Kentucky must pay relatives who take in foster kids, By Deborah Yetter, February 1, 2017, Courier-Journal: “A federal appeals court has ruled Kentucky must pay relatives who serve as foster parents in the same manner it pays adults who are licensed as foster parents and paid a daily rate.  Friday’s ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals could prove a budget blow to the state’s human services agency, already straining to care for a growing number of children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect…”

Child Welfare System – Milwaukee, WI

When family fails | A child’s stability, a parent’s rights, By Crocker Stephenson, September 19, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

  • How we reported this: “To help people gain a clearer understanding of how the child welfare system works in Milwaukee County, reporter Crocker Stephenson and photojournalist Kristyna Wentz-Graff received unprecedented access to two cases that reveal how the parties involved try to balance child safety with parents’ rights and the goal of a stable home life. The journalists spent more than eight months tracking three families – two mothers seeking to be reunified with their children and a foster couple hoping to adopt a child they have cared for since shortly after her birth…”
  • Struggle to reunite families can hurt children: “Brandy remembers that night, in early spring 2009, settling a $5 chunk of crack on the tip of her pipe. The pipe is a metal tube, blackened by frequent use on one end. The other end, which she places to her lips, is wrapped for protection with a torn matchbook cover and a piece of duct tape. She sits at her kitchen table in a public housing complex on the city’s north side. On the table is a black plate. On the plate are two more $5 pieces of crack. The black plate helps Brandy see them: nickel rocks, the size of peas. A fluorescent light hums above her head. Above the sink behind her is a plaster relief of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper.’ Brandy started smoking crack in her late teens. Thought she could control it. Thought it would keep her thin. Now she’s a heavyset 40-year-old addict, a pipe in her right hand, a lighter in her left. She is alone. Two sons – their father uninvolved – in foster care. Another son living with Brandy’s on-again, off-again boyfriend. A daughter living with another father’s relatives. Another daughter, yet another father, grown and with a child of her own…”
  • Lives tipped upside down: “Brandy’s vow in the spring of 2009 to regain custody of her two sons would require not only that she quit using drugs but that she also display an ability to keep the boys safe and provide for their well-being. Her most recent attempt at reunification had been a crashing failure. After nearly a year of sobriety, Brandy had been reunited with Tae and Shakiem in November 2006. At the time, Brandy was 39 years old and pregnant with her third son, who would be born in January 2007. In April 2007, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare caseworker Kelly Smith, believing the boys, after years of moving from foster home to foster home, had successfully found permanency with their mother, filed a request to end bureau services to the reunified family by the year’s end. ‘Brandy recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy and the new addition and transition has been successful,’ Smith noted in the boys’ court files. In truth, Brandy was barely holding on…”
  • Motherhood put to the test: “It is early spring 2010. In a few minutes, Tae and Shakiem will arrive for an extended unsupervised visit with their mother.  They will be with Brandy for a week. She says she is exhausted already. A drug addict for more than two decades, Brandy has been clean for about a year – since March 2009 – but lately, night after night, she says, she dreams she is using again. ‘Nightmares,’ she says. Brandy’s sons – Tae is 12 and Shakiem is 10 – are among the more than 2,000 Milwaukee County children who, because of abuse or neglect, have been removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care by the state-run Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. The brothers have been in and out of foster care for most of their lives and have moved from one home to another more than a dozen times. The bureau is moving Tae and Shakiem toward reunification with their mom. They’ve been reunified with their mother before. Twice. Both times, the reunification failed. ‘Insanity,’ Brandy says before the boys arrive, ‘is repeating the same thing and expecting different results. Here I am. Repeating.’ Not quite, though, she hopes…”