When CPS takes a child away from their parent’s home because of suspected abuse or neglect and places them in a foster home, a whole chain of events is kicked off. First, the agency has to find a licensed foster home (hopefully nearby) that has room for that kid. Once the child is established in that home, a court hearing is held where the CPS worker will explain to the judge why they removed the child, and what they’re recommending next.
In serious cases, where they believe the child was badly harmed and the parents cannot be trusted to care for them properly at any point in the future, they will push for terminating parental rights. But in an ideal situation, the goal will be reunification. This often involves the child’s parents attending court-ordered substance abuse or anger management classes in order to prove to the court that they have addressed their issues, and will be better parents in future.
Reunification relies heavily on the birth parent’s participation
Parents who want their kids back will be required to jump through a series of CPS-endorsed hoops which can take many months to complete. The more cooperative they are in the process (even if the requirements seem – and sometimes are – ridiculous or unnecessary). Going to all of the court-ordered therapy sessions, attending every mandatory class, participating in whatever services CPS provides – they all serve to speed up the reunification process.
But as it turns out, there’s another factor that can help with reunification as well, and that’s a positive working relationship between the birth and foster parents. According to a recent article in the Chronicle of Social Change, the relationship established between the two sets of parents in the child’s life can have a big impact on how quickly that child is returned to their family. But establishing a positive relationship in this case takes some considerable effort on both sides.
Birth and foster parents working together helps kids get home faster
The article provides insights from both foster parents and birth parents whose kids have ended up in the system, on how to work together for the good of the child. But as they point out, CPS does very little to provide the two sets of parents opportunities to communicate and establish a good working relationship. In most cases, there is little to no communication, or the birth and foster parents are required to figure it out on their own, which can be very challenging.
However one agency in New York has just launched a pilot program to address the co-parenting problem faced by birth and foster families during the time a child is away from their family. Join us next time to see what the pilot program hopes to achieve, and what different birth and foster families say would make a big difference in addressing their co-parenting and communication issues in the future. And if CPS tries to take your child away, call 866 766 5245 immediately to protect your Michigan family from being torn apart!