When Steffanie’s foster father demanded a kiss, she pushed him away, she said. But as a 15-year-old living in his home, she said she couldn’t fend him off for long, and a week later he began to rape her daily. She said she complained to her caseworker about the home in the past, and afterward her foster mother “berated her,” forced her to clean the bathroom with pure bleach, and told her she wasn’t allowed to talk to the caseworker alone. “He always said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ I would say, ‘Fine,’ and he would never go deeper, or say, ‘Let me investigate more. How is school? How is home?’” Steffanie said of her caseworker. “He would visit and I would think, please just say, ‘Come talk with me. Just make me talk to you.’ If somebody would have asked me, and told me that they cared about my well-being, I would have spoken up.” Steffanie said her caseworker never picked up on how depressed she was. “Maybe he wasn’t trained well,” she told Children’s Rights. “If he would have noticed that I was completely shut down, I would have never been abused in so many ways.” (Notes from the Field, 2014)
Steffanie, is only one of the 415,129 U.S. foster children who depend on caseworkers to maintain their safety in the system (AFCARS Report #22, 2015). Provided these workers are reliant on government agencies for the support necessary to protect the hundreds of thousands of kids they are responsible for, their needs are not always prioritized. Therefore, caseworkers should not be liable since [some] foster care systems often start them off with little training, fail to provide them the resources they need, and burden them with the toil of insurmountable caseloads and labor...
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...5 has brought overhauls, reforms or policy changes aimed at improving child welfare agencies. On paper, things look better: Since 2005, CPS has hired more than 3,100 employees, reaching 8,234 in 2013. Its staff budget has nearly doubled, from $241 million to $469 million, over that time. Overall turnover for staffers is down from 29.3 percent to 25.5 percent. But the numbers mask still-troubling trends.” (Ball & Dexheimer, 2015) Most social workers are good people doing their best in a system that constrains them. At least 25 states do not meet the federal standard for keeping kids safe while in their care. Spread awareness on social media, sign petitions demanding reforms that will help children move into safe, stable families faster, become a foster care reform advocate; Whichever path you choose – act now and give these children the protection they deserve today.
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