Foster care reform is a huge deal for me.
At the moment I am writing this email, I'm now 29 years old. I spent nine years growing up in Washington state’s foster care system. I can say that I seen a lot of kids abused, hurt and traumatized by those who were tasked to protect them all too much and too often. I have seen the system hurt far more children than it helps.
The first issue I want to bring up and address is seeing if laws can be changed to end "for-profit group homes." There are several of these homes in the Spokane area of the state (Break Through Inc., Service Alternatives, etc.). While I do agree that the children need to be housed somewhere, I feel that it is completely and utterly evil that people are getting rich off the trauma and misfortunes of abused children.
The state of Washington should have never allowed this to become a profitable business. These kids are people with feelings, dreams, emotions, etc. They shouldn't be looked at as dollar signs by the state, the owners of these group homes or anyone for that matter.
Secondly, back when I was in foster care, it wasn't uncommon for a child to be moved several hundred miles across the state away from their family or anything they know. Now these kids aren't just being moved across the state but across the country.
There are kids from Washington state being housed in Iowa, Tennessee, Montana, etc. The only thing I can compare this to in history is when Native Americans were uprooted, murdered and forced to reservations far from the areas they knew.
I would like to see all of Washington state’s foster children be housed and returned home to Washington. Not across the country. If you haven't already, read up on the Indian Child Welfare Act. It was created to prevent these very things from happening. Help bring these kids back home to our state.
Lastly, I feel there is a legislative solution to stopping child abuse at the hands of group homes, foster homes and things like that. I would like to see the state of Washington pass something creating a group of inspectors that can do random 24/7 unannounced visits to these homes to ensure kids aren't being abused and the homes are acting in the best interest of the kids in their care. Nonstop oversight to do random inspections, I feel, would help address the problem.
The foster care system will always be there to raise current and future generations of children.
We must use whatever resources and funding are available to continue improving it for future generations of kids.
It takes a village to raise a kid. Let's improve our village.
Bo D. Rupert