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Aw Shucks or Shock and Awe?



Hallowell Maine: By Mark Katz
Remember Rodney Dangerfield? No respect! Reminds me of the tax-paying, voting, hard-working Mainers who open their hearts and homes to “State Kids.” Did anyone notice when DHHS-OCFS Licensing recently reduced the annual training requirements for Treatment Foster Parents? Being part of the professional team is now more clearly understood to mean being the bat boy; how much training do they need? The lack of respect accorded providers was further emphasized by our exclusion from any planning discussions prior to the commissioner shipping these draconian recommendations off to the governor.

Now, theoretically and in their PR the agencies represent themselves as advocates for the foster homes with whom they sub-contract as well as for the children these homes serve. It is remarkable how readily this partnership begins to split when the purse-strings are pulled. Even our current contentious crop of candidates does not hold a candle to the expertise within the bureaucracy at unraveling erstwhile alliances. When push comes to shove, the expectation appears to be for an “each man for himself” mentality in which each stick snaps individually once the strength of the bundle is lost.

Agencies realize that private-practice therapists will continue to serve children as MaineCare providers. Major habilitation resources have already been absorbed by the department in the form of “rec funds.” Most treatment foster parents are already competent case managers. Neither the Child Welfare Training Institute nor the State Employees Training Unit have yet announced a discontinuation of trainings for foster parents. Team meetings can be held at home and in DHHS offices. Arranging respite accommodations … oh, I almost forgot. The only crucial element remaining and the one that can not be replaced is the foster home.

Of course, I hope that my agency survives. But just in case, save some blank forms; you can reproduce them on your home computer. Buy a hundred-dollar, all-in-one printer/copier/scanner/fax and you will have all the right stuff. Then, if you are wise you may wish to follow the example set last year by Maine’s child-care providers; call MSEA or the SEIU and ask them to add your name to the growing ranks of Treatment Foster Care providers who are ready to organize and enter negotiations as a united front with bargaining power. You should also learn more about the State Ombudsman for Children at the Maine Children’s Alliance and about your local legislators. You may need help protecting the kids as the proverbial snow hits the blower.

Alternatively, we might collectively sigh, “Aw shucks” and just leave the State’s business to the State.

Editor: Mark Katz is rapidly becoming the voice of the Foster Adoptive parents of Maine.

He doesn’t use poor me language, he doesn’t ask for handouts. He points out that we have promised to help and love these children and now we are dumping them because their care has become a luxury.

January 30th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | Foster Children, Uncategorized | 4 comments


  1. I take in medically needed infants, it sure costs the state a lot less to pay the present room and board rate compared to him being in the hospital. He spent most of the 6 months of his life at MMC and not once in the the past 20 months. I just don’t understand the thinking of the goverment. The one on one attachment is not there for a child in the hospital no matter how much the nurses try. The children in foster care and adoptive children have no say in what the state does to them and they need to be protected and LOVED.

    Comment by Miriam Miller | January 31, 2008

  2. Wake Up and Smell the Sewage

    Hear there was a little problem at DHHS Central Office in Augusta this week. Apparently, the sewage backed up on Wednesday making the building unfit for the evening forum with Directors Beogher and Despard.

    I know just where to look when this happens at home. Generally, one of the kids has filed Notes from School along with incriminating evidence in a toilet. Or, a roll of paper, several broken toys, and the orange they were given for snack last week have been flushed (just to see if they can get Dad to grumble.)

    Not that our teens call me Dad; sounds more like “dumb f__k,” usually. They get the “consistent”, “unconditional”, and “regard” parts right; it’s the “positive” that they seem to have difficulty mastering.

    Commissioner Harvey wrote today that she is getting, “more than 2,100 client visits to DHHS each day.” Although I can empathize, I don’t envy her when their sewage backs-up; it must take her a couple thousand times as much effort to clean up. And I know that they are not calling her “Dad” either.

    Anyhow, the meeting with D.D. and J.B. was moved down the street; see the upcoming notes entitled, “Breaking News and Broken Promises” at UnionMaine.

    Comment by Mark | January 31, 2008


    The Appropriations Committee and Joint Standing Committee for Health and Human Services announces:

    A continuation of the Feb. 1 hearing has been scheduled for 1:00 P.M. on Friday, February 8 in Room 228 at the Statehouse to allow for additional public testimony.

    I have recorded today’s testimony. It was eloquent and convincing – just regular foster parents speaking from the heart and with insight and intelligence. If you have not testified already, please add your voice next week. I think that we may actually STOP the CUTS.

    Comment by All Foster & Adoptive Parents | February 1, 2008

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