Child & Family Services’ foster care program is serving about 100 children and youth at any given time.
What happens when a child is placed into foster care?
A whole team springs into action. From Child Protective Services (law enforcement), to the State of Michigan, to private agencies like Child & Family Services and our foster parent partners, a group of professionals begin to remove any risks to the child’s safety, and to bring healing and love to an abused or neglected child.
The child moves into a foster home that has been specifically chosen for that child, begins a relationship with his caseworkers, who often become like surrogate parents, learns new coping and communications skills with his counselors, and enjoys a great deal of community support through grant programs that provide art, recreation, vocational skills, and a host of other opportunities to heal and grow.
Despite the care and support of a team of professionals, a child removed from her home and family experiences a new trauma. The home she knows, no matter how terrible the circumstances there may be, is still preferable in her mind to something that is unknown. Child & Family Services works hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. We do our best to assure that a child stays within her own community, close to family members and friends when appropriate, to provide a good foster home match, and to give her the supportive services she needs to overcome the circumstances that brought her into foster care.
The Daley Children
The three Daley children, ranging in age from 10 to 14, came into foster care after substance abuse and addiction resulted in very poor supervision issues. The case was brought to the attention of law enforcement after a report indicated the children were involved in their parents' substance abuse. During this incident, the ten-year-old child was sexually abused. The children were removed from their family home and parental rights were terminated, clearing the children for adoption.
The oldest child, 14, is receiving treatment in Charlevoix at Recovery High, which provides substance abuse treatment in conjunction with foster care. When this young lady entered care, she had a dark demeanor, wore dark clothing, and was by all accounts depressed. This changed dramatically just a few moths after her removal. During a recent supervised visit with her siblings, she was very upbeat and seemed transformed in terms of her appearance and her persona. Their foster family is intent on adopting all three children. The transformation in all three children was described as remarkable.
Beth is a teenager who's mother has significant mental health issues. Beth was left locked up in an abandoned home with virtually no contact with the outside world and no bathroom facilities, for a couple of months at a time. Her mother would deliver food to her, but there was no interaction. After 3 months of this abusive treatment, she escaped and ran to neighbors.
Beth was saved by law enforcement and she was placed in foster care at CFS. She went to live with her foster mom who runs a family farm. It was a perfect match. Beth and her new foster mom quickly developed a close relationship; she calls her “grandma.”
This young lady overcame a lot of obstacles and is still healing from the trauma she experienced at her own mother's hand. She graduated from high school, is attending NMC, and working part-time. On the weekends she goes “home” to visit Grandma. Beth has made great strides and is proving to be a very bright girl who has made a miraculous recovery.
Joey, Zoe, and Crystal
Joey is 11 years old. He has two little sisters, Zoe, 8, and Crystal, 6. The three children lived in a home with no running water, very little food, occasional electricity, and were chronically abused in addition to the neglect of their mother, who was addicted to crystal methamphetamine. The mother was so enamored with the drug that it was the inspiration for her youngest daughter’s name.
The mother has shown little interest in working towards any of the goals in her reunification plan or in having her children returned to her, so it appears termination of her parental rights is likely coming. For the time being, Joey lives in foster care while playing the little adult, looking after his sisters and acting far more grown up than he should at his age.
Joey’s social worker at Child & Family Services has looked for ways to engage him in his own healing, a challenge because of the level of his trauma and his quiet demeanor.
A respite program at CFS offered children in foster care the chance to visit the Walloon Lake Equestrian Center, where the children would learn about the care and grooming of horses and get riding instruction. Joey leaped at the opportunity, the most animated he had been since coming into foster care, and he was the star pupil of the day. CFS staff watched him interact with a gentle horse and he seemed to literally come alive, talking to the animal, brushing his coat and mane. A real bonding took place.
Since then, we have learned more about the therapeutic possibilities of joining children who have experienced trauma to animals who need care. In Joey’s case, his experience led him to riding lessons, paid for by generous contributions from our community, and he anticipates a job working with horses in the future. It seems we have helped him find his calling!
*Some details of the stories have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photos displayed are representations and are not of the children in the stories.