Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loosen Ties on Foster Kids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loosen Ties on Foster Kids

Article excerpt

Foster children have suffered enough. Their lives are typified by abuse, neglect and a sense of loss.

But in the interest of keeping them safe, the state of Florida has gone too far, depriving foster children of the ability to go to the beach, attend a sleepover or even go to a school recital.

Learning to drive a car, going to the prom or camping out can become huge problems for a foster child.

Before a teen in foster care can do these routine things, there may have to be staff meetings and background checks.

All of this is a reaction to times when Florida had an unreliable foster parent system. The safety of the youths was paramount, of course.

But in recent years as improvements have been made, it is time to make a change advocated by both the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Guardian ad Litem program.

Both are assigned to protect the state's children.

Both have seen the state of Florida make great strides in reforming the foster care system, both in keeping children with their families and improving the quality of foster parents.

Alan Abramowitz, executive director of the statewide Guardian ad Litem program, offered these typical cases:

A VIOLIN RECITAL

A child was selected to be a part of a violin recital at her school.

The group home where the child lived had received the permission slip but could not sign it.

The reason? The child's name and picture might be published on the school's website, newspaper or yearbook.

The group home staff could not sign the permission slip without calling the case manager and getting permission because of the publication issue.

If the case manager didn't approve it in time, the child would lose her spot in the recital.

BAND CAMP, BOATS

One young adult was not allowed to be on the high school band's travel team because he would need to have a background check on everyone he might encounter on a trip. …

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