Saturday, April 26, 2008

We don't want "your kind" around here

Photograph by Mike Tobias, Port Arthur News



A group of Texas residents appear to be enforcing their own form of segregation, by protesting an all-male group home for elementary-age foster children.

The only "crime" that these children have committed is being abandoned and/or abused by their parents.

They are no more or less likely to cause problems than any other child.

My only concerns are about the all-male staff, and the fact that there will only be two staff members. The staff-child ratio needs to be revisited. Will the children be educated on-site, or (hopefully) attend the local elementary school?

I believe that former foster children should have a voice in the design of group home facilities.

I personally would advocate for both male and female staff members, both male and female residents (with separate sleeping quarters) and definitely more staff members than just two people.

I would also propose creative measure such as:

1. Church members being paired as "mentors" for each child in the group home
, after being carefully screened to make sure these adults are safe. A child could spend time in their homes on Sunday afternoons.

2. Proactive community education: In all fairness, after reading through the comments, it does seem that there was a communications breakdown between the church and the community.

When establishing a group home, it is in the best interest of everyone involved - especially the children who undoubtedly feel rejected and stigmatized by these picket signs - to have open and honest communication.

If I were creating a group home, I would present the model at local schools and community meetings. I would strive to answer questions ahead of time, and to keep my answers consistent, regarding:

- How many children would be housed in the facility
- The ages and lack of criminal background
- The qualifications of staff
- The availability of counseling and support

Reading further into the comment section, it appears that community meetings were held and that they did address all of the above questions.

Which makes me wonder why that information was not included in the article, which only quoted sound-bytes from a man who was supposedly an "expert" on group homes... but as it turns out, his only expertise is in juvenile correctional facilities.

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Comments:
How horrible!!!!
 
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