Foster Care successfully helping kids

Published 9:25 am Thursday, October 15, 2015

Being a part of a community is something  many foster children don’t have.

Think about your neighbors, your church, your home – even your own room. Many of these children don’t know these experiences.

That is changing, thanks to the work of the foster care staff at the Davie Department of Social Services. Three months ago, there were 80 children in foster care here. Now, that number is 65. Most are there because of neglect or abuse, and efforts to keep them with biological family have failed.

“Just think about all of the connections you have to the community, the relationships you have,” Tracie Murphy, social services director, told county commissioners earlier this month.

“These children usually have to walk away from those items that bind them to a community.” That puts them at a higher risk for failing in school, going into crime and becoming homeless and depressed as a child and adult, she said.

Davie foster care specialist Alisha Uribe is leading the effort to help these children. She even took six of them on a trip to Arizona last summer, giving them experiences they can carry throughout their lives.

“We taught them how to fly, to take a bus, a train,” she said. “The biggest goal is to promote independence. We allowed them to budget their expenses.”

If they made bad decisions with their money early on, they suffered later.

“It was a really good experience for all of them – very positive,” she said.

One young woman, who had been in foster care most of her younger life, talked about the experience – and how finding the right place changed her life for the better.

“I’d never had any friends,” she said. “It’s very hard to find someone who truly understands. Life hurts – and it hurts a lot. What’s bad is someone treating you so bad that you want to commit suicide.”

She credits social workers for sending her in the right direction.

“I’ve learned to grow relationships with people. I know how to help others. I’ve had a long journey – good and bad,” she said.

The young woman has advice for other children who feel they’re unwanted, or in a desperate situation. “Reach for the stars and don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t feel right.”

Social services workers are using a state program to try to have more positive outcomes for foster care children. Among the desired outcomes: sufficient income to meet daily needs; a safe and stable place to live; sufficiant academic or vocational training in keeping with the youth’s goals, interests and abilities; connections to emotional support from adults outside of the child welfare system; avoidance of high-risk behaviors; postponement of parenthood until emotionally and financially capable of parenting; and access to routine mental, dental and health care.