Sunday, May 6, 2007

Why Won't Anyone Please Think of the Children?

No, seriously. What the hell is wrong with child welfare these days? I'll tell you one thing, even people who have been working on taking in foster children for a year, cannot do it. The rules are insanely over the top restrictive, so when we get back we'll be talking to our case worker and formally giving up on that. What do we mean? lets give some examples of things we did or did not meet from the recent KDHE inspection:
  • All knives have to be locked up, or six feet off the ground -- Despite alison being too short to reach them, we did this. No problem. The guy also suggested tossing them all in a rubbermaid container and putting them on top of the fridge. Yes, just banging around, being dull. That's not us, at all.
  • All chemicals, drugs, etc. have to be locked, or six feet off the ground -- By all, we mean toothpaste and deodorant, not just bleach. Everything. Well, Alison redid the house, and everything that could apply is high up in a closet or the medicine cabinet. Good job!
  • Cover outlets, etc -- Yeah, yeah. A snap.
  • Post emergency numbers by each phone -- Kind of stupid, especially since it has to be done, and that includes stuff like the child's doctor and social worker, but we have no child yet, so they are blank. Purely a formality.
  • Post an emergency evacuation plan -- Anywhere. No reason for it, as it was fine that we posted it on the back side of a door that's locked so children cannot get thru it. But its posted. Have you figured out yet this is letter of the law and nothing else?
  • Have a first aid kit in every car -- Lots of rules like that, but this is fun, because it lists the items to go in it. And its just not that good a FAK at that point. But, we did it. Thanks Allan for all the free stuff for the kit.
  • Lock up other dangerous stuff -- We have a basement full of car stuff, fuel for garden tools, sharp garden tools and chemicals, a shop full of big woodworking machines, etc. And, a pile of guns. No problem. We put them all in the basement, lock the basement door (its got a deadbolt) and there's now a gunsafe. Easy. Well, remember this for later.
  • All common areas must be child safe - Meaning the above rules about chemicals and knives. Sure? No, as it turns out. The basement provides access to the car, so its a "common area." And it has to be a tornado shelter. So, we are repeatedly asked if we can just put all that stuff six feet up. Or, just, I guess, stop all our hobbies and sell everything to make the house sterile. Its not clear how we could comply with this. Nothing the inspector or our case worker has offered is viable in any way.
  • Every staircase has to have full railings, top to bottom, and a gate at each end -- Yes, a child gate, top and bottom. It seemed like we had done this just fine, but no, the railing doesn't go all the way down on our interior stairs. If you want to argue its indeed unsafe, then two problems: 1)Its not. This meets strict building codes as it is, and no one has been able to quote me any written rule other than "its scary," and 2)This house, in this configuration, was previously certified for foster care! So, the rules get stricter all the time or ... are totally arbitrary. Don't get me started on the back deck staircase. Its off the charts unfixable to them. I'd have to rip up the deck and start over.
  • Railings have to have gaps no larger than 3" across -- Three inches. Really. So, take the lattice work railings I just spent two years installing on the deck and I guess replace them. Or cover with chicken wire. Or something. Again, not even clear how I would comply with this rule.
That's enough. There are dozens of other rules, but its getting boring talking about them. The part that really galls me is that they just now did the inspection. We've been doing classes and getting (painful) TB skin tests and filling out forms, and getting a background check by the KBI, and having our friends have to talk to the case workers and so on for a year now. Some of this, several times, as they frequently loose the paperwork. Even if I was going to do all they wanted, there is construction required; couldn't they have arranged it up front so I could get a head start on that? The whole process is like this. So jargon-laden, and full of internal process its almost unbelievable. Not until I was done with the ten-week (!) class did I /begin/ to understand the process and our place in it. No wonder half the class drops every time! So, we're done with that, but still looking at adoption. If state adoption doesn't work out within, say, a year, we'll be saving up for private (probably overseas) adoption instead. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Jeannie said...

Hey guys,

I think over seas adoption is a awsome idea. I know a girl from church who adoped a baby from china and baby and herself are doing well. That is a great idea.