Win a copy of Straw Bale Building Details this week in the Straw Bale House forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
  • Pearl Sutton

Foster Kids  RSS feed

 
Posts: 27
Location: NW Michigan
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm at a loss as to where I should be posting this, as our reasons for wanting to take on foster kids in the future would have absolutely nothing to do with income, so feel free to move this as needed (maybe Critter Care)   Does anybody here have any experience with Foster Kids?  If so I would love to hear your stories.

My wife and I have talked about the possibility of opening our farm up in the future, but as a camp for kids. We've even considered taking in problem children (specifically boys) who are in the foster care system but are bouncing around from family to family.  I was in the Army with quite a number of kids who were quite the hoodlums growing up, but the military turned them around and they matured into responsible adults.  I think what a lot of these kids need are a structured and disciplined environment.  We've run a daycare in the past, when my wife was the stay at home parent, and later when I became the stay at home parent I took it over.  We love kids and they seem to love us, because we pay attention to them.

After rereading the above paragraph I can see how some people might infer that we mean to open up a mini boot camp for kids or that we might be harsh and strict, which is not the case.  By a structured and disciplined environment I mean getting up early every morning, having certain chores that need to be done and instilling a certain amount of personal responsibility.  My wife plays the violin and viola (both classical and Celtic fiddle) and teaches the kids music.  She is also well versed in American sign language, and the kids love to learn that as well.  In fact we've taught all our kids (inc. daycare kids) sign language before they can even speak.  A child that can communicate it's wants and needs before they have the words for it become a lot less fussy early on.
 
          
Posts: 32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That seems like such a great idea. It seems like the safety net for boys and men is less secure, and maybe giving young men a good start would keep them from becoming men who need a safety net later, or maybe causing some woman or children to need help. 

The order, routine and discipline of military life appeals to me so much, though the military doesn't appeal to me at all. Also the camaraderie and teamwork.

Something that sticks in my head is "freedom through discipline". A violin string could be free from the restraints that bind it and it is nothing, just a loose string, but it's through the restraints that it can be part of something beautiful and important. Teaching people about the idea of being who they want to be through self-discipline (and self-respect), instead of thinking of 'work' only as something keeping them from doing what they want to do (not 'work' presumably), would make a positive impact on many folks.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

A violin string could be free from the restraints that bind it and it is nothing, just a loose string, but it's through the restraints that it can be part of something beautiful and important.



Wow!  What a beautiful illustration of your point! 
 
          
Posts: 32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

marina phillips wrote:
Wow!  What a beautiful illustration of your point!   



I read it in a book! I can't take credit for it!

Phew, that was close.

It was a beautiful illustration, that's why I remember it so well.
 
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
103
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm just a layman when it comes to knowing anything about foster kids, but if you are able to provide a stable home and expose the kids to farming/permaculture/natural food growing/responsible stewarding of the earth, all I see is good coming from it.
 
                    
Posts: 0
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd second that, Ken. 
 
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
At the risk of coming off as a complete downer I feel I have to relay this to you.

I was at a forest gardening symposium/workshop that took place at a nearby farm. At one point during the tour we were told that their barn was burned to the ground by one of their foster kids.

I've got a positive story about troubled youth and gardening. He wasn't a foster kid but definetly came from a bad family environment...I spent the better part of a season working with him and other teenagers at a community garden. When he started he had no respect for the garden or me, and had no concept that peas came from a plant and not just a can. By the end he actually showed a desire to work in the garden, he stopped stepping all over the sheet mulch beds on purpose, and I watched his eyes light up when he ate his first pea off the vine.

I think your idea for a camp sounds great and I think you should go for it but if it were me I'd be very careful to ease kids into rural life and not push them too hard, lest they lash out.
 
Posts: 2603
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you obviously have a big heart and wonderful intentions and there are alot of kids out there who could really benefit from a program such as you want. but be careful in your expectations!

I have no experience with foster kids per se. but I my younger brother was adopted around the age of one. in the interest of you understanding what you truly are looking at accomplishing I want to explain a little. I don't want to be a stick in the mud but you need to understand that often the circumstances these kids come from and problems they have are not related to poor discipline or other normal childrearing problems. they are often chemical. children are not taken from homes lightly. they are often products of severe abuse that permantley alters their brain chemistry during crucial vulnerable times. they have a very high probablity of also being born from a womb that was frequently flooded with drugs which also permenantly chemically alters thier brains. the connections between actions and consequences are not neccesarily ever really made in some kids. as normal people it can be very difficult to understand that. love, consistency and discipline dont' fix these kids. ever. couple serious chemical/neuro logical problems with testostorone laden young boys and they can be very dangerous. make sure you take into account the safety and development of your own children. you will find some lovely stories of kids who have truly beaten the odds. the reason those stories are noteworthy and published is because they are so rare.

I remember my mother telling me once about my brother "we were so naive. we thought love could fix him"   

dont' get me wrong. love and hope can change a child and I don't want to discourage you from doing this. but take into consideration some of they ugly realities when planning. 
 
Michael Hansen
Posts: 27
Location: NW Michigan
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you guys very much for your responses.  All of this seems to echo my thoughts on the matter.  There are times that I feel we could really change some young people's lives, and there are other times I worry about the safety of my family.  If I lost a barn to fire, I could cope with that... It is just a thing, it can be replaced.  I just don't think I could ever deal with a member of my family being hurt. These thoughts usually lead me to the summer camp idea, or a family retreat type of thing.

We could start out with a couple bunk houses, and part of the learning experience could be building a small cottage every summer, then every year we would have room for more kids.  I would like for the kids to learn about many aspects of permaculture and self sufficiency.  From building a structure to canning and preserving.  Making butter, bread, pasta from scratch.  Lots of science as well, with different kinds of experiments.  How electricity works (like making flashlights from paper towel tubes) experimentation using different kinds of compost vs manure vs manure ash.  Even butchering an animal for the kids that are old enough.  I could go on for a long time. 


 
Posts: 124
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think if you were to put the kids into a strict work regiment the first day, they might get a terrible impression that would close them off to liking the idea of Permaculture. What if you were to take them on a hike or something the first day, just to ease them into the land?
 
master steward
Posts: 27453
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wonder ....  what if you had a standing policy where they could go back to the foster system on a moment's notice.  And the message could be:  maybe this place is for you, maybe it isn't.  Some boys have a rough go in the city, but then they come to a place like this and everything is then right as rain. 

On a totally different note ...  since this is in the "farm income" forum:  my impression is that a foster parent can take in over a thousand bucks a month.  And, I suppose. a teeny bopper can help out on the farm a bit.  Up-sides that could outweigh all that teen angst stuff?  Like having your barn burned down?

 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When you take in foster kids, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of bureaucratic intrusion. As a foster parent, you can't necessarily send them "back to the system" on a moment's notice--most foster kids know there's a procedure of some kind that has to happen first. If you give them farm work to do, CPS might consider it abuse. If you have a compost toilet, you might be considered an unfit parent. If those cottages aren't built to code, the kids can't live in them. You'll have caseworkers dropping in without notice to make sure the kids are fed, housed, and cared for the way the rules say they should be fed, housed, and cared for. There are a lot of good reasons for the foster child system to keep a close watch on who parents foster kids and how, but unfortunately that means anything a little bit out of the ordinary is suspect.
 
Michael Hansen
Posts: 27
Location: NW Michigan
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for all the advice guys.  If we decide to go this route, I'll make sure I have the kids out there 1st to make darn sure that they want to live without TV and video games.  I think any kid who decides that this life would be for them would work out just fine.  You can't help them all, but there are some out there that would excel in life if someone took the time to guide them.  As far as buildings go, everything I build will be permitted and up to code. 
 
                          
Posts: 211
Location: Northern California
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Some friends of mine, a lesbian couple, are going through the process of becoming registered as foster parents now. It's an involved process, and authorities have been coming in to their home and lives to evaluate their fitness, which is nerve-wracking for anyone--but they are very excited and it seems like it is very rewarding for them. I think they were recently approved and put on the registry, although it may be a year or more before they get a placement. I am wishing you the best, as I've been wishing them.
 
          
Posts: 16
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a foster parent.  There are a lot of regulations, undoubtedly they are somewhat different state to state.  For example, having kids in "bunkhouses" would never be accepted.  I'm sure outhouses would be frowned upon.

You have a say in which kids you take.  We (we live in Colorado) go through a private placement agency and they don't place kids that are violent, sexually active, on drugs etc. 

We have two beautiful brothers with us - a two-year-old and an infant.  There are definite obligations/responsibilities like doctor visits and parent visits that can be weekly or twice a week.

It is a great opportunity to influence children that have been in tough situations.  As has already been noted - there are great stories and there are "horror" stories.

Our goal is to adopt - that's why we are in it.
 
Posts: 236
Location: Seattle, WA
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My wife is an adoptions social worker in our states foster care system.  What you are proposing probably wouldn't fly with our states regulations.  You need to remember that foster kids are wards of the state and, because of that, the state has to be super careful of where kids are placed because the potential for lawsuits is extremely high.  They keep very strict regulations on living accommodations, educational opportunities, financial stability of the foster family, etc.  It is a vary hard balance to achieve between stable and safe environments and actually having enough beds for all the kids in the system.

All that being said, call your local state office (different states call these offices different things) and ask to talk to some one in the foster care licensing department. I wouldn't say anything about wanting to run a "camp", just say you are interested in becoming a foster care family and let them know you are willing work take in teens (they will love this!!!). They should be willing to talk to you about what sorts of issues kids might have and help you decide what level of child needs you and your family would be able to cope with given available resources.
 
Michael Hansen
Posts: 27
Location: NW Michigan
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks wood, the camp/bunkhouse idea was separate from the foster kid's idea.  It would be just that, a camp that kids could come to for a week or two.  Anyways, my wife and I just had an interview with Teaching Family Homes in Marquette, MI.  It went very well.  It was for a live-in position on their 40 acre campus.  We would have 6-8 foster kids and we think it would be a great way to start and from there build our farm.  If it's something we would like to continue, we would make sure we built a few extra rooms to accommodate some extra kids.  We'll find our next week!
 
                                  
Posts: 21
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
  Just a story.  My Dad's Dad walked out on my Grandmother and him when he was 3.  Being the late 1930's, women didn't necessarily work outside the home which made it impossible for my Grandma to care for him so he ended up in the Foster Care system and was placed with a Family on a farm.  He grew up tending the fields and caring for the animals until my Grandma remarried and he was returned to his new home which was a ....FARM!  My Dad was very fond of Esther and she visited often.  I knew her as my "Aunt" growing up, I didn't know all the details until much later.  One afternoon my Dad wanted us to "take a ride" with him so we all piled in the car and 4 hour drive later we were pulled over on a country road, and my Dad got out of the car and just stood at the side of the road for the longest time looking at this huge farm.  I asked why we were there and my Mother told me this was Esther's place, where Dad grew up.  The farm had been sold years earlier and Esther had passed away, Dad hadn't been back there in over 20 years, but it was still a very big part of who he was.  My Dad was a great man.  Honest hard working father of 6.  I don't know how he would have turned out if he had been placed in an orphanage or a city home.  Thank God for Esther.  Living the country life CAN make a difference.
 
We find this kind of rampant individuality very disturbing. But not this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!