NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
I was anxious to read the Letter to the Transcript March 7, 2013, entitled “Homeless children can now get proper care”. I, too, applaud April Doshier for serving homeless children and for reminding our thriving community that not all among us are so fortunate, and especially certain children and youth who are at risk of needed security, education, and basic elements for well being through no fault of their own.
Sadly, that is where the fairy tale described by Mr. Bachrach begins. Indeed, DHS is trained and poised to take ‘remedial action’, when that level of intervention is required. Indeed, Norman police, the DA’s office, and our judges are exceptional in caring for dependent youth. However, it is not that simple.
Data throughout the child welfare field demonstrates over and over again, that even when children are removed from abusive or neglectful biological homes, they are traumatized by separation from their families and caretakers, regardless of how detrimental their prior living circumstances might have been. Years after foster care the vast majority of youth age out of the state system and return to their original families and/or relatives, most who continue to live with the same conditions for which state involvement occurred in the first place. These incidents of trauma are never erased. They can be ameliorated through loving foster homes, teachers, counselors, churches and community members, but the trauma exists and is a part of that child’s experience.
As a community, there is much more to do than urge “Ms. Doshier to fully cooperate with DHS”, pat our officials on the back, and sleep soundly still believing in ‘Santa’ and imagining that all our kids have homes and caring families (foster or biological). We must create a system-of-care in and among Norman neighborhoods, where we support struggling parents with our time, care, attention, and perhaps our financial resources to help them recover from their traumas and failures: poverty, joblessness, homelessness, drug or alcohol dependence, mental health needs, further education…. Instead of taking over their children, except in circumstances when the child is clearly in immediate danger. We can support these families to be better parents, better citizens and better believers in their own possibilities.
The second thing we must do for those youth who are immediate danger is to offer our homes as foster homes to any such child needing the guidance of a caring adult. These children come in all ages and developmental stages … and with former traumatic experiences that often leave them angry, depressed and mistrustful. Many act out those hurts on others who want to care and who try to offer a safe environment. Will Norman step up and provide 357 foster homes if indeed that many homeless children are in danger today? Will we accept them with their tears, fears and acting out? Will you open your home to one or two of these youth, Mr. Bachrach? I know for a fact that DHS is desperately needing foster homes in Cleveland County all year around!
I thank you for bringing this to our attention: The Transcript, Ms. Doshier, and Mr. Bachrach. Yet this serious issue is not solved with simple commentary.
It will take action and sacrifice throughout our community. Our children and our wonderful Norman deserve no less.