Dear Alternative Family Services,  

         We are writing to you because we believe we can make an impact in the health services for Foster children.We have learned that Alternative Family services have been working since 1978. They are an organization that help kids find a home after a child has no family to go to or has gone through physical and mental abuse from their families. My name is Alondra Garcia and I was in your system for 7 years before I was adopted my experiences in Health Services when I was in the system was that I would get a checkup every 6 months I would have therapy based on the trauma I went through . Also if there was a medical emergency my social worker always notified my biological mom but didn’t ask me if I wanted to let her know or not. My partner and I believe that a change that should be made in this system is that it should be up to the foster child whether there biological parent should be with them or not during a medical emergency.

The requirement of a biological parent having to be present in medical emergencies needs to be changed. It’s possible that this policy was made with the intention to keep the kids close to their biological parents, but in reality some kids might not have a good relationship with them. As a result we think that it should be up to the child if they want their biological parent to be with them in a medical emergency or not. For example, a 14 year old  former foster child from the community of Oakland and Life Academy student says “I would feel uncomfortable if [my mom] knew my business since we aren’t close and we are in bad terms.I feel like other kids feel that way, and think that they shouldn’t be involved in anything” (Maciel). This quote proves that this policy needs to change because having a biological parent present can make the child feel really uncomfortable, and sometimes even make them feel unsafe. In the end the only people who benefit from this is the biological parent because they get a chance to see their kid but it doesn’t really benefit the kid if they aren’t on good terms. As a result the child is being institutionally oppressed by your agency for making the biological parent be there when the kid might not want them there. In an article titled “The Impact of Continued Contact with Biological Parents upon the Mental Health of Children in Foster Care”  the author talked about how foster kids should have contact with their biological parents but they also talked about how it can have a negative impact on the child and here they wrote, “For example, Neil, Beek, and Schofield (2003) observed that at least one-third of children in foster care seemed to be experiencing stress associated with contact with their biological parents. Farmer and Pollock (1998) found that 56% of adolescents in foster care felt that either some or most of their contacts with their parents were unhelpful to them”( Lenore M. McWey, Ph.D., Alan Acock, Ph.D., and  Breanne Porter, M.A.). This evidence shows how your policy needs to be changed because it says that 56% of the kids don’t feel that the visits are helpful. This means that there isn’t a change in their relationship and sometimes some relationships can’t be fixed and we feel that kids in the foster system should not be pressured into seeing their biological parents because it cause them to be stressed which isn’t good for their health, it can change their mood, and even start to affect their grades in school.

One of the many tactics of social change that was used to bring awareness about having biological parents present during a medical emergency but we made research on this problem and we did not find anything based on this topic. One way propaganda was used was by having commercials about giving donations to Foster Care systems. Some other examples of how people used propaganda was they used movies and tv shows to inform people about foster kids (The Fosters,Instant Family,The passage,ect.). Another way they showed a tactic of social change  was community Organizing. They showed Community organizing by fundraising for the Foster care system.We made some research about the fundraising and the first organizations we found about this topic is called “Walk me Home” they do about 100 walks in 6 months to fundraise. Another Fundraising Organization that caught our eye was called “Together We Rise” this organization makes makes a few things to fundraise for Foster Children for example a few things they do to fundraise is something called sweet cases there duffle that include blankets, Teddy Bears, hygiene kit, ect. Another thing this organization does for Foster kids is make bikes and skateboards for the children and also they make birthday boxes for foster kids birthdays (“Together We Rise.” ).

My partner and I plan on raising awareness about this issue by making a lesson plan for advisories in middle and high school in the school that we currently attend. By doing this we hope to have given the other students knowledge about this issue. Another action we plan on doing to raise awareness about this is to show a movie (Instant Family) at school that will give the students more information about the foster care system and while doing this we will be selling snacks and by doing that we’ll be raising money to donate to a non-profit organization “Together We Rise”. Our second to last action that we will be doing is making a presentation about this issue and presenting it to a middle school advisory to help spread awareness about this topic. Our final action that my partner and I plan on doing is to go to Fruitvale and make small infographics with information about this issue and sell goodie bags around fruitvale, at our school, at soccer games, and to family members. By doing all of these things we hope to have spread awareness about this topic and raise money to donate all at the same time by using many Tactics of Social change. For example we use education and community organizing. Some support and supplies we need is for teachers to be willing to let us share all of this information during their advisory time and use their space to do it and the supplies we need to make this possible is drinks and snacks. We are pretty confident in our plan because we think that it raises awareness and still raises money.

“Together We Rise.” Together We Rise, Together We Rise, www.togetherwerise.org/.

This website talks about a non-profit organization called “Together We Rise” and gives more explicit information about what this non-profit organization is and does. Some of this background info given includes facts about the number of volunteers for this non-profit organization and the number of kids in the foster care system that are impacted. This organization also helps reunite siblings at disneyland with the help of people who donate money to this cause. This source is credible because its a non-profit organization which means that they aren’t trying to sell anyone anything they’re just trying to raise awareness.

“Walk me Home” Helen D. Stone, (MSW)  https://nfpaonline.org/wm

This article explains how they want to provide foster families with opportunities for advocacy, networking, and education.Walk me home is a nationwide fundraising event for foster care.

McWey, Lenore M, et al. “The Impact of Continued Contact with Biological Parents upon the Mental Health of Children in Foster Care.” Children and Youth Services Review, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2928481/.

This article explains how contact with the biological parent is good for the child but it also how it can be bad for the child. Some background information that this website includes is that it has evidence on how it can have a negative impact on the child with statistics to back up te evidence. This source is credible because it was written by people who study this and have phd.

Garcia-Maciel, Alondra Marisol. “Foster Care Health Interview.”

In this interview I asked her about her experiences in the foster system when going to the doctor for check ups or medical emergencies. She is a credible source because she went through this and she knows what happens in the foster care system.

“Helping Foster Children Since 1978.” Alternative Family Services, 1978, www.afs4kids.org/.

This website talks about ways how foster kids were put in the system. it also gives out information about how to become a foster parent and how to donates to the children in foster care.This website is credible because it gives enough information

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Creating a Change in Foster Care Health by Ariana is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

3 Comments
  1. Julissa 5 months ago

    Dear Ariana and Alondra,
    I am very intrigued and interested in your post “Creating a Change in Foster Care Health”. This topic is not really touched upon or even brought up in any case at all. And I love that you guys have brought it out into the light. We never notice or I thin even pay attention how much children suffer from being in alternative family services at times. I also enjoyed how you were able to tie in your experience and view on being in alternative family services since you did go through process. There are question and doubts that do arise in me after reading this. “The requirement of a biological parent having to be present in medical emergencies needs to be changed. It’s possible that this policy was made with the intention to keep the kids close to their biological parents, but in reality some kids might not have a good relationship with them.” This quote specifically bring attentions and your reasoning of why there needs to be permission of having your biological parents there. One thing to consider or look at is answer the question: why are they notifying my biological parents and will it be beneficial in the end? You have to look at both sides. Yes, it could be traumatizing and scary for the child, but one could never actually know what is going on through a parent’s mind. Another thing I was going to bring up is how you use the word propaganda constantly in your research. Usually, propaganda is usually used in the knowledge that t is used to persuade or create a bias for people to believe. Is the “propaganda” used in this used to create a bias or is it to help bring awareness to the situation?
    Overall, I think you guys did a great job. I really like how you guys looked into this topic further and tried to collect as much information as possible. Keep up the great work!

  2. David Jablonsky 5 months ago

    Ariana and Alondra,

    Alondra, thank you for sharing your story and connecting it to your activism. It’s clear that the work that you and Ariana are doing is coming from a personal place. It’s always important, however, to balance your opinions with researched evidence, and you do just that. Like Clarissa, I found your argument that forced engagement with biological parents can adversely affect children to be particularly compelling. I really like how the set of tactics you plan to put into action are very diverse, which will hopefully allow you to reach many different people.

    I’m left with a couple questions:
    1. You use the term “propaganda” in the third paragraph. It may be the history teacher in me overthinking things, but are you intending to use this word that suggests extreme bias to persuade public opinion? Or are you more commenting on media used to attract people’s attention? I wanted to be clear on you point, because it sounds like you’re wanting to reform some of the policies of Alternative Family Services and not opposing the foster care system in general.
    2. Are there local or state laws that regulate whether AFS or other foster care programs must reach out to biological parents in the case of an emergency? Is this a common practice in other programs across the state or even nationally? I certainly understand why you selected AFS as your audience. Perhaps next steps could involve broadening your focus to attacking this problem across other institutions and targeting lawmakers if necessary.
    These were just some wonderings I had, but I wish you a lot of luck in rolling out your action plan.

  3. Clarissa 5 months ago

    Dear Ariana and Alondra,

    I am intrigued by your post, “Creating a Change in Foster Care Health,” because it’s a topic not many talk about. It’s kind of like in the shadows and more people need to be aware of this issue. The fact that you mentioned your own point of view is an important aspect that ties with the rest of the research. It’d be good to know how other children felt about Alternative Family services. Perhaps a focus group to see if other children felt the same way and an insight of what the program can do better to stay true to it’s mission. One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is, “The child is being institutionally oppressed by your agency for making the biological parent be there when the kid might no want them there.” A child shouldn’t be forced in cases like this. They should be allowed to speak up to express their concerns. The agency needs to respect the individual’s decision. No one should have to feel uncomfortable in a place that is meant to be a safe zone. All in all, I’m glad that you guys are raising awareness of this issue and that you will find ways to fundraise for the organization “Together We Rise.” If we all gave some of our time we’d be spreading the word and contributing towards a great cause. We as a community can be the change but it starts with one step a time. Keep up the good work!

    Sincerely,

    Clarissa G.
    SJSU

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