Friday, December 22, 2006

Confidentiality in this case is to protect the state, not the child

Foster-care case should have remained out of public eye
Bassoni, Ann M. and Kelley Maguire. Lexington Herald-Leader, Oct. 16, 2006, pg. A8.

At issue: Sept. 27 Herald-Leader article by Valarie Honeycutt Spears, "Devoted to Dae'Kuavion; Julia Johnson recently adopted two foster sons, but she can't get a nephew out of foster care"

Laws of confidentiality regarding children in the care of the Department for Community Based Services serve to protect the identity of the child and parent at a most vulnerable time.

Unfortunately, the paternal relatives of Dae'Kuavion Perry appear to have put his well-being aside to have their needs advertised to the general public.

What is most unfortunate is that confidentiality laws and ethics prevent department professionals and the boy's foster parent from refuting any misconceptions and accusations of unethical conduct by state workers leveled by those interviewed for the article.

It is irresponsible and appalling that the placement of Dae'Kuavion's picture on the front page of the paper labels him a foster child and gives the public a one-sided account of his life. - THERE IS NO SHAME FOR DAE'KUAVION. HE IS LOVED BY MANY PEOPLE.

To establish some stability and permanency in the lives of children in state care, permanancy goals are reviewed when children remain in state care for 15 of 22 consecutive months.

As human-service professionals, we believe in the ability of individuals to make positive change in their lives, but this should not come at the expense of a child's chance for stability with an adoptive family.

There is a system in place that strives to follow the letter of the law, balancing the rights of a child and the rights of a parent, in determining placement of a child. Family placements are denied for a variety of reasons, and when this happens, the system turns to those who are willing to offer long- and short-term care to a complete stranger.

To disrupt a long-term placement at this point in Dae'Kuavion's life so that relatives can care for him "temporarily" while his father makes changes does not make sense.

To do so would seem to further the needs of relatives who were unavailable from the start of this child's journey and discounts the commitment of a foster parent who evidently made a place in her family for a child with severe health problems.

It also seems to discount the bond between Dae'Kuavion and his foster mother, the only one he has known. As a society and as individuals we must consider the needs of children, especially at the early stages of life.

This is not meant to negate what appears to be a family that cares about children and their spiritual and educational well being.

Dae'Kuavion's relatives appear to have opened their lives to children who are not their own for perhaps the same reasons the foster mother has. Where were these relatives during those first months of the child's life, and why did they not step forward when he was removed from his ailing mother's care? - UM, BECAUSE THE CABINET REPORTEDLY DID NOT ALLOW THEM TO DO SO?

It seems that these groups of caring individuals could come together outside the public eye to best meet the child's needs.

-Ann M. Bassoni, a licensed clinical social worker, and Kelley Maguire work for a community mental health agency in Lexington


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