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The Foster Care System & The Deaf Community:  

 

Kaila Redmond
May 4, 2008

 

THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM & THE DEAF COMMUNITY

 

Foster care youth are the lost voices of society but what adds to their misery, their feelings of hurt and abandonment by family, their world of silence; is the fact that they truly have been thrown in the dark by society who has been appointed to take care of and to protect them. Unfortunately, the problems of the deaf foster care youth have not been addressed by legislation or applied by the agencies that have been empowered to implement them. The misconception is that they are being addressed because of the Americans with Disabilities Act have been implemented when dealing with children with more visible disabilities that are physical and/or emotional that can be addressed by medication, physical therapy, and does not involve almost everyone that the foster youth comes in contact with like being deaf requires everyone to know ASL or have an interpreter present to effective communicate with others.

There are many injustices that deaf foster youth, as well as their parents who may be a part of the deaf culture, have to deal with on a daily basis. Although many are not publicized, some have been brought to the forefront, which are causing many public agencies to re-evaluate the care they are providing for the deaf foster care youth. One, such case one a civil rights victory in October 2002, when a deaf mother Lee Larson of Wyoming Michigan had her children 2 boys Kyron and Christian, removed from her care and placed in a foster care home and the children were said to be behind there classmates, where most children had cochlear implants, so ASL was not a mode of communication even though this is what was used in there home. The school as well as the foster care agency felt the boy should have the implants to effectively communicate with the hearing world. The agency felt they had a right to petition the court although the mother had not lost her parental rights of her boys, although she was at great risk because of missed appointments with counseling and visitation, which the mother attributed to the lack of interpreter assistance for her to be able to communicate with officers of the court and others involved in her case (Newsflash, 2002) . Another case that shows the atrocities to the deaf community is a case in Milwaukee, when absolutely no court appointed interpreters were provided for a deaf couple that were in jeopardy of loosing there children (Zahn, 2007). Everyone, no matter what language they speak is entitled to a fair trail, which shall include and is not limited to an interpreter to ensure they understand any and all legal proceedings.

These court proceedings show just how much the deaf community is kept in the dark and silenced because someone has not taken stand for the foster youth, let alone the deaf community in the foster care system. Although, the system as a whole is not taking a proactive role, but some agencies and communities are listening. There have been a several new group homes that have begun making a difference in the deaf community. They are making these youths the priority in giving them a chance at life. The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) have set the ball rolling on understanding and implementing the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by inacting a state statuette the Connecticut Public Act 97-272 which specifically addresses the deaf and hearing-impaired children (Impact, 2006). Not only is Connecticut paying attention but Tampa Bay, Florida and Chula Vista, CA. Tampa Bay has erected “The Group Home at Tampa Bay Academy” that offers an intensive residential program for up to 12 residents that unable to return home. It offers consistency and staff members that can share in the experience of being in the deaf community (The Deaf Program, 2008). The foster care home in Chula Vista, CA is a much smaller scale but it is providing some of the same resources as the group home in Tampa Bay. The foster care home has 4 residents and the home has been totally renovated for its deaf residents, like flashing lights for the doorbell, flashing lights and video for the phone, beds that vibrate for the alarm; these are just some of the renovations that allow these teens to lead a normal life in their world (Gustafson, 2007).

Foster care youth are the lost voices of society but what adds to their misery, their feelings of hurt and abandonment by family, their world of silence; is the fact that they truly have been thrown in the dark by society who has been appointed to take care of and to protect them. Unfortunately, the problems of the deaf foster care youth have not been addressed by legislation or applied by the agencies that have been empowered to implement them. The misconception is that they are being addressed because of the Americans with Disabilities Act have been implemented when dealing with children with more visible disabilities that are physical and/or emotional that can be addressed by medication, physical therapy, and does not involve almost everyone that the foster youth comes in contact with like being deaf requires everyone to know ASL or have an interpreter present to effective communicate with others.

There are many injustices that deaf foster youth, as well as their parents who may be a part of the deaf culture, have to deal with on a daily basis. Although many are not publicized, some have been brought to the forefront, which are causing many public agencies to re-evaluate the care they are providing for the deaf foster care youth. One, such case one a civil rights victory in October 2002, when a deaf mother Lee Larson of Wyoming Michigan had her children 2 boys Kyron and Christian, removed from her care and placed in a foster care home and the children were said to be behind there classmates, where most children had cochlear implants, so ASL was not a mode of communication even though this is what was used in there home. The school as well as the foster care agency felt the boy should have the implants to effectively communicate with the hearing world. The agency felt they had a right to petition the court although the mother had not lost her parental rights of her boys, although she was at great risk because of missed appointments with counseling and visitation, which the mother attributed to the lack of interpreter assistance for her to be able to communicate with officers of the court and others involved in her case (Newsflash, 2002) . Another case that shows the atrocities to the deaf community is a case in Milwaukee, when absolutely no court appointed interpreters were provided for a deaf couple that were in jeopardy of loosing there children (JS Online, 2007). Everyone, no matter what language they speak is entitled to a fair trail, which shall include and is not limited to an interpreter to ensure they understand any and all legal proceedings.

These court proceedings show just how much the deaf community is kept in the dark and silenced because someone has not taken stand for the foster youth, let alone the deaf community in the foster care system. Although, the system as a whole is not taking a proactive role, but some agencies and communities are listening. There have been a several new group homes that have begun making a difference in the deaf community. They are making these youths the priority in giving them a chance at life. The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) have set the ball rolling on understanding and implementing the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by enacting a state statuette the Connecticut Public Act 97-272, which specifically addresses the deaf and hearing-impaired children (Impact, 2006). Not only is Connecticut paying attention but Tampa Bay, Florida and Chula Vista, CA. Tampa Bay has erected “The Group Home at Tampa Bay Academy” that offers an intensive residential program for up to 12 residents that unable to return home. It offers consistency and staff members that can share in the experience of being in the deaf community (The Deaf Program, 2008). The foster care home in Chula Vista, CA is a much smaller scale but it is providing some of the same resources as the group home in Tampa Bay. The foster care home has 4 residents and the home has been totally renovated for its deaf residents, like flashing lights for the doorbell, flashing lights and video for the phone, beds that vibrate for the alarm; these are just some of the renovations that allow these teens to lead a normal life in their world (Gustafson, 2007).

The foster care system and the deaf community are intertwined at a unique intersection, it is time that some one pays attention to the situation, to ensure the silenced youth are not left behind. Although some have paid attention it is time for these examples to be headed by the rest of society as a whole!



REFERENCES

Newsflash. (2002) The Grand Rapids Case, retrieved:  ??? http://www.cochlearwar.com/newsflash/003a.html
 

????    http://www.deafprogram.com/group_homes.asp

Zahn, Mary. (2007, Dec 4). Court Leaves Deaf Parents in the Dark. JS Online:
News: Milwakee: Retreived 3 May 2008:

Rivera, William and Wixted, Diane. (2006). Supporting Deaf and Hard of
Hearing Children and Parents in Connecticut. Impact: Retrieved 3 May 2008:
http://ici.umn.edu/products/impact/191/prof10.html

Gustafson, Craig. (2007, Dec. 24) Permanent Housing is First of its Kind in Area.
Union-Tribune: Retrieved 3 May 2008:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20071224-99999-1m24deaf.html
 


 


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