Foster Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Foster Care

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Three St. Louis siblings recently had their adoption finalized, even in the midst of a pandemic. The children, ages 7, 6 and 5, were adopted by an Oregon family, with the final hearing taking place by phone due to COVID-19 restrictions on in-person court hearings. 

St. Louis-based foster care recruiter Edna Green, who works for the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition in Brentwood and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, played matchmaker for the Oregon family and the three youngsters. She described the process on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air

Their siblings’ newly adoptive mother, Celeste Scott, also joined the program from Oregon. 

The Annie Malone Children and Family Center's administrative facility was built in 1922 to house orphans. Anne Malone donated $10,000 for its construction.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

As foster care administrators in the region try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus within their agencies, they are preparing for what could be an extremely trying time for children in their care.

Annie Malone Children and Family Services provides intensive care for children with extreme behavioral issues, so the enforcement of social distancing and school closures will significantly impact the foster children they serve.

December 19, 2019 Kris Dadant, Dr. Katie Plax, John Amman
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

An estimated 30% of Missouri youth in foster care or group homes are on psychotropic drugs of some sort — nearly twice the national average for kids that age. Many are on multiple drugs. And powerful anti-psychotic drugs have been used to treat conditions like ADHD and conduct disorders, even though the Federal Drug Administration hasn’t approved them for that use.

Two years ago, a class action lawsuit aimed to change the way Missouri foster kids are medicated. Filed by the St. Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics in conjunction with nonprofit children’s advocacy groups and the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm, the suit charged that anti-psychotic medications were being overprescribed, wrongly used and badly monitored. 

Thousands of kids in Missouri's foster care system are likely to benefit from a first-of-its-kind legal settlement under which state officials have agreed to strict limits on how and when kids can be given psychotropic drugs.

The settlement resolves a class action lawsuit charging that Missouri foster care officials failed to safeguard the conditions under which the powerful medications are dispensed. U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey gave preliminary approval to the agreement on Monday. 

Ryan Dowis (at left) and Melanie Scheetz joined Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air” to discuss current challenges facing the region’s most vulnerable youth and those who care for them.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in two decades, a growing number of children in St. Louis and Missouri are in foster care, and the opioid epidemic is a driving factor.

“[The number of children in foster care] had really been declining for many years, and especially in the St. Louis region but all across Missouri we saw fewer and fewer children in the system,” Melanie Scheetz, executive director of the St. Louis-based Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air. “Obviously that’s our goal – not to have children in the foster-care system. But unfortunately, when we have parents with substance-abuse issues, especially opioids, we see more kids coming into care.”

Eric and Sheena Greitens hold their sons, Joshua and Jacob, while speaking to reporters after casting their ballots the St. Louis Public Library in the Central West End. 2016
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Since Missouri voters elected Eric Greitens governor, his wife, Sheena Greitens, has been working on behalf of a group that doesn’t usually get much attention from high profile advocates: the 13,000 children in the custody of the Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division.

The children include those placed with relatives, adoptive families, residential care and foster care.

Melanie Barrier was adopted at age 10 by a Columbia, Missouri ,couple, after living in 20 different foster homes.
Carolina Hidalgo| St. Louis Public Radio

Melanie Barrier went into the Florida foster care system as a newborn. She lived in 20 foster homes before she was adopted at age 10.

Stability existed in only one realm: music. As a child traveling from family to family, Barrier took along her beloved songs of the 1970s.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs the Foster Care Bill of Rights into law. (June 22, 2017)
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday signed into law a bill designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system.

 

At the heart of the measure is the Foster Care Bill of Rights, which begins by stating the “best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division” of the Department of Social Services.

Kids sitting on the floor in a classroom
Phil Roeder | Flickr

Two national child advocacy organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Social Services, alleging that children in the state’s foster care system are over-prescribed psychotropic medications with little oversight.

“They’re prescribed off-label, to control behaviors,” said Bill Grimm, an attorney for the National Center for Youth Law, which filed the lawsuit on Monday. “While many other states have instituted some sort of oversight … Missouri has very little to none of those safeguards in place.”

The suit seeks class action status. State officials declined comment, citing pending litigation.

(via flickr/jimbowen0306)

Children leaving the foster care system after their 18th birthday would be able to return to state custody under a bill passed by the Missouri Senate.
 
Current law allows children to remain in the foster care system until they are 21, but prevents re-entry if they leave after turning 18.
 
The measure sponsored by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus of Kansas City would allow those who leave the system to re-enter until they turn 21.
 
 Justus says it allows children to come back home if they have a hard time in the "real world."
 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 30, 2012 - Josephine Oliver's timing couldn't have been better. She was part of the housekeeping crew at Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis County and hoped to get promoted to nurse attendant.

On her way to speak to the head nurse about the job opening, Oliver heard a baby crying and saw the head nurse and others crowding around, trying to pacify the child.

Catholic Charities withdraws civil unions lawsuit

Nov 14, 2011
(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Catholic Charities says it's withdrawing from a legal battle over Illinois' civil unions law and no longer is providing state-funded services.

The move ends the group's long history in Illinois of providing foster care and adoptions.

Diocese officials in Joliet, Springfield and Belleville say Monday's decision was reached with reluctance. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria withdrew last month.

Hearing on hold in dispute over Catholic adoptions

Sep 9, 2011
(via Flickr/steakpinball)

Catholic Charities is delaying its plan to ask a judge to reconsider or stay his ruling that Illinois officials may cut off the nonprofit's state contracts for adoptions and foster care placements.

A hearing had been scheduled Friday in Springfield on Catholic Charities' quest to have a Sangamon County judge rethink or hold off enforcing his recent ruling that favored the state.

Catholic Charities to appeal foster-care ruling

Aug 29, 2011
(via Flickr/steakpinball)

An attorney for Catholic Charities says the not-for-profit agency will appeal a judge's ruling that the state of Illinois can stop working with the group on adoptions and foster-care placements.

Ill. judge rules against Catholics on foster care

Aug 18, 2011
(via Flickr/steakpinball)

A central Illinois judge has ruled that Catholic Charities does not have a right to state contracts for adoptions and foster care placements and Illinois officials may cut them off.

The state Department of Children and Family Services ended $30 million in contracts with Catholic Charities in July because the not-for-profit won't work with unmarried couples in placing children in adoptive and foster homes. Illinois authorities say that violates the state's civil union law.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 17, 2010 - In St. Louis, 913 children who lack a permanent place to call home depend on the city's foster care system. Of those roughly 900 children, 815, or 89 percent, are African American.

The metropolitan area has a total of 1,800 children in foster care, and 1,400 of these children are African American.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In St. Louis, 913 children who lack a permanent place to call home depend on the city's foster care system. Of those roughly 900 children, 815, or 89 percent, are African American.

The metropolitan area has a total of 1,800 children in foster care, and 1,400 of these children are African American.