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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Foster care reform bill introduced

A Legislative panel introduced a measure Thursday that would implement major reforms in the Idaho foster care program in response to complaints lodged against the program last week. Republican Rep. Christy Perry, of Nampa, says the new legislation would allow judges to oversee adoptions, while implementing a timeframe for relatives to apply...

House bill would require second opinion for foster children prescriptions

OLYMPIA – Washington’s foster care system forces too many children to take mind-altering drugs, mental health experts told state legislators Friday. They supported a bill that would require foster homes to get a second opinion before giving children certain drugs. Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi, the bill covers any drug used to treat depression, psychotic or manic conditions, anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Foster parents decry flu vaccine requirement

A new Washington law is forcing foster care providers to make a choice: get a flu shot or stop caring for children younger than 2 years old. At least 50 foster parents in Eastern Washington already have told the state Department of Social and Health Services they would rather relinquish their licenses to care for infants and toddlers than be vaccinated for flu.

Fixing Foster Care: Fostering stability

As Diana Stegner lay in a hospital bed, alone, homeless and suicidal, she acknowledged her newborn son would be better off with someone else. Within hours Michelle Trotz cradled baby William as she welcomed him into her home. Trotz and her husband, David, first became foster parents four years ago. They wanted to help babies who needed them. Their home is among more than 500 across Spokane County licensed to care for children taken from their parents. Communities need foster homes because “we live in a broken society,” said Linda Rogers, a former foster care recruiter who got the Trotzes involved.    Foster parents are the backbone — some say heroes — of a system tasked with the toughest of jobs: caring for the children of broken homes. “There are never enough,” Rogers said. “You are asking people to completely change their lives.” The future of a foster child like William begins in the hands of many: social workers, attorneys, judges and advocates. And after the legal work is done, they are swept into the homes of people willing to fix dinners, help with homework, read bedtime stories and provide solace from nightmares – real or imagined. Foster care can be a child’s one constant during an often lengthy court process that leads to one of three destinations: reunification with the child’s birth parents, adoption, or freedom from state or parental oversight. Now there are new efforts to keep children with their families while state officials attempt to address mild neglect and abuse stemming from poverty and drug addiction.

Advocates want what’s best for children in foster care

When the state took baby William away from his mother 2 ½ years ago, it set in motion a legal process that includes a team of professionals dedicated to the child’s well-being and giving him the best chance to succeed in life. The baby had already been embraced by foster parents Michelle and David Trotz; within three days, a judge heard why he needed to stay in foster care rather than be returned to his biological mother, Diana Stegner.

Fixing foster care: ‘Where do I belong?’

Alkala Michener’s green eyes pool with tears as she recalls the night she lost her family: She was 7 years old, dressed in a Cinderella pink nightie, her lace-rimmed socks soaked and muddied as she ran away with her big brothers.    A social worker found the children wet and desperate to find their dad, running along a stretch of a north Spokane highway. The siblings were split up. Alkala went to a Newman Lake foster home and wouldn’t see her brothers again until they knocked on her door eight years later.    “For years, I had the impression (my family) didn’t want me,” she said.    Her story is all too common in Spokane County, where children are pulled from their families at three times the rate of those in King County. There are 985 children in Spokane foster homes, the highest number in five years. And hundreds more children are caught in bureaucratic limbo – separated from family as overwhelmed caseworkers open new files faster than they can close older cases.    Now evidence is mounting that taking children from the home, even for their own protection, may not always be what’s best. What awaits too many of them is a future marred by drugs, crime and homelessness – the vestiges of abandonment.     “Where do I belong?” Michener asks today. “That’s something I’ve looked for my whole life.”

Charges dropped in Post Falls foster child death

COEUR D’ALENE — Kootenai County prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with a Post Falls couple that had been charged with abusing two foster children, including one who died.

Kids of marijuana activists put in foster care

BOISE — Three medical marijuana advocates from southwest Idaho say their children were placed into state foster care after law enforcement searched their home and found marijuana.

Adoption evangelists

Tim and Summer Gilstrap always wanted to have a family. But when, after a long and costly effort, they found they couldn’t conceive, they initially had different responses.

Senator backs paying foster parents more

BOISE – Conservative North Idaho Sen. Steve Vick has only been on the Legislature’s joint committee for a week, but on Monday he said he saw a budget request that he views as more justified than others: a slight increase to Idaho’s low-ranking foster care reimbursements. Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, said he once looked into becoming a foster parent himself.

Idaho looks at boosting low pay for foster care

Conservative North Idaho Sen. Steve Vick has only been on the Legislature’s joint committee for a week, but on Monday, he said he saw a budget request that he views as more justified than others: Slightly raising Idaho’s low-ranking foster care reimbursements.

Abuse within foster families systemic, hurts

Second of two parts. In July 1996, two 9-year-old twin sisters and their 7-year-old brother were removed from the abusive home of their biological mother and placed in foster care.

Fundraiser aims to help foster children

CASA Partners will launch its annual fundraising campaign with a screening of the documentary “Nicky’s Family.” The movie will be shown at 6 p.m. Monday at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave. Proceeds will help the organization enrich the lives of neglected and abused children in the foster care system throughout Spokane County.

Foster care licensing agent arrested

A state social services employee who licenses foster care homes was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child pornography possession. Darrell J. Rogers, 51, is in the Spokane County Jail without bail after appearing in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon. FBI agents arrested him at his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail area in north Spokane, where he lives with his wife, Kim Rogers, 49.