"They...stomp on everything you've tried to accomplish"

"They...stomp on everything you've tried to accomplish"

CREATED Mar 1, 2013

Reporter: Craig Smith

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona Child Protective Services never seems to have enough foster parents.

So you'd think the agency would create a welcoming atmosphere for them, right?
Wrong---says one foster parent who's so fed up, she asked us to tell you her story.

Too many troubled families.

Too few foster parents.
That equation sometimes leaves CPS so short that on occasion kids have had to sleep in offices in a pinch.
Now one foster parent tells us, the way CPS treats their foster parents foster home shortages should be no surprise.
"Lynn" says she thought being a foster parent was the right thing to do.

"It's a lot to decide to make that decision.  You've got day care.  You've got added children onto yours.  Upsizing the car, space in your home, taking on children with behaviors and dealing with CPS and you make this decision and they get there and just totally stomp on everything you've worked hard to accomplish."
Now, she thinks speaking up will bring CPS down on her so she asked us not to show her face or use her real name.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "Are there things that happen to foster parents that make them not want to be involved?

"Lynn": Yes, absolutely.  They put us under investigations that end up being unsubstantiated.  They come and inspect out homes with no warning or reason to be there.  They do not return phone calls when we're having emergency situations.  They do not return e-mails.  There are supervisors who are supposed to be held accountable who do not return phone calls or e-mails."

Craig Smith said, "You can easily anticipate CPS saying, well, we have to be hyper cautious in the name of protecting children.  What do you say to that argument?

"Lynn": "Absolutely, and I understand that, but a lot of times, it's just extra work and they're not following through if they were reading e-mails and answering phone calls they would know the process leading up to the situation that they're being cautious about."
Lynn says poor communication and disorganization aggravates the case loads CPS complains about, and makes the foster care crunch even worse.

"Lynn" says: "The investigation shuts down people's beds for weeks and weeks at a time for the paperwork to go through.  Now we have open beds that can't have children placed in them.  People are shutting down beds and not continuing to provide foster care because it's so detrimental to our home lives that we're not able to provide care for these children without having it be a problem for our families."

CPS has been celebrating a recent jump in parents volunteering to be foster parents.  Lynn predicts about 40 percent of them will at least cut back the number of kids they're willing to house.
We asked CPS about Lynn's concerns.  An agency spokeswoman sent an e-mail saying CPS values what foster families do for kids, but for safety must have routine home inspections and check out any claims of misconduct.