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24 January 2018

A division on foster care in Olympia

Whose voice should count most in legal decisions about the future of kids removed from their homes because of suspected abuse or neglect?Various factions of grown-ups — birth parents whose children have been removed by Child Protective Services, relatives who take many of those children into their homes, and licensed foster parents — all want their say. All insist they have children’s best interest at heart. The problem is, they sometimes disagree about who is best suited to care for those children.Those power struggles among well-meaning adults are coming to a head in Olympia as an energized cadre of foster parents pushes for new rights and recognition.Feeling disrespected and disregarded by the state, many foster parents in recent years have simply dropped out. The resulting shortage of foster homes has left the state scrambling to house the children in its care, warehousing hundreds of them in hotels and even state offices.In a first-of-its-kind rally, more than 100 foster and adoptive parents — many with kids in tow — gathered on the steps of the Capitol earlier this month to ask lawmakers to give more weight to the strong bonds they develop with the youth in their care.

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