In the course of a child welfare case there are several adults who become involved in a child’s life, either directly or indirectly. There are foster parents, case managers, usually a therapist (or 2 or 3), an attorney, judge, at least. Ideally all of these people have the child’s best interest in mind. Ideally.
One of the things I saw on my internship that bothered me the most was how often some of these adults could start to think about their best interest instead of the child’s best interest. On more than one occasion we made the incredibly difficult decision to move children out of one foster home so that they could be placed with a sibling. None of these decisions were made quickly or lightly and the effect it would have on everyone involved was considered. We looked at these situations from everyone’s angle, but ultimately we had to think about the best interest of the child.
You would think that the foster parents would know the most integral part of their “job” is to protect the child’s best interest, but I think many get too attached and lose sight of what their role in this child’s life is. And then when we make the decision to move a child, we are yelled at and bullied in an attempt to make us change the decision. Excuse me, I thought we were all adults here?
Child welfare professionals have to make difficult decisions all the time. Some must be made quickly and in the moment. Other times we have the luxury of being thorough. But we always, always have the child’s best interest in mind–that’s what professionalism requires.