James Ducats, child -- case plan: Family Reunification
James' behavior has been deteriorating since he was removed from his mother. Initially after removal he was quiet and reserved. Now he regularly throws tantrums and refuses to listen to his foster parents. He will openly oppose whatever his foster parents ask him to do. James' attitude has gotten to the point were his current foster parents have asked for his removal. Personal interviews with the previous foster family and the current foster family confirm the personal observation that James' behavioral and emotional states get worse after each parental visit. Dr. Melrondur (James' therapist) attributes this to James' fear that he will never be returned to his mother. The doctor believes that James' tantrums and disobedience are efforts to make people put him back with his mother.
Mr. Woodbury (James' teacher) states that James is reserved in class. He does well in his coursework, but does not get involved with any other children during recess or during group activities. I asked James why he does not get involved and his response was, "Why make friends when I'm leaving here soon?"
I have been present during two parental visits by Ms. Walden and one with Mr. Ducats. James brightens up when his mom arrives. He always asks her when they get to go home together. Ms. Walden also seems very happy to see her children. They interact well and the children seem very happy to spend time with their mother. James does not interact much with his father, spending most of his time talking to his mom. James and Mr. Ducats will play catch with a football together.
During my visits with James he does not seem to understand why he was taken from home. He misses his mom and his friends and wants to return home. James appears indifferent about his father and was not concerned about only seeing him once during his removal.
Karen Ducats, child -- case plan: Family Reunification
Karen told this volunteer she was frightened by her removal from home. She does not understand why she does not get to see her mom every day. As a result she spends as much time as she can with her brother. When they are apart she is restless and appears tense. Once James arrives home from school, Karen is by his side. As James' behavior has deteriorated so has Karen's. She uses her brother as a role model and copies his poor behavior. When James gets upset with things, Karen picks up on this and has started throwing tantrums.
During the parental visits Karen sits in her mother's lap. When they play a game Karen insists on being next to her mother and reaches out to touch her frequently. When the visits end Karen cries as her mother leaves. Karen has no contact with Mr. Ducats and does not even seem to notice he is in the room. Her focus is totally on her mother.
Karen prefers to be with her brother during my visits. I have met with her several times though before James returns from school. In my one-on-one visits with Karen she is shy and reserved. She misses her mother and really wants to go home. She draws family pictures and items from her home. She talks about how much she liked playing with certain toys and being put in bed by her mother. Mr. Ducats is noticeably absent from her drawings.
Carl Ducats, infant -- case plan: Family Reunification
Carl has been doing well in his current placement. Since there were no relatives to take Carl he has remained at the first foster home that took him in on the night he was removed. Elaine and John (foster parents) report that Carl is eating fine and is a well-behaved infant. Carl makes eye contact, faces, and smiles when someone holds him. He is not irritable and is easily soothed when upset.
Carl's mother has supervised visits with him each week. She holds him in her arms, talks to him, caresses him, and he giggles, coos, and laughs when she speaks to him.
Lisa Walden, birth mother
Ms. Walden resides in a one-bedroom apartment. She works a full-time job to earn money to raise her children. On the night her children had been removed Lisa was finishing an out-of-town weekend job for Mr. Smithe. Lisa is a model employee who Mr. Smithe says he would have a difficult time replacing.
Lisa has attended all ten of the parenting classes that had been arranged for her. She told her case manager that she has learned Donald really cannot be responsible enough to watch after the children. Prior to the children's removal, Lisa had arranged with a friend to care for the children while Lisa was at work. Donald had agreed to watch the children on the weekend of May 7th. He did not show up. Donald and Lisa do not live together.
The visits between Lisa and her three children have been very emotional. She cares about the children's well being and asks them what they have been doing since their last visitation. The older children run to their mother when she arrives. Prior to her arrival the children fidget and repeatedly ask when she will be arriving. Lisa interacts very well with all of her children. When the whole family gets together, Lisa will converse with Karen and James while holding Carl.
Donald Ducats, birth father
Donald Ducats is the father of all three children. Donald and Lisa have been dating on and off since shortly after they graduated high school. During a supervised family visit I noticed that Donald is very standoffish towards the children. He pays no attention to Carl, answers Karen's questions with short or one syllable answers, and only gets involved with James to throw balls around. Donald attended only one of the ten parenting classes that were arranged for him.
Donald told the case manager that he was supposed to be looking after the children on the weekend that they were removed from home. He did not show up on Friday because he worked late on a neighbor's car and "forgot to check on the kids." Saturday he went to an afternoon ball game and then went out celebrating the victory with his friends. Sunday morning he was feeling too bad to leave his apartment.