16 Jul #30 – Navigating Foster Care and the legal system surrounding it.
Child welfare attorney Susan Chesnutt’s and Gerry (Gerald) Glynn discuss the foster care system, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is always more to the story and the story usually doesn’t get seen by the outside world. Gerry is the Chief Legal Officer for Embrace Families a non-profit organization managing foster care in and around Orlando, FL. Prior to joining Embrace Families, Gerry represented children and families as a lawyer for over twenty years.
[Episode length: 43:51]
[0:11] You do not hear much in the news about the foster care system because that whole court is confidential which makes it tough for the public to understand. Only the most severe cases make it into the mainstream media.
[2:50] Susan asks Gerry to tell his story about how he ended up on the dark side.
[4:42] Gerry discusses the way things were early in his career when teens turned 18 in the foster care system and were essentially kicked out with no help. As a result, he championed legislative reform.
[6:25] Gerry gets into his own teens transitioning out of the household at 18 and what that looks like with his organization preparing foster children for next steps.
[8:17] Susan asks Gerry to discuss the many agencies he works with and how those agencies are intertwined. For example, the agency for persons with disabilities and the department of juvenile justice.
[10:28] Due to Florida having low taxable income, the fall out is not having enough resources for the families that are struggling, either due to a disabled child or adults with developmental disabilities. He also tackles the Medicaid problem in Florida.
[12:22] When parents do amazing work with challenging kids, there is always a breaking point. Gerry talks about how good families end up with their children in foster care. It will break your heart.
[14:20] Gerry will speak about the waiting lists for assistance and how his organization works to bridge the gap with advocates and community partnerships.
[16:07] When “incorrigible children” need support from the Department of Juvenile Justice, again Gerry’s organization steps in to bridge the gap to help these children. He explains further the role of the DJJ and its pitfalls and intentions that ultimately can lead to a child in foster care.
[19:33] Listen in as Gerry does a deep dive into the whole process for teens in foster care and what they are focused on to help them become success and happy adults. Buckle your seat belt for a lot of information on drivers’ licenses, insurance and getting kids able to drive.
[24:48] How obtaining a learners permit for a kid in foster care is getting easier, but still not where it needs to be.
[26:55] Tackling the legislature to allow foster kids access to drivers’ education. And what happens if you are in a group home situation, who has a car for you to practice your driving skills?
[33:37). Susan asks Gerry to discuss the National Association of Council for children and how they are advocates for the rights of children. Get ready for a deep dive. Gerry used to be on the board of this organization.
[00:37:26] Susan and Gerry get into the specifics before wrapping up the interview, talking about attorneys that represent the children vs guardian’s ad litem being assigned.
[0:005:50] “I can’t say this happens to all the children in the state of [00:05:50] Florida, but we do everything we can to prepare youth, but more importantly, 18 is not a big deal. As [00:06:00] I often say 18 should their 18th birthday should be.”
[0:00:8:06] “But 60 to 70% of them are going to go back to that home. So we have to [00:08:10] strengthen that home. And so we need to continue to improve innovative programs to support those families as well.”
[00:13:21] These parents, we now accused of abandoning their child, this parent who has done extraordinary work, we accused of abandoning the school. So I’ve [00:13:30] embraced families. We’ve been trying to figure out this problem and how to fix this problem. Ultimately it is that the state of Florida needs to make its commitment to these families.
[00:17:48] “There’s a whole legal [00:17:50] process that should, and all that could be avoided if DJJ or APD would provide the support we need for these children. And, but that requires the investment”
[00:18:50] “We need to allow children to participate in extracurricular activities. We [00:19:00] need to, that’s how you develop the skills you need to be successful in life.”
[00:37:08] “Parents are almost always represented by lawyers. And we can question whether the quality of those lawyers and that’s one of the things, the NEC, but the children are the party who are not always referenced. And so, the NSCC is the national leader in trying to promote that the children always get representation”.
The Chesnutt Law Firm Divorce: https://www.thechesnuttlawfirm.com/divorce/
Gerry Glynn, Chief Legal Officer at Embrace Families: https://www.linkedin.com/company/embrace-families/
Foster Care Volunteers: https://embracefamilies.org
Aging Out of Foster Care Assistance: https://keystoindependencefl.com