Illinois Welfare Agency Restricts Foster Placements

Illinois Welfare Agency Restricts Foster Placements
By: Arnold Wyrick

The director of the Department of Child and Family Services says he will restrict foster children from being placed with senior citizen foster parents.
Director Jess McDonald tells Heartland News that the agency must think first about what's best for the kids. "I'm concerned that those foster parents over age 65 can't meet all the needs of a child," says McDonald. "Especially the older kids who are having difficulty with school and peer pressures of todays world," McDonald said.
But the department could give waivers for family members under an emergency. The decision is being met with some uncertainty by Heartland foster care programs. "I think it takes away from our options for kids," says Larry Johnson Assistant Director of Lutheran Social Services. "We have foster parents of all ages. But we also think that some of our better foster parents happen to be people who've already raised their own children and done a good job at it," Johnson said.
So how do seniors feel about being a primary caregiver for a child? "Well there are so many grandparents that raise their grandchildren, I see no reason why they couldn't be foster parents too," says Wilda Kuhnke of Marion.
But not all seniors hold that same thought about raising kids again late in life. "I really feel like I couldn't do it. I do have mixed feelings about older people raising younger kids, because the world has changed so much. And it's very difficult to accept a lot of the things younger people are into these days," says Rita McMullen of Marion.