March 29, 2013

Poor planning adds to Maine's foster care crisis

Not only is funding in jeopardy, but the state's child welfare bureaucracy failed to anticipate the growing need, fueled by drug use and addiction.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 4)

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Marie Beaulieu comforts her son Shavar, 8, in their Jay home late last month, after he apologized for yelling at her. The Beaulieus adopted him after taking him in as a foster child.

Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Additional Photos Below

Amid the administrative upheaval, budget controversy and shifting family risk factors, foster care providers and others in the field worry about the impact on children.

"I worry, but I'm optimistic," said Beverly Daniels, executive director of the Bangor foster care agency. "(Cahill-Low) has been willing to meet and work with us. She has shown great compassion for our kids. That hasn't always been the case with people in her position."

Whatever happens, Marie and John Beaulieu can be expected to make the best of it. That's how they approach all of the challenges that face their kids.

When Shavar came to live with them eight years ago, his 4-month-old body was blackened by filth, and open sores festered where his arms rested against skin. He had spent so much time strapped into a car seat, with his head tilted to one side, that a flat area had formed on his tiny skull.

Later, he was diagnosed with a host of mental and physical disabilities and illnesses that doctors said would limit his life span to four or five years. And yet, four years ago, the Beaulieus eagerly adopted Shavar, making him a permanent part of their family.

"I was afraid someone else would adopt him," Marie Beaulieu recalled. "In hindsight, probably nobody would have adopted a terminally ill child, but that's what I thought at the time."

 

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Shavar dances with his sister.

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Shavar smiles as his nurse, Darlene Hayden, shows him her teeth after she returned from the dentist.

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Marie Beaulieu helps Shavar wash his hands. In January, DHHS officials reported a $4.2 million shortfall in the budget for foster care and adoption programs. By June 30, the number of kids in state care is expected to be 35 percent higher than projected.

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Marie Beaulieu, left, helps Shavar drink from a cup of water to take medication in the living room of their Jay home. Some adoptive foster parents in Maine will lose 25 percent of their adoption subsidy as a result of a supplemental state budget passed in February.

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