Guam – Over several segments we have dissected the local foster care system. Presented you with several different perspectives from volunteers, foster parents and CPS officials. From all sides there has been a distinct feel of subdued optimism, the sense that while not perfect, our foster care system is making a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable members in our community.
However, there is also a palpable urgency from those I have spoken to, an urgency which raised flags. Several of those flags were related to the shelters or group foster homes currently in operation. I spoke to one source, who requested anonymity, and received reports of possible abuses within these facilities entrusted with fostering children with no other place to go.
“A week before he came to me, they gave him about three weeks of medication in five days,” a source said, referring to one of the children who were once in the Alee Shelter. “My little one wet the bed. Instead of sleeping on a bed, he slept on these cot things they have on the floor for years ’cause he wets the bed. Instead of working with him, they just put him to the side ’cause he wets the bed. Catholic Social Services is the one in control over it. And you can ask them some pointed questions. How much training do the staff members get? What is their objective? Are they there to create a nurturing environment, or just to make sure the kids are fed and showered and get to bed?”
With restricted access and minimal interaction with outside agencies, such questions are unfortunately left unanswered. When it comes to the number of children who could potentially come through these shelters, the numbers don’t lie. Of more than 1,000 reported cases of abuse, neglect or abandonment every year, at least 200 cases are deemed severe enough to warrant the removal of children from their household.
“Right now we have 21 in group homes, 58 in licensed foster homes and 109 with relatives,” said Grace Ishowata, a caseworker at the Child Protective Services.
In this day where transparency is preached, who can attest to the practice of it for these children? We hope for nothing more than to dispel these allegations.
Catholic Social Services was made aware of reports of possible abuse. Five days later they have yet to make themselves available for comment to our news team.