In 2008, my wife, Chipper, our chocolate Lab, and I arrived in Key West with our all our belonging in our 1998 Jeep Cherokee. We wen there with zeal to serve foster kids under the custody of the Department of Children & Families — for missionary-like pay.
We divided almost five years between a group home licensed for seven youths between 11 and 17 years of age, and an emergency shelter licensed for seven children, from newborns to age 10.
With much regret and resistance we became part of a system that was as harmful to vulnerable kids it as it was helpful. During our tenure, our foster kids, who craved consistency, experienced 12 sets of house parents who quit, resigned or got fired with epic turnovers by the community-based-care wraparounds.
Many issues prevented us from becoming loyal team players. I even called Florida’s Child Abuse Hotline to report untreated black mold in our children’s shelter. Our supervisor told us that some mold was good for us.
Last May, we left Key West in that same Jeep, our spirit zapped.
Mike Sawyer, Denver, Colo.