SPOKANE, Wash. — Children in foster care often have difficult family backgrounds, including situations with substance abuse, violence or instability.
For many children, a foster family is the most stable environment available. That is why former foster mom Dawn Martini and current foster mom Alla both decided to start housing children.
Both women had no children when they dove into the world of fostering but that quickly changed.
Now, Alla has three adopted boys and Martini has adopted 14 children ranging in ages from two to 28 years old.
On top of adopting her 14 children, Martini and her husband temporarily housed more than 70 other children in their 19 years of fostering.
“I wouldn’t do it any other way,” Martini said.
But for both mothers, the road through the Washington Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) system was a long and difficult one.
Both moms said they experienced quick turnarounds between many overburdened caseworkers.
“It’s exhausting to try and have to keep up. I don’t know, I don’t think you can expect a lot from the system,” Alla said.
Each caseworker in Washington is responsible for the paperwork, appointments, welfare checks and more than 18 children’s cases.
The Child Welfare League of America recommends that number be between 12 and 15.
DCYF is working on a program improvement plan to improve the system for children. That plan is waiting for approval from the Federal Children’s Bureau.
Once approved, DCYF has two years to start implementing changes.
In the end, both moms say the process was worth it.
“I don’t think that there’s anything better than as a mom knowing that your kids are loved and they know that they're loved and that they’re able to show love to other people,” Martini said.