Second Time Foster Child: How One Family Adopted a Fight Against the State for their Son’s Mental Healthcare while Preserving their Family

By in Mental Health on June 3, 2013

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In a juvenile courtroom, the judge reprimanded the caseworkers, the attorneys, and CASA for responding to a no-fault dependency case as an abuse case, “There is nobody bad here!”
There were no criminals. There was no crime.
Then why were we sitting in the accused chairs?
As an infant, Daniel entered the foster care system as a result of severe neglect, which manifested in violence and aggression later in his childhood.
Desperate to get their adoptive son, Daniel, into a residential treatment center and keep their other children safe, the state of Illinois left Jim and Toni Hoy with two options. If they brought their son home from the psychiatric hospital for the 11th time in 2 years, the Department of Children and Family Services threatened to charge them with child endangerment for failure to protect their other children. Mental health professionals recommended abandoning him at the hospital after the state denied all viable sources of funding for his treatment. Making that choice would trigger a child abuse investigation and subsequent neglect charges.
Daniel re-entered the foster care system for no other reason than he was mentally ill.    
A year later, Daniel’s mother discovered that his treatment was covered by a funding source that he was awarded as part of his special needs adoption. The EPSDT provision of Medicaid. How could they get the state government to understand the federal law and re-gain custody of their son?
“Second Time Foster Child” is the story of parents who never gave up on their son, despite being prosecuted and persecuted in exchange for his medically necessary treatment.

3 thoughts on “Second Time Foster Child: How One Family Adopted a Fight Against the State for their Son’s Mental Healthcare while Preserving their Family

  1. Another Devil's Deal Mom
    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    What Would You Give up to Save the Lives of Your Children?, April 2, 2012
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    Toni Hoy’s story is the story of many families dealing with the challenges of pursuing mental health services for their severely/chronically mentally ill and dangerous children. These families are desperate for mental health services for their biological and adopted children. Think there is nothing that would force you to separate your family members, even for mental health issues when family members have been harmed? Read Toni’s book before you answer that question. I wish I’d had this book in hand prior to pursuing residential treatment for my suicidal/homicidal child. Professionals said she couldn’t be safe in the presence of other children, and they couldn’t be safe in her presence, either. Insurance doesn’t pay for residential treatment, which runs about $150,000 a year. Sometimes school districts pursue funding for the educational expenses, however, families still are responsible for thousands of dollars each month, more than their total take home pay for many families.

    Safety plans that include cameras in each room of the house, sound monitors, alarms on bedroom doors, walkie-talkies, and whistles around the neck of the most vulnerable in the home might sound reasonable to some folks, as long as these plans aren’t happening for THEIR OWN children. The families have already been traumatized and now parents are being told to implement these safety plans so that a dangerous child might return to the home?

    Like Toni’s family, most families are already financially devastated because they’ve moved Heaven and Earth to pursue every type of support for their child. Like Toni, I was told that Individual Care Grants are routinely denied. Bring the child home? Risk neglect charges for endangering siblings. Refuse to bring home a mentally ill, dangerous child that has already harmed siblings physically and emotionally? Risk neglect charges, again. Sound like a lose-lose situation? Welcome to Toni’s world, and mine, too. Think Toni’s situation is merely a family that fell through the cracks? There are many of us living the hell that Toni’s family faced.

    I can only hope that legislators, DCFS workers, and those involved with the court systems will invest thirty minutes to begin reading Toni’s book. They will quickly see their role in parents needing to make “the devil’s deal”; trading custody for mental health services to save the lives of their mentally ill child and the lives of their children that remain at home who have already been traumatized. There are many families that have made “the devil’s deal”, like Toni’s family did; choosing the least harmful of all bad options, which in the end meant trading guardianship for mental health services that cannot be accessed through any other route.

    I plan to share this book with service providers and legislators. Our tax dollars are at waste with the current system, which “manages” families through the same court system that “manages” abusive and neglectful parents. The families are not the problem. The families have pursued every possible support for their kids. The system is accustom to dealing with problem parents. Toni Hoy was not the problem. Toni’s family and our families are dealing with clinical cases for severely mentally ill, dangerous children, that cannot remain in our homes; not abuse issues. These are not kids with “issues”. These are kids that cannot function within a family environment, despite therapeutic parenting, therapists, psychiatrists, medication, psychiatric hospitalizations, and special education services. Until legislators help, as Toni suggests, to develop a system to manage clinical cases, our tax dollars will continue to be wasted when social workers are managing healthy, functional, well educated parents. These parents know how to access services for their children, until the needs of their children reach a level that no family could maintain safety, and the doors to help are locked.

    DCFS workers will continue to make monthly visits to see children that they acknowledge in their own reports that are safe and well provided for, now that the dangerous sibling is in residential treatment. DCFS workers will continue to waste their time at frequent court appearances, administrative case reviews, staffings, and family meetings. Permanency court appearances are for the child in residential treatment. Administrative case reviews, family meetings, and monthly visits are to manage the family that is NOT the problem. These are the same families that have pursued every possible support for their child, in an attempt to heal them from the damage that happened before their child joined the family.

    CASA volunteers come to the table with the best of intentions, but their total of 40 hours of training doesn’t allow them the opportunity to even begin to learn about how early trauma and sexual abuse damages the brains of victims and turns some of them into…

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  2. Shelley Calissendorff "Smile At Your Baby!"
    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Foster Adoptive Mom REALLY Needed THIS book!, April 7, 2012
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    This book is an answer to prayer. The State says they want what’s best for my child. What they really want is to hide options from me and get as much money from the Federal government as possible. I HAVE been an advocate for my daughter for 10 years, but I didn’t uncover nearly what Toni Hoy was able to uncover. The secrets are exposed. This book will give parents of children with mental health disorders the tools they need to beat their state and WIN! If you are a foster-adoptive parent, or parent of a child with mental health issues you CANNOT afford NOT to have this book! Mine is dog-eared in over 30 places and there is yellow high-lighter all over the place. This is not a book, this is a tool, a guide, a roadmap–this is the GOLDEN NUGGET!

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  3. 3
    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Let’s make a change, April 21, 2012

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    This book was so very difficult and painful to read. In fact, I had to put it down several times in order to “deal” with the overwhelming emotions I was feeling. You see, I’m going through right now what Toni has written about. Different state, different children, but the same situation. The very people and offices that I have turned to for help are so quick to offer the “Devil’s Deal”. So cold and, apparently, impervious to what the child needs and the family wants. Every mental health worker, social worker, adoption worker, CPS investigator, government official, judge, prosecutor, you name it – it’s time to make a change and the first step is to read this book. Get our story, written so bravely and compassionately by Toni, out there to the people who can make a change and, furthermore, to the people who need to hear it to do their job more effectively.

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