"3 Hots and a Cot"
"Foster Parents sometimes forget they are only 3 hots and a cot."
The Honorable Kenneth L. Cowsert
Snohomish County Superior Court
THE VOICE OF THE CHILD
A twelve year old girl came to court in Everett last month. She has been in foster care with the same foster parents for the past 3 1/2 years. This month she turns 13. Her mother was in court, too. The girl came to tell the judge, Kenneth L. Cowsert, that she wanted to stay with her foster parents. She has had very little visitation with her mother over the past three years. The judge asked the child's attorney and the Assistant Attorney General for their positions. The child's attorney said that since the foster parents were not able to adopt her, that probably returning her to the mother was the best option. The attorney said that the girl did have a very close relationship to the foster parents and that they were grieving over her leaving.
"Foster Parents sometimes forget they are only 3 hots and a cot," the judge retorted. If they are grieving, he continued, they should not let her see it, and if they don't know how to behave they should come into his court room and he would explain it to them or remove their foster care license. The judge then told the girl that she could not stay with her foster family. The girl then asked if she could stay a few more weeks, since her birthday was coming up and she wanted to have a party with her friends before she left town. The judge said no, in fact the judge order that the girl go with her mother directly from the court room, and that if she needed to pick up her clothes and things, they could be sent later.
Afterwards, our court observer saw the mother leaving the courthouse with the daughter. Neither looked or spoke to the other.
I can't comment on the decision itself without knowing more about the case, but the brusque way the judge treated that little girl was uncalled for, brushing off not only her modest birthday party request but also her need to say good-bye to the family with whom she had stayed for the past 3 1/2 years. How horrible for the child it would be if foster parents really did give nothing more than three hot meals and a place to sleep. How horrible it would be to think that the people you have lived so much of your life with were not grieving over your departure. We are not inn keepers. We are foster parents. Would anyone really want their child placed in a home that has no love?
Judge Cowsert owes an apology to all foster parents. He first owes an apology to that young girl.
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