10 News: Who failed our children? Former foster parent speaks

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Ashley Rhodes – Courter says she knows first hand about the death of a child.

“We saw are kids sent back to these homes they were taken away from, and pray nothing would happen, then it did,” says Rhodes-Courter, a child welfare advocate.

Rhodes-Courter was a foster parent for Jenica Randazzo, who was killed by a family member after being put back into the care of her grandparents. Continue reading

Part Two: New York Times Best-Selling Author Refuses to Be Silenced by Gag Order

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Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s life came full circle five years ago when she and her husband Erick became foster parents in Florida’s Tampa Bay area.  Ashley, a New York Times best-selling author of two books – Three Little Words and Three More Words respectively – had spent nearly 10 years in foster care before her adoption at age 12.  Part One of this series described why Ashley and Erick surrendered their foster parent license, rather than sign a “gag order” that would have prevented them from speaking publicly about the gruesome murder of a former foster child.

Foster Parents Still Disrespected

Perhaps the most surprising part of being a foster parent for Ashley was the lack of respect foster parents must still endure – despite Tampa Bay’s “Fostering Respect Hotline” or Florida’s “Quality Parenting Initiative” to correct this problem. Although foster parents are promised to be treated as partners, she found the opposite to be true. Especially when voicing safety concerns to child welfare professionals about case management decisions. Continue reading