Foster care: 'The rules have changed'

I'm writing in reference to your article on the foster-care system ("Warehousing our children," June 19). My husband and I have been foster parents for over 20 years. We have seen a massive change not only in the inability of the courts and family services to make appropriate decisions in determining placements and treatment, but in the children themselves. Psychological and emotional problems have escalated as society and the institution of the family seem to be floundering.

There has been a dramatic shift from the needs of the child to balancing the budget. The rules have changed. We have seen many effective foster parents leave the system in order to protect their own families from inappropriate placements, and from the system itself. There is a definite cry for linking systems together while tossing away the political venue, making suitable placements, and transitioning children into the foster family after appropriate treatment. We truly want to be able to provide a safe and loving environment for the kids.
Renee Ramunni
Wadsworth, Ohio

We have made it impossible for working families to care for their children. Out-of-control housing and energy costs, plus poor wages and lack of affordable day care, create a situation where children become the victims of our own social policy. In addition, we as a community no longer work together to raise our children. We point fingers at overworked parents and forget our responsibility to assist in raising one another's children. We turn to prescribed drugs to control behavior when what is often needed is structure and time on the part of adults. Institutionalizing people is not a good answer and will only add to the burden in the long haul.
Nancy McFarland
Dansville, N.Y.

Smokers: as 'evil' as Cruella De Vil

Regarding your June 19 editorial "Smoke-free celluloid": Contrary to what your articulate writer perceives as the glamorization of smoking in current films, I have observed recently that scriptwriters work overtime to malign smokers. Most frequently, it's the antagonist who lights up, conditioning both adults and children in the audience to think, perhaps unconsciously, "Oh, he smokes. He must be the bad guy."

Characters who smoke are usually portrayed as low-class social misfits, if not downright evil creatures out to muck up the lives of the antismoking "good guys." Perhaps this tactic of social engineering will result in healthy children and teens eschewing smoking and smokers, but is the reinforcement of prejudice, rejection, and general harassment toward anyone - smokers included - particularly healthy? What is the film industry teaching our children?
Jane Riese

Beauty in the blades

Regarding your June 20 Opinion "Wrong winded": We have several electricity-producing windmills in our state, as well as thousands of windmills that dot our farms and ranches, bringing water to thirsty cattle. Don't discount the beauty of the windmill itself. There's a fascinating beauty in watching the slow turning of blades and their flash in sunlight, and listening to the whirr. They're certainly more attractive than the blobs and towers of coal-fired or nuclear plants.
LaRue Wunderlich
Lincoln, Neb.

Land of the free - for a few

Regarding your June 20 article "Michigan riots: tales of two cities and the gulf between": Reading this story in the year 2003 is very sad. America will never change. The land of the free will always be the land of the free for a few. The few with the right skin color.
William Jones
Murray, Utah

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