A local family is claiming that they were discriminated against by the state during the process of being approved to become foster parents.
On the first part of Pronews 7 Investigates: Protection or Discrimination: A Family Denied, we met the Yearwoods, who said they were denied because of their disability. Both are legally blind and work for AISD, and Brian works with special needs children at work.
Notwithstanding, their denial was no surprise to some. Pronews 7 spoke to one foster family who said that the dependable transportation and a support network are critical components of being good foster parents.
The Mitchells are both foster and adoptive parents and live in Borger. They saw the Pronews 7 Investigates about the state rejecting the Yearwoodâ??s fostering application and wanted to talk about how guidelines for foster parents exist for a reason.
â??If you are having difficulty with your support system or anything like that or even transportation, youâ??ve got to figure that out, youâ??ve got to take care of that,â?? said Dillon Mitchell.
Robyn Mitchell said that her extended network of support is an essential part staying strong when the times get tough.
â??You just need someone to talk things out, as itâ??s a tough system and itâ??s an emotional roller coaster,â?? said Robyn Mitchell. â??You need someone or youâ??ll lose your sanity.â??
The Yearwoods said that the process of vetting them was unfair from the start.
â??We were denied because they said that we didnâ??t turn in paperwork and due to our inability to drive,â?? said Brian Yearwood.
â??The way that they treated us and the way that they asked question when they would interview us; everything was focused on our disability,â?? said Mary Yearwood. â??It wasnâ??t about whether we cared about kids or what we were able to provide for kids, instead everything was focused on what we did and how we did it as disabled people.â??
The American with Disabilities act forbids discrimination that completely prevents people with a certain kind of disability from being excluded, but it does allow there to be exceptions for safety. Keith Howard of Arrow ministries said that they have to consider many things when they look at a candidate.
â??If youâ??re flying solo through this journey, youâ??re going to burn out really quick,â?? said Keith Howard. â??Thatâ??s bad for a family and thatâ??s bad for a kid.â?? â??So we evaluate support systems to see if you have people in place.â??
The Yearwoods said that they feel like they didnâ??t get a fair shot.
â??Ms. Morehead called my wife and told her that we were denied and then when my wife very calmly asked whatâ??s wrong with our support systems, the woman hung up on her,â?? said Brian Yearwood. â??It was like hey we donâ??t have to listen to you because you wonâ??t do anything to us, weâ??re the state.â?? â??You donâ??t have anything, we donâ??t have to deal with you so goodbye.â??
Mary Yearwood is still shocked by the rejection.
â??Iâ??ve been disabled my whole life, and Iâ??ve never had a problem,â?? said Mary Yearwood.
But both Arrow Ministries and the Mitchell family say that the state fostering system is trying its best, and is working as hard as they can to protect children and families.
â??We have a great relationship with the department of family and protective services.â?? â??We work on the same team for the same mission to serve kids locally in this community,â?? said Keith Howard.
Unfortunately, the Yearwoodâ??s spent thousands of dollars preparing their home for foster children before they were rejected. They told Pronews 7 that they plan to appeal the stateâ??s decision, so that other people with disabilities donâ??t encounter the same type of treatment by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.