Category: Child Welfare


The 48 Theses on Florida's Child Welfare Services.

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Author Viviana Zelizer persistently hammered these points in her work entitled: Pricing the Priceless Child: The Social Value of Children, the United States made sweeping changes in ensuring the safety of children at the dawn of the twentieth century. A child’s life became sacred. No longer would street car drivers run over unsuspecting children playing in the streets without retribution,  states had to revamp and enforce their child labor laws and the government made the staggering infant mortality rate a national focus (p.26-27).

America went from looking at children as a nuisance, one easily replaceable to feeling, the death of child was the greatest loss parents could experience. Early American parents did not mourn for their children when they died. The mother would  just pop another one out to replace him or her. Zelizer wrote, “The new sensitivity toward child loss was part of a broader transformation in the  cultural response to death.” She went on to say, ” The death of a young child was the worst loss of all…extreme  grief at the death of a child…was now a convention and a psychological reality” (p.26). She further added, “The establishment of the United States Children’s Bureau of 1912  officially certified the conservation of child life as a national concern” (p.29). As a result of these bold initiatives, the US health and hygiene department managed well or eradicated many communicable diseases, it decreased the infant mortality rate and saw the proper stewardship of the children’s welfare.

But of course, it seems nothing last forever; it didn’t take long before an anonymous and wise opportunist learned how to benefit from the country’s new-found fascination with children. The author argued that children were once ‘worthless’ and ‘useless’ in America. That dynamic changed after the American government abruptly tackled the low regard for kids and created a pseudo-child-worship-social-consciousness. Now we have a gigantic bureaucracy all over the country in every state ready to aid parents in raising their children. But if said parents should stumble, the same bureaucratic entities will sweep in and enact changes and programs to show they are better at raising their children. This action reeks with hubris because the government relies on its past efforts in championing the advancement of children but it has very little to show now.

Children in America were no longer a nuisance; they became priceless. Parents who deal with the government know it only sees dollar signs when it sees their children. Yes, America has come a long way. But we need to admit the government is far from the agent of change it once was. It is now the agent-of-sit-on-one’s-ass-and-do-nothing. One entity that comes to mind (to which I can say unequivocally) does not care nor value children is the respective child-welfare system across the nation. Anyone who deals directly with them does not have to wait too long before he hears this vile admission: “The system is broken.” I am sure those who are swift to say this, they don’t really value what they do nor do they value the children in their care.  I don’t cringe saying this. It’s my understanding that the word value  is not an abstract term. If the care of kids is of the greatest importance, then it ought to continue that way. Child-welfare workers who flippantly say, “The system is broken,” they are intellectual and moral sloths. They aren’t deserving of the awesome responsibility of taking care of our nation’s abused children.

We shouldn’t make excuses for them. If they aren’t saying the system is broken, you can bet the next nonsense they’d say is “We need more money.” I am more sympathetic to the latter. One cannot blame someone for wanting a decent wage and guarantees of career and economic upward mobility. Inflation and living conditions change over time so I am all about staying afloat financially. But what about this anecdotal reference? Many Christian missionaries changed societies with very little money or none at all. All they had, and still do, were an intense desire to fulfill their duties. They believed they were called to do their duty. They persisted despite numerous impediments because they hoped for a brighter tomorrow and their conscience reminded them they were doing good in the world.

After hearing about the grotesque abuses that go on within the system, the lackadaisical approach caseworkers bring to their work and the low retention rate among staffers. One can’t help but conclude, that our child-welfare system lacks discipline, vision, a tried-and-true mission, transparency and accountability. If a state (Like Florida) laboriously spends most of its tax  dollars to bolster its image in the media and to appease a skeptical public then something is wrong.

All I am asking for is someone to stop, think and then act. If the engineers and personnel who are tasked to oversee our nation’s nuclear arsenal, do their jobs effectively and flawlessly, why can’t the child-welfare system do the same? Oh I see! Nuclear weapons can annihilate folks so great care is a must. But the systematic ruining of the lives of already disadvantaged kids, though a tragic reality, we should just live with it, right? They are indirectly saying kids are disposable. I can’t fathom how the same  system that’s supposed to take care of  kids, it ends up transforming the majority of them into criminals.

We can’t keep overlooking the staggering reality: “Kids aging out of the foster-care system are more likely to be high-school dropouts, impoverished, imprisoned or homeless” (The Orlando Sentinel). And how can I forget accounts of kids given back to violent and unfit parents who end up killing or maiming them? And also the unscrupulous foster caregivers who use their ties with the governmental agencies to bully parents and the kids in their care.

I will stop having scathing remarks about the child-welfare system when states like Florida, seriously prevent the intentional killing of kids like the Barahona child. Florida’s child-welfare leadership team fumbled to pin point the people responsibility for allowing such a senseless murder to occur on their watch. Like I said in my title, They Don’t Value Us, the United States must admit to moral failure in taking care of abused, neglected and disadvantaged kids. The problem is not a state’s one. The federal government must intervene like it did back in the day. Until then, we’ll continue to hear horror stories.  If the federal government values children they’ve got to intervene.

Our Child Welfare System is Always Under Construction..

I don’t know about you but as for me, when I see the sign Under Construction on the web or while driving; my Spidey sense warns me of impending inconvenience. We live in a world in which nothing is monolithic. There is always room for improvement. But for some, improvements happen quickly while for others very slowly. Government entities are notorious for dragging their feet. Things rarely move quickly.

I wonder why are people so selfish? Leaders in the Department of Children and Families (DCF) only care about the here and now. Their tenure is of greater importance than the future of the kids. When something is under construction it means it is not complete.  It means progress is ongoing. To be fair, I think it is not always wise to beg for change as if when it comes everything will remain perfect and static. We know that is not possible. Life’s challenges are far from static. The world around us is constantly changing. So it is with organizations that have flawed people running them. People are flawed but that is not an excuse to allow mishaps and horrendous mistakes to go unnoticed. What bothers me is the disgusting subculture that DCF harbors. Their values are very vague. They have the standard goals, vision, mission statement and policy and rules. But that does not do anything substantial to assure the citizenry they have a firm grasp on the social trajectory in their State.

DCF talks the talk but does not walk it. They are forever changing and less relevant. Case in point, the DCF in Florida abandoned its mantle and gave it up to the private sector. So picture this, it is like a building was being built and then the contractors abandoned it and left it incomplete. Another group of contractors arrived on the scene with a different set of plans. So with new directives, the path to relevancy is delayed because now we have new construction taking place and who knows when they will be finished.

DCF will continue to evade the final date of construction. They will remain a work in progress. Must I remind you that while they seek to get their affairs in order, many kids–the clients fall between the cracks. They languish in a fragile system. They become addicts of the state–forever expecting a handout. The social fabric of each state is forever marred because its DCF is always under construction and the building will not be ready to provide shelter to those who need it the most. But of course dilapidated houses serve a function too. It provides shelter for hobos, addicts, women of the night, orphans and other degenerates, right? That is how DCF views the people they serve and seek services for. They are a bunch of degenerates they have to serve.  It is time someone of influence in government realize that we cannot build a house without a sturdy foundation. Nor can we build a house upon sand. DCF cuts corners and shovels around mediocre services for people they know will come back again into the system. They laud dilapidated houses as the ultimate place to call ones homes. They will find excuses to delay fixing said houses because the people who need better living conditions don’t deserve an upgrade. DCF is content with being under construction still for it helps them to pass the buck and skip out from being held accountable.

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Child-Welfare System.

Who would have thought the Catholic church’s arbitrary list of sins could inspire someone? Well it did! It inspired me to write this tell-all on the child-welfare system. Our child-welfare system is not a metaphysical thought that’s devoid of shape, form or reality. It is not an absurd idea like the War on Drugs or the War on terror. It is an actual system with real people and responsibilities. But it is a severely broken and bloated one. So I coin the term the actual War on the Child-Welfare System.

The forthcoming list of The Seven Deadly Sins of the Child-Welfare System are my observations. I have been studying the facts. I have witnessed these sins of commission and omission. I did not pull them out from a dark place. I heard some people verify their validity; therefore, I am compelled to share them with you.

1. Incompetency. You don’t have to wait too long to spot this one in the open. Most people who work for the child-welfare system use a-one-size-fits-all approach to their daily responsibilities. I submit they are incompetent because most of the parents they serve are delinquent. When they meet parents who are sharp they hardly know how to handle themselves. Most caseworkers are not versed in the knowledge of state laws and statues. They frequently violate them. Though they will adhere to some basic policies and rules of their respective agency; they lose their footing when faced with situations and scenarios that do not fit the norm. They are incompetent because they can not adapt well. They aren’t versatile and knowledgeable.  They make terrible mistakes and expect another agency or the court to gloss over them.

2.Apathy. It is no secret that some jobs wrought and enveloped in misery make people miserable. Child Protection Investigative Services and child advocates are some of the most apathetic people you’ll run into. And why not? I presume ninety percent of the families they deal with have nothing nice to say to them and I’m sure an expletive package is always sent their way. Who needs that?  But let’s beg this question. Why pursue a job or career if you haven’t counted the cost? A job in child-welfare care is a calling. It is about self-sacrifice. Soldiers, doctors definitely know what I’m talking about. It would behoove an advocate or an investigator to go into another line of work where issues of the heart are not important to them. I stand firm saying most advocates, child-welfare workers are apathetic and some of them who started out  feeling excited about their career outlook may change their sunny disposition for the worse over time. The job is draining but the poor kids don’t need someone to add more misery to what they’ve already.

3.Wantonness. Child-welfare agencies do not fight fair when they run into parents who dare to defy their directives or recommendations. They will bring down fire and brimstone on parents who insist they are innocent of the allegations against them, that the government cannot tell them how to raise their kids or to decline services. Child-welfare agencies can be deliberately malicious and callous. They are known to fabricate narratives and produce false witnesses to discredit parents who seek to undermine them. Most parents find themselves drained financially, spiritually, physically and psychologically. Child welfare agencies are very good at soliciting the help of other governmental entities ‘to gang up’ on parents, overwhelm and ‘pummel’ them to a pulp until the parents consent to the recommendations or just simply concede.

4. Corruption. One assumes that our nation’s most vulnerable and broken children would be taken care of and for the most part would be shielded from the ill behavior and corruptible influences of society. But no sir! Kids who enter the foster care system do so at their own peril. It is a terrible place to traverse. The people who supervise them seem to think the only reason they are there is to make sure the kids do not eat each other. And as long as that doesn’t happen everything else is excusable and peachy. Sadly, most young people who go through our nation’s child welfare system become the very scourge society clamors to punish. I’ll even say emphatically that most kids in foster care are groomed to be wayward and untrustworthy. Our child-welfare system is a corruptible place and the kids there are very lucky if they leave unscathed or morally intact.

5.Indolence. I think I am preaching to the choir when I say that governmental entities are all sloths. We are used to a slow-moving government. We long for the day when most government services are efficient. Child-welfare agencies love to drag their feet. Let’s say a Senate committee wants information about how they are utilizing the money to alleviate certain child-welfare problems or let’s say they are being investigated. They are almost always reluctant to cough up the requested information. Parents notice that child advocates are very swift to produce paperwork for them to sign but are very lazy to do mandatory supervised visitations. Simply put, child-welfare agencies are always reluctant to play ball when the parents or outside parties want things done for their benefit. Said agencies will drag their feet when it is evident said requested things could make them look bad or culpable.

6.Extortion. I think it is safe to say only cold, calculating and malicious people would extort responses from parents by using their kids as bargaining chips. Child-welfare agencies are good at extorting responses and actions from parents. It doesn’t matter how undeserving a parent is, one should not stoop so low to keep knocking him down when he’s already abased. Parents are loaded with emotions especially after their children were wrested out of their care and sheltered by the  dependency court system . One would think they would be excused to gather themselves, but no! Child advocates and those who work for child-welfare entities swoop in for the kill. They are like sharks. To them, that is the optimal moment to strike the parents when they are the most vulnerable. The juvenile court system does not help parents for that matter. They operate on the preconceived notion basis.  Again whatever the circumstances surrounding a child being taken from the parents; it is wrong to use the children as bargaining chips to get parents to comply. I say, the next time child-welfare entities are faced with this decision; they might as well just put an AK-47 in the kids’ hands and tell them to kill their parents like the warlords do.

7.Immorality. I am disgusted when I see child-welfare agencies go to great lengths to fabricate documents, obtain personal information without a court order, being petty, fib during depositions or while on the stand, take cover behind immunity clauses, punish fit parents but laud unfit ones who consign to their plans, accept filthy lucre (money) off the backs of broken kids, call themselves faith-based community-lead-care agencies and placate their walls with lofty promises, goals and objectives but knowingly fall short to live up to them. Child-welfare entities are immoral in the truest sense because they make money from misery. Decent people swiftly denounced and ostracized those who’d earned a living from those who suffered during the Nazi occupation. We  should do likewise. Please denounce the heartless  child-welfare workers who just show up to collect their paycheck. They lack compassion. Me thinks most of the kids in foster care have no one to look up to because like I said, most of the people who work for child-welfare agencies are immoral. No wonder, most child-welfare agencies are compelled to solicit the help of volunteers namely church folks and  people with a heart to come and mentor the kids. It is a sad state when they can’t find anyone within their organizational sphere whose moral compass is pointing north. Here, here for the volunteers who are the very few candle lights in an immensely dark place.

There, I have written them. The Seven Deadly Sins of the Child-Welfare System. My beef is strictly with the system in Florida. I know I am not alone. I believe families in the other forty nine states can attest to my thoughts too. It is a shame how devastating the system is. The government continues to ignore the biggest elephant in the world. I know why, the system has to implode first before anyone takes notice. The citizenry must demonstrate against it before they’ll act. Honestly, it would too late by the time the government does something about the child-welfare system. The government’s actions are usually conciliatory. A mere band-aid patch used to reconcile the public’s concern in the hopes they’ll calm down. Then later we’d eventually end up back to square one. I, for one, am just a simpleton voicing his concern and calling a spade a spade. I say the government must either put up or shut up. Addressing this problem should be seen entirely as a black and white issue, either they fix it completely or admit to moral failure. Dear Mr. Government, it’s no longer expedient to embrace inaction anymore, it’s time to be proactive and do something constructive about our failing child-welfare system.

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I guess most states’ Department of Children and Families (DCF) dodge calls to reform because their rationale is why re-invent the wheel. The wheel is the ever so available revolving funds states receive from the federal government to take care of their horrid child-welfare system. One would think I am just a disgruntled person seeking to ruffle feathers. I enjoy doing that–yes. But that is not the sole purpose for this piece. Florida’s reckless child-welfare management history blows me away. Here is a state that threw its hands in the air and said it can no longer take care of its vulnerable members of society. So they sold their ‘birthright’ to the highest private bidder. The lucky bidder was and still is ChildNet. Let’s pause here and focus on this brief anecdote. For illustration purposes please pay close attention to the following analogy.

DCF is like a parent. They have many children. At one point they gave up their rights to raise and instruct their children. They hired someone else (ChildNet) to do the job for them. ChildNet almost has full autonomy to act independent of DCF. DCF watches from a far and provides monetary assistance to ChildNet. Now, flip the analogy to reality. DCF threw in the towel because they admitted they were not ‘fit’ to raise their own children. They gave up their responsibility to ‘outsiders.’ Parents who have to deal with DCF in Florida should scream foul and hypocrisy. DCF is not in any moral position to dictate to parents how to raise their children. DCF abandoned their duty and yet they expect parents to take moral and social instructions from them. What irony! So here’s why it is absolutely imperative DCF keep their chaotic child-welfare system intact.

1. Without clients (children and their families) there won’t be any money to line the pockets of DCF executives. Just recently, Florida’s legislature gave DCF more money to raise investigators income and to streamline its abuse hotline. Don’t panic it is just only 2012 decades after DCF’s inception. But trust me they have gotten very sophisticated, for example, if  kids aren’t taken from deserving or undeserving parents the federal government would have to slash the funds sent to Florida. In the 90’s and early 2000’s DCF would just grab up all the children even if one was allegedly abused. This lead to the state asking for more money from the federal government. Then Florida brilliantly decided to emphasize adoption and to minimize the number of kids they took away from parents. The same budget request was always granted, it was mildly adjusted to meet inflation. The funds receive stopped matching the number of kids who needed services because the government figured how to maintain a high salary for the executives and keep operational cost at a low for decades.

2.The number of children who end up maimed, killed or further abused isn’t enough to alarm the leaders within DCF. More kids would have to suffer before they would swiftly take action.

3. There aren’t any serious discussions/debates going on in Florida to pool together ideas to fix Florida’s failing child-welfare system. But what we do hear and see on media outlets is that one child who barely made out of Florida’s foster care system by the skin of his or her teeth and went on to be somebody.

4. The following entities have grown accustom to the way things have been: the juvenile justice system, the dependency-family court, the assistant attorney general’s office, DCF and the department of health and human services. So any calls to re-invent the wheel is overlooked. It works. People are entrenched in their positions.

5. Almost everything is done in house. The Senate Committee on Children and Families is even in the dark concerning DCF and their subcontractors. Senators on said committee are flabbergasted when they read about DCF carelessness in the papers. DCF has friends in other government bodies too who watch out for them and keep things under wrap: the Assistant Attorney General’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, police departments, the court system, hospitals and clinics. They all work together to keep things going. But they are very non-cooperative with those who seek to scrutinize them or hold them accountable.

6. DCF would have to care first about children and families in order to change their bad practices. It is just a job–a means to an end for most DCF leaders. Some leaders are put there because they were ineffective elsewhere and the new administration (governor’s office) shuffles people to new positions rather than putting them there to enact change.

7. It (DCF) is a bureaucracy with a large lobbying presence. When was the last time you heard a bureaucracy undergo significant changes? Change won’t come to DCF as long its bureaucratic columns are well intact.

8. Most families hardly ever deal with DCF investigators because they no longer lead the charge in taking care of Florida’s disadvantaged and abused kids. DCF subcontractors shoulder their responsibilities and  community-based agencies carry them out. These agencies usually have a positive influence in their communities. So DCF is well insulated. If things go array, the lead agencies suffer the initial setbacks but by the time whirlwind gets to DCF; they often offer up one supervisor as a sacrifice. So again, DCF goes untouched.

9. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) enable DCF. The federal government is selectively prudent when it comes to regulating entities like DCF. On the one hand, the federal government summons wisdom and respect the state’s prerogatives, while on the other, they clamp down when it suits them best. I think the (ACF) shies from holding DCF accountable because they themselves failed the Native Americans. Why should the pot call the kettle black?

10. Many years ago, the child-welfare system was terrible. In fact there wasn’t a system. Have you heard of any orphanages lately in the US? What about almshouses? They are things of the past. You are now looking at a well oiled machine capable of turning a sizable profit off the misery and pain families go through. The formula is simple most parents who end up at DCF’s feet are reckless, dangerous and undeserving. They are entitled to receive services. DCF knows they will return in the system again just like a crack whore or a meth addict. They will quickly send the children home to their parents even though they are vagabonds. But they will come back because the federal government is giving ‘free money.’ DCF is smart and calculated. All they did was study the past and concluded that the system of old lack care and oversight. They championed a system where they could create a facade that they care. But their true purpose was to make a profit eventually. I’ll admit the government’s handling of the child-welfare system is much better than the past but their intentions are very sinister. Yes, they’ve welcomed some noticeable changes. We can see them but they occurred gradually over time. While we continue to wait for more radical changes so many terrible things happen to the children under DCF’s watch.

I predict that within the next five years, the state of Florida’s child-welfare system will implode. I’ll even go out on a limb and say other states’ child-welfare system will implode too. Said systems can’t last long. The federal government will have to re-evaluate the entire system and do something before it is too late. States can no longer independently fund their child-welfare system. The federal government now has to be fiscally conservative. Every dollar and dime have to be accounted. They can no longer just send money to states because it is the right thing to do. Social Security and Medicare are tied up in the mix too. Kids do not work to contribute to said financial nets. So the federal government is forced to look at the elephant in the room.

I am fearful the federal government will soon employ stringent measures to punish states like Florida with a horrendous child-welfare history. The will no longer keep that revolving child-welfare funds door open to help bolster the states’ budget. I do not wish to see the system thrown out and the kids pay the price. I think the federal government should make visible and pragmatic attempts to work hand in hand with trouble states to get their houses in order. But I fear they will cut off Florida without any intervention first. By that time, the kids in Florida’s child-welfare system will suffer the most because they will truly be in a debunked system that has lost all if not most of its capacity to help them reach adulthood. But of course Florida will not heed this warning bell because everyone is doing their best at work–which simply means collecting their wages, doing what’s least expected of them and literally passing the buck. DCF is very good at passing the buck and after all, that detestable behavior my friends, makes it next to impossible for them to change.

The Invisible Children organization recently stirred up major buzz on all the social media outlets by posting the picture and the awful CV of the bloke pictured above. Imagine, an obscure warlord–at least to those outside of Uganda, who went from obscurity to becoming the number one villain. His Modus Operandi is snatching away little boys and recruiting them to become juvenile soldiers. He exposes them to carnage and instructs them in it too. Perhaps many terrorists are taking a breather because currently, he  surpassed them as the most hated man in the world. As of this week, the viewership on YouTube catapulted pass 50 million and is gaining close to 100 million soon. But enough about Kony. What does my title mean. It asks, “Will the Real Joseph Kony Please Stand Up? I am not prepared to overlook Mr. Kony’s vile existence. But I think there are many like him in the US. They are nestled and entrenched in our society. In fact they work for our government. Who are these people? They are non other than the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of every state in the US. To be fair, not everyone in Uganda sympathizes with Mr. Kony’s immoral actions. So in the same way not everyone who works for the Department of Children and Families are culpable.

Some readers may disagree with this juxtaposition. And that is fine. Those who will continue to read this blog will see the main correlation I am making between Mr. Kony and DCF is the exploitation of children. Of course, Joseph Kony’s exploitation of the children of Uganda is riddled in violence and mayhem. DCF’s exploitation is more sinister, discreet, calculating and legal. For one, investigators do not have any authority to make an arrest or to prosecute parents. But it so happens if there is an allegation out on the parents they are suddenly granted powers that the US and the state constitution never gave them. Parents find themselves watching in slow motion as their children become a bargaining chip. If the parents are wayward and their kids are expendable; they will do the dance and find that as long they fulfill the suggested tasks their lives will go on. But the parents who choose to maintain their innocence and persist in denying the allegations against them, they have reserved front row seats of their gradual demise.  DCF exploits children. Kids who end up in foster care face terrible hardships. In this age of information, I don’t need to inundate you with facts and statistics. Just peruse the internet and see for yourself.

Many kids under the supervision of DCF become career criminals. Most of them are ‘club members’ of the juvenile system. That is where they receive their training to become dependent upon the state. DCF knows most of the children leave them at age 18 and when they do; they are not fully equipped to sustain themselves or to live fulfilled lives. So what happens? They end up again in the same system they have grown accustomed to.  Simply put, prison tragically becomes an accepted place of abode. They are guaranteed shelter, food, clothing, health and dental care and job training/work. This inexcusable action goes on because the premise for doing so is one, kids placed in foster care are eventually dependent on the state. Two, they are exposed to the highest exposure of degradation and filth. Three, most are repeated offenders in the juvenile system. They come from brokenness but the system in place to ensure they move onto the road of recovery is severely incapacitated and sadly most of them end up again in misery and filth. Therefore, the children who come out of foster care partially or fully unscathed are extremely lucky.

DCF should admit that they are in favor of this vicious cycle. They will shut down or delay attempts to ‘re-invent’ the wheel. Should the wheel be reinvented that would prove catastrophic for them. So it is of the utmost necessity the current chaos within DCF remains intact. Having kids in foster care help line their pockets. They receive their filthy lucre based on the number of kids they pillage from unworthy and worthy parents. DCF the secret is out. You morally fail the kids of each respective state–namely Florida.  You are an overseer of the future of society. You oversee the social economic fabric of each state. Your actions determine the trajectory of social longevity, wealth and growth. But because of your inaction, many have perished. Kids’ well-being and future are snatched away. They are disillusioned. They go through the mechanics of the court system, listen to countless unknown persons speaking with much confidence on how they care and wish the best for them. They listen to DCF officials equivocate on how they have society’s most vulnerable best interest at heart. When we know that the kids and their parents are their clients. The pain and the misery both the parents and the children go through are the sources for DCF to bilk Medicare and Social Security.

But wait! Why is it most people  within DCF aren’t held responsible? Because most states (Florida the leader in this regard) somehow received an epiphany a while back that they lack the resources and moral leadership to carry the weight of their child-welfare responsibilities. So it is through their supreme wisdom and understanding that they doled out said responsibilities to private contractors. In Florida’s case, DCF handed over their baton to ChildNet in Broward County.  This clever maneuver helped masked their gigantic failures.  Florida out of all the states boast of its Sunshine Law, and its Sunshine policies. But hey, even a mole knows the sun does not shine everywhere and it goes down quite early in Florida. And when it does, the vampires i.e. the child-welfare investigators lurk for families to devour. Joseph Kony indeed has run out of luck. He’s got a bull’s eye on his back because he got caught. He is brutish and cold. His inhumane actions are quite visible. He has been able to pull this off through fear.

But DCF like I said before, is calculating and discreet. May I add even cunning. They being the government doled out their responsibility to private entities. They assume a supervisory role at a distance. Because they know the government cannot really meddle in the affairs of private entities because there aren’t any elected officials present. They being the government will not attempt to hold anyone accountable because they are already aware and since everyone benefits from the arrangement, it is better to remain neutral.  So will the real Joseph Kony please stand up? Kony is a symbol too. Some would say he is the personification of the devil. He symbolizes a problem within a group that everyone is aware of but is either unable or ill-equipped to do something about it. DCF is within the government. The private entities for the most part commit the same egregious things to kids. They know they have to work hand in hand with DCF to ensure it doesn’t get out. They cross their fingers and hope parents with a trained eye and keen senses don’t caught on. If parents are on to them they will activate their friends in high places: the attorney general office, the state attorney’s office, juvenile/dependency/criminal court, hospitals, counseling centers, schools and police stations too. Those who get close enough realize that in light of the recent hype concerning Joseph Kony, the public hasn’t seen anything yet. For if they were vigilant, they would realize there are greater abusers than Kony within their midst. On the one hand, Kony is all brute and brawn, while on other, DCF is all brains; you get to decide who’ll last longer.

A Disputation on the Magnitude of Abuses, the Incompetence and the Cronyism of Florida’s Child-Welfare Services better known as The 48 Theses.
By Brown Voltaire
Out of deep concern and the desire to see the proper management of Florida’s child care operations, I call out the following entities: Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO)/Child Protective Investigation Services (CPS), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), its subcontractors and the community-based providers. The aim of these 48 theses set forth on this paper is to persuade said entities to revamp its child-welfare services. The bureaucracy is stifling and insipid. They perpetuate misery. They have spun their web of influence into almost every fabric of Florida’s society in order to continually secure its aimless mission, objectives and fieldwork; they lobby very hard and spread their manipulative tentacles throughout other agencies and branches of government.

Florida prefers to maintain a sunny disposition rather than looking at the grim truth and manage its child-welfare program better. The irony here is, kids in despair and tragic circumstances are removed from parents. But in foster care their conditions are negatively amplified. Most kids in foster care learn how to be aspiring criminals. The few who make it out of Florida’s foster care system unscathed are those whose extended family played a vital role in their lives. I challenge the public and the media to have a debate on the wantonness and egregious actions of DCF and its subcontractors. I challenge the state to show evidence in which a large percentage of foster care kids leave the system with a great outlook. I challenge the state to counter the harsh reality of most foster kids who end up in the system who later commit gross criminal acts and get incarcerated.

The state cannot confidently boast of having a caring child-welfare system. They relinquished their responsibilities to private entities. The citizenry is still waiting to witness a practical exit strategy for kids leaving the system. It is simple; the state ought not to put kids in the system if it cannot ensure their safe arrival to adulthood. Yes, there are some bright spots out there. Some succeed. Thank God though the people who watch over the country’s nuclear arsenal are not as reckless and indifferent as child-welfare administrators. Said administrators act like reforming the foster care system is a pesky reality. Self-preservation is not a virtue. Child-welfare administrators should be swift to champion reform over self-preservation.

1. The state of Florida must abandon its blasé attitude regarding child-welfare services. The scale of inefficiency is too high. Most child-welfare entities favorite catch phrase is ‘My hands are tied.’ If their hands are indeed tied, then, how will they get them loose in order to better themselves?

2. “Thirty percent of the homeless in America and some 25 percent of those in prison were once in foster care” (ABC.go.com). Those numbers are troubling and administrators should worry less about their tenure and more about the above statistics.

3. Child-welfare agencies must refrain from massaging the statutes of Florida. They must strictly adhere to them.

4. Parents’ constitutional rights are not a figment of their imagination.

5. DCF and some community-based lead agencies attract way too many lawsuits. Their negligence resulted in enormous financial setbacks and several pending lawsuits.

6. Florida law makers believe that privatization is the way to go. These same law makers stumble for words when the public raise concerns about the lack of oversight. Solutions to manage community-based providers effectively continue to evade lawmakers.

7. Community-based providers and DCF should stop putting children in legal limbo. Neglect is a common reoccurring behavior among most DCF staffers and subcontractors.

8. Two dynamics involved in raising children: one, to consistently mold their character, two, to equip them with life skills to live a content life. So far, the entities mentioned have been missing the mark.

9. The ancient Greeks came up with the word hypocrite which denotes someone who is an actor. The entities mentioned have done a great job acting the part. A wise preacher once said, “Acting [sic] does not paint life in practical pictures.”

10. There are different kinds of resources. Most people are generally obsessed with money. Some of the others are: time, natural, talents and information. Said entities are consumed by money. They want more or they don’t have enough. They also say don’t have any time. They are burned out and cumbered with responsibilities. Sadly they hardly lack the talent to act judiciously but find it easily to act hasty and do sloppy investigations. Further, they are not good at handling information. The management of the abuse hotline is chaotic. Thankfully plans are now in place to streamline it into one database.

11. Child-welfare administrators are vindictive towards natural parents but are very accommodating towards foster parents. Case in point the Barahonas and Mr. McGuigan. The public only hear about foster parents when the department finally runs out of white-out.

12. Community-based providers like 4Kids of South Florida should abandon their quasi-religious affiliation and remember what the gospel of Mark says: “It will be terrible for people who cause even one of my little followers to sin. Those people would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their necks.” Contemporary English Version (CEV). If they can provide a spotless record please continue but join the queue behind those who are entrusted to take care of the little ones but don’t.

13. Child-welfare administrators should expend the same energy tackling child-welfare challenges as they do to prolong their influence and that of their friends.

14. According to the Administration of Children and Families, around 408,000 children were placed in foster care as of September 2010. These days, studies show adoption works out better for the kids. Most kids despise group homes or shelters. Florida needs to be swift to put kids with families or find suitable adoptive parents.

15. This nation created a bureau called the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ACF championed child-welfare services because the good ole’ days were terrible for children. But it later ballooned into a bureaucracy that only pumps money to states and collect data.

16. In order for DCF, ChildNet and its subcontractors to be reformed, it must start from the federal level.

17. Some child-welfare judges automatically believe the witness of investigators who stand before them with the state’s petition. Natural parents rarely stand a chance because if there is an allegation against them, then they are always culpable.

18. The lawyers with DCF who work to reunite families must stick to doing that and stop changing up petition to scare parents when they don’t want to cooperate.

19. The timeline of incident reports should match the specific events. The court should never accept any paperwork submitted several months after a report was made.

20. Newsflash DCF, ChildNet and Broward County, cronyism is not a virtue.

21. DCF oversees a wide range of Florida’s social and economic spectrum. Yet it fails the citizenry miserably in the child-welfare department. DCF cannot go on planting weeds but expect to harvest real crops.

22. It is a shame when serious cases of abuse and gross official misconduct occur; child-welfare officials believe the best course of action is to relieve the guilty supervisors or reshuffle them. Criminal prosecution is a rarity. They should own up to their moral failure.

23. Most news outlets are partial towards DCF. Said outlets are sanguine toward its subcontractors too.

24. Police officers should never accompany investigators without first verifying all the legal channels.

25. Investigators should have a keen mind, a big heart, a thorough work ethic, pragmatic job-related skill set and most importantly a sharp intellect.

26. When child-welfare entities and the child-welfare court band together to push through complex cases hastily; that is not a sign of great team work.

27. It is toxic when child-welfare officials say: “The system is broken.” A broken system perpetuates brokenness and the children cannot escape this. It is time to stop overlooking America’s greatest resource—the American people. There are capable people who are both resourceful and qualified to tackle said system.

28. At some point child-welfare administration officials must one day break down and admit; it is too hard to take care of children. Enact initiatives to make it solely the duty of parents/guardians or legal non-relatives.

29. The cost of Medicaid stems primarily from the services ACF provides. Child-welfare entities benefit from these services. Policy makers are talking about reforming Medicaid but they are not looking at what actually drives up the cost.

30. Unfortunately no one influential will rise to the occasion and reform child-welfare entities. It is after said entities implode and the public lose trust in them; it is then folks will pay attention.

31. Ethics is a foreign word to child-welfare entities. Cronyism is the social currency of operation.

32. The sum of all fears for Florida’s child-welfare administrators is fixing the systemic problems within child-welfare entities. They assume if they do; the domino house will crash. They resort to Band-Aid solutions instead.

33. Some Child-welfare administrators misapply the federal government’s intention to grant the state of Florida the Title IV-E Waiver initiative. It seems they resort to snatching up kids from their home and placing them in foster care in order to continue the steady stream of federal funding. On the other hand, new directives compel lead agencies to reunite families in order to receive said funding. Most of the times parents’ don’t have to comply with their case plans but most agencies use guile to force them.

34. The Guardian Ad Litem Program must stick to its original stance—be there for the kids not DCF.

35. Florida expects a miracle to happen in the lives of foster children. Most foster parents are profane and scrupulous, yet they expect the kids to become outstanding individuals.

36. Allegations against foster parents should receive the same amount of attention as allegations against natural parents.

37. Child Protective Investigation Services (CPS) workers must have good diction and excellent writing skills. Shoddy paper work should never be admissible in court.

38. CPS workers must refrain from obtaining background checks on alleged abusers if they do not have court approval.

39. Foster caretakers must be above reproach.

40. Foster parents are not in the witness protection program. Natural parents who do not pose any risk should be allowed to visit their child/children.

41. Community-based providers like ChildNet and 4Kids employ draconian methods to neuter persistent parents. They abruptly cancel mandated visitations. They turn a blind eye to foster parents who don’t take calls from parents. They take children to state assistance programs to receive services without any court order. They remain mute in court so that non-dependent kids can remain in legal limbo and they can produce a case plan and receive their filthy lucre.

42. All aforementioned entities should seek out and implement new ideas to revamp the child-welfare system.

43. Child-welfare entities should resist employing a one-size-fits-all approach to their cases. Yes, the job is enveloped in misery; the workers see and expect misery. So a case where there is no misery has to have misery.
44. Child-welfare entities must admit they enjoy milking Medicaid, Social Security and any other Federal funding.

45. The dependency court must cease and desist from sheltering children who are not dependent. It must stop extending professional courtesy to DCF’s lawyers to build fruitless cases against persistent parents. It must send the kids home. Judges should never band with DCF to teach persistent parents a lesson.

46. The CEO’s of community-based lead agencies need to justify their over the top pay checks.

47. Child-welfare entities are a massive handout program lacking a systematic foundation. ACF should implement constructive assistance geared towards empowering child-welfare programs. ACF should stop writing blank checks to states with horrendous child-welfare background.

48. Community-based lead agencies offer services that are mediocre and elementary. Rarely do the services offer any practical or educational stimulation. The services should be practical and they should match the background of each client.

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