Tag Archive: Child-welfare

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.


The Seven Deadly Sins of the Child-Welfare System.


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.

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