Tag Archive: child welfare system

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.

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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