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.