Saturday, March 27, 2010

Credible Child Welfare Reform Efforts Not Newsworthy?

The family rights grassroots movement is mourning the loss of former Georgia state Senator Nancy Schaefer. I did not work with her personally due to conflicts with those who were in contact with her, however I did follow her work to expose and correct the abuses in Georgia's child welfare administration. She was quite pro-active in the arena of child welfare reform. But to read the news articles, one would never know that.

Elected officials who advocate for reform or accountability in child welfare are frequently engaged in political suicide. I have seen the political careers of statesmen abruptly cut off for their pro-active attempts to reform child welfare in their legislative capacity. The stakeholders in the child welfare industry finance an opponent who invariably defeats the annoying incumbent in the next election. The boldness of their stand in support of families deserves some recognition.

In a search of articles reporting on this tragedy I found one  mainstream news article that mentioned this aspect of her career, but only in the context of a speech in Europe. Evidently the powers-that-be don't want this aspect of her work to be legitimized in the public eye.

On the other side of the coin, I have observed that the news media jumps at the opportunity to spotlight the highly vocal wackadoodles* in the family rights movement, affording them the public forum to spout their woe-is-me nonsense about their own cases and their rabid, kooky tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories, making all of us look like nothing more than disgruntled parents who deserved to have their children removed. Even now, the radicals are spouting theories of a child welfare agency conspiracy to murder her in an effort to capitalize on the headlines of her death.

Conspicuously absent from the public debate are discussions with credible representatives advocating balanced child welfare reform. Mainstream media's refusals to even acknowledge attempts by legislators to legislate reform contribute to that deafening silence and serve only to eliminate any reasonable solutions from public consideration. The public is left with only two extreme alternatives, leave children in dangerous homes or remove children who don't need to be removed and place them in foster care.

There is a third alternative, but nobody hears about moderate and sensible solutions to the problems alleged by both extremes in the child welfare debate because mainstream media panders to sensationalism in favor of solutions to controversial issues.

Based on what I have observed of former Senator Schaefer, I believe she considered her efforts to reform child welfare practices to be noteworthy among her accomplishments. I think the mainstream media has done a great disservice, both to her and to the public, by ignoring this important component of her work in their articles about her.

*Wackadoodles are those family members who have truly abused or neglected the children in their care and who are attempting to use the family rights movement to achieve public vindication for that abuse or neglect. The designation also includes batterers, con artists, control freaks and the mentally unstable. The family rights movement has more than their fair share of these unstable elements who seek leadership positions and undermine the efficacy and credibility of this movement. To be fair, the cadres of child welfare workers also demonstrate a disproportionately high percentage of wackadoodles, including a disproportionately high percentage of providers who were or believe they were abused as children. 

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Leave the emotions, propaganda and rhetoric at the door. This blogger is only interested in intelligent, logical, well-thought out, factually based comments which are on-topic, indicating the writer has an open mind and a mature ability to reason.