Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Texas, CPS, FLDS and Misguided Masses

Give the System Time to Work by Jim Shields, Justice for Children is a sterling example of experts who get it wrong.

These kids don't have time to wait for the system to work. It hasn't worked already, a point which I have made in previous posts. These kids only have twelve months before this case - or is it these cases? - go to permanency. By the time of the dispositional hearing, where the case plan is ordered, the parent will only have six to nine months to get it done. Time is off the essence. If CPS can't get it right from the start of the case, it is safe to assume they won't get it right further on in the case. The irreversible damage is already being done.

Shields spouting tired old platitudes like the following insane quote proves it.

Removing a child from her home is always traumatic and should never be done without careful consideration.

The flip side of that argument is that if errors are going to be made, it is better to err on the side of safety for the child. We will be watching as this process goes forward and all of us want to do the right thing. I believe that we will.

First of all, removing a child is a guarantee of trauma. I've been a foster child, I know. Besides my first-hand anecdotal experiences, the extent and nature of this trauma has been clearly detailed by Dr. Ken Magid in his book High Risk: Children Without a Conscience. He addresses the extensive harm caused by removing a child from his parents which affects not only relationships throughout his life, but also affects development, learning and social skills.

It is clearly evident that that best buffer against traumatic effects of abuse is the child's close proximity to his primary emotional attachments, even if some of the abuse comes from the person to whom the child is attached. It's a strange relationship, but one which should be protected to mitigate permanent harm to the child. This is why the law is clear that children should only be removed from their parents when they are at imminent, identifiable danger to life or limb. The best alternative for the child is to leave him in the family home, put services into place, and supervise. The most profitable choice which requires the least amount of work for the caseworker is to place the child in foster care. After all, she only has to visit him once a month.

But the most absurd argument forwarded by this misguided expert is the commonly held proposition that they state can err on the side of the child or as he prevaricated, 'err on the side of safety for the child.'

Excuse me. . . I've looked and looked and neither Texas nor the Federal mandates include any identifiable provision giving permission to "err" much less to err in a manner completely contradictory to the statutory mandates and legislative intent to keep children with parents.

But I'll play along. Let's assume arguendo the law says, "If you're not sure, if the evidence is shaky, remove the child to a safer placement and hash it out later."

Statistically, foster care isn't that safer placement.

Some studies reveal that children are 11 times more likely to be abused in state care than they are in their own homes, and 7 times more likely to die as a result of abuse in the foster care system. John Walsh Show 4-16-2003.

A 1986 survey conducted by the National Foster Care Education Project -Timothy W. Maier, "Suffer the Children," Insight on the News, (November 24, 1997). p. 11 estimates ten percent of children in foster care are abused. A follow- up study in 1990 by the same group produced similar results.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Children's Rights Project similarly estimates that a child in the care of the state is ten times more likely to be abused than one in the care of his parents - Seth Farber, "The Real Abuse," National Review, (April 12, 1993).

In Missouri, a 1981 study found that 57 percent of the sample children were placed in foster care settings that put them "at the very least at a high risk of abuse or neglect. David Kaplovitz and Louis Genevie, Foster Children in Jackson County, Missouri: A Statistical Analysis of Files Maintained by the Division of Family Services, (1981).

In Louisiana, a study conducted in conjunction with a civil suit found that 21 percent of abuse or neglect cases involved foster homes, Del A. v. Edwin Edwards, (1988).

And not too long ago in Texas, Carold Keeton Strayhone, former Comptroller for Texas exposed the appalling conditions of children in foster care. Texas admits
44 children in DPRS conservatorship died in fiscal 2002. Abuse and death at the hands of foster care givers is grossly underreported. The state gets to investigate itself, and has a vested interest in determining that the injury or death is not attributable to abuse. Think about it, if the FLDS parents were permitted to investigate themselves, would the outcome have been different?

In all, the Texas foster care system received poor marks. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated that they do not think that Texas’ foster care system works well; 57 percent said the same about the residential treatment system. When asked how they would rate the service provided by DPRS, 49 percent responded “bad” and an additional 30 percent rated them as fair. How can this be safer for the children, especially for the 95% or more who did not even require medical treatment for abuse injuries when they were removed?

Come-on, do you experts think we are so stupid as to buy your lame platitudes? Caseworkers insist they are professionals. If they are, they have a job to do and duty to do it accurately. "Erring" is unprofessional, lazy, incompetent and abusive.

But, as long the kids are commodities for Title IV-E money, you can cook the books any way you want.

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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.