By Georga Hackworth
Published Nov 07, 2007
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We all hear the horror stories involving Child Protective Services but believe it will never happen to us. Maybe we like to believe that those horror stories are the exception to the rule.
Maybe we like to think that the media is sensationalizing the facts for ratings and profit, after all, that is what the media does. Maybe we think that we are doing everything right and will never have to deal with the system.
The reality is that states and counties receive $30,000 for each child removed from the home and put into the system. Those funds go up to between $40,000 and $150,000 if the child has special needs. If you think that kind of money doesn't breed corruption, think again. In March 2003 the city of San Francisco had 75,000 children in their system. 75,000 children at $30,000 each (that is assuming none of them were handicapped) is $2,250,000,000! Foster families receive between $3,000 and $8300 a year for fostering a child depending on the state. That is a nice little profit being made even after you account for salaries and other overhead. It would be interesting to know where several million dollars each year is going.
The Department of Child Protective Services is a relatively new department of the government. In 1974 the first child abuse case went before the courts. There were no child abuse laws at that time so the case was taken up by the Human Society of the United States. It was after that case that the first child abuse laws were written and the Department of Child Protective Services was put together. It wasn't long before around 500,000 children were placed into the system with nothing in place to either return the children to their parents to find permanent homes for them. I remember attending elementary school with several children who lived in an orphanage where these children were put and forgotten about by the system.
Like most government agencies, CPS has evolved over the years and undergone reform to prevent abuse of the system as well as to make things run smoother and more effectively. However, it seems that the more rules that are put in place the more loopholes there are for corruption.
In 1997 the Adoption and Safe Families Act was put into place by the 105th Congress of the United States. The Adoption and Safe Families Act states:
· Reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve and reunify families unless the parent(s) have committed murder or voluntary manslaughter; aided, abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter; committed a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury of the child or another child of the parent; the parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily
· If a child is not to be returned to the parents that a permanency hearing will take place within 30 days and that finalization of the placement, either with a legal guardian or by adoption, will be handled in a expeditious fashion as well as the details of how this will be done.
· How much money is to be given by the Federal Government to carry out the bill including incentive payments for the adoption of children in the system.
Yes, incentive payments for the adoption of children in the system. How this works is that a base line number of adoptions has to happen by each state or they risk loosing money. I understand the thought pattern behind the push to adopt out children permanently placed in the system. However, providing monetary incentives opens a lot of doors for the abuse of power. The base line number of adoptions of each state was determined individually. The number of adoptions for the years 1995, 1996 and 1997 were added up and the average taken. Each state was given their number. For each adoption that takes place over that number the state gets $4000. An additional $2000 is given for each special needs child.
Where does all this money go? I wish I had the answer there. Every child that gets put into the system is automatically enrolled in Medicaid. That crosses medical care off the list of what that money pays for. Foster families get a stipend each month for each foster child they take care of to help cover food, clothes and other basic needs. That monthly payment is only a small fraction of that $30,000 given to the state.
From my personal experience I can tell you that none of that money goes into helping the families who have been torn apart. In fact, the social worker that showed up on my door step was driving a BMW. Apparently social workers do get paid that much. So much for horrible hours, horrible pay and it being a thankless job that has a high turn over rate. I will say that being a social worker takes a certain type of person and not everyone is cut out for the job.
Forget wanting to help families. Forget wanting to protect children. Maybe that is why people originally go into social work. To be successful at you have to have a sadistic side of you that enjoys watching people suffer, that way you don't get emotionally attached and you do what you have to do.
Don't believe me? Don't think the system is abused? Consider for a moment that every report that is made to Child Protective Services, regardless of the validity of the claim, has to be investigated or the state risks loosing federal monies that are tied to Social Security. This means that if you get into a fight with your neighbor, your mother-in-law, or a friend they can pick up the phone and call in a false report in retaliation and you will have a social worker show up on your doorstep.
If everything isn't picture perfect when that social worker arrives, a case is formed. It could be anything such as the garbage hasn't been taken out that day, there are dirty dishes in the sink or your kids haven't had a bath yet that day. These people are there to judge your parenting and if they show up on that off day they aren't going to believe you that it's not normally like that.
I have also learned first hand that if someone makes a false call and makes the story outrageous enough that there will be no investigation and your kids will be taken on the spot, and the social worker doesn't have to be professional about it. They are allowed to yell at you, make snap judgments without asking questions, make you stand in the rain for three hours as well as ask questions that are a violation of your personal rights.
The social worker involved in our case also did nothing to help us out. Her idea of help was coming back a week later with a zoning inspector and having the house we were living in condemned making us homeless. This was after she was ordered by the court to return our kids and pay for temporary housing until we could get moved. When we went back to court and she was questioned on this her argument was "We are not in the habit of putting up homeless families."
She violated court order after court order and the judge did not do much about it, beyond not letting her get her way of terminating our parental rights and putting the children in state care. I know that the numbers were adding up in her head. I have seven children. Some of them are considered special needs. If she could get them adopted out there would be a nice bonus of $28,000 minimum.
After a month and a half we did get our kids back, but not after our visitation awarded by the court was blocked for a week and a half, our oldest was put in an unapproved foster home (the woman was licensed to take care of relatives only) and been sexually assaulted and our other children spent just over a month sick because the group home they were put in were very lax about the special diets they had to be on for health reasons.
Nothing was put in place for the emotional and mental well-being of my children. There is no counseling that is automatically given to children in the system to help cope with being separated from their parents. Maybe it is because it is assumed that every child removed from their home and taken away from their parents will be relieved because the state has rules, regulations and procedures in place to prevent errors from happening. Forget that the system is set up with monetary incentives at every corner that those motivated by greed.
Money, Child Protective Services, and Greed - Associated Content