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Foster Care

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posted on Jul, 17 2006 @ 11:12 PM
We can file this one under the whatever happened to the nuclear family, but I would like to focus on the band-aids we call Child Protective Services (CPS) and Foster Care. I have some experience in this area and I can tell you it ain't pretty. Families are sucked into a bureaucratic maelstrom, for good cause, usually, but once they are there the state has the upper hand and the already weakened family becomes crushed under the weight of government inefficiency.

The children are the real losers because they are taken from an already bad situation and then placed in strange homes with strange people and moved to strange schools where they live in fear of the other students learning of their status. The anxiety usually eats at the kids to the point that even the best of kids are driven to act out their misery and we call this Child Protection.

Here is a case in point.

A teenage girl reunited with her father last year after a decade in foster care is suing Los Angeles County for taking so long to bring them together. County supervisors had said in September that the reunion of Melinda Smith, now 17, and father Thomas Marion Smith was the result of a "groundbreaking effort," and congratulated county agencies for locating the father.

But the lawsuit alleges that the Department of Children and Family Services failed to use "due diligence" to locate Thomas Smith. It claims the agency never notified Smith, who had continued making child support payments, that his daughter was in foster care and never gave him a chance to claim her.


I think I can say that every Social Worker who ever worked on this case did the best job possible under the circumstances, but in these settings there is almost no way that even the best can control their activity in any meaningful way. Social Workers are responsible for every component on their case loads and when there are 30 phone calls every day, each of which demands immediate attention, some things fall between the cracks. When it happens to be a family, there can be no tolerance for error, yet no one can cover every aspect of every case every moment of every day.

Whom do we blame, then? Well, usually the poor sap left holding the bag, which is why the turnover in CPS is so high. No one wants to be left holding the bag. The only way to survive in the profession is to move up or out.

Line Social Workers are almost always inexperienced relative to their colleagues elsewhere in the department. And who bears the brunt of this chaotic system? It's always the kids. You can blame the parents. You can blame the state or you can single out one Social Worker, but the one who suffers most is always the innocent--the children.

What is going on in our culture that keeps our systems swamped? What is it about our systems that they cannot be managed to utilize human resources to the greatest effect? Where will this all lead?

Take time to read the whole article. I will provide some bacground material, as well.

Google Search

[edit on 2006/7/18 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jul, 17 2006 @ 11:40 PM

I don't think I will read all those articles because frankly I am not going to be a crusader for changing government social programs, even though I thoroughly understand the end results of "how it works" towards the so called "customers" - namely US citizens.

I will, however, ask you your opinion of what should be done. I do realize your points regarding social workers. Sometimes, it is conceiveable that they have to work within the rules of the system, but other times, they do drop the ball as well. Lack of experience, integrity, or just making mistakes only compunds the already bad methodology of how the government runs things - not just in social work, but practically everything they do.

The one thing I have noticed that differentiates an efficient workplace system and one that is disfunctional is the requirement of following codeified protocols on how to do anything. Workplaces have become more and more reliant on making employees less able to use good judment and forcing them to become robots and following a procedural set of rules. We are today at a point of diminishing returns with this, but the government still insists on making every aspect of every profession a mere matter of having to follow rules and procedure down to a T. This is probably the main crux of the social welfare system' inefficiency. Instead of having the entire system run like it was a piece of software, maybe they could reinvent themselves to be more user friendly and actually use people to make decisions rather than elaborate computer systems and legal systems to figure everything out??

MY EDIT: When you don't see a hired security officer in a government building, then you know that they are probably doing a good job of pleasing the people!

[edit on 17-7-2006 by ben91069]

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 12:19 AM
My short answer is that whatever the factors are that bring so many children into custody must be remedied ASAP. Once a family has been swept into the system, in most cases, it's too late to maintain the family's integrity.

The systemic problems of CPS I can address later, if necessary. The societal problems that contribute to this problem is what I'm interested in hearing from others. Let me know what you think.

[edit on 2006/7/18 by GradyPhilpott]

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 12:40 AM
Grady, there are undoubtedly abuses of the foster care system; however, it is designed to remove children from an unsafe environment. Many children have no other "safe haven" mores the pity. CPS at least in my town will usually try to place the child with a blood relative in an attempt to keep families together. There are some excellent foster parents out there who are dedicated to the welfare of the child in their care. Families need to look out for each other but it isn't always possible. My daughter works with children who have been abused in any way it is possible to abuse a child some have been placed with other family members others had to be placed in foster care but all had to be removed for safety. The counseling they and the families are receiving is designed to reunite the family. CPS and Catholic Family Services do an excellent job maintaining families but sadly it can't always happen. the case you quote is an isolated instance, I believe, and as you said probably a result of overworked and overwhelmed case workers.

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 12:47 AM
I agree with you 100%, but I am trying to get us to look at the broader issue. The system is filled with very many fine folks, but the system continues to fail the most vulnerable. Government has always been inefficient, therefore I think that revamping the CPS system is, well, treating the symptoms, to borrow a term.

What do we need to do to remedy the "root problem?" How do we keep kids out of foster care, including relative foster care?

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 02:15 AM

Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
What do we need to do to remedy the "root problem?" How do we keep kids out of foster care, including relative foster care?

This is the kind of subject that God ought to be speaking to President Bush about.

And in typical Grady fashion, a nice read and important topic.

The societal problems that contribute to this problem is what I'm interested in hearing from others. Let me know what you think

You're probably in a better position than most with your experience Grady to help us understand what the system has identified as all the societal factions that are yielding so many victims. Cause surely, there are some who are going to end up there no matter what due to really bad situations beyond realistic ameliorability, or even out of human control.

I mean is there like a list somewhere?

Divorce/Family Problems
Domestic Violence
Natural Disasters
Natural or Sudden Death of Parent(s)
Sheer poverty
Mental retardation/Disabilities
Medical traumas/Disease
Immigration status?
Language deficiency?

It is such a huge complicated issue that to even begin to tackle it and find the places where numbers can be reduced-

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 05:27 AM
well, I'll give you an example of an actual case that I know of...

a women developed a health problem that would cause her to pass out. her husband was at work one day and well, she had something like two or three kids she had to care for. well, she passed out, and one of the kids managed to find some matches, or a lighter, and set the upstairs bedroom on fire. they kids were taken, put into foster care, while the parents were sent to counseling, parenting classes, family court, ect. ect.....

okay, this famliy was of a modest income, they weren't rich, and they weren't poor. they were already struggling to pay for the medical care that was necessary to find out why she was passing out. if the problem was that it was unsafe for the children to be home alone with here....the reason given when the kids were taken, well, why didn't social service step in and offer some free child care for awhile? would have been alot cheaper than foster care, and less tramatic to the children? and well, I know of another case where a child burned down two apartments!!! or at least it was the child that got blamed. ya, that child was taken also, but here's the clincher....even the welfare dept admitted that they didn't believe the child set the fire, but rather, the father did it by falling to sleep while smoking his pipe. there were other kids in that family, that were left still in a dangerous situation, or at least that is what the social service workers believed. but they still went with the game, and allowed the one boy to be blamed.

I don't know what the problem is in the system, but it's a mess!!!

and, I would like to point out one major difference between these two cases that I have given. In the first, where all the kids were taken because the mother couldn't stay conscious to keep an eye on them, well, the had a rather nice income. in the second, where two of the three kids were left in what was admitted to be a rather dangerous situation, and only one was taken, well, they were all already on welfare, no money to be gained there, huh???

still say there's a nice little scam going on there.....they take the kids, garnish the father's check for their care, and well, the care the kids usually get don't even come close to what is taken...

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 12:26 PM

Originally posted by gallopinghordes
the case you quote is an isolated instance, I believe, and as you said probably a result of overworked and overwhelmed case workers.

Sadly, this is not an isolated case. And I do agree with you that the workers are overworked and overwhelmed, besides being not very well paid for the most part. I worked as a social worker for 15 years, mostly with alcoholism/other drug addiction. I worked in a Perinatal Program for 7 years. It was a program for mothers to help them get off the drugs and learn some parenting skills. It's very much a generational thing at this point. When your parents are too busy cooking meth to attend to your needs and there is absolute chaos constantly, it's hard to learn how to parent well. We basically had to reparent the women. Almost all of them had been molested by a relative when they were children. Most of them were living with partners who beat them and/or their children. It was very difficult work. THey were in our program all day long, 5 days a week. THey received group therapy and as many individual counseling sessions as they needed, usually 1 or 2 times a week and they could stay for several years after they graduated from the program to receive support and continue their counseling, as they tried to get off welfare and get trained for work. It was an excellent program, with top notch counselors and I was very proud to work there. We worked all the time with CPS. For most of the women, it was the first time anyone had ever cared about them. It worked very well for 6 years and we had about a 50% rate of recovery, which is unheard of in the field of addiction. Most of the women worked very hard at recovery.

So what happened? Well, the state of California (where I worked) decided it didn't need the program so they gutted it when they did all of the "get off welfare and go to work" programs. Trouble is, if you aren't prepared and trained for the work world, and you still have mental/emotional issues, you will most likely fail at work and at parenting. THe program no longer did any individual counseling and group therapy hours were shortened. Our goal went from helping these women to recover, put their lives together and be good (or at least better) parents, to getting them into Voc Rehab ASAP. They could only be in the program for 6 months, instead of the usual 1 to 1 1/2 years. After 6 months they were expected to go out and find work. Trouble is, these women would only just begin to get the program only after they'd been there 6 months; it took that long just to gain their trust somewhat, and for them to see that if they worked at recovery they could change their lives and receive lots of help from us. I worked with the women, their partners, and their children. Often, they were homeless. We helped these incredible women to work hard and to develop a healthy, functioning family.
The government created this program and then 6 years later, they abandoned it. I quit because the program was grossly different than when I first went to work there. After 6 months of the new program, morale amongst clients and workers was very low, and not many women were actually recovering. They really needed the individual counseling but couldn't get it.
In summation, it was a great program - too bad they didn't continue it. It actually was working. THen there were the horror stories I heard from CPS workers, but I won't go into that now.
I'm proud of the work that I did with these women and I'm proud of them for taking such heroic steps to improve themselves, their lives and their children's lives. But it was extremely disheartening when we had worked so hard to develop a terrific program, only to have it shot down when we reallly had perfected the finer points of the program.

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 12:42 PM
Jeez... well... um...

Is this the social Gordian knot?


I don't know... From the cases I have seen that make it to court, especially the termination of parental rights, all I see are people who should never have been allowed to be parents in the first place. I know the court mandates parenting classes, and there are even classes to teach someone how to clean their apartment. There is a local tv commercial reminding pregnant mothers to eat a healthy breakfast instead of birthday cake.

As far as helping to prevent wrongful removal, I think the first place is to hire more CPS workers, lower case loads, and pay more. States don't think in terms of $$ until there is a lawsuit, which seems to be the only way reforms are made. Also, maybe require a visit to a forensic nurse or doctor especially familiar with the indicators of abuse. Maybe also have a law enforcement unit that works with CPS only, to help handle the investigative aspects, all prior to removal.

Part of the problem is that in how we deal with abuse issues really walks the line between criminal and civil. If it is investigated as a crime, then you can't really do the investigation that is needed by the CPS. The home visits, interviews, etc. But by not treating it as a crime, the behavior is not halted as soon as possible.

Quite frankly, this dilema is one of the reasons why I brought up eugenics in another thread.

[edit on 18-7-2006 by hogtie]

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 03:22 PM
I think you've brought up some very good ideas, Hogtie. I especially like the idea of a special police force to deal only with CPS issues. THat way, they could be especially trained as to what to look for, how to deal with all parties involved, etc. And your ideas of more social workers, better pay also is a good one, exactly what is needed IMHO.

Something else I wanted to bring attention to is that nowadays, many of the CPS social workers are just out of school. Many places offered a deal wehre for each year you worked there at CPS, you got one year of your student loan paid for. Unfortunately, even that is not incentive enough due to the horrendous case load each worker has to carry. Also, they're inexperienced, it takes years to really learn how to be good at what they're doing. So, consequently, many CPS departments have mostly if not all, recently graduated students. There is no one to teach them the ropes and even if there is, they certainly don't have time.

I remember back when George Bush 41 was prez, he gave that speech about "a thousand points of light", talking about how we should have volunteers doing social work. Volunteers would not have the training, experience, or education on how to handle these things. It's lilke saying let's have volunteers running the science industry, it makes about as much sense. I felt my profession had been very much denigrated by him, as if he thought that anyone could do this job. It also tells you how much our govt (state, federal, local) does not value our children that they would allow this situation to continue with CPS and even with our schools as well. Our kids are really getting the short end of the stick IMO.

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 03:34 PM
You're abosutely right. There is no substitute for experience, and experience = burnout.

How about if CPS workers had a schedule similar to teachers where they have around 3 months off a year? Work 3, off 1.

posted on Jul, 18 2006 @ 10:33 PM
Oh if only I had the wisdom of Solomon but I don't. I believe part of the solution for this problem is families taking responsibility for each other. I left the Navy to take custody of my neice to prevent her from going into foster care it just what you do. Part of the problem is many people have children but have no idea how to take care of them. States require marriage counseling and parenting classes for those who wish to divorce maybe we should require parenting classes for anyone who becomes pregnant. Better clarify that the classes should be for both parents.

Maybe there should also be a program for respite care. Parents get stressed and lash out maybe it there was a safe place for them to turn to they would.

Part of the solution should also come with all of us looking out for each other. If you notice that a family member or a friend needs help maybe just an encouraging word give it. It's amazing how well a compliment to an over-stressed parent can help. I was in a store and a toddler was having a toddler moment; the Mom was tired and getting angry but when I told her how cute her baby was the anger turned to a smile and then I mentioned that I understood how hard it was sometimes; it seemed to help. On the other hand however, we also need to intervene and prevent physical harm and be willing to testify if needed. My brother Seagull was part of an intervention in the parking lot of a mall when a mother was beating her child. He and 3 others took a stand and said no you will not harm a child. I'm pretty proud of him for that.

Grady this is a tough subject but needs to be discussed so thanks for this thread. This topic should be discussed openly and frequently as well as that tough topic relationship violence. Hogtie I imagine you have lots of experience dealing with this as does Forest Lady. Hats off to both of you for the tough jobs.

posted on Jul, 19 2006 @ 07:55 AM
Thanks gallopinhordes, but I'm not in those trenches. I'm just associated through another field. I don't think I could hack it.

posted on Jul, 20 2006 @ 09:01 PM
I know all about this one.
Here’s my little story in a nutshell.

I was in group homes for 12 long years. 6-18 years old. I was taken away from my parents because my mom beat the crud out of me with a belt. the reason why she did this is because I ran away after I saw her drunk with someone else besides my father.

I was a confused 6 year old little girl that seen her mom with someone else, so I took off. later she tracked me down, took me home and beat the crap out of me.

I spent 12 years in the equivalent of hell for what my mom did. You cant even go to the bathroom without asking in most group homes.

Why did I stay in these homes so long?

1) I had nowhere else to go.
2) I developed an anger problem. Why? You back someone into a corner and their going to lash out. The rules and restrictions are suffocating.
3) most children are put in these homes for behavior problems. Well guess what? I learned bad behavior from these children. You take a pretty much normal little girl, put her in with kids that have genuine behavior problems and what does she learn?

Depression and anger problems set in AND THEN came the medications.

Have you read about some of these?

Wellbutrin: “helps depression.“
Side effects: depression, sometimes induces suicidal tendencies.

Neurontin: same thing but for bipolar disorder.

You don’t believe me? LOOK IT UP!! There are several law firms that are working against these pill companies. This is a real issue!!!

Pretty much every new home I was sent to, I was put on a different set of medications due to each physiatrists different pill preferences. I’m probably wont get too far through life without liver problems from the meds they put me on.

So there you go. I went in those places as a true victim and was molded like clay into a head case.

Today, I’m lucky to be out of those places with at least some of my sanity intact.
It’s like a miniature Vietnam war I went through.
Now I’m very lucky to have a wonderful fiancé and I’m very thankful. Just a little bitter towards people.

If you ask me, I’d say the child “protective” services have a few wrinkles to iron out.

posted on Jul, 20 2006 @ 09:06 PM
You just said a mouthful.

Thanks for sharing your story with us.


posted on Jul, 20 2006 @ 11:26 PM
Marclar, thanks for sharing your story with us. I'm glad that your life seems to have gotten much better. It is because I didn't want my niece in a group home or foster care that I left the Navy to take her. Your story just reenforces the need for family to care for family or if all else fails good homes to take kids in and keep them safe. I'm not allowed to be a foster parent because I'm single so I'm planning on volunteering for CASA. Your story makes it even more clear that it is absolutly necessary for all of us to get involved and help keep kids safe.

God Bless you and keep you.

posted on Jul, 20 2006 @ 11:35 PM
There was a case in washington state (I think) where kids were taken from their home because their Dad and Mom were building their own home and during the construction the family was living in a bus, kind of camping out you could say. They didn't have electricity or running water, but they had all they needed for camping, living out on their land. They were reported and CPS came out and took the kids because they (CPS) said that the kids need running water and electricity. The Dad fought back with a large knife or machete (sp?) trying to protect his kids and he got arrested , and the kids got taken away.
I think the state should only take kids that are truely in danger and that would cut down on the need for foster families, etc.

posted on Jul, 21 2006 @ 12:26 AM
Check this out.

I was a ward of the court which means the state of California owned my a**. If I refused pills I would be punished with more restrictions or sent to the psych ward. So I had to take the pills. Here are some meds I remember:

Halidol: anti psychotic, also used to control anger. I got some kind of seizure from this one. While fully conscious, all of the muscles in my body tensed up, my eyes rolled back, and this continued until they gave me a shot to stop the reaction. The seizure hurt like hell. The pill did not help

Respridol: made me feel like #. The pill did not help

Lithium: made me lactate. The pill did not help

Wellbutrin: didn’t notice much. The pill did not help

Neurontin: helped because it makes you feel kinda giddy. On the other hand, sometimes made me irritable. And about the Neurontin suicide cases, I am currently working on a settlement with the pill company for my tempted suicide.

Mellaril: A tranquilizer, made me feel like #. The pill did not help

How can you judge someone after being doped up on these pills? Look up some of the psychological side effects from these meds.
And when you get taken off of them because of your bad reactions, you flip out even more from the withdrawal. then they say ,“well, it looks like you doooo need the meds” you cannot win! It is HELL.

Most every child who is put in group homes never make it out of these places without being put on some sort of medication. No matter what their in the place for.

Kids taken from abusive parents need to be put in a home for VICTIMS.

Kids taken for their own severe misbehavior problems need to be put in a home for BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS.


galopinghordes and justagirl, there is a difference between foster homes and group homes.

Foster homes are usually regular families opening their doors to help children in need. But keep your eye out. Very occasionally they can be crooked.

Group homes are facilities with any where around 4 to 30 staff members depending on the size of the group home. not counting supervisors and such.

Like the Sacramento children’s home for instance the place is HUGE. And back when they used to accept teens the place was full if bullying, occasional drugs, fights, severe assaults, etc, etc. I think they overlook important things due to the writhing hellish environment.

[edit on 21-7-2006 by Marclar]

posted on Jul, 21 2006 @ 12:38 AM
One more thing,
Anyone let me know if mentioning specific group homes may get me in trouble.

I’m not mentioning specific locations but this still may get investigators on my butt.

posted on Jul, 21 2006 @ 01:47 PM
Remember the hurricane camp valhall visited? Remember the SYSCO truck they saw? Well that is a food company, it’s government food if you know what that is.

Many group homes use that food. Their canned food has a white label with SYSCO on it if I remember correctly. Like their peanut butter for instance, it comes in a giant can. There was always an oil slick on top of the peanut butter. Monstrous cans of refried beans also. And government cheese that compares to velveeta.

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