Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Foster System - Reuniting a goal when bonuses are given for adoption

We all hear of the stories of children missing where the parents are suspects. We also hear of the horrible stories of children dying at the hands of their (un)parents. But, we hardly ever hear of the families who have lost their children for "small" reasons or even no reasons at all, who struggle to get their children back after being placed in the care of the state.
This relates to cases as well where the state has more rights than parents, even in custody battles. If one parent makes an accusation, what happens? The other parent must prove their innocence (isn't this backward from what is actually supposed to happen in courts?) I recently red the book, "The Elite Idolaters" by David Bloch. While for most people I think it would be seen as far-fetched, but the facts remain the same, in family court, you are not innocent until proven guilty. When we see the cases of children being hurt, we don't see the children who are being hurt by a system so easily manipulated. I do recommend this book for families who are splitting and for families who may be doing something "someone" may not like, even if it is completely legal (ie, extended breastfeeding, home birthing, etc). It only takes an accusation to get a referral to family courts.

Going back to the situation of children being removed (kidnapped some would say) from loving parents we have to see how the system is not only unfairly judging and punishing parents before proven guilty, but also I want to show awareness to just how biased the "family" systems are.
I know there is controversy around the family I am writing about now, but wanted to post for those unaware of the plight of their situation. Also, this is not the first "large" family I know (the other in Michigan) whose children were removed for a lengthy period for not-so-good reasons (no neglect, no violence, etc) and their being people out there who are either just against parental rights or people who are mandatory reporters who may hold a  "belief" that some decisions you make, including, homeschooling (especially unschooling), selective or no vaxing and child led weaning are child abuse and warrant of CPS visits, I wanted to at least make a post on this sensitive topic.

Are all parents good parents? No.

I do believe that there are cases where parents aren't parents. But, with the incentives the US government gives incentives to states to get families in foster care, then transition them to "new homes" does nothing to help promote family preservation. There are no incentives for an agency to reunite. Then we must ask, what are the goals of the CPS workers? According to Education Portal, "CPS social workers are responsible for accessing, identifying and documenting cases of abuse or neglect among children and finding the appropriate services to enhance child welfare."

Perhaps some CPS workers are in the dark to this and do not actively try to 'retain' their job in budget cuts through getting parental rights severed so that the kids can be adopted. We can only hope there is that naivete, but the fact remains, there is someone in the "know" in these agencies and if you are a tax payer, you are paying for kids to not be reunited with their families. HHS actually brags that they "awarded" 39 MILLION in one year to states for "increasing adoptions." I'm all for forever families, but I'm sure these two cases aren't the only ones where decent homes were already had by the families. I know these two are just anecdotal to the data we see, but we just don't have the coverage on the news stations of the situations where there's nothing truly barring the children's return (or even visits), but the families aren't being reunited.

What do we know about the financial incentives for adopting 

This PBS article gives more information on the history of Child Policy and Foster Care and just how crazy the situation is for social workers who have two goals, reunite and find adoptive families (at the same time). Here are a few excerpts:

"ASFA also offers financial incentives to states to get more children adopted. The federal government pays states a bonus for foster child adoptions during the fiscal year that exceed a baseline of the average annual number of children adopted in the state between 1995 and 1997. States receive $4,000 for each child adopted above the baseline. The bonus goes up to $6,000 for each adoption of a special needs child" (Note: Currently HHS indicates the bonuses are different (mostly the same), but $8,000 for a child over age 9)


"The incentives appear to be working. There were 46,000 adoptions of foster children in 1999, a 28 percent increase from the previous year. The number of adoptions doubled in Illinois, and they went up 75 percent in Texas and 57 percent in Florida. Forty-two states earned $20 million in federal adoption bonuses."

And the "kicker" still remains. If the goal is family preservation, why " doesn't provide comparable financial incentives or technical help to states to improve their family preservation programs."

A large family whose rights are severed not only allows for a budget to "care" for the children from taxes, but once they are adopted, bonuses are earned. No bonuses or stars for the CPS worker who reunites the most families. I'm not saying that all adults are good parents or even that all families are safe, but clearly our current system does nothing to encourage families to reunite, especially a large family... So a family of 6 with 2 older children would mean $32,000 in bonuses for an agency. What's the average salary for a new social worker? Less than that.... She got the kids into adoptive families and she paid her salary.

In the end, I can't believe the rights we don't actually have. Some are even rights we DO have, but one person's opinion one day can make it difficult for a family to stay together, even with a court order.

A link to 2010 bonus awards are listed here. Yep, your tax dollars hard at work - confusing CPS workers as to what their actual goals mean.
WIN Elite Idolators by David E Bloch and read more for yourself on the topic of family courts and FOIA act

 (I was given a free copy of this book to review. The opinions are completely mine) a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Amanda McMahon said...

Additional families who are seeking their children's return: