‘Children as Currency’ By Patricia Mitchell {700 Words}

Children Protective Services and local communities are using Children as Currency, resulting in unintended consequences, severely abused children and death at the hands of foster parents.

An anonymous caller (i.e., a scorned girlfriend, sour neighbor, spiteful partner, envious family member) phones in a complaint against a parent, without any evidence that the allegation is true – that’s all it can take for Child Protective Services (CPS) to remove children from their homes.1 Each year, thousands of children and parents fall prey to CPS’s fractured system, with only 6 percent of these children having been in legitimate danger.2 Seventy to 80 percent of foster homes do not deliver the basic needs and requirements to the vulnerable children they’ve take in. According to the Children’s Bureau (a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), 64 percent of children in foster care are abused.3 Those closer to the industry believe the number is closer to 87 percent. The majority of these children are under six years old, with 82 percent under the age of four.4

CPS protects the foster parents, keeping children in state custody for as long as possible, even after caseworkers and affiliates discover allegations against the parents were false.5 CPS staff members and affiliates themselves also register as foster parents, as it suits their financial interests. The federal government mandates that there should be no more than 4 foster children in one household.6 But CPS caseworkers and supervisors have allowed (and coerced) foster parents to take up to 18 children into one home, with more than half registered as “special needs” (ensuring additional financial benefits and incentives). Because CPS adoptions are left unchecked, gaps in the CPS system have led to a practice called “rehoming,” where adults who have legally adopted children through CPS sell, trade, or otherwise give away their unwanted children to other adults via the internet.7 CPS supervisors admit their caseworkers are often “unequipped, over-worked, and have too many cases,” without the appropriate education and experience to work with the diversity of cultures that make up American families.8

This all began more than 30 years ago, following the enactment of a series of federal laws. First came the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA) (Public Law 93-247). Most recently, the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act (P.L. 108-36) passed in 2003.9 The practically unlimited and under-regulated funds these overarching laws provide to each state’s CPS offices have led to unintended, yet dire, consequences. Many at the local levels have learned, over time, how to manipulate the system to accommodate their own deceptive desires. A few states developed their own watchdog agencies to monitor local CPS misconduct, but these agencies have gradually become a part of the problem10.  Each year, the foster care system releases more than 24,000 to 200,000 eighteen-year-olds into greater society – they represent our country’s fastest-growing homeless population.11 (Note: some the children from foster care are released at 19, 20, 21 up to 23, this is why the percentage of foster care children released into society drastically differs.)

From my research, my nineteen years of child advocacy experience, and as a parent-victim of CPS myself (my own daughter was unjustly taken from me, initially placed into the home of her violent, substance-abusing father, who lived in a gutted-out school bus without running water or electricity and had an extensive criminal record, the bus resided on the property of a twice convicted sex offender who lived in a trailer next to the bus), I have learned that Child Protective Services is too entangled with local communities and high-ranking agencies to sustain any meaningful reform. We should consider permanently shutting it down, which would save the federal government billions of dollars every year.12 These funds could be reallocated to constructing safe and healthy learning environments in the form of state-of-the-art orphanages, using the Montessori method and practices as an operational model. We desperately need closely monitored residential facilities and services that attract, recruit, and retain qualified professionals with Master Degree’s in Child Development willing to be trained from 3 to 6 months (without or little compensation) who genuinely have children’s and families’ best interests at the front of their minds.

1 See: CPS Policy Manual. Also See: http://niemanreports.org/articles/child-welfare-reporting-things-sources-say-that-almost-always-arent-true/    Also See: i.e. AZ Senator Rick Murphy’s status with CPS http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130724rick-murphy-abuse-no-charges.html
2 AFSCAR Report /Children’s Bureau/ Child Welfare Gateway In these reports the charts read 39,000 (children) were in “high risk environments.” In the CPS industry this simply means endanger. Comparing the yearly number of children in foster care with the number of children in “high risk environments,” this comes out to only 6 percent of children in foster care were in dangerous environments.
3 “foster parents with violent records regularly enter the cps system” http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/02/dcf_handbook_shocker_criminal_past_doesn_t_disqualify_foster See: AFSCARS Report & Children’s Bureau Website: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2011
4  http://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-abuse/child-abuse-statistics-inf
5 To entice adults to become foster parents cps caseworkers tell potential foster parents that they will NOT come to their home or check on them without calling the foster parent.
6 CPS Policy Manual
7 http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/lawmakers-demand-stop-parents-giving-away-adopted-kids-internet-f8C11492450
8  Spoken by retired CPS supervisor of 30 years Marilyn Rainwaters on Nov 12, Sister Giant Conference, Los Angeles CA http://niemanreports.org/articles/child-welfare-reporting-things-sources-say-that-almost-always-arent-true/
9  Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA) (Public Law 93-247)
10  Such as Michigan’s Children Ombudsman Agency, several States have watch dog agencies that have become corrupt and part of the problem
11 The Government statistics reports are designed to appear that the number of children “aging out” is significantly lower then the reality. They do this by separating the children into ethnic categories, Population, ages and class categories, therefore concealing the true number of children ‘aging out’ every year.  For the past five years the number of children aging out of foster care has risen. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/foster.pdf http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/opinion/soronen-foster-children/
12  $1.6 billion in the Fiscal Year 2011 and +$9 billion over five years.” http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/olab/2011_all.pdf   “Child Care (+$1.6 billion in FY 2011 and +$9 billion over five years) –“