If Obama says he is not going to enforce law, when he touts CHILD CARE as a progressive issue he is POSING. He knows that Federal funding will not get to families as Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall simply allows these funds to evaporate.
I shared an article with Joan Carter Conway saying she pushed what was a pro-national charter bill through her committee to protect gains from civil rights equal opportunity/access education legislation when that bill was creating the worst of education structures for people of color and underserved. Below we see how Obama and his CHILD CARE funding is working---as audits show absolutely no oversight and accountability with lots of abuses.
The problem for Maryland and especially Baltimore families as regards education policy deemed PROGRESSIVE like child care and pre-K is without a functioning MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING, AND REGULATION this state legislative audit agency KNOWS the state is at fault for these background check failures----as it is at fault for funding not actually going to child care and pre-K.
Not to make excuses for the Maryland State Department of Education for failing to meet these duties---but as everyone knows funding for our public schools are already fractured with classrooms defunded and this is one reason why. What is a DLLR duty was pushed to state education.
Who dismantled DLLR and moved too many duties to our Maryland Department of Education? MARYLAND ASSEMBLY AND THE POLS MAKING UP LEGISLATIVE AUDITS.
State audit targets lack of background checks in child care facilities
Liz BowieContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
State auditors find inadequate process for background checks of child care workers.The Maryland State Department of Education failed to ensure that employees of child care facilities had undergone background checks required by state law, a legislative audit has found.
The department, which licenses and inspects 9,800 child care facilities serving more than 200,000 children statewide, was audited for the three-year period from 2011 to 2014. The Maryland Department of Legislative Services released the audit this week.
Auditors also noted that when the department was alerted to criminal behavior of child care employees, it didn't have a systematic way to make sure those employees were not still working at the facility. In some cases, the department called the facility and asked if the employees worked there rather than asking for documentation or visiting the facility.
"I think the point we are trying to make is the fact that their process wasn't developed in a way that accounted for background checks," said Thomas Barnickel, legislative auditor.
The department maintains a database of all child care facility employees and should have reviewed it periodically to see if each worker has had a criminal background check, he said.
"There is a hole that needs to be corrected," Barnickel said.
Auditors randomly checked the files, looking at the records of nine employees and finding two who did not have background checks. The problem had been identified in a 2013 audit.
Auditors also reviewed 25 alerts sent to five regional child care offices and found that actions were not taken or properly documented in six cases.
In a written response to the audit, the state department of education disagreed with some of the auditors' conclusions. Specifically, education officials said new procedures were put in place in September 2015, requiring inspectors who visit child care facilities to verify the names of employees who work there.
And, officials said, some of the background checks had been done, but the paperwork was not filed for workers the auditors identified as lacking them.
The department did agree to do a better job of ensuring background checks are completed.
Education officials said they had no additional comment on the audit.
If you understand that Obama and Clinton neo-liberals privatized and dismantled almost all social services you know this bill is about more loss of privacy and parental control of how children are reared before global corporate education gets them in pre-K. The FIRST FIVE YEARS FUND is tied to funding corporate child care businesses and loves all this Federal funding for corporate startups.
'It would also renew funding (now set to expire) for a small but widely hailed “home visiting” program that helps teach new parents basic skills while putting them in touch with needed social services'.
Since this is a very Republican thing to do------as usual Republicans join far-right neo-liberals in legislation allowing more and more corporate officials into people's homes and controlling behaviors............
'Even in Washington, some early childhood initiatives have found Republican champions — among them, Republican Charles Grassley, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has been an outspoken advocate for the home visiting program'.
If you listened to every Democratic candidate for state or city office this 2016 they are had these TALKING POINTS-----straight from the DAVOS SWITZERLAND PROGRESSIVE POSING 1% WALL STREET----CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA pols know to where these policies lead-----authoritarian 1% Libertarian Marxism......they are only taking care of us!
Who shouts out all these policies making Clinton/Obama Wall Street pols sound like social Democrats? Wall Street Baltimore Development 'labor and justice' organization leaders. Wall Street players all of them.
For A Closing Act, Obama Has A Bold Plan To Transform Child Care
02/01/2015 06:00 am ET | Updated Feb 01, 2015
- Jonathan Cohn Senior National Correspondent, The Huffington Post
President Barack Obama has taken on some pretty ambitious projects, from overhauling health care to slowing global warming. As he comes to the end of his time in office, he’s trying for one more — although very few people in Washington seem to have noticed, and the most important steps will probably take place after he’s left the White House.
Obama’s goal is to transform government policies for early childhood. Two weeks ago, Obama sketched out his agenda during the State of the Union address, calling for a series of programs including “universal childcare,” as well as paid family and medical leave for working parents. On Monday, Obama will translate these words into specific requests for action when the administration formally releases its budget proposal for the next 10 years.
The phrase “universal childcare” is a bit misleading, since nobody is talking about creating a vast new government program to give every American child day care. But Obama’s budget will call for a set of targeted tax breaks and spending initiatives for working families that would represent a commitment of more than $200 billion over 10 years, according to sources familiar with the budget document. (The total would be even more if you include a separate tax cut for families with two working adults, although that particular break won’t be limited to families with children.)
“We haven’t seen anything like this — it’s big and it’s bold,” says Heather Boushey, executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning economic think tank. Kris Perry, executive director of the early education advocacy program First Five Years Fund, agrees. “The latest proposal on child care has the potential to significantly influence economic policies and priorities in the next Congress,” she says.
Obama’s interest in the needs of working parents with young children is neither new nor particularly secret. He and his advisers have spoken frequently about parents who struggle with the costs of child care — and about research suggesting that children who get sustained, nurturing care are more likely to lead healthier, more productive lives. They’ve also pointed to research about the changing nature of the economy — in particular, the rising number of women in the workforce and the demand for support it has created. In so doing, they’ve echoed the arguments of advocates and scholars who for years have said the U.S. lags behind other countries in adapting to this seismic change in family and work life.
WOW, WHAT PROGRESSIVE POSING FROM A 1% WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERAL WHO REALLY FEELS THE PEOPLE'S PAIN.
“The research on early childhood investments is clear — the returns are large, particularly if you include the gain in earnings for kids after they grow up,” Betsey Stevenson of White House Council of Economic Advisers told The Huffington Post earlier this week. “This agenda would go a long way towards making sure our policies catch up with where the economy has gone, and it’s an agenda that is more than the sum of the parts because they all work together.”
A chart on labor force participation rate by gender, via the White House
One reason Obama’s early childhood agenda hasn’t gotten a huge amount of attention is that he’s laid it out piecemeal — starting in 2013 just after the presidential election, when he called for a “universal pre-kindergarten” plan. Under that proposal, the federal government would provide matching funds to states that set up programs to provide 3- and 4-year-olds with day care, while teaching children the basic learning and social skills they’ll need in grade school. The budget that becomes public on Monday will include a version of this pre-K initiative -- and then place it alongside some new proposals that target infants and toddlers. Among these will be a call to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), a break that lets parents claim a portion of their child care expenses on their tax returns. Today, the maximum credit is about $1,000 per child for up to two children, and most families can’t claim that much because the value varies on income. Obama’s proposal would triple the allowance and let more families claim it — which, combined with the streamlining of some other tax breaks, would represent a net cost of about $50 billion over 10 years, according to sources.
SOUNDS JUST LIKE ONTARIO AND UK'S CAMERON CHILD CARE PLAN-----
The outlines of the tax break proposal got some attention last week during a “60 Minutes” interview, when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated it was the one item on Obama’s agenda they could imagine passing in some form. But the Obama budget will include another major proposal that’s gotten virtually no attention — a huge boost to the Child Care and Development Fund. The CCDF, as it’s known, provides states with matching funds so that they can offer partially or fully subsidized day care to working parents who can’t pay for it on their own. Today in most states, demand for subsidized day care exceeds the supply. Low-income parents must wait on long lists and, in many cases, they get no assistance at all. The administration would pump $80 billion into the subsidized child care program over 10 years — enough, in theory, to boost eventual annual enrollment from 1.6 million to 2.6 million. According to administration officials, reaching that goal would mean child care was available to all families with a household income of less than 200 percent of the poverty line, or roughly $40,000 a year for a family of three. Obama’s early childhood agenda has other elements, including paid sick leave and a push to make sure child care is both safe and nurturing. The quality of child care services in the U.S. varies enormously, and at its worst can leave very young children in highly unsafe environments. Last year, in a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress introduced new quality standards when it reauthorized the existing program for child care subsidies. (Under the new standards, for example, caregivers are supposed to get criminal background checks and receive training on how to avoid sudden infant death syndrome.) The administration’s budget would allocate extra money for states that want to find ways of attracting better-qualified caregivers, or to help parents who work non-traditional hours and as a result struggle to find available care. It would also renew funding (now set to expire) for a small but widely hailed “home visiting” program that helps teach new parents basic skills while putting them in touch with needed social services. Nobody expects this entire agenda to sail through Congress, at least while it’s under unified Republican control. The specifics of Obama’s proposals would raise plenty of serious and substantive objections — and not just because they represent a significant financial commitment. Already, some conservatives have criticized Obama’s child care proposal because they say it slights stay-at-home parents. But some efforts at improving early childhood policy have attracted strong bipartisan support in the past, particularly at the state level — where, for instance, Georgia and Oklahoma pioneered universal pre-K.
“There are a lot of ideas here that states will be able to push forward, even if there’s no action at the federal level,” says Boushey.
Even in Washington, some early childhood initiatives have found Republican champions — among them, Republican Charles Grassley, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has been an outspoken advocate for the home visiting program.
“The current proposal may not pass as it’s written, but there are elements of these policies that have significant bipartisan appeal,” says Perry, “and it’s realistic to think that a piece of these proposals could find their way into legislation over the next two years.”
Obama is also trying to start a conversation that can carry over into the 2016 presidential election — and beyond.
“We should hope Congress figures these issues out and passes these pieces of legislation,” says Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. “But social policy change often happens over years, not months; that’s why it’s important that the president shows not only where he stands, but where the Democratic Party stands in order to build support over time.”
We spoke at length about Obama and Clinton neo-liberals installing what they call policy addressing mental health crises in underserved communities attacking long-held INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT laws by writing into ACA the ability of police with social worker to come to someone's home and declare them mentally ill and a danger. Well, the policy above does the same thing. It is designed to allow these same two officials come into people's homes to declare them fit parents.
Underserved families have been struggling with these policies under the guise of child protective services where families were having children taken from their homes for reasons often tied to living in poverty. Child protective services went from being socially progressive before Reagan/Clinton made it far-right neo-liberal and abusive to families----well, here comes something that will be far more abusive and AUTHORITARIAN-----having police and corporate social workers coming in to say if parents are rearing their child properly.
Mind you, if we did not have a far-right extreme wealth and corporate power, authoritarian PRAGMATIC NILISM controlling our government----having a social worker check in on parents would not be a problem. Remember, each community used to have a community public health center with mental health included where communities and parents met and talked.
THIS IS HOW YOU REPLACE WHAT USED TO BE A SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PUBLIC STRUCTURE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE WITH A FAR-RIGHT AUTHORITARIAN POLICE STATE POWER TO INVADE PRIVACY AND PARENTAL CHOICE IN REARING CHILDREN.
Remember, the pre-K funding from Obama and Clinton neo-liberals was no about building pre-K into our public schools----it was sent to build what will become global education corporation schools that take children at pre-K age ---now 4 years moving to 3 years---where children are tested and now in the hands of a corporate education structure. None of this has any chance of being good for parents or children.
Chapter I: Introduction: Summons To The Village
problem oriented community policing is still a work in progress but there is consensus on four
Prevention, Problem Solving, Partnerships and Organizational Change. Using these
elements as a foundation, this document describes police/social work partnerships that serve as a
community response to crisis situations signaled by calls for police service. The Governor’s Crime Commission
contracted the Urban Institute of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to conduct a study of one site, later
expanded to include four other sites.
The Crime Commission’s Drug Control and Substance Abuse Committee
sponsored the study to learn about the impact of police/social work partnerships on recurring domestic violence and
associated deep-rooted police service delivery problems.
Most importantly, the study documents and organizes how practitioners are making their programs work.
This document describes effective practices of successful social work/police partnership models and outlines steps
for developing them. Chapters IV, V, VI and VII are designed to serve as a project development checklist and
Chapter VIII provides a composite of critical effective practices gleaned from the study sites.
Social work/police partnerships are the next logical step in the development of community policing and
meet the mandate to either work together not only for the benefit but for the survival of the community. When
situations escalate to the point that repeated police intervention is required, the calls for service serve as a summons
to the entire community.
Chapter II: The Background Of Social Work and Police Partnerships
The historical background of the police/social work relationship indicates that, for over a century, social
service has been considered a key part of policing, and serving victims of crime and offenders has been a major
emphasis of social work. Law enforcement and social work have served the same target groups but with varying
success. The community now demands that both institutions combine resources and skills to reach those in crisis and
victims of crime. Currently, there are social work /police partnerships in several jurisdictions that follow the crisis
intervention paradigm involving three stages: response, stabilization and prevention. Police calls for service are
crisis situations where police respond, stabilize and then partner with human service agencies that provide client
based services and case management to prevent the problems that result in subsequent calls for service.
Chapter III: Five Social Work And Police Partnerships Described
Social Work and Police Partnerships (SWAPP) Lumberton, N.C.
SWAPP was developed to combat domestic violence by providing chronic victims and perpetrators
substance abuse treatment through referrals to other agencies.
Those American citizens NOT aware of why Trans Pacific Trade Pact have their heads buried deep in the sand. TPP allows global corporations to operate in the US as they do overseas-----able to ignore all national, state, and local laws to hinder their profits. Now, do we really think policies like family leave----child care----health care for women and children----minimum wage ----are going to actually be installed while Republicans and Clinton/Obama Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals are trying as hard as they can to FAST-TRACK TPP? OF COURSE NOT.
This is why the American people must get used to asking----what are these PROGRESSIVE POSERS up to now? The answer is---installing authoritarian policies that will take more and more rights away from families in controlling their childrens' rearing and development. Think about our talk about pre-K Race to the Top testing and evaluation and how that will lead to an institution like Wall Street Baltimore Development and Johns Hopkins tracking children via those test results without any input from parents.....SAME THING.
'Obama’s goal is to transform government policies for early childhood. Two weeks ago, Obama sketched out his agenda during the State of the Union address, calling for a series of programs including “universal childcare,” as well as paid family and medical leave for working parents'.
Historic Trade Deal Confirms Critics’ Worst Fears
But Obama calls it the “highest standard trade agreement in history.”
11/05/2015 11:17 pm ET | Updated Nov 06, 2015
The United States government released the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday, and a wide array of advocacy groups did not like what they saw.
Organizations promoting climate change action and global health have long argued that the 12-nation trade deal would undermine participating countries’ freedom to set and preserve their own economic and social policies. The groups based their conclusions on drafts of select chapters of the 12-nation trade deal, which were leaked over the course of the past year. Now that the final text has emerged with few changes, their criticism has only grown stronger.
Here’s what advocacy groups are saying about the following key policy areas:
A fear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will give corporations undue influence over public policy in the U.S. and other countries remains at the heart of objections to the trade deal.
Critics are especially concerned about a legal process TPP establishes for enforcing new regulations called “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS. ISDS allows foreign companies to challenge a participating country’s laws before an international tribunal of judges if they think that law excessively limits their investors’ profits. The tribunals have the power to levy fines on the government should they rule in favor of the companies, which could in turn prompt countries to change their laws and deter them from passing similar measures in the future.
Concerns about returns are only one kind of grievance foreign companies can use ISDS to address. They can also use the system to challenge an array of less contentious practices, like expropriation of property and breach of contract. And ISDS is a feature of many trade agreements.
But as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted in a Washington Post column in February explaining her opposition to ISDS, companies have dramatically increased the number of claims they bring against sovereign governments in recent years, taking aim at a minimum wage increase in Egypt and a move away from nuclear energy in Germany.
XClimate Change and the Environment
Environmental groups did not find anything in the text of the final deal that would preclude fossil fuel companies from using ISDS to challenge a government’s ability to ban or limit energy extraction as a way of addressing climate change and other ecological risks.
“The agreement would give fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground,” Jason Kowalski, policy director for climate group 350.org, said in a statement.
Expressing similar concerns, the Sierra Club estimated in an initial assessment of the final accord that in addition to U.S. companies that can already sue governments through previous trade deals, TPP will make 9,000 more U.S. firms eligible to challenge a country’s environmental laws through ISDS, including mining titan BHP Billiton.
The Sierra Club also noted that TPP’s text did not so much as mention the phrase “climate change” in its section on the environment.
The agreement would give fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground. Jason Kowalski, 350.orgTobacco
Investor-state dispute settlement is creating anxiety for anti-tobacco advocates as well.
Corporate Accountability International argues that TPP still gives Big Tobacco too much leeway, despite a provision allowing countries to refuse the “benefits” of ISDS to tobacco companies.
Since the deal preserves ISDS as a default for governments’ interactions with tobacco companies — requiring countries to opt out of, rather than opt in to, the arbitration system — it will be easier for powerful tobacco giants to pressure governments into agreeing to ISDS.
“Allowing parties to ‘elect to deny the benefits’ of investor-state dispute settlement leaves the door open to the sort of bullying, bribing, and intimidation the tobacco industry does best,” Cloe Franko, a senior organizer for Corporate Accountability International’s Challenge Big Tobacco campaign, said in an e-mail message.
Phillip Morris has used ISDS in other trade agreements to sue Australia and Uruguay over regulations requiring “plain packaging” on packs of cigarettes. John Oliver’s scathing segment on HBO about Big Tobacco’s litigation of sovereign governments went viral in February, drawing international attention to the industry’s aggressive tactics.
It is not only MSF [Doctors Without Borders] — many experts have been very concerned, but unfortunately we have lost. Judit Rius, Médecins Sans FrontièresMedicine
Doctors Without Borders, the international nonprofit health care provider, argues that the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership retains provisions that will drive up the prices of prescription drugs and other medications.
“It is not only MSF [Doctors Without Borders] — many experts have been very concerned, but unfortunately we have lost,” said Judit Rius, the U.S. manager and legal policy adviser for the group’s Access Campaign.
As examples, Rius identified two provisions that she said would “export” elements of U.S. laws protecting drug companies from competition. The accord requires countries to provide additional patents for “new uses” of, or “new methods of using,” a pharmaceutical product, thereby allowing drug makers to avoid competition from generic drugs even after the original patent expires.
It also creates a waiting period of five to eight years before biosimilars — generic versions of treatments made out of living organisms (like some vaccines) — can come to market in TPP countries. MSF worries about how this will affect the affordability of vaccines, which often use living organisms, as well as other essential medicines.
John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told The New York Times that those pharmaceutical provisions will “literally kill people” by rendering medicines unaffordable.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was the U.S.’ top negotiator of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
A Win For Workers?
The Obama administration has repeatedly denied that TPP will jeopardize environmental and health standards — or otherwise endanger the wellbeing of residents of countries signing the law.
“It’s the highest standard trade agreement in history,” President Barack Obama wrote in a blog post on Thursday. He argued TPP will include “the strongest labor standards” and “environmental commitments in history.”
But neither Obama, nor U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman — who issued a separate statement — explicitly addressed claims that ISDS will jeopardize environmental laws and tobacco regulations, or that the treaty will drive up drug prices.
(The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative referred HuffPost back to Obama and Froman’s remarks when asked for a point-by-point response to activists’ arguments.)
Instead, the Obama administration touted, as a specific example of the deal’s stellar labor provisions, a separate agreement with Vietnam under TPP that would create a right to unionize and go on strike in the country for the first time. The U.S. could withhold trade privileges if the accord is not implemented after five years.
“Without reservation, I think this is the best opportunity we’ve had in years to encourage deep institutional reform in Vietnam that will advance human rights, and it will only happen if TPP is approved,” Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, told The New York Times.
Human Rights Watch’s Sifton was skeptical. He told the Times that the side deal “is not enforceable in practice,” since it does not allow workers to file grievances against companies in international court.
Still, the objections of advocacy groups may be the least of the president’s worries.
TPP will face hurdles when it comes to a vote in Congress in the spring. Congress granted the president so-called fast track authority on trade deals in June, with the help of Republicans, ensuring the treaty will receive an up-or-down vote without amendments.
Many congressional Republicans, however, now say they have doubts about the final deal.
What Obama and Congress did was codify the rights of police and corporate social workers to come into people's homes to determine if parents are meeting a level of child rearing they deem correct. Baltimore has a long history of abusing child protective services duties with poor parents often frightened of losing their children and as this article shows this is now expanding to middle-class families as well. We all feel the far-right authoritarian push and these laws passed under the guise of progressive family policy are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY CIVIL LIBERTIES ABUSES.
If we had elected people who enforce US Constitutional rights and Federal laws---none of this would be allowed to pass---and if we had functioning national and local media----Wall Street pols would never be able to pass this as progressive and for families. National media are even pretending Obama went out popular because of progressive posing policies even as he PUSHED AND FAST-TRACKED TPP.
Has Child Protective Services Gone Too Far?
A debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement has drawn attention to the threats and intrusions poor, minority families have long endured.
By Michelle GoldbergTwitterSeptember 30, 2015D.C.
Levers, who says her daughter Josee, 6, has been in foster care for three years following a domestic violence removal, wipes away tears as she holds a sign declaring "Black Kids Matter" during a press conference, July 8, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
On July 29, 2013, a Latina mother in Illinois named Natasha Felix sent her three sons, ages 11, 9, and 5, out to play with a visiting cousin, a young girl, in a fenced park right next to her apartment building. The oldest boy was charged with keeping an eye on his siblings, while Felix watched them all from the window. While they were outside, a local preschool teacher showed up at the park with her class. She saw the 9-year-old climb a tree. Felix’s youngest son fought with his cousin over a scooter and, at one point, ran with it into the street. Based on this, the teacher called the child-abuse hotline, and Felix received a visit from the Department of Children and Family Services.
According to legal filings in the case, the investigator, Nancy Rodriguez, found that Felix’s kids “were clothed appropriately, appeared clean [and] well groomed,” and that Felix “appeared to be a good mother.” Felix’s oldest son seemed like a “mature young boy” who “certainly could be allowed to go outside by himself to the park next door.”
However, when Rodriguez asked Felix if the boys had any special needs, Felix replied that the 11-year-old and the 9-year-old had been diagnosed with ADHD. On the advice of their doctor, they were off their medications for the summer. Rodriguez later wrote that “based on the mother not knowing that the kids were running into the street with the scooter, based on the children having ADHD,” she recommended that Felix be cited for “Inadequate Supervision” under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. As a result, Felix was placed on the state’s child-abuse registry, which led to her losing her job as a home healthcare aide and ended her dreams of becoming a licensed practical nurse.
“She’s been devastated,” says Diane Redleaf, executive director of the Family Defense Center, who is representing Felix before a state appeals court. “I’ve been talking to her about how this impacted her, and it’s heartbreaking. She couldn’t send her son to take the garbage out—she was afraid to do that.”
Earlier this year, a Maryland couple, Alexander and Danielle Meitiv, made international news after two run-ins with Child Protective Services, sparked by their decision to let their children, ages 10 and 6, walk to neighborhood parks by themselves. As self-described “free-range parents,” the Meitivs are committed to giving their kids freedom from constant adult oversight. According to an interview with Danielle in Psychology Today, after the second incident, a social worker demanded that Alexander sign a “temporary safety plan” saying that his children would be supervised at all times until CPS could do a follow-up. When he balked, the social worker threatened to have the children taken away from him immediately and called the police. The couple were ultimately found “responsible for unsubstantiated child neglect,” which Danielle calls “an Orwellian judgment,” adding that their lawyer describes it as “‘legal purgatory,’ because it seems to be meaningless in plain English, yet it’s like a cloud hanging over our heads.”
The Meitiv case was highly unusual, but not because of the arbitrariness or overreaction of CPS. It was unusual because the Meitivs are white, affluent, and highly educated: He’s a theoretical physicist, and she’s a science writer and consultant. “I’ve worked in this field for 35 years, and I can’t remember when child-welfare cases like this have been in the news,” says Redleaf. “We’ve been trying and trying to get that to happen.”
Advocates for families caught up in the child-welfare system hope that the national debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement will draw attention to the threats and intrusions that poor and minority parents endure all the time. Child-neglect statutes, says Martin Guggenheim, a New York University law professor and codirector of the school’s Family Defense Clinic, tend to be extremely vague, giving enormous discretion to social workers. “The reason we’ve tolerated the level of impreciseness in these laws for decades,” he notes, “is that they tend to be employed almost exclusively in poor communities—communities that are already highly regulated and overseen by low-level bureaucrats like the police. For somebody like me, the ‘free-range’ cases that are hitting the paper today are a dream come true, because finally people who otherwise don’t care about this problem are now calling out and saying, ‘Aren’t we going too far here?’”
“She’s been devastated. She couldn’t send her son to take the garbage out—she was afraid to do that.” — Diane Redleaf on her client, Natasha Felix
Indeed, several recent incidents in which poor women of color have been arrested for their entirely rational parenting decisions have received national attention, though not as much as the Meitivs’ case. In July, Laura Browder of Houston was arrested for child abandonment after bringing her kids, ages 6 and 2, to a food court and leaving them there—never out of her line of sight—while she interviewed for a job 30 feet away. A year earlier, Debra Harrell of South Carolina was arrested for letting her 9-year-old play alone in a park while she worked her shift at McDonald’s.
“Certainly, prior to this, I don’t think most white people knew very much about the child-welfare system, or were afraid that someone was going to knock on their door and say, ‘Let me see your kids,’” says Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and the author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare. “Whereas in black neighborhoods, especially poor black neighborhoods, child-welfare-agency involvement is concentrated, so everybody is familiar with it.”
In a July article for Al Jazeera America, Peggy Cooper Davis, an NYU law professor and former Family Court judge, highlighted the devastating effects that arbitrary decisions by CPS and similar agencies can have on black families. “I think of a devoted father whose child was removed from his care because a $5 bag of marijuana was found in his room by staff of the shelter where father and child were living,” she wrote. “I think of mothers who lost custody of their children because the mothers themselves had been subjected to domestic abuse.”
Yet progressives have not, in general, seen CPS as worthy of the same suspicion as other forms of law enforcement. (“Child Protective Services” tends to be used as a catchall term for child-welfare agencies, though different states use different names.) “I don’t often hear people relate police arbitrariness and child-welfare-authority arbitrariness,” says Davis. “It would be useful to relate them, for they often have to do with similar kinds of biased presumptions having dreadful effects in stressful situations.”
This view, of course, is hardly universal among experts: there are still those who defend CPS as a progressive institution. Among them is Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard Law professor and faculty director of the school’s Child Advocacy Program. Although Roberts once worked as Bartholet’s research assistant, today they represent opposite poles in the debate. Bartholet, a white woman who formerly worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, calls her opponents “extreme family preservationists” who are “putting kids at risk by insisting that, at almost all costs, they stay at home” with abusive or neglectful parents. She maintains that anecdotes about outrageous CPS intrusions are outliers: “More people need to think about all these issues from the point of view of the child. Imagine an infant or a toddler growing up in a household where they’re being tortured, being beaten, being locked in a closet, left on the floor to scrounge around for whatever food they can find. That happens all the time. Kids are removed from those houses and put right back.”
These things do happen. At the same time, in the majority of cases in which kids are taken from their families, the grounds are neglect, not physical abuse (though, as Bartholet points out, sometimes physical abuse is sus- pected, but only neglect can be proved). Usually, drugs are involved. “Overwhelmingly, something like 70 to 90 percent of cases in the child-welfare caseload are characterized by parental substance abuse, drugs, and/or alcohol,” Bartholet says. To her, that’s not an indictment of the system, because she believes that people who use drugs, particularly during pregnancy, should not be allowed to parent. As she wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed last year, “Massachusetts should test all children to assess whether there is prenatal drug or alcohol exposure. It should require substance-abusing parents to engage in rehabilitative treatment if they want to keep their children. It should place at-risk children in homes where they can be adopted if the birth parents can not comply with the treatment regimen.”
For Roberts, who is black, Bartholet is far too cavalier about the costs of separating parents and children, in some cases permanently. “It is appalling to devalue the bonds that black children have with their families in the way that Bartholet does,” she says.
“More and more, I see the hashtag #abolish fostercare.” — Dorothy Roberts
Whatever you think of parents who use drugs, it’s clear that poor parents and parents of color are held to a very different standard than middle-class white parents. “My daughter broke her collarbone twice when she was a young child,” says Guggenheim. “I took her to the same hospital, and the second time I brought her they treated me with great dignity and respect. If I were in Bed-Stuy and a single parent, [CPS] might have come to my door, they might have found some joints on my nightstand and taken my child, and I would be lucky if, 12 months later, I got her back in my custody. That’s how I live my white privilege every day. And they would have found joints on my night table, let’s be clear about that.”
The treatment of parents in the child-welfare system used to have greater salience among civil libertarians, but it was overshadowed by the very real imperative to protect children from abuse in their own homes. Guggenheim was a staff lawyer at the ACLU from 1976 to 1980, doing work to challenge “the vagueness of neglect and termination-of-parental-rights laws.” But toward the end of his time there, he says, the organization began to shift from protecting the rights of parents to their children to protecting children from their parents. The children’s-rights advocate Marcia Robinson Lowry came aboard in 1979. For a few months, she and Guggenheim worked together, but “her agenda was to support state intervention,” he says, “and mine was to limit it.” So he resigned. (In 1995, Lowry left to form a separate organization called Children’s Rights; after her departure, the issues surrounding family law largely fell off the ACLU’s agenda.)
Meanwhile, the right of parents to raise their kids free of government intrusion has become a cause célèbre for conservatives. Christian fundamentalists regularly demonize Child Protective Services; homeschooling activist Michael Farris even wrote a thriller, Anonymous Tip, about CPS’s evil child-snatching machinations. And Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah recently added a “free-range kids” provision to the reauthorization of the Every Child Achieves Act, a federal law funding elementary education. Lee’s amendment says that parents cannot be subject to civil or criminal charges for letting their kids walk or bike to school at whatever age they deem appropriate.
Yet at a time when the left is increasingly attuned to state-sponsored surveillance and the abuse of people of color, the progressive case for parents’ rights is worth taking seriously. “More and more, I see the hashtag #abolish fostercare,” says Roberts. “Not as much as #abolishprison, but I think there’s a growing awareness about these connections. I certainly try in my own writing and advocacy to emphasize the connections between prison, foster care, and the welfare system. They’re all very much connected historically in terms of who is in these systems and who is punished—the myths about people in these systems.”
Emma Ketteringham, managing director of the family defense practice at New York’s Bronx Defenders, which represents low-income people in both criminal and civil cases, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn—the “mecca of parenting,” as she calls it. In her neighborhood, she sees a wide range of parenting styles and philosophies, from free-range to helicopter. “In that community, differences in parenting style get the raise of an eyebrow or a disapproving look from a neighbor or a classmate’s parent—for some of the exact same things I see my clients being brought to Child Protective Services for,” she says.
Part of the issue lies in mandatory reporting. Almost all states have laws on the books requiring professionals who come into contact with children—teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and the like—to report suspected cases of abuse. As of 2013, 18 states and Puerto Rico require anyone who suspects child abuse to report it. In most states, there are criminal penalties for those who have reason to believe abuse is taking place but say nothing—and those who make abuse claims that turn out to be unfounded generally have immunity.
On the one hand, there’s broad agreement that people who witness a child being hurt should report it. But when it comes to who is being reported, and for what, both race and class are inescapable pieces of the equation. “Doctors are more likely to think and suspect child abuse in the case of black parents,” says Roberts. She cites a Journal of the American Medical Association study which found that “minority children…with accidental injuries were more than 3 times more likely than their white counterparts to be reported for suspected abuse.”
“I was so scared she was going to remove them, I completely changed the way I parented.” — Seattle mother Jessica Carter
Determining neglect is even more subjective. “These are situations in which, in many respects, it’s driven by community norms: What do people believe is appropriate child-rearing?” says Fred Wulczyn, a senior research fellow at the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall and director of the Center for State Foster Care and Adoption Data. “Which is what makes this such a dicey issue.”
According to Jessica Carter, for example, CPS visited her in 2008, while she was living in a suburban Seattle apartment complex. A white woman married to a Puerto Rican man, Carter was a mother of two at the time. An anonymous caller had accused her of leaving her infant son at home while she went out and about the building. She suspects a busybody neighbor reported her after seeing her run downstairs to collect her mail while her son napped in his crib.
Carter’s son was asleep when the CPS worker arrived, and his bedroom door was closed. This, the worker warned Carter, was unacceptable. The worker “told me that CPS’s stance is that I should have eyes on the child at all times,” Carter says. When she objected, saying that this would be impossible, the CPS worker accused her of failing to take matters seriously. “I was terrified I was going to lose my children,” Carter recalls. “I was so scared she was going to come back and remove them, I completely changed the way I parented for a really long time.”
The charges against Carter were ultimately dismissed as unfounded. Even so, when she got her certified nursing assistant’s license, she had to alert the licensing board that she’d been investigated for child neglect.
Lowry, who now heads an organization called A Better Childhood, insists that the problem with most child-welfare systems isn’t that they’re overzealous, but that they’re incompetent. “I used to think it leaned one way or the other,” she says. “Now I just think it’s not well run. The decision-making is not careful, and there’s no sense of urgency in getting children back to families or, if they need it, into new families.”
In July, Lowry filed a lawsuit against New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services to force it to act faster in finding permanent homes for kids. One of the plaintiffs is 3-year-old Thierry E., who was taken from his mother almost two years ago, after she called a domestic-violence hotline about her abusive husband, on the grounds that her husband might hurt the boy as well. (The child’s race isn’t specified in the lawsuit, and Lowry declined to provide it.) “There was not and never has been any allegation that anyone abused Thierry E. or that his mother failed to provide him with appropriate, loving care,” the suit maintains. He was placed with a foster mother who spoke only Spanish, a language he didn’t understand. His mother, a schoolteacher, is no longer with her abuser and has been desperately trying to get her son back for 21 months—so far without success. “At the end of his twice-weekly visits with his mother, he cries uncontrollably,” the suit continues. “When his mother expressed concern at this behavior, Thierry E.’s therapist told her that he had to ‘get used to it because this was his life now.’”
Minority children with accidental injuries were more than three times as likely as white children to be reported as victims of suspected abuse.
Lowry’s suit, however, also has plaintiffs who languished in foster care for years, and it alleges that the parents’ rights to these children should have been severed long ago in order to free them up for adoption. New York’s Administration for Children’s Services, the suit argues, “should not wait months or years until reunification efforts have failed to begin alternative permanency planning, including identifying other potential permanent homes for the child.”
As Lowry points out, the number of kids in foster care has dropped significantly in the last decade. After peaking at 524,000 in 2002, it went down to 402,378 in 2013, the last year for which data are available. “The number is really down a lot, so I don’t know how one can make a credible claim that children are being removed too frequently,” Lowry says. The problem, she adds, is that some children are being removed who shouldn’t be, and others who should be removed are not.
Roberts agrees with Lowry’s diagnosis, up to a point. “It is a poorly run system,” she says. “You do have to very often wonder how it can be that you have children who would be perfectly safe at home—all they needed was the heater to be fixed, or the mother to have childcare—and then those children are traumatized for life by being placed in foster care. And you wonder how that can happen at the same time that a social worker can be well aware that a child is being starved at home and do nothing.”
To her, however, the fact that the system is so broken means that it can only do harm by intervening more than it already does. “It’s far beyond the problem of just making it more efficient,” Roberts says. “I certainly wouldn’t want a system that more efficiently removes children from their homes.”
Most of the time, when CPS is called, no proof emerges that the parents did anything wrong. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 80 percent of investigations “the children were found to be non-victims of maltreatment.” Yet once CPS enters a poor family’s life, says Ketteringham, it can be hard for the family to extricate itself. When New York’s Administration for Children’s Services makes contact with a family, she says, “they’re usually going to check your cupboards, check your refrigerator, look for signs of drug use.” She’s had cases where a woman was reported after testing positive for opiate use at birth; even if it turns out that a doctor administered the drug during labor, a caseworker may discover that the woman is living with a man who has a criminal record. And that’s enough to keep the case open.
Parents might be referred to preventive services, such as drug treatment or follow-up medical appointments. The caseworkers “come back a couple times and make sure the parent is doing those things,” Ketteringham says. “If parents fail to do those things, or if, in the caseworker’s view, the child is at risk of serious harm, they can remove the child right then without going to court.” She’s seen petitions reporting that a mother has been prescribed Prozac “but is no longer compliant with her medication,” Ketteringham says; a judge “once ordered a mother not to fold clothes and put them into her baby’s crib.”
Sometimes parents can’t comply even if they want to. Kristen Weber is a senior associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a DC think tank that hosts the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, a coalition of groups working to reform the system. Recently, Weber says, she’s been looking at cases of migrant farmworkers ordered to comply with “services,” such as parenting classes, for which they have no transportation. “They have to make a choice: ‘Do I lose a day’s pay and then not be able to pay my rent and food’”—which, Weber notes, can also be grounds for child removal—“‘or do I [refuse to] go and do this ‘service’ that will take all day for a two-hour parenting class?’”
Even if the demands of CPS are unreasonable, advocates say that deference—if not outright servility—is often required from the parents, much as it is in encounters with police. “By resisting their efforts to help you or, God forbid, talking about your rights to parent in a specific way, it usually means that everyone concludes you’re beyond help, because you haven’t accepted that you need their help,” Ketteringham says. “Usually, you’re telling your client that the fastest way to have your children returned is to cooperate with the investigation.”
People who work in the field generally don’t blame individual caseworkers for this situation. The biases are systemic, not individual; they appear regardless of the race of the workers. “We have largely not found a huge difference in outcomes based on workers,” Weber says. “We did work in Detroit, where almost the entire workforce and leadership is African-American, and we’re still seeing evidence of disproportionality and disparity.”
Structurally, all of the incentives in the system encourage intervention, but there are scant resources to tailor that invention successfully. CPS employees can lose their jobs for failing to act, but rarely for acting too aggressively. “When people are working in these indeterminate job situations, they become reluctant to make the wrong decisions,” Wulczyn says. “It’s always easier to act than it is to not act. If I’m the least bit suspicious and my job is on the line if I make the wrong decision, I can always make the decision [to intervene] and let somebody else deal with it.” If the charges turn out to be unfounded, he adds, a judge can always throw them out.
On the surface, this makes a certain amount of sense. Surely it’s better, at least in some cases, to err in favor of protecting a child. But the lack of urgency that Lowry cited means that mistakes are not always quickly rectified, traumatizing the very children CPS purports to help. “If the family standing before the court where an intervention was requested were a family for whom we had regard in terms of the child’s bond to the parents, we would work a lot harder to keep a child with their mother,” Ketteringham says. “You see it every day in the system.”
A motion to allow unsupervised visits between a parent and a child may not even be heard for a month, Ketteringham continues, and there’s no sense of outrage over this. “If it were a family of privilege standing before that court, no one would say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ If a family of privilege had their child removed from the school setting and interviewed without notice to them, and removed from their care with no phone call for two or three days about where they are… that just wouldn’t happen.”
Further, lawyers say it’s almost unheard of for child-protection agencies to intervene in order to give families the material support they actually need. Many cases of child neglect involve parents who can’t afford childcare, says Redleaf, and yet “they never give people childcare support, if that’s the reason. They never say: ‘Here’s a childcare provider for you, and we’ll pay for it.’”
Nor could they, even if they wanted to: There is far more federal funding available for foster care than there is to subsidize services for children who remain at home. “For workers who are trying to do great work, if you’re going into a family and you don’t have the resources to support the family in their home, you’re left with very difficult decisions,” says Megan Martin, who heads public-policy work at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. “Our policy on child welfare hasn’t caught up with the research on child welfare; what we know families need is very different from what we’re providing them with at every level.”
That dilemma might be starting to change. In August, Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Family Stability and Kinship Care Act, which is designed to direct more funding to in-home services. “Somewhere in America, a mother has to choose between leaving her kids at home alone to work a night shift, and losing the wages that allow her to barely scrape by,” Wyden said in a statement. “The current child-welfare funding system provides two choices: put kids in foster care or do nothing.”
We might see a new legal precedent on the child- welfare system as well. Later this fall, Redleaf says, the Illinois Appellate Court will either begin oral arguments on Natasha Felix’s case, or decide it on the basis of the briefs that have already been submitted. Redleaf’s goal isn’t just to have Felix exonerated and removed from the state’s child-abuse registry; it is also to establish a precedent governing how the neglect statute is applied in Illinois. In the words of his legal filing, “The appeal raises a question of great importance to parents and children of this State: may a parent who allows her school-aged children to play in a nearby park for thirty or forty minutes, without remaining in her line of sight at all times, avoid being registered in a State-run database as a child neglector?”
If the answer is no, then we might see an Illinois version of the Meitivs in the news sometime soon. However, that family won’t be the ones paying the greatest price.
While the Maryland Assembly are passing more and more authoritarian and repressive laws strengthening a police state in Maryland and especially in Baltimore we see these same pols PRETENDING they are seeking a solution from the very militarized policing policies they install. We now have SWAT TEAMS able to enter people's homes without warrent---now police and social workers are empowered to involuntarily commit people without due process----and Maryland Assembly now making it more prevalent that officials are coming to homes to monitor children before they get to pre-K--
As this article shows---this board and these policies HAVE NO TEETH. If citizens' in Maryland cannot even have a word at public meetings over education policy----then who thinks this is a solution? No one. It is the absence of any public sector agency---in the case of child care and parental rights in child-rearing----that would be found in public health, public justice, and DLLR regulating and auditing professional credentials that will lead to any public system operating in the public interest. State's like Maryland do not allow a public sector because they do not enforce public justice policies so we KNOW funding child care or issues like child welfare funding will not have oversight and accountability for the funding or for the people/agencies empowered by these policies.
Below you see two officials----Director of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement-----Baltimore has a long history of wage theft----long history of labor classification fraud-----ABYSMAL CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT----and KISHA BROWN doesn't do that duty. There's Rodney Hill ----Chief of Office of Professional Standards and Responsibility----we have systemic government corruption and corporate fraud and as we talk of child care and the failures of any agency to assure professionalism in child care staffing or business ownership-------Rodney is failing in his duties. So, together, do we think these BOARDS will do anything? OF COURSE NOT.
Civilian Review Board Ramping
Up Police Oversight
By Tom Hall & Bridget Armstrong • May 27, 2016
(left) Kisha Brown, Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement. (right) Rodney Hill, Chief of The Office of Professional Standards and Responsibility.
Credit Kisha Brown, Baltimore City Police Department
The Civilian Review Board is an independent city agency tasked with investigating claims of police misconduct including abusive language, harassment, false arrest, and false imprisonment. The CRB handles complaints for the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore City School Police, the Baltimore City Sheriff's Office, the Baltimore Environmental Police, the Police Force of the Baltimore City Community College, and the Police Force of Morgan State University.
Although the board has been around since 1999, many people don't know it exists and those who do have called it ineffective.
Last year, Kisha Brown was appointed by Mayor Rawlings-Blake to be director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement which oversees the CRB. Brown has a new vision for the board and hopes to make it a viable and accountable agency. Since Brown’s appointment, the CRB launched the Police Complaint Mediation Program, filled two vacancies on the board and hired a additional investigators which enables the board to take on more independent investigations. CRB has nine members who are nominated by the Mayor and voted on by the city council. There are currently openings for the Southwest, Western and Northeastern district seats. Kisha Brown and Baltimore City Internal Affairs (Office of Professional Responsibility) Chief Rodney Hill join Tom in-studio to discuss the ongoing efforts to improve police oversight and the relationship between the Baltimore Police Department and the Civilian Review Board.
Maryland is known for allocating the lowest percentage of funding to social services and then allowing it to go missing in action. Baltimore of course is ground zero for this. As you see below the state gets these Federal funds for child care----in this case foster care-----and then, as this article shows goes to another funding source for the revenue spent----as in Social Security benefits not supposed to be used for these services. Whether foster care or child care the fault is not with the social workers as they are staffed to impossible client levels to actually monitor properly-----the problem lies with the state which could care less about public protections and using these funds simply for wealth accumulation.
Everyone knows most states are captured by these Wall Street global corporate pols doing the same in US cities across the nation and this has gotten worse under Obama even as he ran on building this oversight and accountability. The point is this: if we know they are allowing all Federal funds to be lost in fraud and corruption what is left in these Federal and state bills? Look for the authoritarian take and we see more and more corporate ties to how families operate.
Maryland and Baltimore have a long history of using Federal funds to subsidize wealth while pretending to be funding required social benefits like foster care. Maryland no doubt received this $650 million while cutting the DHR's access to SS Trust survivor benefits. As the article says----that was not how SS survivor benefits are supposed to be used ----as Maryland does not appropriate social services funding enough to meet Federal obligations. THIS IS BAIT AND SWITCH.
When these system failures exist on a large scale BEFORE an authoritarian far-right policy of child care is passed----then we know those funds will not make it to families and so does Obama who completely dismantled all Federal oversight and accountability during his terms.
Md. receives $650 million federal grant for foster careState to use money to reduce number of children entering system
September 30, 2014|By John Fritze | The Baltimore Sun
Maryland has won a five-year, $650 million federal grant that will give officials more flexibility to run the state's foster care program and reduce the number of children entering the system, Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration said Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant, which has been awarded to about 20 states so far, will allow Maryland to expand programs that help struggling families to avoid having their children turned over to foster care, state officials said.
Baltimore Youths Have It Worse Than Those in Nigeria
A global survey of 15- to 19-year-olds living in vulnerable cities shows that social support and outlook are driving factors in health outcomes
Injustice at DHR [Editorial]
Our view: State's practice of appropriating foster children's Social Security survivor benefits to support its budget is understandable but unfair
March 04, 2014
Maryland's practice of shoring up its foster care budget by appropriating the Social Security survivor benefits of the children in its care is questionable and merits close scrutiny by legislators. Maryland is hardly alone in taking this step, and prohibiting it would present financial and logistical hurdles. But there is a strong case to be made that it is unfair to the children the state is supposed to be caring for.
The state has an obligation to care for children who are abused or neglected, and the children are not expected to pay the state back. Maryland regulations do allow the Department of Human Resources to seize a child's assets, such as property or a life insurance policy, but it does not do so. An exception is the Social Security survivor benefit, which is paid to minor children when a breadwinning parent dies. The state has been applying for those benefits in the names of foster children whose parent or parents have died — collecting on average about $2.5 million a year, which goes into the agency's overall foster care budget, not to the specific benefit of the children in question. The state has also hired a consultant to help it maximize this "revenue," with an expectation that it could boost its take to as much as $9.2 million a year.
Advocates have long questioned this practice, and now state Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Kathleen M. Dumais, both Montgomery County Democrats, are sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the state from using any of a child's assets — Social Security or otherwise — as reimbursement for the cost of his or her care. Instead, it calls for the money to be used to pay for specialized services not otherwise provided by DHR or establishing an account for the child so that he or she may receive the funds upon leaving foster care. The bill also codifies a requirement made in a recent Court of Appeals decision that the state notify a child through his or her attorney of any applications for federal benefits and of the results of those applications.
DHR opposes the legislation, and its concerns are not trivial. If the state did not collect these funds, the overall budget for foster care would be reduced. Either the state would have to kick in more general funds (not an easy thing to accomplish at a time of budgetary stress) or the level of support for all foster children would be reduced. And setting up the necessary trusts or accounts to pay for specialized services would be logistically difficult and costly in its own right — state legislative analysts estimate that merely screening and reviewing children for eligibility would cost in excess of a half-million dollars per year. Fundamentally, DHR Secretary Ted Dallas has argued, the agency's practices are fair and reasonable because all of the money goes toward caring for the children, just as it would if they were being cared for by a surviving parent or other relative.
Where that argument falls down, though, is that the care DHR provides through the foster system is a universal benefit that all children are entitled to by right. Social Security survivor payments are an individual, earned benefit. Generally speaking, children are only eligible for them if their parents have a sufficient work history, and the amount of the benefit varies depending on how much the parents earned. The Social Security Administration's publications refer to survivor benefits as being akin to life insurance and note that "When a parent becomes disabled or dies, Social Security benefits help stabilize the family's financial future." Even though the Supreme Court has upheld the legality of using survivors' benefits to shore up a state's foster care budget, the practice fails to live up to Social Security's promise because the children whose parents earned that benefit are in no way better off than those whose parents didn't.
We sympathize with DHR's position. From their perspective, this legislation amounts to a requirement that the state diminish its ability to care for the majority of the children in the system in order to benefit a relative few. But state officials also need to recognize that there is also something unfair about what they are doing. They are appropriating the resources of a few — in most cases, the only legacy their parents have left for them — for a purpose that does not directly benefit them. That may be legal, but it isn't right.
This is where Baltimore has moved these several years of privatizing all that is public including our public social workers tied to public health and mental health. So, we see the entire system built to protect children and families being privatized and mostly to corporate non-profits funded by corporations controlling these kinds of social policies as NGOs do in third world nations.
As public safety becomes authoritarian these social worker/policing partnerships will increasingly become FAR-RIGHT MORALITY ENFORCEMENT. Now, given the 1% Wall Street have no morals, ethics, or connection to RULE OF LAW----what is good and bad becomes what is good for the rich and global corporate power.
THIS IS TOWARDS WHAT OBAMA'S AND CLINTON NEO-LIBERAL CONGRESS PARTNERED WITH REPUBLICANS MOVED WITH THIS SUPPOSED PROGRESSIVE POLICY FOR FAMILIES AND CHILD CARE.
Far-right fascism takes much interest in how children are reared------no freedom and liberty here for Republican voters with their own children now on the road to injustice. You notice this article hails from Obama's Kansas------one of the most conservative Republican of states. Twenty years ago was of course during the Clinton Administration.
“In a nutshell, I think that almost 20 years into privatization, what we’ve seen is exactly opposite of what they intended,” “It has not cost the state less. It has not created efficiencies. It has not created the one-child, one-social worker model.”
Maryland's and Baltimore's is about the same as this Kansas system---so, where is Obama sending this progressive child care funding?
Kansas social workers call for review of privatized child welfare system
By Peter Hancock
December 13, 2015
Topeka — Kansas lawmakers have tentatively agreed to authorize a wide-ranging audit of current practices within the Department for Children and Families, including its management of foster care services and whether the agency is routinely discriminating against gay and lesbian families when placing children in either temporary or permanent homes.
But some who have worked within the system say the problems at DCF go beyond its current policies and practices. Although conditions have become noticeably worse in recent years, they say, the root of the problem dates back to a decision made nearly 20 years ago to privatize the state’s child welfare system.
“In a nutshell, I think that almost 20 years into privatization, what we’ve seen is exactly opposite of what they intended,” said Sky Westerlund, executive director of the Kansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. “It has not cost the state less. It has not created efficiencies. It has not created the one-child, one-social worker model.”
From June 1996 through May 1997, Kansas handed over the day-to-day job of administering family preservation, foster care and adoption services to outside contractors. It was the state’s response to a class action lawsuit that one Topeka lawyer had filed against the agency, then known as the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, for its alleged mismanagement of child welfare programs, leading to the violation of those children’s civil rights.
Westerlund, who has led the association since the early days of privatization, still has a report in her office from that time, detailing what state officials expected to happen once services were handed over to outside contractors who, presumably, could be more efficient than the state agency.
“That’s what they envisioned, that they would have long-term staff, and it would stabilize the system,” she said. “What has happened is, advocates have become the contractors, and it has basically shut down their advocacy. It’s very hard to speak up and speak out about problems that are going on. It has fractured the system because there are too many bureaucracies on the private side and on the public side.”
Incentive to cut costs
Westerlund, who worked for a private adoption contractor before taking over the association, said she bases her assessment of current conditions within the system on what she hears from social workers in the field, many of whom she said are reluctant to speak out publicly.
But she said one thing that does come through when talking to social workers in the field is that the privatized system leads the contractors to become overly concerned about holding down costs, leading to staff shortages, high turnover rates and ineffective services.
“I don’t know if you would call it incentives,” she said. “I think that’s something that happens, though. They are trying to cut costs. They are trying to stay within the costs of what they’ve contracted with the state. They’re not going to go over that. They’re not going to take a loss if they can prevent that. It’s much more money-focused.”
Douglas County District Court Judge Peggy Kittel has expressed concern in recent months about the high turnover rate among social workers, noting that one child in her courtroom recently had been assigned to seven different case managers in just two years.
Westerlund said she has seen it, too, and not just in Douglas County.
“When kids are outlasting the workers in the child welfare system, that indicates a very unstable system for them,” Westerlund said. “They’re coming from families that are not functioning well, and they’re being put into a system that’s not functioning well.”
Hiring unlicensed workers
In response, DCF announced last month that it has started hiring other kinds of professionals to perform the jobs of social workers, including people with advanced degrees in psychology, counseling, and marriage and family counseling.
But both the agency and its contractors have also started hiring for positions that require no degree at all, “special investigators,” as they are called at DCF, and “family support workers,” as they’re called by KVC Behavioral Healthcare Kansas, the contractor for the eastern Kansas region, including Douglas County.
They work under the supervision of licensed social workers and perform some of the tasks previously reserved for licensed workers, such as making home visits and interviewing people involved in abuse and neglect cases.
“Special investigators certainly help in this way,” said DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed. “Some of our special investigators are former law enforcement with decades of experience. They simply want to serve the public in a different capacity.”
But Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, the union that represents DCF social workers, said it’s not a solution to the real problem.
“They haven’t been able to attract new social workers,” Proctor said. “Pay is low, working conditions are not great. And so instead of looking at raising pay scales or telling the Legislature, ‘Hey, we need to look after the safety of Kansas children; we need to get a pay raise for these people,’ instead, they’re dumbing down the qualifications for these people and saying anybody with a high school diploma can do this.
“The fallout for kids and the families, at least based on the feedback we’ve received, is you don’t necessarily have the most qualified person making the determination about what should happen with that child,” Proctor said. “And that’s truly sad.”
DCF said its decision was based on a shortage of available licensed social workers.
“Unfortunately, fewer people are entering this field,” the agency said in a Nov. 13 news release. “DCF is experiencing a shortage of social workers in many regions of the state, especially western Kansas.”
Westerlund, however, said there is no shortage of social workers in Kansas.
According to the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Board, there are currently 7,286 licensed social workers in the state, and for the past four years, the board has been issuing an average of about 700 new licenses each year.
DCF said it employs 375 social workers and has 65 vacant positions.
“So I think it’s more accurate to say there’s a shortage of professional social workers who want to work in that system,” she said. “It doesn’t support their career.”