Having worked with probably 300 cases statewide, I am convinced there is no responsibility
and no accountability in the system. I have concluded:
• those poor parents often times are targeted to lose their children because they do not
have the where-with-all to hire lawyers and fight the system. Being poor does not mean
you are not a good parent or that you do not love your child, or that your child should
be removed and placed with strangers;
• that all parents are capable of making mistakes and that making a mistake does not
mean your children are always to be removed from the home. Even if the home is not
perfect, it is home; and that’s where a child is the safest and where he or she wants to
be, with family;
• that parenting classes, anger management classes, counseling referrals, therapy classes
, and on and on are demanded of parents with no compassion by the system even while
they are at work and while their children are separated from them. This can take
months or even years and it emotionally devastates both children and parents. Parents
are victimized by “the system” that makes a profit for holding children longer and
“bonuses” for not returning children;
• that caseworkers and social workers are oftentimes guilty of fraud. They withhold
evidence. They fabricate evidence and they seek to terminate parental rights.
However, when charges are made against them, the charges are ignored;
• that the separation of families is growing as a business because local governments have
grown accustomed to having taxpayer dollars to balance their ever-expanding budgets;
• that Child Protective Service and Juvenile Court can always hide behind a
confidentiality clause in order to protect their decisions and keep the funds flowing.
There should be open records and “court watches”! Look who is being paid!
There are state employees, lawyers, court investigators, court personnel, and judges.
There are psychologists, and psychiatrists, counselors, caseworkers, therapists, foster
parents, adoptive parents, and on and on. All are looking to the children in state
custody to provide job security. Parents do not realize that social workers are the glue
that holds “the system” together that funds the court, the child’s attorney, and the
multiple other jobs including DFCS’s attorney.
• that The Adoption and the Safe Families Act, set in motion by President Bill Clinton,
offered cash “bonuses” to the states for every child they adopted out of foster care. In
order to receive the “adoption incentive bonuses” local child protective services need
more children. They must have merchandise (children) that sell and you must have
plenty of them so the buyer can choose. Some counties are known to give a $4,000
bonus for each child adopted and an additional $2,000 for a “special needs” child.
Employees work to keep the federal dollars flowing;
• that there is double-dipping. The funding continues as long as the child is out of the
home. When a child in foster care is placed with a new family then “adoption bonus
funds” are available. When a child is placed in a mental health facility and is on 16
drugs per day, like two children of a constituent of mine, more funds are involved;
• that there are no financial resources and no real drive to unite a family and help keep
• that the incentive for social workers to return children to their parents quickly after
taking them has disappeared and who in protective services will step up to the plate and
say, “This must end! No one, because they are all in the system together and a system
with no leader and no clear policies will always fail the children. Look at the waste in
government that is forced upon the taxpayer;
• that the “Policy Manuel” is considered “the last word” for DFCS. However, it is too
long, too confusing, poorly written, and does not take the law into consideration;
• that if the lives of children were improved by removing them from their homes, there
might be a greater need for protective services, but today all children are not always
safer. Children, of whom I am aware, have been raped and impregnated in foster care
and the head of a Foster Parents Association in my District was recently arrested
because of child molestation;
• that some parents are even told if they want to see their children or grandchildren, they
must divorce their spouse. Many, who are underprivileged, feeling they have no
option, will divorce and then just continue to live together. This is an anti-family policy, but
parents will do anything to get their children home with them.
• fathers, (non-custodial parents) I must add, are oftentimes treated as criminals without
access to their own children and have child support payments strangling the very life
out of them;
• that the Foster Parents Bill of Rights does not bring out that a foster parent is there
only to care for a child until the child can be returned home. Many Foster Parents
today use the Foster Parent Bill of Rights to hire a lawyer and seek to adopt the child
from the real parents, who are desperately trying to get their child home and out of the
• that tax dollars are being used to keep this gigantic system afloat, yet the victims,
parents, grandparents, guardians, and especially the children, are charged for the
• that grandparents have called from all over the State of Georgia trying to get custody of
their grandchildren. DFCS claims relatives are contacted, but some cases prove differently. Grandparents who
lose their grandchildren to strangers have lost their own flesh and blood. The children
lose their family heritage and grandparents, and parents too, lose all connections to
• that The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as
many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to
official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual
molestation than in the general population.
• That according to the California Little Hoover Commission Report in 2003, 30% to
70% of the children in California group homes do not belong there and should not have
been removed from their homes.
On my desk are scores of cases of exhausted families and troubled children. It has
been beyond me to turn my back on these suffering, crying, and sometimes beaten down
individuals. We are mistreating the most innocent. Child Protective Services have become
adult centered to the detriment of children. No longer is a judgment based on what the child
needs or who the child wants to be with or what is really best for the whole family; it is some
adult or bureaucrat who makes the decisions, based often on just hearsay, without ever
consulting a family member, or just what is convenient, profitable, or less troublesome for
a director of DFCS.
I have witnessed such injustice and harm brought to these families that I am not sure if I even
believe reform of the system is possible! The system cannot be trusted. It does not serve the
people. It obliterates families and children simply because it has the power to do so.
Children deserve better. Families deserve better. It’s time to pull back the curtain and set
our children and families free.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy” Proverbs 31:8-9
Why the Pandemic Has Hit These Workers Harder
People with disabilities are disproportionately employed in industries that have suffered in the pandemic.
By Andy Newman
PRINT EDITION March 6, 2021
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two state agencies in charge of the foster care system in Texas have requested a combined $75 million to cover costs associated with a decade-old federal lawsuit.
A federal judge warned state officials in September that they could again be held in contempt of court if reforms—largely concerning oversight of residential foster care facilities and abuse investigations—weren’t implemented.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services presented a request to the Legislative Budget Board on Thursday for $38 million in Fiscal Years 2022-23 to comply with the lawsuit. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is also named in the lawsuit, requested $37 million to cover costs over the same period.
BACKGROUND: Fifth Circuit tells Texas to fix foster care system
Kate Murphy, a senior child welfare policy associate for Texans Care for Children, an advocacy organization, said those funds will be used mostly for legal and administrative costs.
“It really isn’t going to cover some of what’s needed, some of the changes that are needed, to make sure that things are safer and better for kids,” Murphy said.
In 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld half of the mandates made by a U.S. District Court Judge, which required foster care homes with more than six kids to have 24-hour supervision.
In the DFPS budget request, the agency said it made substantial efforts to implement the orders, including supervision requirements, but that the Court Monitor report issued in June found that the state was still not compliant.
“I don’t think people understand exactly how bad things are,” said Caroline Roberts, a staff attorney for the advocacy organization Children at Risk. “In the first Monitor’s report, for instance, three children in DFPS custody died just between February and May of 2020.”
State agencies are beginning to jockey for funds ahead of the next legislative session beginning in January. That’s when lawmakers will form the biennial budget. Facing a multi-billion dollar budget deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic, state departments are already bracing for cuts.
State of Texas: Judge orders Texas to pay daily fines until foster care problems are fixed
Murphy said the state has a unique opportunity to improve preventative and intervention services, and satisfy some requirements of the lawsuit, by taking advantage of a federal match under the Families First Prevention Services Act.
As part of the FFPSA, the federal government will provide a 50% match to qualifying community-based care services. The DFPS identified the initiative under its exceptional item requests, basically a wish list for the state legislature, but did not provide a dollar amount.
“I think the biggest budget question facing the Texas child welfare system right now is actually how we’re going to implement the Families First Prevention Services Act,” Murphy said.
A hearing is expected soon when a federal judge will again determine if the state is not compliant with the court’s orders.
KXAN Austin , Texas
A potent mix of grievance and religious fervor has turbocharged the support among Trump loyalists, many of whom describe themselves as participants in a kind of holy war.
WASHINGTON — Before self-proclaimed members of the far-right group the Proud Boys marched toward the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they stopped to kneel in the street and prayed in the name of Jesus.
The group, whose participants have espoused misogynistic and anti-immigrant views, prayed for God to bring “reformation and revival.” They gave thanks for “the wonderful nation we’ve all been blessed to be in.” They asked God for the restoration of their “value systems,” and for the “courage and strength to both represent you and represent our culture well.” And they invoked the divine protection for what was to come.
New York Times
Belief-based groups have a strong record in campaigning for reform, writes Zaki Cooper, while Rev Matthew Smith points to the part all denominations of Christianity have played in supporting the fabric of society
Churches have made their premises available for all manner of support groups, including food banks, writes Rev Matthew Smith. Photograph: HASPhotos/Alamy Stock Photo
Sun 3 Jan 2021 11.41 EST
While the great religious traditions do not support any single political dogma, throughout history they have been at the forefront of the some of the great struggles for liberty (The Guardian view on liberal Christians: is this their moment? 1 January). The campaign to abolish the slave trade featured a number of Christians and was led by William Wilberforce. He proposed anti-slavery motions in parliament for 18 years, culminating in the 1807 act to abolish the trade. Furthermore, some of the welfare reforms in early 20th-century Britain were inspired by Christians, such as Canon Samuel Barnett and his wife, Henrietta.
In the US, the civil rights movement was led by a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King, while Archbishop Romero was a totemic figure in campaigning against breaches of human rights in the civil war in El Salvador. The church also played a prominent role in opposing apartheid in South Africa. On the international stage, churches and Jewish groups were the main supporters of the campaign to institute the 1948 genocide convention. These examples show that religious groups have a strong record of supporting campaigns for justice and freedom, and defending those facing persecution.
Trustee, Council of Christians and Jews
• Founded by Manchester Unitarians in the early 19th century, the creation of the Guardian newspaper was partly the product of liberal Christian conscience. Your otherwise excellent editorial on the opportunities for progressive Christianity focused rather heavily on the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Across the denominational spectrum, liberal and radical Christians are keen to nurture a narrative and practice of fraternity to challenge the brutal individualism that has torn the fabric of society since the beginning of the 1980s. It is seen in practical support for food banks; the way churches make their premises available for social support groups; and the unseen work done by clergy and people of faith to support the mental health of countless people in our communities.
When so many political promises of individual prosperity are increasingly exposed as cakeism and illusion, we should not be surprised if people return to deeper patterns of meaning and solidarity.
Rev Matthew Smith
Minister, Framlingham and Bury St Edmunds Unitarians
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Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency is ending, but the forces that propelled him – from a misinformation crisis to a surge in white nationalism to a crackdown on voting rights – remain clear and present threats to American democracy. The need for fact-based reporting that highlights injustice and offers solutions is as great as ever. In the coming year, the Guardian will also confront America’s many systemic challenges – from the climate emergency to broken healthcare to rapacious corporations.
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Updated 3:08 PM ET, Wed December 18, 2019
Editor's Note: Melissa Blake is a freelance writer and blogger from Illinois. She covers disability rights and women's issues and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Glamour, among others. Read her blog, So About What I Said, and follow her on Twitter. The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers. View more opinion on CNN.
(CNN) - I was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder, so I've always been acutely aware of what it means to be different. Yet I've never felt more "other" than I have since the 2016 election, in large part due to the actions of President Donald Trump and his administration.
Immediately following his inauguration, the disability section of the White House website was removed -- and it hasn't been added back (for reference, President Barack Obama's White House site is archived and had a dedicated section for disabilities). We've also seen the President's blatant ableism when he mocked a New York Times reporter and, just last week, in his tweet about Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old with Asperger's and Time's Person of the Year.
Perhaps most troubling: Trump's budget and policies directly hurt people with disabilities, like last week's news of proposed rule changes to Social Security.
With all this harm, maybe that's why the last few months have given me a much-needed renewed sense of hope. Although she recently withdrew her candidacy and some in the disability community took serious issue with her proposals, Kamala Harris was the first 2020 candidate to announce an exclusive plan for people with disabilities, back in August.
Since then, a handful of Democratic candidates, including Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro and Andrew Yang, have spoken out about their disability plans. Buttigieg penned an op-ed for Buzzfeed in November about how he plans to "make our government work for Americans with disabilities."
Castro shared similar sentiments in a tweet after he attended the Iowa Democrats' Disability Caucus: "As president, I'll fight to empower and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities -- in housing, jobs, education, accessibility, and elsewhere."
As I browsed the candidates' official websites, I found sections highlighting disabilities easy to find for nearly all contenders.
And yet, for all this exposure, disability rights and disability inclusion have been notably absent from the discussion during the Democratic debates.
In fact, the disability platforms of the candidates haven't exactly been a hot topic much of anywhere, and as a disabled woman, this saddens and angers me. And with the final debate of 2019 coming up this week, I'd just like to tell the candidates one thing: Please be more vocal about disabilities. Disabled people are tired of being left out of the conversation, especially when it comes to things that directly impact our lives.
This isn't only about the candidates. When it comes to disability, moderators and members of the media need to ask questions of those in the race, not just once, but persistently.
I've spent the better part of 2019 wondering why this lack of disability discussion has been so stark. Surely, it's not because disabled people don't exist; we do exist and in large numbers. According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States live with a disability and people with disabilities are living, working and contributing to society like never before. The disability community has a long tradition of being on the front lines when it comes to social and political policy, Haley Moss, a Florida-based lawyer who has autism, told me.
"People with disabilities make up a sizable portion of the population eligible to vote, and it's crucial not to alienate potential voters," said Moss. "Disability issues intersect with all other policy proposals and ideas."
Indeed, people with disabilities are fierce change-makers, which is why it's essential that they're included in discussions surrounding the crucial 2020 election and especially included in candidates' disability platforms. After all, we know what it feels like to be left out when it comes to policy decisions -- and even worse, we know what it feels like to be harmed by those policies.
As the saying goes, the personal is political. Who I am as a person and what I've been through because of my disability includes politics. For disabled people, it's impossible to separate the two because what's happening in Washington is directly affecting our personhood every day.
A headline last month proclaimed that disability rights are a "major campaign issue" for the first time in 2020. It will be easier for me to believe that when I see it for myself. What I want from Thursday's Democratic debate is the same thing I want in all the debates and on the campaign trail: I want disabled people to be seen and I want us to be included.
And most of all, I want to see conversations taking place on that debate stage that will bring disability rights to the forefront and help us move toward the future -- a future that includes true inclusion for people with disabilities.
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