In the state of California during the 1980s it was believed that putting children in private foster homes, but unfortunately so far that has not been the case. Although the state has spent $400 million annually each year on the organizations that are responsible for training, vetting, and providing foster parents, the rates at which children in these privately approved and selected homes are abused is not any lower than those that are in publicly approved placements. In fact, those children fared much worse, as one study that determined they were one-third more likely to be victims of serious abuse than the children in the state-supervised homes were.
What’s the Difference?
The key difference between private and public foster care is who is in charge of training, and who determines where these allegedly at-risk children will end up. Private providers, who earn money through the placement of children, have accepted thousands of people who have been convicted of crimes into the program, and this underhanded and greedy kind of decision making may be one of the key reasons for the startling amount of abuse of both kids and the system that is currently going unchecked in far too many cases. Currently in LA County, 80% of children who are removed from their homes who do not end up living with their grandparents will end up in homes selected by these extremely questionable private agencies.
Organizations for Reform
There are several key organizations that are dedicated to reforming the child protection system and protecting children’s rights. Many experts and child advocates believe that far too many children are being removed from their homes and placed into care without good cause, and the rates at which these children are subject to abuse in privately chosen foster placements are at least as great as those that are placed into care through state agencies. Children who are placed with relatives do better than children who are left in what is commonly referred to as “stranger care,” but when there is no alternative, it’s crucial that the care they are getting is through an agency that has to answer to a higher authority that is not profiting from the same system.
Countless studies have shown that the vast majority of kids are in far greater danger when they are removed from troubled homes and placed into foster care, and the fact that so many of these allegations are baseless and the child in question was in no danger in their own home just makes the situation that much more tragic. If these organizations have their way, child protective services workers will have their power reigned in, and fewer children will be taken from their homes to begin with. A safer alternative is to set up better safeguards and services for families in crisis that will give them the tools they need to raise their children in a positive environment.
What Can Be Done?
The system is corrupt, and many believe it is beyond reform and needs to be abolished. Because it is funded by more than $20 billion annually in taxpayer money, it is possible to draft new laws that will require that people who are suspected of child abuse to be investigated and prosecuted by the justice system the same as they would any other criminal. Although the current system was started with the well-meaning goal of protecting children, it is clearly not working in its current form, and the result is that social workers and agencies that are not trained in law enforcement are being allowed to act as officer, judge, and jury. That isn’t morally right, and it is certainly not the way this country’s government is supposed to work.