Friday, July 2, 2010

My Truth

I debated whether or not to get into a war of words, but I felt the need to respond to this comment from my last post about Adoption Disruptions:
You leave out the fact that they push a lot of these kids into adoptive families in an effort to fluff the numbers, increase the revenues from the feds to the states, seal the records and hide all of the FRAUD that got the kids there in the first place.

Adoption is promoted in the media like a fairy tale where they all live happily ever after, so potential adoptive parents are preached the wrong message, they are also lied to by the workers, made false promises of aid in the future and whatever else it takes to get them to bite. There have even been cases where they have overlooked potential dangers to the children just to get them adopted out and call it a happy ending, just to make it all appear to be good.

Now, I realize that you won't publish this comment, so it will go on LK, but I honestly believe that deep down you are a good person who means well. Please start telling the truth to your readers. They deserve to hear it..

So here is the thing, this is my blog. I tell my truth here. I would never suggest that my truth is the only truth out there. In fact, I know for certain that their are many truths out in the world that are nothing like mine. But I can only tell my truth. That is what this why I write this blog.

In my experience, social workers do not push children toward adoption in order to "fluff numbers", "increase revenue" or "hide fraud". When I first started getting comments that suggested such things I was appalled and bewildered. So, I did a little research to reassure myself that I wasn't completely crazy. Turns out, I practice Child Welfare in a state where agencies do not get federal incentives for moving cases towards adoption (or guardianship). We do get incentives when a child achieves permanency - that includes a child being adopted, achieving guardianship, becoming independent, or returning home to their family. Let me clarify even further - the social workers in my state don't get any bonus when any of these things happen - it is just part of our job. Therefor, social workers don't care where the child goes - we just want kids out of the system. That is my truth.

Are there other truths out there? Are there states or counties or agencies or social workers that DO profit financially for moving children towards adoption? It definitely seems like that is a possibility. Other people have reported that it is happening. I haven't heard it "direct from the horse's mouth" - from another social worker - but that doesn't mean I can't conceive of it happening. The system sucks - I've made that loud and clear on this blog.

There are certainly other reasons that social workers push kids towards adoption in my state - ones that have nothing to do with financial incentives or "good numbers". I know that some kids get pushed towards adoption because of pressure from the court, because the kid is reaching an "unadoptable" age, because the home is "better than nothing", because the social worker's caseload is high and demanding or because the foster parents are annoying the caseworker. None of these are good reasons to push adoption. They don't assure that the child is stable or that the placement will not disrupt - in fact, it is adoptions like these that probably contribute to disruptions later in the child's life. I have no problem blogging about these truths. Because I've seen it happen and I think it is a serious problem in foster care today.

But I won't blog about things that I don't know to be true. I won't write that the reason bad things happen to kids in foster care is because social workers don't care and they are just pushing for a bigger paycheck. I will write about the things that I see that do cause children to get hurt - poor programming, high caseloads, inadequate education and training, lack of funding, lack of services, cover your ass reactions by investigators, laziness, burnout, lackluster supervision, etc - I could go on for days. I believe that talking about these truths is the only way to work towards changing the system.

But, I will only write MY TRUTH.

14 comments:

  1. Good for you, SW's always underated, misunderstood and usually unable to reply in the course of their work.
    However there is much more to adoption and the experiences of adult adoptees that it would be very useful for those in the business to understand better.

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  2. 'Preach on' sister!I hate generalisations so much.

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  3. Having worked as a caseworker, I can echo everything you've said here.
    I get comments like those sometimes - it's just ridiculous. No one makes money off these kids being in care - ESPECIALLY the caseworkers. They hardly get paid enough to live on!
    Anyway...I won't get on my soapbox - only here to say don't get discouraged!

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  4. Von - I completely agree on both points!

    Maggie - Thanks for the comment! I do think that there are probably some areas or agencies that are using this kind of incentive to keep kids moving through the system - and the idea is horrifying. But it simply isn't the case for me. Don't worry, I won't get discouraged!

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  5. Where did I say that the caseworkers get anything out of the deal? I'm well aware that caseworkers and foster parents are nothing but pawns in the game. Still, they're a part of the problem. And just because you are not aware of what the administrators or policy makers, or the service providers who bill medicaid on the kids behalf, or the lawyers who benefit by dragging the cases out, or any other system suck right down to the big pharmaceutical companies who profit from the over use of psyche meds in the US Foster Care System, is getting out of the deal doesn't make it any more or less true. You see, when you're down at the bottom you have to look up, and you're all so wrapped up in the relatively few individual cases, that none of you get a look at the whole mess.

    As for truth's, your perspective is considered and appreciated, but as for the disruptions of adoption or whatever you want to call it, everything I said stands in all 50 states. Workers lie to perspective adoptive parents to get the kid out of the system, they make false promises in order to twist their arms a little bit, and don't adequately check on the kids, or do the background checks, and children are being placed into dangerous environments and with people who aren't adequately equipped to handle their needs. So when it becomes clear that they can't handle the kids, who are mostly screwed up from being in foster care, they give them back.

    I know, I know your state is perfect.

    I never said that the workers were the ones to get anything out of the deal. Wait, I take that back, my worker got off on the power trip. But she was one of those sadistic ones, unlike anything you've ever seen.

    LK

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  6. I echo Maggie, and if that may be the case (placing for insentives) in some places than I imagine that they are not the kind of agency that is really concerned about the best intrest of the child.
    We adopted from a disruption and the other family is still a part of our lives and they have the boys little brother and we all make it work. Not every child can be parented by the family that they are placed with because trauma based behaviour is not something that anyone can predict and a lot of amazing parents are unable to cope with the resulting behaviour when kids have experienced trauma and neglect. I commend then for trying and then for realising that it is time for the kid to move on. No one at all profited in any way from us adopting our boys, well except us and them because we are all great together... most days!

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  7. Saying that the system is completely corrupt is as ridiculous as saying it's perfect. You'll accomplish more beating your head against the wall than trying to reason with them.

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  8. LK - What I object to is the generalization that because SOME caseworkers/lawyers/administrators/foster parents/etc do things for the wrong reasons and benefit financially or otherwise - then ALL of them are bad, that the entire system is bad. The system is bad - but I do not believe that the majority of people in it are willfully contributing to children being abused in or out of foster care. I believe that most are doing their jobs the best they can and want to do them better. Most want to protect their kids, support their families, and make good decisions. We wish there were obvious answers and procedures that would ensure good outcomes. So, I won't write that the reasons kids disrupt from adoptive placements is that no one cared, everyone was in it for the money, and that everyone dropped the ball - its is just not that simple in my eyes. That is my truth.

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  9. Since you said you state doesn't do those things can you name it so that can be verified? Personally I don't see how any state could not be doing it so the managers can hire additional workers and expand their little empires. I think every state has gotten the adoption bonus at least one year and all the states get increased federal funding for foster care if they increase the number of children in it. On at least some level, every state is pushing its child investigators to find and substantiate more abuse. In a case last month, California's 4th Court of Appeals in reviewing "Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al" noted that the California Association of Counties admitted (in its Amicus brief) the behavior that resulted in the $5 million judgment was ubiquitous, in other words, every county was doing it. I'll won't be surprised if your state is doing it too. BTW Appeals court upheld the judgment amount only setting aside an unenforceable restraining order

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  10. Since you said you state doesn't do those things can you name it so that can be verified? Personally I don't see how any state could not be doing it so the managers can hire additional workers and expand their little empires. I think every state has gotten the adoption bonus at least one year and all the states get increased federal funding for foster care if they increase the number of children in it. On at least some level, every state is pushing its child investigators to find and substantiate more abuse. In a case last month, California's 4th Court of Appeals in reviewing "Fogarty-Hardwick v. County of Orange, et al" noted that the California Association of Counties admitted (in its Amicus brief) the behavior that resulted in the $5 million judgment was ubiquitous, in other words, every county was doing it. I'll won't be surprised if your state is doing it too. BTW Appeals court upheld the judgment amount only setting aside an unenforceable restraining order

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  11. While I will not reveal my state (I must remain anonymous for my clients' safety) I will say that while my state is not perfect, they are doing some things very well in Child Welfare. The first is that over ten years ago they recognized the over abundance of children languishing in foster care - and they did something about it. Currently, private agencies (almost all foster care cases are held by private agencies)are rewarded for permanency. There are also fines that an agency recieves if a case is in the system for too long. Since, in general, reunification is a "quicker" process than adoption - this provides a natural incentive to reunify children than to push them towards adoption. My state also has some of the lowest rates of removal of children from their natural families - I have witnessed first hand how difficult it is to have temporary custody of a child taken. Risk of harm and neglect is rarely enough to bring a child into care - it must be physical or sexual abuse - and there must be a fair amount of physical proof. I won't say they do everything right - but I do think we've got some things going for us here.

    Again - all of this is just my truth.

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  12. I've been away from your blog for a while but am glad to be back!

    My confusion in these types of debates always goes back to: what is your solution??

    I hear lots of criticism, lots of name calling, lots of generalization- but no new solution or ideas.

    We could blog for a million years about what is wrong with child welfare. But the bottom line is that kids get abused. They live in unsafe families. This country has decided that the state has a right to interfere with unsafe families. Now what??

    No solution will ever be perfect. Is the solution we have now perfect? No way!! Could a solution exist that is "more perfect"?? Maybe. Is there corruption? For sure. Can we fix that? Probably not. (Well, at least I can't fix it). We can only attempt to identify ways to work within the system we have been given.

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  13. I hesitate to comment because my blog could become the next for this type of attack, but I have to give my support. Thanks for sharing your truth! There are far too few "workers" out there sharing their side of the story. I appreciate your balanced view.

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  14. You ask for solutions? I've thought about this sooo many times. I think that our state would personally benefit from more standard training for PCC agencies and I think that all foster homes should be PCC foster homes. A PCC foster home has a worker that makes contact weekly, while the social worker actually works the case and works with the family to help them over come the issues and "works the case". There should be a MANDATORY CAP ON CASES a worker is allowed to carry. There are plenty of solutions, but the bottom line is LACK of funding. Our state has a ridiculous amount of paper work that is meant to ensure every thing is documented, done, etc., but so much of it's redundant. For example, if a child is returned home from foster care... you have to send a form to the billing clerk and a different form to the child benefits worker. This should be the same form with the questions each worker needs answered... Common sense things would make a huge difference.

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