What about these kids? Didn’t they NEED foster care?

One thing I’ve heard before – “What about the kids who NEED foster care?”

Well, what about them?  Please, show me some kids who NEED foster care.  I’ve never seen a kid who NEEDS foster care. I’ve seen kids who need family, a home, food, clothing. But I’ve never met anyone who NEEDS foster care.

The question, like so many illogical statements about foster care are simply begging the question – using a premise to support the question. The premise is that foster care is the solution to maltreatment, neglect and abuse. Ergo, kids in those situations NEED foster care because foster care is the solution.

Another way to understand this – let’s say your car’s engine sounds a bit rough and you need to change the oil because you haven’t done so for 50,000 miles and not only has the oil broken down, the engine is low on oil.  So, you promptly declare that you need a new engine. And when I point out how stupid that is you reply: “But what about the cars that need a new engine?”

Which brings me to this story: https://www.wcpo.com/news/national/prosecutor-social-worker-accepted-bribe-to-look-the-other-way-before-5-year-old-boy-s-death

If I understand the limited information available, it went like this:

  • CPS likely opened a case against this family for abuse and or neglect
  • Social worker visit house, sees opportunity to make money
    • Full stop – we just found the root of this problem, but let’s continue on…
  • Social worker and parents hatch scheme to make a little money by defrauding the government
  • Kid dies

Let me now quote the entirety of the article linked above because their particular web page is slow to load and seems to have problems and also so that you have exactly the same information I used to write this:

“An Ohio social worker accepted a bribe to “look the other way” before a 5-year-old boy was found buried in the backyard of a Cleveland home last month, prosecutors claim.”

“In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors claimed that, had the social worker been doing her job, she would have been in the home, witnessing the deplorable conditions.”

“The prosecutor also announced Wednesday the arrest of a second person in connection to 5-year-old Jordan Rodriguez’s death. The boy’s mother, 34-year-old Larissa Rodriguez, was already charged with murder. Now her boyfriend, Christopher Rodriguez, is also facing a murder charge.”

“According to the prosecutor’s office, the social worker would report to the home but, rather than going inside, she would accept a food stamp card from Larissa Rodriguez. The social worker would then go and purchase goods with the card and return the card to her afterward. Authorities say the social worker purchased the food stamps, that were meant to feed the children, for 50 cents on the dollar.”

“Also a social worker has been indicted for partaking in a food stamp scheme with Larissa Rodriguez…where she would buy her food stamps for 50cents on the dollar meant for Larissa’s 5 children.”
— Mona Kosar Abdi (@MonaAbdiWEWS) January 31, 2018

“Officials said in the news conference Wednesday that the social worker was associated with an educational service company called Bright Beginnings. The director for Bright Beginnings said in a statement that the woman was employed by one of their contracted providers, Catholic Charities.”

“We were very disturbed to hear about the situation,” she said, in part. “We have been cooperating with public safety officials. Bright Beginnings is committed to serving families and children and will provide a update when more is known.”

“In December, five of Larissa Rodriguez’s other children — ages 1 to 12 — were found in “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions after Jordan’s body was found. Authorities said the house was filled with rats and cockroaches and one of the woman’s children was seen eating a sandwich with cockroaches in it.”

“The children were removed from the home when Larissa Rodriguez was taken into custody.”

Now. Re-read the story. 

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Question: What did this family and these children need?

A: Foster care?

B: Some serious intervention by the state to improve their living conditions, 18-24 hour monitoring, food, clothing and medical support and possible relocation of the entire family?

Follow up question: Would either A or B have prevented the death of the 5 year old? 

A: Yes, but it does have a known and proven statistical risk of death in foster care as a result of further abuse and trauma.

B: Yes, and carries less risk of future death and less risk of additional trauma to all involved.

Follow up question: Which option is cheaper, A or B?

A:

  • Involves funds spent by CPS and DFCS, as well as juvenile justice interaction and associated costs;
  • Monthly stipends to foster families for each of the five children for years;
  • Estimates of life time costs to local communities, state and federal resources of the now foster survivor after age 18 start at around $300,000 per child;
  • Incarceration cost of three adults for 15 years or more for each person.

B:

  • Involves funds spent by CPS/DFCS to relocate family to a suitable low income home or apartment and monthly support thereafter for several months to several years, but lower overall monthly costs that stipends for five foster children;
  • Involves further food, clothing and medical assistance for each family member;
  • Free public school to help guide the children to the possibility of future self sufficiency;
  • Because no additional severe trauma such as family separation, which leads to PTSD and other long term mental problems, is likely to be incurred, the costs of assisting the child after age 18 are likely to be significantly reduced vs cost of aging out of foster care.
    • This is not to say this type of solution would work 100% of the time, but it’s certainly more likely to work than family separation.

Follow up question: Which option is easier:

A: Like a cheap kitchen appliance, you “set it and forget it.” (Until it comes home to roost at age 18).

B: Takes a lot of time, supervision and care. Some people might not thank you and tell you how wonderful you are.

When all is said and done, we all seem to prefer that we do a Ron Popeil and “Set it… and FORGET IT!”

Option A, Foster care, is what we do every time.

But that’s not what these kids needed.

It’s what YOU needed to wash your hands of the situation.