How Funding by the Federal Government has Caused Corruption in Child Protective Services
Child Protective Services or CPS has become a very corrupt government agency. From time to time problems with CPS (such as Justina Pelletier) make the news. However, these are but symptoms of a very large disease. The deep down problems with CPS are not reported on a large scale, and therefore are not addressed. Scandals about the IRS and the VA have been in the news, but the corruption within CPS is far worse. The victims are the most innocent; our nation’s children.
In 1974 Congress passed CAPTA (the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act). This began the feeding of federal funding to state’s child welfare agencies to place children in foster care. The number of children in foster care subsequently jumped to over 500,000 in only a few years. To address the free for all child snatching CAPTA had caused, in 1980 PL 96-272 was passed partly to add accountability to CPS. Each state is supposed to account annually in an AFCARS report each child in care, and establish citizen review panels for CPS accountability. Additionally, the federal government is supposed to perform compliance audits, or section 427 reviews. And if the state didn’t comply or satisfy the audit, they were to voluntarily reimburse the feds for all the goodies they had taken. Upon passage of this act children in foster care dropped dramatically to 300,000. But since there was no enforcement, within a few years, the number of children in foster care again doubled.
The citizen review panels are only in a few states, and the 427 audits are a mere rubber stamp. CPS is allowed to act totally out of compliance without any intervention. Hundreds of billions have been spent to destroy children and families. In 1988, George Miller, the author of PL 96-272 said “I think what has been demonstrated here is that you may have a system that, for lack of a better phrase, is simply in contempt. This system has been sued and sued and orders have been issued and people have just continued on their merry way. And HHS has just continued to look the other way. You have a system that is not only somewhat out of control; it is also illegal at this point.” Read more
CPS is now a 30 billion dollar a year business, with funding driven by the federal government. Ninety to ninety-five percent of federal money is paid to states when children are removed from their homes and sent to foster care and when children are adopted away from their homes. See Government Document that discusses Title IV-E spending. In the first paragraph it says that 12.3 BILLION is spent on foster care programs by the government. States have quotas for adoption, and bonuses are paid every time a child is adopted. There are no incentives or bonuses to keep a family together. These federal funds are paid through social security from Title IV-E, where in 2014 6.5 billion was paid directly to the states for foster care, adoption bonuses, and another 4 billion for administration. In 2014 592 million was paid to the states under Title IV-B, a more general category, part of which is for family services. (Click for more info)
With the glut of kids placed in foster care, there became a problem of kids left in care for years and never finding a home. After all, every child taken is money paid to the state… So in 1997 the feds had this brilliant idea: under the ‘adoption and safe families act’ states are paid a ‘bonus’ every time a child is placed for adoption. Even though the government says that ‘reasonable efforts’ should be made to reunite families, there are no bonuses or any incentives to keep the family intact. Children that are shipped into foster care often stay ‘within the system’ for years without a permanent home. Currently 1 out of ten children taken into foster care will NEVER AGAIN have a home. (Click here, scroll to ‘Everyone deserves a family’ and observe the ‘age out’).
And even more jaw dropping, Congress has acknowledged that children in foster care have a greater chance to be sold into sex trafficking. Was their response to finally reform the system? Of course not! They passed a bill to pay EVEN MORE in adoption bonuses! They acknowledge problems with foster care but their solution is to allow foster children to play sports. And if a foster child runs away, or if they are involved in trafficking, the states have to tell the feds. HR 4980 was passed Sept 30, 2014 and signed into law by President Obama Read the Bill
When the government discovers problems within a system, rarely do they do what is necessary to fix the problems. Instead they just throw more money at it. And we all know what happens when the federal government pays ‘bonuses’. Just look what has happened within the VA.
There are instances where states can have more discretion as to how they spend the federal goodies. It’s a relatively new program called the Title IV-E waiver that provides states with an opportunity to use federal funds more flexibly. This allows them to test innovative approaches to child welfare service delivery and financing. Using this option, states can design and demonstrate a wide range of approaches to reforming child welfare and improving outcomes in the areas of safety, permanency, and well-being. However, not many states have this wavier and it is a long hard process to obtain it. (Click for more info)
There are CPS divisions in virtually every county all over the USA. Nationwide about a million people depend on children being ‘within the system’ for their jobs. Among them are case workers and investigators, social workers, therapists, instructors, attorneys, judges and court employees, foster parents, foster and adoption agencies, and more. Even private family law attorneys that charge more than $200 an hour to those who can afford them depend on this system.
Bottom line: Ninety percent of federal government funding REQUIRES children be removed from their homes. There are no ‘rewards’ for keeping children in their family. Government funding should not be making children a commodity
The senate is NOW considering changing the Title IV-E funding!! Read about it HERE! The bill is in the discussion states so LET YOUR SENATORS know that the system needs TOTAL REFORM!! There is an email for comments and suggestions that will be received until June 12, 2015 at: email@example.com.
Watch a hearing the Senate had on this on Aug 4, 2015 HERE
Problems with Lack of Definitions for ‘Child Abuse and Neglect’
Children are removed from their homes largely for ‘abuse’ or ‘neglect’. But there are no clear standards as to what exactly constitutes abuse and neglect. Child abuse is defined as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caregiver, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.” This can be anything from a child that has been beaten, to ‘grounding’ your child, to requiring that your child go to church. The definition of child neglect is even more vague; “a type of maltreatment related to the failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care”. This can be anything from substance abuse, to allowing your child to play outside, to having a messy house. According to Casey, seventeen percent of removals are due to ‘abuse’, the remainder being removed mainly for ‘neglect’. The federal government states that ‘reasonable efforts’ be made to preserve the family, but it is left to the states to determine what ‘reasonable efforts’ are. So it all comes down to a matter of opinion and interpretation.
I daresay that everyone has their own ideas as to what constitutes ‘child abuse and neglect’. For example, Adrian Peterson was in the news for hitting his son with a switch and faced felony child abuse charges. I am not defending his actions, but what about the soccer mom that pushes her four year old daughter into the sport where she subsequently breaks her arm? Or the dad who pushes his son to play football where he dies from heat stroke? John Walsh is famous for ‘America’s most wanted’, but his six year old son was abducted when his mom left him alone in the toy department. If this happened today, she’d be in prison for ‘neglect’. It is fair to say that every parent has, at some point, performed an action that could be labeled as ‘abuse’ or ‘neglect’ by someone. Fear of CPS is turning us into a nation of helicopter parents. We are afraid to let kids play outside, discipline them, and even take our children to the emergency room.
The same government that arrests a parent when their child walks alone to the park wants to reunite children with their families after crossing our border illegally under deplorable conditions. President Obama has gone on record stating that we are “not a nation that rips children from their parent’s arms” but does NOTHING to advocate CPS reform.
A perfect example of inconsistencies within CPS is right out of today’s newspaper. Toya Graham has been called the ‘Mom of the year’, getting praise for slapping up her son demonstrating in Baltimore. But 99 times out of 100 she’d be trapped in the CPS web. She’d be facing charges of child abuse or perhaps even child endangerment. Possibly losing her children to foster care and on a path to losing them forever. What makes her actions worthy of hero status where they’d land others in jail and facing losing their children?
Since many removals are based on ‘substance abuse’, there need to be clear definitions as to what substance abuse is exactly. Is alcohol a substance? What about prescription drugs? Or illegal drugs? What verification should be in place so it’s not based on a caseworker’s assumptions, or an anonymous call? Where is the line where substance abuse makes a parent unfit? What programs can be developed where the children can be kept safely at home while parent(s) are getting treatment?
There are many problems with child abuse ‘hotlines’. You don’t call 911 without cause. Child abuse is a serious charge, and far too often reports of abuse are nothing more than a grudge match. And the requirement that child care professionals contact CPS based on ‘suspicions’ should be re-evaluated. Why get CPS involved when a simple five minute conversation with the family could answer a concern? I am not saying that child abuse should not be reported, but under the current system involvement by CPS is often unnecessary and chokes the system so serious cases are overlooked. In fact, less than twenty percent of cases of ‘abuse’ reported through the hotlines are substantiated.
You hear of children that are ignored by CPS and left in horrible conditions. This can happen because the system is overloaded with these trivial reports. However it also happens because federal money is paid for foster care placement and bonuses are paid upon adoption. Children in the worst conditions are then ignored due to the fact they are not ‘marketable’. The current system penalizes the children that need help the most. And remember, ‘abuse’ and ‘neglect’ are left to the discretion of the investigator and the judge.
Read The Money Behind the Madness
Bottom line: Child abuse and neglect are serious issues. Every time a case is reported there is a chance a child will lose their family. Charges must be substantiated. Abuse, neglect, and ‘reasonable efforts’ need to have clear definitions.
Problems with Caseworkers and the Court System
When families get involved with CPS they are thrown into a kangaroo court if they cannot afford a private attorney. There is no due process. Allegations do not need to be proven. CPS workers often are dishonest and misrepresent evidence, and they are immune from prosecution. And the evidence presented is often hearsay and innuendos. Remember the charges can be from an anonymous source. There is no accountability, oversight, or consequences. And if a court attorney is appointed they are of little help; after all they are part of and paid for by the CPS system.
The worst victims are the nation’s poor. Many cases of ‘neglect’ are due to poverty. These families do not have the resources or the means to hire a private attorney and fight the system.
Many families that fall within the CPS system do have problems where a competent and compassionate caseworker and intervention could have corrected the situation. But instead of getting the families any help, the children are removed from their home and, far too often, the caseworkers treat the parents horribly. The parents must go to CPS court and listen to evidence that is often misrepresented and against which they have no recourse. Often the ‘evidence’ is hearsay and is unsubstantiated. Many of these parents feel they have no hope and fall into despair. CPS then uses this as further evidence that they should not have their children.
Read a study Burden of Proof Begone: The Pernicious Effect of Emergency Removal in Child Protective Proceedings from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Over the years CPS abuse has not only destroyed millions of children but also millions of parents. There is no other government agency that allows it’s agents to perjure themselves without consequences. Just imagine how YOU would handle having your children removed and having to deal with false allegations to which you had no recourse?
Nancy Schaefer, a former Georgia state senator, did an extensive study on CPS. Her report, titled “The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services” is insightful and spot on. She devoted the remainder of her life to CPS reform. But because of the corruption within the system, nothing has ever changed. (Read her Report)
Bottom line: Since so many depend on children being ‘within the system’ for their jobs and for federal money, CPS has become very corrupt. The worst victims of the systems are our nation’s poor. This will not change until there is accountability, oversight, and consequences for CPS.
Problems with Foster Care and Adoption
The perception is that children are removed from terrible situations and sent to loving foster homes. If this was always the case, there would be no need for reform… Some foster homes will give children loving care, but far too many foster parents are using the system as a means to make money. There is MORE abuse and child deaths in foster care than in the general population. And remember that only seventeen percent of removals are for ‘abuse’.
According to a Casey Family study, children in foster care have a one in three chance to suffer abuse at the hands of a foster parent. (Click for more information) And children in foster care are much more at risk to be victims of sex trafficking. (see document on testimony to the US House way and means committee) In this document the witness told Congress she was told by her foster families she was just a paycheck for them and as long as she wasn’t dead they didn’t care what she did. Foster children are often conditioned they are a means for others to make money, and that makes these young people especially vulnerable to fall into trafficking and prostitution.
There has been surprisingly little research on the long term effects of foster care, but what research that has been done concludes when children are removed from their home they suffer tremendous emotional damage. An extensive study done by MIT concluded that children that have gone through the foster system are three times more likely to have a bad outcome, and often even a ‘bad home’ is better than foster care. ‘Bad outcomes’ include teenage pregnancy, not competing high school, no college education, incarceration, substance abuse, and homelessness. They are five times more likely to commit suicide and eight times more likely to have serious psychiatric disorders. In fact, children that have been placed into foster care are more than two times more likely to suffer from PTSD than a soldier returning from combat. (MIT studies from 2006 2007 2008 and summary)
Study on suicide rates of foster children compared to general population
According to a study done by the State of Texas, a child is TEN TIMES more likely to die in foster care from abuse/neglect
in 2013 there were:
- 7,121,499 children in Texas
- 30,740 in foster care
- 156 child deaths from abuse/neglect
- 7 of which were from foster parents
- out of the general population the death rate from abuse/neglect is 2.19 children per 100,000 (156 / 7121499 * 100000)
- out of children in foster care, the death from abuse/neglect is 22.77 children per 100,000 (7 / 30740 * 100000)
- 22.77 / 2.19 = 10.39 times more likely to die from abuse/neglect in foster care.
Source: March 2015 Texas DFPS Study on Child Fatalities Pages 7 and 24
Some foster parents use the system as a way to find a child to adopt. But if the parents are trying to get their child back, this is nothing short of a conflict of interests, and who is in the middle? The child! And the adoption to ‘forever’ homes creates even more trauma for a child that often only wants his/her family back.
Too often children are adopted away from their family, and the family has no idea even where the children are. If a child is ‘abandoned’ by his/her family adoption is of course the ideal option. But how much damage is done when the child is forcefully adopted away from a family and family ties are totally destroyed? The message it send to the child is that his own family did not want him. And the family will forever mourn the loss. This literally causes a lifetime of pain and trauma for both the child and the parents. The total removal of a child from their family should only be done in extreme cases. Success for children (or society) should never be measured in how many adoptions were completed, but in how many adoptions were prevented by saving their families. An article about the trauma of adoption
The Church is a huge supporter of the foster care and adoption industry. I believe this is largely because they just do not know of the abuses within the system. I have heard references to James and how we are to ‘care for the orphan’. However I do not believe James would approve of a system where orphans are created for government money. I cannot recall ever hearing a church supporting a ministry to assist families torn apart by CPS. It is time that the Church was educated as to the corruption within the system. It is also time the Church developed a ministry to encourage and minister to families struggling with CPS.
Many children in foster care are over medicated. Sometimes this is because it is easier for the foster parents to dispense drugs than it is to deal with the emotional problems caused by all the trauma the child has been put through. But there are financial reasons as well. Having the foster children on medication qualifies them as ‘special needs’; meaning more federal money. And this in itself is a tragedy. It is ironic that we are drugging foster children who have often been removed from homes due to their parent’s substance abuse.
There is abuse within the medical profession. ANYONE THAT TAKES THEIR CHILD TO THE DOCTOR RISKS LOSING THEM TO CPS! I will refer you to the website, medicalkidnap.com and you can read cases for yourself.
The cold hard truth is adoption and foster care is BIG BUSINESS. Estimates are that the Foster care industry hauls in from 20 to 30 billion a year. And the latest estimate for the adoption industry is 13 billion annually. And go to any foster care/adoption agency page and you will find a ‘donation’ button… Read Article
And what is the cost of all this damage to society, all of the broken parents, and the damaged children? The Casey Organization estimates every former foster child costs society $300,000. Mllions of parents have been mentally destroyed for life. Imagine if YOUR children were taken and there was NOTHING you could do to get them back. And once this damage is done, you cannot undo it.
When a child dies from ‘abuse’ it makes the news and everyone wants to ‘do something’. But what about the thousands of former foster children who have commit suicide? Remember the odds are 5 to 1. They are the silent victims. No one is standing up for them.
Bottom line: There has been much glorification on fostering and adoption, but the reality is that there are many problems with these systems. The system needs to be reformed to where if possible, children should be with their families.
So with all these problems, why does the current system continue? I daresay it comes down to money and perception.
Money reasons include:
- The core of the matter is the way the system is funded at the federal level. The states are paid to remove the children from their homes and have them adopted outside their family.
- The plethora of employees that depend directly on CPS for their jobs.
- Foster care and adoption are BIG BUSINESS, and this has additionally given rise to other businesses that are built around servicing fostering and adoption. Many of these are ‘non-profit’ but they have employees that are paid and/or products that are sold.
Perception reasons include:
- For the most part, the facts have not become public knowledge and people do not understand how the system works.
- Child abuse hotlines, and the fostering and adoption systems are glorified.
- Within the Church, there is much ‘partnering’ with the foster and adoption industry, but nothing to assist families torn apart by CPS.
- The average person is starting to see there is cause for concern, but has no idea just how corrupt the system is. Cases like Justina Pelletier are considered isolated incidents.
CPS is very powerful and vindictive. Many who have been involved with them are afraid to come forward. The IRS can take your money but CPS will retaliate using your children. An example is also the Pelletier’s case, and how the family was treated when they questioned CPS authority.
Bottom line: I am not suggesting that child abuse should not be addressed, that all foster care is bad, or that all children should stay with their birth parents. But these items should be a LAST RESORT. What is wrong is the way the government funds CPS, and how this has become a huge business clearly fraught with problems.
Documentation where States Choose Foster Care because of Federal Funding
The state of Texas did a study in 2011 and found that although federal guidelines say children should remain at home unless removal is necessary, 94 percent of federal money is spent on foster care and adoption. Texas started a program to keep children home if possible, and found that 30 percent of removals were unnecessary. The cost to the government was ¼ if the children were kept safely at home. However, since there was no federal money to support this program, it was scrapped. Additionally, because there is no bonus or incentive paid when children are not removed and adopted, states will push children to be adopted away from their families. (See Report)
In Oklahoma, the number of children in foster care has risen over thirty percent since the adoption of the Pinnacle Plan. The Casey Family Foundation did a study on this and found that some of the problems with CPS include:
- There were no clear guidelines for removal; it was dependent on the judge.
- Only 40 percent of CPS workers engaged well with the parents. The report also stated how much better cases went when the caseworkers treated the family well.
- And only 14 percent of the cases had family team meetings.
- The judges were more likely to do what the DA wanted.
- Many of the removals were unnecessary
NOTE: The Casey Family Foundation was formed by UPS founder Jim Casey. Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families across America. Their goal is to safely reduce the need for foster care 50 percent by 2020. Their website is www.casey.org
It is interesting to note that Oklahoma is using the same reason as Texas to explain the number of children shipped to foster care. DHS Director Ed Lake was quoted in an article in the Daily Oklahoman on October 17, 2014:
“Lake is hopeful a recent waiver granted by the government will help eventually. The wavier will allow some money that is now reserved for a few specific purposes to be used to provide more in-home, intensive services to children and families in order to keep them from winding up in DHS custody or returning to it.”
‘Some money’ is 90 to 95 percent of the money that the state currently gets from the federal government from Title IV-E. ‘A few specific purposes’ refers to allocation for foster care and adoption.
Oklahoma has received the Title IV-E waiver but it will be a slow, gradual process to get it implemented. A quote from DHS Spokesperson Sheree Powell:
“The process of just removing a child from their homes and their parents is traumatic, and research has shown that traumatic events place children at a very high risk for all sorts of negative things like learning difficulties, substance use, teen pregnancies and psychiatric and health problems later in life.” Read Article
Bottom line: Both Oklahoma DHS and the state of Texas ADMIT that children are placed into foster care, EVEN IF THEY COULD BE KEPT WITH THEIR FAMILY, because of the current federal funding.
Molly McGrath Tierney, in her seven years as director of social services in Baltimore took an innovative and proactive approach to anticipate problems and deal with them before they reach a crisis. She reduced the number of children in foster care by 60 percent. A quote from the Baltimore Sun:
“There are 50 state child welfare agencies in the United States and funds to underwrite them are in the billions [and] not a one among them is reputed to be working well,” McGrath wrote in an application to a think tank for help with a new strategy. “Terrible things happen to children in foster care. Their short-term outcomes are abysmal. Their long-term outcomes are worse. Those who grow up in foster care are overwhelmingly destined for the penitentiary, the morgue or the child welfare system when their own children are taken into foster care.”
The Times Herald out of Michigan published an article on November 11, 2014 describing how the Title IV-E funding has caused CPS corruption. Quoted from the article:
The term “Child Protective Services” might not be good enough. A better one would be “Career Protection Services.” If workers find children to rescue or protect, their jobs are secure.
Foster care is a money-making system. By pulling children out of the home the county receives IV-E funding. If the child is left in the home and/or returned to the home, the county loses funding.
A quote from Carol Lucas, author of Fostered Adult Children Together, On The Bridge To Healing. Will we ever get over it?
The purpose of the foster care system is to provide a safe haven for children without one, helping them to cross the bridge from foster care to aging out, but sadly the bridge leads to nowhere. Many former foster children end up homeless, dumpster diving for food, on drugs, incarcerated, at worst in body bags, at best, living on the fringes of life.
Bottom line: There has been much documented and written about the problems with CPS, foster care and adoption, but it is STILL the system of choice. What will it take to get the public’s attention as to how destructive it is, and demand change?
So what needs to be done?
- The current system where federal money is tied to fostering and adoption should totally be scrapped as of yesterday. It has made our nation’s children a commodity. Kids for sale for federal dollars.
- In its place there needs to be a system that is truly “in the best interest of the children”.
- CPS workers should be held accountable, and it should be a felony to misrepresent evidence.
- The entire CPS agency should have oversight, accountability, and consequences.
- Child abuse hotlines should be restructured and held to the same standards as 911 calls. Reporting child abuse is a serious matter and is not a place for revenge and game playing.
- If federal money is doled out, then the terminology needs to be clear and precise. Exactly what is child abuse? Neglect? And what are ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep a family intact?
- Establish clear guidelines as to what constitutes ‘substance abuse’. Testing and verification systems must be set up so children are not taken based on accusations and assumptions. Programs should be established to where parents struggling with substance abuse can keep their children at home in a safe environment.
- Families that fall within the system should have the all the rights of due process guaranteed under the 4th amendment. They should have access to all records in order to properly defend themselves.
- Nothing should be introduced as evidence unless it is proven and documented. Lives are at stake and this is not the place for hearsay and assumptions.
- The primary emphasis of CPS should be to keep the family intact if at all possible. This is truly what is in the best interest of the children.
- Removal into foster care should be viewed with extreme seriousness, and only in the interest of the well-being of the child. It should only occur if absolutely necessary.
- Termination of parental rights is a devastating and tragic outcome. Even more than foster care, it should be an absolute last resort. Our government should not be in the business of creating orphans. In 2012 there were 30,000 ‘orphans’ waiting for homes over two years after their parent’s rights were terminated. And, according to the Casey Family Foundation, TEN PERCENT OF CHILDREN TAKEN INTO FOSTER CARE NEVER FIND A HOME.
Of course, there is no system that is 100 percent foolproof. Life is not perfect. But just think of how things would differ if the focus was on family preservation and dependence on foster care was drastically reduced. Children truly in need of foster care would be more likely to find loving foster homes. And with fewer government ‘orphans’ most, if not all, should be able to fine a forever home. It is just tragic to see government made orphans being promoted for adoption, like dogs taken to the mall by the pound to find a home.
Since 1974, millions of children have been victims of this system. And EVERY ONE of them suffers damage in some form.
There have been many who, over the years, have attempted to initiate change and reform, to no avail. The CPS machine is too powerful, and there is too much money involved. But every day this system continues, more children and families are destroyed.
We are a nation that pretends to be interested in the welfare of our children. The current system is far too often a worse ‘abuse’ than the home from which the child was ‘rescued’. We are sacrificing our nation’s children at the altar of money.
No corrupt system can last forever. These atrocities will be exposed and everyone who has participated in the system will be called to give an account, either in this lifetime or the next.
Walter Mondale was the chief author of Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, or CAPTA, which was signed into law in 1974 under President Nixon. With remarkable foresight Mondale expressed concerns that the legislation could lead to systemic abuse with state agencies over-processing children into the system unnecessarily to keep, and increase, the flow of federal dollars.
Tragically, this is exactly what has happened.
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