Welcome back, to our discussion on foster care panic and the effects it has on the child welfare system. In our previous two articles, we looked at what exactly a “foster care panic” is, and how it happens. Moving on, we’d like to explore that in a little more depth, before talking about options for what can be done to avoid it in the future.
Foster care panic is actually a normal reaction!
When you think about it, it’s actually a pretty normal response. When something horrific happens, there’s a sudden public and political interest in preventing it from happening again. This is perfectly normal, and in many instances has resulted in improvements in certain areas. For example, the collapse of a mine, and the resulting deaths, can trigger an investigation into mining practices. The result? Changes to mining protocol that are safer for the workers.
So it’s a good thing, right? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. There’s a vast difference between something like safer mining practices, and the lives of children! Sometimes the backlash after a tragedy actually does more harm than good. The tragic deaths of young Steven Berry and Stoni Blair in Detroit, whose bodies were found in their mother’s freezer, is another classic example of how this idea can backfire.
The Detroit “Freezer Murders” are a good example of a situation that caused unnecessary backlash
Their mother had pulled them out of public school, claiming that she intended to homeschool them. Shortly thereafter, Steven was murdered. A few months later, his sister followed. But the public outcry, instead of being against child abuse and child murder, was against homeschooling without governmental accountability.
This was truly unfortunate. There are thousands of homeschooled children in Michigan who live enjoyable lives. They learn, they play, they spend time with their families and friends. They are not systematically abused and murdered by their parents in droves. Yet all it took was a single horrific instance, for a handful of politicians to call into question the safety of all those children.
It’s a proven fact that children do better in their own homes, with their own parents.
Obviously this doesn’t include those singular cases where the abuse is so extreme that the child’s life is at risk. Those cases are not the standard. In fact, they are a distinct minority. But for the remainder – children who may not have the perfect homes – they still do better in the long run when left with their parents. In fact, when you look at the statistics backing this claim, it’s heartbreaking. In 2005, Casey Family Programs, a large Washington-based foster care organization, along with Harvard Medical School, released the results of a study. They had been tracking the well being of foster care alumni in the area for years. And the results were tragic.
When compared to adults in the same age category, and with the same ethnic origins, who had not been placed in foster care, only 20 percent of the foster care alumni were doing well. Only 20 percent? Not a figure worth getting excited about. In addition, they had double the rate of mental illness, and their statistics for PTSD were double that of Iraq war veterans! They were also three times more likely to be living in poverty, and a full third of them claimed to have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their foster parents or caregivers.
So if foster care is not the answer, what is? What can be done to help the many children growing up in homes where their parents are not the happiest, or most selfless and caring individuals? Well, that’s a topic for next time. Join us. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child in MIchigan, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245! Our experienced CPS defense attorneys are here to help!