Hi there and welcome back. We’ve been discussing the many and various scams exposed this year where parents break the law and engage in ethically dubious practices to get their kids into college. But the most recent scam, where parents from the suburbs of Chicago assign guardianship of their teenage children to less wealthy families so that they’ll be eligible for need-based financial aid for college is ridiculous.
And as the investigative journalists at ProPublica have explained, it could hurt foster kids in the future! But how, you wonder? How could a handful of families playing the system to get financial aid for their kids makes a difference to kids in foster care? Well, aside from the fact that any financial aid given to kids who don’t technically qualify for it means help is taken away from kids who do need it, there’s the long-term effects of the scam.
Any time someone abuses the system, everyone suffers.
Think about it. Any time someone “works” the system to get something they weren’t supposed to have, and they get busted, the scam makes headlines. And anytime someone’s crooked efforts make the news, it casts a shadow on the entire enterprise, making it even harder for people who really need those supports and services to access them. (Welfare, unemployment, section 8, take your pick – the more people abuse the system, the harder it is for those who really need help to get it!)
And when it comes to foster kids, that’s exactly what’s going to happen here. Foster kids weren’t sent to live with poorer families so their parents could exploit a loophole for their own personal financial gain. They had no choice. The system tore them away from their families and placed them in strangers’ homes. They had no choice, and in most cases, it wasn’t what they would have wanted. But when their college application paperwork shows up in the future, the fact that they’re not in the custody of their parents will automatically cast doubt on the validity of their need for financial help. And few kids need help with college more than kids in foster care.
Kids in foster care already face huge roadblocks to their success
Countless studies have shown that kids in foster care face greater challenges than kids who stay with their families. They have higher rates of mental health issues, greater instances of substance abuse, and fewer supports in place when they reach adulthood to help them navigate the complex world of college and career. Unfortunately, when people pull off scams like this, the scarce resources allocated to help kids with financial challenges will go to help kids whose families could have supported them financially. And that means even fewer poor and fostered children will have a chance at a college education!
Obviously, there isn’t much you can do about the financial scams robbing foster kids of a chance at college (other than not participating in shady practices yourself!). But there is something you can do to keep your kids from becoming foster kids in a broken system. So if CPS contacts you for any reason, call 866 766 5245 immediately and make sure you have an aggressive CPS defense attorney on your side from the very start. Protect yourself and protect your kids. Their future is in your hands.