Abusive systems do not benefit abused children:
People who have not experienced the trauma of child abuse often believe that “The System” is there to help, to put an end to the abuse, to get the families back on the right track, to stop the pain, and facilitate a happy ending.
In fact the “system” (no matter what it is called in your state) is a business. The “business” entails the removal, treatment, and replacement of children, all done for monetary gain. This is not the picture people want to see when looking at Child Protective Services, The Division of children and Families, The Department of Human Service, but it is none-the-less a reality.
I have worked in this system for over 40 years, in six states and the District of Columbia. My jobs included counseling, recreational services, providing foster care, recruiting foster parents, investigating abuse allegations, residential counselor, residential supervisor, and assistant director of outreach services to homeless and runaway youth.
Most of the time, I worked as a private, contracted, vendor. This means I or the agency I work for, sells services to the State. The State’s incentive to hire the vendor agencies for which I worked was that private vendors do not have all the restrictions to which State workers must conform, nor do they have the mandate to clear cases in a timely manner. In fact, the way to make money is to delay discharge to age 18. There is absolutely no benefit in moving children through “the system” quickly.
One boy I met back in 1984 had been sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by his father, and sexually abused by his older brother who lived with the father. The mother was an alcoholic who had not been involved with this child since he was 2.
The agency work-up outlined a plan of long-term residential care, counseling, and job training, although the child was only 11 years of age. The agency was able to provide all these services in house, providing for a very lucrative contract.
I was assigned to talk to this child and determine if he would fit into the programs listed above. He walked into my office with red eyes, and slumped shoulders. I asked him if he had been having a bad day. He told me he could not go live with his grandmother as he had wished, but instead was going to be placed in a facility with “older kids.” He was scared. “My brother was an older kid you know.”
I thought this didn’t sound beneficial, so I began checking out alternatives. My director called and asked what I was doing, he had been informed I had called another agency which dealt with younger children. He asked if it were true; I replied that it was, and that I did not think that the boy in question would be safe in a place with children all of whom were older than him. The director said; “That is not your job. You make that kid fit into our program, or pass him on to another worker who can.” End of conversation.
The end result was I called the boy’s grandmother. She lived up in Connecticut on a dairy farm. After several meetings with her and her husband, I determined that this was the best placement available for this child a decision well within my job description. When my boss learned of this placement, he called me to his office and terminated me. In fairness this had not been our first disagreement. As I was leaving he told me; “Harry, you have to learn that this game is a profit driven business like any other. If you don’t get that, I fail to see how you will fit in anywhere.”
Abused youngsters as fodder for a hyper-capitalistic child care system. Not really something of which I want to be a part.
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