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Re: “Take a Village

I commend Hoffman for risking his own lively hood to write this story. The Child Protection laws protect those within the system with sovereignty, meaning that the social workers on up to the judge can not be held accountable except in extreme cases. The system is further protected by laws that do not allow anyone with knowledge about a case to release any factors that might make it possible to identify who a child is. Families that wish to tell their story, even though they live with the humiliation of a society that believes they are guilty of abusing their children, are threatened with jail time if they dare speak out.
When a child is taken from the home the state must show “reasonable efforts” have been made to keep the child in the home. This can be something as simple like the parent received food stamps within the last two years, yes it really can I have seen it several times. The parent is told not to bother coming into the courtroom for the first court date because there is nothing they can do. They are then told that if they plea guilty to neglect or some other charge that they will be able to have their children back sooner, and told that if they fight they will not even have a visit for up to 6 months. One family in five years has tried to fight. This is not a system of due process, this is a system of coercion that hides behind the law.
The state of Idaho receives over 33 million dollars a year in Title IV-E funding which is only available if the child is removed from the home. If you look at the true statistics you will see that only 17 percent of the cases involve true physical or sexual abuse. The rest are in the system because a social worker perceived an improper home. The system does not rely on facts like the criminal system, it is not beyond a reasonable doubt, it is that the judge feels the parent has about a 51% chance of having the attributes the social worker does not approve of.
I work with families in Idaho and have seen children taken for the most ludicrous of reasons. I have watched the case plans that must be completed before a child can come home become longer and longer so that the children stay in foster care the maximum time while the state receives title IV-E funds, often times even the child’s SSI payments, and child support. The foster parent is only paid a minimal amount, the state keeps the rest. Foster parents have asked where does the SSI money go only to be told to be quiet or they will loose their license. Parents who ask why they were not told their child was abused while in foster care are told to be quiet because bringing up the abuse is causing abuse to their children. The fact is families live in fear, especially those that have witnessed the system in action. There is no way of knowing if you are safe, what one social worker establishes as abuse another social worker turns the other way. In the state of California they are specific with the social workers, you either remove 8 children or you have to oversee 23 families to be able to cover their salary and that of their supervisors. Idaho receives not only Title IV-E funds but Title V, federal grants, and Medicaid money for children in foster care. With their budget being cut back by millions this system of no due process just becomes an even more vicious tool against families.
Thank you Boise Weekly for publishing this story. I truly stand up and applaud you for doing what so many others are afraid to do, bring out the truth. The parent has no voice in the system, but you managed to give voice to one mom, may it be heard loud and clear.

Posted by Justamom on 03/01/2010 at 10:24 PM

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