Millions of American children are at risk or in language. Can the system be fixed?

It is one of the most tragic, tragic issues in our country. At any given time, nearly half a million American children are in our foster care system after being removed from abusive or neglected situations.

But Naomi Schaefer Riley, a national child welfare expert at the American Enterprise Institute, made another provocative and disturbing case. He claims that there are millions of people left in dangerous situations for many more years, rather than at-risk children being used as pawns in a larger social program, which can be devastating even for those who are specific to the end of foster care.

In the Great Ideas podcast with Matt Robison, Mrs. Riley describes how the system is failing and how better information, more coordination with civic groups, and better priorities can improve the lives of millions of American children.

Listen to the full conversation here:

This conversation has been condensed and edited.

What are the key issues in foster care?

About 3 million calls are made to the child abuse hotline each year. About 100,000,000 of them are proven, which means we can determine if there is some abuse or neglect going on. During the year, about 600,000 children are in foster care at one time or another. About one-fourth of them are eligible for adoption, which means that parental rights have been revoked or they are in the process of being closed.

What happens when children are removed?

Children can be placed by extended family, individual families, group homes of different sizes and sometimes even mental institutions by a family court. But even to get to that point, child protection services need to make an assessment. It’s very hard work. It can be very difficult, even dangerous, and we don’t train people enough. Some child welfare organizations have a 40% turnover rate, so many of our relative newcomers are working.

This is a difficult issue, but what kind of situation leads to removal?

The child welfare system is in fact neglected in most cases, not necessarily physical abuse. And most of our child abuse deaths in this country – and about 2,000 a year – are actually due to negligence.

The most difficult issue is that the underlying causes of neglect are often complex problems in the family: mental health, drug addiction and extreme poverty. But no matter how difficult these issues are in terms of child welfare, we need to ask ourselves the question of how much time and how much opportunity you give your parents to rehabilitate before you remove the child for their safety. ? Because in this country, there are programs to ensure that no child goes hungry, without heat, without clothes.

The law states that if a child has been raised for 15 years in the last 22 months, a state must reduce parental rights. Unfortunately that law has been violated all over the country. Family courts and child welfare agencies think that parents are also victims, and they always need to be given one, three, seven more opportunities. So the amount of time a baby now spends caring for a feather is 20 months. It is in terms of a small child, and devastating for their development.

Is that the basic problem you are outlining in the book here?

Yes. Child welfare systems have become based on the needs and sensitivities of adults and are no longer in the best interests of children. We should have tremendous empathy for adults who are struggling and trying to gift them as much as possible to help them fix their lives. But the question becomes, how do we weigh it against the needs of the child?

You make a definite case about misleading activism with racial issues.

1 In the early 1970s, the National Organization of Black Social Workers stated that we do not think that black children should ever be placed in foster care or adopted by a white family. And this kind of thinking still exists throughout the system. But studies have shown that black children who are adopted by black families have the same results as black children who are adopted by white families. And what we’ve learned from a scientific point of view is that the development of the brain, especially between the ages of zero and three, is crucial to the need for a child to form a safe attachment, especially for an adult. So it is important to install quickly.

This country has a very difficult history of adoption for ethnic minorities. Is there anything wrong with saying if at all possible?

Today, black children in this country are abused almost twice as often as white children. Black children are three times more likely to die from abuse than whites. So we have to ask ourselves: Are we meeting the needs of black children in this country? Are we keeping them safe?

People always ask what is ideal placement? This is not our luxury. We don’t have enough stable homes to keep the kids. The only option for these children is to stay in an unsafe home, be lazy in foster care, or sleep in the office. In Texas alone this year there are 400 children who slept Office. This is unacceptable. So where do we find a family that will take care of a child and love him, I think it’s crazy to get stuck trying to find an ideal cultural or ethnic similarity.

How can we make this situation better?

There is a chapter in the book called Moneyball for Child Welfare, which is about the innovative use of predictive analysis to help us get to the forefront of the child welfare system. I really want to see that every child welfare organization in the country has access to such resources so that they understand which child is most needed. And in general, we need to rearrange what we do around the best needs of children.

We share edited excerpts from the Great Ideas podcast each week that explain how policies work and present innovative solutions to problems. Please subscribe, and to learn more about how to troubleshoot foster care, watch the full episode Apples, Spotify, Google, Anchor, Breaker, Pocket, Radiopublic, Or Sewing

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