NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 25, 2006

The nation's child-welfare system is failing. The fractured system now includes an underground network of families that take in children others do not want, attempts to sell children adopted from abroad, and vicious discipline by some families, says USA Today.

All 50 states have failed to comply with standards designed to protect kids from abuse and neglect, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Caseworkers don't visit families often enough to assure proper care, and kids aren't getting promised health services.

What can be done? According to USA Today:

  • States need to improve screening to prevent glaring abuses; if that requires spending more money, so be it. If states won't comply with federal rules, hefty fines should follow.
  • States can avoid placing too many children with one family; arbitrary limits might penalize those who do a great job, but it's unrealistic to expect even the most saintly of parents to care well for 18 kids.
  • Child-welfare officials can provide more post-adoption services, including parenting education.
  • More publicity about existing programs could help expand the pool of suitable, well screened families willing to take in children, says Wade Horn, HHS' assistant secretary for children and families.

The nation's 523,000 foster children -- nearly 90 percent of whom have special needs -- deserve more support. It's unconscionable that even one family of foster children can be kept in cages while their "parents" receive thousands of dollars for their care. Government must not abandon these kids after their biological parents already have, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Protect Foster Kids," USA Today, January 25, 2006.


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