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Texas CPS- Insufficient Resources and Cover-Ups

This article is part 2 of 8 in the column Children of the State

Since the inception of child welfare programs in America, people have raised alarms about their shortcomings. Missed signs that lead to tragic outcomes become headline news stories and rallying cries for reform. But in Texas concerns about Child Protection Services (CPS) have taken on a more urgent tone.

The deficiencies of the Texas CPS system are staggering.  The Dallas News reported in May of last year that tens of thousands of endangered children were not being visited by investigators as often as regulations required. Thousands of children had not been seen by CPS at all. In Harris County, children remained unseen 13 percent of cases labeled “Priority One,” the ones most in need of urgent investigation. Read more

Overuse of Medication in Foster Children

This article is part 3 of 8 in the column Children of the State

If you are a foster child getting medications for emotional and mental health issues in the United States you may be getting more than you need. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed that foster children in five surveyed states “were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates 2.7 to 4.5 higher than were nonfoster children in Medicare in 2008” (GAO-12-270T). This was true for all three age ranges examined, from birth to age 17. In a follow-up 2012 GAO nationwide survey, 18 percent of foster children were taking at least one psychotropic medication (GAO-14-651T). Many were taking multiple medications concurrently.      

One major reason for this problem is polypharmacy, or the use of multiple medications by a single patient, often to treat the same condition. Approximately 13 percent of foster children Read more

Mental Health Care for Foster Children

This article is part 1 of 8 in the column Children of the State

The children in America’s foster care system face a tremendous amount of psychological stress.

Many have been removed from traumatic home situations because of neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Their life in foster care often includes uncertainty, frequent moves, and other difficulties that cause psychological stress. Data collected by the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) estimates that “approximately half of youths aged 2 to 14 years with completed child welfare investigations had clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems” (GAO-12-270T).

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) states Read more

Telling The Ugly Truth About Sex Abuse

This article is part 4 of 8 in the column Children of the State

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” didn’t work for the military, and it doesn’t work for the deeply troubling issue of sexual assault either.

Our culture’s longstanding fear of asking and telling about sexual assault has contributed to an epidemic rate of child sexual abuse (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005). As a survivor of child sexual abuse, I can attest to the deep shame surrounding this issue that keeps both survivors and everyone else silent.

We should consider an alternative approach Read more

Parents Locked Up, Kids Left Out: Who Really Suffers?

This article is part 6 of 8 in the column Children of the State

The American criminal justice system has created a culture of mass incarceration.

As of 2015, the U.S. incarceration rate (698 per 100,000 people) was the second highest in the world, topped only by that of Seychelles (799 per 100,000), an East African island nation (click here).

For black and Latino males, the likelihood of incarceration is significantly higher. Due to their circumstances before imprisonment and its aftereffects, these individuals are also less likely to own property or a car or have access to the means of economic stability. This tends to trap them in poverty, which Read more

The Trafficker in Sheep’s Clothing

This article is part 5 of 8 in the column Children of the State

Danielle was 14 when she met the man who would soon become her worst nightmare.

“I was adopted by a good Christian family,” she tells me during a recent interview. “I had a great relationship with my father. But when I hit puberty, I was molested and my mom didn’t help. So I ran away.”

Not long after, while waiting for the bus, a man approached her. “He offered me a place to stay, food, all the things I needed. He pumped me full of drugs, then threw me in a room with a bunch of guys and I was for sale.” The man she thought was her knight in shining armor was a human sex trafficker in disguise. Read more

Families Torn Apart: America’s Unjust Bail Practices

This article is part 7 of 8 in the column Children of the State

Imagine the following scenario: John, a single father of two, has been arrested. He is charged with theft and his bail is set at $2,000. Because John cannot meet this requirement, he is held in jail until his trial. His sons cannot remain on their own, and John has no immediate family who can care for them, so they are placed in foster care, in separate homes. After six weeks, John goes to trial and is found not guilty and released from jail.

John and his family’s lives have been drastically impacted by this experience. Because John was unable to Read more

Boys Will Be (Real) Boys

This article is part 8 of 8 in the column Children of the State

A few weeks ago, a friend stumbled across a picture of her 10-year-old son and his younger cousin that threw her for a loop.

While visiting a pirate museum with family, the two boys became intrigued with a statue of a scantily clad woman dressed like a female version of a pirate. His grandmother snapped a picture of the smiling boys, one on either side of the statue—each boy with his hand carefully placed on the woman’s nearly bare chest. My friend was horrified. “He’s only 10!” she cried. “Don’t they realize that’s wrong?” She glanced at me for my opinion. “Um… teachable moment?” I suggested. Read more

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