The three key goals of child welfare policy in the United States are the child’s safety, permanency and well-being. Of these three goals, the child’s well-being often seems to be the most elusive goal. Class action lawsuits filed in several states—including Texas, South Carolina, and most recently, Arizona—demonstrate the depth of concern about how we care for children who cannot live safely at home. The nation’s overwhelmed systems for the care and protection of abused and neglected children are not well equipped to promote the healthy development of these most vulnerable children.
Children who have been abused or neglected have typically had few, if any, trustworthy adults in their lives. Then they enter a child protection system that is challenged to provide the kinds of childhood experiences that are essential to healthy child development. Without smart, evidence-based interventions, it is no surprise that these children may lack confidence in their ability to succeed. The result is huge wasted potential, at a huge cost to the public.
Amanda Kasper is a proud Theta sister who became a CASA volunteer as soon as she graduated from college. The case she has been working since 2009 has now closed with a positive resolution. She has appeared as a guest blogger for us before, back in 2011.
A longer version of this piece originally appeared on her personal blog, Welcome to Midnight, it is reprinted here with permission.
For several years, CASA volunteers and staff around the country have been concerned about an ominous trend. Despite a general decline in the number of children in foster care, the family courts were requesting more volunteer advocates for more and more foster youth. Additionally, the children who had CASA and guardian ad litem advocates were coming from more challenging home situations. It is a sadly familiar pattern we have seen after previous recessions.
When a 12-year-old girl like Maya Ranot drops to 58 pounds, shows up at school with cuts and bruises, tells her friends she’s being beaten at home, and winds up bloodied in the emergency room, we’re horrified. How could a system that’s supposed to protect children like Maya have failed her so miserably?
The New York Times questioned why a New York City social worker spent a year monitoring the case “but did not act.” In a 2010 Facebook post the newspaper uncovered, the social worker reportedly said she wanted to quit her job. “I can’t take it. [It’s] way too much.”