Penetrating the System: unsafe, unchecked systems of Foster Care and Child Protective Services

POOR correspondent - Posted on 23 June 2010

Byron Gafford and Tiny/PNN Monday, August 16, 2004 "On July 23rd I walked into a group home for foster care youth in the Bay Area and took a child out of that home… I was not related to the child.. and I was not asked to show ID, permission or anything… this was wrong.. real wrong" Byron Gafford, poetry journalist, child abuse survivor, poverty scholar at POOR Magazine and author of the book; Thru the Eyes of a Child Vol 1 and 2 released on POOR Press ©2003/2004 was focusing his dark brown eyes on the window above my head in the PNN office as he told and re-told this horror story of "systems abuse" of a child who has like many young folks become lost in an often uncaring, unchecked system called Foster Care. "Not one person came to the door to see who I was that was taking the child away, and "the Foster Care system" claims group homes are safe. But how safe are they if an unrelated adult male like me can go in and take out a child without being checked Out" As Byron I reflected on all of the horror stories reported to POOR's COURTWATCH project, a project which aims to document the stories for families abused by CPS and Foster Care systems. Almost every family that has lost their child to the black hole of CPS and The Juvenile dependency Court, then loses their child to the even deeper hole of The Foster Care System, often not seeing their child for many years or in some cases never again. It took the death of Florida's Rilya Wilson in the Spring of 2002 for the issue of children "missing" from foster care to garner national attention. It first came to light that the state of Florida had managed to lose track of nothing less than 500 of its foster care children. Some time thereafter, the body of 17-year-old Marissa Karp was found in Collier County Florida. She had run away from her state-designated foster family in April. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office explained that she had been murdered. Since August of 2002, officials in the states of California, Tennessee, and Michigan have disclosed that hundreds of children are similarly "missing" from their foster care systems. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services reported in August that 740 foster children were missing from its system. Shortly thereafter, Michigan foster care officials announced that 300 foster children were missing from their foster care system. Many critics of these broken systems point to the privatization of foster care which has led to spending even more money to take and keep children away from their families rather than to support restoration of the children's families. In the private foster care agencies that oversee most of the children, some executives receive up to $310,000 a year in salaries and benefits and spend millions of taxpayer dollars for posh offices, expensive furniture and luxury cars, according to tax returns and county audits. Aggressive reforms have been under way in Los Angeles County since one young boy died of Asthma in Foster care because the "system" refused to listen to the directions about his medication given by the mother. Starting in November of 2003 The LA Board of Supervisors voted to negotiate with the federal government for a waiver that would allow DCFS to use $250 million of its $1.4 billion budget on services to help keep children with their families, instead of placing them in foster care. Under the current "buck-a-head" payment structure in place across the nation, the private agencies lose revenue when children are reunified with their families or put up for adoption, child advocates say. "Children like this young man living in group homes and foster homes are really not safe at all" Byron continued, pointing out the fact that not only was he not questioned for ID but that there used to be a strict fingerprint clearance expectation of any unrelated adults who wanted to visit or meet with a child who is in "the system" and nothing like that was expected of him. "The next day, a full 24 hours later, the child's mother and myself brought the child back to the home, once again as far as they were concerned, No big deal," Byron took a breath concluding with his mission to get this horror story out to the world by any Means necessary in the hopes that it will make some people make some real changes to this broken system which endangers the very people it is supposed to protect, "One of the saddest things of all which is all too common the case, to this day the child doesn’t know why he was put in the system and nobody will not even tell him why. " To get a copy of Thru the Eyes of A Child vol 1 & 2 click on POOR Press or call (415) 863-6306

We, the natural parents of a new baby had our child taken away first by the hospital working through CPS to remove the baby without a reason for the purposes of "out adoption". After all the statue of limitations expired, the hospital gave us the requested medical information which proves the false claims which lead to the removal and the 19 month separation of a newborn. These people acted knowing they are doing wrong, they are coordinated and they influence others just because they are in a position of power. The Baby was severely neglected in the foster care system which is the "protection" they are offering. After hundreds of phone calls I'm convinced that this system is broken and foster care needs to be fixed.


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