Hope in God (I)

…it is such an important aspect of education to challenge the legitimacy of this widespread extension of state power. We have to begin to train the next generation to recognize that this expansion was never legitimate, and should never have been supported. There has to be a rethinking of the moral foundations of the culture with respect to the expansion of the welfare state. The next generation needs to be convinced that there are institutional alternatives to the welfare state, and these alternatives are legitimate. Not many people are involved in preaching this message of deliverance. This is why every little voice counts.[1]

Resisting the preposterous claims of the welfare state, when so much of the community is dependent on the welfare state, won’t grant you instantaneous popularity today. Those who have their snouts in the trough of government money will not love you and send you bouquets. And of those who don’t, many find the notion of a reduction, let alone an elimination in welfare to be a confusing or baffling suggestion.

But then, when the whole superstructure comes crashing down never to be re-built, it is critical there be individuals and organisations who had identified its inherent flaws, saw the cracks in the walls widening, and articulated/explained the need for massive change, and how to go about it.

The change must firstly be one of attitude. Welfarism has always promised much but provided little, unless you were a bureaucrat or politician. What has given welfarism away initially to Christians has been its consistent atheism, its hostility to marraige and the family, and the persistent gulf between its promises and its performance. Can any society deny God and survive, long-term?

We have had to trust that welfarism couldn’t survive whilst almost daily, the cracks and flaws in its superstructure seem to widen locally, nationally and internationally.

The Europeans where welfarism began under Bismarck in the 1880’s, are locked into a spiral of decline due to centralisation, massive government debt, high taxes, along with futile government attempts to manipulate the economy to health, that haven’t and cannot work.

Japan has experimented yet again with massive doses of Keynesian economic shock treatment, which have made the patient begin to lose his hair and colour, and feel more sickly than before. Now he’s saying, “Dr, I feel terrible!”

The US is mired in debts and stupid wars, and is so far into the tunnel there is clearly no light, especially at the other end. And no one at a national level has an appetite for change, or sees that the freight-train is nearing the precipice.

“Problems? What problems?”

I do not think the present ideology in favour of the welfare state can survive the demise of the finances of the welfare state.[2]

There will have to be individuals and institutions ready, when it finally goes pear-shaped. Preparation is firstly theological, spiritual and ideological, before it is anything else. Just like the Pauline epistles, we have to begin with the theological and ideological, then move onto the practical, and it all has to be fundamentally Christian in outlook.

The promise of the gospel is clear:

A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isa. 42:3-4).

This is why we can be confident and have hope, because the promises of God apply today, just as they did when Matthew quoted from this passage in Matthew 12:18-21. Yes, ugliness will certainly come when the system we have known for so long in the West comes unglued.

But if we believers in Jesus Christ can understand that this has been the result of generations of rebellion against God, we may very well be able to lead the world out of the hole it has dug itself into, with Biblical solutions to the challenges of education, health and welfare, to name just a few.

This is what we have to be prepared to do, and it begins with an ideology of freedom and Biblical responsibility, something almost unheard of today, except by people of the Bible.

Are you ready for that?

 

 

[1] Gary North, “Cracked Walls and State Legitimacy,” (www.garynorth.com), 21/11/2014.

[2] Gary North, “The Setting for Serious Reform,” 17/5/2013.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Drug Firms Have Used Dangerous Tactics to Drive Sales to Treat Kids

Drug Firms Have Used Dangerous Tactics to Drive Sales to Treat Kids
  • A new investigation by the Denver Post revealed that foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at a rate 12 times higher than other children on Medicaid
  • The high rates of psychotropic drug use among foster children and poor children are likely a direct result of drug company tactics that targeted doctors in the Medicaid program, influencing them to prescribe more drugs to these kids
  • For foster children in the Medicaid program, nine out of the top 10 most prescribed drugs are psychotropics (compared to just one out of the top 10 drugs prescribed to non-foster children)
  • Across the US, 7.5 percent of children aged 6-17 take a prescribed medication to treat emotional or behavioral difficulties
  • Drug companies have paid billions of dollars in fines for illegally marketing psychiatric drugs to children, even when they aren’t approved for such uses

    By Dr. Mercola

    There is big money to be made in prescribing medications to kids – especially when those medications are intended to be taken for life, as many psychotropic drugs are.

    These drugs, which include stimulants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers, carry the risk of serious side effects, including, ironically, psychotic symptoms (like hearing voices or paranoia), aggressive behavior, hostility, seizures, heart attack, delayed puberty, and more.

    Oftentimes the side effects are far worse than the conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for which they're prescribed, and rival illegal street drugs in terms of their dangerous risks to health.

    In children, the long-term effects are often largely unknown, while in the short term, we've seen shocking increases in violent and aggressive acts committed by teens taking one or more psychotropic drugs.

    The number of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for US children more than doubled between 1995 and 2000, but a new investigation by the Denver Post revealed that foster children are prescribed such drugs at a rate 12 times higher than other children on Medicaid.1

    This isn’t a mistake… the high rates of psychotropic drug use among foster children and poor children is likely a direct result of drug company tactics that targeted doctors in the Medicaid program, influencing them to prescribe more drugs to these kids.

    9 of the 10 Most Prescribed Drugs for Colorado Kids in Foster Care Are Psychotropics

    The Denver Post investigation revealed that for foster children in the Medicaid program, nine out of the top 10 most prescribed drugs are psychotropics (compared to just one out of the top 10 drugs prescribed to non-foster children). In 2008, drug companies spent close to $800 million for sales reps to visit health care professionals specifically for antipsychotics and antidepressants.

    Sales of antipsychotics alone topped $18 billion in 2011, which is more than sales of vaccines and triple the amount spent on such drugs in 2002, the Post reported. More than 1 million US kids now take antipsychotics each year, and tens of thousands of them are under the age of 5. According to the investigation:

    “High rates of psychotropic drug use among poor and foster children didn't occur by mistake, government investigators say. Court documents filed in health care false-claims lawsuits show that drug companies closely tracked the prescribing habits of doctors in the Medicaid program, which pays the health care of the poor, including foster children.”

    What happens to kids once they become medicated at a very young age, during some of his or her key formative years? Do these children grow up never knowing who they really are? What passions they may have had if not under the drug's influence? And will they be able to quit when they are older, or will they be turned into life-long addicts? The answers to these questions are unknown, as are the effects of most of these drugs in children.

    One in 13 US Schoolkids Takes Psychiatric Drugs

    Data from the National Health Interview Survey revealed that increasing rates of psychiatric drug use among kids is not confined to Colorado alone. Across the US, 7.5 percent of children aged 6-17 take a prescribed medication to treat emotional or behavioral difficulties.2

    Echoing the Denver Post investigation, the Health Interview Survey data also revealed that a higher percentage of children insured by Medicaid used psychiatric drugs, as did children in families whose income was below the poverty level.

    Most Antipsychotics Prescribed to Medicaid Kids Are for Off-Label Uses

    One study from Rutgers University found that at least three-quarters of children prescribed antipsychotics through Medicaid took them for off-label uses, which have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).3 Among the most common conditions for which the drugs were prescribed were ADHD, conduct disorder, anxiety, and depression – none of which are FDA-approved for treatment with antipsychotics in children.

    While a doctor can legally prescribe a drug for any use, even if it hasn’t been FDA-approved, it’s illegal for a drug company to advertise off-label uses or encourage a doctor to prescribe it as such. This, however, is precisely what many of them do, and billions of dollars in fines have been paid as a result. For instance:

    • Pfizer paid $2.3 billion for marketing fraud related to Bextra, Lyrica, and other drugs. Charges included marketing drugs to doctors for uses for which they had not been approved and giving kickbacks to doctors and other health care professionals for prescribing their drugs.
    • Pfizer hired 250 child psychiatrists to market its antipsychotic Geodon, even though it wasn’t approved for use in children. This was Pfizer's fourth settlement numbering in the multimillions in less than a decade.
    • AstraZeneca settled for $520 million for trying to persuade doctors to prescribe its psychotropic drug Seroquel for unapproved uses including ADHD, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Using Seroquel for improper use has been linked to an increased risk of death.
    • Johnson & Johnson paid $2.2 billion for illegal marketing of the drug Risperdal for unapproved uses in children. In addition to targeting more than 1,500 child psychiatrists, Johnson & Johnson also held a “Back to School Bash” marketing campaign that aimed to increase prescriptions of Risperdal in children via ice-cream parties and free snacks and lunches.
    • In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plead guilty in the largest health fraud settlement in US history. The company was fined $3 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability charges related to illegal drug marketing and withholding information about health hazards associated with its diabetes drug Avandia and others, including the antidepressant Paxil, which was illegally marketed to children and adolescents for everything from depression to shyness.
    • Eli Lilly paid $1.4 billion for promoting its antipsychotic Zyprexa for off-label uses, often to children.

    Why Are So Many Children Being Drugged?

    The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) states that up to 85 percent of children in the child welfare system meet the criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis.4  But the diagnosis of mental illness in children is far from an exact science. Modern psychiatry has expanded its reach to the point that even the most normal of emotions and mental states now fall under one labeled "disorder" or another.

    They have been able to cleverly redefine mental illness with the use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This book is created by members of the American Psychiatric Association. You would think that diseases are put in this book after evaluating carefully executed scientific trials, but nothing could be further from the truth. Additions and changes to this manual are determined by votes by its members. This categorization is NOT based on science at all!

    It is well-documented that psychiatric drugs in general, and atypical antipsychotics specifically, are misused across the board. Children as young as 18 months are now receiving antipsychotic drugs, despite the fact that the diseases they're designed to treat rarely develop before adolescence. So why are toddlers receiving these potent drugs? Sadly, one of the key reasons these drugs are used is their sedative effect. They're typically prescribed to control "disruptive" behavior – not to treat severe mental illness.

    It's also come to light recently that the Harvard psychiatrists who invented the pediatric bipolar diagnosis were disciplined for conflicts of interest after it was revealed they'd all received millions of dollars in undeclared drug company monies.5  Even the AACAP admits “in many states there is a disproportionate number of children in foster care who receive psychotropic medication.” Indeed, according to a 2010 study, an estimated 20 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually misdiagnosed.6

    Has Your Doctor Been Paid by Drug Companies?

    Beginning in Fall 2014, you will be able to determine if a health care provider you trust is actually on the drug industry's payroll, thanks to a new federal law that entails the following:

    • Drug and medical device companies will be required to report and disclose all payments (including stock options, research grants, knickknacks, consulting fees, travel expenses, and more) to physicians. Unfortunately, payments to nurses, physician assistants, and other medical professionals will not have to be disclosed
    • The information will be displayed in an online government database that you will be able to search

    In the meantime, you can search ProPublica's database to see the disclosed payments made to physicians in your state. Many of the most prestigious universities, including Harvard, are now banning their staff from receiving money from drug companies for speaking, and this new disclosure requirement will hopefully push more institutions in that direction.

    Breaking the drug industry's stranglehold on the conventional medical industry will not be easy -- after all, the drug industry spends nearly twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development7 -- but the tide is beginning to turn. Increasing numbers of people are now waking up to these harsh realities, and you, being among those who are informed, can help share this knowledge with others. More than 1.5 million people receive this newsletter, and together, we can make a huge difference.

    The ultimate goal is to have a critical mass of people refuse the unnecessarily dangerous and counterproductive solutions currently offered by conventional medicine, as this will be the powerful stimulus to generate authentic change. You can also act now, on a personal level, by making the necessary lifestyle changes that will allow you to take control of your health, instead of leaving it in the hands of the drug industry – especially when it comes to your kids.

    Alternatives to Drugs for Behavioral and Emotional Challenges in Children

    If your child is suffering from an emotional or mental challenge, please seek help, but do so from someone who does not regard psychotropic drugs as a first line of defense. Please understand that behavioral problems in children – including what might appear to be serious mental disorders – are very frequently related to improper diet, emotional upset, and exposure to toxins.

    Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has successfully demonstrated the power and effectiveness of this theory. In her Cambridge, England clinic, she successfully treats children and adults with a wide range of conditions, including autism, ADD/ADHD, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems using the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Nutritional Program, which she developed.

    Her GAPS theory – which is fully explained in her excellent book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome – is an elegant description of how such conditions can develop as a direct result of gastrointestinal toxicity. Another helpful tool is my three-part interview with a renowned children's health expert, the late Dr. Lendon Smith, on Non-Drug Treatment of ADD/ADHD. Here are a few additional guidelines to help you address underlying toxins in your child, without, or at least BEFORE, agreeing to any kind of drug therapy:

    Additionally, whole and even sprouted wheat contains physiologically significant amounts of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), which can have adverse effects on mental health due to its neurotoxic actions. Wheat can also interfere with the production of serotonin, the largest concentration of which can, again, be found in your intestines, not your brain. Try eliminating all gluten-containing grains first for 1-2 weeks and see if you don't notice a significant improvement in your child's behavior.

    1. Severely limit or eliminate fructose from your child's diet, as sugar/fructose has been linked to mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia.
    2. Avoid giving your child ANY processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. This includes lunchmeats and hot dogs, which are common food staples in many households.
    3. Replace soft drinks, fruit juices, and pasteurized milk with pure water. This is HUGE since high fructose corn syrup is a primary source of calories in children.
    4. Make sure your child is getting large regular doses of healthy bacteria, either with high-quality fermented organic foods and/or high-quality probiotic supplements.
    5. Give your child plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil. Also, make sure to balance your child's intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, by simultaneously limiting their intake of vegetable oils.
    6. Include as many whole organic foods as possible in your child's diet, both to reduce chemical exposure and increase nutrient content of each meal. See my nutrition plan for a comprehensive guide to healthful eating.
    7. Also reduce or eliminate grains from your child's diet, especially wheat. Beyond the fact that even healthy organic whole grains can cause problems as they, too, break down into sugars, gluten-containing grains have pharmacologically active peptides that can contribute to cognitive and behavioral issues in susceptible children.
    8. Avoid artificial sweeteners and colors of all kinds.
    9. Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise and outdoor playtime, remembering that midday sunlight provides the UVB wavelengths necessary to produce vitamin D3.
    10. Get them out into the sun to help maintain optimal vitamin D levels. Scientists are now beginning to realize vitamin D is involved in maintaining the health of your brain, as they've recently discovered vitamin D receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. There's even evidence indicating vitamin D improves your brain's detoxification process. For children and pregnant women, getting enough vitamin D is especially crucial, as it may play a major role in protecting infants from autism. If natural sun exposure is not feasible, for whatever reason, you can use either a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement.
    11. Give your child a way to address his or her emotion health. Even children can benefit from the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which you or an EFT practitioner can teach them to use.
    12. Be sure you are also providing positive praise to your child. Dr. Smith believed parents should be able to say nice things to their child twice as often as they give commands or ask questions. If you are shouting and scolding more than you are complimenting and rewarding your child, it could be contributing to psychiatric problems.
    13. Prevent exposure to toxic metals and chemicals by replacing personal care products, detergents, and household cleaners with all-natural varieties. Metals like aluminum, cadmium, lead, and mercury are commonly found in thousands of different food products, household products, personal products, and untold numbers of industrial products and chemicals. Also be aware of exposure to metals from vaccinations and dental fillings. The presence of toxic metals in your child's body is highly significant, as they are capable of causing serious health problems by interfering with normal biological functioning. The health effects range from minor physical ailments to chronic diseases, and altered mood and behavior.

    mercola.com

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Arizona CPS Exposed discusses the CARE Team, will Arizona make CPS better or worse?

This week we are going to break from the CPS process and discuss the governor’s care team and their recommendations.

Gov. Jan Brewer called the special session specifically to address the problems with CPS. It will start on Tuesday.

What can our listeners do?

Listen to this show. Today we are discussing the care team’s report and recommendations.

Read the proposal on our website. Every legislator was emailed a copy of that proposal yesterday.

We will be asking you to make phone calls or send emails. But first you need to be informed.

Can you tell us what happened over the last couple of months since Brewer made the announcement that she abolished CPS?

Like every time in the past, when CPS makes the headlines for failing to protect the children, the governor appoints another task force to look into the problem. And just like every time in the past the committee is stacked with people from within the agency itself and those organizations who directly benefit from the business of removing children from their homes. The families who have had to fight CPS are never included.

The task force solicited input from community organizations and sent surveys to over 1,700 CPS employees. They claimed the CPS employees were “subject experts” that are performing this important work.

They also claim to have established a website for individuals to submit comments as well as a toll free number to call in. However, when we inquired about this website a number of times and never received a response. Others have reported the same frustration. If the public was invited to comment, it was not widely publicized. So one can only imagine where this input really came from. If you read the comments it will be clear that the majority came from CPS employees.

Also this week the topic on Van’s radio show “Crossroads with Van“ was Tom Horne. While we were listening guess who called in to the show – Tom Horne! We asked questions of CPS and his response was disturbing. He was actually bragging about having helped removed thousands of children from their families and homes and that the number of children in foster care today in Arizona is now over 16,000. He believes he is “protecting the children” by removing them from their family and it is his agency’s job to defend CPS’s position.

Tom Horne agreed to be open to discussing the issue with groups like ours. We are trying to set up a meeting. If you would like to listen to Van’s show click on the link at the bottom of this article, or you can access it from our website. It is approximately 16 minutes into the show when CPS is brought up.

What are the recommendations from the CARE team?

We have posted both documents from the care team on our website, which can be found under the tab “Understanding the Issue,” under the topic “Arizona State Reforms,” which include “Arizona Care Team Reports 2014” and “Arizona care Team Comment Summary FINAL.”

The recommendations include:

  • Hire more staff to reduce the overwhelming workload the Case Workers carry (include regional boundaries as criteria).
  • Raise salaries to market levels
  • Examine ways to prevent employee turnover
  • Modernize technology
  • Streamline work processes to promote best practices
  • Provide more training for employees
  • Restructure the agency to a standalone body, to provide more oversight
  • Promoting healthy partnerships within our community to ensure safety and services for children and families.

Do you think these recommendations will solve the state’s CPS issues?

While some of the concerns voiced were valid and actually some of what we observed, none of the recommendations get to the heart of the problem. None of this addresses the corruption and deception taking place within the agency by the employees as well as the Attorney General’s office. Until you focus on the true mission of CPS and hold employees, the AAG and judges accountable nothing will change. Far too many employees believe they can play a god role and that they have the right to determine who should raise our children.

Far too many businesses and agencies measure their success on numbers. For CPS it is based on the number of children “helped,” the services provided, adoptions completed…it’s all about the numbers. They want to measure by statistics but fail to recognize the negative statistics that result because a child was removed from the family. Numbers and statistics cannot measure the heart and soul of the child that has been permanently affected by being removed from their family.

Just recently the federal government released a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics. This study is also posted on our website under the tab “Understanding the Issue” under the topic “Reports and Studies,” “Adverse Family Experiences Among Children in Nonparental Care.” The results of this study show what society in the past has always known. Children raised by traditional two biological parent families fare the best, while children raised in foster care fare the worst.

The biggest question the CARE team failed to answer is why there are so many more children in foster care today than even 3 years ago. Are Arizona families more abusive? Why does Arizona rank 47th in the nation when it comes to protecting the children?

Instead of focusing on those questions the comments in the CARE Report reflect the issues with the agency. Many of them came from CPS employees. Don’t get us wrong, the agency is an issue. But the problem isn’t the number of employees, the lack of pay or benefits, or not enough technology. The problem is the unchecked and unrestrained power the state has given the CPS employees with the support of the Attorney General’s office and judges.

Can you share with us some of the issues raised in the CARE report?

Staffing

The first three areas listed involve staff. They want more staff, more money, less work, and more incentives to stay in their jobs.

Hiring more staff will only increase the problem and does not address the root cause. That is insanity. CPS has been adding more staff with each past reform, but this has only led to more children being removed.

Somehow the public is supposed to believe that if these CPS workers get paid more money and have more incentives to stay on the job that their work ethic will change. Paying people more will not change their attitude or belief that they are “saving the children” by destroying the child. It will not change their philosophy of the “redistribution of our children” and their belief that they alone have the right and obligation to decide who shall parent our children.

I get so ticked off at people who go into a line of work, especially those in government positions, knowing the pay scale, and then complain because they aren’t paid enough. If you don’t like the pay when you are offered the job find something else!

If they want less work then maybe they should properly investigate cases and stop removing children they know shouldn’t be taken. Start working WITH families whose children are removed to obtain a successful reunification instead of fighting against it. They create their own work issues when they have the attitude of “take all the children and sort it out later” which usually means 12-24 months later.

They only increase their work load when they delay the reunification process and continue to fight against it, even when the parent’s have met their goals and done what is asked. Keeping these cases on their load instead of releasing them only increases their case load by their own choice!

The incentives they mention to stay on the job also came with comments that they don’t feel appreciated. I can tell you that the parents whose children you have taken will never thank you. The children who feel wrongfully removed from their families will never thank you.

Comments included:

  • The only recommendation is increase our pay. I have dedicated more time and effort regardless. However, additional pay motivates people to stay.
  • There is absolutely no incentive for me to stay besides having good health insurance. No rewards for 100% contact, or getting so many adoptions done.
  • I do not appreciate having a case load more than double workers in rural areas and being paid the same amount.
  • I resent being told this is a calling, not a job.

The one I thought was the most self-serving was:

“The first day I walked in our office, the first thing that I perceived, is that this organization needs exercise rooms. Definitely.”

Modernize Technology

While I believe they should have working equipment and supplies in the office, these people all want laptops to take in the field. Apparently paper and pencil to take notes is no longer sufficient and they cannot find the time to document their cases until they get back to the office without the computer. However, from our own files, we found they couldn’t find the time to document their notes until almost 2 weeks later!

We were at so many CFT meetings and the facilitator of the meeting, as well as a number of others, all had computers. The problem was that much of the meeting time was spent waiting for the person to type notes into the computer. There wasn’t eye-to-eye contact with those in attendance. Everyone was too concerned about documentation in the computer. At every site they had to locate electrical outlets to plug in. Many also needed some type of internet access which wasn’t always available or was too slow.

These people should be role models for parents. So what message are you sending to these parents when the CPS case workers think it is okay for all attendees in a meeting to have their faces buried in a computer screen while never making eye-contact? Is that how we want parents to interact with their children?

While technology is not a bad thing, does every case manager need to be provided a laptop? Many times these case managers never attended the meeting in person, and sometimes they attended while they were driving in the car or at home with children in the background! All they did was phone it in.

As with all technology you have to be concerned about security. When you read other comments about the work habits of these CPS workers you have to be concerned how secure the computer information would be.

One comment in the report indicated that they had been trained to “keep the file cabinet locked at all times, but this doesn’t happen.” You can imagine the violations that could occur if they all had computers!

The greatest benefit to technology would be having a system that actually worked. The CHILDS system has issues. As we mentioned before, only about 1/3 of the documents actually print and this has been a known problem since 1996.

So technology is only as good as the program and those using it. Obviously if the state has had an issue for over 18 years with technology and continues to use it, more computers isn’t going to solve the problem.

Streamline the Process and Use Best Practices

I will agree there is a lot of duplication in the system. When we read reports they were obviously entered in different systems and the information wasn’t consistent, even though it was supposed to have documented the same meetings or encounter. By eliminating duplication in entry perhaps we can also eliminate biased reporting entered days or weeks after the fact.

But a number of the comments written indicated that policies and procedures aren’t even being followed. Instituting new policies and procedures won’t help if the staff ignores them.

There has to be real consequences for failing to adhere to the policies, including termination of employment. Of course the CPS workers only want what benefits them and they certainly don’t want to be held accountable if they fail to do so.

Comments included:

  • What happened to checking policies? I have also heard from other workers that this is the main reason why AZ DES has a high turnover rate.
  • After attending various training classes, where it was stated that ALL FILES WILL BE LOCKED IN A SECURE CABINET OR ROOM, I find that no one follows that dictate. They do not follow policy.

Training

That seems to be a catch all for most organizations. Proper training when you hire someone or even promote them to a new level is necessary. On-going training for the sake of training just wastes tax dollars. I know I’ve held a number of jobs where we were required to participate in training sessions yearly. They were not informative, did not help us with our jobs and only put us behind on our workload because we missed several days in the office.

One of the common threads shared was the lack of training for supervisors. Apparently supervisors are an issue and one that is creating internal conflict within the agency. Perhaps it isn’t only a lack of training but the selection or promotion of people who shouldn’t be in supervisory positions in the first place.

I took a customer service class many years ago and the one statement that stuck with me was that “employees are only going to treat the customer as well as the supervisors treat their employees.” That statement is so true! So I guess the true reflection of CPS is seen in this statement. The employees believe their supervisors lack the training and skills to be supervisors, and the supervisors don’t appreciate the work of their employees. Likewise the employees lack the training and skills to be out in the field and they certainly don’t understand the situations facing families. The employees are dumped on by their supervisors and the employees in turn take this out on the families they are charged to help.

Apparently these workers aren’t well trained when you read comments that include:

  • Little to no training is provided to CPS employees in the areas of uncovering deception and assessing perpetrator credibility.
  • We have no adequate testing for our people before they go to the field.
  • Education the people at the Top who make decisions for the field workers. Do they fully understand what it takes to do a thorough investigation?
  • Many times we are thrown out there and we do not know what we are doing.

Restructuring

Gov. Brewer has already taken the steps in this direction by removing it from DES. But if you have the same government agencies overseeing the agency, no matter who is it under, you will still face the same corruption and deceptive practices. The agency and employees must be held accountable!

There should be an audit process that is on-going. Parents should be able to go to a board that is not protected by CPS and bring concerns forward. We just wanted someone to honestly look at our case without bias to see how much went wrong. But there isn’t that type of oversight. Unless the people affected by CPS can report issues without retaliation there will be no meaningful changes to the agency.

Those suggestions were not made in any of the comments.

What can the listeners do?

The legislators actually had it right. They unanimously passed in both houses SB1386 for an independent review of CPS. The cost of this independent study would have been $250,000. The governor vetoed the bill on April 30th. The cost to the state for foster care placement of the additional 5,000 removed over the past 20 months is $3,000,000 per month! The governor is asking for an additional $60 million in this special session for CPS. She has already been granted $59 million when the agency was removed from DES.

How much more money are we growing to throw at the agency? Why are they refusing to listen to those families and children the agency has destroyed? What are they afraid an independent review will uncover?

We need to take action now. This is an election year and primaries are coming up in August. Will the legislators bend to the will of the governor and pass legislation quickly so they can resume the campaign trail? Many are facing challengers in this election.

Make phone calls and send emails to Sen. Andy Biggs and Rep. Andy Tobin asking for the independent review of CPS before making any changes and spending more money. Tell them they had it right with SB1386. Ask them to over-ride the governor’s veto of this bill, or put the legislation back on the floor and pass it again.

Sen. Andy Biggs: (602) 926-4372 email: abiggs@azleg.gov

Rep. Andy Tobin: (602) 926-5172 email: atobin@azleg.gov

Call your senator and representatives and ask them to do the same.

The phone numbers for all legislators are posted on our website under the tab “Understanding the Issues,” under the topic “Arizona State Reform,” titled “Arizona State Legislators.”

The governor claims that the new director, Charles Flanagan, has been diligently seeking input from others including families affected by the child welfare system. We had a meeting scheduled with Flanagan and he cancelled it. He has not been cooperative in scheduling another meeting with us.

How can she claim they are working to seek input when it has been reported that the legislation to reform CPS is already written?

Finally, sign up for ALIS. This can be done on-line and you can track and submit comments on legislation. The link is posted on our website under the tab “Understanding the Issue,” under the topic “Arizona Legislation.”

When we talk with legislators and candidates, the most common questions is “what three things can be done to improve the CPS system?”

Our recommendation would be:

  1. No anonymous reporting at any point, including the first call or report to CPS
  2. Oversight agency to ensure CPS policies and laws are being followed and a source for parents involved in CPS to file complaints with that will be investigated by an independent agency, not referred back to CPS
  3. Raising the level of evidence required to remove children from the family, hearsay or just accusations from the CPS case worker or investigation cannot be the sole justification for removal

Next week’s show

Next week we will continue to discuss the CARE team’s reports and the concerns raised that weren’t addressed in the recommendations.

Sources and Links:

Arizona Care Team Report 2014

Arizona CARE Team Comment Summary FINAL

National Center for Health Statistics, report “Adverse Family Experiences Among Children in Nonparental Care, 2011-2012”

Crossroads with Van – Monday, May 19, 2014 Show – featuring guest caller Tom Horne

Arizona State Legislators – contact list

SB1386 – Making a supplementary appropriation to the Department of Administration to contract for a review of Child Protective Services

ALIS Link – to sign up and become an active member of the legislative process from your home

AZ Project 2014 Recommendations

 

Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the Madness

Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the MadnessDSS and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families

Child "protection" is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it. 

The money goes to tens of thousands of a) state employees, b) collateral professionals, such as lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, judges, and c) DSS contracted vendors such as counselors, therapists, more "evaluators", junk psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents, MSPCC, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, etc. This newspaper is not big enough to list all of the people in this state who have a job, draw a paycheck, or make their profits off the kids in DSS custody. 

In this article I explain the financial infrastructure that provides the motivation for DSS to take people’s children – and not give them back. 

In 1974 Walter Mondale promoted the Child Abuse and Prevention Act which began feeding massive amounts of federal funding to states to set up programs to combat child abuse and neglect. From that came Child "Protective" Services, as we know it today. After the bill passed, Mondale himself expressed concerns that it could be misused. He worried that it could lead states to create a "business" in dealing with children. 

Then in 1997 President Clinton passed the "Adoption and Safe Families Act." The public relations campaign promoted it as a way to help abused and neglected children who languished in foster care for years, often being shuffled among dozens of foster homes, never having a real home and family. In a press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dated November 24, 1999, it refers to "President Clinton’s initiative to double by 2002 the number of children in foster care who are adopted or otherwise permanently placed." 

It all sounded so heartwarming. We, the American public, are so easily led. We love to buy stereotypes; we just eat them up, no questions asked. But, my mother, bless her heart, taught me from the time I was young to "consider the source." In the stereotype that we’ve been sold about kids in foster care, we picture a forlorn, hollow-eyed child, thin and pale, looking up at us beseechingly through a dirt streaked face. Unconsciously, we pull up old pictures from Life magazine of children in Appalachia in the 1930s. We think of orphans and children abandoned by parents who look like Manson family members. We play a nostalgic movie in our heads of the little fellow shyly walking across an emerald green, manicured lawn to meet Ward and June Cleaver, his new adoptive parents, who lead him into their lovely suburban home. We imagine the little tyke’s eyes growing as big as saucers as the Cleavers show him his very own room, full of toys and sports gear. And we just feel so gosh darn good about ourselves. 

Now it’s time to wake up to the reality of the adoption business. 

Very few children who are being used to supply the adoption market are hollow-eyed tykes from Appalachia. Very few are crack babies from the projects. [Oh… you thought those were the children they were saving? Think again]. When you are marketing a product you have to provide a desirable product that sells. In the adoption business that would be nice kids with reasonably good genetics who clean up good. An interesting point is that the Cape Cod & Islands office leads the state in terms of processing kids into the system and having them adopted out. More than the inner city areas, the projects, Mission Hill, Brockton, Lynn, etc. Interesting… 

With the implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, President Clinton tried to make himself look like a humanitarian who is responsible for saving the abused and neglected children. The drive of this initiative is to offer cash "bonuses" to states for every child they have adopted out of foster care, with the goal of doubling their adoptions by 2002, and sustaining that for each subsequent year. They actually call them "adoption incentive bonuses," to promote the adoption of children. 

Where to Find the Children

A whole new industry was put into motion. A sweet marketing scheme that even Bill Gates could envy. Now, if you have a basket of apples, and people start giving you $100 per apple, what are you going to do? Make sure that you have an unlimited supply of apples, right? 

The United States Department of Health & Human Services administers Child Protective Services. To accompany the ASF Act, the President requested, by executive memorandum, an initiative entitled Adoption 2002, to be implemented and managed by Health & Human Services. The initiative not only gives the cash adoption bonuses to the states, it also provides cash adoption subsidies to adoptive parents until the children turn eighteen. 

Everybody makes money. If anyone really believes that these people are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, then I’ve got some bad news for you. The fact that this program is run by HHS, ordered from the very top, explains why the citizens who are victims of DSS get no response from their legislators. It explains why no one in the Administration cares about the abuse and fatalities of children in the "care" of DSS, and no one wants to hear about the broken arms, verbal abuse, or rapes. They are just business casualties. It explains why the legislators I’ve talked to for the past three years look at me with pity. Because I’m preaching to the already damned. 

The legislators have forgotten who funds their paychecks and who they need to account to, as has the Governor. Because it isn’t the President. It’s us. 

How DSS Is Helped

The way that the adoption bonuses work is that each state is given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population. 

For every child that DSS can get adopted, there is a bonus of $4,000 to $6,000. 

But that is just the starting figure in a complex mathematical formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the state has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. The states must maintain this increase in each successive year. [Like compound interest.] The bill reads: "$4,000 to $6,000 will be multiplied by the amount (if any) by which the number of foster child adoptions in the State exceeds the base number of foster child adoptions for the State for the fiscal year." In the "technical assistance" section of the bill it states that, "the Secretary [of HHS] may, directly or through grants or contracts, provide technical assistance to assist states and local communities to reach their targets for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care." The technical assistance is to support "the goal of encouraging more adoptions out of the foster care system; the development of best practice guidelines for expediting the termination of parental rights; the development of special units and expertise in moving children toward adoption as a permanent goal; models to encourage the fast tracking of children who have not attained 1 year of age into pre-adoptive placements; and the development of programs that place children into pre-adoptive placements without waiting for termination of parental rights." 

In the November press release from HHS it continues, " HHS awarded the first ever adoption bonuses to States for increases in the adoption of children from the public foster care system." Some of the other incentives offered are "innovative grants" to reduce barriers to adoption [i.e., parents], more State support for adoptive families, making adoption affordable for families by providing cash subsides and tax credits. 

A report from a private think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, reads: "The way the federal government reimburses States rewards a growth in the size of the program instead of the effective care of children." Another incentive being promoted is the use of the Internet to make adoption easier. Clinton directed HHS to develop an Internet site to "link children in foster care with adoptive families." So we will be able to window shop for children on a government web site. If you don’t find anything you like there, you can surf on over to the "Adopt Shoppe." 

If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS’s quaint "Adoption Fairs," where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, "Sorry. Just looking." The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I’m surprised we don’t have government agents breaking down people’s doors and just shooting the parents in the heads and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don’t chop down your apple trees. 

Benefits for Foster Parents

That covers the goodies the State gets. Now let’s have a look at how the Cleavers make out financially after the adoption is finalized. 

After the adoption is finalized, the State and federal subsidies continue. The adoptive parents may collect cash subsidies until the child is 18. If the child stays in school, subsidies continue to the age of 22. There are State funded subsidies as well as federal funds through the Title IV-E section of the Social Security Act. The daily rate for State funds is the same as the foster care payments, which range from $410-$486 per month per child. Unless the child can be designated "special needs," which of course, they all can. 

According to the NAATRIN State Subsidy profile from DSS, "special needs" may be defined as: "Physical disability, mental disability, emotional disturbance; a significant emotional tie with the foster parents where the child has resided with the foster parents for one or more years and separation would adversely affect the child’s development if not adopted by them." [But their significant emotional ties with their parents, since birth, never enter the equation.] 

Additional "special needs" designations are: a child twelve years of age or older; racial or ethnic factors; child having siblings or half-siblings. In their report on the State of the Children, Boston’s Institute for Children says: "In part because the States can garner extra federal funds for special needs children the designation has been broadened so far as to become meaningless." "Special needs" children may also get an additional Social Security check. 

The adoptive parents also receive Medicaid for the child, a clothing allowance and reimbursement for adoption costs such as adoption fees, court and attorney fees, cost of adoption home study, and "reasonable costs of food and lodging for the child and adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption process." Under Title XX of the Social Security Act adoptive parents are also entitled to post adoption services "that may be helpful in keeping the family intact," including "daycare, specialized daycare, respite care, in-house support services such as housekeeping, and personal care, counseling, and other child welfare services". [Wow! Everything short of being knighted by the Queen!] 

The subsidy profile actually states that it does not include money to remodel the home to accommodate the child. But, as subsidies can be negotiated, remodeling could possibly be accomplished under the "innovative incentives to remove barriers to adoption" section. The subsidy regulations read that "adoption assistance is based solely on the needs of the child without regard to the income of the family." What an interesting government policy when compared to the welfare program that the same child’s mother may have been on before losing her children, and in which she may not own anything, must prove that she has no money in the bank; no boats, real estate, stocks or bonds; and cannot even own a car that is safe to drive worth over $1000. This is all so she can collect $539 per month for herself and two children. The foster parent who gets her children gets $820 plus. We spit on the mother on welfare as a parasite who is bleeding the taxpayers, yet we hold the foster and adoptive parents [who are bleeding ten times as much from the taxpayers] up as saints. The adoptive and foster parents aren’t subjected to psychological evaluations, ink blot tests, MMPI’s, drug & alcohol evaluations, or urine screens as the parents are. 

Adoption subsidies may be negotiated on a case by case basis. [Anyone ever tried to "negotiate" with the Welfare Department?] There are many e-mail lists and books published to teach adoptive parents how to negotiate to maximize their subsidies. As one pro writes on an e-mail list: "We receive a subsidy for our kids of $1,900 per month plus another $500 from the State of Florida. We are trying to adopt three more teens and we will get subsidies for them, too. It sure helps out with the bills." 

I can’t help but wonder why we don’t give this same level of support to the children’s parents in the first place? According to Cornell University, about 68% of all child protective cases "do not involve child maltreatment." The largest percentage of CPS/DSS cases are for "deprivation of necessities" due to poverty. So, if the natural parents were given the incredible incentives and services listed above that are provided to the adoptive parents, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the causes for removing children in the first place would be eliminated? How many less children would enter foster care in the first place? The child protective budget would be reduced from $12 billion to around $4 billion. Granted, tens of thousands of social workers, administrators, lawyers, juvenile court personnel, therapists, and foster parents would be out of business, but we would have safe, healthy, intact families, which are the foundation of any society. 

That’s just a fantasy, of course. The reality is that maybe we will see Kathleen Crowley’s children on the government home-shopping-for-children web site and some one out there can buy them.

May is national adoption month. To support "Adoption 2002," the U.S. Postal Service is issuing special adoption stamps. Let us hope they don’t feature pictures of kids who are for sale. I urge everyone to boycott these stamps and register complaints with the post office.

I know that I’m feeling pretty smug and superior about being part of such a socially advanced and compassionate society. How about you?

A version of this column originally appeared in:

NewsChannel 9 Investigates Foster Child Death

Jennifer Jones is the first to admit the nightmare began with her own mistakes.

"It's the hardest thing I ever went through," said Jones.

Jones has lived a hard life, but it got worse when she left Ellis Weatherspoon, the father of her two children. Last year, she went  to pick-up her kids from a visit with their father. But, as she was leaving, she got into a terrible fight with Weatherspoon.

"I couldn't get up to move or even breathe barely," she said. "He had the knife in his hand and said I was going to die that night."

And she might have died, if her 5-year-old son hadn't interrupted the knife attack.

"He came in screaming. That was my only opportunity to run. As I was running, [Weatherspoon] kept stabbing me from behind. So, all together I had 14 wounds."

Jones ran for her life and left her two children behind.  Weatherspoon set fire to the trailer with the children trapped inside. Elijah and Saharah survived only because Fannin County law enforcement saved them. But, Jennifer Jones would never be their full-time mother again.

DFACS intervened in the name of protecting the children. DFACS placed the children with foster parents, but that foster home was in Catoosa, three counties away from Fannin and Jones had no car. When she did get to see her children, she noticed things.

"Bruises, scratches, at one point a burn on his chest," she said.

Jones tells us she spent her days trying to contact anyone from the state, who could intervene.

"Something is going on in that house there," Jones aid. "Nine different times I know I've told the DHS workers. I've told everyone in contact with the babies."

But, no matter what she did, Jones tells us she was ignored until it was too late. Her two-year-old died on New Year's Day at a hospital in Chattanooga. This is Saharah just before doctors advised Jones to pull the plug. The State of Georgia had determined she was unfit to be Saharah's mother, but her consent was necessary to end Saharah's life.

"They took them from me because of safety and placed them in this home. And now look what happened, were they safe? To me it's the fault of the state. She shouldn't be here. To me they put her in this position," said Jones.

Jones reached out to NewsChannel 9 in March desperate for details and not knowing how to make the machinery of state government respond.

"I just want justice," she said. "Everyone that had a hand should be held responsible for her death."

More than dozen phone calls and emails later, DFACS required NewsChannel 9 to pay $135 for public documents related to Sahara's short life and death.

Read More at: NewsChannel 9 Investigates Foster Child Death

A version of this column originally appeared in: