THE ENTITLED FOSTER CHILD VS INCARCERATED ADULTS

226256_302779083153446_1807722447_n[1]Therapy, Mentors, Advocates, and Foster Parents…Oh My!!!! This drove of people and their interventions are indeed necessary when children are in foster care, but recently, there have been instances in which the adolescents believe they are entitled to much more. Teenagers who have been bounced around from different foster and group homes are eventually acclimated to the regulations of the foster care system. Some teens know and understand licensing regulation better than their social workers. Such adaptation to their environment is necessary if they are to survive in the fostering sub-culture. In some cases, I adopted the concern that maybe the foster care system disables adolescents who are approaching their day of emancipation. Without the necessary skills to live independently, how will these young adults function?

Teens who experience a sense of entitlement paired with anger management issues, may not go very far in general society. These particular types of teens are unable to adjust to rejection or denial in any circumstance because there are such policies that handicap their ability to handle certain life experiences without having a tantrum or violent episode. In foster care, adolescents are sent to therapy to process their behavior and the possible consequences of continued behavior. In real life, these same teens are arrested and sent to jail for disrupting the peace. When interventions are set in place without real consequences, what are we teaching these teens? Aren’t we setting them up for failure if they don’t realize that their behavior is highly inappropriate? Shouldn’t all parties involved emphasize to adolescents that they are not entitled to a free pass once they age out of fostercare?

A version of this column originally appeared in socialworkingal.net.

Child Protective Services Ineffective

cps_childHow effective is your local child protective services department? You know, that agency which is charged in protecting the health and well-being of children in your community.

Child protective services are not very effective at all, at least when it comes to specific risk factors that could improve a child’s well-being and mental health.

In a nationwide study that examined children in 595 families over a period of 9 years, researchers discovered that in the households where child abuse was substantiated by evidence, risk factors remained unchanged during followup interviews with the families.

The risk factors are considered “modifiable” risk factors — those things which could be changed to enhance the health and well-being of the child. They include things such as social support, family functioning, and child behavioral problems.

But perhaps this should come as little surprise, since most child protective service (CPS) agencies are not charged with specifically addressing these risk factors. Nor can CPS do much about a family’s poverty or improve their connections with their neighbors or friends. Child protective services are focused on immediate threads to the safety of a child, such as domestic violence, neglect, or abuse.

“Our finding that CPS investigation is not associated with improvements in common, modifiable risk factors suggests that we may be missing an opportunity for secondary prevention,” Campbell and colleagues concluded. They noted that CPS investigations provide “unique access into high-risk households” and an opportunity for interventions that “reduce repeat maltreatment and improve outcomes.”

In an accompanying editorial, a pediatrician at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle went further, arguing that the current CPS model “has outlived its usefulness.”

Nothing is likely to change in the short-term, and the long-term outlook doesn’t appear much better. During times of economic upheaval, like now, government cuts back on social services, including services such as CPS. Only by implementing smaller case loads and increasing funding to help children in poverty that goes beyond crisis intervention can these problems be solved.

But we, as a society, have a very short-term view about problems like child abuse and domestic violence. We’re okay with ensuring we remove children from immediate harm’s way, but we do little to provide such children (and their parents) the resources they need to change these behaviors long-term. It’s similar to how we’re more likely to lock up someone with a drug problem than to simply treat the drug problem (even though the latter would be far cheaper in the long run).

Child protective services can be something far more effective to children in need. Without proper funding and attention to this problem, however, little is likely to change. Underprivileged and at-risk children will continue to receive the sad patchwork services they’ve come to expect from the world’s richest nation.

Read the full article: Child Protective Services Found Ineffective