Posts Tagged ‘Foster care system’

Keep my toaster oven

Posted: March 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

At a recent community meeting in which a volunteer advocate from the foster care system spoke, people like myself asked questions about how and why children are placed in foster care. The average number of homes for such a child is surprisingly high. The role of a court-appointed advocate is very important.

As discussion moved to just how short-staffed the system is one person asked the “why are things this way” question. He wanted to know why so many kids are in foster care in the first place. And what about dealing on that level?

Of course, that is an important question. Why are there dysfunctional homes, drug addiction, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, abuse and terrible parenting, all of which lead to foster care for abused, abandoned or neglected kids? All of those are worth considering. But the way he stated it, on the heels of discussing our present situation of inadequate resources to meet the needs, made me uncomfortable.

What he implied was that we should change our focus to prevention. We should address the root causes and prevention. But we can’t wait for a perfect world to arrive before we reach out to children in dire circumstances.

When it comes to inadequate resources to address the rising need for foster care one question must be asked: “Is the system underfunded?” Unless it is adequately funded we won’t have the resources for those kids. The answer is, “Yes, it is underfunded.” And why is it underfunded? “Because the state has shrunk its budget and that had dire consequences for at-risk kids.” And why did that budget and those programs shrink? “Because powerful interests lobbied politicians they control to secure lower and lower taxes for themselves.” And why did they believe we need to lower taxes when Missouri is already on the bottom tier of taxes and state government? “Because they believe that lower taxes is always better regardless.”

And that’s why we have at-risk children poorly served at critical times in their lives. It is because we are underfunding the very systems that could provide better care.

Should we stop addressing root causes and prevention? Of course not. But when the dam is bursting you’d better get a row boat out to the drowning. And by the way, you can keep my toaster oven I bought with my reduced state taxes. I would much rather redirect that money to where it is really needed. Like to children for instance.