Complete with studies, etc. indicating that abuse in foster care may be as much as four times as likely in foster care versus staying in their home.
25% are placed where they are "at the very least at a high risk of abuse or neglect."
12.44% are sexually abused.
88% of reports of foster abuse are not investigated.
* David Kaplovitz and Louis Genevie, Foster Children in Jackson County, Missouri: A Statistical Analysis of Files Maintained by the Division of Family Services, (1981)
The American Civil Liberties Union's Children's Rights Project similarly estimates that a child in the care of the state is ten times more likely to be abused than one in the care of his parents
* 18. Seth Farber, "The Real Abuse," National Review, (April 12, 1993).
MINIMIZING THE ABUSESChild welfare departments are rarely forthcoming with information about the actual extent of harm that comes to children in their care. It is largely through audits and casereadings associated with legal actions that the actual extent of abuses in the foster care system come to light.
The reasons for this may not be as complex as they are often made to appear.
Child welfare officials who have managed to entrench themselves in lifetime civil service positions in the more desirable nooks and crannies of the child welfare system have a vested interest to protect, and those who run public bureaucracies have devised their own "rationalized myths" to protect their interests, argues sociologist John Hagedorn.
The myths of "doing good" benefit those who are advantaged by existing institutional arrangements. Even as politicians are constantly criticizing "bureaucracy" and "bureaucrats," they approve millions of dollars worth of public funds to keep the bureaucracies running. As Hagedorn succinctly explains:
It's simply too risky for bureaucrats to admit that their agency may not be "doing good." The erosion of that myth may lead someone to investigate them or even propose cutting their budgets.
But if there is one thing that is riskier for bureaucrats than admitting that their system may not be doing good, it is that it is doing far more harm than good.
Thus we find situations such as that in which the California Department's legal division discovered a "secret room" in the Los Angeles Department containing 15 filing cabinets holding approximately 3,000 case files on foster care facilities that had problems which were not reported to the state.
In one case, ten foster children slept on the floor of a garage, while ten more were crammed into an upstairs bedroom. Three had been abused, one with a fractured skull and two broken limbs. Yet the home was not closed until months after the conditions were discovered.
Thus we find caseworkers in a Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services office running files relating to a botched investigation through a paper-shredder.
Thus we find a New York City caseworker indicating as "unfounded" the repeated rapes of a young girl in institutional care, notwithstanding the testimony of credible witnesses.
Thus we find an agency administrator in Oklahoma quietly dismissing two agency employees accused of the sexual abuse of foster children without so much as a blot on their records.
Thus we find what was described as a "whitewash of wrongdoing" in an edited audit of a child welfare office in Utah, and death threats made against the rare brave legislator who dared to push for the public release of the unexpurgated document.
Thus we find a report of system-wide abuses at the Columbus-Maryville "shelter" in Illinois suppressed by Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy.
27. John M. Hagedorn, Forsaking Our Children: Bureaucracy and Reform in the Child Welfare System, (Chicago: Lake View Press, 1995) pp. 98 - 99.
28. Little Hoover Commission. See note 26.
29. Sandra Mathers, "Horror Stories About HRS Fill Workshop," Orlando Sentinel, (January 20, 1996).
30. Michael T. Skrak, Office of New York State Senator Franz S. Leichter, New York State Abandons Victims of Institutional Child Abuse, September, 1993.
31. Robby Trammell and Nolan Clay, "DHS Practice Draws Fire," The Oklahoman, (September 27, 1992).
32. Lois M. Collins, "Agency Releases a Fuller Accounting," Deseret News, (May 24, 1996); Tom Hayes, "Foster-care Lawsuit Loses Panel Member," Deseret News, (June 4, 1997).
33. Renny Golden, Disposable Children: America's Child Welfare System, (Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997) p. 179.