Child protection system needs greater consistency, auditor says

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2012 - 2:12 PM

Abuse and neglect cases are handled differently from one county to another, Legislative Auditor finds.

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schumtFeb. 21, 12 2:57 PM

There is a huge difference between the counties. In some, the kids practically need to be bleeding in order to get CPS involved, while others go out on everything. The laws are the same for every county though so as a Mandated Reporter, I'm legally obligated to report to CPS if I see child abuse. Some counties don't do anything with that report. I've had some not even accept the report, even though I was legally obligated to call. I think it is the worst in the metro areas, possibly due to overworked caseworkers and excessive caseloads.

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toughenupFeb. 21, 12 3:12 PM

The only way to ensure that cases are handled properly will be by changing the way child protection works. For decades, the vast majority of child welfare cases have been based on accusation and suspicion alone with no forensic evidence to back them up. This fact, along with the matching federal dollars provided to counties for every child taken, has led to a practice of something I call, “Harvesting the children of the poor for profit.” Without appropriate and objective oversight, many of those working for child protection gradually shifted from protecting genuinely abused and orphaned children to taking children on speculation alone, a practice known as prevention. While prevention, or erring on the side of the child, may seem like a good idea in theory, the reality is that it has resulted in children being taken into protective custody, who never needed protection. These innocent children have been sexually abused, neglected, drugged, used in servitude, brutalized and murdered, in foster and adoptive homes that are unsafe because the system is overburdened and underfunded. Take away the overburdened part of the equation and the underfunding will correct itself. In fact, if we end the practice of taking children on the basis of prevention, or mere suspicion and accusation, and reserve child protection for genuine cases of abuse, or the rare case of children who have been orphaned, the system could be downsized to a fraction of what it is today. Of course, that would result in a very large number of those who earn their living in the child abuse industry losing their jobs. But, in truth, who is more important in this industry, the children or those employed by it? If you want to see scientific statistics on child abuse, look no further than the criminal cases. Those numbers reflect an accurate picture of child abuse in this country. They also show very clearly that we don’t need the existing system of child protection to cope with the problem of child abuse. Prevention can be handled in other, much more effective and compassionate ways that involve neither separating children from their families, nor drugging children or gambling with their safety. Programs that offer counseling, substance abuse treatment, job skills training, job placement, affordable housing, affordable daycare, continuing education, love, compassion and support would be a much better way of helping families in need than the violent, coercive methods currently being shoved down the throats of families. It’s worth a try. Anything is better than the existing system. If you really want to help people, offer help, don't order it.

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abusedfatherFeb. 21, 12 3:13 PM

The counties have financial incentive to either create or hide certain charges/complaints so they can create high conflict and/or destroy families and get government grants, aid, and awards based on metrics that do nothing but cause corruption, secrecy, lies, and fraud. You need to investigate the entire Government funded CPS, Family Court, and all affiliated providers/employees. Thee are more mentally abusive people employed in these agencies by far, than any others. They lie, cheat, and murder the souls of children, and take pleasure/power in doing so. There is more fraudulent billing of taxpayers in this system than anyone has ever even come close to understanding. These sick people are placed in rooms alone with children and they abuse them, teach them to lie and tell the story they know will most benefit their agency and county, and the affiliated professionals who are making a killing off the fraud and heinous behavior that is the single greatest threat to our society. I know off hand of more than 20 children and their healthy parents this system has raped and emotionally/financially destroyed or severely damaged. There may be a few good people involved in it, but most of them give in to the "System" and all its evil motivations, and want a piece of the Taxpayer money that the greed factor dictates. Look at the Judges and Lawyers in Family Law and Children taken into Custody by this macabre industry. IT is the most corrupt and abusive government run organization that has existed in the 21st century in the last 50 years. WAKE UP!

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rjr2205Feb. 21, 12 4:30 PM

It is very interesting to hear the ignorant comments made re the "bonus money" given to counties for children placed into foster care. Counties are in some cases reimbursed a portion of their costs by the federal & state and none of that money is given to the salaried workers. Out of home placement of children is extremely expensive to counties. It is by far the greatest expense to the local/county tax payer. That said, there is always rome for improved staff and training. The level of risk that triggers a response does vary from county to county and that fact is definitely based on available staff and caseloads. Counties in most cases must triage intake response. All funding for the hire and training of social workers has not keep up with the breakdown of the traditional family. It is not uncommon for CP staff to be used by divoricing parties to harrass their exes. The comment regarding use of forensic evidence is unrealistic because sexual abuse & severe emotional abuse often do not leave any forensic evidence. So yes, the system should be held accountable, but do so in the context of the reality of all circumstances!!

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du1152Feb. 21, 12 6:27 PM

Needless to say, it is, and always has been a joke! The state can't raise anything but taxes! While some of the comments that have been posted may sound outrageous, after what I have seen, I would have to believe most of them. Has anyone ever been to the State Orphanage in Owatonna? Go down there and take the tour of Cottage and learn first hand what happened between the late 1800's and 1945. Trust me, while kids are not living in an Orphanage now, nothing else has changed! It isn't just MN either. It is this whole country. Anyone that works in the business should be ashamed of themselves!

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kmg1978Feb. 21, 12 6:41 PM

Child abuse is a reality and if the system doesn't respond to it effectively the solution can't be to dismantle the system and just walk away. Call me crazy but I'd gladly pay higher taxes if it meant having a well-staffed, well-run, well-funded, publicly responsive, ethical, compassionate child welfare system. What could be MORE important than helping families and communities do right by our own children?

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rafannonFeb. 21, 12 6:53 PM

I have seen child abuse cases be reported and totally ignored... the mother is in charge and to have the child removed is nearly impossible. But I have heard of wealthy fathers handing money to judges re-election campaigns and they winning custody of their kids. I have heard that Carver county is the worst....

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toughenupFeb. 21, 12 8:59 PM

kmg1978, child protection has more funding than ever and it is getting worse, not better. You are looking at it as the way it should work, and ignoring the reality of how inhumane it has become. It has grown into a very sophisticated, well organized system that takes children away on the basis of suspicion alone, traumatizes both child and family, runs families through one size fits all therapies and causes extreme emotional and economic abuse upon those it "serves." It's not geared towards helping children and families with what they actually need but rather geared towards forcing children and families to do as they're told, or else. All based on someone's suspicion and accusation instead of forensics. It is not helping as much as it is destroying families. It needs to end. CPS needs to downsize and take a whole new approach to helping people. One that actually helps.

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