Archived: Editorial: Child Welfare Should Mean Just That


Without a doubt, Los Angeles County’s Child Welfare System has flaws. This week, County of Los Angeles Supervisors have decided to launch yet another investigation into the system to try and determine if those flaws played a part in the tragic deaths of children they had been sent to protect.

We are here to tell you that flaws most certainly contributed to the deaths of the three children whose welfare is now belatedly receiving the attention they deserved.

Chief among the flaws in the so-called child welfare system is that it is run mostly for the benefit of parents, and under the long outdated, dangerous but politically palatable belief that family reunification should be the department’s ultimate goal.

Parents who request a return of their children put in foster care for a myriad of offenses — including drug and alcohol abuse, or physical, mental, or sexual abuse, and severe neglect — too often become the focus of foster care workers more interested in reunification success stories than the long term welfare of the children in their charge.

Too few of the cases of children who are reported to the agency are ever fully reviewed by workers, away from their caregivers, to assess whether anything is amiss in the child’s surroundings. Children are rarely given follow up physical examinations to determine if they have been subjected to any type of abuse. Don’ even think about mental health reviews.

Courts and the foster system have made it well known to foster parents that the rights of biological parents supercede the rights of children, who often wish to remain with the foster parents who have been their sole caretakers since they were infants.

We know of a set of twins who were cared for by a young couple since they were babies. Several years passed and they were finally allowed to adopt the twins, only to have the adoption set aside because a father who was let out of prison wanted them back. It did not matter that these children would be traumatized by the fact that the only parents they ever knew and their loving home would be taken away from them because of the demands of a wayward parent. After all, blood is what matters most, according to our system.

We understand that the huge number of children in the foster care system is putting a strain on caseworkers and their supervisors, but if the county would at least start with the premise that the rights and welfare of the children, not adults, should come first, children in foster care would be saved a lot of suffering.

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