The Nation — h/t JL
In July 29, 2013, a Latina mother in Illinois named Natasha Felix sent her three sons, ages 11, 9, and 5, out to play with a visiting cousin, a young girl, in a fenced park right next to her apartment building. The oldest boy was charged with keeping an eye on his siblings, while Felix watched them all from the window. While they were outside, a local preschool teacher showed up at the park with her class. She saw the 9-year-old climb a tree. Felix’s youngest son fought with his cousin over a scooter and, at one point, ran with it into the street. Based on this, the teacher called the child-abuse hotline, and Felix received a visit from the Department of Children and Family Services.
However, when Rodriguez asked Felix if the boys had any special needs, Felix replied that the 11-year-old and the 9-year-old had been diagnosed with ADHD. On the advice of their doctor, they were off their medications for the summer. Rodriguez later wrote that “based on the mother not knowing that the kids were running into the street with the scooter, based on the children having ADHD,” she recommended that Felix be cited for “Inadequate Supervision” under the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. As a result, Felix was placed on the state’s child-abuse registry, which led to her losing her job as a home healthcare aide and ended her dreams of becoming a licensed practical nurse. …
“Certainly, prior to this, I don’t think most white people knew very much about the child-welfare system, or were afraid that someone was going to knock on their door and say, ‘Let me see your kids,’” says Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and the author ofShattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare. “Whereas in black neighborhoods, especially poor black neighborhoods, child-welfare-agency involvement is concentrated, so everybody is familiar with it.” …
Whatever you think of parents who use drugs, it’s clear that poor parents and parents of color are held to a very different standard than middle-class white parents. “My daughter broke her collarbone twice when she was a young child,” says Guggenheim. “I took her to the same hospital, and the second time I brought her they treated me with great dignity and respect. If I were in Bed-Stuy and a single parent, [CPS] might have come to my door, they might have found some joints on my nightstand and taken my child, and I would be lucky if, 12 months later, I got her back in my custody. That’s how I live my white privilege every day. And they would have found joints on my night table, let’s be clear about that.” …
Read the remainder of this article at The Nation.
This is not just a US problem. There are the same types of issues in Canada, the UK, Australia and other so called developed countries. As reported at News 1130,
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says the province has fewer social workers now compared to 13 years ago and that the government must hire more by boosting funding for the Children’s Ministry.
Turpel-Lafond concludes in a report that consistent failures within the ministry mean it has failed to meet its own standards to protect children.
A woman I know had 4 children with her spouse. She had a minimum wage job in agriculture, while he was not working because when he did have one, he was chronically late and unreliable. She went to work one day leaving the children ages 3, 5, 8 and 11 in the safe keeping of her husband. Later in the day, she received a call from police to get home immediately. When she arrived home, she discovered that the children had been running loose, the youngest literally playing on the street. The children had been left in the care of her husband but he was nowhere to be found. She had a choice to make . . . quit her job to look after her children or lose them to CPS. She quit her job. She would not abandon her kids. It turned out that her husband was bored so took off to be with friends, either drinking or gambling, rather than honour his obligation as a father. She is a loving mother who is loved by her kids in return.
This situation is all too common, especially if the family is poor or a minority. In this case, they are both. Now the father is gone and a community has come to the aid of the mother and kids to support them in all sorts of ways. I am part of that community.
I think that a family's culture is also important to consider. People have different ways of bringing up their children depending on circumstances. For example, refugee children may almost be "adults" in certain ways because of what they have endured. The full story of a family should be listened to. Social workers should not be saying "this is how we do things here" and leave it at that. But I am also concerned that the caseload for an individual social worker is too high, and possibly contributes to a "get them through" mentality.
Look at First Nations families that have historically been ripped apart, the community ignored.
There are no cookie-cutter solutions or quick fixes, but some respect is a good place to start along with ensuring that children are in no immediate danger. What do you think? How has this impacted your life, if at all?
It takes a village to raise a child.