Child Welfare Reform Part 1: A Clean Sweep?

I have spent a number of years outlining to anyone who would listen what I feel are the problems related to the foster care system, including 
CPS. I have spoken in generalities as to what I would do to reform it but have never before been specific in my ideas.

This will be but PART 1 of a 4 part series. In this article I will give an overview of reform for the entire system, PART 2 will be Child Protective 
Services (CPS) reform, PART 3 Foster Care Reform and finally PART 4 will be Adoption reform in general and specifically adoption from foster 
care.

I believe having been a child within the foster care system from birth until age eighteen; I have an expertise on the subject that cannot be gained 
through a textbook.

After much consideration I would like to lay out the details of the actual reforms I would like to see advanced. The reforms are comprehensive in 
a number of areas. However, I would not pretend to know all the problems of the system, nor would I have the audacity to presume to have all 
the answers. This is not intended to be a complete answer.

It is my hope that this will begin a much needed intelligent dialog on not only the need for reform but also looking at potential solutions.

To admit there is a problem and continuing to complain about those problems is not enough…it is time to proposing solutions and begin 
demanding action.

Let me first address the system overall. I feel the system is broken beyond repair in its current format.

I believe it has created a national crisis in child welfare. It can only be addressed on a national level rather than individual states or counties.

A national emergency must be declared and the system must be placed under the control and enforcement of the federal government. I know 
some with cry foul, that this is a states rights issue. The federal government has given states far too many opportunities to correct their 
programs and they have failed. Meanwhile families and children continue in the quagmire of the system as it is known today.

There are no national standards, codes, procedures that the states must comply with. These must be established for CPS, foster care and 
adoption just as they have been for eligibility for other federal child welfare programs.

I feel it needs to be federal because we are talking about humans. Humans (the children) should be treated the same way in Oregon as in Maine 
as in Kansas.

You see, all states should be on the same page regarding how children are treated when they are taken away from bios, how their parents 
should be dealt with and what needs to happen to them regarding reunification with their children, if possible. If not; how those children can be 
adopted by a family that wants them.

Imagine losing some of your basic legal rights — things you take for granted — simply because you have left one state and entered another.

Perhaps you find yourself suddenly taken into custody by an officer of the law and placed – against your wishes and despite your protestations 
— in a “secure facility” where no one bothers explaining what has just happened to you. (Nor what may happen next!)
Imagine the political uproar if adults were submitted to such arbitrary treatment — say, in New York but not in New Jersey, or in Ohio but not 
Indiana – for what is considered an offense in one state but not another. Wouldn’t there be a chorus of outrage that long-cherished principles 
such as “equal protection under the law” were being violated?

Why, then, is it acceptable for the treatment of children to vary so arbitrarily simply on the basis of the state they happen to live in?

Therefore I propose: Congress MUST improve its role in the system. They, through the legislation MUST establish uniform codes, policies and 
procedures that hold states
accountable for the treatment of children in their care.

Enforcement and accountability are of primary importance. There are some laws on the books today that just sit there non enforced and no one 
is held accountable. Besides perjury which is addressed in other chapters.

States MUST be held accountable for their actions whether on a state or county or local level. Federal tax dollars go to the states for their child 
welfare programs. If states or those under their jurisdiction have it proved they failed to comply with any portion of legislation finally passed, a 
price should be paid. States should loose a degree of funding, put on probationary status for close monitoring. If the state or those under their 
jurisdiction continue to be in non compliance the Feds MUST step in and completely take over their CPS, foster care and adoption programs.

Just as judges, social works and others will be held accountable under my proposals dealing with these specific areas; so to MUST the states. 
They MUST follow the law!
These reforms do not conclude that all CPS or foster care workers are bad. A number of them do their job very well and in the best interest of 
the child.

However, they many times do not have clear policy, procedures etc. laid out for them. They can also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The 
reforms laid out are many times for their benefit as well as for the families and children affected by the current child welfare system.