the system

I want to talk about foster care.  The system.

An unnamed administrator in our state Child and Family Services Office thinks the foster care system is backwards and that the parents who abuse and/or neglect their children are the ones who should be removed from the home.  The children should stay there with a new, temporary caregiver and the parents should earn their way back into the home.  I love that.  I wish our system could really cater to a child’s needs instead of the adults who have a voice and use it first to bully their children and then their state legislatures.

There is so much that is unjust about our “system.”  That it re-traumatizes traumatized kids by removing them from their homes is unjust.  That bureaucracy and overworked, underpaid workers and unsympathetic law makers slow permanency for children is unjust.

But the fact that it saves kids isn’t.

That it gives biological parents lots of chances to get it right isn’t.

That it provides access to resources for families isn’t.

It is flawed.  This system.  But it tries very hard not to be.  It tries to get things right.  It tries to balance justice and mercy.  It is imperfect.  It is what it is.

I think it is good and right to judge a system, to seek out and push for improvements.  And it’s good for a system to be dynamic enough to respond to change.  That is plain good business.  But let’s not get so caught up in change for change’s sake that we lose the good and just of the system, that we build in perverse incentives, or stop saving kids.  Criticize.  Question.  Learn.  Discard.  And keep.


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