The City of Fort Worth is blessed with windfall gas revenues. Need we ask what to do with it?
When I received a copy of the letter below from a local Child Protective Services agent, it gnawed at me like a toothache. We have far too many orphans stranded inside CPS and, worse, even more children need child protective services.
After you read this letter, please consider the proposed solution I have to offer, by way of advice to the Fort Worth City Council. It seems that this solution could solve a whole host of other social ills related to poverty.
Good afternoon everyone.
Finding placement for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and/or neglect has become quite a challenge for our agency. You may have heard that we have children sleeping in offices due to a delay or inability in locating placement for them. This can be very uncomfortable the children we serve. While we work very diligently to locate placement all children must be supervised and have their immediate needs met at all times.
One of our most critical situations involves seven children who are staying at the Resource Connection Center in Fort Worth while we continue to search for placement for them. We have staff working around the clock each day to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. They have purchased meals for these children using their personal funds, but this is becoming very difficult to continue.
We are seeking the help of the community to provide meals for these seven children and would greatly appreciate your help with getting the word out to area faith based groups, civic groups, and other stakeholders who may be willing to assist us by providing food and beverages for these children.
Please ask those interested in helping to contact me via e-mail or at the phone number below. Thank you so much for your support and assisting us during this very difficult time.
Resource/External Relations Specialist
DFPS - Child Protective Services, Region 03
A PROPOSED SOLUTION
It is a fact: We have children with nowhere to live. Therefore, we should build more orphan homes or prep schools for orphans, and staff it with CPS workers. Already, the crisis exceeds our immediate capabilities.
The 79th Texas State Legislature provided $34.5 million for the continuation of Child Protective Services (CPS) reform. This, along with $65.4 million in federal TANF funds, is designed to “improve services for children and families” and “help keep families together, reduce the length of time children remain in foster care, and improve the quality and accountability of foster care.”
Thanks to Representative Marc Veasey and other Texas legislators, these efforts directly address to problem, but woefully fall short of what is needed.
Because it has been our priority to keep families together (wherever possible), we tend to lose sight that these children need a safe, secure, and nurturing home environment. More children should be in CPS care, not as orphans in the traditional sense, but more like refugee children needing to escape a home environment riddled with financial woes, violence, drugs, and alcoholism.
Heretofore, we have addressed the problem of children in poverty by condemning the parent. But declaring the situation the results of “poor parenting” skills and leaving the issue at that, does nothing for the at-risk child. The fact is: Some parents are too mentally incapable or immature to properly rear children, and some children are simply unwanted.
Child Protective Services (CPS) around the United States are overwhelmed by a continual growth in their caseloads. And, if many CPS workers had their way, they would remove even more children from poor home environments.
Because of our inability to catch these children before they fall through the cracks, we find ourselves with collateral problematic issues, such as anti-social behavior, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, rise in school dropout rates, engagement in criminal activities, and ultimately incarceration. And here, where the buck stops, the backend cost far exceeds the cost of a front-end fix.
It is a fact that parents with drug and alcohol problems prefer putting their children into another environment- away from the vices and violence- without having to relinquish custody. Crack addicted parents cannot and will not feed their children, even if they had the means. Yet it is antagonizing for them to watch their children starve day-in and day-out. Alcoholic parents, on the other hand, have no control over their emotions and are subject to violent outbursts against the helpless. As a result, we are finding babies placed in dumpsters, abandoned by the side of the road, hanged by a distraught mother, drowned in the bathtub, burned with cigarettes, beaten until their tiny bodies are broken, or their heads smashed against walls. And, those that survive live in squalor, half-naked and starved. The testimonies of CPS workers are full of horrors- as I can bear witness in true life. And, there are children trying to balance their sanity against the madness that surrounds them.
An Orphanage or A Prep School
It may seem depressing to realize that we will have the poor with us always. But it is encouraging to know that whenever we have a will, we can do them good. We can relieve overburden parents with substance abuse problems by placing their children in the same home-type environment as other orphans, without the parent losing custody. This might give the parent the relief and incentive to deal with their own addiction.
Too often Food Stamps and TANF to welfare recipients are diverted to support a parent’s addictions. The children are left with nothing. And, most of the time, instead of CPS stepping in, we find the poor trying to help the poor- many times it is grandparents or relatives trying to finishing the job of raising a child.
This does not say that increasing the funding of CPS is like pour water through a sieve, but that funds could be better directed and applied, if we focus on providing children with a safe haven in which to live.
Why this Solution works for Fort Worth
The City of Fort Worth has a long and rich history in orphan care, dating back to the early 1900s and through the Depression Era. Now the City finds itself blessed with God-given gas deposits and windfall revenues. With this new found wealth, we all agreed that one of the principal uses of the windfall was to relieve poverty.
There is no better place where the poorest of the poor can be more impacted than helping “the least of these”- those who cannot help themselves- our orphan children.