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Richard Wexler, author of "Wounded Innocents," estimates that out of every 100 reports of alleged child abuse: "58 are false; 21 are poverty cases...

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Barbara Bryan Testifies on Foster Care Financing

Posted: December 10, 2005

Taxpayers - federal, state and local - as well as contributors to tax-exempt non-profit groups are being defrauded under color of law as children are injured and innocent families are dis-membered in and because of Americas foster care system.

Paper Orphans are a tax-subsidized phenomenon of the monopoly no other agency is permitted to investigate or handle child abuse/neglect reports.

Without the usually unquestioned spending of billions of dollars appropriated by Congress, changes would have to be made.

Routinely, states cannot find hundreds of children, either taken or entrusted to their own CPS agents. Children suffering real abuse and neglect, and always emotional trauma, in instant pre-adoptive homes (as former foster homes have too-often become), are ignored because of financial and adverse publicity consequences to agencies that removed and reallocated them.

The Third World "Rule of Suspect," one condemned by more in Congress today for imprisoned foreign enemy combatants, is alive and has been hell for parents and caretakers "suspected" of often clearly non-existent abuse and neglect of children. Anonymous reporting, ruled out in the old USSR in 1984 because it is so unreliable, is the sine qua non of Americas child protection reporting that consigns a child to foster care.

Paper Orphans are a tax-subsidized phenomenon of the monopoly (no other agency is permitted to investigate or handle child abuse/neglect reports: see the shameful DeShaney decision of the USSC) designated child protection agencies who recommend "termination" of parental rights.

That is achieved with an immunizing stroke of a judges pen and both the agency and adopting strangers are eligible for adoption bonuses (per 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act). Most states sweeten the pot with post-adoption subsidies, now a part of nearly every out-of-agency adoption for some.

Sibling Date: Marry?

Very few children in America are genuine orphans. Most have relatives, family friends, neighbors or godparents who could, and are willing, to keep them if they must be removed temporarily or permanently from parental homes.

Taxpayers are defrauded and children are at risk for what already has happened - brothers and sisters, not knowing they were redistributed by foster care, dating each other or marrying - because too many agency directors encourage taking an expensive, heart-breaking route to purported child protection rather than allowing the child to remain somewhere in the natural family or minimally in frequent contact.

If "most of the prison population once was in the foster care system" is a true statement, the success and efficiency of the program is obvious.

The public pays for backpacks, teddy bears, memory books and more to make moving around among strangers or getting accustomed to never seeing ones grandparents, siblings and other friends and relatives more palatable.

Foster care in America is a disaster: financially, legally, emotionally, physically and by nearly any other perspective or measure possible to consider it.

That so many influential people in Congress, media, entertainment, sports as well as other elected, appointed and employed positions of respect have themselves adopted children and may prefer not to reveal the entire story of the system has slowed exposure of long known problems.

Supremes Avoid Precedent Setting

Equally, it is clear that the U.S. Supreme Court prefers not to deal with human and civil rights issues relating the foster care and how a child is sent to it or fares in it as an "institution." If the whole truth were told, if Constitutional law were applied to federal and state permissions to suspect, accuse, remove children, forever cut them off from natural family and to be financially rewarded for reallocating them, it would and will rival the eras of slavery, sterilizations, treatment of native Americans and more.

Currently, although known for years, two health issues that have been accepted by courts in America and still are-despite notice-are being upended in United Kingdom's courts and professional review boards.

Incarcerating mothers is extremely costly; University of Chicago researchers estimate that calculating foster care and related costs with the expense of incarcerating women in Illinois may bring the total annual cost to as much as $58,000 per prison mother.

Specifically they are the imaginative but mythical "Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy" (MSP) for which there never has been scientific support and the concept of "Shaken Baby Syndrome" (SBS) for which there is considerable science proving that without severe accompanying neck injury shaking cannot be the cause of the "signs" of SBS when they are described.

Because foster homes have become pre-adoptive homes, and because belief about MSP allows existing and subsequent children to be removed from a presumptively homicidal lying mother, newborns are whisked from delivery rooms and into the arms of delighted people who are doubtless pleased that mute media ignores the reality of both syndromes' discrediting.

Rare and brave federal auditors have tried for years to show the shambles of the foster care misspending and occasionally the damage to children and families. The Commonwealth of Virginia in the early 1990s, through the office of its then-Attorney General's Assistant, tried to beat a federal audit of its foster care system by covering its failure to visit homes every year. It had regulations changed to say every other year was all right. That has improved since.

The best cover up, and example of why Congress is looking (repeatedly) at the same errors that only have been refined as well as the spin given auditors who genuinely try to learn, was that Health & Human Services (HHS) and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) noticed 40 court papers had failed to check the now Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) - trumped "reasonable efforts" block about keeping the family together.

Nunc pro tunc, Nice Try

Cleverly, but in vain, the State tried to substitute 40 nunc pro tuncs that, of course, did have the blocks checked after all.

Most people gave up arguing "reasonable efforts" because there simply were none made. When an agency decides to take a child-and most often they are instantly put into foster care without alternatives, especially when they are attractive and marketable, the biggest influence is the attitude (preservation or termination) of the agency director. (see Ray Sirry, PhD dissertation at VCU)

Nearly always the ticket to regaining children from foster care was/is a mental health evaluation, but only if it is done by a person or group either informally or by contract, connected with the accusing agency. The anti-Fifth Amendment breach, agreed to in desperation by parents believing their children can be liberated faster if they "cooperate," turns out to be "evidence" gathering and the children too seldom will ever leave foster care to return to their natural families.

In 1995, I walked the halls of Congress to leave with each office four pieces of paper and the plea to not continue sending boatloads of money to states to be used as they had been and have, in the intervening decade, become worse.

Using the analogy of gas, rags and matches, I explained that congress and its large appropriations is, in the end, the proximate cause of the problem that cannot be avoided in its tragic expression in foster (or hostage, albeit official and legal) care.

Unmonitored money, actions

  • Congress provides the gas. Without huge amounts of money to spend and gain, individuals who use and receive it might well decide not to warehouse children if they cannot do better than the real abuse that some of them had suffered (but still did not need to become a Paper Orphan).
  • States provide the rags. State agencies accept the giant appropriations and often do a pass-through, creating "revenue enhancement" by upping the value of the dollars in creative ways that consultants figure how to procure. That includes how children are "labeled" as special needs, at risk and the like, sometimes just because they have not yet been adopted at various descending age limits.
  • Agencies strike the matches. It is at the local level that the frequently unmonitored expenditures occur. Federal auditors, and judges also, read the "documentation" in the agency record or court case file of an accused. I would have removed my own children if what was once written about me, in 1983 and 1984 had been true.

Foster care is an unsupervised, largely completely unneeded and expensive money sink and family-fracturing cottage industry that never should be used at all, unless there truly are orphans in America without relatives and friends who can take them in. Grandparents and others should, in appropriate situations, not be deprived of the benefits and services (when they are both or either) available to children but only to be given to cooperative strangers.

Every admiration a reasonable citizen has for his/her own home - mixed up and messy as is, every one - sometimes and in some way, too often - has been turned on its head by the ease with which parents may be "suspected" and children taken and put into foster care.

Legal Extortion?

Oh, and the legal extortion of instant child support orders: that has a lasting impact on IRS collections and HHS outflow. Parents are mortgaging their homes to liberate children from foster care, people unable (and unwilling) to pay "child support" for children who could stay with relatives without cost and not dun the taxpayer, find liens against their earnings if they can keep a job after their employers are called and businesses visited by investigators on the report.

Countless Americans, former taxpayers, even if the agency has its own attorneys overturn its actions against innocent parents, cannot get or keep employment. That is because their pre-employment credit checks show there is a problem, so they are not hired. If they do work, their usually low wages are garnished, all to pay a debt they had no control in creating and should never have been made: one to foster care that injured the child and family.

A benefit of these hearings could and should be a federal law requiring states whose errors are proved, early or late, to make whole the injured citizen, especially one under the eternal mark of a child support lien that was needless ab initio.

States should be required to expunge and remove (after ensuring the injured parties have true and correct copies) all "documentation" used to break up the family that remains in courthouses. Currently there is no mechanism to make that paper vanish even if the agencies have purged their records.

Because I personally know and/or have closely communicated with countless hundreds of families whose children were taken into foster care, I know things that I also know have been communicated to every possibly interested person for decades. Too frequently the most often suggested and tried "solution" is to bring law suits to "reform foster care."

Wrong answer.

Purse & Sword of State

We can re-form Frankenstein but we still have a monster. Children do not deserve to be punished for suspicions - even correct ones - against their parents or caretakers. I deal with false mistaken, mischievous or malicious allegations, too many arising from professionals hoping to distract an anticipated adverse professional report or malpractice action, hence "Shawna's Bill" (ask for it).

Parents cannot overcome the power of the purse and sword that Congress ensures states have to defend against extraconstitutional but "legal" actions of their empowered but unmonitored agents. Top law enforcers in each state - the Office of the Attorney General - also serves as the lawyer for the offending agencies. Guess whose interests are first and best served?

Taxpayers should not be subsidizing all: everything that happens before, during and consequences of foster care as well as local and larger payoffs for suits that finally succeed against those needless and injurious actions that led to foster care and what happens when a child's natural protectors are prevented from being there for him/her.

Only by telling the whole truth, now and not another decade or two later, when the worst offenders, originators and continuing proponents are retired or deceased, will Congress have the heart and stomach to stop funding family-fracturing, child-traumatizing foster care (ever more obvious pre-adoptive pipeline, as it became after ASFA and continuing Congressional appropriations made more money available).

If the right, reasonable, compassionate and Constitutional route is chosen, the current foster care system that fuels America's holocaust of the home will go into the history books and stop dis-membering American families.

Barbara Bryan,
Davidson, North Carolina
National Child Abuse & Resource Center

Foster Care Finance Hearing Archives:
Committee on Ways & Means
U.S. House of Representatives

Subcommittee on Human Resources
Hearing on Federal Foster Care Financing
Held: Thursday, June 09, 2005