LA Foster Care: Fairy Tales from The Unforgiven. A Story of Greed, Hypocrites and Those who did Nothing.
LA Foster Care: Fairy Tales from The Unforgiven.
A Story of Greed, Hypocrites and Those who did Nothing.
The Business of Child Abuse
By Joshua Allen
Authors Note: The following is a fairy tale. Any similarity to people, living or dead, or to actual events is purely a coincidence.
In the Child Abuse Industrial Complex, Foster Children are cared for and represented by 3 distinct and separate entities. The Department of Children and Family Services, the Children’s Courts, and the Foster Parents.
This is one story:
Once upon a time on a world far far away there was a Tragic Toddler who was taken out of her home and put into foster care.
Now one day, for reasons only known by the Gods, the toddler was killed when the disgraceful Foster Parent hit her with a hammer. And to this day the reasons remain obscure and impossible to fathom…
Now this horribly tragic Toddler had an Imaginary Foster Care Social Worker (FCSW).
The Foster Care Social worker was a very busy lady. She had many jobs and dozens of cases and was pulled in so many directions her community and friends wondered how she could possibly keep track of all the foster children.
The legal limit was 15 but nobody was counting, and this Social Worker was assigned to monitor the tragic toddler’s home, (And as we quickly learned, the toddler didn’t count either). The Social Worker was supposed to visit weekly but who knows. Maybe we should ask?
However, the Imaginary Social Worker does visit the home at least once. And she does not like what she sees, no, no, not at all! What a rotten home.
She tells her Imaginary Supervisor problems with the home and more importantly, problems with the foster parent.
“What the heck is going on?” She asks. “Do you know this lady?”
The Imaginary Supervisor knows the foster parent is close with the Imaginary Administrator and does little to nothing. If the Supervisor says anything at all (and this is in doubt) nothing happens. Her resistance to wrong was like light through a pane of clear glass. She may have been invisible.
So the Social Worker writes an email to the Administrator. She outlines the concerns she has about the home and the foster parent.
Now mind you, there are definite problems with the home. There are problems with the foster parent. And the Social Worker decides to keep the email. She will later show it to anyone who asks.
Now in this tragic foster home lived a convicted felon. This criminal was the father of a child who lived with the foster parent and the Toddler. However, the felon is not supposed to live in the home but everyone sort of turns a blind eye and all seems well.
The administrator knows something is up, and she’s no dummy. So she decides to protect herself, in an imaginary way.
The Administrator extracts a signed piece of paper from the foster mother. The paper says that she understands the felon and father of her child cannot live in her home.
The foster mother knows this is against the rules. They both know this is just a piece of paper. The Imaginary Administrator will take measures to insure that the evil auditors find nothing wrong if they should ever ask questions. And they never do.
Oddly, the home is strange and has padlocks on the doors and cameras in the halls. This is against foster care regulation but nobody from the agency cares about this. The position from the agency is they had no idea. They never saw what was there as they carefully went through the home.
Both the Imaginary CEO and the Administrator swear the Administrator has visited the home twice in February, but the small house is so gigantic, so complicated, that she and more than one other social worker have somehow missed 3 padlocked doors and cameras in the hallway! It must be evil magic.
The Social Worker quickly realizes that nothing is being done to correct the dangers in this bad home. She does not want to be held accountable if something happens to the toddler.
This time she goes directly to the Administrator, face to face, mano y mano…. And so the single rarest thing known to happen in social work takes place.
They have a meeting!
The Social Worker looks the Administrator in the eye and very deliberately speaks. “The house and the foster parent are not up to standards!” She says. “It is unsafe. The foster parent is nuts!” She cries. “This cannot go on.”
The administrator, full of wisdom, nods with understanding and appears to be considering options. Why yes, this is indeed a difficult situation. Action must be taken to protect the agency.
Now the Administrator knows the agency has been on hold for months because they have refused to pay back money that was stolen (questionably spent) from the county. After two years of prevarication the evil county is insisting they get their money back! Of all the gall!
How dare they!
There is a lesson here. If a mere peasant like you or I had stolen from a cash register, lets’ say, $20 from 7/11 or JC Penny, we would go to jail. But with foster agencies, if you are likely complicit in stealing a quarter million from the county, charging things for home and pleasure from company credit cards, as if it’s your own personal fortune, and unable to document how or where much of the money was spent… well, after a few years the county insists you pay it back interest free – no harm no foul. Kind of cool huh?
But, back to our fairy tale…
The forlorn agency is in trouble, deep trouble. They have been on hold a long time and have watched their business tank into the ground. The CEO laments;
“We are dying on the vine! What shall we do?”
They are not allowed to place any foster children into their homes. They are not allowed to make money! It is all he can do to breath.
The CEO cries and shakes his fists to the political heavens. He tears his hair and rents his clothes. He curses those who would do him harm. They are all against him.
Yet with tears in his eyes he brags to his loyal retainers that one county Supervisor is on their side, he says he will help, but the fool has been too slow to act! He has such contempt for these Supervisors, but this time he needs them.
And worse, the Agency must make a large payment to back the county off, to lift the evil hold. But alas, they don’t have the money.
You see, they have already given much of the money to themselves as a bonus and a raise in salary. This was a reward for all their hard work. It is only fair he thinks, he has done so much! What would be the fate of these children without him? How could he make a living?
He curses the fates that led the agency astray. What more could he have done? If only they would leave him be. “The fault is theirs!” He cries. “It is theirs…”
So the Imaginary CEO and Imaginary Administrator are desperate and in no mood to decertify another foster home and lose even more money and revenue.
Even if the home stinks, even if the foster parent has a criminal record and a substantiated report of abuse. Even if it was right was the right thing to do.
And much later the CEO tells anyone who listens that this home is no different from half the other foster homes in the county.
“Lots of foster parents have convictions.” He shouts to all who would listen. “Don’t you understand, it’s the county who is the criminal. If only you had done your job!”
So the Administrator dreams up with a solution, an imaginary solution. The answer is wonderful for all (except for the Tragic Toddler). The solution by the Administrator keeps the toddler in the favored home. The bed shall still earn money.
Home safety will be considered on another day when the fates are more aligned with the agencies interests. Her idea is wonderful and she passes the plan on to her subordinates.
Besides, she reasons, the favored foster parent is set to adopt the child soon, at which point the problem will go away. (Well at least for the agency but unfortunately not for the toddler).
And this dear listener is the ingenious solution from the Imaginary Administrator:
For now on, the Agency Social Worker shall only visit the toddler at the Agency Office, instead of personally visiting and checking the foster home for any problems.
Yes, that will solve everything!
The foster parent will bring the toddler to the agency! They can now pretend there is no home! The Administrator’s joy is without bounds. The inspiration for such glad tidings could only be a gift from the Gods.
See no evil, hear no evil, and therefore, speak no fraud. We shall all be protected!
Dante writes about a special place in hell for hypocrites and those who do nothing during times of moral crisis. The fates are now sorely tempted, and shall have their revenge.
Who but the Gods truly know what is in the heart of someone when they use a hammer to free a toddler whose head is stuck in a bed frame? Such a thing is unimaginable to mere mortals, as is the reason such a thing happens. And it happens to a little Angel.
In the end, one can only describe. And so there is a failure and death, perhaps even murder. There is a failure at every level.
There is the failure of the County Social Worker who barely visited and never expressed any concerns. Where was she? What did she do?
There is the incompetence of the Foster Care Social Worker who saw what a disaster the home was, the pit bulls, the cluttered yard with the wrecked car, and thought it was enough to simply report this to superiors and write an email so she would be covered.
And though she knew right and wrong, she took the easy way out and acquiesced to minimal visits and later visits at the office so she wouldn’t have to report on the home which was the Administrator’s intention. The Foster Care Social Worker was a very, very, busy person, with many, many jobs. We all have to make a living, right?
There was the huge letdown by the Agency Supervisor who did absolutely nothing. Whose principle concern was to never challenge her boss. She protests so little because she likes her job and must ingratiate herself with the ruling powers as was her custom.
“It’s not my fault.” She cries. “The case was only transferred for a month or two!” Oh If only she had had more time than several weeks! The precious toddler would still be alive!
The failure and negligence continued with the imaginary Administrator who didn’t want to upset the balance, who liked the terrible foster parent and had personally brought her over to the agency.
She didn’t want to lose money, and thus found a solution, one that like everything else with this fairy tale was cursed from the beginning.
Her solution pathetic dishonest; she lied as she was want to do; and assumed a piece of paper with a signature that she knew was meaningless would be enough to keep her and the agency covered if anything bad happened to the baby.
And up the food chain was the CEO, whose malfeasance was the antecedent of these events. Who set the example that would be the first domino to fall which eventually led to the death of the Imaginary Toddler.
Whose greed colored the tone that United the entire agency and influenced workers who would stay quiet, and keep in line with whatever he said was the truth, which they would if they knew what was good for them. Oh it’s good to be the CEO!
In the end it is about him, always about him. The bucks stopped inside his desk. The agency United under him was his agency. It is his money. It is his all-important prestige in the community. The Board of Directors served at his leisure. They obeyed his rules. Oh it is good to be the CEO!
The CEO is angry. It is horribly wrong for anyone to dare cast aspersions! They must have a hidden agenda. As always, it was their fault, whoever “they” are.
“Are you blind? Can’t you see?” He asks. “I have done nothing.”
The blame is theirs: Never his: It wasn’t his hand on the hammer that pounded the baby, he just allowed the person to be a foster parent.
“Who are you to cast the first stone? Anyways it is your fault.”
Asks the CEO, “The County was supposed to check the house, why didn’t they do their job? It is their fault. Anyway we will still be around, so don’t worry about us. I can consult! There are still so many children to save.”
The CEO cannot help himself; he keeps talking to anyone who will listen. The fault was with the bureaucrats and their politician stooges.
Or the fault lay with the politicians who supported him when times were good and whose support was crucial, and helped him stay in business during that whole mess with the missing money.
And what of the politicians who helped lift the hold when the Agency was down and out. They helped him avoid meaningful consequences when hundreds of thousands was stolen, err I mean questionably spent.
And finally, we come to the CEO’s hand-picked Board of Directors;
The people who rubber stamped his wishes, and who did as they were told. Who got whatever deals they received from the endeavor and proudly served their community, but mostly themselves.
Who believed the gravy train would always continue. And they reveled in the important board meetings with talks of millions of dollars, and included perks.
It was so exciting, so different from their daily lives. They were players – they were important! This was big business! They deserved this.
So in the end all of these factors United to bring about the horrible death of this toddler, who despite being an innocent Angel, was cursed since the day she was born. We know not why.
And when the Imaginary Foster Parent grabbed a very real hammer, it was almost as if the road had been paved for her, only the intentions were not so good, they were paved with dollars and vanity, and were to our United community’s everlasting shame.
May V find the peace she never did in life. Bless you child, you have not sinned and did not deserve your fate. You will not be forgotten. If only…
We can only pray.