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WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?

There was an article last week in the Houston News (http://www.houstonpress.com/news/there-s-little-outrage-for-12-000-kids-suffering-in-the-texas-foster-care-system-8161341) about a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services brought by Children’s Rights, a New York-based children’s advocacy organization. The article reported on a federal court’s finding that the state routinely neglected and mistreated the approximately 12,000 children in long term foster care in Texas.

The article asks, “Where is the outrage?” Here was a 260 page federal judge’s opinion finding that the state repeatedly exposed foster children in its care to physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, “turned a blind eye to internal failures” in the system, and demonstrated a “systemic willingness to put children in mortal harm’s way.” According to the federal court, for many of these children, “rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.” The author observed that neither the media nor local politicians seemed to care.

The only real significant difference between the Texas and California foster care systems is that the California system is administered at the county level instead of by the state. Otherwise that federal judge could have been describing the lives of way too many California foster kids. Every bad thing happening to foster kids in Texas is happening to foster kids in California and a lot of those bad things are the direct result of the same kinds of systemic incompetence, indifference, and neglect.

The foster care system is shrouded in secrecy. The media rarely reports on bad things that happen to foster kids. When a foster care tragedy becomes public knowledge, politicians form committees and demand investigations but otherwise do nothing. Agencies, courts, and others within the system blame high caseloads and/or inadequate resources for systemic failures but most make little or no effort to make the system work as the law intended and are often complicit in perpetuating its dysfunction. Why is this OK? Where is the outrage?

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