The foster care system is so overloaded in Arizona that children are sometimes sleeping between cubicles in Department of Child Safety offices. According to CBS5 in Phoenix, this isn't even a new problem. It is coming to light now that records are being kept on the practice for the first time.
When children are taken by the child protective services agency, there isn't always a place ready for them, and they end up spending the night on cots set up in an office building. According to state officials, there simply aren't enough group and foster homes to go around. The state of Arizona is working to increase the capacity of group homes, reports CBS Las Vegas, as well as recruiting more temporary foster parents willing to take children in for a day or two.
The children of all ages are sleeping in a place that is not truly equipped to handle the needs of the kids. Privacy doesn't appear to be a concern, even when the children may be teenagers needing some semblance of privacy. There are toys and movies in a room at the offices, but they aren't with a family who will give them the love they so desperately need.
"Its not ideal," DCS program manager Gene Burns told CBS5.
"The most ideal place for a kid to sleep is with a family. We are not a family. We have tried to make do with what we have. We have volunteers that bring in and donate food. We have beds here. We have cribs. We have a washing machine and dryer. We have a shower. This is not the place to put a kid."This is a growing problem in Arizona, where KTAR reports that 32 new children come into the Arizona foster care system every single day. There are reportedly 16,400 foster children currently in the Arizona system. In fact, Arizona has the second largest increase in the number of kids coming into foster care, second only to Texas. Those are the only two states reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families which saw "significant increases" in the past decade. The other states reporting an increase are Indiana, Nevada, West Virginia, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
While officials blame the recession, budget cuts, and overworked case workers, critics point to more sinister reasons for the increase.
Often the easiest solution is for foster children to be placed with other family members. Though that is a federal requirement, many times that is being overlooked in Arizona, and the children are placed with strangers.
Many of the comments on the articles on Arizona DCS allege corruption in the foster care system, an allegation which has been confirmed by Governor Jan Brewer, among others. Medical Kidnap reports that a training video for Arizona Family Court judges directs judges to render decisions that ensure federal funding, even if that means that a child is wrongly removed since the parents can always go back and fight it in court.
There are millions of dollars at stake, when the state is permitted to bill Medicaid for virtually unlimited services for children in state custody, reports Health Impact News.
A growing number of children are being taken from parents nationwide, including at Phoenix Children's Hospital, when parents either disagree with a medical diagnosis or treatment plan, or simply ask for a second opinion. Sometimes a parent refuses to allow their child to be a part of a drug trial or research study, and the child is seized and the parent accused of medical abuse. If a child is a ward of the state, then legally that child can be used as a guinea pig for medical research without their parents' knowledge or consent.
Should the parent have the audacity to threaten a malpractice suit, that can lead to serious retribution. One commenter writes that "one of the quickest ways to defuse a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit is to call Child Protective Services and make a report."
The two Deigel sisters were taken from their parents, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, when their parents and the doctors disagreed. There have recently been rallies at the Phoenix Children's Hospital by families and concerned citizens, protesting the increasing number of children being taken from their parents by the hospital and put into the foster care system.
The foster care system was designed originally to protect innocent children from abusive, dangerous situations. That is where, many say, the focus of the Department of Child Safety should be. If they state would leave innocent parents alone, critics allege, then they would have enough funding and space to take care of the children they truly need to help. Then kids would not be forced to sleep on cots at the government offices.
[images via UthMag and Facebook]