I love John Stewart. I love Stephen Colbert. I love John Oliver. They are incredibly good at using humor to deal with political and bureaucratic issues. Last night I watched this clip from John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight”. If you don’t watch it, he is ranting about the cable/phone companies taking over the internet and charging for faster speed. (Trust me, John Oliver puts it much better).
But I got to thinking, there are a lot of bureaucratic and political issues. There are a lot of journalists bringing a lot of attention to some very important issues. But not one of these people ever talks about children. They talk about nuclear weapons and unethical corporations and market crashes and all of these things that mean so much to so many people, but really are meaningless. Because they are about abstracts and things and buildings. Not people. Not children.
The things I see on a daily basis. The words I listen to, the fear I calm, the hurt I comfort. Where is the outrage? Kids are being abused, neglected, hurt, scared. Kids are hungry and lonely and living in cars. And we know this right? We know kids get removed from homes and put into foster home. With foster families that care deeply. And work really hard to make kids feel loved and safe and important.
And case workers work really hard to help birth parents succeed. And sometimes parents do succeed. And we see kids go home. And we see them happy. And we see them thrive. And it is powerful. But that is not always the case. And then we have to fight for kids. But we have to fight for these kids in a broken system. Social workers can be their voices, but attorneys, judges, black and white laws… they make the final decision. And they don’t care that a child disclosed abuse to his therapist, because the child did not disclose abuse to a stranger who has specialized training in forensic interviewing.
Here is the deal. The WRONG people are making life and death decisions for children. The wrong system is making life and death decisions for children. And I can stand on my soap box and scream and yell and it doesn’t make a difference because at the end of the day, I can approve a report, but I cannot keep a kid safe. And as much as I want to be the person throwing this system under the bus, I am not important enough. I am not powerful enough.
But John Stewart might be… and John Oliver.
Years ago a child died in foster care in Michigan. And the State of Michigan got sued. And a bunch of changes to the child welfare system were made. By politicians. And executives. By people that don’t work with kids in foster care. But don’t worry, they created a new computer data base. I took 2 years to launch it after its launch date, and it doesn’t work even though we have to use it. And it has no impact what so ever on the day to day safety of children, but it may keep us from getting sued again. Cause that is what Child Welfare is really about. No one getting sued.
We live in a world that is honest to goodness all about not getting sued. And when we spend our life avoiding law suits, we do not spend enough time doing what needs to be done. There is no “best interest of the child”. And then children get lost, and forgot and stuck. And even when a child has a handful of people fighting really hard for them… it may not make a difference at all. Because this system, and the State and Country it is in, has decided not to make it a priority. And not to hold the right people accountable for their decisions.
That is my rant for now… I could go on… but John Stewart or John Oliver if you are reading this could you help a girl out?
*ps these views are my own and do not represent the agency I work for or any other professional entity I am associated with.