There are basically two areas that really need to be fixed to make that foster care system really work for those who need it.
Number One: Change The Philosophy
One should not cower in terror when Child Protective Services (CPS) is mentioned. If the state agency would operate with open arms to provide services to those who request help, without fear of retaliation or retribution, CPS would find that the low-income caregivers and guardians would approach for help to improve the lives of children and themselves.
Child welfare is designed as an entitlement program, meaning the child and family must pass the poverty means test established under Social Security Title IV-A. Instead of penalizing one for being poor by removing the child, it would be more cost effective to provide assistance by rebuilding the social safety net.
Michigan has resigned its child welfare funding structures by channeling indigent/no medical insurance cases through the family courts. Naturally, you will see a dramatic increase in the reports of child abuse and neglect because it is the only way to get medical treatment for children.
Number Two: Regulation
Since the inception of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, there has been absolutely no accountability or transparency.
What this basically means is that, as privatized, faith-based, non-profits, these child placing agencies are never examined.
There is no scrutinization of records because they are excluded by the Freedom of Information Act to be made public as they pertain to matters of child welfare.
There is no enforcement or vehicle to report transgressions to state authorities. In essence, the state may not prosecute itself for it defends its actions of the privatized and public child placing agencies.
Last but not least is the issue of fraud. In foster care, the main funding source is not Social Security Title IV-E as everyone would like to believe, but it is Medicaid Targeted Case Management. Since there is, basically, never the chance of being challenged in the legitimacy of operations, waste, abuse and fraud, run rampant in the form of double-billing, false claims, phantom programs and your classic racketeering.
As long as there are uncapped and unscrutinized federal funding streams for child welfare, you bet your bottom dollar there will be fraud.
THE PHILOSOPHY: Removing children is more cost-effective for the economy. To make the historic story of foster care and adoption short and sweet, allow me to cost-effectively sum up the policy for the Industry of Marketing Children: Poverty is abuse and neglect. Abuse and neglect is a crime. A parent(s) who is poor abuses and neglects the child. The state must protect the welfare of the child. The state never questions the work of God. Foster care and adoption residential institutions are in the name of God. People and corporations make tax write-off financial contributions to the institutions. Children get medicated; pharmaceutical companies get profit; social workers get jobs. The longer a child is in foster care; the more jobs are sustained. Sustaining and creating jobs saves money for the state. Foster parenting is a job. The state and the institutions are given financial incentives and receive financial rewards for each child transitioned into adoption. States need to make budget cuts. States need to create more jobs. Foster parenting is significantly more economical than providing social assistance to a poor family. Adoptive families receive financial rewards for each child adopted. The state no longer is financially responsible for the child. The state is no longer financially responsible for the birth parent. Statistically, foster children will age out to begin again the cycle of poverty, rather abuse and neglect, keeping the market industry of child welfare sustainable. Everyone contributes to the economy. A stronger economy eradicates poverty. Poverty is a crime. When you stop poverty, you stop abuse and neglect.
The time for accountability and transparency has come, and so have I.