Of course families should step up in abuse cases

 

parenthood_magnet

On the refrigerator at my house is the above magnet, one of those modern reproductions whose 1950s-esque design is your first clue a bit of snark-wrapped truth awaits. Its reminder about the lifetime of challenges that await once you bring a child into the world is one this mere 6-year veteran of parenthood must smile at, if only to keep from weeping.

That magnet was the first thing that popped into my head last week after I heard about Gov. Nathan Deal’s remarks about the responsibility of families to take care of their own children rather than leaving them to the Department of Family and Children Services. Too often that arrangement has failed kids, with tragic results.

“It really galls me, quite frankly,” Deal said, “to see an able-bodied grandparent complaining about the facts that DFACS didn’t do something to protect her grandchildren. And my question is, well, where were you?”

He continued: “Why is it that we always arrest the mother? And nobody ever asks the question: Where’s the father of this child? Why didn’t (he) step in and do something? The vast majority of the time, the answer is, well, we don’t know.

“Well, it’s about time somebody started asking the question. … We’re going to ask that question. We’re going to find out why it is that government becomes the only answer to things that, historically, had been the responsibility of the greater family unit.”

After thinking of the magnet, my next thought was: Who could argue?

I should have known better.

Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, chided Deal for blaming grandparents and “supposedly” absent fathers. “We have to figure out how to make sure that the government’s end of the deal is done right,” she told the AJC’s Greg Bluestein. “And his comments were just saying that it’s not the government’s fault.”

The governor can speak for himself, but his actions don’t excuse poor work at DFACS. Since last year, Deal has budgeted more than $15 million to hire 278 new child protective services caseworkers. That’s not the kind of thing done by a man unconcerned with fixing what’s broken in government.

That said, you’d think all Georgians would agree that family solutions should be the first option in these situations. That it’s not only Republicans or conservatives who believe that in these situations those relatives who can step in, should.

The new caseworkers ought to help matters, but the state cannot hire enough people to replace the eyes, ears, hands and feet of grandparents, aunts, uncles and other adult kin of children in trouble. We shouldn’t ask it to try.

The answers to Deal’s questions will probably cause some discomfort, as well as further questions on which there’s less agreement. The dysfunction and finger-pointing tendencies we see in these families were decades in the making, time enough for blame to accrue in a variety of accounts.

The goal, though — putting the onus first on families, and having more and more of them capable of bearing it — belongs in everyone’s kitchen.

— By Kyle Wingfield, opinion columnist

Reader Comments 0

33 comments
Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Failed families, check.  Failed schools, check.  Failed Gov't, nada.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Meanwhile, back here in the real world. . . 

Families have issues. 

Grown children are dispersed from their parents. 

People abuse each other. 

Children need help from the government sometimes. 


I'd like to commend deal for bringing up the issue of family, but come on.  He comes across as looking for another place to cut funds to needy families.  

The supposedly poor work from DFACS is related to the previous slicing and dicing of funds and overworked case-workers.  Finally hiring more case-workers to pick up the load is a minimum first step, and one Deal likely didn't want to do because he can't pay his buddies to do it. 

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

 A comprehensive survey of U.S. Census data finds that the nuclear American family, where both biological parents are at home, is in meltdown, with blacks teens being hit especially hard with less than 2-in-10 15-17-year-olds living with mom and dad.


And we wonder why we have problems. Can it be anymore obvious how much of a failure liberal policies are?


http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/report-just-17-black-teens-live-with-parents-54-for-whites-both-low-marks/article/2560151

ssinf
ssinf

Too bad the bible thumpers are such prudes about birth control. We should be handing out condoms and pills to any and everyone.


People that claim to care so much about the unborn refuse to do anything that would lead to fewer pregnancies. And no, abstinence isn't an effective method, obviously....

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Pretty hard to listen to a lecture about personal responsibility from the man who wouldn't sully himself with federal funds to expand Medicaid.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

Bring God into your family and you won't have to worry your parents.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Question for Kyle.

Did you clean your fridge before taking that picture?

Be honest. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Amen, Kyle!

AMEN! 

Lukasatl
Lukasatl

This is one of the rare occasions I agree with Deal. In a perfect world, the closest relatives should step up and take care of the children. Placing children into foster care should be the very last resort, when they don't have family to take them. 


There is one caveat, what should happen when the extended family is also dysfunctional or is otherwise not capable of taking care of the children?

straker
straker

Kyle - "because it's washing its hands of the whole mess"


I simply responded to the tone of your essay which suggests the Govt. would dearly love to completely get out of helping abused and disadvantaged children.


Tony_King
Tony_King

Kyle-

This is a rare occassion; I totally agree with the Governor and with you. It's too easy for some people to blame the government. Put the blame where it belongs.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I agree with Deal, although perhaps not for the same reason he does.  Too often as a teacher, I have seen family members turn a blind eye to the children in their extended families, expecting someone else to help the child.  DFACS (and other programs) should NOT be the first, or even second, protector of children.


It's time that DFACS gives up the "family unification" model.  When the adults in the family are broken, with no sign of making an effort to repair, REMOVE THE CHILD PERMANENTLY. (I'd also advocate sterilizing the parents so they cannot continue to do damage.).


Also, there needs to be less emphasis on the "check" the child brings.  I have seen family members fight over a child because they want the check,  not the kid.


Many grandparents, aunts and uncles, do a great job stepping up.  However, it galls me on behalf of the child (and taxpayers) when worthless "parents" beget their offspring on the state.  There need to be penalties attached to neglect or mistreatment of a child, for BOTH "parents."  And it needs to be seen to that one of the penalties is removal of ability to continue to procreate.


People CAN do better, but they need incentives, and a part of that is not just the carrot but the stick.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Well, as usual there is no easy answer, but seems to me everyone, schools, churches, social organizations, mentors, role models have to get on the same page and preach responsibility.  Kids grow up being indoctrinated in schools about social justice, the environmentalism, America's transgressions, multiculturalism, gay rights, tolerance, but it seems that responsibility for their actions never makes the list.   Instead they are told that many of them are victims of an unfair society, so they are not responsible for their actions.

MHSmith
MHSmith

This is a topic that always opens-up  "cans of worms", Kyle. 

So I'll leave most the cans untouched, only to say: My children's grandparents did such a good job of nurturing and instructing their own children, the grandchildren were put in verily good hands. So far I've/We've been lucky, at least enough of what our parents thought us has been passed onto the next generation so I can say the same for my own grandchildren, they too are in verily good hands.     


HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

 That said, you’d think all Georgians would agree that family solutions should be the first option in these situations.


I don't think anyone would argue with that.


But a child has no control over his or her parents family etc. Children born into poverty most likely will be in a one parent home that may or may not have the support that child needs.


As a society we have a responsibility to make sure that child is given every chance to succeed. 


It does take a village.

MANGLER
MANGLER

If the grandparents, aunts and uncles, absentee fathers and mothers, and adult siblings cared enough in the first place, then that question wouldn't need to be asked Mr Deal.  We're not talking about perfect little nuclear family units.  We're talking about dysfunctional families that don't operate in the same way the ideal unit would.

straker
straker

These dysfunctional families have proven, time and time again, that they will NOT do anything to stop the abuse.


Saying they should do something does NOT in any way protect these abused kids.


So, does the Govt. just wash their hands of this whole mess and let the abused children fend for themselves?


Is that the Republican way?

Jimmyliscious
Jimmyliscious

Maybe put a time limit on government assistance for the mother until she has to identify who the father is and last known address of the other parent to continue to receive benefits?

Starik
Starik

DFACS is a morass of rules and regulations.  Workers are trained to view each case dispassionately and within the cover-our-asp philosophy of the leadership.  I've known a number of really good, caring, aggressive workers in the field.  They do not last long, and certainly do not get promoted to supervisory positions.


Philosophically this State has adhered to the philosophy, expressed by Rand Paul, that chldren are the property of their parents - like the family cat or dog.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude "He comes across as looking for another place to cut funds to needy families."

Maybe, if you totally ignore his budget proposals.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@ssinf

Too many teenagers from dysfunctional families want to have a baby. A baby, to them, represents love that they're not getting at home. Young girls are looking for father figures, and young boys are all too eager to give 'em "the love" they're missing.

Unfortunately, nobody bothers to tell them they'll end up a single parent in poverty.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker "Completely get out"? If you thought that was the tone, you clearly need to take a reading comprehension class.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@RafeHollister I had a seven year old tell me not to expect him to behave, as he had "anger management issues."

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@RafeHollister Well, as usual there is no easy answer, but seems to me everyone, schools, churches, social organizations, mentors, role models have to get on the same page and preach responsibility.


Your right


It does take a village.


The last part of your post is total BS. Indoctrinated on Gay Rights ? Really ?



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker "So, does the Govt. just wash their hands of this whole mess and let the abused children fend for themselves?"

Yeah, that's why the state is hiring 278 more caseworkers, with another couple hundred planned in the next year or two. Because it's washing its hands of the whole mess ...

Tony_King
Tony_King

@Starik 

Actually, that is not true.  Regulation is not the problem and you are painting with a very broad brush. I know a number of caring people who work at DFCS and they are trying their best.  When you have over 100 cases coming in the door each week and the standard is perfection no one should be surprised that these workers are frustrated and worn down.  Deal can hire all the people he wants but the velocity of case volume is hard to ignore. You have to address that first. To Kyle's point, we should not take parents and families off the hook.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker And if you're going to be deliberately obtuse, as is the case with the last comment you submitted, I don't see any point in publishing what you have to say. That's part of the reason for moderating comments.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@straker An inane comment that refuses to acknowledge what's already been said can't be "refuted." You're trolling, and I don't have time for it today, or anytime soon.