(No one reported him missing until December when his sister told a teacher that she hadn't seen him. - His mother, whom he was living with, and her live-in boyfriend are not talking.)
Yesterday, February 4th, the Boston Herald revealed that DCF is rather lenient in what they consider to be acceptable terms for becoming a foster parent:
"Among the crimes DCF policy might forgive would-be foster parents after screening their applications:
• Offenses such as inducing sex from a minor, soliciting a prostitute and possessing obscene “pornographic” material;
• Violent offenses, including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, armed burglary and involuntary manslaughter;
• Motor vehicle homicide while driving under the influence; and
• A slew of drug offenses, including trafficking in cocaine or heroin within 1,000 feet of a school."
In response and in the defense of DFS, MA governor, Deval Patrick sought to lessen the impact of those of us who may be, as we put it, "overreacting" to this revelation:
“I don’t know all the circumstances. I’m not sure those circumstances (involving more serious crimes) have been made public,” Patrick said. “But when someone has more than 20 years of leading an exemplary life, the fact that they had a conviction should be a factor but not an automatic disqualifier. And that’s the only point.
“Judgments have to be made and they are made at the senior most level with the best interests of the child paramount,” he added.
1. "I don't know all the circumstances." - Please do find out, Mr. Patrick.
2. "When someone has been leading an exemplary life." - Just curious, are you aware that many that abuse children, specifically sexually, often lead exemplary lives? Often have no record. Often are likable, helpful, and charitable? So, color me a crazy, judgmental Mama Bear if I don't really feel all warm and fuzzy about people that have actually been convicted of such crimes. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people out there that haven't been convicted and, hey - just for the sake of not looking irresponsible - not allow these people to care for our most vulnerable children.
3. Judgments on this "are made at the senior most level with the best interests of the child paramount." The scary part, Mr. Patrick - is that you are more senior than these people, and the fact that you're defending this policy terrifies me, as a parent, and as a human being with common sense. So if these people at the "senior level" are below you - I'm even more terrified.
- In his fiscal 2015 budget proposal and a mid-year spending bill for this year, Patrick set aside $12 million to beginning hiring additional social workers to reduce caseloads.
- He also announced $52 million in state funding to help cities and towns combat the effects of climate change
- You might argue that climate change is a very big problem, and I would argue that when children are not protected, nurtured, and properly educated - our economy suffers exponentially.
Children in foster care are some of the most vulnerable children in our country - beyond that, they also require professional, compassionate, unwavering care for their emotional and physical needs.
Reading "Protecting the Gift" by Gavin de Becker, he says that when it comes to safety, humans are the only animals on the planet that allow their judgment to interfere with their sense of intuition. Every day, people put themselves and their children in risky situations because they give people the "benefit of the doubt". The doubt - is their intuition that is telling them - this is NOT the safest choice for myself or my child right now, the benefit is that we want to think that people are good. Many are - but many aren't and if someone is convicted of a crime, as serious as violence, soliciting sex from minors, drug and alcohol offenses - who am I to judge them? But that doesn't mean they should qualify to be in the care of an innocent, most likely damaged child.
The very children in our foster care system meet the same characteristics that sexual abusers look for when picking a child that will easily be manipulated and controlled. So no, I don't trust the judgement of you or any "senior most level". I want these kids to be in the safest, most nurturing home possible - and if there are not enough homes available for these children, the answer is not to lower the bar of "acceptable" but to work harder to find those good people who would be able to properly care for these children.
These are not just today's children - they're tomorrow adults, parents, workers. No amount of effort invested in the protection and nurturing of children goes to waste, but every child that we fail will cost us exponentially tomorrow.