"the child is not the mere creature of the State."

photo by Jessie McClain
The Supreme Court in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that "the child is not the mere creature of the State." In Texas, the foster care system seems to be at odds with that judgment. In fact it seems that the State has been influenced by such organizations as "Justice for Children." In statements in 2004 made to the the Texas House Committee on Child Welfare and Foster Care, this organization said, "family preservation and family reunification should not be the sole or even main means of treating and preventing child maltreatment." They called for support of legislation that "excempts certain cases from reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family."
One of the outcomes of this committee was a foster home recruitment program involving the faith-based communities. Texas has the Luthern Social Services of the South, Inc. (one of the largest child-placing contractors, managing over 600 foster homes); Baptist Child & Family Services; One Church, One Child of Texas; and the Catholic Charities among some private child welfare agencies managing foster care.
So when the mass round-up of women and children of the fundamentalist Mormon sect happened, Baptist Child & Family Services coordinated the meals and supplies for them. The Lutheran Social Servies of the South had offered beds for them. From an outsider this looks rather odd. Our country was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Here is a State-separating Mormon women and children from each other and placing them in foster care run by various Christian religions. It appears that the Texas foster care program has a majority of Chrisitian churches involved in this program. While this maybe beneficial to all concerned, it would seem to me that this is a questionable practice when children of different faiths end up in foster care. One might question how influential are these Christian organizations in the foster care system?
In an article, "West Texas operation draws on lessons learned from hurricanes," in the Austin American-Stateman dated April 10, 2008, a Scott McCown, executive director of the center for Public Policy Priorities mentions that "there has been a recent drop in the number of children being removed from homes because of abuse..." The state had recently reduced investigators caseloads. Thank goodness, their caseloads had decreased because now they can handle all these children. I wonder if smaller caseloads mean less money available for programs?
To be a mere creature of the State, is to be like a tumbleweed, blown from here to there. And what be the reason for these motherless children? A State Reason: which is Texan for, "It's my way or the highway." Only this highway seems to be a little worn and mighty dangerous.
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

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