An earlier post to this Blog discussed the fact that the State of Connecticut spends great gobs of money on child welfare, while still managing to produce consistently lousy results. The reason: So much of the money is wasted warehousing children in institutions. Another example came to light today, reports The Hartford Courant, as the state Child Advocate and the state Attorney General issued another scathing report on another abusive institution. This time, the practice in question was holding children down and subjecting them to forced intramuscular injections of drugs to make them easier to control. The report says the children were "assaulted with needles."
The state Department of Children and Families replies that there were only "a few" cases. (According to the Courant, the report documents 16 incidents) and, have no fear, they've required a "corrective action plan." That'll teach 'em to mistreat kids! But the Attorney General and the Child Advocate say the institution has been plagued with problems for years.
But even the Advocate and the A.G. are missing the point. The problem isn't just abusive institutions. The problem is that institutionalization is inherently abusive – residential treatment simply doesn't work. Even if every institution were staffed by people who had the best intentions, had the best possible training and did the best they could, children still would be harmed and, secondarily, a lot of taxpayer money still would be squandered.