Presumably he means the data than —
§ since 1996 that found 30 percent of America’s foster children could be safely in their own homes right now if their birth parents had safe, affordable housing.
§ A fourth study which found: “In terms of reunification, even substance abuse is not as important a factor as income or housing in determining whether children will remain with their families.”
§ The two studies from New York which found that families struggling to keep their children out of foster care are stymied by two major problems: homelessness and low public assistance grants.
Those New York studies are old. But …
§ When the foster care population in Genesee County, Michigan, (which includes Flint) doubled in 2000 to 2003, even the head of the county child welfare office said one of the main reasons was they were removing children from women who were forced to leave their children with unsuitable caretakers while they went to jobs they had to take under the state’s welfare laws.
§ And now, that a forthcoming study finds that making it harder to get help under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program leads to an increase in foster care placements.
UPDATE, FEBRUARY, 2018: And still another study finds that simply raising the minimum wage by $1 an hour reduces what child protective services agencies call "neglect" by ten percent.
The data are “hard to see” only if you refuse to look. And that also turns out to be part of the problem.
One of the studies concerning children kept in foster care due to lack of housing also found caseworkers actually may be – to use that favorite phrase of the child welfare industry – “in denial” about housing issues. The study found that caseworkers “may tend to ignore housing as a problem rather than deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by the recognition that they cannot help their clients with this important need.”
Anatole France Would Have Understood
After Prince Leonard was injured at work, he and his wife and their six children could no longer afford to live in their apartment complex. They lived in a shelter for a while, but it wasn’t safe enough for the children. So the family moved into the only “gated community” they could afford: a 12 x 25 foot storage unit.
Leonard built a loft area and shelves. The unit had electricity, heat and air conditioning. The family lived there, and the children did well, for three years. Then someone called Child Protective Services, which removed the children on the spot without lifting a finger to help find the family housing.
A CPS spokeswoman insisted the children were not torn from their parents because of poverty. Rather, she said, they were taken because they were living in an “unsafe living environment.” And, in a comment surely would have cherished, the spokeswoman added: “You could live in a mansion and be in an unsafe living environment.”
A major reason for all that denial is, of course, because there are always funds for foster care, and not for services to keep children out of foster care – exactly the problem Hughes proposes to worsen.
Fortunately, not everyone is in denial. A few of the people who “get it” even run child welfare systems – people like Molly McGrath Tierney, director of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. In a brilliant, 11-minute Ted-x talk she says:
Then she describes the reasons it happens, and not just the financial reasons:
Here’s her entire talk:
What do you know? I thought I was the only one who used the term “foster care-industrial complex.”