by Michelle Chan
How does Child Protective Services balance a child’s best interests with the perceived risk that the child may have contact with an alleged “offending parent?” Who makes and un-makes decisions that send children off to live with strangers, all too often in far-away communities and on an adoption fast track?
Child welfare and modern adoption laws were developed in the mid-1800s based on the premise that certain people were unfit to raise children and that those children were better off with more affluent families. “Child-saving,” they called it. As it turned out, “child-saving” often had more to do with poverty, or “dependency” as they used to call it, than actual abuse, neglect or parenting deficiencies.
How does Child Protective Services balance a child’s best interests with the perceived risk that the child may have contact with an alleged “offending parent?”
Although these “poor” children were sometimes adopted for love or for reasons such as infertility and philanthropy, they were too often treated as property and used as child labor. Some would argue that not much has changed.
The developmental and emotional benefits of kinship placement – when children are sent to live with relatives after being removed from parental custody – is rooted in notions of blood and belonging, needs and rights, and family and cultural preservation. According to the Fostering Connections to Success Act and Welfare and Institutions Code §361.3, CPS is supposed to make efforts to place children with relatives before placing them in foster or group homes. In addition to being in the best interests of children, it is also more fiscally…
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