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Monday, December 17, 2007

BMCW Enables Sex Offenders

by capper

I've already spoken about how the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare has let down the children of Milwaukee County, and that I put the blame with the fact that it is privatized. I still stand by the position that by privatizing the foster care system, it has increased the cost to taxpayers, decreased services to the children and their families, and have made the situation worse.

In an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this past Saturday, we find that the Bureau is now allowing sexual predators to continue preying on children. They are doing this by not doing their job:

In November, the girl said she was tired of the abuse and reported it again, to someone who is not identified in records. This time it was reported to police, who reported it to the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. The criminal complaint alleges Lee-Kendrick had sexually abused two of the girls for years. The third said she was sexually assaulted when she was at a sleepover at one of the other teens' homes in January.

The social worker in the April case told authorities that a supervisor directed her to close the investigation several months before the recent charges without contacting police.

She said the supervisor told her that the closure was "in accordance with the administrative decision to close this case, as well as numerous other cases, during a time when (child welfare) investigations of referrals were purged due to overload," according to records filed in Milwaukee County Children's Court.

Closing the case without completing the investigation and by willfully failing to contact the police is in direct violation of BMCW policy and the law. Not only should have the worker contacted police, the child should have been interviewed by a trained professional (the Bureau had a contract with Children's Hospital to do these, and they were very good), but the worker should have made the effort to contact the alleged perpetrator, not just wait for him to call him or her. Even if he refused to speak with the worker, the other two things should have been done, at a minimum.

When I worked for Milwaukee County in the foster care system, and their was a large influx of referrals regarding the possible neglect or abuse of children, we were not allowed to close cases or screen them out. All workers would be assigned to do the investigations, not just the intake workers, regardless of their job classification.

When the State took over and privatized the system, this option of bringing in extra workers to help with the overflow of referrals was also removed. Now, only state workers can handle the investigations, and if there are too many referrals, as we can see from the article, they just close them.

Who knows how many children are being left in neglectful and/or abusive situations? We do know that there has been a massive audit of these cases, but now we must wonder if we can even trust the results of the audit.

I still encourage people to contact their State Senator and State Representative and encourage them to either deprivatize child welfare in the county, or better yet, just give it back to Milwaukee County, with sufficient funding this time, so that we can take care of our own children.

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