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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Milwaukee Children Are Still Not Being Protected

by capper

Ironically, at the end of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare still isn't doing its job. Today's article focused on the Bureau's inability to provide services to families in which one or both of the parents have mental health issues. This is not surprising, as that the Bureau has a long history of not providing services to families, which needs to be done for the children to be reunited with their families, or to find a permanent alternative home. These services are required by state and federal laws, to protect everyone's rights.

The Bureau has historically done such a poor job of protecting our children, and an even worse record of responding to these problems, that three years ago they created the Office of the Milwaukee Ombudsman for Child Welfare, which was to oversee their performance. But they aren't even doing their job, and shuffle the majority of the cases that they're supposed to review back to the Bureau.

The sad part is that the system is so fouled up that I don't know if there is an easy fix anymore. I used to advocate that the system should be returned to Milwaukee County, which, while not perfect, did a much better job than what's been happening the last ten years. Unfortunately, I can no longer advocate for such an action, and still remain ethical. Given how badly Walker has destroyed the transit system, the parks, mental health services, corrections and the courts, I would be even more afraid for the children's well being if Walker would have control of the system. And I would be remiss if I did not point out that Walker was part of the legislature when this fiasco was slipped into the 1996-7 state budget.

The only realistic solution to start solving things would be to finally fire Denise Revels Robinson. She came to Wisconsin, after ruining Minnesota's child welfare system, and has been in charge for the entire ten years of the Bureau's existence. And despite repeated reports of failures to protect her wards, and just running a totally ineffective system, she issues a statement that she is aware of the problems, but feels that the Bureau has improved and continues to work to improve. But it never does.

It should also be noted that another person who has had her finger in the mix, from introducing the whole ill-planned fiasco to the budget, to being on the "advisory panel" that is supposed to be monitoring things, is Senator Alberta Darling. But she has already admitted that she has done a lousy job of things. She should be sent packing as well.

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