Institutional Argle Bargle – Paperwork vs Meaningful Relationships

October 29, 2015 in CASA, Child Death, Invisible Children, Politics and Funding, Public Policy by Mike Tikkanen

Pensive ParakeetAs a volunteer guardian ad-Litem, the program forbade me from driving a child to a burger joint for a hamburger or taking a kid horseback riding (insurance reasons).  I call it the ten foot pole rule.  This policy makes abused children feel even more unwanted.

Children in child protection come to know that meaningful relationships with this person or that provider are rare and if they happen, they quickly disappear.

As social workers, educators, health workers & other service providers slide in and out of a child’s life and the continued changing of key relationships becomes accepted and predictable, the child learns that they are just a small mechanical piece within a giant unstoppable system*.

Child protection is a State function and state ward circumstances demand “special” treatment that serves a seemingly larger purpose outside of the child.

Through the eyes of that child, the critical parent – adult relationship has been shattered and replaced with 40 new service providers.

Add to that the now accepted overuse of psychotropic medications and often harsh treatment by law enforcement and other authority figures (behavior problems are endemic to traumatized children).  Does anyone care if you have suffered  rape as a five year old or other horrible traumas or that you are now in your 13th foster home with behaviors that accurately reflect your childhood.

Add to that law enforcement violence against mentally troubled citizens of all ages is on the rise.   Expecting law enforcement to manage our societies mental health problems seems to be our go to answer – is this reasonable or even possible?

Social workers spend a great percentage of their work time tracking and recording daily routines and family outcomes, meeting with coworkers and other service providers discussing cases and providing services to 20 or more families with what time is left.   This is a very big problem.

Children that need help might be seen for minutes instead of hours, monthly or not at all by the people in charge of their lives at a time that is most critical in their growth and well-being.

Families that should be seen once a week don’t even make it into the child protection system & suicidal children in therapy with social workers that are unaware that their case child is in therapy with suicidal tendencies (what killed Kendrea Johnson).

The trouble in schools, problems in child protection, juvenile justice and criminal justice systems is growing due to a continued drift toward valuing systems, paperwork and institutional process over relationships

The illusion of child safety in our state evaporated with the homicidal death of Eric Dean and the suicidal death of Kendrea Johnson. 

Long live their memories.

*note; Don’t blame social workers, educators or justice workers (it is we the people for not speaking out for more and better programs, policies and awareness for our communities).

All adults are the protectors of all children