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But what happens when we reach our late 20s, our 30s? How long do we hold onto the past and allow it to “control” our thoughts and actions? When do we say,enough is enough and it is time to take responsibility for our negative actions, our reckless behaviors? This is a good question to ask, particularly when our actions affect those we love…..like our children.
If you are one who has experienced a lifetime (or a short time) of troubles, many of which are not due to any fault of your own (or maybe all your fault), you are over 25 and have (or not have) a family then this message is for you….
It is time to stop the madness! Stop crying and complaining about your circumstances! Stop pointing the finger at others! Take a few minutes and revisit your choices in action/behavior; what did YOU do to get YOU where YOU are in this moment????? Now, ask YOURSELF what YOU must do to get YOU out of YOUR current situation. Ponder for a while…..and be real with YOU!
In case you didn’t know, the ‘woes me’ loses its tune after a while; people begin to go tone death….not wanting to hear you sing the same ole song and do the same ole dance.
So, do everyone a favor….no, do YOURSELF a favor and Stop blaming your present on your past and allowing it to dictate your future!
If you cannot make the necessary changes alone; if you need some advice, guidance or resources there is always someone available to help (Let's Talk). No more excuses, no more blaming….it is time to take care of YOU! If I can make positive changes, anyone can.
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, BA, MSC, MSHS, HS-BCP
I recently read a story about a two year old little girl named Alexandra Hill. I felt it necessary to share a portion of this story with hopes to remind us all that there is so much work to be done within the foster care system, particularly with for-profit foster care.
Question, is it just me or do we all expect a child to be placed in a SAFE environment after being removed from their homes due to NEGLECT or MALTREATMENT???
Alexander Hill was taken away from her family in order to ensure her safety and well-being. She was placed in a foster home recommended by a Texas for-profit corporation. Three months after placement, Little Alex was dead!
Was Alexandra placed in a safe environment? Was this home in the ‘best interest of the child’? Who decided this was the best home for her? Who will be held accountable? And….how often does this happen???
Alexandra’s story is one that mirrors the lives of many other children entering into foster care which is why it is so important that I share. If we don’t know of a problem, then how can we try and fix it???
Parents of Alexandra, Joshua and Mary lost custody for a few reasons. One, they both smoked marijuana, and Mary has an illness that causes her to have seizures often. Also Alexandra lived with Joshua’s parents, along with his father who had served time for having sex with his mother’s 16 year old daughter. Although no one denies that Joshua and Mary loved Alexandra, it is clear that this was not a safe arrangement. The state removed Alexandra from her grandparents’ home placing her in a foster home.
After being removed from the first foster home due to Joshua’s accusations that his daughter was being abused, Alexandra was placed with Mrs. Sherill Small who at the time was fostering an infant as a means of support for her family. She resided with the fostered infant, her two children and her husband, Clemon Small.
According to reports, on the day of Alexandra’s death Mrs. Small had been upset with Alexandra for waking up too early and getting something to eat and drink without permission. At some point Mr. Small left the house leaving Mrs. Small alone with Little Alex; approximately 15 minutes later she called 911. Police arrived to find Alexandra lying on the floor unconscious; although all foster parents are trained in CPR, there appeared to be no attempts to revive her. Reports further explain that Mrs. Small confessed to slamming Little Alex’s body on the floor causing her to hemorrhage, but said she did so “accidentally” while playing a “game” with her. The autopsy showed that Alexandra had suffered bruising throughout her body, thus suggesting ongoing abuse.
More disturbing facts include the agency’s inability or care to properly assess the family to ensure they were ‘fit’ for fostering children. The investigation determined that Mrs. Small had been in foster care from the age of two; had three daughters, who were raised for a short time by her parents; and one of her daughters remained in the care of her parents. Mrs. Small and her husband had criminal records which included multiple drug charges, and Mr. Small was a recovering crack addict which was listed in his description on the foster care application. Let’s not forget to mention that Mrs. Small told the caseworker that she was very stressed out prior to bringing Alexandra into the home. Am I the only one who sees the possible issues here?
Keeping in mind Alex’s story, I would like to provide some more information for you.
Nationally, no one tracks how many children are in private foster homes, or how they perform compared to those services provided by the government. After one author covering this story, Brian Joseph questioned every state about the number of children in its foster system, only eight of them responded. The eight states combined had a number of at least 72,000 in 2011. Mr. Joseph stated that not one of the states had a statistically valid dataset comparing costs and rates of abuse and neglect in privately versus publicly vetted homes. When he asked about this, Mr. Joseph was told that, “Data is a low priority because it’s difficult.” Then the individual stated, “How do you measure child safety?” What in the world does this mean??????????
Private agencies in Texas alone were found to have more than 100 deficiencies or violations of standards in 56 of its foster homes; and this is only what has been reported. Children all over the country are being sent to foster care through private owned companies; they are being sexually assaulted, beaten, neglected and murdered! What’s worse is there is little accountability! These companies are skating away scott free, as well as some of the foster parents causing the harm to the children. Who is fighting for our children???
Bottom line….placing a child in foster care is often times more dangerous than leaving the children in their homes and taking the time (and spending the money) to address the things that can be changed through the implementation of education, resources and/or financial assistance.
Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E. is aware that we cannot ‘save’ everyone; and when we are able to make a difference it may only be one life at a time but just imagine if we all realize the impact that changing one life can make. Education, resources and a little financial assistance can go a long way….it can possibly prevent the need for so many children to be removed from their homes, thus decreasing the need for so many foster homes (particularly private ones). No, we cannot save all the children in the world but who says we can ACT as if we can. A change may not be seen in our lifetime but we must start somewhere or our children will continue to suffer; the number of children being mistreated and who are dying will continue to grow. AND THAT MY FRIENDS IS JUST UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!
A life today, a nation tomorrow…we can do this if we work together!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
I read a story about an 11 year old girl who was raped twice within a matter of months by some young guys in her neighborhood. What disturbed me the most about this story was not just that the little girl was raped but what happened after she reported the rape. The rape of this 11 year old girl is so heartbreaking! But to add to that heartbreak, after getting up the courage to tell she was subjected to years of additional disappointments, sadness and pain!
Before I explain why I am addressing this issue, let me point out a few important details about the 11 year old girl’s story.
1) She and her twin brother were adopted by her aunt and uncle at the ages of 4 months old (parents were crack addicts)
2) Prior to their adoption, she was hospitalized after being burned in hot water by her mother
3) She struggled in school with learning and behavioral issues; eventually set up with an IP and began getting counseling
4) She was raped by two men between the ages of 18 and early 20s
5) She reported the rape only; she was isolated only going to school and back home
6) Her best friend was shot and killed
7) She was promiscuous, defiant and a run away
8) After several months of not going out (other than to school) she visited a family member across from her home; he sent her to the store at which time she was ‘abducted’ by one of the guys in the neighborhood, bought back to the same place as before and raped again
9) Again, she reported the rape; this time she was told that her story was inconsistent (she changed her story numerous times, including giving the name of the person who abducted her)
10) Although the medical reports proved that she was raped she was served with a warrant of removal from her parent’s care and made a ward of the state for providing false statements
11) Both cases, even with the medical proof, were CLOSED
12) For the next few years the girl was shuffled from a psychiatric hospital to foster care to residential facilities; and she was diagnosed with numerous psychological disorders such as ADHD, Bipolar and attachment disorder
13) At the age of 15, the girl returned home; she was pregnant and had her first child
14) Prior to her parents moving, the girl saw the men who raped her whenever she went outside her home
15) Today, the girl is 17 and suffering from psychological issues and struggling with the ability to have healthy relationships; what’s worse is that before being able to deal with her psychological issues, she has become a mother
I tried to find articles, or any kind of information to support my personal findings regarding the number of children removed from their homes, and/or put in situations where they are not able to trust those who are supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, I am not able to find anything. However, while reading the article about the 11 year old girl a legal official who was familiar with the story stated that, "prosecutors proceeded with the case against the girl (accusing her of providing false statements) to 'get her into the system' to obtain additional therapeutic services (which makes no sense because according to her family and school she already had services set up prior to the rape)"; he went on to say, "there’s not a lot of funding available for youth that are not charged, you have to be neglected or a juvenile delinquent.”
Based on her family history, although struggling with learning and behavioral issues she did come from a decent family. This girl was far from neglected. So in seeing no signs of abuse or neglect they turned an already troubled, struggling youth into a delinquent. Although this is not something that is mentioned via the media, this happens far too often!
After years of working with youth who have been removed from their homes I have learned that many of them do not trust the police, social workers, attorneys, judges or therapists/psychologists. One must ask the question, why? Another important question is what do we do to change that?
The girl who was raped at 11 years old (twice) stated that she knows many young girls who will not share their stories because they do not believe they will get help. We hear about the number of children being abused and neglected, and the number is alarming; can you imagine how many of them do not tell because of fear that they will be removed from their homes, made to be liars, or simply blamed for the actions of those who hurt them???
As with the 11 year old child, children who has behavior problems, runs away from home, struggles in school or has a difficult time communicating and maintaining positive relationships with others are often a product of their environment and/or experiences. This does not make them liars or does not mean that everything negative thing that happens to them is their fault; they are not automatically exempt from being a victim.
There was no one in that 11 year old child’s corner, other than her parents who were unable to do anything to help her. Based on her own admission, she felt alone, betrayed and useless. Her life was carved out for her before she had an opportunity to grown old enough to make any decisions; and when she did try to take control of her life by sharing her rape with those who were supposed to help make her feel safe and secure, she went from being a victim to a delinquent. Again, this happens all too often!
How can we protect our children if they cannot trust us? How do we expect them to come to us if they are not comfortable in knowing they are safe, that we will protect them?
It is time for change! Do I have the answers? No, but my hope is to start the discussion; with the help of others there is a great possibility that WE can come up with some ideas. It takes a village…..
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
Do you believe in spanking? That is a question that has been under controversy for many years. Many people believe that there are just some behaviors that cannot be corrected without a spanking. In fact, many of us ‘grown’ folks will say, “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine.” On the other hand you have many child development experts who suggest that children who are spanked are, a) taught that violence is acceptable; b) deliberately causing a child pain is cruel; c) it harms the child emotionally; d) makes a child feel powerless; e) breaks the feeling of trust and security a child may have with adults; f) not an effective means of communication; and g) it does not work.
To give you an idea of the controversy that surrounds this topic, there was a poll taken on Debate.org. The question was, “Is spanking wrong?” Based on the many individuals’ comments, 43% believed that it is wrong and 57% believed it is not wrong; almost a 50/50 split.
When one begins to research the origins of spanking they will find that determining the correct time or place is very difficult. There are just too many cultures and times to consider. Regardless of when and where the act began, we can all agree that it is a punishment that is considered all over the globe, and across all walks of life. Some consider it corporal punishment, a form of abuse while others simply call it much needed discipline. Sadly, spanking has become a major problem in the lives of many; particularly low income families residing in certain communities. For a great number of these families spanking has been redefined by the judicial system as corporal punishment with no ifs and or buts about it; thus, causing them to lose their children to the ‘system’.
Let me make my position clear…..I am not judging anyone who spanks or who does not spank. In fact, I am one of those ‘grown’ folks who say, “I was spanked and I turned out fine.” And, I too spanked my children from time to time. However, I must stress that I have a different outlook on things today; I have taken the time to re-educate myself and therefore would like to re-educate others. I believe this is especially important because spanking has been redefined, therefore putting our young people in the position of having their children removed from their care.
During some of my ‘personal growth’ studies I have learned that spanking, or corporal punishment as it is often called, is most common in the African American family. Researchers have suggested that the reason for this is that it is a legacy that has been left by the brutality of slavery; they add that parents in lower income communities have less education; and they say that this group is more likely to follow the religious belief, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Further, it has been determined that in many cities throughout the U.S. African American children are more likely to be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
With the previously stated in mind, I see a major issue here; particularly being one who is gung-ho about family preservation. African American families are more likely to use “corporal punishment” as a means of discipline, and they are more likely to have their children placed in foster care; do you see the problem? If not, let me help you….
We are currently working with a young man whose son (age 4) has been placed in foster care (now in the care of his mother) after spanking him for behaving inappropriately with a little girl. The young man does not spank his son, but instead he usually puts him in time out in a room alone. When asked why he spanked his son on this particular day he said, “Because he was being nasty with his step sister and I wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do that again. I was spanked and I learned so I don’t see anything wrong with me spanking him so he will learn.” Many (not all) will agree with this thinking, “Spanking the little boy was okay because he was acting inappropriately and with all that is going on with kids today his dad had to do what he had to do to make sure the child understood that this behavior was not to ever happen again.” Right??? Well, the Department of Children and Families believed differently. They were introduced to this young man and his son because of his communication with someone already involved with the system, wrong place wrong time I guess. Nonetheless, his son was taken away from him based on the one spanking and the 4 year old child’s responses during questioning.
After having his son from birth, with little to no help from the mom and absolutely no other incident this young man spanks his son (once) and loses custody of him in less than a month’s time. Not only has he lost custody, but the child is now in the care of his mother (remember, she provided little to no help over the child’s 4 years on this earth); and he is jumping through hoops just to get regular visitation. See anything wrong now??? I would hope so….because I see so many things wrong with this situation! How can we expect a parent to care for their child in a way that is contrary to how they were cared for, unless of course they have been re-educated?
The point of this post is this, WE MUST RE-EDUCATE OURSELVES AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ON HOW TO BETTER CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER, PARTICULARLY OUR CHILDREN!
Although there is a larger number of African American youth to consider, this is an issue throughout all groups and communities. Due to the ‘new’ definition of spanking (corporal punishment) it does not matter what one believes to be true, spanking is not a good form of discipline. Contrary to what parents who use this form of discipline believe, there are absolutely other alternatives….and depending on the personality of your child, you are sure to find one or two, or three of those alternatives that do work!
So, in re-educating yourself and others consider the alternatives listed here before raising you hand, shoe or belt to your child; and/or share this information with someone you know who may be having a difficult time with their child/ren.
Please remember that spanking, as acceptable as it may have been or may still be in your household is very risky. You (or someone you know) can easily find yourself (or themselves) in a battle with the state over what is in the best interest of your (or their child), and you (or they) can LOSE!
Re-education….TC’s new wave of making change!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
How many articles do we need to read regarding the differences between high and low income families before we realize there are some real issues that need to be addressed???
Although not the first, there was a recent study conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences indicating that there is a distinct difference in
what wealthy and poor babies eat. Working with families in disenfranchised communities, I have learned that poor children do not eat healthy; however, prior to reading the article presented by the Washington Post and others I had not considered the stats that support what I already knew.
The University stated that the dietary patterns of American infants between the ages of six and 12 months old varied by the racial, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic background of their mothers. Less educated and poorer households tend to have diets with higher sugar and fat, whereas higher educated households with a higher income tend to do the opposite.
Research shows that families with incomes generally above $60,000 a year, with higher educational levels ranging from some college to post-graduate were more likely to breast feed and give their infants solid foods which adhered to the feeding guidelines as suggested by international and pediatric organizations. To the contrary, families with an income under $25,000 a year and an education level of a high school diploma or less were more likely to feed their babies food that was high in sugar, fat and protein or high in dairy foods and regular cereals. Some of the more common foods include candy, ice cream, soda and French fries. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that African American women were more likely than all other groups to feed their infants unhealthy diets.
Infants that are fed foods with bitter taste are more likely to develop a like for them; on the other hand, infants fed sweet or fatty foods are not only more likely to prefer that type of food, but may even develop an addiction. What is most disturbing about these findings are the long term effects (i.e. overweight, stunt in growth and increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other unhealthy conditions) that impact the infants’ health, eating habits and food preferences as they grow into adults; and the trend is then passed on to their children.
Bottom line….poverty plays a major role in the nutritional choices that many parents are able to make for their children. Between the cost of healthier foods and the lack of nutrition knowledge, low income families are not provided the same equal opportunities as families with higher income. The gap between poor and financially well-off families is a great one; parents feeding their infants unhealthy drinks/food is a growing problem in the United States.
The infancy stage is a critical period for ALL children! It is important for parents of ALL racial, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds to have the opportunity to provide their children with healthy eating! Research tells us that the problem is the lack of nutrition education and low cost healthy foods; this being the case, the answer to this growing problem is simple….more family, friends and communities should offer nutrition education (including education about breast feeding) and access to affordable or free healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Is the solution as easy as the answer? No….but if folks realize the seriousness of this issue and come together it is possible. It takes a village! #ItsARealIssue!
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS
Is it just me, or does there seem to be a large number of families separated due to what courts determine to be child neglect? How many children are mistakenly removed from their homes??? They are not neglected but rather they are just poor….how many?
State legislatures, courts and state agencies differ in their opinions and approaches regarding the issues of poverty in child neglect cases.
The same differences apply with individuals working with youth and families; many of them have to determine whether a child is being neglected or if their situation is due to poverty. Evidence shows that there is a correlation between child neglect and poverty; although poverty is often a factor, it should not be mistaken for neglect. If neglect is suspected, the common solution to ensure a child’s safety is the child’s removal. It is the responsibility of those working in the field of social services to ensure the safety of all children; however, taking them from their families due to poverty and lack of resources and assistance is not the answer. There are many consequences of mistaking poverty and neglect; it is important to recognize the difference and act accordingly.
The Family Preservation and Support Act of 1993
For those of you who are not aware of the policies regarding the well-being of children, in 1993, there was concern that states were not paying enough attention to needed efforts in preventing the removal of children from their homes; thus, the reason why Congress introduced the Family Preservation and Support Services Act.
As crazy as it sounds, the number of children being placed in foster care between 1986 and 1995 had increased 76% making the Act necessary. The idea was for those with the authority to remove children from their homes to put more effort into preventing foster care placement. It was believed that doing so would help in eliminating the possible consequences the child would later face. Some of you may not be aware of this but a child being removed from their family, regardless as to how abusive or neglectful the caregivers may be, is a very stressful and painful experience.
Mistaking Poverty for Child Neglect: Removing Children from their Homes
Over the years, the idea of how to preserve family has taken on many changes as Congress tries to ‘simplify’ the definitions used to assist service providers in determining all that constitute the right for government to terminate a parent’s right to raise and care for their children. One very important concern is for children who are being maltreated and removed from their homes as the best solution to ensure their well-being, versus those who are not being maltreated but placed in foster care due to lack of money, resources and assistance. Making such a determination is critical in the ultimate well-being of children in either situation.
Before we continue, here are some important facts which you may have read in a few of my previous posts:
Now in continuing to sharee my point, a brief overview of definitions for child neglect is in order. Let me first point out that the courts have a very difficult job on their hands when needing to decide on which parents are able to care for their children and which are not. I must admit, I would not want to have that job!
Although many of us may not agree with the decisions that are made, for the most part the one and only concern for the courts is what is in the ‘best interest of the child.’ There are many factors that must be considered, including safety and permanency, and the proceedings of terminating the parent’s rights. Of the many terms used when considering what is best for the future of a child, one that does not have a definition is “best interest of the child”, and is taken under consideration when courts are in the midst of deciding the types of services, actions and orders will be best suited for the child’s situation.
Child neglect definitions may vary a bit depending on the state; however, they often all suggest that the primary caretaker of the child knowingly or negligently allow the child to be deprived of the basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter or care. In comparison, poverty is defined as having inadequate food, clothing and shelter; thus, making it easy to mistake poverty for neglect. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System have included in their definition of neglect “the failure by the caregiver to provide needed age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so.” This, I believe should be considered throughout each and every family court system in the country.
Regardless of the definition, all family court systems consider the child’s basic needs with regard to these categories, a) physical – provide food or shelter and appropriate supervision; b) medical – ensure the child receives appropriate medical and mental health treatment; c) educational – ensure the child receives an education and ensure they attend to special education needs; and d) emotional – pay adequate attention to the child’s emotional needs, ensure they receive psychological care if needed, and prevent the use of alcohol and drugs. It is important to add, along with the previous categories there are subcategories with lengthy explanations which cause confusion to many practitioners; as if those making such major decisions need more confusion.
Poverty as a Factor in Child Neglect
Based on the information provided by the US Census Bureau (2013) in 2012, there were 46.5 million people living in poverty in the United States; 2.5% higher than in 2007. The American Humane Organization reported that poverty is the single best predictor of child abuse and neglect. When compared to families with an annual income of $30,000, families who bring in an annual income of less than $15,000 are 22 times more likely to maltreat their children. Twenty two times more likely, that is a pretty high number!
Researchers from both the United Kingdom and the United States have found that poverty is associated with an increase in a parent’s inability to cope and provide the basic needs for their children. Some of the more commonly added factors include anxiety, depression, fear and a feeling of being overwhelmed; thus, causing a parent to have a ‘disabling’ effect on their ability to parent, or to provide discipline, or tend to their child’s emotional needs and keep them safe.
The Accused Parent: Things to Consider
When a child is being maltreated, in any way they should be removed from the home immediately to ensure that they are safe. Knowing this to be the case, there are still many researchers who question the effectiveness of family preservation services; AND SO DO I! There is great concern in whether or not the correct decisions are being made when considering the removal of a child, particularly when the caretaker is loving, and the child would in fact be better off with their family.
The Supreme Court has recognized parent’s rights to care for and raise their own children; as suggested in the 14th Amendment. Although there are supposed to be…..or should be positive stages of proceedings that help in determining whether a child is a victim of neglect, such as a) an initial hearing; b) a case review; and c) termination of rights. Prior to getting to the last stage, termination of parental rights, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that this parent is in fact neglectful and the child’s well-being would in fact be at stake if they remain the home with that parent. The problem with this is that there are not any clear, concise guidelines to follow; therefore, children are being removed even when there are other options.
Research suggests insight on the disparities in the removal of children from their homes; children removed from their homes for neglect remained in out of home care for an average of 92 days more than those who were removed for abuse. They further found that 56.9% of children removed from their homes for abuse who achieved permanency were reunified with their parents whereas children removed for neglect were reunified only 40.3%. Don’t get it??? Neither do I!
The goal of all involved is the preservation of family, right??? Which plays a major role in ensuring the well-being of the child, right??? Yes, I have always thought so too.
I say….and this is keeping the child’s best interest in mind that it is necessary for there to be careful consideration in not only defining the difference between poverty and neglect, but also in providing answers once neglect has been disproved and poverty has been established. Once poverty has been established, just as the children are, parents are owed due process of the law and protection against the state’s interference.
It takes a village....so here are some suggestions
With so many concerned about the need to create a balance between neglect and poverty, there are many ideologies that a practitioner can adopt that will assist in making the best possible decision regarding the well-being of a child. It is important to keep in mind that although they would like to have, social workers, attorneys and judges do not have all of the answers. This is why it is very important to remain open and conscious of the changes within their field. I, along with many researchers suggest that those working in the field research (regularly) the more common strategies being used in their field and states. Some of the more common practices that may help in determining between neglect and poverty are simple to do and can allow the decision maker some flexibility in their findings eliminating bias and other possible distractions in their decision making process.
VERY IMPORTANT…..from the inception of a neglect allegation, the parents should be treated as partners in identifying the underlying causes of risk to the child’s safety; regardless of the accusation, the parent should feel as though the focus is on ‘how we can work together with the realities you face and ensure the safety and well-being of your child’, not ‘you neglected your child’. Upon determining the issues within the family, it is very important to quickly follow through with action. Concluding that a parent’s neglect is in fact due to their financial situation is wonderful, but there needs to be a solution for that parent. Supporting them without solutions to their financial troubles (as well as other factors, such as psychological, etc.) will only continue to jeopardize the child’s well-being. Concrete services that include financial assistance for rent, food, clothing, and childcare can make a huge difference in that caretaker’s parenting abilities.
COMMUNITY LEADERS/ORGANIZATIONS…..this model may not be used in one’s community or state but has been reported as being successful. Some states have created what is called ‘Family Team Meetings’ which have been successfully used for over the past 10 years. This includes families, particularly those with low-income who are or have been involved with the child welfare system. Through family groups and conferencing, family decision making, permanency teaming and team decision making, and involving families as partners with the welfare agencies assists in addressing poverty related neglect. The team meeting model allows an opportunity to share resources that assist families facing poverty related issues that may put their children at risk.
In 2004, there was research on poverty and parenting that suggested that more predictive of child protective services neglect reports than any other report of maltreatment. It is imperative that parents are provided quality legal representation and case management. Just as importantly, parents should have access to a parent advocate and parent-led support groups. In all fairness, many parents are not guilty of neglect, but rather guilty of living in poverty. If they are not offered the opportunity to have legal counsel and the support of parent advocates they are at great risk of losing their children to the ‘system’.
In conclusion, it very important for ‘folks’ like us to begin making a big deal about the misconception of such an important topic….poverty and neglect; if we do not then who will?!?!
It is time for us to begin discussing alternatives to taking children out of their homes based on confusing facts which are not really facts at all. Social workers, attorneys, judges and those alike must begin using prevention strategies alongside intervention strategies to improve the lives of children living in poverty.
Removing children from their homes is not the only answer to all issues of neglect; there must be efforts put forth to address the financial needs of families. A few great writers said it best when they stated, “If poverty and economic strains lead to child neglect irrespective of parenting quality, interventions to prevent neglect are unlikely to be highly successful if the material needs are not simultaneously addressed.”
It is time to use new strategies to tackle the old and but growing issues within the homes of poverty ridden families.
Mrs. Tomaro M Pilgrim, MS
Have we all lost our minds or what??? I cannot stress to you how disturbing it has been to watch the news, log onto Yahoo, or pick up a newspaper! I know that violence has been an issue all throughout time, and it will more than likely continue to be an issue. However….the violence today is just simply not the same. Our young people are dying left and right, particularly young African American males! Let’s keep it real people, when you take a look at the stats one cannot deny the large number of African American males losing their lives to death and prison! And please forgive me, these past few weeks have just been a roller coaster of emotions for me; something is just not right in America!
Let’s take a few minutes and view some of the most recent stats; and I am sure, regardless of where you get them all of the stats currently out there are similar.
The Kelly Book 2014, written and submitted to Congress by Congresswoman Kelly out of Illinois talks about gun violence in American; the information that is provided in this submission should just blow us all away!
*Gun murders in America significantly outnumber those in other developed nations!
*If New Orleans were a country they would be the 2nd deadliest nation in the world; their gun rate is 62.1 per every 100,000 citizens!
*Detroit’s murder rate mirrors El Salvador!
*Chicago mirrors Guyana!
*And…Washington, DC (yes the nation’s capital) has a higher gun homicide rate than Brazil (known for its high crime rates from narcotics trafficking and gang activity)!
*American children are at greater risk of being killed by a gun than children in any other
The Kelly Book also stresses that the African American communities are at an even greater risk than all other communities. The Book calls the impact on these communities ‘particularly devastating’. African Americans make up only 13% of the United States population, but they account for 55% of ALL gun MURDER victims! On the other hand, in White communities the vast majority of deaths by a gun result from suicide.
The Book states that although urban violence and suicides are quite different, they are similar in that there is an easy access to guns. In addition, there is insufficient attention to socioeconomic disparities and mental health conditions which can often create environments that cause disputes or problems that lead to deadly situations. I believe this to be part of the problem; there is simply so much more to be considered.
Finally, I would like to address another ‘particularly devastating’ impact guns are having in African American communities. I cannot end this piece without making mention of the devastating impact police officers are having in African American communities. Again, let’s keep it real…we cannot deny that this has become a nationwide epidemic! We know of at least five shootings that took place just this month. Don’t get me wrong, for those who had been said to have committed a crime, I am not saying that they were innocent and I definitely do not condone criminal behavior; however, I am saying that it seems in each case that the outcome could have been different…allowing these young men to ‘breath’ another day.
In all of the deaths due to the excessive use of guns, there are mothers (and fathers) who have lost their sons; children who have lost their fathers (and mothers); and a future full of ‘what ifs’….what if he/she would have lived to see another day…what would they have contributed to the future of others, to this world??? We will never know!
Bottom line….cops or civilians, young or old, Black, White, Purple or Green this is a major issue! As a mother of a teenage, African American male I am horrified each and every time my child steps out of my site. I tell him I love him constantly; I never say good-bye but see you later; and I often have to stop myself as I pick up the phone wanting to check in on him every five minutes. This is no way for our children to have to live, at least it shouldn’t be here in the United States of America…”land of the free”.
No, I don’t know what the answers are; I have no clue how to intervene, how to change this country’s craze for shooting and killing as if life has no value or meaning. But what I do know is that something must be done. I am a firm believer that if something is broken, with hard work, concentration, a desire and dedication it can be fixed. I am also a believer that all of us professionals should stay in our own lanes…this aint my lane. So my question is, WHOSE LANE IS IT AND WHY AINT YOU FIXIN IT!?!?!
It takes a village….
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS
WHILE WE ALL ARE EXPERIENCING THE STRUGGLES OF COVID-19, WE CONTINUE TO BE HERE TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY