Friday, December 22, 2006

Inconscionable to play games with mothers who have no recourse

Editorial: Not so fast-
Adoption policies need legislative review
Lexington Herald-Leader, June 8, 2006 pg. A10.

"Quick trigger" is not a term you like to associate with children.

Unfortunately, it has come into play in stories written by Valarie Honeycutt Spears about the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services moving too fast to terminate the parental rights of some children in foster care in a push for adoptions.

One social worker is on paid leave while under investigation, and the Inspector General at the cabinet has said other suspensions and criminal charges are possible.

So, it was great to learn last week that legislators will hold hearings on the topic to determine what is happening and what can and should be done.

The legislative oversight is critical because the families involved are among the most vulnerable. The mothers are poor and often domestic-violence victims. Their work is survival, and it leaves little time for fighting a system or making themselves heard.

And it's a big system. Critics say the push for "quick trigger" adoption stemmed from a federal incentive for moving children from foster care to adoption. The goal was to cut down on the number of children stuck in foster care for long periods.

Kentucky received a $1 million bonus in 2004 after a dramatic increase in the number of adoptions out of foster care.

State Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington said she asked the Interim Health and Welfare Committee to investigate the cabinet's policies and actions.

"It's unconscionable to me that we are playing games with mothers who have no recourse," Westrom said.

She's right.


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