Broken System: Levels of Care

An Arlington-based company called Youth For Tomorrow labels kids but rarely comes into contact with them.

It was not an abusive home; the parents were not especially mean. But it wasn't fun being reminded every day that he belonged to a lower caste.

"There was just this huge disparity between the way they [treated] their biological children and the way they treated us," he says. "And you just get sick of it."

He figured he might as well be on his own, so he split. But he didn't get very far; when he was caught, his level of care was raised. So he was sent to the Krause Treatment Center, a lockdown facility in Katy.

McGary says Krause staff relied on fear to keep kids in line.

"The environment that they create is: 'Don't talk back, or you'll end up on the floor. Do what I say, don't give me a hard time, because I can give you an even harder time,'" he says.

And some of the kids may have known this was not a hollow threat: Four years before McGary came to Krause, three staff members there piled on an allegedly violent 14-year-old girl in an attempt to restrain her. Which they did, ultimately, by crushing her windpipe. Although her death was ruled a homicide, the three staff who actually laid on the girl, and the one who stood by and supervised, were no-billed by a grand jury. (Some Krause staff still seem to have trouble with the whole restraining thing; DFPS records show that, in the last two years, "two female staff watched and failed to render aid or assistance as a male staff member conducted a restraint alone on a female resident"; "residents and staff members witnessed a staff member hit a child in care on a vital area of the body as a form of punishment"; "staff member conducted an improper restraint by laying on top of a resident on the ground, which put pressure on the resident's torso and impaired the breathing"; and, related to another incident, "a staff member interfered with a Licensing investigation by requesting that residents write disclosure forms that proclaim the staff member's innocence in the allegations of this investigation.")

Krause spokesman Scott Carroll says the management at the center has changed since McGary was there. "Different management, different philosophy style, different therapeutic techniques."

He also says, of kids sent to Krause, "by the time they get to the Krause Center, one, they haven't been able to get the specialized help that they really need; two, they all arrive in tough, tough, hard-to-imagine life situations, otherwise they wouldn't be there — through no fault of their own."

McGary says his time in Krause was one of the lowest points in his life. Suddenly, a chain-locked refrigerator didn't seem so bad.

If there's one thing about the system he could change, McGary says it would be ensuring that LOCs are assigned by people who've actually met the child whose future they're deciding.

"Imagine if you were at a moment where you were at your most vulnerable; you've been taken from your family, placed in a shelter," he says. "You're surrounded by [strangers]...the first 30 days in that shelter, the staff will be taking logs on your behavior, how you interact with peers. All these things are large contributing factors in your level of care. I don't like the idea of someone who's never seen me, never interacted with me, never had anything to do with me reading 30 days of paperwork about me and determining from that whether or not I deserve to live with a family or [if] I should go to a residential treatment center. I think that placement issues should be decided by people who are directly involved with these kids. It just doesn't make sense to me..."

YFT's contract is up for renewal in ­August 2011.

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3 comments
rebellb
rebellb

Children are often made to sound more "troubled" than they really are in the foster "care" system because there are perverse incentives to label children. Foster children often receive labels as being "emotionally disturbed" or "mentally ill" on a disproportionate basis not only because of the perverse financial incentives, but because staff members and other "service providers" might want to drug children to make them more docile and easily controlled.Much of this was revealed in a report titled "Forgotten Children", which was produced by the Texas State Comptroller's office,during the term of Comptroller Carole Keaton Strayhorn.

J. Wright
J. Wright

Each of the reports Craig writes about can be found in their entirety at: http://www.hope4kidz.org/resea... at this page of research.

The Forgotten Children's Report can be downloaded from a link on the home page.The reports were posted to inform the public of the present and past reports on Child Protective Services in Texas, repeatedly failing children in state foster care, while bringing more children into foster care than the agency is capable of caring for.

Many children in Texas foster care need to go home. Parents do a better job of raising children than therapeutic foster homes and residential foster care facilities. The state's investigative reports find the state of Texas CONTINUES "failing" children in state foster care. Texas looks the other way when children are abused in foster care. Failing children means abusing and neglecting children's needs.

For starters: Review every case of the children who have been in the system the longest. Find out if parents who are willing and capable of caring for their children and send them home. Start moving children OUT of foster care, with support to help children transition to stable lives.

Limit the influx of children for frivolous reasoning; meaning, Judges, "start asking questions before handing out warrants for removal."

When a child has been in more than three placements, probation officers use this as reason to revoke children's probation and place children in TYC. Want proof? Please?

Help children return home in child time; not, in court time.

rebellb
rebellb

Children are often made to sound more "troubled" than they really are in the foster "care" system because there are perverse incentives to label children. Foster children often receive labels as being "emotionally disturbed" or "mentally ill" on a disproportionate basis not only because of the perverse financial incentives, but because staff members and other "service providers" might want to drug children to make them more docile and easily controlled.

 
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