Online readers comment on our cover story "Broken System" about the state of the foster care system in Texas by Craig Malisow, June 2:
Lost siblings: The problem with "DFPS" is that they don't properly investigate cases. They separate children from their siblings and family. They also don't bother with "kinship placement," which would be in the best interest of the child/children. DFPS talks the talk, but they don't walk the walk — their handbooks and brochures say all the right things, but they actually don't do most of what they print.
A child/children needs to visit with their siblings and family on a regular basis. Ask any child in the custody of DFPS when the last time was they visited with their family members — most would take awhile to figure out how long it's been.
I talk from experience — I grew up in the foster care system. I'm over 50 years old now, but I never visited with my siblings. I was over 21 years old before I found out I had eight siblings. I met three siblings for the first time when I was 16 — at the funeral of my brother. To this day, I have four siblings I have never met. If DFPS would get their priorities in order and start doing what is in the best interest of the child, those children wouldn't have to be bounced from home to home like a ball, and they wouldn't have to wonder how their family is doing.
So-called leadership: This simply breaks my heart. I started tearing up as soon as I read the cover blurb, and my emotions rollercoasted from sadness to anger to sheer and absolute disgust with this state and its so-called "leaders." Our "esteemed" governor Rick Perry doesn't give a damn about these kids; just like another commenter said, their "Christian values" only come into play when it's time for voters to cast their ballots.
People who try to adopt kids have to pay tens of thousands of dollars, go through rigorous background checks and home visits, etc., but they allow any sad sap seeking a government stipend to become a foster parent. How much sense does it make for a child to be removed from their parental home because of abuse and/or neglect and be put right back into the same (or worse) situation by the system?! It's sad that this young lady could not go live with her stepfather, a man she obviously loved and who loved her...she'd likely have been a lot better off.
Incompetence fulfilled: The infuriating aspect of this is that while most of us acknowledge that the state needs to do something to address the problem of child abuse, our "small government" obsessives gloss over the obvious: If you expect government agencies to work, you have to pay for them. I see the same problem with public education and so many other public institutions. We have people who often claim that the government doesn't do anything well, but putting those same people in charge gives them a great opportunity to prove that they were right all along. Incompetence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and breeds the kind of cynicism that makes real reform impossible.
Whipping It Up
Our post on "The Five Worst Tropical Weather Events in Houston History" (Hair Balls blog by Jeff Balke, May 31) sparked some unsentimental memories as well as debate among our online readers over what really were the biggest and baddest:
Unimaginable: Great story. These storms are no laughing matter, and they're the reason I wouldn't ever consider living down near Clear Lake. I couldn't imagine going through something like Ike when you're close to the water; it was unpleasant enough up in The Woodlands, and we didn't get 10 percent of what the southeast side did.
Devastation: List is pretty good, but Rita and Gilbert caused nearly as much economic damage to the region without actually hitting anywhere near Houston. The art of prediction can stand some improvement, which makes me happy that this Congress wants to save money by cutting out frills and frippery like weather satellites and such.
Your list could expand to a few more. In the '50s, there was a small storm that pushed a few feet of water up into a suburb of Baytown called Brownwood. A stalled front drowned the aptly named Deepwater subdivision. An unnamed depression set the San Jacinto River on fire and nearly knocked out the I-10 bridge with derelict barges. An unnamed depression put 42 inches of rain on Alvin, Guinness record. The list goes on. Those little "rain events" did in their time nearly as much damage as some of the bigger storms.
Losses: Absolutely insane! We lost our house to the bayou surge in Allison and my father barely survived Ike. As a resident of Bolivar for 18 years, he lost numerous friends, one of whom was torn from his arms by the tide while desperately clinging to the rafters of a commercial space for 14 hours. These storms are no joke and are scarier to me than any serial killer.
Scary: Claudette had been downgraded to a depression when it squatted over Alvin. I lived in Sharpstown and had never seen the sky so black, we must have had at least ten inches of rain. I'd put Ike and Allison as 2a and 2b. There is some debate among weather people whether Allison was actually a tropical storm, and if it was it was only briefly, but that's not important; what is is how unpredictable storms are. The scary thing is, something worse than Ike could hit this summer. I remember Alicia hit in a dry year. During Alicia, I lived near Hobby Airport and we got the eyewall, Hobby had sustained wind of 96 mph. The southeast side was a wreck.
And, our online readers comment on our May 25 cover story "Little India" by Katharine Shilcutt:
Secret stash: This has been my little secret for years...shopping at India Grocers (cheapest rice and spices around), eating in and around the Hillcroft area for over 15 years...I buy housewarming gifts and jewelry in this area and I have been known to buy a sari or three. I love Bollywood films and Indian House Music is probably up there with '80s music for me...great music/films to be found in this area as well.
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Thank you again for shedding light on one of my favorite places in the city. Period.
Hunger: Great, great article. It makes me hungry all over again and I just had lunch. It is one of my first stops when heading down Hillcroft and ending at Indian groceries.