Child Welfare System Redesign
Strategic Action Plan
Research and Analysis by Jo Calk (Jo@jo-calk.com)
“A call to a child abuse hotline is as much a request for help as a call to 911.”
Program Mission Statement
Mission: To redesign the U.S. Child Welfare System to be: (1) child-centered, family-focused, and equitable to all children and families throughout the United States; (2) free from corruption and further child endangerment; and (3) proactive through a data-driven approach for the prevention of child assault/battery, rape/incest, sexual assault/battery, and criminal neglect.
Program Problem Statement
“Child abuse is a profound social problem that is first and foremost a criminal one.”
– Randy Burton, Esq.
The redefinition of child abuse and neglect as crimes (assault/battery, rape/incest, sexual assault/battery, criminal neglect, etc.) is the foundational change that allows the total redesign of the Child Welfare System from the potentially corrupt silo of one single, absolute authority (CPS) over all children’s rights, welfare, and lives – to the Law Enforcement, Criminal Court, and Hospital alliance that has long been established for crimes outside the home.
One agency should NOT have unilateral authority over children’s rights, welfare, and lives. With child abuse considered less than a crime, CPS has created a silo where they have become police, child protective custodian, social worker, family counselor, Family Court and Juvenile Court “expert,” and sole arbitrator over the life (or death) of a child within the family. In most states, CPS has become answerable and accountable to no one.
When child abuse is properly designated as crimes, Law Enforcement and Criminal Courts have the appropriate jurisdiction over alleged perpetrators, child crime victims, domestic violence crime victims, and children without a parent or caretaker at home. This leaves CPS (renamed Family Outreach Services) to address the welfare and support of the remaining family members in the home. The child-trauma-informed Hospitals have jurisdiction over the medical and mental healthcare of the child crime victim, leaving CPS (FOS) out of all contact with the child crime victim until, and if, there is reunification of the recovering child crime victim back into the family – this time with CASA and Criminal Court oversight to ensure the safe reentry of the recovering child crime victim back into the home.
To put the “welfare of the child” back into the Child Welfare System, we must first understand that violence toward and criminal neglect of a child doesn’t “go away” like bruises or broken bones. Child trauma of all types rewires the child crime victim’s brain, self-view, and worldview. Focus on the child. Do not just remove the child crime victim from a violent situation, but ensure the child crime victim receives Hospital-advised therapy and other services before the violence and trauma make physical changes in the child crime victim’s brain and sense of self.
Major Drivers: Why Change the Child Welfare System?
- Why do children assaulted or criminally neglected out of the home receive law enforcement intervention and arrests of the alleged perpetrators, while children assaulted or criminally neglected at home are either left at home with their assailant and the case closed, or removed to an all-too-often violent or neglectful foster care system, with no penalties for the alleged perpetrators?
- Why are fewer than 10% of all suspected child assault and criminal neglect reports acted upon by CPS every year? (Oregon statistics)
- Why are assaulted and criminally neglected children not provided immediate and appropriate medical and mental health care and treatment for their trauma and injuries?
- Why do domestic violence victims and children need to leave their home, further victimizing them with homelessness? Why isn’t the alleged perpetrator arrested for aggravated assault and battery?
- “Neglect” is the number 1 reason documented by CPS for removing a child from the family. However, many families reported for “neglect” love and never assault nor criminally neglect their children, but need support services such as food, housing, job training, etc. Do not remove the child due to the families’ socioeconomic status.
- Why is there no “prevention” of further child assault and criminal neglect? From Randy Burton, Esq., Founder of Justice for Children in Texas: “opinion is that it is virtually impossible to prevent the first act of abuse. But, once the abuse has occurred and been reported to the authorities, there is no excuse for failing to intervene on behalf of the child.”
- Why is an assaulted and battered child victim retained in the violent home solely in the interest of “keeping the family together”?
- Why create a “family support” system like CPS that actually terrifies innocent families?
History of Child Abuse
“The history of child abuse has two “rights” at its core of violence against the smallest in society:
- the right to own property, and
- the right to own children”
“Child abuse has existed and flourished in all cultures and ethnic backgrounds, in all its forms. Throughout history, children were considered property. Parents had the unrestricted authority to do to a child whatever was deemed necessary. Usually, the father made all the disciplinary decisions.”
In spite of being a taboo, sexual assault/battery within the family has always existed.
“One child advocate making strides in providing answers is the United Nations through their Convention on the Rights of the Child. … Of the 197 countries to sign on, the United States is the only country that has not yet ratified this convention.” [bolding added for emphasis]
It is now time to recognize children as human beings and child abuse and neglect as crimes.
 Dan Scott, retired sergeant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office and a leader in the effort to improve cross reporting between child protective services (CPS) and law enforcement.
 Mead, M. (1963). Totem and taboo reconsidered with respect. Menninger Clinic Bulletin, 27, 185-199.
 Barriere, Ibid.