By James Williams and Michael Ramey
Sentence of the Innocent
In 2018, more than 400,000 children entered foster care in America. That is over 1000 per day on average.
By comparison, in the UK, as at 31 March 2018, just over 53,000 children and young people were placed with foster carers. This was an increase of around 1,000 compared with the previous year. Even though these numbers make up a very small percentage of all children both in the US and Britain, they are still truly shocking numbers and you have to ask why families are failing on such scale?
Advocates for parents and children’s welfare have long criticized the over zealousness with which children are ‘snatched from loving families only to be thrust into the care of strangers or left to rot in care homes as unwanted castaways. It is nearly always not the children’s fault for their predicament. In too many cases, they find themselves eventually thrown into the outside world to fend for themselves with little or no ground base of a family home to fall back on should they falter.
Encounters with Young Men and False Advocacy Groups
I have encountered these young people, often by chance, over a period of many years. One such young man living in London contacted me when I was producing Men’s Matters radio programs on Express FM in Portsmouth. We agreed to meet in Hyde Park, just as billionaire Bill Gates was delivering a speech on a stage a few feet away from where we sat.
It was quite a contrast. This young man had come from a single mother home and had had a very troubled early life with no father present and living with a mother who was all ready to call the cops on him for just about anything. It culminated with him being involved in petty crimes and doing prison time.
Ironically, I presented his case to a prominent male advocacy group since he was a useful example of how young men have and are being failed by feminized social and education systems. They fail to address young male problems since they are convinced that men are privileged by patriarchy and male bad behaviour is due to learned toxic masculinity.
To my disgust, the advocacy group were not interested due to his criminal background. I tried them again with a different ‘damaged’ man who suffered Aspergers Syndrome, but again they shunned and excluded him. They seemed more concerned with their own image than embracing and helping to elevate men who wanted to restart their lives on their own terms.
It was not long after that, that the advocacy group severed ties with me, but not before hurling some very aggressive rhetoric in my direction which included wishing I would die. It left me cautious towards getting too close with those that claim righteousness, but are anything but.
My more successful support encounters revolved about being prepared to list to young men’s pain. Some find it very difficult to open up unless they feel they can trust you and everything they say has to be done as strictly confidential unless they want something revealed.
Care and Fostering Placements
The reasons for why children in the US and UK are placed in these potentially life-damaging situations are similar. However, considering the sheer numbers it would not help to cherry-pick a handful of cases that would potentially fire up the emotions without tackling the need for policies that support struggling families rather than routinely break them up.
The Case for Families
Michael Ramey, Executive Director of the Parental Rights Foundation in the USA says:
“In too many instances, those children were taken from loving, innocent homes. But even among those who suffered maltreatment, recent studies have shown that the majority would still be better left at home.”
Michael Ramey attended a three-day conference that was put on by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families (part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services in the US) and this is some of his report.
The Family First Protection Act
“A lot of the sessions addressed the new Family First Protection Act passed into law in 2018,” he explained. “The new law, which affects federal funding of state child welfare programs, allows more funds to go to preventive measures, including quality legal representation for parents.
“The former rule was that the federal monies only pay for services that remove children from families, has been changed. But this is such a radical new concept that a section of nearly every workshop I attended focused on how preventive services can qualify for this new approach.”
Now this is something that should be credited to the Trump Administration. I believe that President Donald Trump is perhaps one of the most proactive and sincerely family friendly presidents in US history. He seems to understand the importance of families and the difference they make on the behaviour and outcomes of individuals.
Prejudice against Dads
It is perhaps a fact-of-life that where money is to be paid for a particular service, then the tendency will be for demand to grow to absorb the funds available and turn the associated need into a self-fulfilling situation but, we are not talking about producing widgets, we are talking about lives and, more importantly, children’s lives.
Clearly, there are situations where children are abused and/ or at serious risk of abuse. Removing them from imminent and ongoing danger is sadly always going to be the only viable option. How the children are protected and cared for after removal is another question.
I am not satisfied that, where it is deemed necessary to remove a child from their home, that consideration for using extended family members’ accommodation is given as a serious option. A lot more should be done in this area and there is a strong suggestion that ant-male bias rears its ugly head here as the father’s side of the family are all-too-often treated as automatically non-viable.
Indeed, I have also come across cases where the father’s side of the family were hardly given a passing thought for this role. It means that the father’s parents and other relatives will lose all contact with a child which can mean cutting off a huge chunk of family support that can help children survive some a difficult period in their lives. I am no fan of feminism, but it is in this area that I have come to detest them most since their divisive ideology gets to hurt children, often permanently.
Aside from any prejudices by decision makers over the disposal of children, it cannot be ignored that enormous sums of money (tax-payers money) has gone into fostering and care home provision. There is thus a lucrative financial incentive for avoiding keeping children in their family home or at least placing them in the care of extended family members.