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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Semaj Crosby

Illinois has been in the news recently for the death of a child who was seen by an investigator just hours before she was reported missing and then found dead underneath a couch in the home where she was living.  Semaj Crosby was just 17 months old. The house was condemned by the county the next day and a few days later is was burned to the ground. Investigative reports have shown severe failings by the agency and some pretty horrific details are emerging about how DCFS is operating. That includes this gem about a contest for investigators who closed the most cases in a month. There were also at least 10 abuse/neglect cases against the family and they were allegedly receiving what is referred to as "in-tact" services.  That is where DCFS is supposed to be supporting the family with services such as parenting classes, counseling, and social services without removing the children.

While I'm glad there is a spotlight on this major tragedy, I'm worried about the inevitable knee jerk that tends to come from these types of investigations.  In this situation it seems clear that a lot of people failed to take action.  The flip side is that there are kids taken into custody that maybe shouldn't be, and then they are kept there because the court system moves so slowly. After a tragedy like this the agency tends to be over-cautious and then we have this pendulum going.  This happened a few years ago when several toddlers died that had been in care.  And then the budget got severely cut and the agency had a revolving door of directors and it seems we have ended up back here again.

I don't want children to die but I also don't want them to linger in foster care unnecessarily.

I'm simply stunned by what happened.  Its very hard to reconcile this type of case in my area with the three I've actually been the foster parent in.  My forever kids had in-tact services.  When Sheila broke the safety plan, they entered care. Which kept them safe from the immediate danger but then exposed them to the trauma of foster care and multiple placements. Even their adoption lingered on.

The Fab Four had one physical abuse incident that brought them into care.  And while they needed the help, they probably could have benefited from in-tact services and not removal (remember those budget cuts?). Perhaps Jelly Bean could have been safe from the molestation of the foster parent and the other kids could have skipped all of their foster-care related trauma?

And in Solana's case, she probably could have been out of foster care a year ago.  Her Dad had been out of jail.  His "crime" was not against her. He was working his case plan and never missed a visit.  And yes, he was a young, new, single father and perhaps benefited from a gradual introduction to parenthood, she was not at risk of being harmed with him as her caretaker.  Sure she was with her siblings, and being with us helped her avoid a lot of foster care related trauma, but she still wasn't with her Dad as much as she should have or could have been.

And then we see the opposite where kids aren't taken into care when there is call after call. How can there be such inconsistency? I just can't wrap my head around it.

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