Thank you for your deep insights Ned.
I’ve made tweaks to Ned’s article to fit the current
political battle for community CASA guardian ad Litems in MN.
To put it bluntly, what’s good for the administrators often may be bad for the children. That bleak assessment is not always and everywhere the case, but it is a close-enough approximation. Let’s look at how that could work.
Let us compare the child welfare system to the ways in which another type of valuable biological entity is managed within our economic system. Let’s consider eggs–eggs for omelets, eggs for egg salad sandwiches, and so forth. The people who work in the egg production system are mainly concerned with their own and their families’ welfare–just like people almost everywhere. People who work in the egg industry look for occupational niches in which they can prosper.
They are looking out primarily for themselves. They are not primarily looking out for the quality of life of hens, nor the life prospects of the chicks that could hatch from eggs if they were not destined for dinner tables. The prosperity, status, and security of people whose careers are in the egg industry depend on their ability–and, of course, on their willingness–to cause chickens to produce eggs with maximum efficiency.
Maximizing efficiency means focusing on economic factors, not on the happiness of chickens or the enjoyment of life that might have been available to the chicks had they been allowed to gestate and hatch, to peck and scratch, to gabble and cluck, to flock together, mate, and create broods of their own. The poultry farmers’ prosperity, status, and security also depend on government regulators who set the mandatory standards for egg and poultry production: the minimum cage sizes for laying hens, the maximum antibiotics that can be fed to them, and so forth.
I suggest that the morality of mass production in the egg industry troubles only a very few among those who make careers in the egg industry–and that includes everyone from investment bankers to day laborers. The main “coping mechanism” (a favorite term among psychologists like me) is to concentrate on what’s important to oneself. [For some charming musings on the ambiguous nature of man-chicken-egg relationships, see E.B. White: One Man’s Meat (Harper & Row, 1966).] “Coping” in this context means thinking about eggs solely in financial terms: what it costs to produce them and what revenue they will produce.
The difference, revenue minus costs, is the farmer’s income, the money that is essential to almost all farmers (but not to E.B. White) to feed their families. I’ll suggest that it was Mr. White’s freedom from the economic side of the poultry business (he was a professional writer and editor and what one would call a “gentleman farmer”) that allowed him to ponder what he was doing in a context larger than the profit/loss dimension.
Another reason that people in the poultry business are not much troubled by ethical issues, I’ll suggest, is that the responsibility for regulation of the business is widely diffused–at least in theory. If a bleeding-heart member of the public alleges that confining a laying hen in a 12-inch square cage for its entire life is torture, everyone in the business, from banker to legislator to regulator to farmer can say, more or less truthfully, “I deplore it, but it’s not my fault. I didn’t make that rule. If I had tried to resist it, it would have gone ahead anyway. The only consequence would have been loss of my job, my farm, and my ability to make a living in the only business I know. I would have gone from prosperous farmer (or legislator, or regulatory agency member, or animal husbandry inspector) to homelessness, and the laying hens would be not one whit better off. Besides, I’m too busy keeping up with basketball, local, state, and national.”
Do we see where this is going?
This analysis is by no means unique to the egg industry, nor is it limited to animal husbandry. It applies equally to other forms of organized economic activity–from homebuilding to forestry, from insurance to oral surgery, from apiary management to zymurgy. It is the human condition to be mainly concerned with self and family.
Ned’s chicken farm management metaphor is helpful in understanding the willful, or accidental abandonment of the “Cost Benefit Analysis” and changed to the “Cost Efficiency Analysis” promised CASAMN at the outset of this two+ year investigation.
What’s good for administration:
- Efficiency of 30 GAL staff (each) managing up to 30 cases (up to 120 children).
- Ease of management. Eliminating volunteers means one less administrative process to manage (volunteers),
- Less legislative awareness, fewer requests for system change, or child outcomes based metrics and less public scrutiny.
Is bad for children:
- Community volunteers taking 2 or 3 cases have more in person time for each child and bring transparency to an overwhelmed system by talking with media, friends and legislators drawing attention to issues (like Minnesota’s current elimination of a program that has provided 10,000 trained and passionate community volunteer child advocates for 40 years).
- High caseloads and staff Guardians with up to 100 children to keep safe each month further institutionalizing traumatized children that need more time with committed stable adults in their lives.
- Especially children in rural areas where GAL visits are harder. Community volunteers can spend entire days going to and coming back from visits in rural areas. Very hard to do with high caseloads (and when they do take this time – they have less time for their other 50-100 caseload children)
KARA reminds you that Child Protective Services is struggling to keep Minnesota’s abused and neglected children safe. 200 of them recently died at the hands of their parents while IN child protective services. It is highly likely that the numbers were considerably higher and it should be noted that children that:
Four counties did not participate (even though they were required to), and
No information that was not already made public was shared by CPS, and
Children that almost died and those suffering extended exposure to violence and deprivation
(the WHO’s definition of torture) were not included in this report.
Today, an argument can be made that
CPS is creating
(adolescent felons and preteen mothers)
what it was designed to stop.
With the well-funded parental rights and lawyers/law schools
working to diminish child rights
these children are at a greater risk than they have ever been.
Forward this to your State Rep (find them here) with a note from you
about how this reporting will save lives and
interrupt the trauma and torture of hundreds of MN children.
Email your State Rep – It just takes a few minutes.
Is CPS creating what it was designed to stop?
better tracking and reporting
of outcomes-based metrics in Child Protection
will save abused children from early death,
more trauma, more punishment and a
lifetime of dangerous behavior
KARA reports on the issues of invisible children
This article submitted by Former CASA Guardian Ad Litem Mike Tikkanen
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children
INVISIBLECHILDREN – KARA (KIDS AT RISK ACTION
“What we do to our children, they will do to our society”
(Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago)