Child Protection/CPS: If Lawmakers Only Knew

(why they don’t – & why they should)

What’s it like being an elected official making laws and policies

that rule the lives of abused and neglected children?


Not many lawmakers come to the job understanding child abuse and what happens to children in CPS (Child Protective Services). Few legislators have experienced childhood trauma or the institution (CPS) that protects children from growing up in homes of life-threatening harm.

It doesn’t help at risk children that:

We do not know how CPS is functioning, what percent of children exit leading productive lives, how many fail in school, self-harm or live lives of crime, violence, and substance abuse). To this CASA GAL’s experience, only one state has thoroughly investigated how many children have died at the hands of their parents while in CPS. We only know their stories when the tragedy is so bad that the media covers it.

We do not know because there is little public policy requiring CPS to track and report critical child outcome (client) metrics like other institutions (policing/prisons/education and healthcare report critical outcomes). Part of our not knowing is due to overuse of HIPPA laws but mostly, because we the people and the lawmakers representing us find this a difficult topic to understand or speak about. This dearth of information keeps the media, lawmakers and the public largely unaware of what is driving the crime, violence and other dysfunction in our communities today. Most of my caseload children in CPS have problems that follow them for a lifetime because they received more punishment than healing and skill building. Most child abuse is never reported – most children never share their stories and never find help for the trauma and pain they live with.

The U.S. is the only nation in the world to not ratify the United Nation’s RIGHTS OF THE CHILD TREATY of the 1980’s. Because of this, children have no way to protect themselves, or standing in court (as do children in other nations). Think about it: young children don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong – and if they did who would they tell?

America’s use of blame and punishment over healing and skill building (expelling damaged children and youth from schools and filling jails and prisons) guarantees more of the same for decades to come.

Without greater community awareness and support, some large percentage of 7.8 million (reported annually) abused children remain invisible and become broken adults with problems that impact all of us. Until our lawmakers recognize the social and financial costs of childhood trauma and abuse, we will all live with more dysfunction, crime, prisons and taxes.

Whether seen through a financial or empathetic lens, we the people are paying for misguided child protection public policies. Adequate safety and services for abused and neglected children will take time to implement. Change won’t come without more informed Legislators. Share this article on social media. Call or email your State Representative. It does make a difference.


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All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children


“What we do to our children, they will do to our society”

(Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago)