Wednesday, March 9, 2011

California foster-care system: Breaking the culture of secrecy - latimes.com


California foster-care system: Breaking the culture of secrecy - latimes.com

In California today, 60,000 children are wards of the state's foster-care system. They have been abused or neglected by their parents or guardians, and foster care is intended to be a crucial lifeline.

Instead, kids thrown into the maw of a well-meaning but often callous bureaucracy continue to suffer. Some die or are abused. They are three times more likely to end up in jail than to graduate from a four-year college. And their fates are controlled by officials who take them from their homes, assign them to new ones and reunite them with parents who brutalized them — all in secret.

The tragic confluence of family abuse and official negligence, hidden from the public by a culture of secrecy, has persisted for years despite pleading by advocates inside and outside the system. Thankfully, it may soon change.

Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), one of the state's most conscientious legislators, has introduced a bill to open the state's dependency courts, where these cases are heard, to the public.

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