Readers React: Has the foster care pendulum swung too far away from removing a child from his home?
To the editor: As a child welfare professional for 48 years, I am saddened by the death of yet another child, Anthony Avalos, that could possibly have been avoided. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has called for an investigation; it should consider factors outside the county as well.
Both the state, through its implementation of the Continuum of Care Reform, and the federal government have focused on keeping children with their families rather than placing them in foster care. For most children brought to the attention of child welfare officials, remaining with their families is the best choice. But such is not always the case.
Now, foster care is the last alternative. It is used typically only after several other interventions have failed, leaving these children exposed to one bad experience after another.
For children, government needs to make its first intervention the best intervention. We can’t buy back a life. Government agencies are proud to announce lower rates of children in out-of-home care. There are even financial incentives for those reduced numbers.
The pendulum has swung from perhaps too many children being placed to not enough. So let’s look beyond L.A. County with this investigation — its agencies do not deserve all the blame.
Silvio Orlando, Los Angeles
The writer is chief executive of Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services.
To the editor: I had to throw away my print copy of the July 4 California section because it sickened me. But I forced myself to look at it so I could identify the names of the mother and her boyfriend who have been accused of inflicting terrible suffering on 10-year-old Anthony Avalos before he died.
How could a mother allegedly be part of brutally harming her child? Our protective system failed this child utterly.
Given all the negative statements (monsters, rapists, murderers, on and on) our president and elected representatives have made regarding immigrants who are in this country without authorization, I’d like to point out that the majority of these people, with children, are trying to protect their kids from harm — unlike what Anthony Avalos’ mother and her boyfriend are accused of doing.
Karen Reis, Calabasas
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