Top

blog

Stories

 

Franklin County's New Group Home a Mistake, Expert Says

oliver-twist.jpg
They may not be as bad as they were in Oliver Twist's day, but group homes aren't good for kids, Richard Wexler says.
In Washington, Missouri, officials have signed off on a deal to lease a building owned jointly by the city and Franklin County to a new nonprofit called the Sisters of Grace of Franklin County. The Sisters will pay just $1 -- and they'll use the building as a group home for foster kids, the Missourian reports. The project has earned plenty of good ink; the paper quotes a Franklin County official calling it a "win-win."

But one national expert who's studied the issue for years tells Daily RFT has a different take -- group homes, he says, fly into the face of what's best for kids and waste taxpayer money.

Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, has been sounding the alarms for years about the problems with group homes -- where kids being transitioned into foster care can stay for up to 30 days on their way to a placement with a family.

"It is definitely not a win-win," he says. "It's a big lose."
One 2008 study, conducted by a professor at the University of Illinois, found that kids placed in group homes were two and a half times more likely to become juvenile delinquents. A 2002 study in Maryland found that even small, well-staffed homes were associated with negative effects. And Connecticut determined in 2005 that group homes did nothing to promote stability or lessen the time in foster care -- as some had claimed.

Wexler says there's good reason for that. "It's bad enough when you take away a child from everybody loving and familiar and place him in a family of strangers," he says. "And it's bad enough if you only do it one time. But this is an additional trauma. They're thrown into an institution and left there for up to thirty days -- and then they're picked up and moved again."

Even worse, Wexler says, are homes staffed by shift workers instead of live-in caregivers: "It's like changing the foster parent every eight hours!"

Wexler says he isn't familiar with the particulars of the foster-care landscape in Franklin County. But he notes that the total number of children being placed in foster care across Missouri has increased 30 percent over the last two years -- even as, nationally, the number of such placements are dropping.

The latest research stresses in-home intervention for families whenever possible. (Advocates like Wexler believe that children in abusive situations should be removed from their homes, but argue that social workers often confuse poverty with maltreatment. In such cases, a growing body of research shows that children sent to foster care would be far better off staying in their homes and getting additional services there.)

But after years of decline in the number of placements, Wexler, for one, worries the state is on a bad course. "Nationally, these rates [of foster care placements] have declined," he says. "Missouri is clearly very much going the wrong way."
My Voice Nation Help
5 comments
Justice
Justice

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  Edmund Burke

 

After many years of sitting on this, I now feel the time is long overdue for me to do what needs to done regarding certain police officers who are employed or were employed by the Washington, Missouri Police Department.  And before I get started I want to make clear that I’m not a trouble maker nor have I ever done anything like this, in fact I’m a Christian, an upstanding citizen, and a taxpayer who just happens to have knowledge of something I can no longer keep to myself.  I carry a certain amount of guilt thinking that if I had shared this information earlier, I may have prevented similar instances from occurring.

 

First and foremost, my heart goes out to any employee or previous employee of the Washington Police Department, especially those who hold/held the position of communications officer (dispatcher) who may have been a victim of sexual misconduct by a police officer.  Keep in mind that police officers are trained in interrogation thus making them great manipulators, and they hold positions of authority and power, especially over communications officers in the law enforcement environment.  Bottom line, they are very good at asserting power and playing mind games especially over those who are young and/or naïve, if they so choose (most police officers are good and choose otherwise). 

 

And to keep this as short and to the point as possible, the knowledge I have are of cases of patrol officers engaging in sexual misconduct while on duty with communication officers.  Just to share a few of the many details I possess, some of the incidents of sexual misconduct occurred at night with officers parking their patrol cars out of site in Washington’s industrial park and at the municipal airport.  The cases I’m aware of occurred many years ago, as a result of a Washington Police Department practice encouraging, typically young and female, communications officers to ride along with patrol officers for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges of being on patrol (a practice with good intent that was exploited by a few officers with bad intent).  In one of the worst cases, the communications officer was less than half the age of the patrol officer and didn’t stand a chance against his intent to commit cold-blooded and premeditated adultery with her (yes she was married).

 

Now, if you are one of the communications officers impacted by the sexual misconduct, you most likely carry much guilt and shame because of what occurred. Maybe you have kept it to yourself for many years in fear of retaliation or being judged or like me to protect the reputation of a loved one.  It’s not your fault; you were manipulated and taken advantage of by a police officer who had both authority and power over you.

 

Now is the time to take something awful and make something good of it. The Honorable Mayor Lucy has been made aware of one of these instances recently.  While she best determines how to handle this situation, she needs lots of prayers and support as taking on the police department is not going to be any easy feat. I have the highest regards for Mayor Lucy and I know that she will do the right thing and not shove this under the proverbial rug. And if you are one of those communications officers or anyone else who’s been a victim of sexual misconduct by a Washington Police Officer, it’s time to stand up and share your story with Mayor Lucy (her office phone number is 636-390-1000 and email address is   slucy@ci.washington.mo.us  ).  Do not be afraid or ashamed; what happened was not your fault.  And on the slim chance that the City of Washington would deny that the sexual misconduct occurred, even though they know otherwise, I will be happy to share whatever is necessary to prove otherwise. 

 

And, last but not least, what would I like to see come of this? First and foremost, I would like to see Mayor Lucy launch an inquiry into this matter (this must be done by an unbiased third party to have any validity) and once the inquiry is completed, I would like for the results and any corrective actions be shared with the citizens of Washington, also an apology should be issued to those who were victims of the sexual misconduct (despite how long ago the sexual misconduct occurred) and lastly a conversation must be held with the citizens of Washington on what constitutes acceptable moral behavior, even on personal time, for those who are sworn to serve and protect.

 

And as a far as me, I have not mentioned any names in this statement and I will remain anonymous for now, to protect the dignity and honor of the ex WPD communications officer that I’m connected to and also due to the fact my life was threatened (and yes I have a witness) by one of the police officers who participated in the sexual misconduct.

 

Truthfully and Sincerely…

 

 

imafoster
imafoster

Just a note on foster on group homes. Those numbers may be true about how bad group homes can be but that doesn't mean that they all are. Being a former foster of seen group homes that were better than living in a normal home.

J. Brad Hicks
J. Brad Hicks

I understand Wexler's point, and I don't like it anywhere that he does, but let's be realistic here: this is Missouri, the 6th lowest tax per capita state in the union. The choice is not between this and a form of foster care that would actually work; the choice is between this and nothing. Because this is the absolute most that Missouri voters are willing to pay for. Don't like it? Don't want to be a part of it? Move out of Redneckistan, because this is how they do things in the parts of the country that are controlled by the Redneckistani Taliban.

nccpr
nccpr

Being a lifelong-liberal-non-countercultural-McGovernick-lapsed-card-carrying-member-of-the-ACLU myself, I certainly understand your frustration Mr. Hicks. But the great paradox of child welfare is that the better the option the *less* it costs. Safe, proven alternatives to ever taking a child from her or his home at all cost less than family foster homes, which cost less than group homes which cost less than parking place shelters like the one to be opened in Franklin County and other institutions. So even those who don’t want to stop opening child warehouses because they’re bad for the children just might object to the huge waste of taxpayer money. Richard WexlerExecutive DirectorNational Coalition for Child Protection Reformwww.nccpr.org

nccpr
nccpr

Being a lifelong-liberal-non-countercultural-McGovernick-lapsed-card-carrying-member-of-the-ACLU myself, I certainly understand your frustration Mr. Hicks. But the great paradox of child welfare is that the better the option the *less* it costs. Safe, proven alternatives to ever taking a child from her or his home at all cost less than family foster homes, which cost less than group homes which cost less than parking place shelters like the one to be opened in Franklin County and other institutions.

 So even those who don’t want to stop opening child warehouses because they’re bad for the children just might object to the huge waste of taxpayer money. Richard WexlerExecutive DirectorNational Coalition for Child Protection Reformwww.nccpr.org

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...