This was sent to all members of the Pierce County Legislative Coalition. Senator Regala had written us describing people in need because of budget shortages. In response to Senator Regala's concerns I have the following comment:
First, thank you, for making sure you were at the community meeting to hear comments. And, thank you for relaying your observations. Through good and bad times I spent 18 years on the Ways and Means Committee so I have some idea of the situation.
Senator Chase and I met with you several times last session. Senator Murray had asked for suggestions to help balance the budget and Senator Chase and I had similar concerns about DSHS/CPS so were grouped together to meet with you.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are wasted each year in taking children from parent/parents and instead of keeping the child with qualified biological families as directed by existing law, the child is placed in foster care. And, thus, a very expensive system of foster care, visitation drivers, case workers, judges, court clerks, CPS AGs, social workers, counselors, and "free attorneys," kicks into place. On top of this are the huge costs in risk management pay outs.
Some taken children (the young and cute ones) are placed in a fast track adoption program. The department, as I have personally witnessed, will often falsely testify against grandparents who sit in the back of the courtroom. Grandparents are heart broken. And, they are unable to refute lies told against them because they have no standing in the court rooms.
We can save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by reining in CPS. Other states return 70% of taken children to families without harm to children. Washington State returns only 30% of taken children. I have personally brought forward cases to the media to expose what is occurring, without restraint, by the department. KING 5 ran a whole series on the Stuth Family from my district. The series proved to be a scathing indictment of CPS.
On the other end of the spectrum, children needlessly die in the "care" of the state. The rate is over one a month. Unbelievable, really.
Please consider the following in an effort to balance the budget, allow for funds to help save successful programs, and give citizens better government:
1. Grant grandparents standing in court.
2. When department employees lie (or should have known they were untruthful) in court, they should be fired. Each of us are currently reading about two troopers who may have lied to the court. A trooper lies and they lose their jobs. A CPS worker lies and they are essentially rewarded since they are not punished in any way.
3. Open CPS records. Expunge the names of children and families. But, the public has the right to know what is going on in this troubled agency. The light of day will root out the problems.
Let's clean this up. Money saved can be put to better use.