Children Suffer After Firings by Grandstanding D.C. Mayor
Many children are erroneously seized from their parents by child protective services workers, because of skewed incentives. The CPS workers know that they won’t lose their job if they erroneously seize a child (even if the child later dies in state custody), and may even receive bonuses for seizing a child who is later adopted out, but that they may lose their job if they fail to seize a child who later dies in her parents’ custody. After a mother in Washington, D.C., murdered her kids, grandstanding D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty summarily fired six CPS workers in January But an arbitrator ruled this week that three of them were wrongly fired. But in the meantime, the firings without due process so damaged CPS worker morale that a quarter of all CPS workers quit, resulting in remaining employees being deluged with more at-risk children than they could handle, much less protect. “The firings began a downward spiral in an agency still recovering from years of problems. Workers said the firings sent morale plunging. Since January, nearly a quarter of the workforce — 59 social workers — has left the agency, according to the department’s statistics.” And CPS workers afraid of being fired wrongly seized children from loving parents, a practice defended by D.C.’s chief lawyer, Peter Nickles, who expressly adopted a guilty-until-proven-innocent stance on parents suspected of possible abuse.