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4th of July

stitchwitch_d in families_united

changing bureacracy to wikiocracy

Last night, I was reading Wikinomics, and thinking about the implications of the news that mybarackobama.com is staying up and active, even though the election is over.

How could the tools and concepts used on sites like wikipedia, livejournal, ravelry knitters, ok cupid, gather, youtube  and mybarackobama be used to revolutionize the way the government is run?

OK Cupid lets users create quizzes, take each others' quizzes, and keeps track of the results. Couldn't that tool be used for more meaningful purposes than "Which Star Wars character would you be?"? Ravelry lets users set goals, keep track of their progress, and show off their successes. That could be useful for goals that are completely unrelated to yarn. Wikipedia lets users add and edit information, resulting in the largest compilation of human knowledge ever, with a comparable accuracy rate to printed encyclopedias- the difference being that wiki errors can be caught and corrected. Many sites allow user to rate content and post comments in reaction.

 Different branches of government don't even share information freely with each other yet, resulting in redundancies that cost tax money. It's a waste to pay someone to sit in a cubicle and enter information into his computer when the same information is already on file in another county or state, or with another government agency. Why does DHS waste time making people provide proof of income when the IRS and Social Security already know how much money that person has made in their whole life? Why can some people manage to get away with collecting food stamps in several different states when all the agencies involved require documentation and have internet connections? So, government bureaucracies need to evolve, connect with each other, and allow more input from citizens.

Look at DHS (or DCFS, or CPS, or whatever it's called where you live). It's a dinosaur, still being run on a model from the Victorian Age: nice educated charitable middle-class people go out to solve poor people's problems, by force if necessary, while making judgements of the poor people based on their own personal biases. Why not let the poor people get involved with fixing poverty? Who else understands it more? Everyone is an expert on something, and if everyone can chip in, and we all can vote on which ideas are awesome and which just won't work in the real world, and we can give feedback about why. 

Sure, there's confidentiality laws, so it'd be important not to use real names in public forums or profiles, but have the legislators who created those laws actually talked to the people affected by the laws lately? Generally, no. Too often, laws are changed in reaction to horror stories in the news, without knowing the whole story behind the blood-drenched headline, or if the situation was typical or an abaration?

In order to solve a problem, you need to understand what happened, why it happened, how often it happens, and how likely it is to happen again.  Even DHS know this, so they collect lots of data on how many kids are in foster care, why they're in foster care, the socioeconomic status of families involved with DHS, the color of the foster children, how long they stay in foster care and so on. There's plenty of data, but it doesn't give a lot of insight into why these things happen, or what could be done to change it. So, why not let everyone involved have a voice? Professors teaching in ivory towers are not the experts on foster care- the real experts are the parents and children who have BTDT, and the workers who are actually out dealing with people every day.

If you like this idea, re-post it, link it, whatever works best to pass it on. 

Comments

CPS Horror stories

I totally hear what you have to say regarding CPS. I'm a mom of a high functioning son who been in and out of the foster care and residential school setting and I've seen first hand all the egregious errors that people within the "System" can make.

I have heard first hand from other bio parents the lengths incompetent CPS officials have gone to to keep kids from going home.
It's can be a complete ongoing nightmare which can drag on for years.

As I heard one say recently "follow the money". Here in MA DCF is getting $770 million dollars. That's 770 million reasons to keep kids in care.

These are some of my recommendations to help improve the system.
1. Hire caseworkers who are parents themselves by offering job sharing arrangements. Caseworkers are overworked and underpaid, this would help that situation.
2. Make sure all reports written by caseworkers are fair and balanced. Too often their reports only focus on the negative without giving a balanced reporting of what the parent is doing to better the situation. This negative view in court reports is exacerbated by the immaturity and incompetence of underpaid and overworked caseworker who are poorly trained.
3. Where's the oversight??? In my state fair hearing are a NON REALITY. By law parents are entitled to them but in actuality they virtually NEVER receive them. Is this fair??
4.Train all relevant collaterals in health pediatric health issues. This pertains to my personal case because when a child has a disability it's like the blind leading the blind, and anyone who DOES know what they're talking about is not validated whatsoever, including parents and reputable doctors!
If the case calls for a clinical GAL then it should be provided and mandated within the legal framework.

The "system" is self perpetuating based on ignorance, greed, bias and the maintenance of the status quo. Through the laws that we have shortsightedly passed we have stripped away parental rights and any parent who fights for justice is fighting a completely uphill battle.

Thanks for listening.

Best, Robin Clemens

PS I'm so glad I found this site! Now I can work on my writing and blogging! Stay tuned.