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fossil gorge

November 2008

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4th of July

stitchwitch_d in families_united

Who will be the new Assistant Secretary for Children and Families?

I know, you're probably trying to figure out why that even would matter. Honestly, I hadn't heard of the position myself until I started doing some research last night. 

According to Wikipedia:

"The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is headed by the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, which from 2001 to 2007 was Dr. Wade F. Horn. It has a $47 billion budget for 65 programs that target children, youth and families. These programs include assistance with welfare, child support enforcement, adoption assistance, foster care, child care, and child abuse."

So, this is the position that has the most direct power over the DHS/CPS, and thus the lives of poor families. Who knew an assistant secretary could be this important? 

Bush appointed Dr. Horn, who believed strongly in abstinence until marriage, and that for women, finding a husband was a better way out of poverty than getting the skills needed for a good job. Since he left, Daniel Schneider has stuck with the same idealologies as Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families.

Now, it's Obama's turn. I trust that he will pick someone who understands the struggles of families trying to get out of poverty, and the relationship between poverty and child maltreatment, and who views all people as having basic human dignity. In other words, someone with a clue.

I know Obama doesn't believe the stereotypes about "Welfare Queens", and I'm sure he understands how broken our child protection/foster care system is.  I know that in the last decade, Illinois has drastically reduced the number of children in foster care, while keeping children safe. Wouldn't it be great if Obama could appoint someone who'd get the rest of the country to follow Illinois' lead?  

He's probably got some ideas already, and I'm sure that anyone he picks will be a huge improvement, but I'd like to suggest Richard Wexler or Martin Guggenheim. Both of them get it. They understand that it's not that poor people are stupid and lazy and don't love their children, it's that being poor SUCKS, that minor problems become major catastrophes when you don't have the money to fix them, and it's hard to be a good parent while dealing with all the stress and instability that are an inevitable part of poverty. At very least, consult Mr Wexler and Mr Guggenheim about who to put in charge of the Administration for Children and Families, and what changes need to be made. They'll have some great ideas, and it will be very much in line with Obama's basic policy of "We'll do what works."