Posts Tagged ‘social services’

Private foster-care agencies: Where government inefficiency, the free market and magical thinking collide

February 27, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 27, 2015

On Thursday, Mother Jones published a lengthy look at private foster-care agencies, some of which are nonprofit, others of which are for-profit. The report is fairly alarming.

Brian Joseph, a former state government reporter for the Orange County Register and a former investigative journalism fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, produced the story. One of the problems he found is that there is little hard data on the safety or effectiveness of this entire business sector:

Squeezed by high caseloads and tight budgets, state and local child welfare agencies are increasingly leaving the task of recruiting, screening, training, and monitoring foster parents to these private agencies. In many places, this arrangement has created a troubling reality in which the government can seize your children, but then outsource the duty of keeping them safe — and duck responsibility when something goes wrong.

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On Wisconsin: Newly revealed e-mails, and reminders of old missteps, cast Gov. Scott Walker in an unflattering light

March 6, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 6, 2014

When thousands of e-mails sent by Scott Walker’s staff were released last month, I doubted that they’d have much of an impact on the Wisconsin governor who has aspirations of being elected president on the Republican ticket.

The messages had previously been secret because aides to Walker, who was then the elected leader of Milwaukee County, had set up a private network in the county executive’s office. This arrangement, which made it easier for staffers to communicate about the gubernatorial campaign, was part of an unsuccessful attempt to evade laws barring employees from electioneering when they’re supposed to be working on behalf of the public.

Six Walker associates have been found guilty of wrongdoing, three of them top Walker aides. But a lengthy investigation, now closed, hasn’t resulted in any charges against Walker. Employing staff members, even highly placed ones, who engage in politics on the taxpayer’s dime just doesn’t seem likely to tarnish Walker for a substantial number of voters.

Still, there has been a stream of unflattering revelations since the e-mails were released. And while these revelations have been more about Walker’s employees than the politician himself, they’re certainly not helping the official’s image.

So over time, I’ve changed my mind; I now think that Salon’s Joan Walsh is probably right when she argues that Walker may now be too tarnished to run for president successfully. Ironically, it was a recent Walsh piece that was only tangentially related to the formerly secret e-mails that made me think that Walker’s presidential aspirations are toast.

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