Today The Louisville Courier-Journal addressed the heartbreaking issue of the state's role in protecting child welfare in the case of abusive parents.
The problem is predominantly one of drug abusing parents becoming an unacceptable risk to their children. I struggle with competing libertarian laissez faire principles and activist pro-child interventionalist tendencies on this one. But really, I wonder how much good the government actually does intervening in any but the very worst of these cases. Do we really want to encourage the government to to do more judging of child neglect and acting on those judgement calls? My experiences with parents who lost their children to the government for what I believe to be good reason, and those who I know were victims themselves of bureacratic malfeasance lead me to believe we should be much slower to remove children from their parents' custody. However, once removed from the home, I would be much more likely to make those worst cases permanent and to prosecute the parents vigorously.
Too often, I think, we open a file on a situation that involves less than ideal financial circumstances but no real abuse and make bad situations worse while spreading social service resources too thin to really help the desperate cases. This gives us a government crisis that risks lives needlessly.