In a recent Viewpoint, Congressman Dave Reichert identified a very serious problem – the sexual exploitation of children in foster care – and then offered an inadequate solution, the equivalent of “let them eat cake.”
He suggests that we allow foster kids to sign up for basketball, travel and go on sleepovers without too much red tape. While that may be a nice idea, it does little to solve the problem of the sexual exploitation of children in foster care.
If Reichert and others are serious about protecting children, the Department of Social and Health Services must be held accountable for the duties that the Legislature has entrusted to it including:
• Responding to and following up on reports of abuse.
• Properly investigating foster parents and group homes prior to placement.
• Providing regular private face-to-face visits with children.
• Providing quality medical care for children.
Most children do not run away because their foster parents have to fill out too many forms for them to play basketball but because the state has failed to protect them when they are most vulnerable.
(Kysar is a Seattle attorney.)