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  • Writer's picturewendistrauchmahoney

U.S. Child Welfare System Often Fails and Profits From Children

Updated: 7 days ago

The child welfare and foster care system in the U.S. may have been set up with the best of intentions but the sad reality is that it often fails children and families. The entire system repeatedly puts children and families at risk for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is profit.

Children, especially teenagers, are at great risk for sex trafficking when placed in the system. According to the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, traffickers often prey upon children in the foster care system. Adding insult to injury, the Biden administration has shown no interest in closing the border, a primary vector for human trafficking.

Unaccompanied minors are flowing across the southern border in unprecedented numbers. NGOs and even private sector entities meet children at the border and participate either knowingly or unwittingly in the trafficking of innocent children, collecting government money along the way. The numbers of unaccompanied minors coming into the U.S. along the southern border under the Biden administration are just staggering. There were over 155,000 unaccompanied minors who crossed over in FY22 and in 2023 (FYTD) there have already been over 111,000.

In addition, when a good placement isn't possible, children can be parked in unsafe housing. Teenagers placed in unlicensed, improperly supervised facilities are prone to running away. Human trafficking rings and predators "lurk" near these supposedly "secret" facilities to capitalize on the vulnerability of the child involved.

According to the Dallas Morning News, "When CPS can’t find a placing agency that will take in a child, the usual path to a foster home, and it’s also unable to secure a bed in a licensed treatment center or shelter, it has no choice but to use unlicensed facilities." You might be surprised to learn that these "makeshift" housing options include motels, rental homes, facilities donated by churches, and unregistered foster care entities.

Landon Starbuck, Founder of described some of the realities a child faces in the foster care system in a recent Instagram post:

"When kids go missing or run away from foster care, there is no amber alert issued. There's little to no resources designated to find them. As "delinquent," "unruly," "unplaceable," they are vulnerable kids in need of safety and security."

"Too many children to count "go missing" from the government system. (AKA CPS, Family Services, Foster Care)." Starbuck continues, "To learn more, research the Clinton's Adoption and Safe Families' Act. That's when the cash for kids incentive started and CPS started running less as a welfare agency and more like a business" for profit.

"In combatting trafficking and protecting children, it's imperative you know the truth about the child welfare systems and how they operate," Starbuck added.

A June 5 article from FreedomForever, reports foster care children often go missing with many of them being "unaccounted for on average 34 days." The same article quotes the 2019 NCMEC Children Missing from Care (CMFC) report, estimating 78% of missing children went missing at least once previously. The record is dismal. The 2023 HHS OIG Report on Missing Children from Social Services found there were 110,446 missing children episodes during its audit period.

Freedom Forever News spoke with Rachel Bruno whose own terrifying brush with the system landed her two young children, one an infant, the other a toddler, perilously close to being placed in foster care. They were taken away from her for about 40 days while she fought to get them back. She says she is "one of the lucky ones."

Once children are removed, it is exceedingly difficult to get them back and it is painstaking to navigate the system. The right help and the right attorneys are difficult to find to say the least. Her non-profit is called Giver of Light, "Seeks to help parents [connect with resources] during their cases." She is also working on legislation that would support parents whose children have been taken away. Bruno also wrote a book about her trials called Fractured Hope: A Mother's Fight for Justice.

In her case, Bruno says her "children were never in foster care but they were 'served. Being served, she added, "Already gave the state the funding it needed." Bruno says typically the number of children technically IN foster care is around 400K and the number of children "served" is around 600K according to the (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System) or AFCARS report.

Bruno's ordeal prompted a more thorough investigation into the child welfare system that regularly fails families and children in the U.S. She says the system has been corrupted, often profiting from acquiring and keeping children in the system. In addition, she believes there is adequate evidence to prove that the money involved negatively impacts the incentive to reunify children with their families of origin. It has become a multibillion dollar industry. In FY 2021 alone, $12.6 billion was allocated to child welfare authorities. In 2022, the Biden administration requested about $11.8 billion.

Bruno also has found there is a significant lucrative discrepancy that favors adoption or guardianship over living with another relative. The system seems to incentivize "adoption placement" over "kinship placement." Nationally in 2021, $55,547, 500 was paid out for adoption and legal guardianship payments. Bruno told FreedomForever that everyone in the network benefits financially with little to no transparency or accountability, all on the backs of children.

Starbuck says there are better ways to handle troubled families:

"There are a lot of common sense solutions we can talk about: foster care reform, increased community and faith based support and resources, increased oversight. Take away the financial incentives for the government to run a large child "welfare" operation. Help meet the needs of struggling families instead of taking their kids away when no acts of abuse have occurred."

Family services and family court is such a complicated mess that most folks who have the ability to change it, don't want to tread through the muck of it. It's much easier to issue a compassionate statement and throw more funding towards the broken system. But it never fixes it."

Bruno concurs with Starbuck's assessment and offers novel alternatives to the current system. Bruno believes parents would benefit from peer advocates to help navigate the system:

"The system is a total mess. I have learned from my DC trips that the committee in charge of CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) have no intention of rewriting this law which is up for authorization this year."

"Our advocates have decided to switch gear and focus on getting sponsorship for a single issue bill called the Parent Advocacy Access Act. Much like mental health advocates, veterans' advocates, special needs advocated, etc. Why don't parents going through this have advocates?"

"One of the biggest issues parents face is finding legal representation," Bruno continues. "First an attorney who knows what they are dealing with and second, one they can afford. Parents like myself who have lived it, we have educted ourselves. We can be there to hold the family's hand—something most attorneys do not have the time to do."

"Due to federal regulations, everything that happens in a family court is sealed and confidential. I have gotten kicked out of court rooms, zoom calls, hospital rooms, you name it, even when the family asked me to be there. If our bill gets sponsored and ultimately passes, then advocates like myself will have access to court rooms and documents. We will be able to speak witht the case workers, doctors, law enforcement, family to facilitate placement, etc. The support system created would be so much more helpful than the current system. You can help by calling your state senators and telling them to support our cause."

Freedom Forever is an all volunteer organization that focuses its energy and time on preserving the innocence and safety of children. Freedom Forever is now also offering crisis support for survivors and families. Please call the Crisis Resource Line at 615.307.0152 or email our resource specialist at

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