Presidential Election 2012: Impact on Child Welfare?

As Election Day draws near, Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Governor Mitt Romney have inundated the media with their positions and plans to address many issues. These issues range from health care to taxes to gender equality to energy sources. But, noticeably absent from the barrage of talking points is the candidates’ view of the Child Welfare system.

This is not at all surprising. Many American citizens have come to accept the government’s interference in family life for the touted goal of “protecting children”. Any claims of bias, personal persecution, racism, classism, abuse of power, or over-reaching by caseworkers, are routinely met with justifications, rationalizations, explanations and/or exaltations that such claims are either isolated or are a necessary evil given what’s at stake. Consequently, few people are offended by the State’s actions taken in the name of child protection… and even fewer people even care to investigate, let alone question these actions.

So, then, how does one make an informed decision when it is time to vote if neither candidate is even cognizant of the issue? Democrats tend to be more policy-oriented toward those disproportionately affected by the child welfare system – i.e., the poor. Yet, Republicans tend to be more policy-oriented toward limited government intrusion into the autonomy of individuals. There is no right answer.

Perhaps, the question to be answered is not which candidate will be best equipped to improve the Child Welfare system, but rather, which candidate will be open to becoming educated about the inequities of this system. And, truth be told, no political party has a track record to warrant support from those involved in this system if policies designed to improve the system are our measuring stick.

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