It has been over a month since I posted my last blog-entry. I fell and broke a bone between Christmas and New Year, so I have been immobilized with no strength to write since.
Now I am back, but busy with other projects right now. I cannot tell when my next post will appear.
But what have happened in Denmark since I wrote my last post?
One word can tell it all: The economy.
Of course Denmark also had a woman going very far in the Australian Open and we did it good when it came to Team Handball. We got silver in Sweden just this week.
But still the issues are the lack of jobs and everyone for themselves.
One issue I have been writing about previously is the residential treatment of teenagers. If we are focusing on Denmark the problem is the lobbyists. We all have to suffer cuts in the public service but Denmark is continuing spending 13 billion on residential services for children. The Danish version of The National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) called Landsorganisationen af opholdssteder, botilbud og skolebehandlingstilbud (LOS) are all over the media because some towns are using the latest research in the area focusing on treatment in the home and supporting parenting so they can prevent that the situation grows so out of hand that a residential solution is the only option.
Everyone knows that early support is much cheaper but of course early prevention also has the impact that some group homes or residential treatment centers have to shut down or at least cut some staff. What other than protests are to be expected?
The fact is that all too many teenagers are removed from their homes and it ends very badly for 44 percent of them. Despite 100 of pages and evaluations the group home or foster parents they are sent to cannot deal with their case and they are shipped around the system. Some have lived +10 places in their childhood. Once they are 18 they are dumped on the streets and then they have to work hard so they can reconnect to their families and rebuilt their lives. I just have to ask. Do the case workers read what they themselves have written to ensure the best possible option for the child, when they feel that the child should live at another place?
The authorities have realized that they are rescuing a lot of them. Now they have a second problem. The children are institutionalized and don’t want to leave the structured and shielded life they have been forced into. Tons of money now has to help the children so they can live a normal life.
And the authorities are facing another opponent: Their own employees!!
Not much is known about the process of selecting a group home or a foster parent for a child. We are talking huge sums. One child has a price tag of DKK 50.000 per month or even more. How do sellers (the employees in the social services) and the buyers (owners of group homes or foster parents) meet each other. Denmark has a national database (called the Service Portal) over group homes and treatment centers but it not updated and rarely used.
There is no oversight of foster parents. We have an on-going case over at the town of Mern. The laws surrounding death certificates had to be rewritten because a foster family where the father was a doctor had a number of kids who died in their care uninvestigated because he wrote the death certificates caused some disturbance in the media. None were convicted back then, but at least there have been no known deaths since. The leading therapist in the town of Aalborg responsible for helping homeless kids living on the streets was in fact convicted of putting his stepdaughter in a dog cage several times.
Because the entire process surrounding placement of children outside their homes is a secret believing that Denmark may have their own Kids for Cash scandal is easy to imagine. Denmark is not Pennsylvania where the juvenile courts sent at-risk children to private owned jails and group homes in exchange for a referral fee (Unlike educational consultants who are allowed to do that is a crime), but Denmark has done nothing to prevent that a group of social workers could send children to specific group homes or foster families in exchange for small vacations.
Everyone knows that Denmark just years ago prevented the firms in the medical business to pay for weekend trips the doctors went on for the very same reason: To lower the risk of corruption. Still nothing has been done when it comes to secure that the social departments in every town does not fall into the same trap.
Well that is enough for January. I will return next month with more.