(TMU) — Whether experienced in the foster care system or not, most Americans have at least some idea that the system is flawed and, at times, more harmful than helpful. But just how bad is it, really? As it turns out, according to talkpoverty.org, it’s worse than we thought.
The situation is so bad that some find it simply unbelievable and chalk the idea that government provides an incentive for foster care placements and forced adoption over reunification up to a mere conspiracy theory when in truth, the federal government spends nearly 10 times more on foster care and adoption than it does on reunification.
“Some people do phrase it as a conspiracy theory,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform. “When they say the government makes money on foster care, that’s not true … on foster care they still lose money, but they lose less money.” Adding that “private agencies do make money on foster care in many cases.”
The common agency name “child protective services” would lead one to believe that these agencies exist to protect the children of the United States. Unfortunately, as they are funded by a host of sources from the federal, state, and local levels, a lot gets lost in translation. These various agencies that exist across the country are not in fact a cohesive national system. Instead, they are simply linked by a set of federal guidelines and loose definitions of child maltreatment.
Thanks to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), financial reimbursements exist for foster care programs, including “adoption bounties”—thousands of dollars that paid to states for successfully adopting out a child. And thanks to the Federal Foster Care Program (Title IV-E of the Social Security Act), states receive a reimbursement ranging from 50 to 76 cents for every dollar spent on “daily child care and supervision, administrative costs, training, recruitment, and data collection,” according to talkpoverty.org.
Government funds foster care and adopts, that much is clear. But what about family reunification?
While the foster care and adoption funding noted above isn’t capped, under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, family reunification funding is. And Title IV-B isn’t even solely for reunification services as provisions allow for funding of foster care programs as well as the promotion of adoption.
Another misappropriation of funds away from services that would assist families exists within the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a source of federal funding for child welfare programs. While the program is supposed to be a form of cash assistance for low-income families with children, the funds can also be used to support programs and services designed to help children in need, including “child protection” agencies providing foster care and adoption services.
According to Richard Wexler, at least eight states use TANF funds to pay for adoption subsidies, 23 states use funds to cover CPS investigations, 27 states use funds for foster care, and three use TANF funds to pay for residential treatment facilities for children.
In effect, funds designated to help impoverished families with children are instead being used to finance the separation of impoverished children from their families.
Regardless of situation, under the ASFA, states are required to terminate parental rights after a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months. This sometimes led to children bouncing from foster home to foster home, so the government created an adoption incentive—or adoption bounty—of $4,000 to $12,000 per child. But before a state can collect, they must first exceed the number of children adopted the previous year resulting in an incentive for states to adopt out an increasing number of children every year rather than reunifying them.
Unsurprisingly, the number of adoptions increased and the number of reunifications declined following the implementation of ASFA. And thanks to the Bush administration’s Adoption and Promotion Act of 2003, states that increase the number of adoptions from foster care year to year receive even more money.
According to Wexler, private agencies dealing with foster care placements are probably “paid for each day that child remains in foster care … So the private agency has an incentive to convince itself that the child really, really can’t go home and has to stay with them for a long, long time.”
“Murder Hornet” Nest Was Found and Destroyed That Had Almost 200 Queens
Scientists in Washington, at Washington State University, discovered and exterminated dozens of Asian giant murder hornets among them, they found around 500 live specimens in various stages of development in their first known nest, officials communicated.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a virtual press conference to explain the situation. Scientists made the discovery in late October, inside a tree on a private residence in Whatcom County.
The agency placed traps in the area in early October after a homeowner reported a specimen, Spichiger said. Four live hornets were caught in the traps which then entomologists attached radio trackers to three of them, and one led them to the nest on October 22nd.
Inside the nest researchers found:
- 190 total larvae that developed from eggs.
- 108 pupae, the next stage after larvae. They were nearly all queens.
- 112 workers, which included 85 workers previously vacuumed out of the nest.
- 76 queens, nearly all of them new virgin queens. New queens emerge from the nest, mate and then leave to find a place to spend winter and later start a new colony.
In total that’s more than 500 murder hornets that the team found in the nest which was about 14 inches long and up to 9 inches wide, CBS News reported.
Sven-Erik Spichiger, an entomologist, leading the fight to kill the hornets said: “We got there just in the nick of time.” Spichiger added that the nest of massive potentially deadly hornets in Washington state likely isn’t the only one in the U.S. “We do believe there are additional nests,” he said at the virtual conference on Tuesday.
The researchers say it’s impossible to know if any queens escaped before the first nest was destroyed. Vespa mandarinia or otherwise known as the giant Asian murder hornet is the world’s largest hornet species. Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) officials posted a video presenting the captured queens crawling inside vials. Most of the specimens were still alive when the nest was opened, WSDA said. The Department plans to continue trapping the hornets for at least three years to resolve the problem and determine whether or not the area is infested.
The hornets pose a serious threat to honeybee populations but are not deadly to most humans unless allergic. However, the hornets’ stinger is said to be extremely painful if stung, though rarely deadly it can spit venom.
You can watch the team examining the nest below.
Florida Man Drives Eight-Wheeled Chevy Monster Truck Across the Ocean
A Florida Man has decided to drive his eight-wheeled Chevy monster truck across the ocean. That’s right, you read that correctly: he drove his truck across the ocean. For the TikTok views. And yes, it worked.
The legendary “Florida Man” has long been a favorite for news readers and writers alike, offering an entertaining potpourri of the insane, the impressive, and the grotesque, with stories covering topics including drugs, violence, alligators, and unbelievable feats of human wackiness.
In the latest chapter of the ongoing saga, one brave Florida Man decided to do what no sane man had ever considered: rather than take his monster truck to the demolition derby, he took it to a South Florida bay and sailed it alongside the yachts instead.
WhistlinDiesel can best be described as the Johnny Knoxville of American truck culture, or as he describes himself, one who does “basically everything you’ve ever thought of doing with your truck but you’d never ACTUALLY do … simply because someone says it’s impossible.”
And just like Knoxville and the MTV Jackass gang pushed the concept of extreme, physical challenges beyond the limits of basic common sense, WhistlinDiesel is willing to do anything to go viral and catch some likes. It’s a winning formula, if a bit unsafe.
With that in mind, the social media madman took his two-axle Chevy Silverado, filled its eight tires with a ridiculous amount of air, and drove it straight into the Gulf of Mexico between Longboat Key and Bradenton Beach, Florida, without any sort of propeller.
It wasn’t long before authorities intervened to cut his ludicrous stunt short. WhistlinDiesel had just barely driven into the water and smashed the throttle over the bay before he was forced to haul it out of the drink with a boat while completely surrounded by the local sheriff’s department, the Coast Guard, and the Florida Department of Natural Resources – who were quite likely peeved that someone decided to plunge his diesel truck into a protected body of water.
“Still can’t believe how smoothly this went. I woke up at 4am after 2 hours of sleep that day thinking wtf am I doing? This could either end really good or really bad. Our original plan was to set up at night in the dark and drive miles offshore to watch the sun rise but looking back we got much better reactions from the public this way.”
And good reactions he did receive, as the maniac managed to get tons of press attention and social media clout. It still remains unclear whether he faced any charges for the stunt, so it’s safe to say: Mission accomplished!
Scientists: The Human Brain And the Entire Universe Have Odd Similarities
An astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona have claimed that the brain resembles the universe. The two Italian researchers came up with the galaxy-brain theory that is out of this world: The structures of the perceptible universe, they say, are astonishingly comparable to the neuronal networks of the human brain.
University of Bologna astrophysicist Franco Vazza and University of Verona neurosurgeon Alberto Feletti document the extraordinary similarities between the cosmic network of galaxies and the complex web of neurons in the human brain. The detailed study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physics showcasing the human brain has roughly 27 orders of magnitude separated in scale, while similarly, the composition of the cosmic web shows comparable levels of complexity and self-organization, according to the researchers.
The brain itself contains an estimated 69 billion neurons, while the visible universe is comprised of at least 100 billion galaxies, strung together like a mesh network. Even more intriguing both galaxies and neurons only account for about 30 percent of the total masses of the universe and brain. Further, both galaxies and neurons arrange themselves like pearls on a long string.
Beginning from the shared features of the two systems, the two researchers examined a simulation of the network of galaxies in comparison to sections of the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. Their purpose was to inspect how matter variations propagate.
In the case of galaxies, the remaining 70 percent of mass is dark energy. The equivalent in the human brain, the pair said was water.
“We calculated the spectral density of both systems,” Vazza said in a statement about the experiment. “This is a technique often employed in cosmology for studying the spatial distribution of galaxies. Our analysis showed that the distribution of the fluctuation within the cerebellum neuronal network on a scale from 1 micrometer to 0.1 millimeters follows the same progression of the distribution of matter in the cosmic web,” he added, “but, of course, on a larger scale that goes from 5 million to 500 million light-years.”
The amount of interwoven connections originating from each node also were strangely alike sparking further interest to the researchers.
“Once again, structural parameters have identified unexpected agreement levels,” Feletti said in the statement. “Probably, the connectivity within the two networks evolves following similar physical principles, despite the striking and obvious difference between the physical powers regulating galaxies and neurons.”
The team is anticipating that their preliminary research could lead to new analysis procedures advancing knowledge about both cosmology and neurosurgery. Which would enable scientists to better comprehend how these compositions have developed over time.
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