I met with a Dallas County Child Protective Services caseworker yesterday. I want to tell you the story that she told me.
Tricia came to our offices to get clothing, shoes, and hygiene products for George, a 17 year old boy on her caseload who was released from a 2 month stint in jail on Labor Day. Tricia placed him at a new foster home on Monday and of course, he had nothing to wear.
George went to jail because he and another boy from his umpteenth foster home decided to throw a rock into a school window and break into the school. They did not get away with it. The alarm sounded, the police arrived and George was arrested. He spent the summer before his senior year in high school in jail.
George moved around to a lot of different foster homes. Sometimes he was moved because he lashed out at a foster parent, sometimes he was moved because the foster home was closed, sometimes he didn’t get along with the other kids in the home – oh, just a myriad of reasons.
George entered the CPS system when he was 11 years old. I don’t know the reason for his removal from his family. When your agency helps 16,000 kids a year, you don’t always ask. Plus, what happened to George 6 years ago no longer much matters to Tricia, or even to CPS. George is part of the system. The state of Texas is his parent now.
I told this story backwards. This is unusual for me, as I like to tell a story (in all of its detail) from the beginning. I even read magazines that way – always start on page one and go through to the end.
I wish I knew George’s ending. I asked Tricia yesterday what George was going to do when he turns 18. Tricia said that she keeps talking to him about it. She said that she hopes that jail scared him.
I wish I knew George’s beginning. I wish that we had a time machine and we could go back to the day George was born and talk to his mother. Tell her what was going to happen to George if she didn’t straighten up, get off drugs, leave her abusive husband, quit partying all night, stop leaving George to fend for himself.
But for now, we’re waiting. I hope George is scared. I am.