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News » Rant Control

Family Poverty a Crime?


When you see families who appear to be so poor they can’t afford to buy food, what do you do? Stephen Dark asked on the Salt Blog whether he should give money to a family that is panhandling—despite a city and downtown business initiative to not give to panhandlers, call child protective services or do something else [see “The Family Who Begs Together,” July 15,].

“Suddenly, being poor is being abusive?” asked M. “You should be ashamed for even considering it.”

Mike shared Dark’s concerns, both about the family’s needs but also what might happen to them in the public child-welfare system.

“If they don’t have money to eat, wouldn’t it seem acceptable to call DCFS?” Mike asked. “Then again, nobody wants to be the one to split up a family.”

Richard Wexler, of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, advised for extreme caution before calling the Division of Child and Family Services.

“Yes, the family might be seen by an understanding [DCFS] caseworker who goes out of her way to provide help,” Wexler wrote, “but it’s just as likely the children would be taken and consigned to foster care … [which] is an extremely toxic intervention that must be used sparingly and in small doses. That’s why, in a case with no good options, calling DCFS probably would have been a poor choice.”

Jesse Fruhwirth: