Public child welfare systems in crisis and political bodies typically react by taking these additional steps:
• Someone will be blamed and disciplined.
• Task forces will issue reports that yet again express shock over the quality of decisions made by the agency and place increased pressure on staff and managers to make fewer mistakes.
• Legislative committees will call for increased or improved training, with the assumption that staff are making the same mistakes over and over because they simply don't know what to do.
• Rules will be tightened; levels of case monitoring will be added. The latitude for independent judgment by the only staff with knowledge of the family will be decreased yet again.
Even more typical, however, are the pressures that Wisconsin already has felt to fix the problem and fix it now, in one of two contradictory ways: 1) Make child protection the "No. 1" response and err more on the side of child safety; or 2) as some advocates suggest, somewhat counterintuitively, remove children far less frequently.
Unfortunately, experience across the country indicates that there is no quick fix (such as more or fewer removals); there is no silver bullet (such as privatization); there is no free lunch (caseload sizes always matter); there is no knight in shining armor (a new and better leader from out of town).
There is only the work: building a large public agency with all of its weaknesses that will focus on making the right decision for each and every family, time after time after time.
The highlighted part describes the approach Milwaukee County had used when it still had control over its own system, before Tommy Thompson, Scott Walker, Alberta Darling and Margaret Farrow decided it would be a great idea to take the system over and privatize it.
Their idea is still not working too well.