Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Peter Principle And Child Welfare

I should have seen this one coming. After all, I did post this five months ago:
JSOnline is reporting that the State of Washington just hired Susan Dreyfus to head up their Department of Social and Health Services.

That is the same Susan Dreyfus that headed up the Wisconsin's Division of Children and Family Services. She's the one that hired Denise Revels Robinson and she's the one that picked the program for BMCW.

And we all know how well THAT worked out.

Pray for the children in Washington State. They're gonna need all the help they can get.
So, it should really have been no surprise to me when I saw this:

Denise Revels Robinson, who stepped aside as director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare after the Christopher Thomas scandal erupted, has been named to a top position in Washington state's Department of Social and Health Services.

The department is Washington's largest state agency and is led by Susan N. Dreyfus, who is the former administrator of Wisconsin's Division of Children and Family Services within the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. She is also the daughter-in-law of the late Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus.

To make it all the more predictable that such incompetence is rewarded, this is the 40th anniversary of the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is pretty well summed up in this paragraph:
The Peter Principle made us laugh, but it also made us aware of the importance of simple competence—and of how elusive it could be. When people do their jobs well, Dr. Peter argued, society can't leave well enough alone. We ask for more and more until we ask too much. Then these individuals—promoted to positions in which they are doomed to fail—start using a bag of tricks to mask their incompetence. They distract us from their crummy work with giant desks, replace action with incomprehensible acronyms, blame others for failure, cheat to create the illusion of progress.
(Come to think of it, it also explains Scott Walker.)

At least not all in the great State of Washington are blindly traipsing along. After Revels-Robinson mucked up the child welfare system in Minnesota and here in Milwaukee County, her reputation is starting to precede her. From the political blog at The Olympian:

But state employees are leery out of the blocks. The Washington Federation of State Employees put out this statement:

WFSE/AFSCME has serious concerns about the appointment today of Denise Revels Robinson as assistant secretary for DSHS Children's Administration. Time will tell if it's the best decision for the children of Washington state.

Revels Robinson headed the troubled Milwaukee Child Welfare System in Wisconsin.

There are a few other things to point out from this article.

Where it cites Revels-Robinson's credentials as having reduced the number of children in foster care, that is simply playing games with the statistics. There were not that many reunifications with families. That is simply reflective of the number of children that were recategorized when they counted Kinship cases differently. Kinship is when children are placed in a relative's home as opposed to a licensed foster home. Christopher L. Thomas and his sister were Kinship placements.

The other thing that cracked me up was the bureaucratic apologist trying to explain the hiring of this baby killer, claiming that there was a "nationwide search" and "external and internal panels." Knowing how Dreyfus operates, she probably called up Robinson as soon as she found that there would be an opening.

I just wonder which came first, the phone call or Robinson stepping down from her post here.

In related news, State Senator Bob Jauch* and State Representative Tamara Grigsby are introducing a new bill that would make incidents of abuse and neglect of foster children more open to scrutiny, which is a good thing.

A better thing would have been a bill to actually fix the system.

*State Senator Alberta Darling, who spearheaded the creation of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and has been in the steering committee since day one, still hasn't done one thing to fix the system. Either she is OK with dead babies or she was too busy on the golf courses and trying to take stimulus dollars from the needy.

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