Ever wonder why people are not clamoring to build a better abacus? Probably not. Most people wouldn’t know how to use an abacus if they found one. Some might not even recognize an abacus if they saw one. Why? Because they are obsolete, of course. They were replaced by paper and pencils, calculators, and computers. Eventually there will probably be something even better.
Over the years, there have been several attempts to improve foster care. Communities, states, federal organizations, ‘think-tanks’, and ‘thought leaders’ have all grappled with improving, re-inventing, re-positioning, and re-envisioning the approach to protecting vulnerable children. Several years ago, a new group was formed, obtained financial backing, and held a series of national meetings aimed at creating a better child welfare system. They invited a group of people they believed to be critical ‘players’ in the field, either because of their leadership or because they worked in organizations perceived to fill a vital role in the established ‘system’. There were presentations, round-tables, panels, and other facilitated discussions conducted to create a better child welfare system. Before and since then, this approach has been replicated at multiple levels, with some of the same faces at the table, some different. People have been hired, papers have been written, websites have been built, and a variety of on-line communities established to facilitate communication. At the end of the day, what is ‘produced’ generally looks very much like the foster care system in place before the conversations started.
The antiquated abacus previously mentioned has gone through similar processes and iterations. They have been enhanced by adding more beads capable of performing more complex calculations with larger numbers, the materials used improved, to promote ease of use and reduce the cost of producing, ‘Cadillac‘ versions have been produced using rare woods to cater to the elite abacus user. The beads on a new and improved abacus probably glide more smoothly, the wood less likely to splinter or break. However, despite all the improvements over time, the abacus is now little more than an object to be studied in history classes, a collectors’ item, or a conversation piece in libraries and living rooms.
Does the same fate await the foster care system currently in place? I believe so. In fact, I hope so. Do I have possible alternatives? Yes. Stay tuned and check back for more on building a new child welfare system…..or better yet, share some ideas of your own!