Ind. parents ‘abandon’ children so they can get mental health care

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Reporting for The Times of Northwest Indiana, Marisa Kwiatkowski found that Indiana’s child mental health services are so lacking that, she writes, “some region parents told The Times they were advised to ‘abandon’ their children to obtain mental health services.” Kwiatkowski doesn’t put it quite so bluntly, but the process she describes is something akin to a “strategic default”… only you’re walking away from your own children instead of an underwater mortgage.

There are 30 state agencies that cover children’s issues in the state, which makes for a whole lot of potential cracks for any one case to fall through.

The National Center for State Courts report found a lack of communication among key agencies that causes duplicated efforts, divisiveness and extra costs to taxpayers. It also found that most people are unclear about the purpose of each entity.

The result is a tangled network of agencies that can be difficult to navigate…

Thus the legal “abandonment,” in which parents essentially accept a charge of neglect in exchange for a clear path to treatment for their children. To fully understand the ramifications of the practice, I strongly recommend reading Kwiatkowski’s report. Her analysis is frank, and her anecdotes are chilling.

The story is part of a yearlong Times series called “Children in Peril,” which looks at children whose health or circumstances make them vulnerable, and what state and local agencies are doing — or not doing — to help.

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