No blame, only solutions

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a heartbreaking story today about the death of Khalil Wimes.The article, titled 'How city agencies failed to save 6-year-old Khalil", provides a haunting description of the horrific abuse that Khalil suffered at the hands of  his biological parents, Floyd Wimes and Tina Cuffie.

Khalil was reunified with his parents after a judge found them to be compliant with a court order based on three goals set forth by the Department of Human Services. 

Floyd Wimes and Tina Cuffie had their seven other children previously pulled from their custody for neglect.

Anger at the systems that failed to protect Khalil is to be expected and is quite justified. There were many noticible signs of abuse, including a photograph that the Inquirer provided on its website of Khalil covered in bruises at a family gathering.

However, the way we focus our anger is essential in saving children from similar situations that Khalil was in. By examining the systems that failed to prevent the death of Khalil, we can extract solutions.

Frank Cervone, executive director of Support Center for Child Advocates, made an important observation, stating that the Domestic Relations Court is badly in need of improvement.

Cervone said, "there are a tremendous number of cases and minimal information. Judges are often asked to make best-interest decisions of the child with virtually no objective information."

What better way to introduce a cross-systems discussion to develop a solution that not only helps the  Domestic Relations Court, but other stakeholders involved in child services to make better decisions for the child, families involved and both foster and biological parents?

We should use this moment to open up dialogue between these systems to make sure this tragedy never happens again.

(Image from http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2012/05/09/a-conversation-with-the-foster-family-of-khalil-wimes/)

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