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While Governor Scott Walker, and others like him, continue their attacks on public education and union rights in the interest of furthering privatization, many teachers, nurses, and government workers feel they are facing a battle for their very livelihood. While this may be true, the poor are no stranger to such attacks. People of low incomes are usually the first to feel the heat of such economic attacks and the ones who suffer the most under privatization.
One recent negative change we have seen is the increased privatization of Child Protective Services in Milwaukee County. In the past, when we had serious concerns and suspected child neglect or abuse, we could call one of the county agencies and someone would come out immediately. Since privatization increased, there are now over 169 private nonprofits and for-profit corporations that contract with the state and all complaints must be made through the Milwaukee Police Department. When the private agencies do become involved at Casa Maria, which is rare, they do little or nothing.
On the other hand, allegations of children being taken away from their parents for unfair reasons have skyrocketed since privatization. One mother, who we will call Dee, has taught special education students for over 33 years at Milwaukee Public Schools. Dee's adult, disabled daughter was taken away because social workers with a non-profit corporation called Supportive Community Services, or SCS, testified at a court hearing that her daughter needed more independence. Yet while SCS was her legal guardian, she lost access to her own finances and was repeatedly denied visits with her pastor and family members. Supportive Community Services even denied her participation in the Special Olympics (in which she normally competed) and her church choir. Dee recently regained visits with her daughter, but only after repeated protests and hiring an expensive lawyer. SCS also came under fire by national and local news media in 2010 when they were found to be selling off the properties of elderly people in their legal custody who were found incompetent by the courts. ( http://www.topix.com/forum/milwaukee/TTJ6SQJJVJN7TT8JU )
Another mom had a neglect case opened when caseworkers felt her house was too dirty. She fled to Canada with her four children and the Canadian government eventually decided it would be detrimental to her safety and the safety of her children to be extradited back to the United States. She is basically a refugee because Child Welfare in Wisconsin unfairly targets impoverished parents.
It is because of privatization that the poor will have to endure this kind of increased suffering and, as Governor Scott Walker says, further "tighten their belts."
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