A recent opinion editorial from State Representative Julie A. Casimiro (Democrat, District 31 North Kingstown and Exeter) further analyzed the culpability of Rhode Island's young females. The op-ed entitled "Rhode Island’s ‘lost girls’ - completely unacceptable" speaks the thoughts of R.I. adult women in the sense of men abusing female youth vulnerability. A recent watchdog report insinuates that situations of female youths perpetuate their fate in state care and not vice versa.
On Nov. 6, Tom Mooney authored a Providence Journal Watchdog Report: Rhode Island’s Lost Girls. The report documents the daily and traditional struggles of young girls in R.I. state care. Representative Casimiro says "Quite frankly, it is an awful commentary on how the state of Rhode Island is failing this vulnerable population."
Casimiro notes that there are two RI Family Court judges who agree that this is a dire state of affairs. Casimiro goes on to explain that these judges speaking out on the situation show that this crisis did not happen overnight.
R.I. state care is a poor service model that some pretend is okay and others neglect to see. The state needs to do better. Children in state care are fragile and have often been through traumatic situations. This leaves many children broken, and broken children create chaotic adults.
Many young girls and aspiring women wind up raising themselves within the confines of R.I. state care. State care equates to an undereducated understaffed department spreading themselves thin to meet the needs of a growing community. Girls in state care who fight to live for themselves end up shunned and discarded. Those who stick up for themselves or show the slightest bit of rowdy behavior are sent away. State care is not always bad, but it is never a walk in the park, and Rhode Island does not know what they are doing. Girls in Rhode Island are going undiagnosed, untreated and mistreated - both medically and metaphorically - and this has been covered up by the same two sayings for too long. I am here to tell you we are moody because principles are missed and a teenage label doesn't mean behaviors and emotions are unwarranted. Teenage females and all children in state care shouldn't be shipped to the training school because they had a bad day and no one asked them why.
Casimiro says, "Psychiatric beds are few and far in between in Rhode Island – especially for young girls in state care. The Training School is not an option and never should be. These girls need treatment, not incarceration."
DCYF has received millions in funding from the General Assembly to hire front-line workers, yet they show little to no interest in helping children in foster care and group homes. A cohort of new employees are starting, but what does this mean for the girls who have been relocated already? Relocated before receiving a chance to explain what is going on inside their head. The child state care is depicted as a place for opportunity, but that's 50/50 as the other half of the time they are revoking both opportunity and chance.
Casimiro ended with, "Staffing shortages across the country in the private health care sector are rampant and we need to address those issues sooner rather than later. It saddens me to know that a child, at this very moment, could require placement and not get what she needs. It is well past time for the adults in the room at DCYF and in the McKee Administration to get together and find a solution to house and care for these young girls and get them the services they need."