Saturday, July 9, 2011

Silos: Expensive, and Devastating to Families

I usually don’t write about national issues on my blog. But the more I work in the Super Neighborhood, the more I run into a fundamental flaw with government in the US: they have been much too slow to break down “silos”.

A “silo” is when one team doesn’t cooperate with other teams to reach common goals. Children’s Protective Services may rescue children from unsafe homes. But if they don’t also link families with programs that can help them foster a safe environment – they won’t be as effective.

Silos are expensive because they lead to redundancies. Children’s Protective Services may create their own programs to foster a safe environment for children – without realizing that there are established programs through other branches of government, and non-profits. All CPS really needed to do was link families with those programs.

Silos can also be devastating to families. Last month, Children’s Protective Services in Harris County found Prince and Charlomane Leonard living with their six children in a storage building. The building was small, but it was safe and structurally sound. It lacked running water, but it had electricity, a fridge, and air conditioning. The children were well cared for, and the family was hoping to move to a more suitable house when they could afford to to so. Nonetheless, CPS took the children from their parents. If CPS weren’t in a silo, they might have made a few calls, and helped the Leonards find a more suitable house. They would have saved a lot of money in legal and foster care costs; and it would have been much better for the Leonards and their kids. But it fell to community activist Quanell X to do it, and it only happened after the kids were taken away.

I usually don’t write about partisan politics either. But you can’t discuss national issues without them. Deficits are out of control at the state and federal level. Austin, and Washington are deadlocked on how to deal with it. Democrats want to raise taxes because they fear cutting social services. Republicans want to cut social services because they fear raising taxes. We might not have to make this choice if we break down silos and address the redundancies they cause. And when you consider the damage that governmental silos can do to families - it should be a no-brainer. Just ask Prince and Charlomane Leonard.

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