Kids Left Living on an Abandoned Bus Are Victims of a Broken System (VIDEO)

school busI've always thought that the "best place" for kids taken from their parents is with a member of their own family. It sounds ideal, right? All nice and cozy with blood relatives who will make sure kids have it just as good as Mom and Dad (well, better ... really, there's a reason they don't live with their parents after all). Man oh man am I feeling naive today.

Because you will never guess who was supposed to be the primary "caregiver" for two kids found living in an abandoned bus outside Houston, Texas. Not some nameless foster mom. No sirree bob. It was their great-auntie, a hard-working woman who puts in 12 hour days at her job and then comes home to "take care" of the 11- and 5-year-old niece and nephew she allegedly leaves in a broken down vehicle all day.

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So much for blood is thicker than water?

But, but, she says she provides them meals! You know ... sometimes. Funny thing is cops say they didn't see much food in the bus, although they did find the old school-use vehicle had been rigged with electricity and an air-conditioner (although it sounds like that's just there to blow the stink of human filth around). Honestly, the details on this case just get worse from there. Police say the kids' parents are both in jail, and they've been living in this bus alone since the beginning of the year. They don't go to school ...

 

To make matters even worse, the little girl allegedly told cops she thought this was the best they could have:

We've got hot water, cold water, shower, two closets, a pair of bunk beds...

It all makes me want to hop in a car, drive to Texas, grab these poor kids, and drive them back to my house where I'd put nice clothes on their backs and healthy food in their bellies. They don't know me from Adam, and considering I live in New York, that would mean taking them away from everything they've ever known. But it has to be better than what the police are saying their own flesh and blood has provided, right?

It's nice to think of a world where family sticks together. There are people making a mint these days selling vinyl wall clings with cutesy sayings about the kindness of kin. Cliches are perfectly acceptable on your walls, but they're not sound methods to guide an entire social service system.

Kids deserve more than kin, especially when they've already suffered the pain of having been removed from their parents. They deserve the best care someone -- anyone -- can give. If the best option for "caring" for kids that a woman can provide is living in a filthy abandoned bus and leaving a 5-year-old alone with his 11-year-old sister for 12 hours at a time every day, keeping them both out of school, you're a pretty crappy human being ... no matter how much blood you share.

What should be the first thing social services looks for in a caregiver for displaced kids?

 

Image via bsabarnowl/Flickr

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