A Pre-History of Child Protective Services

Bad News Bruce - Posted on 13 December 2010

Like many things that ultimately impact all poor folks, some of the first guinea pigs/victims for negative policy ideas in the bloody herstory of Amerikkka, were poor white people.  Indentured servitude and the Orphan Train were two huge examples.  After the bugs were beaten out of indentured servitude, modern slavery was invented, polished, and tweaked.

The Child Protective Services (CPS) version came after the Amerikkkan Civil War. 

The Southern states needed workers in the farm fields (where have we heard that before...?).  Christian social reformers of the time--not anti-slavery Abolitionists, a less wonderful group {you need to be helped whether you want it or not...}--went out to try to help the urban poor.  They "adopted" (kidnapped) poor children,  or convinced their parents {to give them up so} they'd have a "better life" in the country.

My maternal grandfather was playing one day, as a child should, in the Irish ghetto of Philadelphia.  A social worker convinced his parents he would be healthier and wiser if he was taken to the country.  One moment having fun, the next he was put on a train with other children.  They were exhibited like cattle, or slaves, at train stations across Pennsylvania, the social workers imploring farmers to take the children so they would no longer be exposed to evil influences in the urban squalor that spawned them.

In one town the Reed family took in my grandfather.  He was given space in a barn to live in--"This is your new home, brat!  You'll make a wonderful worker for me", he was told.

Mr. Reed was an alcoholic.  My grandfather couldn't go into the farmhouse because he wasn't a Reed.  My grandfather was beaten every day, worked 12 hours a day for one meal a day--heavy farm labor.  At age 14 he ran away from the farm, joined the military, lied about his age.

Later, my father asked him about this.  The military physically punished soldiers too, but my grandfather said they only did it if you made mistakes.  Plus, he had ways of getting revenge.  Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) couldn't give any old punishment they wanted just because they were drunk and acting crazy. 

A new group of Orphan Train folks, known as Child Protective Services (CPS), rose, early in the 20th Century, to convince legislators to pass laws to "help" poor parents and children, saying that people of color are not smart enough to decide for themselves.  Only people with over-priced sheep-skins, PHd's (something piled higher and deeper than ever), could be trusted to solve their problems.

These modern evangelists go to colleges and universities where they are taught how children should be raised.  Poor Magazine Poverty Skolah Gioioia Von Disterlo has been struggling, in Seattle at the University of Washington, with some of the intellectual soldiers in the trenches of the War on Poverty (the term coined in the 60's to supposedly label the federal government's desire to fight poverty and pull poor people up to, at least, the Middle Class), professors who believe, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan did, that poor people of color were to blame for the cycles of poverty in which they were embedded like journalists in the wars of Shock and Awe in Afghanistan and Iraq.

These priests of hatred of the poor have told Gioioia often that poor people are not smart enough to tie their own shoes.  One of their weapons is the so-called Bell Curve, a long-discredited statistical tool they are addicted to. 

Today, instead of farms, children of poor mothers are sent to foster homes.  Another friend of poor magazine was put into one and forced to clean house like a maid.  Foster parents are paid $4000 a month!  Our friend and the person using her then are people of color.  She would have become a college professor, an expert in land-use policy, without this massive detour in her personal road.  This poverty skolah has never seen anyone else rapidly inhale the entire San Francisco Eastern Neighborhoods Plan documents, cover to cover--with a 10th Grade education--and point out the flaws in it!

Thursday, December 9th, 2010, Poor Magazine hosted Global Women's Strike and Every Mother Is A Working Mother Network, showing an 18-minute documentary exposing the struggles that poor mothers and their children go through in Philadelphia, dealing with CPS and a legal/"justice" system allied against them. In "DHS--Give Us Back Our Children", one foster parent asked the question--if they can give her $4000 a month to raise someone else's child, why can't they give that money to the parent(s)?  She adopted a foster son and made it easy for his blood family to visit him--CPS workers often abuse and torture parents and grandparents, telling them they will never see their children again.

"DHS--Give Us Back Our Children" is the best recent documentary about poverty, abuse of the poor and abuse of anyone who gets in the way of authority that these poverty scholars have yet seen.  It deserves to be longer than 18 minutes!

My grandfather never would have joined the military if he wasn't forced to, and believed he would have made it through college without the interference of the do-gooders.  He was very resourceful, later building his own house without the need to steal materials for it.   Instead, he was forcibly part of the process of beating the bugs out of a system designed to make it seem reasonable to take children away from their parents. 

In his day the slogan was "For their safety."  That hasn't changed.  What has changed is that people are fighting back.  The folks in Philadelphia believe they have succeeded in saving 10% of the children that would ordinarily be swallowed up by the real monster under the bed--CPS.  More people need to see the documentary and take its lessons to heart.  Fight back.  It works.


The first victims of ill gotten policies were not poor whites, but Native Americans and African Americans. You did not go far enough back in history, or you would not have written that article. Many of my free black ancestors were Indentured Servants to wealthy whites like the family of George Washington. If you were a white person during that period you were better off then Natives and African Slaves. That was the way the system was set up Africans on the bottom, Natives and Mulattoes slightly better off, and whites on top. The poor white kids were not transported as servants until long after slavery.

One of my ancestors was a white Indentured Servant who had a child by a Negro man. That child was immediately indentured out to the Monroe Family, for thirty years (because she was a Mulatto female). During those thirty years she was essentially a slave for the Monroes. Her daughter was indentured out to the Washington family for thirty years. Mind you the life span at that time was possibly forty years. Any child born to a Mulatto Servant was immediately indentured (30 years for females, 20 years for males). My ancestors were born and lived in Westmoreland County Virginia during the 1700's.

So I beg to differ with you about who was more oppressed in America.

I than you
from Bad News Bruce or
Bruce Allison

...so you're saying I can be paid $4000 a month if I agree to have a kidnaped child becomne my servant? Cool! Where do I sign up?


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