Sound familiar?

Any of this sound familiar to you?

little food, no milk and no baby formula in the house
house so cluttered with clothes or toys there was little room to walk
dirty dishes in both sinks, on the counter and on the stove
beds with no sheets
the mother was UNEMPLOYED.

Does this sound like one of those emails we get about the lives of harried moms with a houseful of little children? Or snippets we read in parenting magazines that assure us that we are not alone?

I suspect most of us can identify with not having milk in the house from time to time (oh yes, we are out right now). And the dirty dishes, well.

I know I'm treading on some thin ice here and my argument might not resonate, but I'm trying anyway. The above items were part of a laundry list that a state welfare worker found at a home that was being investigated for child neglect.

What happened to this family is horrific (and I don't mean to make light of it). The children ended up being left alone in the home and the house caught fire and the children died. The mom is in prison for a long time because she was next door smoking a cigarette (?) when the fire blazed into an inferno. It makes your heart hurt.

The list I mentioned above were discoveries of a welfare worker who investigated the home and was part of an article about whether the state welfare agency was to blame for the children's deaths.

If they are looking to see whether there's milk in the fridge, perhaps so.

Granted there were many other items in the report about the conditions of the home - (whiskey in the freezer, a bong in the bedroom) but none of it ever prompted the state to remove the children, but the state did force the mom to get "parenting skills" classes.

Subsequently, the grandparents of the dead children sued the state claiming it was the state's fault the children's mother (the father was long splitso) didn't know how to care for children amid her alcohol and drug problems. Who raised her?

I have been irritated at the media and "watchdogs" a good many times when they rush to blame the government after something terrible like this happens. A similar case was that of a young child who was murdered in our state the last couple of years. This child had been in and out of state custody and a judge put her back with her partying mother. Someone in the house, the mom or the stepdad, beat the child so badly she died.

And it was the state's fault. There was a huge public outcry with ribbons and buttons and bumper stickers asking for justice for this child.

Back to the other story. The grandparents who sued the state because their grandchildren died under their mother's care, collected $85,000. The rest of the almost $300,000 settlement went to non-profit groups to prevent child abuse.

This was a big deal copyrighted story in the Sunday paper as part of an ongoing investigation of DHS. The newspaper tells us that the agency has more than 7,500 employees and manages a $1.6 billion (with a "b") budget. It is responsible for caring for children, the elderly and underprivileged.

These are tragedies that make us cry out to God and makes God cry. Is there not something more we can do? The church? Would you say parenting classes about loving and nurturing (and not leaving the house with three kids under five) your children would be better at a church or at a state run agency? Is this what He means when He calls us to do something for the "least of these?" And we let Caesar take care of it for us.