It's My Turn

One of Nevada’s most effective and forceful legislators responds to questionable political inquiries about his integrity.

By Senator Maurice Washington

Is there any truth to the recent allegations in the news media that I or members of my immediate family have received money from either Welfare Cash Assistance or Aid for Dependent Children, the two programs that are the subject of national and state welfare reform proposals?

No, absolutely not! The truth is that the Foster Family Program is totally separate and distinct from welfare or public assistance programs. It is administered not by the Welfare Division, but by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The program is designed to provide services for children who have been removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse. If there are no family members willing to care for these children they are placed in group homes or with strangers. Family placement is considered the best solution. Even if the children are placed with family members they are still wards of the state and they all receive the same monetary and medical benefits.

In 1994, our family was contacted by DCFS and asked if we would act as a foster family for my wife’s nephew Dennis who had been made a ward of the state and placed in foster care because his life was endangered by the illegal use of drugs in his home. We agreed to step in and provide a safe, loving and stable home for Dennis, with the hope that one day his family could be reunited. He receives only those benefits that any other foster child receives as a ward of the sate.

Foster families are outraged that anyone would even begin to consider them welfare recipients. They are givers, not takers, making up any short fall in the child’s $304 monthly stipend out of their own pockets. My own family has made those sacrifices, and, indeed, one of the reasons there is a severe shortage of foster families is because of the substantial sacrifices involved.

We are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to adopt Dennis and at that time we will gladly assume all financial responsibilities for his care, but in Dennis’ case there are many legal entanglements slowing the process. Meanwhile, our loving care of Dennis is an outgrowth of my philosophy of personal and corporate responsibility.

In cases such as this there are laws to protect the privacy of the families involved, but for us that protective veil has been ripped away, exposing our family’s private heartaches and Dennis to public scrutiny. Those who have maliciously attacked us have relied on confusion and misinformation for their own political gain while placing an innocent child in the crossfire of political ambition. As a public figure I should be held to the highest ethical standards and assure you that I have not violated your trust or compromised the principals I have publicly espoused. To the many who telephoned us in support of what we have done, "Thank You!" Your calls meant more than I can express. If anyone has any other questions please feel free to contact me at 331-3826 in Sparks.u

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