By EMILY TALMAGE and MARY PORTER
The following is an expanded and revised version to the original post , which can found here.
BuzzFeed News has reported the results of a Congressional Investigation, which was prompted by their own report of corruption and coverup in the deaths of foster children.
In their groundbreaking 2015 report, reporters Aram Roston and Jeremy Singer-Vine investigated widespread cases of physical and sexual abuse – including multiple deaths of healthy children – which took place in foster homes that were part of a 36-state for-profit foster care organization known as the Mentor Network.
The report featured former Mentor caseworkers who accused the company of failing children because of its focus on extracting a profit from them – by cutting corners on expensive services, for example, or forcing social workers to carry extremely high caseloads.
“I went there because I care about services for kids,” said one caseworker. “I eventually became a machine that cared about profits. I didn’t care about kids.”
A BUSINESS PLAN FROM HELL
The Senate investigation didn’t pursue the Mentor Network’s business associations, outside of interviewing current officers.
Our own investigation found that a key architect of the profit-mining expansion has since moved on from Mentor to develop the model in several powerful organizations, adapting it to everything from juvenile recidivism to public education.
Tripp Jones has now opened his own shadowy company (called 21c) that specializes in developing the type of public-private partnerships that allowed the Mentor Network to flourish financially.
He reveals in his bio that he served as a leading member of Mentor’s executive team for eight years:
“He and his colleagues worked with their private equity sponsors to successfully complete 45 acquisitions in order to scale and diversify MENTOR’s services from $250 million in revenue operating in 13 states to $1.1 billion in revenue in 38 states with 25,000 employees. While at MENTOR, Tripp Jones focused largely on building the systems to enable the company to manage explosive growth, extensive service-line expansion, complex integration of operations.”
From there, Jones went on to serve as co-managing director at a company called New Profit, where he helped build a “social finance advisory firm” called Third Sector Capital Partners.
Jones and other perpetrators of this giant for-profit foster care firm are sheltered by powerful corporate cartels, which are making new demands for public-private profit opportunities. Jones sits on the boards of MassINC., New Profit, Time and Learning, Third Sector Capital Partners, MA Juvenile Justice PFS Initiative, and the Building on What Works Coalition.
And this is where education activists need to pay attention.
Edweek reports that the Gates Foundation and the Zuckerberg-Chan initiative have jointly funded a $12 million initiative to support new ways of tailoring classroom instruction to individual students.
The recipient of their grant is none other than New Profit.
New Profit and Third Sector Capital, both major proponents of the controversial and highly unethical “Pay for Success” model of public financing, are now closely linked with powerful education organizations and lobbyists:
In 2014, New Profit – along with the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative – sponsored a series of meetings with a group called Convergence, in which major education policy-players – including the presidents of both major teacher’s unions – developed what they dubbed a “Transformational Vision of Education” – a “vision” that is little more than a call to transform public education to a data-mining industry that will allow for-profit companies, much like Mentor, to profit off the backs of children.
The Intercept published its own report of the Congressional hearings, which fails to link the actual congressional report, or the new Buzzfeed coverage. Damage-control may be a more accurate term than report, in fact, because it also fails to even mention the resulting legislation, ‘‘Child Welfare Over-sight and Accountability Act of 2017.’’
In an particularly Orwellian twist, the Intercept article recommends a bill put forward last year which would put federal family assistance programs and foster assistance together into one program, stipulating that only prevention services classified as “promising,” “supported,” or “well-supported,” based on an evidence structure developed by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse, would be eligible for reimbursement.
That same California Evidence-Based Clearing House has given its endorsement to the Mentor Network’s own proprietary “evidence-based Family Centered Treatment® program.”
FCT© can target children and families in community settings (like “Community Schools”) for its therapeutic intervention, and then designate its own for-profit foster home network as a successful planned placement from their therapy.
With that system, Mentor was able to claim 89% success in meeting “permanency goals” during the whole horror show described in the Congressional report.
The Mentor Network operates under a corporate name of Civitas Solutions.
Intercept reported that Civitas’ publicly traded stock dropped suddenly when the Congressional Report was released, then rebounded in a couple of days as it became clear there would be no coverage or follow-up.
Media outlets like the Intercept (but not BuzzFeed) limit their coverage to this one firm, rather than demanding an investigation of the public-private structures and their architects (like FCT© and Tripp Jones ) that allow organizations like Mentor to profit off the backs of our most vulnerable populations.
Sadly, this should surprise no one.
The Intercept receives most of its funding from the Omidyar Network, which is deeply linked to the development of the very same pay-for-success schemes that Tripp Jones is building. Omidyar invested one million dollars in New Profit back in 2000 – and has remained linked to them through many channels.
These groups are now busy turning our public education system into one that can be profit-mined as thoroughly as the foster care system.
And so it is up to us, parents and other engaged citizens, to spread the word about what is happening to children, and to make it stop.