May 15-22: CA&N Media Articles and Resources

May 15-22: CA&N Media Articles and Resources 

Some recent media articles and resources relating to child abuse and neglect. If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block. These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community.  MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles.  They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare.

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW 4907 Foster Rd. Midland, MI  48642 (989) 600-9696 cenright@ymail.com Secretary, Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC This and previous posts can be found at: http://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES

April Injury to 5-Month-Old Zeeland Twp Baby Prompts State ‘Watchdog’ Look at CPS

May 22, MLive.com: Authorities at the Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman today confirmed they are investigating whether CPS could have done more to protect a 5-month-old Zeeland area girl from being injured in April. Police are trying to determine exactly how the child could have received a closed head injury and multiple fractures after doctors determined the injuries were not accidental. No one has been charged with a crime in connection to the girl’s injuries. Link to MLive Article  See also: Apr 4th WoodTV Article; May 21 WoodTV Article

US: Traits of Successful Foster Parents Outlined in Study

May 21, Fort Morgan Times: Through the years, the Child Welfare League has researched the traits of successful foster and adoptive families. These characteristics include a tolerance for ambivalent feelings and adjust their expectations accordingly. They generally have empathy for a child and his birth parents’ situation that led up to the child needing a safe and nurturing environment away from home. They understand that children may feel angry about being separated from parents and that they may not “transplant” without some emotional issues. Foster and adoptive families do not judge themselves too harshly, either, understanding that they, too, may experience some negative feelings toward the child who is oppositional and defiant, or who may find it hard to attach to a new family. They may feel some anger toward the foster care system of care that mandates that children be returned to their parents, if the parents complete a court-ordered treatment plan. Link to Article

Cardinal’s Presence Felt at Pa. Church-Abuse Trial

May 20, Midland Daily News, AP Philadelphia: Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua died just weeks before his longtime aide went on trial in the alleged cover-up of sexual assaults by priests within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Yet since his death, prosecutors have learned the cardinal ordered two confidantes to destroy a 1994 list Lynn had prepared of 35 problem priests. The list warned the cardinal they had three diagnosed pedophiles, a dozen confirmed predators and at least 20 more possible abusers in their midst. Bevilacqua promptly had the list shredded, according to a memo signed by his loyal aides, current Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of Saginaw, Mich., and now-retired Bishop Edward Cullen of Allentown, Pa. Link to MDN Article  See also: Link to Philadelphia Enquirer Article

OK: State, Feds in $50M Dispute Over Child-Welfare Law

May 20, Tulsa World: Despite a recent federal agency’s threat to withhold $50 million, no state has been warned or disciplined for releasing too much information after a child dies from abuse and neglect. That same agency, the U.S. Children’s Bureau, conducted a survey showing that at least 27 states have more liberal laws when it comes to disclosing documents to the public after such child deaths. Also, the disagreement between Oklahoma officials and that federal agency is causing concern among national advocacy groups wanting more openness in child welfare systems. Link to Article

IA: Child Abuse Case Raises Questions about Iowa DHS Response

After 3 years, questions persist: Was evidence studied closely?

May. 20, Des Moines Register: On the face of it, Konzen v. Goedert could be just another of umpteen parental breakups ending in a tug-of-war lawsuit over children. Many documents in the voluminous court files, including extensive reports from the child protective division of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), force troubling questions to be asked: Is the DHS meeting its obligation to protect children from alleged sexual abuse by a parent? Did a judge have undue influence on DHS over the department’s conclusions in the case? Did the judge mistakenly rule after hearing evidence only from the father’s side? Link to Article

US: Children’s Well-being Central to Courts’ Mission, Expert Panel Says

May 18, Youth Today: The nation’s juvenile and family courts need to lower walls that have blocked the sharing of data that is key for to marshaling a child through state agencies and the justice system, according to a gathering of court experts. Link to Article

Blame Poverty, Not Parents

May 17, National Law Journal: Parents these days are open to criticism from all sides. Helicopter parents deprive their children of initiative. Tiger moms are too strict. And now, single and unmarried parents, mostly women, are being blamed for child abuse and neglect. The idealized “Leave it to Beaver” family is hardly the object of scorn. Even more, it never reflected the reality of many households in America. Now it does so even less — there are 13.7 million single parent homes nationwide, including 26 percent of all children. Five times as many mothers as fathers are single parents. And at least 4 percent of children live with two unmarried parents. We know what the most pressing risk factors are: Maltreatment goes up in times of recession and down in periods of prosperity. Study after study shows that the overwhelming majority of maltreatment cases are ones where families lack housing, child care or other resources. Childhood poverty is both shockingly high and increasing: The latest census showed that 25 percent of very young children in America live in poverty. One in five of all children under 18 are poor, the highest number since 1962. Link to Article

‘Dominick’s Law’ Toughening Penalties Regarding Child Abuse Approved by Michigan House

May 17, Flint Journal: The Michigan House unanimously approved legislation known as “Dominick’s Law” to strengthen penalties for child abuse in Michigan and create penalties for abuse in front of other people, according to a news release. The bills establish penalties for committing child abuse in the presence of another child, which is not currently considered an element of the crime. The Michigan Senate still needs to approve the bills. Link to Article  Link to HB-5562Link to HB-5563

US: The Power of Nurse-Family Partnerships

May 16, NY Times Op Ed: In 2010, 5.9 million children were reported as abused or neglected in the United States. If you were a policy maker and you knew of a program that could cut this figure in half, what would you do? What if you could reduce the number of babies or toddlers hospitalized for accidents or poisonings by more than half? Or provide a 5 to 7 point I.Q. boost to children born to the most vulnerable mothers? Well, there is a way. These and other striking results have been documented in studies of a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership, or NFP, which arranges for registered nurses to make regular home visits to first-time low-income or vulnerable mothers, starting early in their pregnancies and continuing until their child is 2. Link to Article

US: Start Strategies to Prevent Child Trafficking Early

May 16, Washington Times: The most effective tactic to fighting traffickers is arming children with self-confidence, and the best way to boost a child’s self-confidence is to support them through the awkward, and sometimes painfully difficult, transitions of childhood and to help strengthen their self-identity. By doing this, a child will be less prone to manipulation and coercion by predators. Link to Article

Racial Inequity, Other Flaws Contribute To Michigan’s Many Juvenile Lifers.

May 15, MLive.com: | Full story

Also see —

●   Detroit Free Press: “End juvenile life sentences, group urges.”

●   MLive.com: “Mother of juvenile lifer, pastor call for end to life-without-parole sentences for juveniles in Michigan on heels of report.”

●   MLive.com: “Sister of juvenile lifer victim refutes new report’s assertions of disparities in criminal justice system.”

●   MLive.com: “Oakland County prosecutor: Racial disparities in plea offerings detailed in Michigan juvenile lifer report are misleading.”

Guest Commentary: Save Money and Cut Crime by Investing in Community Programs to Reform Youth

May 15, Detroit Free Press: How can we remain tough on crime without busting state and county budgets? One clear option is to reform Michigan’s juvenile justice system and pass the In-Home Care incentive. The proposal currently before the state legislature offers the rare opportunity to redirect wayward youths toward productive lives, while saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the long-term. Link to Article

Chronic Child Abuse Strong Indicator of Negative Adult Experiences

May 15, Science Daily: Child abuse or neglect are strong predictors of major health and emotional problems, but little is known about how the chronicity of the maltreatment may increase future harm apart from other risk factors in a child’s life. In a new study published in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics, Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD, child welfare expert and a professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, looked at how chronic maltreatment impacted the future health and behavior of children and adults. Link to Article

US: New Report on Cost of Child Abuse

Apr 2012, Prevent Child Abuse America: A new study of the economic burden of child maltreatment in the United States calculated that the lifetime costs of child maltreatment are $210,012 per child in 2010 dollars, including $32,648 in childhood health care costs; $10,530 in adult medical costs; $144,360 in productivity losses; $7,728 in child welfare costs; $6,747 in criminal justice costs; and $7,999 in special education costs. Link to Report

RESOURCES WITH TIME LIMITED VALUE

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD):

What Lawyers Need to Know to Help Their Clients Webinar Tuesday, June 12, 2012 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Eastern 1.5 CLE credits requested $25 special discount for first 300 registrants. To register visit: Link to Info and Registration

RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE

Policy Brief: Research-Based Best Practices in Adoption By Gays And Lesbians

Oct 2011, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute: Despite laws in some states that impede the practice, a growing number of lesbians and gay couples are adopting children in the United States. The survey is part of a broad, four-year-long research project by the Adoption Institute that culminates in the publication of a 69-page report, which provides important new information about and insights into the perceptions, experiences and needs of non-heterosexual adoptive parents.

Interesting findings in the Institute’s report include:

●   About one-third of the adoptions by lesbians and gay men were “open,” and the birth families’ initial reactions regarding sexual orientation were very positive (73%).

●   Male couples more often reported having been chosen because of their sexual orientation than did lesbians, explaining that the birth mothers expressed a desire to remain the child’s “only mother.”

●   Over 10% of the children adopted were 6 or older – a population generally perceived as more difficult to place – and 25% were at least 3 years old.

●   The household incomes of respondents were high – and more so for the male parents, $212,380 vs. $115,467, indicating (among other things) that more lesbians adopted as individuals and more gay men as couples.

Among the report’s recommendations, primarily intended for practitioners and policy-makers, are:

●   Remove legal and cultural barriers so that all qualified, vetted prospective parents can be considered, notably including the passage of “gay marriage” laws, because the social institution of marriage brings clear long-term psychological (and other benefits) to children.

●   Provide training, recruitment and educational tools to increase professional competence for working with non-heterosexual parents, and offer pre- and post-placement services to better enable those parents to deal with adoption issues and those relating to their sexual orientation.

Availability: PDF Full Report | Executive Summary | Web Page | Press Release

LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE

Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect.

April 2012, Prevent Child Abuse America: We will pay a staggering $80 BILLION to address child abuse and neglect in 2012. Link to pdf Article

Child Welfare Professionals’ Knowledge of Risk and Practice Concerns for Fatal Maltreatment

May 3, Bridgewater State University : This fact sheet documents findings from the study Child Maltreatment Fatalities: Perceptions and Experiences of Child Welfare Professionals, conducted in September 2010 – January 2011; 426 child welfare professionals from 25 states participated; 123 (27.2%) had a maltreatment fatality on their caseload. The purpose of the study was to assess the knowledge, attitudes, practice concerns, and experiences with maltreatment fatalities – and implications for post-traumatic stress symptoms among U.S. child welfare professionals. Link to pdf of Report

Case, Service, and Household Characteristics of Families That Experience a Child Maltreatment Fatality.

May 3, Bridgewater State University: Child Maltreatment Fatalities: Perceptions and Experiences of Child Welfare Professionals Fact Sheet Series, Issue 3. The victims of this study had been seen by their workers a median of one week before their deaths. The findings of this study also indicate that the CMF victims and their families had a wide range of challenges. Nonetheless, the characteristics which affected the largest majority of families were: (1) parental unemployment, (2) parental mental illness, (3) experiencing a major life event, and (4) parents having inappropriate expectations of child. These findings may be a useful guide for child welfare workers, visiting nurses, and other service providers working with vulnerable families. Children and families exhibiting some of these characteristics may be at an increased risk for CMF and thus, may warrant additional assessments, supports or intervention. Link to pdf Report

Michigan Department of Human Services Family Preservation Programs: Report on Public Act 63 of 2011 Section 523 (1).

Apr 16, Michigan Dept. of Human Services:  Michigan DHS report to the Legislature on the Michigan Families First Program. Link to DHS Report

Building Communities of Hope: Safe Children, Strong Families, Supportive Communities.

May 2012, Casey Family Programs: Since 2006, this nation has experienced a 19 percent decline in the number of children in foster care, from 505,000 to 408,000, according to federal data. While this progress is encouraging, the time has come to ask: Can we build upon this momentum so every child in America grows up in a community that gives them hope that they can succeed? At Casey Family Programs, we believe this is not only possible, but also essential. For children to have their best chance to succeed, they need strong families – and strong families flourish within communities that are brimming with hope. We at Casey Family Programs do not profess to have all of the solutions for improving the lives of America’s children. To the contrary, we believe that the best answers rest within the communities where those children live. Link to Report

Learning as We Go: A First Snapshot of Early Head Start Programs, Staff, Families, and Children.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families. Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Mathematica Policy Research 2011: Questions specifically addressed by this report on the spring 2009 findings include the following:

•    What is Early Head Start? What are the program models employed, staff qualifications, and other important program features and characteristics?

•    What specific services are delivered to families and how are these services individualized to meet the needs of each child and family?

•    What are the characteristics of the families Early Head Start serves in terms of their demographic, household, and family characteristics; their needs; and their risk factors?

•    What are the characteristics of special populations and subgroups in the programs and what services are provided to them? Examples of subgroups include children with identified special needs, high-risk families, mothers with depression, dual language learners (DLLs), and mothers pregnant at program enrollment.

•    What are the psychometric properties (including concurrent and predictive validity) of our measures? What have we learned from fielding these instruments that can help inform their use at a local program level? Link to Report

Mobile App Technology for Social Work

May/June 2012 Social Work Today: The use of mobile technology in healthcare has secured a foothold. While opportunities exist for social workers to adopt these technologies in their practices, acceptance has been slow. The reluctance is not surprising as the foundation of social work is built on human interaction. The research and experience thus far indicates that mobile application technology has the capability to support the social worker-client relationship. Link to Article

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

House Bill 5562 and House Bill 5563 as passed by the Michigan House

Brief Summary: House Bill 5562 would enact “Dominick’s Law” to:

●   Establish minimum terms of imprisonment and increased maximum terms of imprisonment for first- and second-degree child abuse.

●   Provide an enhanced sentence for a repeat offense of first- and second-degree child abuse; and

●   Allow for an additional sentence for an offense of first- through third-degree child abuse if the crime was committed in the presence of one or more child witnesses.

House Bill 5563 would add the new maximum sentences to the sentencing guidelines. Link to HB-5562Link to HB-5563

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Vincent

The court held that the trial court did not err in concluding that the petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence sufficient grounds for termination of the respondent-father’s parental rights. However, the court also held that the trial court erred in finding that termination was in the child’s best interests. The court agreed with respondent that the trial court erred in concluding that termination was in the child’s best interests, noting that the factual record was inadequate to make this determination. The court found that, although the trial court considered the bond between the minor child and the child’s maternal aunt and uncle, it plainly failed to consider whether termination was appropriate given the child’s placement with relatives. Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further consideration of the best interests issue. Full Text Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Duncan

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order and remanded for further proceedings. The court held, inter alia, that the trial court clearly erred in terminating the respondent-father’s parental rights to the minor children. Respondent and his wife have four children. Respondent was arrested for homicide in 7/09 and has been continuously incarcerated since then. DHS sought termination of the mother’s parental rights because she was unable to overcome her drug problem, and the father, who was convicted of manslaughter, was serving a prison term of 5 to 22-1/2 years. The mother voluntarily released her parental rights, and the trial court terminated the father’s parental rights after a hearing. The trial court found that respondent would not be able to provide proper care for the children within a reasonable time because of the length of time he will remain incarcerated. The trial court stated that although the father had proposed alternative caretakers, “we’re looking at the parent to be able to provide that care and custody, not whether or not there might be somebody else that can do it for him.” However, in a prior case: In re Mason, the Supreme Court held that “the mere present inability to personally care for one’s children as a result of incarceration does not constitute grounds for termination” of parental rights and that a respondent “could fulfill his duty to provide proper care and custody in the future by voluntarily granting legal custody to his relatives during his remaining term of incarceration.” Respondent was amenable to having the children remain with their grandmother and she agreed to continue caring for them under a guardianship until respondent is released from prison. Thus, the trial court clearly erred in finding that “there is no reasonable expectation that the parent will be able to provide proper care and custody within a reasonable time”. Reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Full Text Opinion


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