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.
Apr 24, CadillacNews.com: Former Cadillac Forest View Elementary Principal Andy Brown, 43, was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday with credit for one day in Circuit Court in Wexford County on charges of attempted possession of child pornography. Brown admitted to possession of three images of girls under 18 years of age on his computer and was sentenced to three counts of attempted possession of child sexually abusive material. He was also sentenced to five years probation and must register as a sex offender. Link to Article
Paddling Students Still Allowed in 19 States
Apr 23, USA Today: The details about what led to Trey Clayton being paddled by the assistant principal of his Mississippi high school are in dispute, but there is no question about what happened moments after the March 2011 incident. Just steps out of the office, Trey fainted. The 14-year-old’s resulting fall – face first onto the concrete floor – split his chin open, fractured his jaw and shattered five teeth, says Trey’s attorney. Corporal punishment – typically swats with a wooden paddle on the backside of a student – is banned in most of the nation. However, 19 states, mostly in the South, still allow it, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that seeks to abolish corporal punishment in U.S. schools. Link to Article
Eric Holder’s Children/Violence Task Force in Detroit for Public Hearing
April 23, Detroit News: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s task force on children exposed to violence is holding its last public hearing this week in Detroit. Holder launched the task force last fall as part of his Defending Childhood initiative, with ex-NY Yankees and LA Dodgers manager Joe Torre as co-chair. Link to Article
Troubled Teen Finds Job, Stability Through Unique Program
Apr 23, AnnArbor.com: After six months of attending Ypsilanti High School’s Positive Success Initiative (YPSI), Victor Newell has improved his reading by four grade levels, works double shifts at the Dunkin’ Donuts, volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is studying for his driver’s license exam, all while preparing to attend Washtenaw Community College. “And the sad thing is, there are so many other kids out there just like Victor,” said YSPI teacher Jason Towler. After observing the impact YPSI has had on Newell and others in such a short period of time, Ypsilanti Public Schools’ hovering $14-million operational deficit is of immense concern to Towler. Towler and Ypsilanti’s now-retired special education director developed the Positive Success Initiative. It is unique in that it caters specifically to at-risk students with learning disabilities and emotional impairments, which is contrary to most special education services in Michigan that are designed for cognitively impaired youth, Towler said. Link to Article
US: Feds Want Tighter Predator Leash
April 23, USA Today: The Justice Department is asking federal courts to let it cast a wider net in its effort to indefinitely lock up accused sexual predators, urging judges to detain men who have never been convicted of sexual assaults. By law, the government can detain sex offenders after their prison sentences end if it can prove that they have a serious mental illness and have molested children or committed other “sexually violent” crimes. In court filings, government lawyers have argued that the law also applies to men who have been convicted of crimes that did not result in physical harm, including threatening phone calls and exhibitionism. If courts agree, those men could remain in prison until psychologists say they are safe to set free. Link to Article
US: Wait to Adopt Healthy Babies Keeps Growing
April 21, Inforum: Patience is a virtue – especially if you plan to adopt. Adoption experts say the number of healthy babies available for adoption domestically and overseas remains very limited and won’t increase anytime soon. Domestically, just 1 to 2 percent of pregnant mothers make an adoption plan. Link to Article
Truancy Academy Kids Design Posters to Encourage Those Serving Jury Duty to Donate Pay to Foster Children
Apr 21, Herald-Palladium: Children placed in foster care must sometimes do without life’s extras. Money may not be available for music lessons, sports equipment or summer camp. This spring, students at the Berrien County Truancy Academy put their artistic talents to work to promote a donation program that provides amenities for kids in court-supervised foster care. Students created posters in a contest to make people aware of the Generous Juror program.
The student’s work will be placed on the walls in the room where people report for jury duty. About a dozen middle-school age children who attend the Truancy Academy participated in the contest. The Generous Juror program offers people who are selected for jury service the option of donating their pay to support activities for youth living in foster care. The pay for jury service is $12 for a half-day and $25 for a full day, and many people choose to donate the money. Link to Article
Studies Show Most Of 4,000 Sudden Infant Deaths A Year Are Preventable
Apr 21, Scripps Howard News Service: WASHINGTON – No matter whether they classify them as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, suffocation or unexplained, investigators are increasingly convinced that most of about 4,000 sudden infant deaths that occur nationwide each year can be called one thing — preventable. Three new reports in the past two weeks suggesting most such deaths of babies under a year old happen in unsafe sleeping conditions. The largest analysis of sudden unexplained infant deaths done to date was published online Thursday by the American Journal of Public Health, which found that only 25 percent of more than 3,100 infants who died were sleeping in a crib or on their back, as recommended. Link to Newsnet5.com Article
Reforming Programs for Elderly Would Free Up Michigan Dollars for Children Being Kicked Off Public Assistance
Apr 20. Bridge Magazine/MLive.com: A 5-year-old child born to a mother who has exceeded 48 months on cash assistance was being reared in destitution before the state yanked $5,000 in annual welfare benefits. A 75-year-old residing in a nursing home, meanwhile, receives $80,000 in Medicaid-funded care. Not that future fiscal choices should favor the young at the expense of the old, but it’s clear that the current ones certainly favor the old over the young — as if the young have any more say over their circumstance than the old do. Link to Op Ed
Virginia: Father Gets Green Light to Seek Damages in Utah Adoption
Apr 20, The Salt Lake Tribune: The Supreme Court of Virginia on Friday gave new life to the legal battle over a child known as Baby Emma by ruling her father was “purposefully kept in the dark” about her Utah adoption and could argue in federal court that the proceedings interfered with his parental rights. In a split decision, the justices said John Wyatt could pursue monetary damages in federal court for loss of companionship, mental anguish, loss of services and expenses incurred in his fight to recover his now 3-year-old daughter. Wyatt has a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against a Virginia attorney; a Utah adoption agency; the agency employee who facilitated the adoption; a Utah attorney; and the adoptive parents. The majority wrote that failure to recognize that claim would “leave a substantial gap in the legal protection afforded to the parent-child relationship,”. It said an “overwhelming majority” of courts in “sister states” have reached similar conclusions.
“It is both astonishing and profoundly disturbing that in this case, a biological mother and her parents, with the aid of two licensed attorneys and an adoption agency, could intentionally act to prevent a biological father — who is in no way alleged to be an unfit parent — from legally establishing his parental rights and gaining custody of a child whom the mother did not want to keep, and that this father would have no recourse in the law,” the majority said. Link to Article
US: Fathers’ Presence Good, But Marriage Better
Apr 20, Edmonton Sun: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children — one in three — live in father-absent households. Children in such homes are five times more likely to be living in poverty. Link to Article
44 Open Foster Care Cases in Dickinson County
Apr 21, Daily News; By MAURA D. CORRIGAN, Director Michigan DHS: We are seeing the benefits of a new outreach that puts foster parent “navigators” into the very heart of the foster parent recruitment process. In the past, prospective parents waited sometimes for weeks and months to attend seminars and meetings as part of the initial screening. The streamlining of that timetable, from when a person first shows an interest to getting all of their questions answered, is vital to our efforts to attract new foster parents. In Dickinson County, the changes have been dramatic. In 2009, just one new foster home was licensed. But since January 2011, a total of 11 new foster homes have been licensed. That’s a testament to the hard work of the DHS staff in Dickinson County. 12 foster children are waiting for adoption in Dickinson County. The great news is that seven of those children already have an identified adoptive family. The downside? Five of the children don’t. Link to Article
US: Siegal Exposes Corruption of International Adoptions
Apr 20, Brandeis Hoot: As a fellow of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, Erin Siegal has painstakingly unearthed the corruption of international adoptions, particularly those stemming from Guatemala, and exposed them to the public with her books “Finding Fernanda” and “The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010.” Link to Article
Witnesses Recall Past Assaults
Apr 19, Daily Press: Family members and ex-girlfriends testified Wednesday about past abusive acts by a Gladstone man being tried for child abuse and domestic violence in Delta County Circuit Court. During day three of the trial of Allen Joseph Brunette, 23, witnesses recalled violent behavior by him including threats and physical assaults they were victims of during the past years. Link to Article
Canada: First Nations Child Advocate Wins 1st Battle with Ottawa on Services
April 19, CBC: Cindy Blackstock, a long-time advocate for aboriginal children in Canada, won a major victory on April 18 when the Canadian Federal Court ruled that further scrutiny is needed to determine whether Ottawa is discriminating against First Nations children on reserves by underfunding child welfare services. Link to Article
Standardized Court Reports: Improving Consistency and Efficiency in Child Welfare Cases
Friday, Jun 1 at 12:00 PM EDT
This webcast will focus on the standardized court report format that was implemented recently by the Department of Human Services and its contracted agencies. The webcast will address the reasons for the development of the report; how the report will help the courts monitor agencies’ care and supervision of children; and why utilizing the report will facilitate timely permanency for children under the courts’ jurisdiction. The audience will be encouraged to submit questions. The target audience for this webcast includes family court judges and referees, lawyer-guardians ad litem, parent attorneys, prosecutors, foster care caseworkers, and supervisors. Link to Webcast Information
Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care
Wednesday, Jun 6 at 12:00 PM EDT
On November 22, 2011, Governor Snyder signed the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Act (YAVFC), which authorizes DHS to provide foster care services, adoption subsidy support, and guardianship assistance for eligible youth until they reach age 21. The YAVFC will allow Michigan to take advantage of Title IV-E federal funding authorized by the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The purpose of the federal and state legislation is to improve outcomes for youth by providing extended support for those who otherwise would age out of the foster care system. This webcast will provide an overview of the new programs, the DHS policy driving their implementation, and the impact on the courts and court processes. Link to Webcast Information
Thursday, Jun 14 at 9:00 AM EDT
Training will be held at the Hall of Justice, 925 West Ottawa, Lansing, 48915.
Michigan’s Forensic Interviewing Protocol was developed by the Department of Human Services in conjunction with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan and the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect. The goal of a forensic interview is to obtain a statement from a child in a developmentally sensitive, unbiased, and truth-seeking manner, so that the child’s statement will support accurate and fair decisions by the criminal justice and child welfare systems. The training is based on the updated 2010 protocol. Target Audience: Judges, referees, attorneys for children and parents, and caseworkers for the Michigan Department of Human Services, tribes, and private agencies. Link to Training Information
Depression in Teens Who Were Adopted: What Families Need to Know.
Adoption Resources of Wisconsin. WI DCF 2012: Handout for adoptive families in which an adopted teen is struggling with depression. Link to pdf Handout
The Long Shadow of Foster Care.
Rise Magazine. 2012 By and for parents in the child welfare system. Parent handout for parents with children returning from foster care. Link to pdf of Periodical
Promoting the Safe, Appropriate, and Effective Use of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care
Apr 11, Children’s Bureau: Purpose: To serve as a resource to State and Tribal title IV-B agencies as they comply with requirements to develop protocols for the appropriate use and monitoring of psychotropic medications in the title IV-B plan. This Information Memorandum (IM) defines the issues surrounding psychotropic medication use by children in foster care, highlights available resources for States to consider when developing their Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR), and encourages increasing access to clinically appropriate screening, assessment, and evidence-based interventions for foster children with mental health and trauma-related needs. Link to pdf report
How Can Child Welfare Agencies Access Education Records in Compliance With the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
American Bar Association. Center on Children and the Law: Sharing data and information among child welfare, education, and court systems can improve the systems and help children. With accurate information about a child’s educational needs, the child welfare worker can make better decisions about a child’s placement, well being, and transition goals, and the judge can ensure that children, including those with disabilities and other special needs, get the education and supports they need. Link to pdf Brochure
Psychiatric Outcomes in Young Children with a History of Institutionalization.
Jan 20, 2011, Harvard Medical School: Children raised in institutions, considered an extreme example of social deprivation, are one group through which we can better understand the impact of neglect on child health and development. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) is the first randomized, controlled trial of foster care as an intervention for institutionalized children. In this review we describe the mental health outcomes from the BEIP. Specifically, we report findings on attachment styles, attachment disorders, emotional reactivity, and psychiatric symptomatology for children in the BEIP. Link to pdf Article
Facts for Policymakers: Trauma Exposure, Psychosocial Functioning and Treatment Needs of Youth in Residential Care.
Nov 2011, National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Using the NCCTS Core Data Set, this report aims to shed light on the links between trauma exposure in childhood and adolescence, current psychosocial functioning, and intervention outcomes in youth receiving residential treatment services, compared to youth receiving services in a continuum of community-based services, with the goal of achieving a better understanding of this population and their unique needs. Link to pdf Report
Facts for Policymakers: Complex Trauma and Mental Health of Children Placed in Foster Care: Highlights from the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Core Data Set.
Dec 2011, National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Children and adolescents in the child welfare system typically have experienced at least one caregiver-related trauma (e.g., abuse or neglect). In fact, many such children have extensive histories of complex and chronic maltreatment associated with a range of severe reactions. The study’s findings are consistent with the growing literature on multiple victimization indicating that individuals who experience multiple types of trauma are at greater risk for psychosocial maladjustment and mental health problems. Link to pdf Report
State Secrecy and Child Deaths in the U.S.: An Evaluation of CAPTA Mandated Public Disclosure Policies About Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, with State Rankings. 2nd Ed.
2012 This 2nd edition of State Secrecy and Child Deaths in the U.S. grades all fifty states and the District of Columbia on their laws and regulations pertaining to public disclosure of child abuse or neglect deaths and near deaths. It includes an analysis of the elements of an effective statute and describes how each state includes or omits such features. Link to pdf Report
Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade: Workshop Summary.
Jan 30, 2012, National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Children, Youth, and Families. Institute of Medicine: This document summarizes the workshop which reviews the accomplishments of the past two decades of research related to child maltreatment, identifies remaining gaps, and considers potential research priorities. Link to Link to Workshop Summary
Attorneys For Children Guide to Interviewing Clients: Integrating Trauma Informed Care and Solution Focused Strategies.
2011: This guide focuses on the importance of taking trauma into account when interviewing children who have been traumatized. Representing and advocating for a child who has been abused or neglected involves communicating with someone already distrustful due to significant trauma. In order to work for child-clients it is critically important that the attorney for the child considers the impact of trauma on the child’s mentality and how the resultant shift in functioning affects the child’s ability to communicate. Link to pdf Guide
Are Online Child Pornography Offenders Likely to Commit Offenses Involving Sexual Contact With Children?
Mar 2012, Criminological Highlights Page 10: Data from Canada (pdf) suggests not.
MICHIGAN LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
House Bill 4393 Was Passed by The Michigan House and Senate and Takes Effect on June 1, 2012 to Become MCL 436.1703 Link to Bill History
The bill would amend the Michigan Liquor Control Code to do the following:
The current Code prohibits a minor (a person under 21) from purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic liquor, attempting to purchase, consume, or possess alcoholic liquor, or having any bodily alcohol content, except as otherwise provided. Under the bill as passed, the following individuals would not be considered to be in violation of those prohibitions:
— A minor who had consumed alcohol and voluntarily presented himself or herself to a health facility or agency for treatment or observation, including examination and treatment for any condition arising from criminal sexual conduct committed against a minor.
— A minor who accompanied an individual who had consumed alcohol and voluntarily presented himself or herself to a health facility or agency for treatment or observation.
— A minor who initiated contact with a peace officer or emergency medical services personnel for the purpose of obtaining medical assistance for a legitimate health care concern.
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) Case Name: In re KEG & AG
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment for the adoption of the siblings KEG and AG by their formal foster parents the Provalovs which was recommended by the Michigan Children’s Institute Superintendant (MCIS), a DHS employee. The Ulmers had been informally caring for KEG for a significant part of the time. The Ulmers argued that they should be allowed to adopt KEG. But the MCIS decided based on testimony of the DHS caseworker, and some other experts that the children had formed attachments with the Provalovs and did not want to separate the siblings. The courts decided that the MCIS’s decision was not arbitrary and let it stand. Full Text Opinion