Apr 25-May 1: 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
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
As Michigan Sends Kids to Prison for Life, Why Can’t System Recognize What Every Parent Knows?
April 29, Detroit Free Press: It is Michigan’s ugly little secret: We are second in the world in the number of juveniles we sentence as adults. There are currently more than 350 prisoners serving life sentences in our state who were incarcerated as children, some when they were as young as 14. We’re topped only by Pennsylvania, with 444. Many totalitarian governments — Syria and North Korea, for starters — do not treat children as adults in their justice systems. Colorado and Texas flat-out ban sending kids to prison for life. Link to Editorial
AZ: Child-Welfare System a Delicate Balancing Act
Apr. 28, The Republic: An insightful commentary
“There remains widespread confusion over whether child abuse is a crime (which it is), requiring a response by a police officer and a prosecutor (which in most cases does not happen), or a civil ‘family’ matter (which it also is), requiring a social worker and prevention efforts (which are in too short supply and which may obscure the criminal nature of the conduct).” Parentheses are included in the original. There is the dilemma. There needs to be a balance that keeps each child safe and respects each one’s right to grow up in a loving family. Link to Article
Former Foster Youth First to Graduate from Tuition-Free College Program
April 26, Detroit Free Press: Heather Nichols, 22, will become the first member of the Seita Scholars program for former foster youth to become a four-year graduate of Western Michigan University. The Seita Scholars program originally was envisioned for a dozen students during fall 2008. But then more began showing up, some stepping from caseworkers’ cars and clutching a garbage bag of belongings. In all, the inaugural class numbered 51. Now, there are 131 Seita Scholars. At least five other universities and colleges are poised to establish their own versions of the Seita initiative this fall under $600,000 in funding from the Michigan DHS. With several proposals to consider, DHS will announce the recipients of the funding by next week. The timing couldn’t be better: In April, Michigan extended foster care from age 18 to age 21 for eligible youth who want the services. To be eligible for the program, students must have lived in foster care on or after their 14th birthday. Link to Freep Article
A Related Story:
Former Foster Kids: Coaches, Understanding Staff Make the Difference on Campus
April 26, Detroit Free Press: The key to success for foster youth is this: someone to call, someone “who gets it,” said Angelique Day, an assistant professor in Wayne State University’s School of Social Work. Day, who founded Michigan State University’s Foster Youth Alumni Services Program when she worked there, said she hopes to establish a similar support system at WSU. The university did not apply for state funding and still is developing its program. Nearly half the state’s foster cases come out of Wayne County, and Day used financial-aid data to determine that 482 WSU undergrads are former foster youth. “We have a duty to care about this population,” she said. A cornerstone of success in other programs is provided by campus coaches, who help students navigate the bureaucracy of adulthood, think through career choices, set up savings accounts and confront the panic of a medical emergency or finals week. The coaches celebrate students’ successes and mark special occasions such as birthdays. Link to Article
OH: Children Services OKs Privatizing All Foster Care
April 26, Columbus Dispatch: Foster parents licensed by Franklin County Children Services must find a private agency to work for if they want to continue caring for children in their homes. Link to Article
US: 5 Ways to Banish the Post-Adoption Blues
Apr 25, The Atlantic: The exhausting demands of parenthood may lead to post-adoption depression, according to new Purdue Univ research. They also uncovered predictors of the post-adoption blues, including poor self-esteem, marital problems, difficulty in parent-child bonding, and perceived lack of support from family and friends. The team shares tips for adoptive parents who may be overwhelmed by the latest additions to their families. Link to Article
Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks on Human Trafficking
April 24, Little Rock, Ark: Today, a growing number of Americans are aware of – and concerned about – human trafficking. … In communities nationwide, human trafficking victims often are hiding in plain sight: the young woman who traveled to America for the promise of a new life, but finds herself enslaved and sold for sex. The child who was born here, but ran away from home and, in desperation, accepted help from the wrong person. Or one of the many young girls regularly shuttled to truck stops along I-40 – who is filled with shame and empty of hope, living in fear of incarceration and in doubt of her ability to survive on her own. … According to the Justice Department’s recent estimates, more than 40 percent of all human trafficking incidents opened for investigation were for sexual trafficking of a child. And the overwhelming majority of these victims – more that 80 percent of them – were identified as U.S. citizens. Make no mistake – human trafficking is not just a global problem. It is a national crisis – one that every parent, every teacher, every policymaker, and every law enforcement official must work to understand – and must help to address. Link to Full Text of Holder’s Speech See Also:
Holder: Appoints New Human Trafficking Coordinator at DOJ
Apr 24, Fox16.com: Link to Fox16 Article
US: Families Race to Adopt Before U.S. Tax Credit Ends
Apr 24, Reuters: Next year, without an extension, all that will remain of the adoption tax credit will be a much smaller $6,000 credit for domestic adoption for children classified as having “special needs,” a determination made at the state level. “It’s quite a rich benefit,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of the Tax Institute at H&R Block. “We’ve had a number of conversations with the folks at the IRS because there is still a lot of confusion around the rules. Some people have not been claiming that credit, or not been claiming the full benefit.” To claim the credit, file Form 8839 along with supporting documentation. The paperwork varies, depending on whether you are adopting domestically or internationally and whether you are adopting a special-needs child. Parents who should have qualified for a 2011 credit but missed it can file an amended return to maximize their savings. For a regular adoption, whether domestic or foreign, you can claim the credit up to the amount of your expenses (including adoption fees, attorneys fees, court costs, travel expenses, etc). While for a U.S. special-needs child you may qualify for the full amount of the credit even if you paid few or no adoption-related expenses. Link to Article
Firm Leaves Mississippi After Its Prison Is Called ‘Cesspool’
Apr 24, NPR: One month after a federal court ordered sweeping changes at a troubled juvenile prison in rural Mississippi, the private company managing the prison has announced it is pulling out of the state. A report by the Justice Department describes “systemic, egregious and dangerous practices” at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. Federal Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that the youth prison “has allowed a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts and conditions to germinate, the sum of which places the offenders at substantial ongoing risk.”
Walnut Grove, located an hour’s drive east of Jackson, is a 1,450-bed prison that houses inmates ages 13 to 22 who are minors convicted as adults. It was run by GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison corporation, which posted a profit of $284 million last year. “To have a prison that’s chaotic, poorly run, dangerous, didn’t provide services, highly sexualized and highly violent really limits the ability of the state to turn those folks around, and to ensure public safety upon their release from prison,” Among the conditions described in the report released last month:
● – Prison staff had sex with incarcerated youth, which investigators called “among the worst that we’ve seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.”
● – Poorly trained guards brutally beat youth and used excessive pepper spray as a first response.
● – The prison showed “deliberate indifference” to prisoners possessing homemade knives, which were used in gang fights and inmate rapes.
● – Some guards had inmate gang affiliations — a finding confirmed to NPR last year by former inmate Justin Bowling. Link to Article
Toddler Found Wandering
April 24, Huron Daily Tribune: A toddler left in the care of an 11-year-old baby-sitter was found Sunday morning wandering alone near a busy roadway in the city wearing only a diaper and T-shirt. Bad Axe Police Chief David Rothe said a motorist noticed the 18 months old child, alone and inappropriately dressed for the 30-some degree temperatures. She circled the block to check on the child, approached the child, then took the boy out of the elements before calling 9-1-1 to report the matter to police. An officer from the Bad Axe Police Department was dispatched to the location where the child was found. He attempted to locate the boys parents by knocking on the doors to apartments nearby. One of the tenants identified the child and giving him the child’s mother’s name and apartment number. The tenant then went to the child’s apartment and knocked on the door (which was open). Inside the apartment where the boy lived was an 11-year-old girl sleeping on the couch. She told police she was baby-sitting for her older sister’s son and the boy must have left the apartment when she was sleeping. The matter has been turned over to the Huron County DHS for an investigation. “We forwarded them (DHS) paper work to investigate possible child abuse. DHS will do their investigation and we will wait to hear back from them before anything is forwarded to the prosecutor’s office for review,” Rothe said. Chief Rothe said, “I understand kids will be kids. They’re curious I know that. But I can’t help but be amazed by the frequency,” he said. “I don’t remember hearing about incidents like this until the past year and a half. And since then, there’s been a lot of it.” Link to Article
See also: Apr 25, Saginaw News article relating to increase in incidents of wandering toddlers. Link to Saginaw News Article
RESOURCES WITH TIME LIMITED VALUE
The APSAC 20th Annual Colloquium
Chicago Sheraton Hotel
Chicago, Illinois; June 27-30, 2012
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children is proud to bring you the 20th Annual APSAC Colloquium. This year we offer 95 institutes and workshops which address all aspects of child maltreatment including prevention, assessment, intervention and treatment with victims, perpetrators and families affected by physical, sexual and psychological abuse and neglect. Cultural considerations will also be addressed. Seminars have been designed primarily for professionals in mental health, medicine and nursing, law, law enforcement, education, prevention, research, advocacy, child protection services, and allied fields. The educational goal of APSAC’s Colloquium is to foster professional excellence in the field of child maltreatment by providing interdisciplinary professional education. Upon completion of this activity, participants should be able to:
Identify physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect in children
Treat abused and neglected children
Apply model examination techniques for assessment of abused/neglected children
Describe and utilize the most up-to-date information concerning working with abused and neglected children to improve patient care
Prepare and report quality testimony in court cases, both as experts and as witnesses
For details and registration, click here.
Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Office Webcasts
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.
RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE
Right Start in Michigan 2012: A Closer Look at Maternal and Infant Well-Being
Apr 30, by Jane Zehnder-Merrell Kids Count in Michigan Project Director
Link to Report pdf
The report reviews the following indicators:
• Teen Births
• Repeat Teen Births (teen already a parent)
• Births to Unmarried Women
• Births to Mothers Without High School Diploma/GED
• Late or No Prenatal Care
• Smoking During Pregnancy
• Low-Birthweight Births (less than 5.5 pounds)
• Preterm Births (less than 37 weeks gestation)
Since September, 46,000 Children Lose Cash Assistance
Mar 28, Michigan League for Human Services: State hasn’t released case closure reasons yet
More than 46,000 children in Michigan are in families that have lost cash assistance since September, when the state started closing cases because of new time limits. A Genesee County judge ruled Tuesday, however, that the Department of Human Services exceeded its authority in using a 60-month limit with different rules than the 48-month limit enacted by the Legislature.
DHS has not yet released numbers on how many cases were actually closed due to time limits but the department reports monthly on the number of cases and people receiving benefits, which show a 30 percent drop between September 2011 and February 2012. Nearly 66,000 people, including 46,000 children, lost benefits. Link to MLHS Article
Bullied Children at Greater Risk for Self-Harm, Study Finds
Family history or maltreatment further increase likelihood of injuring oneself
April 27, HealthDay News: Children who are bullied are three times more likely than others to self-harm by the time they are 12 years old, according to a new study. A team of researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom said its findings, published online April 27 in the BMJ, could help identify those at greatest risk for this type of behavior. Examples of self-harming behaviors included cutting and biting arms, pulling out clumps of hair, head-banging and attempted suicide by strangulation, the study said. Link to Medline Article
Bullying, Violence Linked to Faster Aging in Kids
Age-related DNA changes seen early in those exposed to abusive behavior, study finds
April 24, HealthDay News: Children who are victims of bullying and violence have DNA wear-and-tear that is normally associated with aging, a new study shows. It found that violence-related stress in children affects telomeres — special DNA sequences found at the tips of chromosomes. Telomeres, which prevent DNA from unraveling, get shorter each time cells divide, which limits the number of times cells can divide. Shorter telomeres have been linked to poorer survival and chronic diseases. Link to Medline Article
New on the Child Mental Health Page:
Apr 19, Medline Plus: A list of symptoms of stress in children. Link to List
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a federal agency funding state, territory, local, and tribal organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families. Actual services are provided by state, county, city and tribal governments, and public and private local agencies. ACF assists these organizations through funding, policy direction, and information services.
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN) – The mission of NDACAN is to facilitate the secondary analysis of research data relevant to the study of child abuse and neglect. By making data available to a larger number of researchers, NDACAN seeks to provide a relatively inexpensive and scientifically productive means for researchers to explore important issues in the child maltreatment field.
CFSP/APSR Toolkit – This toolkit is a central location for technical assistance documents and materials, as well as references to specific laws, policies, and checklists, that relate to the development of the State and Tribal Child and Family Service Plan (CFSP) and Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR).
Methamphetamine: The Child Welfare Impact and Response — Conference Proceedings – Proceedings from the May 2006 Children’s Bureau conference on Methamphetamines and the impact of the drug on children and families, held in partnership with SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Child Care Bureau.
Federal and State Reporting Systems – Information on the Children’s Bureau Federal and State reporting systems, which provide data to monitor and improve child welfare outcomes.
Child Welfare Monitoring – Information on the programs provided by the Children’s Bureau that monitor State child welfare services, including the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) Assessment Reviews.
And much more than this is available on the page. Link to Website
LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE
Strategies for Recruiting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families.
National Resource Center for Adoption. National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections. National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids. 2012 Link to Strategies pdf
Secondary Trauma and the Child Welfare Workforce (Spring 2012 Issue of CW360○).
University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, 2012: Defines and provides solutions for secondary trauma faced by child welfare workers. Link to Report pdf
Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities.
United States. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2012: Juvenile Justice Bulletin: Link to Bulletin
Implications for Authorities and Practitioners
The findings suggest both progress and challenges in the effort to identify abused and victimized children. The higher rates of victimizations known to authorities found in the NatSCEV study may mean that past efforts to promote disclosure have been working and need to be sustained. But the study also shows that a considerable portion of childhood exposure to victimization is still unknown to authorities. It suggests that more outreach is needed to boys, Hispanic youth, and higher SES groups in particular. It also suggests that disclosure promotion needs to be directed toward episodes that involve family members and peer perpetrators. Educators have long recognized the need to promote disclosures about such family and peer episodes. An important task for authorities is to persuade children and families that they have resources available to help in these situations and that they can protect victims against retaliation.
Child Protection Report: Reporting Child Abuse is a Critical Child Protection Tool
(including, 2010 Snapshot of States which require every person to report suspected child abuse). The Protect Our Children Committee, 2012: States Where Everyone Is Required To Report Child Abuse: A minority of states require that every person is required to report child abuse while the majority of states, including Pennsylvania, extend the requirement to mandated reporters only. Link to Report
The Decision-Making Ecology.
American Humane Association, 2011: The Decision-Making Ecology framework presented here represents an effort to advance the field of Child Welfare decision-making using the knowledge gained from the decision-making sciences. It is a framework for organizing decision-making research in Child Welfare and places the topic squarely in the context of actual protective-service operations in this field. Link to Article
Spotlight on Child Neglect Prevention
Research Review: The National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds launched an initiative in 2011 to increase national focus on prevention of child neglect, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. As one of the first steps in that initiative, the Alliance conducted a preliminary review of the literature on child neglect. The following is a brief summary of the literature review so far, focusing on risk and protective factors for neglect. Link to Article
MICHIGAN LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
Senate Bill 0320 (2011) Ex parte emergency removal order allowing the department of human services to take protective custody of a child Link to Bill Text and History;
Analysis of Bill as Passed By Senate;
Commentary in Detroit Free press by Brian Dickerson; Mikes Hard Lemonade Case
This appears to be the language which significantly changes current law.
(1) Upon receipt electronically or otherwise of a petition or affidavit of facts, a judge or referee may issue a written ex parte order, electronically or otherwise, authorizing the Department of Human Services to immediately take a child into protective custody and place the child pending the preliminary hearing if the court finds all of the following:
(A) There is reasonable cause to believe that the child is at substantial risk of harm or is in surroundings that present an imminent risk of harm and the child’s immediate removal from those surroundings is necessary to protect the child’s health and safety.
(B) The circumstances warrant issuing an ex parte order pending the preliminary hearing.
(C) Consistent with the circumstances, reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child.
(D) No remedy other than protective custody is reasonably available to protect the child.
(E) Continuing to reside in the home is contrary to the child’s welfare.
(2) The ex parte order shall be supported by written findings of fact.
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: Frowner v. Smith
Because the trial court’s decision to refuse to evaluate whether the child’s best interests would be served by awarding custody to defendant the father, based on its application of MCL 722.27(1) (c) could not be reconciled with his fundamental constitutional right to the custody of the child, the court reversed and remanded to the trial court for a best interests hearing. Mother and father were not married. Father acknowledged paternity and paid child support. When the mother died the maternal grandparents were granted a guardianship under a consent judgment which also provided for child support and visitation by the father. In this case the father petitioned for custody of the child. The trial court denied his petition citing the father’s need to show that a proper cause or changed circumstances to justify a custody hearing. The Court of Appeals reversed in this published opinion which can be now cited as precedent in future cases. Full Text Opinion