January 2010 CA&N Media Articles, Resources and Cases

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) 832-9628
[email protected]


The Holland Sentinel, Jan 24th: The GVSU Women’s Center will shift its focus from violence against women to prevention of sexual abuse of children in its noon lunch series this month.  Full Story

Tuscola County Advertiser, Jan 23rd: A former candidate for state representative and his wife are awaiting the appeals process for putting their children in “sub-human” conditions, according to prosecutors.  Both parents were sentenced to 18 months to four years on two counts of second degree child abuse. The Clifford area couple was charged in November 2009 when their two adopted children – then ages 11 and 9 – were removed from their home.  “The investigation that was conducted determined that the children were regularly and routinely locked into a bedroom while being deprived of food,” said Mark Reene, Tuscola County Prosecutor.  Full Story

Lansing State Journal, Jan 23rd: Ireland’s Roman Catholic bishops are being summoned next month to a Vatican summit with Pope Benedict XVI to shape the pontiff’s response to child-abuse scandals, church officials said this week.  A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, confirmed that the pope has written to Ireland’s bishops inviting them to the Vatican Feb. 15-16, but he declined to provide any other details.  LSJ Story

Times Herald, Jan 19th: Nearly 20 people are picketing in front of the St. Clair County Courthouse in Port Huron, asking that Child Protective Services be investigated in the Friday death of a 3-year-old Kimball Township girl.  Members of the group are carrying signs, at least one that reads “CPS accessory to murder,” and are handing out pink ribbons with the dates of the child’s birth and death — Feb. 15, 2006 and Jan. 15. 2010.  Former state Rep. Lauren Hager was supporting the child’s family and friends this morning. Hager of Port Huron Township said he has filed a request that the case be investigated by the state Office of Children’s Ombudsman.  Full Story

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Jan 17th: A boy participating in Howell Public Schools fifth-grade camp in November claimed he was molested by a male camp counselor.  Howell school administrators reported that the male camp counselor from Clear Lake Camp who allegedly “inappropriately touched” a student was the only overnight chaperone in a dorm of 40 boys.  Children at the camp were not allowed to call their parents during the trip except in the case of an emergency, in order to give the students an experience of independence, according to administrators.  Parents also were not allowed to chaperone, administrators added.  Nancy McBride, safety director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said some of the camp’s practices, including restricting students’ ability to call home and only having one overnight chaperone in a dorm with dozens of kids, are red flags.  Full Story

Many News Sources have articles relating to the latest Kids Count data which show an increase in child poverty and neglect in Michigan.  Here is a link to the data for Michigan.  Link to MI Kids Count Page

Detroit Free Press, Jan 15th: US Court mulls sexting: Child porn or child’s play?  Three federal judges in Philadelphia have heard the first criminal case of “sexting” to reach a U.S. appeals court — a dispute over cell-phone images of three teenage girls.  The judges hearing arguments today must decide whether the girls can be charged with child pornography.  Link to Story

Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jan 14th: Michigan Supreme Court to decide child porn case involving two Jackson County men.  Would they be in possession of child abusive material if the material was only in the temp folder on their computers?  Full story

The Washington Post, Jan 13th: Supreme Court debates the Federal Government’s right to hold prisoners indefinitely who have been deemed sexually dangerous, even if they have completed the sentences for which they were convicted.  Full story
See also: Christian Science Monitor, Jan 12th:  Full story

The Muskegon Chronicle, Jan 12th: Michigan Supreme Court to hear Muskegon child pornography case.  Was copying child porn he downloaded from the internet making or producing child porn (20 year felony) or merely possession of child porn (four year felony).  Full story

The Detroit News, Jan 12th: Child poverty, abuse/neglect on rise in Michigan.  Full story

AP/Traverse City Record Eagle, Jan 8th: Report: Sex abuse high at juvenile centers.  See USDOJ Report under Resources With Ongoing Value hereinbelow.  Full story

CNN, Dec 28, 2009: ‘Unadoptable’ as child, man gets new parents.  Like the 20,000 foster children who “age out’ of the system each year, John left California’s foster care system six years ago believing he had missed his chance to be part of a family.  He was adopted at age 23.  Link to CNN Story

Grand Rapids Press, Dec 19th: Lansing lawmakers should eliminate barriers to getting foster children into safe, permanent homes more quickly through adoption or legal guardianship. The House ought to fast-track Senate legislation that would prevent delays in adoption approvals by granting the Department of Human Services (DHS) flexibility to have more than one official assigned to give consent to adoptions.  Full editorial


The State Court Administrative Office Child Welfare Services Division Presents the 2010 Thursday Luncheon Webcast Series
Child Welfare Services is pleased to announce the third annual series of webcasts on child welfare topics. These programs are cosponsored by the DHS and the Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Justice.  For each presentation, the target audience includes judges (state and tribal), referees, other court staff, attorneys, CPS workers, other DHS child welfare personnel, private-agency foster care and adoption workers, CASAs, legislators, policy makers, and other child welfare professionals.

Upcoming webinars include:
January 28, 2010: Absent Parent Protocol and Notice Issues
February 18, 2010: Mandated Reporters and the Friend of the Court (FOC)
March 18, 2010:
Concurrent Planning Roll Out in Michigan
Link to Webcast List The webcast list also includes many archived webinars which can be viewed at any time and is updated regularly to add upcoming webcasts.

MSU School of Social Work is providing continuing education credits for the following classes related to child welfare from January-April, 2010.  Link to Catalog Classes marked with an * are free to DHS employees and contractors.  Those marked with a # are free to all.
*  Urban City Trauma: Identify common experiences of youth in urban settings that contribute to self-destructi ve tendencies.  Assist youth with overcoming social stigmas and self-doubt.  Apply strategies to create and enhance trauma-sensitive environments for youth.
*  Successful Strategies for Working with GLBT & Questioning Youth in Out-of-Home Placement
*  Growing Up in the Care of Strangers: Experiences, Insights & Recommendations of 11 Former Foster Kids
#  Building a Home with a Heart: For those working to Support and enhance the relationships of couples who are raising children from the child welfare system.
#  Understanding Infant Adoption: For those working with pregnant women.


Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2008-09; January 7, 2010
Presents data from the 2008-09 National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC), conducted in 195 juvenile confinement facilities between June 2008 and April 2009 by the US Dept of Justice, with a sample of over 9,000 adjudicated youth. The report provides national-level and facility-level estimates of sexual victimization by type of activity, including youth-on-youth sexual contact, staff sexual misconduct, and level of coercion.  Includes data from the Shawono Center in Grayling.  Link to Report

THE NDACAN UPDATA; Winter 2009-2010 (Vol. 22)
The National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect Updata provides Archive announcements and is distributed twice a year.
National Juvenile Online Victimization Survey (N-JOV) by David Finkelhor, Ph.D.; Kimberly J. Mitchell, Ph.D.; Janis Wolak, J.D.(Dataset #135)
National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS)-Child File, FFY 2007 by the Children’s Bureau (Dataset #145)
National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Combined Aggregate File (CAF), FFY 2007 by the Children’s Bureau (Dataset #146)

Effective immediately, the Social Security Administration will accept an SSI application from a disabled youth in foster care up to 90 days before federal foster care payments are expected to end. This is an exception to the general rule of accepting an SSI application in the month before the month of eligibility. This policy will aid disabled youth in foster care to make the transition to adult life by helping to insure that they have income and health benefits in place.  The policy is in the SSA Program Operations manual System at Link Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Applications for Disabled Youth Transitioning out of Foster Care  

National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect is creating a database of measures used in their datasets called the canMI (child abuse & neglect Measures Index). It is not yet complete but is comprised of 261 publications so far, and can be viewed at this link: http://www.ndacan.cornell.edu/NDACAN/Bibliography.html When you get to the link, click on the button canMI found in the third bullet point.  These would be articles and reviews of various measures used to evaluate individuals and families in the child welfare system. 

Monitored Visitation Guidelines is offered to assist decision makers, in cases when sexual abuse allegations appear reasonably credible in Family Court or there is a prima facie case in Dependency Court, to determine when monitored visits should be ordered. It was written by a multidisciplinary task force of the California Professional Society On The Abuse of Children (CAPSAC).  Link to Guidelines These are California recommended guidelines and as such may or may not be relevant in Michigan

The Fauri lecture was presented Oct. 27, 2009 and is now available on the net.  This year, the annual presentation focused on the question of what type of training do child welfare workers need to be effective.  Speakers included:
Joan Levy Zlotnik, who spoke about the current state of training and what the studies show helps or doesn’t.
Carol Siemon, who spoke about the importance of workers being able to work with other disciplines, the value of child welfare tringships in schools of social work and the importance of critical thinking skills.
Robert Ortega, who spoke about the importance of cultural humility in child welfare practice.
Jim Henry, who spoke about the need for trauma focused practice with children and families.
Gary Anderson, who spoke about the importance of university trainingships in child welfare work.
Cassandra Bowers, who spoke about the overrepresentation of children of color in the child welfare system.  Link to Lecture

Zwi K, Woolfenden S, Wheeler D, O’Brien T, Tait P, Williams K.
School-based education programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse.
Campbell Systematic Reviews 2007:5    Reviews studies on school-based programs for preventing child sex abuse and shows they may improve knowledge and self protective behaviors but also increase anxiety; further research is needed.  Available at: Campbell Collaboration You will need to enter the above info in the search engine there to get to the article. 

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) has published a new Social Policy Report, entitled Home Visitation and Young Children: An Approach Worth Investing In? (2009), by Jennifer Astuto and La Rue Allen. The report reviews studies of large, established home visitation programs in the U.S. and discusses major concerns and current developments in the field of home visitation. Some studies show home visiting programs can prevent CA&N.  A pdf is available online at:  Link to Report

CLASP recently released a new report, Extending Home Visiting to Kinship Caregivers and Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers. The report explores how home visiting programs are serving children in kinship care and in family, friend, and neighbor care, based on CLASP’s interviews with major national models of home visiting and other stakeholders. It also presents detailed considerations for implementing home visiting with these caregivers, including matters of curricula, staffing, and service referral, and discusses opportunities that result from serving these caregivers. It concludes with recommendations for states and the federal government.  The report specifically discusses the impact of home visiting on CA&N.  Link to Report


Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re JDH
The Court of Appeals held while the trial court committed legal error when it gave the respondent-father’s (J) custody and parenting time proceeding priority over the petitioners’ termination and adoption proceeding because J filed his case first, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by adjourning the termination hearing pending the referee’s gathering of evidence relevant to the proceeding and referring both the custody and termination cases to the referee for fact-finding on an expedited basis. Further, any error inherent in the trial court’s method qualified as harmless because the petitioners failed to demonstrate the trial court would have decided the termination action differently if it had first considered termination separately from custody, or the trial court’s combination of the two matters otherwise caused them substantial prejudice.  Full Text Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Originally Unpublished – Then Published Sept. 24, 2009)
Case Name: In re Foster
The trial court did not clearly err in finding the termination of both respondents-parents’ parental rights was in the minor child’s best interests. The child was developing well in his foster care placement and, according to an agency report filed subsequent to termination; his foster parents want to adopt him.  Respondents argued the trial court improperly considered the child’s foster care placement. The Appellate Court held that the trial court properly considered the child’s placement in determining whether termination would be in the child’s best interests. Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: In re MKK
The court held while adoption proceedings must, in general, take precedence over other actions, such proceedings may be stayed upon a showing of good cause. Here, the respondent-putative father established good cause to stay the adoption proceedings in favor of his paternity action and the trial court erred in denying his motion to stay and proceeding with the § 39 hearings without first determining the issue of paternity. Thus, the August 6, 2008, order denying respondent’s motion and March 18, 2009, order denying him custody were vacated and the case remanded to allow respondent’s related paternity case to proceed.  Full Text Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: In re H.R.C
The trial court judge presiding over a juvenile proceeding has no authority to conduct in camera (private, one on one) interviews of the minor children. The appeals court vacated the trial court’s findings as to the children’s best interests and remanded for the case to be assigned to a different judge who “shall make findings as to each child’s best interests before deciding whether termination of respondents’ parental rights is warranted.  Full Text Opinion


Greene v Camreta: Issued December 10, 2009; Washington State case
Parents, on behalf of their daughter and themselves, sued DHS, a police officer and the local school for improper investigation of an allegation of sexual abuse.
On the first of three counts, the school, the protective services worker and a sheriff’s deputy were given qualified immunity from suit even though the interview at the school apparently produced false information (and would have been a clear violation of Michigan’s Forensic Interview Protocol) for questioning a grade schooler in a leading way at her school in the presence of a uniformed and armed sheriff’s deputy.  The court held that the PS workers actions were not so clearly invalid as to strip them of immunity.  The PS worker had probable cause to think that sexual abuse might have taken place.
In a second issue, the court held that there was a question of fact for the District Court to decide on whether the PS worker lied to the Court about a conversation between the mother of the alleged victim and the PS worker.  Such a lie, if it happened would not be covered by qualified immunity.  The Appellate Court reversed the summary judgment.
In a third issue the Appellate Court held that the PS worker’s directive to exclude the mother from the premises where a physical exam, checking for evidence of sexual abuse was conducted was a violation of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution.  The Court suggested that the mother should have been permitted to be present in the room during the exam.  Not clear, but was probably a colposcope exam.  Link to Page with Link to Court’s Opinion

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