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
Detroit Free Press, Feb 6th: Children’s home of Detroit campuses in Warren and Grosse Pointe Woods are to be transferred today to Starr Commonwealth, an Albion-based nonprofit that provides residential- and community-based programs for troubled youth and their families. Full Story
Oakland Daily Tribune, Feb 6th: Teri Martin, a Southfield woman who made headlines when she dropped off her 13-year-old adopted son at a Nebraska hospital, is going home after being ordered to stay away from her family. Full Story
Detroit News, Feb 6th: Mother of five, faces life in prison on allegations that she burned her 4-year-old daughter in an oven, used a hot nail or screwdriver to singe her eyelids and beat her 5-year-old daughter’s leg with a pry bar. Full Story
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) Feb 5th Reversing a termination of parental rights.
Case Name: In re Hall
Concluding the trial court in terminating the respondent-mother’s parental rights clearly erred in finding clear and convincing evidence the minor children would likely suffer harm if returned to her care, clearly erred in entirely disregarding the testimony of a particular witness, and expressed strong opinions and comments in rejecting the testimony of the witness indicating a “lack of interest in considering evidence that conflicted with the court’s preconceived conclusions,” the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings before a different judge. The trial court terminated respondent’s parental rights after holding she had the opportunity to prevent the sexual abuse of B., failed to do so, and the children would likely suffer injury or abuse if returned to her care. The court concluded the trial court clearly erred in finding clear and convincing evidence the children would likely suffer harm if returned to respondent’s care and entirely disregarded the testimony of the only witness who had first-hand information as to respondent’s relationship with her children and her ability to parent them. The court noted the trial court expressed “strong opinions” in rejecting the witness’s testimony, had preconceived notions about the case, and ordered the case reassigned to a different judge.
Ann Arbor News – Feb 4th: The Washtenaw Intermediate School District has fired a teacher’s aide accused of abusing special education students. “We have completed our investigation related to Michael Beasley’s conduct. Based on the information we obtained, we’ve determined we have just cause for dismissal,”. Full Story
Ann Arbor News, Jan 30th: Washtenaw Intermediate school chief says initial probe into child slapping incident may have been flawed. Full Story
Grand Rapids News, Jan 28th: Father pleads guilty to violently shaking infant son. Full Story
Flint Journal, Jan 27th: Whaley Children’s Center violated state regulations when a case manager failed to do work required to clear the way for the adoption of an 11-year-old boy last year. Full Story
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) Jan 26th
Case Name: In re Martin
Issues: While a diagnosis of mental health problems/personality disorders does not by itself warrant termination of parental rights, psychologists concluded “respondent’s mild mental retardation rendered her incapable of parenting the child with any measure of effectiveness or providing for the child’s safety.” Her mental health therapist also agreed she was unable to parent independently. One psychologist testified respondent’s developmental disability could not be changed through medication or treatment, and she had the abilities of a child who was 10 years, 7 months old. Full Text Opinion
Issues: The doctrine of anticipatory neglect or abuse
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished) Jan 23rd
Case Name: In re Pierce
The children were properly within the trial court’s jurisdiction due to physical abuse by the respondent-mother of her oldest child and threatened harm to all the children. The evidence at trial showed the oldest child reported respondent had physically abused her and a school worker observed a welt across her back. According to the Protective Services worker, respondent admitted striking the child with a charger cord. She admitted in her trial testimony using corporal punishment, but denied using anything other than an open hand, and admitted threatening to beat the two older children when they returned home, but she passed it off as a joke. It was clear from the trial court’s findings it did not believe respondent’s testimony as to the form and extent of corporal punishment. Under the doctrine of anticipatory neglect or abuse, “[a] child may come within the jurisdiction of the court solely on the basis of a parent’s treatment of another child.” “Abuse or neglect of the second child is not a prerequisite for jurisdiction of that child and application of the doctrine of anticipatory neglect.” Full Text Opinion
Detroit News, Jan 20th: Bias alleged in state foster care: Michigan reflects national trend of disproportionate removal of black children from families, study says. Full Story
Macomb Daily, Jan 20th: [Macomb] prosecutors want child molester’s sentence to stick. Full Story
Lansing State Journal, Jan 18th: Shelter for kids struggles to get by. Angel House strays from mission to help cover costs, raising concerns. In 2007, the Mason facility began accepting low- to moderate-risk juvenile delinquents to fill the beds and bring in money, according to county and court officials. Allowing even low-risk juvenile delinquents to stay at Angel House is a concern to some. Full Story
Detroit Free Press, Jan 15th: Editorial: Harsh poverty numbers for kids demand response. Full Op Ed
Lansing State Journal, Jan 13th: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of Michigan kids living in poverty rose from just under 14 percent to 19 percent, according to the 2008 Kids Count in Michigan data book. Released today, it tracks the well-being of children statewide. Among its other findings: An increase in confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect jumped almost 14 percent between 2000 and 2007, the most recent data analyzed. It doesn’t take into account the further worsening of the economy in late 2008. Full Story
Flint Journal, Jan 1st: Genesee County cuts down on missing foster kids but some still live on the streets, escaping the system. Article gives statewide statistics as well. Full Story
CDF Releases State of America‘s Children 2008 Report; December 25, 2008
The Children’s Defense Fund recently released its State of America’s Children 2008 report, a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, nutrition and housing. The report provides a statistical compendium of key child data showing epidemic numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased nearly 500,000 to 13.3 million, with 5.8 million of them living in extreme poverty, and nearly 9 million children lack health coverage, with both numbers likely to increase during the recession. The number of children and teens killed by firearms also increased after years of decline. Learn more and download the report.
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Bean
Since the respondent-mother was unable to put her children’s interests above her own and continued to use drugs and participate in criminal behavior, but the respondent-father had a home and was about to begin a job and the evidence established he was able to provide proper care and custody for his daughter, the court held the trial court properly terminated the mother’s parental rights to her two children, but clearly erred in terminating the father’s parental rights to his daughter. State Bar e-Journal Summary Full Text Opinion
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re A.R.P. December 23, 2008
The Court of Appeals second guessed the trial court and reversed and remanded. The trial court concluded respondent had bruised the child and was likely to do so again. Although the evidence arguably supported the trial court’s finding respondent caused the bruising, there was no clear and convincing evidence demonstrating a reasonable likelihood the child would be bruised or injured if placed into the parents’ home. All that could be said from the evidence was the bruising was a one-time occurrence. Respondent took the child to the hospital out of concern for her health, cooperated with medical personnel and the police, and never showed anything but concern for her. Nothing in the record suggested what occurred in June 2007 was reasonably likely to occur again. Without any evidence concerning respondent’s disposition to repeat this type of alleged behavior, or other evidence placing his parenting skills into question, “the trial court’s decision was based on speculation rather than clear and convincing evidence.”
State Bar e-journal summary Full Text Opinion