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 CA&N News Articles can be found at: http://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles
RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES
MI: Doctor Says Children Were Forcibly Immersed in Hot Water Are Now in Good Condition at University Hospital
July 30, Jackson News: Two young children a doctor said were forcibly immersed in hot water are in good condition Monday afternoon at the University of Michigan Health System’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Their mother’s boyfriend, Daniel Ronquillo, 24, is accused of torture and first-degree child abuse and remains in jail. Both children had second- and third-degree burns to their lower extremities. Third-degree burns are the most serious. They involve all layers of skin and cause permanent tissue damage. Burns covered 18 percent of Bella’s body surface area and 27 percent of her brother’s body surface area, Dr. Bethany Mohr testified Monday. Mohr is medical director of the children’s hospital’s Child Protection Team. Both children had to have skin grafts, meaning tissue from parts of their bodies was removed and attached elsewhere, Mohr said. Since the children were injured, they have been removed from their mother’s care, and the Michigan Department of Human Services is moving to terminate their mother’s parental rights. Link to Article
Mental Abuse of Kids Leaves Lifelong Scars
July 30, HealthDay News: Constantly belittling, threatening or ignoring children can be as damaging to their mental health as physical or sexual abuse, according to a new report from a pediatricians’ group. But, with no bruises to spot, pediatricians, teachers and family members may have trouble recognizing these and other forms of psychological abuse. Not only are there no obvious physical scars, there is no universally agreed-upon definition of what constitutes psychological maltreatment of children, and a fine line can exist between not-so-great parenting and outright abuse, experts say. “The main message for child health clinicians and people working with children is that psychological maltreatment is just as harmful as other types of maltreatment,” said report co-author Dr. Harriet MacMillan, a professor in the departments of psychiatry, behavioral neurosciences and pediatrics at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Link to Article
US: Foster Care Population Drops For 6th Straight Year
July 30, CBS News: The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence. The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place. Link to CBS News Article Link to pdf AFCARS Report
UT: Open Adoption Is Norm; Should Arrangements Be Enforced? Some States Say Yes; In Utah, The Debate Continues.
Jul 30, The Salt Lake Tribune: Experts say at least 80 percent of adoptions now are open, though what that means can range from having the names of, or meeting adoptive parents, to an ongoing relationship. Study findings published in the National Council for Adoption’s Factbook V, released in 2011, show both adoptive and birth parents are more satisfied with the adoption process when there is “greater openness,” and such arrangements contribute to better adjustment of birth parents. With wide acceptance of open adoption, the debate has now shifted to whether such agreements should be enforceable. As of May 2011, about 26 states have statutes that specifically address open adoption arrangements that are governed by written, enforceable contracts; in some states, the law applies to all adoptions while in others it affects children of a certain age or only those in foster care. No state allows failure to comply with an agreement as grounds for setting aside an adoption decree. Link to Article
CA: The Village Family Services Partners With RaiseAChild.US
July 30, PRWeb: The Village Family Services signed on as a “Community Friend” partner of RaiseAChild.US, a non-profit organization that encourages LGBT people to build their families through fostering and adoption. Its campaigns recruit and support prospective LGBT parents while putting images of LGBT families into public spaces through outdoor advertising and PSAs on television and radio. Link to Article
MI: Macomb County Teacher / Foster Dad Facing Child Porn Charges
July 30, Detroit News: Federal prosecutors have charged a fourth-grade teacher from Macomb County who also is a foster parent with possessing and receiving child pornography. David Joseph Kiluk, who teaches at George Washington Academy in Mount Clemens, was charged Friday. The Clinton Township man told investigators he was attracted to boys but had never inappropriately touched a child, including his foster children, according to federal court records. An FBI agent and New Baltimore police detectives went to Kiluk’s house Wednesday, but he refused to talk to them or let them inside his home, according to the complaint. Before leaving, they spotted an 8-year-old boy in Kiluk’s house. Investigators returned the same day with a search warrant. They asked Kiluk about the boy. Kiluk said he was the boy’s foster parent. The boy has a learning impairment “and could not tell us what his name was,” an FBI agent wrote in the criminal complaint. The boy was placed with Kiluk through Lutheran Social Services and has since been placed in another foster home. The boy had lived with Kiluk for about three weeks.
“During that time, our staff saw nothing to suggest that the child was being mistreated or that there was criminal activity in the home,” Lutheran Social Services said in a statement Monday. He will meet with forensic interviewers this week and undergo a medical exam. Lutheran Social Services conducted a background check on Kiluk last year. The check revealed no criminal record, the agency said. Link to Article
WA: Three Washington State Teenagers Sue Backpage.Com
July 30, Detroit News: Three Washington teenagers who say they were sold online for sex have sued the website Backpage.com, accusing the website’s owners of enabling their exploitation. Two 13-year-old girls from Pierce County and one 15-year-old from King County, which encompasses Seattle, filed the lawsuit Friday in Pierce County Superior Court, The News Tribune of Tacoma reported Sunday (http://is.gd/9Kf1oU). Seattle attorney Liz McDougall, who represents Backpage’s corporate owners, said the lawsuit will not pass legal muster and is barred by federal law. The site is owned by Village Voice Media in New York. Backpage is a popular online destination for escort services. The company has been under heavy pressure to change the way it operates. Link to Article
MI: WMU’s Foster Care Seita Scholars Speaking to Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth
July 30, Saginaw News: Western Michigan University Seita Scholars are speaking today to Congressional leaders who are touring the country to hear about the current state of the foster care system. WMU’s Seita Scholars Terence Brown, of Pontiac, Mich., Brittney Carter, of Comstock Park, Mich., Brittney Grant, of Chesaning, Mich. and Michael Marotta of Clay, Mich., planned to speak on behalf of WMU’s Seita Scholars program, which provides a comprehensive support system for individuals who have aged out of the foster care system and who wish to earn a college degree. The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth was scheduled to stop in Saginaw on Monday as part of a national ‘Listening Tour’ aiming to help lawmakers identify potential federal policy modifications that could improve outcomes for the 420,000 children in the nation’s foster care system. The tour stops in four cities including Saginaw, MI. Link to Article
WI: State to Create New Foster Care Health Program
July 30, NBC15.com: Gov. Scott Walker has announced the federal government approved creating a new coordinated foster care initiative for six southeastern Wisconsin counties designed to improve their medical care. The initiative will begin in the fall for 2,500 children in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties. The program creates a virtual “medical home” for children in foster care and out-of-home care where a child will receive an individualized treatment plan that addresses their specific needs. Walker’s office said Monday that the goal is to improve the children’s physical and mental health and save the state money in Medicaid costs. The program is a joint initiative of the state’s departments of Health Services and Children and Families. Link to Article
Russia Signs Tougher Adoption Deal With US
July 30, Reuters: President Vladimir Putin has ratified a new agreement with the United States that tightens up rules for U.S. citizens adopting Russian children, his office said on Monday, after a spate of abuse cases that have outraged public opinion in Russia. Under the new agreement, foreign adoptions will be subject to stricter control by authorized agencies, and adopting families will be more thoroughly vetted and monitored. The office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner said it would also seek information on all Russian-born children adopted in the United States. In 2009, U.S. parents adopted 1,585 children from Russia, down from a peak of 5,863 in 2004. Link to Article
US: Childhood Mental Abuse Under the Radar?
July 30, MedPage Today: Emotional maltreatment of children deserves as much attention as that given to physical and sexual abuse, according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Psychological abuse can take many forms, including spurning, which refers to belittling or ridiculing the child in public; terrorizing, or allowing the child be be in chaotic or dangerous situations; and isolating. Other abusive behaviors include exploiting or corrupting, avoiding emotional responsiveness, and neglect of mental and medical health or education. These behaviors “may be verbal or nonverbal, active or passive, and with or without intent to harm,” and can be most damaging in the first 3 years of life, when profound growth and development are occurring, the authors stated. An example of a targeted intervention that has shown benefits for child abuse in general is the Nurse Family Partnership, which involves prenatal and early infancy home visits to help first-time low-income mothers better care for their infants. However, no consensus exists on the optimal treatment for children who have experienced emotional or psychological abuse. Some research has examined different types of cognitive-behavioral and child-management programs, but a “major need for research” remains to identify effective therapies for these children. Link to Article
Led By An Innocent Into a Web Of Evil: International Child Porn
July 29: Boston Globe: As soon as they saw the terrified boy’s photo three years ago, federal agents Peter Manning and Gregory Squire had the same thought: we have to save him. The blue-eyed child, about 18 months old, was naked from the waist down and clutching a stuffed rabbit for comfort. There was no doubt he had been sexually abused. It’s not as if Manning and Squire hadn’t been faced with this kind of image — and worse — before. Assigned to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Boston, their job is to track down child pornographers and victims. Over the years, they’ve become painfully familiar with some of the hundreds of thousands of child pornography pictures and videos online. Many depict almost unimaginably grotesque attacks on infants and toddlers and are traded like baseball cards by men using obscure Internet outposts to revel in their depravity. But that single image of the distraught boy with the toy bunny became a crucial piece of evidence for Manning and Squire. It had been e-mailed to them by a Milford man who thought he was sharing it with fellow child-pornography voyeurs. His miscalculation sparked an investigation that would spread around the world, thus far leading to 42 arrests and the discovery of 140 children who were violated. The youngest was 19 days old. Robert Diduca, who sent the first photo — which he labeled “cookie” in a reference to the boy — eventually pleaded guilty to the production, distribution, and possession of child pornography. In June, the 48-year-old father of three was sentenced in US District Court in Worcester to 18 years in prison. Link to Article
WI: Social Services Officers Advocate Counseling Over Foster Care in Abuse Cases
Jul 29, Green Bay Press-Gazette: While reports of child abuse and neglect continue to rise, social services officers are making a push to keep more children in their own homes rather than placing them in foster care. In Brown County, the number of reports of child abuse and neglect are about 29 percent higher than last year. But the number of children in foster care was down about 27 percent from May 2011 to May 2012. The difference in the numbers is due, in part, to evolving strategies at the Brown County Human Services Department, supervisors say. Strategies include providing families with counseling services to eliminate underlying issues that prompt reports of abuse and neglect. “Working with children and parents in their own homes (is) the best practice for them,” said Jim Hermans, head of the county’s child-protective, juvenile justice and shelter care programs. Groups nationwide say working with families and keeping children out of foster care is healthier for children long-term. Link to Article
US: Congressional Foster Youth Caucus Considers Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking: H.R. 2730
July 29, First Star: On July 18, the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth hosted a briefing on the child welfare response to human trafficking. Experts included directors of youth serving agencies, a state child welfare director and a legal services director. They spoke about the prevalence of trafficking among foster children, the risk factors, and how to create a system that better identifies and serves victims. The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act, H.R. 2730, aims to strengthen the child welfare response by providing guidance to states, extending services and strengthening reporting. In New York City, 85 percent of trafficked youth had prior child welfare involvement. In Florida, seventy percent had been in a congregate care setting.
The Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act would strengthen the child welfare response to trafficking by:
- Providing child welfare employees with guidance on how to identify, document, educate and counsel children at risk.
- Extending specialized care and services to age 21 for trafficked foster youth.
- Ensuring child welfare agencies place victims in specialized homes with the capacity to meet their needs, including counseling, security services and language skills.
- Adding a “human trafficking” classification to the child welfare reporting system to ensure adequate service and to track trends.
- Requiring child welfare agencies to report to the Department of Health and Services their procedures and policies on trafficked youth.
The bill has received a neutral score from the Congressional Budget Office, which means there are no direct costs associated with the legislation. Link to Article
Stuck: Michael Moore Exposes U.S. Policy on Orphaned Children
July 28: Stuck, a new documentary that exposes the broken international adoption system, is celebrating two prestigious milestones next week: a screening for members of Congress and competition in its first film festival. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), serving as honorary host, will welcome members of Congress and others in Washington to a preview of Stuck on July 31 at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center Theater. Adoptive families who appear in the film will also be in attendance. The film, which is narrated by Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: SVU was shot in Ethiopia, Vietnam and Haiti, as well in as the halls of power in Washington, DC. It reveals how millions of children are stranded in orphanages thanks to a system that has gone into virtual paralysis in recent years with international adoptions to the United States plummeting 60% since 2004. In addition to the Congressional screening on Tuesday, Stuck has also been selected to participate in the Traverse City Film Festival on Friday, August 3. Stuck is expected to open nationwide in November. Link to Article
Child Abuse Linked to Early, Late Menarche
July 28, Medical Daily: Child abuse takes a huge toll on a child’s life. New research suggests that child abuse can cause early or delayed onset of menstrual periods in girls. Researchers found that girls who were physically abused as a child were at a 50 percent increased risk of having late menarche ( onset of menstrual periods after 15 years) while the risk for an early menarche ( onset of periods prior to age 11 years) rose by almost 49 percent in girls who were sexually abused. The study was based on records of more than 68,000 women. “In our study child abuse was associated with both accelerated and delayed age at menarche and importantly, these associations vary by type of abuse, which suggest that child abuse does not have a homogenous effect on health outcomes. Link to Medical Daily Article The study is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
CO: DHS Gets Helping Hand to Reduce High Number of Kids in Residential Care
July 27, Colorado Springs Gazette: Officials with the El Paso County Department of Human Services knew they had a lot of kids in group homes and residential child care facilities, but they didn’t expect to hear that El Paso County has the highest numbers of any Colorado county. So when the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation offered to come to El Paso County for a free assessment of its child welfare operations, DHS leaders jumped at the chance. “It’s an exciting opportunity to use Casey’s wealth of experience and knowledge,” Rhodus said. “They’re national experts.” The goal is to reduce the number of children in residential facilities and do more to either keep them with their families or relatives, or at least put them in a more family-like setting through foster care. Link to Article
US: Another U.S./Russian Child Abuse Case Surfaces
27 July, Moscow Times: Investigators have opened an inquiry into the beating of a Tula-born child by his adoptive American parents, and the Foreign Ministry warned that the case could jeopardize an adoption agreement between the two countries. A U.S. Navy officer and his wife from Bristow, Virginia, have been charged with child abuse after allegedly beating their 8-year-old son so badly that he ran away from home. The Foreign Ministry said the beating of Daniil Krichun, adopted when he was a toddler, raised questions about the United States’ readiness to enforce an adoption pact it signed with Russia in 2011. The agreement must be signed by President Vladimir Putin before it comes into force. Link to Article
CA: Child-Abuse Case Has Wide Implications: Medical Marijuana
July 26, Chico News & Review: Medical marijuana use is at the center of Daisy Bram’s fight to keep her kids. “With all the attention and media that we drew every time we went to court, I think they kind of wanted off it,” said Bram, who was reunited with her children in February.
“On July 12, we had a status hearing [with CSD],” she continued. “They finally said, ‘We find there’s no reason to keep the kids away from their parents.’” That day was a major milestone for Bram and Walsh. It marked the end of at least part of the nightmare they have lived through these past nine months. But the couple are acutely aware of the impact their story has had on others. “I think in a way it’s a groundbreaking case, because there are a lot of people in the medical-marijuana community who have been put in the same position as Daisy,” said Bram’s L.A. attorney, Michael Levinsohn, by phone recently. She got her kids back, and she’s allowed to use medical cannabis.” Link to Article
NE: State Curbs Fees To Child Welfare Contractor
July 26, World-Herald Bureau: Nebraska’s last private child welfare contractor will get less money this year to care for abused and neglected children in the Omaha area. Starting July 1, the state began paying the Omaha-based Nebraska Families Collaborative by the case instead of a fixed amount per month. The change, according to a World-Herald analysis, means the difference between a potential $65 million for the year and an estimated $58 million under the new contract. The collaborative figures its costs will reach $62 million to $63 million for the contract year that began July 1.The contract provides for the state and NFC to review costs and payment rates before the end of September. Link to Article
OK: Panel Approves Plan to Overhaul State Foster-Care System
July 26, Tulsa World: A plan to overhaul Oklahoma’s child welfare system has been approved by an oversight panel, which was put into place as part of the January settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit. The plan, called the Pinnacle Plan, received final approval Wednesday. Link to Article
SC: State’s Top Court Says Child Should Be Returned to Native American Father
July 26, GreenvilleOnline.com: The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the return of a Native American girl adopted by a South Carolina family to her father in Oklahoma, weighing for the first time state adoption law against the federal Indian Child Welfare Act. In a 3-2 decision, the justices said the act confers custodial preference to the child’s father, a member of the Cherokee tribe. The court used as its guide the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, passed in 1978 because of the high number of Indian children that at the time were being removed from their homes by public and private agencies. The act gives the child’s tribe and family the right to have a say in decisions affecting the child. In this case, now-2-year-old Veronica was adopted by Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who live just outside Charleston. The girl’s father, Dusten Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, later went to court seeking custody. A South Carolina court awarded Brown custody of the child. The adoptive parents appealed, and the SC Supreme Court heard the case during a closed hearing in April. During the girl’s time with the Capobiancos, the court wrote, the family has likely formed a significant bond. But that isn’t enough to keep her from her biological father, given the constraints of the federal law. Link to Article
PA: Record Penn State Fine to Be Used to Help Child Abuse Charities
July 26, Associated Press: The NCAA’s unprecedented $60 million fine against Penn State will hurt the university in its pocketbook. The silver lining is that it will help plenty of abused kids, and it could even wind up preventing abuse, if it is distributed carefully, child welfare advocates say. With so many organizations nationwide expected to vie for the cash, Penn State should set up a competitive grant program to set priorities and make sure the funds are given to organizations with a record of success, said Delilah Rumburg, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. The funding decisions should be made by an independent body of experts, she said. Link to Article
US: TIGTA: Adoption Credit Oversight Needs to Improve
July 25, AccountingWeb.com: Incomplete or missing documentation led the IRS to delay processing 43,295 Adoption Credit claims and approve more than $11 million in erroneous claims, according to a report publicly released July 24, 2012, by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The Adoption Credit is a credit to offset qualified adoption expenses, making adoption possible for families who could not otherwise afford it. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act made the Adoption Credit refundable for tax years 2010 and 2011, and the maximum credit amount was increased to $13,170 per adopted child for tax year 2010. TIGTA assessed whether the IRS’ processes ensured the accuracy of Adoption Credit claims for tax returns filed between January 1 and August 6, 2011. Link to Article
NE: Planned Parenthood Sets Nebraska Adoption Services
July 25, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle: LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has made arrangements to offer adoption services in Nebraska through its longtime partner in arranging Iowa adoptions. Avalon Center, of Mason City, Iowa, has been licensed in Iowa to provide adoption services since 2002 and has been working with the Planned Parenthood chapter. Avalon Center said it’s now been granted a Nebraska license. The center provides counseling and adoption services to people facing unintended pregnancies. Link to Article
FL: Florida Toughens Child Abuse Reporting Laws
July 24, Herald Tribune: In the wake of the child abuse scandal that continues to rock Penn State University, Florida is toughening and broadening its laws about mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. The new law raises the penalty to a felony for any Floridian convicted of failing to report any suspected crime against a child, not just abuse or neglect by a caregiver. Conviction could bring a 15-year prison term and fines up to $5,000. The new law still allows most Floridians to call the hotline anonymously. Link to Article Will the citizens know of their responsibility under this law? They might not understand what a crime against a child is. Does the DCF have the staff necessary to handle the uptick in calls? They get over 8000 calls a week now. Who would be foolish enough report anonymously if they might later be found guilty of a felony for not reporting?
FL: Task Force Discusses Prescription Drug Abuse Among Mothers and Infants
July 24, Tampa Bay Times: Led by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a 15-member task force was created this year to address the growing problem of drug abuse among expectant mothers and how to take care of babies suffering from neonatal withdrawal syndrome. One of the topics was how to expand and advertise programs such as Project WARM that help mothers recover from addiction and take care of their children. About 60 percent of the cases in the statewide that involve removing children from their homes are related to substance abuse. Members agreed that the issue is more complex than it seems. They said they need not only to campaign for drug abuse awareness and prevention, but also to determine how to best treat mothers and their babies. Link to Article
OK: DHS Commission OKs Raises For Foster Parents, Child Welfare Workers
July 24, Tulsa World: Foster care parents and child welfare workers will be getting raises in accordance with an improvement plan for abused and neglected children. A Tuesday meeting of the oversight commission of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, members voted to raise rates for foster families. Link to Article
US: The Lasting Effects of Neglect: Altered Brain Structure in Children
July 24, Healthland.Time.com: Kids who are neglected, growing up without normal emotional and social interaction, have measurably different brain structure from other kids, according to a new study from researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital. The study compares kids raised in Romania’s infamous state-run orphanages with kids raised in normal Romanian family homes at the same time. MRI brain scans show that children raised in run-down institutions — typically with just one adult supervisor per 12 young kids — developed measurably lower grey matter volume and white matter volume in the cortex of the brain than children who grew up among their families. However, children who spent their infancy in the orphanages but were then delivered to high-quality foster care as small children fared somewhat better than those left behind in the institutions. Those kids’ cortical white matter was no different from that among children who had always lived with families, the study shows. However, the foster kids still had lower grey matter volume than normal. Link to Article
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Krigner
Holding that there was no due process violation and the trial court was within its discretion to allow the prosecutor to amend the petition during the hearing, the court affirmed the trial court’s order terminating the respondent-father’s parental rights to his two minor children. The prosecutor at trial added a basis for termination during the hearing. The grounds for termination were adopted by the trial court. When the respondent appealed he said his due process rights were violated for lack of notice. But, since the factual bases (CSC) for the added count were the same as for the count for which he had notice, the error was held to be harmless. Full Text Opinion