Jun 6-12: CA&N News 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 NEWS ARTICLES
MI: Ferris State University Receives Grant to Help Foster Care Students
June 11, Grand Rapids Press: Ferris State University has received a three-year, $397,000 grant from the state to hire a life coach for the Ferris Youth Initiative, a scholarship and mentoring program. The program is designed to increase higher education opportunities for low-income orphans or those who have aged out of the foster care system, according to the Ferris press release. The initiative teaches skills needed to live independently, connect socially and perform well academically through mentoring and offers a special scholarship for financial assistance. The “Youth in Transition” grant from the Department of Human Services is meant to fuel program efforts to help former foster care students in need achieve success. Link to Article
MI: Michigan Bills Would Extend Biological Dads’ Rights
Jun 10, NECN.com: The Michigan Legislature has sent Gov. Rick Snyder bills that would give biological fathers some rights to their children, even if the mothers were married to other men at the time of a child’s birth. The current 1956 law presumes that a woman’s husband is the father of her children, making the husband responsible for their support and denying parental rights to the biological father. Link to Article; Link to Same Article in Detroit News
MI: EDITORIAL: Education Programs Are Best at Combating Drug Abuse
June 10, Oakland Press: While we compliment officials in Macomb and Oakland counties for moving quickly to curtail the dangerous use of K2, Spice and other so-called synthetic marijuana, we have to ask: ‘Why?’ Why are our youngsters driven to use chemicals known to have dangerous health effects? Why are parents -– after their children suffer health problems or even death -– prone to blaming others rather than facing the fact that it was their child who knowingly used a dangerous drug? And lastly, why hasn’t America come to the realization that as a nation we have lost the so-called war on drugs? We think it is time our government officials look to education and prevention as the keys to controlling drug abuse. Drug courts throughout Macomb and Oakland counties stress rehabilitation over punishment and are remarkably successful. Educational programs, like the Fraser-based Families Against Narcotics, are helping hundreds of youngsters remain drug free. As a nation, we may have lost the war on drugs, but we can still win the battle against teenage drug abuse: one youngster at a time. Link to Op Ed
MI: In Wake Of Sandusky Scandal, Questions About Laws
Jun 9, ABC12.com; AP: When the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State erupted last year, public anger was directed not only toward Jerry Sandusky, but toward the people around him who didn’t report their suspicions to police. In the months that followed, that anger led many states to re-examine and expand their so-called mandatory reporting laws that require people to report suspected abuse or face civil and criminal penalties. Some state laws apply to professionals like doctors and teachers, while others apply universally to all adults. said Teresa Huizar of the National Children’s Alliance said standardizing the current patchwork of requirements, agencies and procedures would make reporting abuse less intimidating and difficult – but perhaps more importantly, a national awareness campaign would be an invaluable step to reducing the societal stigma that makes victims and witnesses remain silent. “In the same way we’ve taught people about the dangers of smoking, about using seat belts, about drinking and driving, when there’s that kind of a commitment, you really see the dial move in the right direction,” she said. “Without that level of investment, you’re not going to see that kind of result.” Despite the uncertainty about whether legislation brings about better outcomes, Huizar said the Sandusky case has shown that there have been encouraging changes when it comes to the way Americans view child abuse. “The instantaneous and universal outrage … really is different than what you would have had a decade ago,” Huizar said. “People were instantly saying, ‘Why didn’t the adults do more?’ That assumption is an enormously positive change in our societal understanding of who has responsibility for reporting abuse. So we’re learning.” Link to Article
But see also: PA: Child Abuse Reports Lead to Threats: Link to Article
MI: 4 Of 190 Child Predators Caught Were From MI
18 victims rescued during Operation Orion
June 8, WOOD TV: Four Michigan residents are among 190 people arrested during a month-long, nationwide operation targeting those who possessed child pornography. Names of the Michigan four are provided. Link to Article
US: Bill Seeks Greater Access to School Records for Child Welfare Agencies
June 8, Palm Beach Post: Foster child advocates in Florida and nationwide are counting on a bill currently before federal lawmakers to ease access to children’s school records and improve education for foster children. The Access to Papers Leads to Uninterrupted Scholars Act, or the A+ PLUS Act, was introduced May 31 and could eliminate the hurdles that case workers often face when trying to obtain a child’s school records. Currently, federal law requires social workers to get a court order or parental consent to access a foster child’s school records, a move meant to protect the child’s privacy. But advocates said the extra red tape has made it difficult for social workers because foster youths change schools frequently as they move between different homes. “Given that child welfare agencies are responsible for the educational needs of foster youth, it is essential that they have access to students’ records. This will allow those agencies to do their jobs better and more efficiently,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Link to Article
US: Adoption Agency May Be Liable for Child’s Rape
June 8, Courthouse News Service: A federal judge refused to dismiss claims that an adoption agency is liable for the rape of a 2-year-old because it failed to disclose the prior sexual abuse experienced by a teenager the infant’s family took in. Martin and Tracey Stewart adopted their 13-year-old nephew Dalon Holmes in 2009. Before going through with the adoption, however, the Stewarts say they asked for confirmation that Holmes had never been sexually abused – circumstances they needed to know because several young children also lived with the Stewarts at the time. The Stewarts say Holmes raped and molested their biological grandchild in 2010, and the teenager charged with various crimes related to the attack. Holmes is allegedly a ward of Pennsylvania because the Stewarts relinquished custodial rights. They filed suit against the Bethanna adoption agency and the city of Philadelphia, claiming that both entities knew and concealed the fact that Holmes had been molested by his mother and various unidentified males before Social Services took custody of him in 2007. Link to Article
MI: Feds Break International Child Porn Operation
June 7. Grand Haven Tribune: Investigators have busted a child pornography ring spread across the U.S. and Europe that produced and distributed sexually explicit images of babies and toddlers online, federal prosecutors in Indianapolis said Thursday. Seven American men have been convicted and sentenced on various charges in the case, including three who were sentenced in federal court in Indianapolis on Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Two more who pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing. Link to Article
OH: For Former Foster Children, Mentors Make the Difference
June 7, Wall Street Journal: Three years ago, a mere 45 out of 150 students in the Hamilton County foster care program graduated from high school, and only three went on to higher education. The low graduation rate was just one obstacle facing foster care youth nationally; according to a 2004 Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care report:
— 25 percent are incarcerated within the first two years;
— 20 percent become homeless;
— Foster youth have disproportionately high rates of early pregnancy, are more prone to sexual and physical victimization, mental illness and substance abuse.
The Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) drastically changed the opportunities available to young adult foster children. HEMI’s goal is to prepare foster children for post-secondary education. The initiative recruits, trains and supports a network of adult mentors to establish long-term, positive relationships with foster care youth. It is the first program of its kind in Ohio, and has become a state- and nation-wide model for mentoring foster youth pursuing higher education. Link to Article
US: Deportation-Separated Parents and Children Need Executive Order to Allow Reunion
June 6, Huffington Post: A Latino advocacy organization has called on President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to bring some measure of relief to young adults and children entangled in an immigration system that even the president describes as broken. The Latino Policy Coalition urged Obama to issue an executive order requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to identify and locate children who have been adopted or placed in foster care after their undocumented immigrant parents were deported from the United States. State child welfare agencies and the Department of Homeland Security should also be forced to help deported adults reunite with their children in the countries to which the parents have been deported, the coalition said in a letter sent to the president this week. According to the group, children are disappearing into the foster care system and being made available for adoption despite the fact that they have parents who want to reunite with them. Last week, a group of nearly 100 lawyers and law school professors at some of the nation’s leading universities also called on the president to use his executive authority to help young adults brought to the country illegally by their parents while these young adults were children. Link to Article
US: House Acts on International Child Support Treaty
June 5, Associated Press: Legislation passed by the House June 5th would make it easier for states to collect child support payments from parents living outside the United States. Link to AP Article; Link to Summary of Bill
US: Lawyers To Obama: You Can Help DREAMers Without Congress
June 4, Huffington Post: Nearly one hundred lawyers, including professors at some of the nation’s top universities, wrote former law professor, President Obama, with some legal advice. The letter, although written in legal jargon, had a simple message: the President has the constitutional power to help DREAMers without changing the law. The DREAM Act, a bill which would provide a path towards citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who have served in the military or attended college, and came to the U.S. at a young age, was defeated in congress in 2010. Activists who would have benefitted from the bill call themselves DREAMers. The New York Times notes in a Sunday editorial that, “the White House has been insisting that only Congress can pass the Dream Act, and that it can offer deportation relief only on a case-by-case basis.” But law professors from dozens of top universities, including Yale Law School and Harvard Law School, want the Commander-in-Chief to know he has options. Link to Article
Parental Abuse, Neglect Linked to Increased Skin Cancer Risk
June 4, HealthDay News: New research suggests that early childhood abuse and neglect may raise the risk for recurring skin cancer later in life. According to the findings, early childhood neglect and maltreatment by parents may actually trigger a lowered immune response that lasts a lifetime. This may make a person more susceptible to cancers that are often successfully fought off by the immune system, which includes the most common form of skin cancer, known as basal cell carcinoma. Link to Article
WI: Wis. Black Earth Pastor Gets 2 Years in Child Abuse Case
May 26, Wisconsin State Journal: A Black Earth pastor was convicted of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating the use of wooden rods to spank children and has been sentenced to two years in prison and court supervision afterward. Link to Article
A CROSS POST:
I am cross posting from another list on the topic of Reasonable Efforts, the requirement and the compliance or non compliance. As if the Children’s Rights case was not enough, someone posted a report. But I assume, by now, this is ancient history and thus untimely.
See Below for the link:
I am looking for data on how frequently judges rule against the child welfare agency on the reasonable efforts requirement. I would like to know both for RE to prevent removal and RE to provide reunification services. Does anyone know if there is a source or if someone has done an assessment on this? Overall data would be great but even better if there is information why the judge made the ruling.
Our first report on child welfare in Michigan includes a summary of a survey of Michigan judges on this topic. Among the survey findings: 40 percent of the judges admitted that they checked the box on the relevant form stating that “reasonable efforts” had been made even when the judges believed this was not the case. In half of those instances, the judges said they did this because, under Michigan law, if the federal government didn’t help pay for the placement (which it won’t do in the absence of a “reasonable efforts” determination), the county would have to pick up that part of the cost. The survey is discussed on Page 33 of our report:
Cycle of Failure
HOW MICHIGAN KEEPS “THROWING THE FIGHT” FOR CHILDREN – AND HOW TO MAKE THE STATE A CONTENDER AGAIN
By Richard Wexler, NCCPR Executive Director
February 18, 2009
http://www.nccpr.org/reports/michigan1976.pdf and Endnote #72 includes a link to the full survey.
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
Link to earlier report. Page 106 has he survey results of which Mr. Wexler speaks.
RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE
Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the State of Michigan
Several different collateral consequences attach to delinquency adjudications in Michigan family courts. Despite the juvenile justice system’s historic commitment to shielding children from the stigma of a criminal conviction, modern lawyers must be aware of the serious consequences arising from juvenile adjudications. While adjudications are not criminal convictions, their subsequent impact is often quite similar to that of a conviction. In most cases, juveniles will be unaware of the collateral consequences that attach to a formal disposition, and Michigan law does not require that a juvenile be made aware of these consequences before entering a plea of admission or no contest. Many of these consequences will stem from decisions made by entities possessing the authority to grant or deny important opportunities, as a juvenile’s court involvement may limit subsequent access to employment, licensing, public housing, or higher education. Link to Info at ABA Web Site
The Michigan Statute governing access to juvenile records: MCL 712A.28(2):
“Beginning June 1, 1988, the court shall maintain records of all cases brought before it and as provided in the juvenile diversion act. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, records of a case brought before the court shall be open to the general public. Diversion records shall be open only as provided in the juvenile diversion act. Except as otherwise provided in section 49 of the crime victim’s rights act, 1985 PA 87, MCL 780.799, if the hearing of a case brought before the court is closed under section 17 of this chapter, the records of that hearing shall be open only by court order to persons having a legitimate interest.”
Thanks to posters on the Children’s Law Section of the Michigan State Bar for this information.
RECOMMENDED PRACTICES To Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living with HIV in Child Welfare Settings
Through these Recommended Practices, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and co-authors seek to provide guidance to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), state and local child welfare agencies and their contract providers on how to fulfill their professional and legal obligations to ensure safe and proper care consistent with the best interest and special needs of each and every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) child in the child welfare system. On April 6, 2011, the ACYF Commissioner, Bryan Samuels, issued a memorandum encouraging protection and support of LGBTQ youth in foster care. These Recommended Practices elaborate on the provision of services to LGBTQ youth in the areas of foster care, child protection, family preservation, adoption and youth development. They aim to assist state child welfare agencies to meet the needs of this particularly vulnerable and underserved population by promoting safe, competent and supportive settings for LGBTQ youth. Link to pdf of Recommended Practices
LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE
Representing LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Systems.
2012, Management Information Exchange Journal: The legal services world prides itself on fighting for those members of our communities that are most marginalized by society. Our practitioners strive each day to right the injustices caused by a failing economy, racial bias, draconian immigration laws, and victimization by governmental agencies of those people they are charged to assist. Unfortunately, our world is lagging behind in a major way — competent services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients. This article is about how one firm challenged itself through internal constructive criticism and formulated a concrete action plan to improve its cultural competency and services to these communities. Link to pdf Journal Article
Supporting Maltreated Children: Countering the Effects of Neglect and Abuse.
June 2012, National Council for Adoption Adoption Advocate: A child’s ability to feel empathy, be caring, inhibit aggression, love, and acquire other characteristics typical of a healthy, happy, and productive person are tied to the child’s care at the beginning of life. Impaired childhood bonding affects people differently. In general, the level of impairment is related to how early in life the emotional neglect began as well as its severity and duration. With help, neglected children can learn to navigate normal relationships. Responsive adults—parents, teachers, and other caregivers—make all the difference for children. Clinical experiences and a number of studies suggest, though, that the path to improvement is a long, difficult, and frustrating process for families and children. Link to pdf Journal Article
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ethics Opinion on Adoption.
June 2012, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Ethics: Obstetrician–gynecologists may find themselves at the center of adoption issues because of their expertise in the assessment and management of infertility, pregnancy, and childbirth. The lack of clarity about both ethical issues and legal consequences may create challenges for physicians. Therefore, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discusses ethical issues, proposes safeguards, and makes recommendations regarding the role of the physician in adoption. This Committee Opinion was developed by the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a service to its members and other practicing clinicians. Although this document reflects the current viewpoint of the College, it is not intended to dictate an exclusive course of action in all cases. This Committee Opinion was approved by the Committee on Ethics and the Executive Board of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Link to html Opinion; Link to pdf Opinion
Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators
June 2012: In an effort to improve services for children and families involved in the child welfare system, the Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project (CTISP), as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), has coordinated a groundbreaking national effort to create a new resource to help professionals understand the impact of trauma on these children and families. This new resource, Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators, informs the reader about how trauma can affect children and families in all aspects of the child welfare system and gives practical implications for child welfare administrators in each chapter. Experts in the fields of child welfare, child trauma research, clinical practice, and policy worked together with the CTISP staff to create these guidelines. Link to Link to Guide This is only a Link to a Link. You will be directed to provide information in order to obtain the actual Guide.
Senate Bill 320: Sent to the Governor for Signature June 5, 2012
The bill would amend the juvenile code within the Probate Code to do the following:
• Allow a law enforcement officer to take a child into protective custody without a court order if there were reasonable cause to believe the child is at substantial risk of harm or is in surroundings that present an imminent risk of harm. DHS would have to be immediately notified.
• Require a judge or referee to be designated as the contact when a placement order is sought and require the designated judge or referee to be contacted regarding a court order for placement if the child were not released from protective custody.
• Allow a judge or referee, if the court is closed, to receive a petition or affidavit of facts by electronic means, and to issue a written ex parte order for DHS to take the child into protective custody by electronic means under certain conditions.
• List conditions under which a court could order the placement of an abused child in foster care.
This Bill was a response to the Mike’s Hard Lemonade case.
US H.R. 4282, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012
Under the current Federal Child Support Enforcement program, States have the option to recognize child support orders from other countries, and many of them do. Unfortunately, at times other countries do not reciprocate our States’ efforts to collect child support from a noncustodial parent living abroad. To address this problem, the United States negotiated and signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance in 2007. The Senate then gave its consent in 2010, but the United States cannot implement the treaty without enacting implementing legislation. H.R. 4282 provides the necessary implementing legislation and includes two additional no-cost improvements to the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program. Link to Summary of Bill;
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: In re Olive/Metts
The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that legal grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing legally admissible evidence. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s order as to the respondent-mother’s minor children RO, AM, and AM. As to the minor twins, DM and DM, the court affirmed the portion of the trial court’s order determining that at least one statutory ground supported termination, but vacated the trial court’s best interest analysis and remanded. The court held that the evidence supported the trial court’s determination that termination was in the best interests of RO, AM, and AM. The trial court did not expressly address the fact that the two youngest children were residing with a paternal relative. Because the trial court was required to consider the best interests of each child individually and to explicitly address each child’s placement with relatives at the time of the termination hearing if applicable, the court held that the trial court clearly erred in failing to do so. Thus, the court vacated the trial court’s best interest analysis as to the twins DM and DM, and remanded the case to the trial court. Full Text Opinion