June 13-19: 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 MEDIA ARTICLES
LA: Sen. Mary Landrieu Presses for Improved Adoption Procedures
June 17, Times-Picayune: A labor, health and human services, and education spending bill approved Thursday by the US Senate Appropriations Committee encourages HHS to focus new federal grants on strengthening post-adoption services and recruiting adoptive parents for minority children, older child adoption and children with special needs. The bill also includes what Landrieu says is robust funding for programs such as Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG) and the Adoption Incentives program. “I believe that every child deserves a loving, safe and permanent home and that promoting adoption must be a national focus,” said Landrieu, who has two adopted children. Landrieu said the bill also refocuses federal efforts into an area where it is supposed to be all along — helping children in long-term foster care situations get adopted by loving parents. No additional info in article
FL: Hillsborough’s New Child Protection Director Readies for July 1 Takeover
June 17, Tampa Bay Times: Shirley’s employer, Eckerd Community Alternatives/Hillsborough, is replacing Hillsborough Kids Inc., the nonprofit agency that for a decade was the county’s lead child protection agency for the state Department of Children and Families. Overshadowing the change were the nine deaths in two years of children under Hillsborough Kids’ supervision. Link to Article
Comment by C. Enright: The beauty of privatization: when the contractor screws up and nine kids die, just change contractors – problem solved.
AZ: Child Protective Services Struggling to Fill Jobs
June 15, AZFamily.com: Sweeping changes are coming to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Child Protective Services division. The department has seen a massive increase in tips from the public on its hotline. “That’s good for the safety of children, but our system is not currently configured to handle that kind of volume,” said Clarence Carter, director of CPS and the Department of Economic Security. The department currently has 785 employees, after a number of case workers resigned in the past few months. There are currently around 30 job openings, and the department loses an average of nearly 30% of its work force each year, which is higher than the national average for similar offices. “The things that people can imagine to do to a child are absolutely unconscionable,” said Carter, “this is one of the most difficult jobs in public service.” Link to Article
US: Strange Reason Found For Newborns’ Positive Pot Test
June 14, MSNBC: Certain soaps used to wash babies shortly after birth may cause the baby to test positive for marijuana on some newborn screening tests, a new study suggests. A screening test that indicates a baby has been exposed to marijuana can lead to the involvement of social services, and accusations of child abuse, the researchers said. Given these consequences, it is important for health-care providers and laboratory staffs to be aware that these soaps may lead to a positive test for marijuana, and to consider confirming positive tests with a more sensitive method, the researchers said. Link to Article
US: Catholic Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits
June 14, New York Times: While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country. The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest.
Victims and their advocates are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary “windows” during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred. The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims. Link to article
OK: DHS Revises Child Services Improvement Plan
June 14, Enid News: Oklahoma DHS on Thursday released its revisions to a plan to improve child welfare services that is part of the settlement of a lawsuit that alleged mistreatment of children in state custody. The revisions to the so-called Pinnacle Plan include placing all children younger than 2 in a family-like setting rather than a group shelter by Dec. 31 and establishing a training program for DHS staff by July 1, 2013, rather than Sept. 1. The plan is part of a January settlement agreement with the New York-based children’s advocacy group Children’s Rights, which sued over DHS’ treatment of foster children. Link to Article
NC: ACLU: NC adoption Laws Unconstitutional
June 13, MyFox8.com: The ACLU sued North Carolina on Wednesday to change state adoption laws that they argue unconstitutionally prevent unmarried couples from adopting their partners’ children. The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to rule that the N.C. Supreme Court’s ruling violated their constitutional rights and to order that the defendants stop enforcing the prohibition of second-parent adoptions. ACLU legal director Chris Brook said the N.C. Supreme Court in 2010 banned second-parent adoptions for unmarried couples, whether straight or gay. That ruling prevents those couples from jointly adopting children. The ACLU lawsuit focused on same-sex couples, saying that second-parent adoptions are the only way a North Carolina family with gay or lesbian parents can ensure that both parents have a legal relationship with their child. “Children who are prevented from having such a legally recognized relationship with both parents suffer numerous deprivations as a result, including exclusion from private health insurance benefits, public health benefits, veterans’ benefits, disability benefits and Social Security benefits,” the lawsuit said. Link to Article
MI: Center for Family Health Cutting State Ties to Maternal Infant Program; Child Advocacy Center to Move
June 13, MLive.com: The Center for Family Health in Jackson MI will cut ties with the state on the Maternal Infant Health Program it offers beginning in mid-July. In addition, the Child Advocacy Center run by the Department of Human Services will be moving out of the donated space at the Center late August. Molly Kaser from the Center for Family Health said services and referrals for maternal infant care to the Jackson County Health Department, which offers a similar program, will still be available. Jackson County Health Department Director Ted Westmeier is anticipating the county will see a heavy increase in demand once the Center for Family Health ends its program. He warned commissioners that the county health department may need more funds in 2013 to keep up with the anticipated demand. Jackson County DHS Director Jerome Colwell told commissioners the DHS is currently looking for another location for when it moves out the Center for Family Health in August. Link to Article
NJ: Supporters, Critics Debate N.J. Bill Linking Foster Care to Religion
June 13, The Record: A bill that would make religion a determining factor in foster care and adoption placement has been slammed by critics who say it would limit the pool of families to care for children and could restrict parenting rights for gays. Link to Article
See the Legislative Updates section below. Michigan has a bill establishing similar rights for child placing agencies in Michigan.
Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse And Helping Victims Recover
June 13, The Diane Rehm Show/NPR: The highly publicized trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sex abuse is escalating attention to the problem. Last Sunday, The New York Times published a piece on alleged incidents at a prestigious private school in New York City. Joining me to talk about child sex abuse, Frank Cervone of the Support Center for Child Advocates, Dr. Liza Gold, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. Joining us from a studio at NPR in New York, Dr. Richard Gartner. Link to Show, Transcript or Recording
Most notable about this otherwise mundane discussion of child sexual abuse is the first comment in the Comments section:
Like so many other Americans, I count on The Diane Rehm Show to be a voice of reason, cutting through the fog of hype and hysteria that can cloud good judgment about the most important issues of our time. The problem of child sexual abuse is serious and real. But the solutions often have been phony. So here’s what I’m hoping I *won’t* hear this morning, and some links to more details:
–Hyped, phony statistics. There’s a statistic about child sexual abuse that is scary, ubiquitous – and wrong. I’ll be disappointed if it is used by a guest and even more disappointed if it is presented as fact in Ms. Rehm’s intro. Details are in our column for the website of the trade journal Youth Today: http://bit.ly/vchxSL
–Calls to require even more people to report their slightest suspicion of child abuse to authorities. Such laws have been around for more than four decades, yet there is not a shred of evidence that they actually make children safer, and considerable evidence that they do harm. Details here: http://bit.ly/s0EBF2
–Various claims about Pennsylvania supposedly investigating and substantiating fewer allegations of child abuse than other states. Again, not true; details here: http://bit.ly/uIL0XP
–A general call for families to instill fear in their children at every turn. Details are in this post to my organization’s child welfare blog: http://bit.ly/z50hgk
We can curb child sexual abuse in America – that’s clear from the fact that the rate of child sexual abuse actually has sharply declined in recent decades. But real solutions require putting children’s needs ahead of phony, feel-good remedies that pander to adult self-indulgence.
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
US: After Ousting CEO Over Abuse Allegations, AAU Mandates Child Protection Measures
June 12, Forbes: The Amateur Athletic Union is finally getting in step with most youth sports organizations and instituting child-protection measures that will prevent, say, the organization’s CEO from preying on children, and, depending on if you believe his innocence, prevent, say, the organization’s CEO of being in a position where he could be falsely accused of preying on any of the AAU’s 500,000 child participants. Link to Article
MD/TX: Girl Scouts Program Helps Girls with Mothers in Prison
June 12, Yahoo Shine: Girl Scout Troop 1500 does all the usual things: Sells cookies, goes on camping trips, and earns merit badges. But once a month the troop, which is based in Austin, Texas, does something out of the ordinary: The girls take an hour-long trip to Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, so the troop members can visit their mothers behind bars. The program purpose is to “deter girls from making decisions that would land them in prison. It also focuses on developing the mother-daughter bond. More than 1.5 million children have a parent behind bars, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 75% of all incarcerated women are also mothers, many of them single. Said Spiro, “These kids aren’t in control of their situations. There are all these children who are essentially being punished for crimes that they did not commit.” Link to Article
US: Eliminating Barriers to Interstate Adoption
June 10, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Why is it easier for an American family to adopt a child from across the world than adopt a foster child across a state line? State Department data show that in fiscal 2010, Americans adopted 11,058 children from other countries. By contrast, according to data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Americans adopted just 527 children from foster care across state lines that same year. Link to Article
RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE
Title: Performance Audit of Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Self-Sufficiency.
February 2012, Michigan Office of the Auditor General
Abstract: This report presents the findings of an audit that assessed the effectiveness of the Michigan Department of Human Services’ (DHS’s) efforts to evaluate services provided to youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency, efforts to ensure the propriety and reasonableness of discretionary payments and post-secondary educational assistance payments made on behalf of youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency, and efforts to ensure that training for caseworkers is tailored to address youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency. The audit was conducted from May through August 2011 and generally covered the period October 1, 2008 through May 31, 2011. Findings indicate DHS was not effective in evaluating services provided to youth and had not developed or implemented a comprehensive process to evaluate the outcome and value of the services, was moderately effective in ensuring the propriety and reasonableness of discretionary payments and post-secondary educational assistance payments, had not fully established guidance for discretionary payments on behalf of transiting youth using youth in transition resources, and was effective in providing training. Five recommendations are made for improving services. Link to pdf Audit Report
Title: MiTEAM: Michigan’s Child Welfare Practice Model.
2012, Michigan Dept. of Child Welfare Link to Agency Web Site
This paper explains MiTeam, Michigan’s child welfare practice model that is designed to improve family engagement practices and establish a unified approach that helps to provide for consistency in practice, clarify roles and expectations for staff, inform policy and training, explain how child welfare interventions and services are delivered, focus reform efforts on utilizing accepted principles of good social work practice, and encourage family driven solutions. Information is provided on the emphasis of teaming, engagement, assessment, and mentoring in MiTeam, key outcomes expected of the MiTeam model, and elements of MiTeam practice. Components of Family Team Meetings are listed, and the impact of MiTeam implementation on children, youth, families, and caregivers is explained. The final section reviews practice skills that will be required of processionals at all levels of the child welfare system and the benefits expected for all involved in the child welfare system. Appendices include outcome indicators and principles of MiTeam, the MiTeam implementation plan and timeline, guidelines for the implementation of Family Team Meetings, and the concurrent permanency planning process. Link to Word Document of Practice Model
LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE
Meeting the Developmental Needs of Infant and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System
[Webinar slides and recording].
2012, ZERO TO THREE. Child Welfare Information Gateway: This Call to Action represents the collective vision of leading child welfare and early childhood development organizations on the important steps that can and should be taken in policies, programs, and practices to address the needs of vulnerable infants and toddlers who come to the attention of the child welfare system. The policy agenda is intended to provide a starting point for policymakers at all levels of government in creating a response to these special needs. It first presents the compelling evidence for addressing the needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system, and then suggests key elements of a developmental approach for this vulnerable population. Organizations joining with ZERO TO THREE to create the policy agenda and urge action include American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, and Children’s Defense Fund. Link to Webinar and Slides
Meeting the Special Needs of Foster Children in Child Care.
2012University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Division of Community Research. Project Play: Children can benefit from attachment to more than one person. This means that secure attachments with teachers or caregivers can be helpful for young children. Researchers have found that in a child care setting, babies who are securely attached to a caregiver explore, play, and interact better than babies whose teachers/caregivers change frequently. These important relationships develop over time, and cannot fully develop if the child experiences frequent disruptions in child care providers. When you provide sensitive care giving, you are making an important difference in the life of a foster child! Link to pdf Report
Prenatal Substance Exposure: Fact Sheet
Mar 2012, National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center: In the United States, a risk factor for poor behavioral and developmental outcomes among children is prenatal exposure to substance use. Outcome studies of drug use among pregnant women continue to grow as an awareness of the consequences increase and drug epidemics spread. Existing studies have found that a number of factors contribute to substance use among pregnant women including environmental and familial triggers, which consequently have an effect on the development of a child. Fact Sheet includes a discussion about the contributing factors of substance use among pregnant women, its consequences, and possible paths to address the problem. Link to pdf Fact Sheet
The Characteristics and Circumstances of Teen Fathers: At the Birth of Their First Child and Beyond
June 2012, Child Trends: The negative consequences associated with early parenting are well documented, although much more is known about both the circumstances and consequences of teen parenthood for women than it is for men. To support teen fathers and to make male involvement more central to current pregnancy prevention approaches, as well as to inform father engagement and child support efforts, it is important to understand who becomes a teen father and what their trajectories are after they become parents. Our results suggest that many teen fathers go on to have more children by the time they reach their early twenties and many are not living with their children by this time. Further, some men who had fathered children in their teens go on to have more children with different women by young adulthood. Prevention and intervention efforts for teen parents may therefore want to target both men and women, and address issues such as repeat teen pregnancy and multiple-partner fertility. Research indicates that many men who have children in their teens hope to be good fathers. Taking a closer look at teen fathers’ unique circumstances and experiences may help to prevent early fatherhood and subsequent teen births, especially with different partners, and may better equip the current generation of teen fathers with the parenting skills they need to succeed. Link to pdf Report
Senate Bill 557, now Public Act 0159 of 2012
Enacted the “Revocation of Paternity Act” to allow various parties to bring an action to determine that a presumed father is not a child’s father or an action to set aside an acknowledgment of parentage or an order of filiation. The bill does the following:
— Allows a child’s mother, presumed father, or alleged father, or the Department of Human Services, to file an action to determine that the child was born out of wedlock for the purpose of establishing paternity, under various sets of criteria.
— Allows an action to revoke an acknowledgment of parentage to be brought by the child’s mother, the acknowledged father, an alleged father, or a prosecuting attorney.
— Allows an action to set aside an order of filiation to be brought by the affiliated father, the mother, or an alleged father, if the affiliated father failed to participate in the court proceedings that determined filiation.
— Allows a court to deny an order if it would not be in the child’s best interests; and specifies factors the court may consider.
— Requires the court to order the parties to participate in and pay for blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling; and provides that the results are not binding on the court.
— Requires an action to be brought before a child is three years old (or within one year after the Act took effect); and allows the court to extend the deadline under certain circumstances.
Link to SB 0557 Bill Status Page
House Bill 5763: Introduced in the House: Adds the following language to current child placement statutes:
A child placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. A state or local government entity may not deny a child placing agency a grant, contract, or participation in a government program because of the child placing agency’s objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, facilitating, referring, or participating in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. Refusal by a child placing agency to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies does not constitute a determination that the proposed adoption is not in the best interests of the adoptee. Link to Bill Status Page
APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Gillies/Kaczor
The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in exercising jurisdiction over the respondent-mother’s minor children and making them temporary wards of the court. The appellate Court held that it was appropriate for the Trial Court to take jurisdiction of the minor children. Even though the mother kicked the her husband out of the house when his stepdaughter disclosed sexual abuse by the father to her because the mother did not report the disclosure to authorities and permitted contact of the father with his biological daughter, thus placing her at risk of sexual abuse. Under the doctrine of anticipatory neglect, the trial court could also exercise jurisdiction over the stepdaughter whom the mother had protected. . Full Text Opinion