Category Archives: Appellate Court Cases

Aug 1-7: CA&N News Articles

Aug 1-7: CA&N News Articles 

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) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES

MI: Moving Beyond ‘Visitation’ For Fathers

August 7, The Detroit News: Societal trends which have discouraged marriage may be difficult to overcome. However, the legal trends that have encouraged divorce and disenfranchised fathers from meaningful participation in the lives of their children could be overcome. Link to Article

NY: Tablets Will Reduce Jefferson County Social Services Workload, Officials Say

August 6, Watertown Daily News: Child Protective Services employees will be able to access a stream of government data from anywhere in the field, including schools, homes and courtrooms, Ms. Cerow said. They will be able to access email, a global address book and other information, and will be able to submit notes from the field without going back to the office. Link to Article

US: Adoption Difficulties Getting Attention

August 5, The Advocate: U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., hosted a preview viewing this past week of “STUCK,” a new documentary that focuses on the increasing difficulty of international adoption at the U.S. Capitol. The film then had its bigger debut Friday at director Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival with a goal for a nationwide rollout in November. Link to Article

US: Boy Scout Files Reveal Repeat Child Abuse by Sexual Predators

Aug 5, Los Angeles Times: Review of Boy Scout documents shows that a blacklist meant to protect boys from sexual predators too often failed in its mission. Link to Boy Scout Files; Link to LA Times Article

IL: Video System To Facilitate Prison Visitation For Children

August 4, The Telegraph: Children of prisoners confined in the Madison County Jail will have an easier time visiting their parents, and the court system will save time and money under a new video visitation program for foster children. The right of children to visit their incarcerated parents is mandated by law, she said. A survey showed the majority of children expressed a desire to connect with their incarcerated parents. “Studies have shown that positive outcomes of the use of video visitation include improved self-esteem of the parent and child, resulting in more productive members of society, fewer behavior problems in school, declines in truancy, lower recidivism rates, and significant cost and time savings”. The program saves costs, because it requires less time for workers in the foster care system and deputies to assist in the parental visits. The television connection will be in one of the Family Division courtrooms. There is already video equipment in the Madison County Jail. People are still working on making video connections to prisoners in the state prison system. Link to Article

OH: Grown Foster Kids Drive State Help: Forum Aims to Tackle Long-Standing Problems

August 4, The Columbus Dispatch: Want to get your driver’s license as a foster kid? Forget it, because the state of Ohio is your parent and doesn’t want the liability. Hope to keep playing your sport after being transferred to a new foster home and school? Rules designed to prevent athletic recruiting might quash your eligibility. Hauling all your belongings in trash bags? Henry and others think that’s an unfair embarrassment. They’re starting a drive to provide decent luggage for foster youths. “When I first came into care, if you worked for children services, I hated you,” said Henry, who lives with foster parents in the Toledo area. “I switched that to, ‘What is bad about foster care, and how can I change it?’  ” More than 200 teens and young adults who are about to age out of foster care, or already have, signed up for workshops to get help with jobs, college plans, and health and legal issues. The conference is part of a larger state initiative called “Connecting the Dots from Foster Care to Employment and Independent Living.” Link to Article

US: Tax Credit for Adoptive Families Will Lower at End Of Year

August 3, KSL.com: For 2010 to 2011 tax filings, families across the country can claim a $13,360 refundable tax credit for adopting a child, under the new Affordable Health Care law. This money would come in the form of a check to augment a family’s income to care for adopted kids. For 2012 taxes, the credit drops to $12,650. By Dec. 31, families will only be eligible to claim $6,000 to help cover adoption expenses. Link to Article

Don’t Trust ‘Dr. Google’ for Help on Infant Sleep Safety

August 3, HealthDay News: New research suggests that parents shouldn’t trust a Google search for accurate information on infant sleep safety. These Web searches commonly turned up results that contradicted current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics aimed at reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), suffocation, strangulation and other accidental sleep-related deaths, the study found. Link to Article

MI: Milford Officials Focus on Child Safety Laws

Aug 2, Observer & Eccentric: The Milford Township Board of Trustees, in a unanimous vote July 18, approved a new regulation making it illegal to leave a child younger than the age of 6 unattended in a motor vehicle. Link to Article

US: It Takes More Than Love: What Happens When Adoption Fails

Aug 1, TODAY MSNBC: In the adoption world, failed adoptions are called “disruptions.” But while a disruption may seem stone-hearted from the outside, these final anguished acts are complex, soul-crushing for all concerned and perhaps more common than you’d think. In as many as a quarter of adoptions of teens, and a significant number of younger child adoptions, the parents ultimately decide they don’t want to keep the child, experts say. “Often kids adopted at older ages don’t have age-appropriate coping mechanisms and some are violent, dramatic or act out in various ways,” says Jessica, who also asked that her last name be withheld to protect her family’s privacy. “Our daughter certainly was. I don’t think her placement would have worked out if we had younger kids in the family at the time. That kid broke furniture and parts of our house for sport. She also did things like running directly into traffic or screaming that she was being kidnapped in public places. Not every family can handle that level of drama.”Link to Article

MI: Michigan Supreme Court Gives Child-Support ‘Deadbeats’ a Defense, But Sets Bar High

Aug 1, MLive.com: Parents accused of failing to pay child support can defend themselves against the felony charge by saying it is impossible to pay, a divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday. The court gave “deadbeat” parents a window of opportunity to avoid criminal penalties when they do not pay. But to do so – only in “exceptional circumstances” – they must prove that they have exhausted all their finances, including assets that could be sold. Three dissenting justices accused the majority of making Michigan the only state in country not to allow the more traditional defense of simply being unable to pay child support. Link to MLive Article See also: Link to Detroit New Article

Car Devices Made to Prevent Child Heatstroke Unreliable: Study

July 31, Reuters: Three devices made to alert drivers to children left behind in a car seat were unreliable on their own, casting serious doubts on their ability to prevent deaths related to heatstroke, a study backed by U.S. auto safety regulators showed this week. The study is part of a national campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise awareness about heatstroke, which is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle-related deaths of children under the age of 14, the agency said. Link to Article

MN: ‘Safe Haven’ Law Expands Options for Distraught Parents

July 31, Star Tribune: The death of a baby girl, found floating in a canvas bag in the Mississippi River near Winona last fall, has prompted changes to Minnesota’s “Safe Haven” law that take effect Wednesday. The law, first enacted in 2000, was expanded this year to give unprepared mothers the option of legally abandoning their babies by calling 911 for an ambulance, or by delivering the infants to hospitals or urgent care clinics. Under Minnesota’s original law, the only option was to take the newborns to hospitals. The new law also gives mothers seven days to legally and anonymously abandon their babies (or to have someone surrender babies to authorities on their behalf). The previous law, which set the limit at three days, was among the strictest in the nation. Link to Article

ND: Psychologist Who Wrote of Abuse Is Punished

July 30, New York Times: A federal health services psychologist who told superiors that an American Indian tribe was ignoring widespread child abuse on a North Dakota reservation has been reprimanded and reassigned, according to federal officials and documents. Among the recipients were officials with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service, which oversee most health care on Spirit Lake. Link to Article

APPELLATE COURT CASES 

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Page/Racicot

The court affirmed the portion of the trial court’s order finding that at least one statutory ground supported termination, but vacated the trial court’s best interest analysis and remanded for further consideration of that issue. Recently in Olive/Metts, the court held that the trial court must evaluate whether termination is in the best interest of each child separately, and that the trial court is to specifically evaluate the impact of relative placement in reaching the termination decision. Here, the trial court did not do so as to the youngest child. Thus, as to the youngest child, a remand was necessary. Affirmed in part, vacated in part as to the youngest daughter, and remanded for further proceedings. The court retained jurisdiction. Full Text Opinion

July 25-31: 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
(989) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://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

 

July 18-24: CA&N News Articles

July 18-24: CA&N News Articles

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) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES 

US: Foster Kids Learn Resilience from Compassion

July 23, PsychCentral.com: A new cognitively based intervention has been shown to improve the mental and physical health of adolescents in foster care. Researchers found the technique was associated with a reduction in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP), reduced anxiety and increased feelings of hopefulness. Emory University researchers studied the new approach, Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Human Services and the Division of Family and Child Services. Researchers suggest that CBCT is unique in that it provides strategies for people to develop more compassionate attitudes toward themselves and others. Link to Article

PA: Officials Weigh In On Changes To Child Abuse Law

July 23, republican herald.com: Changes to the public school code dealing with child abuse and recognition reporting requirements that were signed by Gov. Tom Corbett are a good thing, local school officials and legislators said. The bill states that training shall be provided to school entities and independent contractors that have direct contact with children. These entities and contractors would undergo mandatory training on child abuse recognition and reporting requirements, and this training could count toward educational requirements and other measures if approved by the state Department of Education and Department of Public Welfare. Previously, the departments administered the program to those mandated to report abuse. Link to Article

CA: The Education Report: Is failure to report child abuse in schools a matter of policy?

July 22, Oakland Tribune: “From Moraga to Palo Alto to San Jose, child sex abuse cases in schools and day care centers have surfaced alleging that school employees entrusted with the safety of students failed to do what their oaths and the law required: report to police or child protective services when they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused. Today, Congressman George Miller announced he was asking the Government Accountability Office to examine the effectiveness of current laws and policies on child abuse reporting. He released the letter he had sent to the head of the agency, requesting the inquiry. It began: “The child sexual abuse scandal at The Pennsylvania State University, other recent incidents of child abuse and findings contained within the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) prior work for the Committee on Education and the Workforce have raised a number of concerns about whether we have adequate laws and policies in place to prevent and address abuse of children in schools.” Miller wants the agency to find out the procedures in place at schools and universities and how they handle allegations that school staff engaged in child abuse, and how parents are notified when there has been such an allegation or investigation; what laws and regulations states have in place for such complaints; and what policies universities have to protect children on campus who aren’t students, but who are participating in on-campus activities. Based on your experience, are human failings — fear, loyalty to peers, denial — at the root of the problem, where it exists, or is it a matter of clarifying policies and strengthening laws? Or both? Which policies would make a difference? Link to Article

KY: Watchdog Report: Reviews of Child Abuse Deaths Not Always Completed

July 22, Lexington Herald Leader: Derek Cooper was just 2 years old when his father, Brandon Fraley, put his hands over the crying toddler’s mouth “until the child was silent,” according to a state file on the case. Derek died as a result. Still, state child-protection workers did not conduct an internal review of Derek’s death, even though state law mandates such a review by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in every case in which a child dies, or nearly dies, because of abuse or neglect and the cabinet “had prior involvement with the child or family.” Link to Article  See related story below.

KY: Files Provide Unprecedented Look at Child Abuse in Kentucky

July 22, Lexington Herald-Leader: Kayla’s parents did not know their precocious 2-year-old had gotten into their stash of pills in March 2010, authorities think. She died of an acute drug overdose. The gut-wrenching story is one of many contained in thousands of pages of documents released last week by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees child protection in Kentucky. The files give an unprecedented look into how Kentucky’s abused and neglected children die and how the state’s child-protection system operates. The cabinet and the state’s two largest newspapers, the Lexington Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal of Louisville, have been fighting in court for more than two years over access to the case files of children who were killed or critically injured in 2009 and 2010 as a result of abuse and neglect. The cabinet had long refused to release such files, but began doing so in January after Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled they are public records. So far, 40 of the case files released by the cabinet have detailed the deaths of 41 abused and neglected children. Link to Article

VA: Report In Baby’s Death Calls For Foster Care Changes

July 21, The Virginian-Pilot: Braxton Taylor died as a result of his brain swelling and filling with blood. The unit of the city Department of Human Services that placed Braxton with a foster mother who later killed him is a “division in crisis,” struggling with heavy caseloads, low morale and ineffective leaders and procedures, according to a state review released Friday. The study, by the Virginia Department of Social Services, called for immediate corrective action, including reorganizing the Child Welfare division, not sending so many foster children to group facilities and stopping what it called “inadequate and inappropriate” training of foster families. A separate review by the Child Welfare League of America into the February 2010 death of Braxton Taylor found that, while no single change in the agency’s actions would have saved his life, numerous shortcomings in policies and procedures need to be addressed. Taken together, the reports described an agency out of step with accepted practices that is failing to meet the needs of the families it serves. “A significant culture change is needed,” the review concluded. Link to Article

CA: New Safeguards for Children Moving Abroad

July 21, U-T San Diego: During her career, San Diego Superior Court Judge Yvonne Campos has confronted the sometimes emotionally difficult, politically touchy and legally hazy question of whether it would be in the best interests of a U.S.-born child to be placed with relatives in a foreign country where their well-being could no longer be assured. Gov. Jerry Brown has now signed legislation giving judges leeway to demand more evidence from relatives who don’t reside in the U.S. when they ask a court for custody of children. Prospective guardians must provide “clear and convincing evidence” that going to live with family in another country is in the best interests of the child. Link to Article

MI: Rise in Child Protective, Foster Care Cases Linked To Methamphetamines

July 21, The Mining Journal: An increase in regional child protective services and foster care cases can be linked to a rise in area wide methamphetamine use, according to the director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. Recently, the number of CPS cases has increased in Alger, Schoolcraft and Marquette counties, according to DHS Director Maura Corrigan, who was in Marquette Friday. “Our intelligence is that that’s because of the methamphetamine problem coming in,” Corrigan said. “When you put kids at risk with parents abusing substances, they will be in the child protection system. You cannot leave them in that situation.” While Corrigan’s team did not have exact statistics on-hand, they said the CPS and meth statistics are clearly linked. Link to Article

PA: Access to foster care to grow for older youth in Bradford County

July 21, Thedailyreview.com: Faced with increased homelessness and joblessness among young people, the Pennsylvania Legislature is expected to pass legislation this fall that would give more children the option of remaining in foster care after they have turned 18, according to officials from Bradford County Human Services Department. Link to Article

MI: Inside Bay Pines; DHS Head Tours Escanaba Juvenile Facility

July 20, Daily Press: Youth serving time at Bay Pines in Escanaba expressed concern about the juvenile justice facility possibly closing when they got a chance to meet with the director of the Department of Human Services Thursday. Maura Corrigan was in Escanaba Thursday as she kept a promise to visit personally, every county office in the state after being appointed by the governor 18 months ago. Bay Pines was the department’s 42nd office visit, she said. “We meet with the front-line workers to see what their needs are,” Corrigan said. Corrigan said she is responsible for administering all the DHS programs including cash assistance, child welfare, and juvenile justice. The department has an annual budget of $6.5 billion, employs 12,000 workers, and serves 1.8 million clients, she explained. While touring the juvenile facility with staff, Corrigan said she couldn’t guarantee action on suggestions because state programs are ultimately in the hands of the legislature which decides the budget. “It’s critically important to keep services continuing,” Corrigan said during an interview. “We need to keep our state facilities going for our very serious cases.” Bay Pines is licensed to accept up to 45 youth age 12 to 20 years. Currently, 40 individuals from across the state are housed at the local facility for residential detention services and residential treatment programs. Throughout the programs in the Department of Human Services, the goal is “to get clients to self-sufficiency,” Corrigan noted. Link to Article

IL: 600 Will Get Layoff Notices at Department of Children and Family Services

375 positions to be eliminated, other positions realigned to bolster front-line staff

July 20, The State Journal-Register: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began issuing layoff notices to 600 employees on Friday. The agency is trying to reduce its workforce by a net of about 375 positions and still meet its obligations to care for abused and neglected children and provide other services. The department said the job eliminations were forced by the General Assembly, which cut $86 million from the department budget this fiscal year. Gov. Pat Quinn wants to return $50 million to DCFS by reallocating it from the Department of Corrections budget. Lawmakers, who designated that money to keep open prisons and juvenile detention facilities Quinn wants to close, would have to approve the change. Link to Article

NE: Subsidies End for Two Omaha Child Care Centers

July 20, NE DHHS: An agreement with two Omaha child care centers to provide child care payments was terminated today (7/20) by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services after a state examination of billing records, according to Thomas Pristow, director of Children and Family Services. DHHS officials presented a notice of the termination of the agreement to Wise Kids, Inc. and Kids Ark Learning Center to be effective at the end of business today. DHHS authorizes subsidy payments for the care of children of low-income parents who are employed, seeking employment, obtaining medical services, enrolled in vocational or educational training, or incapacitated. Link to News Release

PA: Miss America Speaks To Children of Incarcerated Parents

Jul 20, Intelligencer Journal: Sandra Johnson is the founder and director of Kon-nectingservices Inc., an organization that advocates for children of incarcerated parents. The Lancaster woman served 12 years in prison and remembers the hardships placed on her son, who was 3-years-old at the time. When Johnson heard that Laura Kaeppeler, the winner of the 2012 Miss America contest, was focusing on children with parents in prison, Johnson sent a letter to the Miss America organization asking that Kaeppeler visit. Kaeppeler, of Wisconsin, once was a child of a parent in prison. Her father served 18 months for fraud when she was in college. Kaeppeler met with a group of children of incarcerated parents at the conference and encouraged them to not be defined by their situation. Link to Article

OK: Full Compliance With Indian Child Welfare Act, Not Its Dismantling, Is Needed

July 20, The Oklahoman: Today, ICWA has been increasingly in the media spotlight. Most recently, The Oklahoman cited its application in South Carolina’s Baby Veronica custody case, characterizing it as creating “roadblocks” between Indian children and loving homes, and focused on an antiquated notion of race. A failure to comply with the law led to Baby Veronica’s original placement outside of her family and the tragic custody battle that ensued. What’s needed is full compliance with the law, not its dismantling. Link to Op Ed

MO: Missouri Adoption Ruling Illustrates How Easily Deportees Can Lose Their Kids

July 20, Southern California Public Radio: The proponents of measures aimed at keeping the children of deportees with their families now have a sad development to point to in the case of Guatemalan immigrant Encarnacion Bail Romero, her 5-year-old son, and the Missouri couple that took the boy in while she languished in custody and eventually moved to adopt him. A judge in Missouri ruled this week that the couple, Seth and Melinda Moser, may proceed with the adoption of Romero’s son and that Romero has no parental rights because she “abandoned” him. It’s the lower court’s second such ruling; a similar ruling in 2008 was appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which called the decision then to terminate Romero’s parental rights a “travesty of justice” and kicked the case back to the lower court for a new trial. Link to Article

MI: Mother to Stand Trial for Torture, Child Abuse for
Allegedly Nearly Killing Her 2-Year-Old Daughter

July 19, Jackson News; A mother will stand trial in Circuit Court for three felonies including child abuse and torture. Chantel Arce, 18, is accused of abusing her 2-year-old daughter, Koriana, and causing nearly fatal internal injuries. Arce told doctors at the urgent care center Koriana was sick. She had been vomiting, not responsive and uncomfortable. Koriana went from the urgent care center to Allegiance Health where doctors decided to fly her to Ann Arbor. There, doctors did a few tests and rushed Koriana into surgery. “I would say that Koriana was in a very short time of dying if they had not taken her to the operating room when they did,” Dr. Lisa Markman, the assistant medical director of the child protection team at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital said, adding the child might not have lived another three hours. Doctors at first saw four to five small oval shaped marks between Koriana’s belly button and rib cage, Markman said. Further tests and surgery revealed much more serious problems. Koriana had bruises to the muscle under the skin of the belly. The top of her intestine had popped like balloon, spilling stomach acid. There was a cut and bruise on her liver, a hole in the covering of the intestine and an injury to her pancreas, Markman said. About 300 cubic centimeters of blood were in her belly. Link to Article

CT: Rate of Timely Adoptions and Family Reunifications Lowest in Years

July 19, CT Mirror: Eighteen months after new management took over the troubled Department of Children and Families, a report issued Thursday by a federal monitor says the agency still has a long ways to go before he’s convinced that abused and neglected children are in good hands with the state. According to monitor Raymond Mancuso’s newest analysis, the rate of timely adoptions is at its lowest since 2004 – a “significant departure” from previous reports. Further, the rate of eligible children being reunited with their families in a timely manner is the lowest since mid-2009. Link to Article

NJ: Judge Concerned About $11.5M Cut to Department of Children and Families’ Budget

July 19, The Star-Ledger: The federal judge who is overseeing the court-appointed monitoring of the state’s child welfare system today expressed serious concerns about a recent $11.5 million cut to the department’s budget — just before he declared that his “court is committed to seeing that this agency gets the funding it needs.” “Every gain which we have made will start to vanish,” U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler told a half-full courtroom this afternoon, shortly after the monitor of the state’s Department of Children and Families gave an often-positive rundown of the agency’s recent improvements while also warning of the serious setbacks that could result from the state Legislature’s June 29-announced budget cut. Link to Article

N.J. Child Welfare Agency Struggles To Visit Families, Excels In Getting Foster Kids Health Care

July 19, NJ.com: New Jersey’s child welfare system once again failed to meet expectations in how regularly it visits and plans for the future of the children and families it supervises, according to the latest report card from a federal court monitor who has identified these shortcomings for two consecutive years. Marcia Robinson Lowry, founder and executive director of Children’s Rights, the advocacy group whose lawsuit prompted the court monitor’s appointment and a massive overhaul of the system, called the findings “alarming.” Link to Article

MT: Adopted Kids’ Ranch in Montana Denied License

Jul 19, Salt Lake Tribune: The Russian government isn’t alone in raising questions about a Montana ranch that cares for troubled children adopted from foreign countries. Montana regulators are actively involved in a legal battle to shut down the Ranch For Kids near the Canadian border. Those records show the ranch in Eureka has been operating without a license since 2010. The state board that oversees private alternative adolescent residential and outdoor programs ordered it last year to stop operating until it obtains a proper license. An inspection that was part of the license application process found deficiencies that included a failure to show the ranch’s buildings are up to code, the lack of a disaster plan, no background checks or commercial drivers’ licenses for employees and no student handbook or statement on the rights of the program participants. Link to Article

US: Dad’s Early Engagement With Son May Shape Behavior Later

July 19 (Health Day News/Medline Plus: A father’s strong connection with his child during infancy may reduce the risk of behavioral problems later in life, a new study suggests.

British researchers looked at nearly 200 families and found that children whose fathers were more positively engaged with them at age 3 months had fewer behavioral problems when they were 1 year old. The association between higher levels of interaction and fewer subsequent behavioral problems was strongest in sons. This suggests that boys are more susceptible to the influence of their father from a very early age, the University of Oxford researchers said. Link to Article

MI: Jacob Stieler Case: All Factors Must Be Considered When Child’s Life Is At Stake, Michigan DHS Director Says

July 19, MLive.com: “Every child’s life is precious.” That is why the Michigan Department of Human Services is pursuing a court case seeking to continue chemotherapy treatments for a 10-year-old boy, says DHS Director Maura Corrigan. In a column submitted to MLive, Corrigan explains the legal and medical reasons behind the medical neglect case involving Erin and Kenneth Stieler, of Skandia, and their son, Jacob. Jacob was being treated for Ewing sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, when his parents stopped chemo treatments in July 2011 against the recommendation of doctors at DeVos Children’s Hospital. A medical neglect charge was filed against the parents, and the case was dismissed without trial by the Marquette County Circuit Court. DHS appealed that ruling to the state Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in the case July 11. Corrigan discusses the factors behind the DHS decision in her Op Ed. Link to Op Ed

MO: Undocumented Immigrant Mother Loses Adoption Battle

July 18, CNN: A 5-year-old boy caught in a heart-wrenching custody battle will remain with his presumptive adoptive family after a judge ruled Wednesday that the biological mother had abandoned him. It was a complex and delicate case that reached the Missouri Supreme Court and was unlikely to have a tidy ending. Link to Article

MI: ‘Erin’s Law’ Clears Senate Despite Concerns About Adding an Unfunded Mandate on Schools

July 18, MLive.com: “Erin’s Law,” a package of bills aimed at teaching children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse, is headed to the state House after being unanimously approved in the Senate. But there was some concern that the bills would add another unfunded mandate on the backs of local districts. Senate Bills 1112-1114 would create a task force made up of legislators, state staff members and experts to make recommendations to school boards to create a curriculum to address child sexual abuse prevention. Link to Article; See the Bills under Legislative Updates

 

ND: FBI Victim Specialists Urge Teamwork on Indian Cases

July 18, Inforum: Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they are heeding the call for teamwork by victim specialists who handle child abuse and neglect cases on American Indian reservations. Experts told attendees at a conference on family violence in Indian country that successful prosecution for crimes against children depends on cooperation among law enforcement, social workers, doctors and attorneys. “It takes a lot of people to be able to make this work,” said Joan Halvorson, a Native American victim specialist with the FBI. Link to Article

US: Adopted From China: Finding Identity Through Heritage

July 18, CNN: Thousands of girls are adopted out of China each year, ending up in homes around the world. Many of them find identity and purpose in returning to China to visit their roots. Adoptive parents often choose to travel back to China frequently with their adopted children. Many adoptive parents feel it a duty to teach their children about where they came from. Link to Article

MI: After Court Ruling, Michigan’s Juvenile Lifers May Not Be Lifers After All

July 18, Detroit Free Press: Michigan’s juvenile lifers — prisoners sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles — are unlikely to win their freedom in large numbers or anytime soon, despite last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring such sentences unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. Based on testimony before a legislative panel at the state Capitol on Tuesday, it may be some time before any of the 360 or so juvenile lifers in Michigan can seek to have their sentences overturned based on the June 25 ruling. And prosecutors may still choose to oppose re-sentencing on the grounds that the decision should not be applied retroactively, said Assistant Attorney General Margaret Nelson. The testimony came at a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee reviewing whether state prison spending would be affected by the ruling. But Dawn Van Hoek, director of the State Appellate Defender Office, said it could take several years to resolve issues arising out of the ban on mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of first-degree or felony murder, and that only a small number of inmates will be affected in the short run. Van Hoek said she believes it is clear that the Supreme Court decision applies retroactively, and will require re-sentencing for all of Michigan’s juvenile lifers at some point. Link to Free Press Article; Link to Related MLive.com Article; Link to Related Oakland Press Article

MI: Grosse Pointe Choir Director May Face Firing

July 18, The Detroit News: Grosse Pointe Public School administrators will seek to fire choir director Ellen Bowen following allegations from a student that she hit him on the head with his cell phone during class. Superintendent Thomas Harwood said in a statement Monday he recommends the termination “due to past concerns regarding a pattern of behavior toward students and fellow staff members that has resulted in previous disciplinary action with Ms. Bowen.” Bowen, an award-winning choir director for Grosse Pointe South High School, was placed on paid administrative leave June 6, the day after the school’s principal filed an assault report with the Grosse Pointe Farms Police. Link to Article

AZ: Keeping Kids Connected With Their Jailed Parents

July 18, NPR: Arizona has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, and that means it also has one of the highest percentages of children with one or both parents in jail. One rural county there is trying to help families stay connected. On a recent day, 45-year-old Liz Minor sits in the shade outside a coffeehouse in Flagstaff, enjoying icy drinks with her two sons. She relishes this ordinary moment, considering that just a few years ago their time together was limited to a prison visiting room, separated by shatterproof glass. A major step is that the county is installing a Skype-like video visitation system. They can visit from a coffeehouse, they can visit from their iPhone or iPad. Skype is basically a secure video connection to conduct that visit. It will also cut down on the trauma that many children experience having to go inside prison to visit a parent. That’s heartening to kids like A.J. Minor, who says he would’ve liked something like this when his mom was in prison. Link to Article

MI: Flint YWCA Rescues City’s Crime Victim Advocacy Program with State Grant Funds

July 17, The Flint Journal: The YWCA of Greater Flint has received a $96,000 grant to run the city of Flint’s Victim Advocacy Program, which was nearly lost through city budget cuts. The grant was awarded by the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Crime Victim Services Commission. Link to Article

MI: Arrest Warrant Signed, Charges Pending Against Mom Who Allegedly Left Kids in Hot Vehicle While Shopping At Fruitport Walmart

July 17, The Muskegon Chronicle: A mother of three young children who allegedly left them in a vehicle on an 88 degree day earlier this month while she shopped at the Fruitport Township Walmart store is expected to turn herself in to police, authorities said. A warrant was signed for the woman’s arrest Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t clear what type of crime she would be charged with, but police said earlier they had requested the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office charge her with child abuse. Link to Article

US: Study Finds 71 Percent Of People Support Adoption By Same-Sex Couples

July 17, Advocate.com:Seventy-one percent of people surveyed in a recent study approve of adoption by same-sex couples, according to a study released Tuesday by Oxygen Media. Link to Article

US: Deportation Pyramid Illustrates Effects Of Deportation On Children

July 17, Southern California Public Radio: The Journal of Marriage and Family has a fascinating new article on the effects of deportation on kids. The author, sociologist Joanna Dreby of New York’s University of Albany, presents what’s titled a “deportation pyramid,” something she describes as similar to an “injury pyramid” used by public health professionals, to illustrate how children experience deportation and the threat of it. The weight goes beyond actual removal of immigrant parents to the fear of it occurring, Dreby writes. While the dissolution of families tops the pyramid, the threat of deportation leaves some children with misunderstandings about immigration, associating it with illegality even when status is not discussed in the family, in some cases even keeping their immigrant background a secret from peers. Link to SCPR Article; Link to Journal Article

FL: Think Tank Likes Florida’s Privatized Child Welfare Services

July 17, The Ledger: Florida’s child-welfare system is among the best in the nation, according to a new ranking by the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples-based, free-market think tank. Florida ranks fourth in the nation behind No. 1 Idaho, New Hampshire and North Carolina in the 2012 Right for Kids rankings, the first report of its kind that measures how well states and the District of Columbia treat abused and neglected children. Link to Article  See also: Link to pdf Report that has more details.

 NC: Collateral Damage on the Home Front: Ten Years Later

Making Strides in Reducing Homicides by Parent or Caregiver in the Military

July 2012, Action for Children North Carolina: Between 2001 and 2010 there were 251 homicides by parent/caregiver of children from birth through ten years of age in North Carolina. That computes to a state rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 children. Just seven counties had eight or more occurrences. It is clear that the rates for counties with a high population of military remain much higher than any other county, and indeed more than twice the state rate. But statistics show that the rates among military families declined at a higher rate than among civilian families. Link to pdf Report  See also: Link to Fort Bragg Patch News Article

US: Some Call For Abuse Reporting Reforms Now, Others Urge Caution

July 17, witf.org: With the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal in the headlines, state lawmakers are calling attention to proposed reforms to child protection laws. But some child welfare advocates say it’s dangerous to become too distracted by the scandal that rocked Penn State. The special investigation into Penn State’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse allegations has renewed state lawmakers’ focus on revamping child protection laws. Cathleen Palm, of the Protect Our Children Committee, a coalition of advocacy groups, is not calling for the speedy passage of any one of them. “Each of the pieces of legislation have value and have a role to play but I think moving any of them independent of each other is where we get into problems, because it would not get us into a comprehensive fix,” said Palm. “It wouldn’t seal all the cracks. It potentially even creates more cracks.” Link to Article

IN: Purdue Study Says Child Abuse Can Increase Cancer Risk

July 17, Fox 59: Research from Purdue University suggests that frequent child abuse by a parent can increase that child’s risk of cancer in adulthood. Purdue found their discovery to be especially true when mothers abuse their daughters and fathers abuse their sons. Researchers are unsure as to why there is this correlation, but a possible reason is the closer bond between a child and parent of the same sex. Link to Article

US: Securing Legal Ties for Children Living in LGBT Families

July 17, Center for American Progress: In October 2011 the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council, and the Center for American Progress released the report, “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families.” The report offers one of the most comprehensive portraits to date of LGBT families in America and details ways in which antiquated laws and stigma make it harder for children with LGBT parents to have their needs met in three areas: stable, loving homes; economic security; and health and well-being.[1] This column provides a snapshot of a new report, “Securing Legal Ties for Children Living in LGBT Families,” which is the third in a companion series to the “All Children Matter” report. Focusing specifically on the impact of state marriage and parenting laws on children living in LGBT families, this companion report provides a framework for state policymakers to draft, pass, and enact new laws that protect children living in contemporary family structures. It also includes recommendations for amending, repealing, or overturning archaic and discriminatory laws and policies that leave children without the security of legal ties to their parents, or without the loving, “forever” homes that all children need and deserve. Link to CFAP Article; Full LGBT families legal ties report (pdf); Original LGBT families column and report (pdf)

AZ: Preschool Services Help At-Risk Parents, Children

Jul. 17, TusconCitizen.com: CPS frequently offers child care, among other services, to families accused of abuse or neglect. Child care can provide an immediate solution for a mother who left her young children home alone while she worked. Or it can be part of a package of services to help parents regain custody of their kids. For the lucky families who get in, research shows, Educare, Head Start and other high-quality preschool programs work. But while they are free to the families who benefit, they are expensive to operate. Head Start costs average about $8,000 per child; Educare works out to more than twice that for each child enrolled at the east Phoenix campus. Statewide, fewer than 5 percent of eligible infants and toddlers get into Early Head Start, and roughly 40 % of preschoolers who are eligible find a seat in a Head Start classroom. Link to Article

US: Oxygen Media Study Reveals Women Say Yes to Adoption

July 17, The Futon Critic: Oxygen Media today released a study conducted by Lightspeed Research targeting the insights of women and men on the deeply personal and complex topic of adoption. The survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 people ages 18 to 49, explores a vast range of findings. Times are changing, and so is the sensibility of many Americans. When it comes to atypical adoption scenarios, an overwhelming number of the men and women surveyed expressed support. Women ultimately lead the pack with a massive 86 percent open to single parents adopting a child (vs. 77 percent males) and 73 percent open to gay and lesbian couples adopting (vs. 62 percent males). Similarly, 90 percent of the women surveyed feel it’s more socially acceptable than it used to be to adopt children of different races, while 84 percent of men feel that way. Link to Article

US: Child Abuse Rises When Economy Sags: Study

Risk is highest in families losing their homes

July 16, Medline Plus, Health Day News: The housing crisis that has left so many people without a permanent home may have worsened another serious problem: child abuse. As mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures loom, the rates of child abuse leading to hospitalization also increased, according to new research. Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of child abuse requiring hospital admission increased by 3 percent a year for every 1 percent increase in the 90-day mortgage-delinquency rate. The rate of traumatic brain injury suspected to be caused by child abuse increased 5 percent a year for every 1 percent increase in the mortgage-delinquency rate, according to the study. “On the community level, we need to recognize that losing a home is very stressful, and we need to let families know that it’s OK to ask for help,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Joanne Wood, assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “We need to provide them links to resources where they can get help.” Results of the study will be published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics. The study was released online July 16. Link to Health Day News Article

US: Bill Would Curb Foster Care Entries Linked to Deportation, Immigration Issues

July 13, Chronicle of Social Change: A bill was introduced in the US Congress yesterday that aims to curb the number of children placed in foster care because of immigration enforcement, and end the termination of parental rights brought on because of deportation proceedings. “While current law allows undocumented individuals to become a foster or adoptive parent, our child welfare system continues to be biased against undocumented caregivers,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), who introduced the Help for Separated Families Act yesterday, in a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives. “Undocumented parents love their children and want the best for them as all parents do.” The legislation comes eight months after the release of a report from the Applied Research Center (ARC), which found 46,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported in the first six months of 2011, leaving more than 5,100 of those children in foster care. Link to Article

NC: North Carolina Couples Sue to Overturn Second Parent Adoption Ban

Jun 15, FOX Carolina: An adoption ban is at the center of a heated debate in North Carolina after a law threatens to break up families. The American Civil Liberties Union, along with six North Carolina couples, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s law that prevents one partner in an unmarried couple from adopting their partner’s biological or adopted child. One of the same-sex couples that filed the lawsuit lives in Asheville with their two children, after spending time traveling across the world before settling down to start a family. Link to Article

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

HB 5763 & 5764: Permits a child placing agency to refuse to place a child in a placement that violates a written policy based on religious or moral convictions of the child placing agency. HB 5764 prohibits DHS from considering such a policy in its dealings with the child placing agency. Link to HB 5763 Status Page; Link to HB 5764 Status Page In early stages yet.

Senate Bill 1112 as passed by the State Senate:

The bill would amend the Child Protection Law to do the following:

  • Create the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children.
  • Require the Task Force to make recommendations for reducing child sexual abuse in Michigan.
  • Require the Task Force to submit to the Governor and the Legislature a final report containing its recommendations within 180 days.
  • Abolish the Task Force when the final report was submitted.

Senate Bills 1113 and 1114 (tie barred) as passed by the State Senate:

Senate Bill 1113 would amend the Revised School Code to require the board of a school district or intermediate school district (ISD) or board of directors of a public school academy to adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children.

Senate Bill 1114 would amend the Revised School Code to require a pupil’s parent or guardian to be given advance notice of pupil instruction under the policy adopted under Senate Bill 1113, and allow the parent or guardian to have the pupil excused from the instruction.

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Bailey

This case is distinguished from In re Mason and In re Rood where DHS knew that the parents were incarcerated and did not give them an opportunity to meaningfully participate. In this case the Respondent expressed a lack of interest in the proceedings or in receiving services. Here, the trial court found that the DHS’s efforts were reasonable under the circumstances of this case, and that neither Rood nor Mason supported respondent’s position that DHS did not make reasonable reunification efforts. The appellate court agreed. The court held that there are few, if any, similarities between respondent’s case and Rood and Mason. Full Text Opinion

Case Name: In re Jones

Holding that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that §§ 19b(3)(g) and (h) were established by clear and convincing evidence, the court affirmed the trial court’s order terminating the respondent-father’s parental rights to the minor child. The evidence showed that respondent was incarcerated since the child was three months old. Respondent did not arrange for an alternate caretaker to prevent the child’s placement in foster care and instead denied paternity of and responsibility for the child. He repeatedly violated prison rules, which caused him to spend a significant amount of time in segregation and prevented him from participating in services to prepare for reunification. At the time of termination, the mother’s parental rights had been terminated, and respondent’s earliest release date was almost two years away. The court concluded that the trial court’s finding that respondent was unlikely to be released when first eligible was not clearly erroneous in light of his poor prison record. He also would have to establish housing, find a source of income, and show an ability to take care of the child before he could be considered for placement. The court also held that respondent’s claim he was not provided with reunification services lacked merit. Until a putative father establishes legal paternity, he is not entitled to services. Respondent became the father on 1/5/11 when the trial court determined that he had parental rights by declaring him to be the father. The petitioner established a service plan for him, “but he was rarely available to participate in prison services because he was in and out of segregation due to his misconduct.” Full Text Opinion
Comment by C. Enright: This fact situation differentiates the case from In re Mason, which says parental rights cannot be terminated merely because a parent is incarcerated.

Case Name: In re Aranjo

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Aranjo

Holding, inter alia, that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that terminating respondent-Mora’s parental rights to his minor child (S) was in S’s best interests, the court affirmed the trial court’s order terminating his parental rights. Mora argued, inter alia, that the trial court was required to investigate whether S might qualify for Mexican citizenship because, if he did, it “might give rise to a duty to involve the Mexican government if there was a risk he would lose his parents.” However, he did not cite any legal authority indicating that S’s possible status as a Mexican citizen was legally relevant. While Mora observed that the trial court asked the mother whether the child had any Native American heritage, that inquiry was required because of the rights and protections afforded under the ICWA. Mora failed to cite any statute or other authority applying similar rights or protections to Mexican children, or to children that may have dual citizenship with another nation. Thus, he did not establish a plain error. The court affirmed the trial court’s order terminating respondents’ parental rights. Full Text Opinion

Case Name: In re Webb

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Webb

Respondent was a known sex offender who had sexually abused his two younger sisters when they were five and six years old. The court held that “given the evidence that respondent was a known sex offender who sexually abused his two sisters when they were young, that a sexual abuse risk assessment showed that respondent presented at least a moderate risk of re-offending, and he was unwilling to engage in recommended counseling to address, among other things, ‘controlling sexual impulses, and cultivating healthier attitudes about sex’,” the trial court did not clearly err in finding that the children, who were not that much younger than respondent’s sisters when he abused them, were reasonably likely to be harmed if placed in his home. Affirmed. Full Text Opinion