Category Archives: Appellate Court Cases

Case Name: In re Bell

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)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

Holding, inter alia, that the failure to personally serve the respondent-father rendered the trial court proceedings void, the court vacated the orders terminating his rights and permitting the child’s adoption. On remand, the trial court was directed to ensure that respondent is notified of all proceedings .In the trial that lead to this appeal the only notice to the father was a publication in the Detroit Legal News. In earlier hearings, notice by undocumented mailings only were used.  Full Text Opinion

Case Name: In re R. L. Vincent, Minor

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re R. L. Vincent, Minor

This case returns to this Court after remand to the trial court. We affirmed the trial court’s determination that two statutory grounds supported termination but vacated its best-interest determination and remanded for further consideration of that issue, including whether termination was appropriate given the child’s placement with relatives. We conclude that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that termination of respondent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interests. Forensic psychologist Dr. Paul Kitchen testified that, even though the child was currently placed with relatives, termination was in the child’s best interest because of the child’s need for stability and permanency at his young age. Kitchen emphasized that adoption was not only preferable but crucial to the child because the child would form important bonds, his personality, and his ability to relate to others before the earliest date respondent would be released from prison. According to Kitchen, if the child “doesn’t form a bond now . . . it’s not gonna happen.” Furthermore, the record evidence demonstrates that the child has no bond with respondent. Upon respondent’s earliest release from prison, the child would be six years old and would not have seen respondent for about five and one-half years. Moreover, respondent did not comply with his court-ordered obligations: monthly letters to the child, child support, and participation in the “Angel Tree” program that serves children. Accordingly, we are not left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court mistakenly determined that termination of respondent’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Affirmed.

June 19-26: 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
[email protected]
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

 MI: Michigan DHS Gets Positive Review

June 25, ABC10: The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) received welcome news in the form of a positive report from the monitors measuring DHS compliance with the federal child welfare modified settlement agreement (MSA). The MSA reflects many of the department’s key initiatives. Substantial compliance with its measurements will eventually allow DHS to move to state – rather than federal – oversight. The monitors highlighted several significant DHS accomplishments in their report:

●   The extension of foster care to age 21.
●   Health insurance for foster youth transitioning to adulthood.
●   Post-secondary education support for foster youth transitioning into adulthood.
●   Establishment of a statewide centralized phone number for reporting child abuse and neglect.
●   The hiring of more than 700 child welfare workers.
●   University in-service, graduate-level courses for children’s protective services workers and adoption workers.
●   Immediate action for children with a goal of guardianship.
●   Resolution of issues surrounding the licensure of relative foster care homes.
Michigan’s child welfare system came under federal oversight on Oct. 24, 2008 as a result of a lawsuit filed by New York-based Children’s Rights. Shortly after taking the DHS helm in January 2011, Corrigan began renegotiating the consent decree to focus less on bureaucracy and more on outcomes. The MSA took effect on July 18, 2011. The report filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan today is the first monitoring report of the MSA. Link to Article  Contains link to full report.

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Juvenile Life Sentences

June 25, MLive.com: The U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote this morning struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, a ruling that will impact Michigan more than almost any other state. Michigan is second in the nation in the number of inmates serving life for crimes committed at 17 and younger, 358. There are about 2,500 nationally. The court held that the Eighth Amendment forbids a scheme of life in prison without possibility of parole for juveniles. Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion. The opinion cites two earlier Supreme Court cases in 2005 and 2010 that expanded protections for children. Link to Article

MI: Commentary: Alternative Education a Way To Stem School-To-Prison Pipeline

June 25, Detroit News: The apocalyptic state of public education is shoving our high school dropouts onto a pathway to the penitentiary. The latest proof comes in recent reports about how Highland Park may resort to a charter system to keep its doors open in September. Not a single article or report that I’ve seen on the subject has mentioned the fate of programs for high school dropouts. To me, that means we as a society have become so desperate to salvage our public schools from financial collapse that we have calculated our most vulnerable students right out of the equation. This equates to adding them to crime statistics and prison rolls. Link to Op Ed

MN: County Considers Participating in Program to Help First-Time Moms

June 23, West Central Tribune: With the goal of helping vulnerable first-time mothers raise healthy children and improve their own lives, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners took a first step this week to join the Nurse-Family Partnership. The NFP community health program, which operates in communities nationwide, pairs a registered nurse with a woman who is pregnant with her first child and living in poverty. The intervention-style relationship, which is fostered through home visits, continues until the child turns two years old. Link to Article

DC: ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Catch-22: Homeless Families Who Turn To City For Help Find No Rooms, Risk Child Welfare Inquiry

June 23, Washington Post: When Shakieta Smith, a homeless mother of two, called the District’s shelter hotline in March, she was told the city’s shelters were full. Then the intake worker added a chilling warning: If she and her kids had nowhere safe to sleep, she’d be reported to the city’s Child and Family Services Agency for a possible investigation into abuse and neglect. Link to Article

ND: Citing Child Abuse Concerns, Administrator Urges Halting Tribe’s Funding

June 22, Grand Forks Herald: The regional federal administrator wrote state and federal officials that many children on the reservation in north central North Dakota are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse — including the unprosecuted murder of two siblings more than a year ago. He advocated declaring a state of emergency at Spirit Lake and suspending all state and federal funding to the tribe until qualified professionals can be put in place to run programs. Link to Article

MI: Defense Attorney Weighs In on Bay City Man’s Overturned Sexual Assault Conviction

June 22. MLive.com: A state Court of Appeals’ recent reversal of a Bay City man’s conviction of sexually assaulting a little girl has won praise from the attorney who represented him at trial. The appellate court vacated Burns’ April 2011 conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13. Link to Article     Includes Link to Court Decision

NJ: Religion and Foster Care: Should Parents Take On Children From Other Faiths and Traditions?

June 22, New Jersey Jewish Standard: A complaint from a Muslim constituent has led the New Jersey legislature’s sole Orthodox Jewish legislator to introduce a bill that would mandate that children in foster care be placed with their co-religionists “to the maximum extent practicable.” But one local observant Jewish foster mother to Christian children worries that the bill would make life even harder for children needing foster care and the adults who wish to care for them. Link to Article

MI: Livonia School Board Seeks to Fire Teacher Accused of ‘Child Abuse’

Jun. 21, Observer & Eccentric: The Livonia school board took action toward firing a teacher and already terminated a parapro accused of slapping, grabbing and force feeding special-needs preschoolers, among other unprofessional classroom management practices. Neither the teacher nor the parapro has been charged with a crime. Administrators first heard complaints from other staff members about the classroom environment in late October. The 12 preschoolers in the classroom, ages 3-5, are all cognitively impaired and some are also physically impaired. The classroom is part of a Wayne RESA center program serving students from multiple districts. Link to Article

EU, U.S. Sign Agreement to Combat Online Child Abuse

June 21 (Xinhua) — The U.S. and European Union (EU) have reached a framework agreement to combat online child abuse and pornography, EU and U.S. high officials for justice and home affairs said here on Thursday. The Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online strengthens EU-U.S. cooperation on fighting cyber crime while protecting the rights and privacy of children. It sets out a number of criteria to help countries in their efforts in identifying and protecting victims of child pornography, and in investigating cases of online child abuse. Link to Article

MI: Retweets For a Baby: Michigan Husband and Wife Turn to Twitter to Help With Adoption Process

June 21, Michigan Live: Frustrated by the adoption process after two years with no results, a Merritt Township native and his wife have taken a new approach to the process. Link to Article

MI: Michigan’s Prescription for Foster Kids: Drugs

June 21, Bridge Magazine: A report from the Government Accountability Office last December stated that foster children are twice as likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs — medications for anti-anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, psychosis — than other children on Medicaid. The reasons include greater exposure to trauma, frequent changes in placements and varying state oversight policies, the GAO said in a review of five states, including Michigan. Link to Bridge Article

Among the GAO’s other findings:

●   Michigan was the only state of the five examined that does not have established training requirements for child welfare, court personnel or foster parents to make them advocates.

●   Michigan does have policies identifying who can give consent for medicating foster children, but there is no standardized consent form to help inform consent decisions.

●   Michigan meets only one of the guidelines recommended, but not mandated, by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

●   1.5 percent of Michigan’s foster children under age one year were prescribed a psychotropic drug, compared to 0.3 percent of children on Medicaid who are not in the foster system. (Researchers did note that some of the medications in the psychotropic drug category, such as antihistamines, could have been prescribed to treat a non-mental health issue such as allergies or a rash.)

●   Michigan foster children under age 17 were three times more likely than for non-foster Medicaid patients to receive drugs at dosages exceeding maximum guidelines based on FDA-approved labels.

●   Michigan foster children were far more likely to have five or more psychotropic prescriptions at the same time than non-foster Medicaid patients. “Increasing the number of drugs used concurrently increases the likelihood of adverse reactions and long-term side effects, such as high cholesterol or diabetes, and limits the ability to assess which of multiple drugs are related to a particular treatment goal,” the GAO authors noted.

Turns out, Michigan is nowhere near being alone with this problem. See: Link to Op Ed re Florida 

US: U.S. Midwest in Crosshairs of Child Sex Trafficking Fight

June 20, CNN International: When it comes to child and adolescent sex-trafficking in the United States, the FBI ranks Minneapolis-St. Paul among the top 13 places in the nation. With its tangle of highways known as Spaghetti Junction, its year-round sporting events and frequent conventions, millions pass through on any given day. “There’s the thought no one’s going to catch you in the Midwest,” says Dan Pfarr who works with teens in crisis. Though difficult to confirm, the statistic most cited by police and child advocates is that within 48 hours of running away, one in three teens will be approached by someone in the sex trade. With hundreds of thousands of runaways every year in the Midwestern U.S., the pool of potential victims is immense. Link to Article

OR: Oregon Settles Suit Over 2003 Abuse Investigation

June 20, Associated Press: The state of Oregon has agreed to pay $300,000 to a family whose complaint about an investigation by child protection workers went before the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The case began in 2003, when a social services caseworker and a deputy sheriff pulled a 9-year-old girl from her Bend classroom and questioned her about alleged sexual abuse by her father, Nimrod Greene. According to the family, the girl falsely incriminated her father because the investigators would not accept her denials. Link to Article

This is the infamous Greene v. Camreta case and shows the potential consequences of improper child interview techniques.

GA/MI: Mom Hated Daughter She Starved: They Once Lived In Grand Rapids

June 19, WOOD TV: Family members of a teen girl who was allegedly starved to death by her mother in Georgia said there was a history of abuse that started when the girl and her mother lived in Grand Rapids. Michigan CPS launched more than a half-dozen investigations when the family lived in Grand Rapids, but only once did they substantiate abuse. The family has a lot of questions about why their cries for help couldn’t save Markea. Link to Article

US: Child Welfare Investigation Predicts Mental Health Problems in Young Children

June 19, Eureka Alert: A study published in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that young children who have been investigated for maltreatment by child welfare agencies have a higher prevalence of mental health problems and that very few receive treatment for those problems. Horwitz said of the study, “The fact that so many very young children in contact with child welfare are showing signs of social and emotional problems is somewhat surprising, but that so few children and caregivers receive any services is disturbing given that effective interventions are available and could produce positive changes in the lives of these children.” Reading the journal article requires access through Elsevier. Link to Eureka Alert Article

US: State Officials Urged to Ease Barriers to Interstate Adoptions of Kids in Foster Care

June 19, Associated Press: “Children wait in foster care not because there aren’t enough families to adopt them, but because of artificial barriers we erect,” said Jeff Katz, executive director of Listening to Parents, a Boston-based group that organized the initiative. Link to Article

US: Preventing Drug Abuse in Depressed Youths

June 18, Daily Rx: Adolescent Drug abuse is less likely with effective treatment for depression. Adolescents who get treatment for their major depressive disorder (MDD) before they begin abusing drugs are less likely to start. Early treatment is the best prevention method. Those who were successfully treated for their depression in the TADS program were 14.5 percent less likely to develop a SUD than those who were not successfully treated. Link to Article

MI: Dominick’s Law May Give Michigan the Nation’s Toughest Child Abuse Laws

June 15, WXYZ-Lansing: Michigan could soon have the toughest child abuse laws in the country. State lawmakers voted to approve Dominick’s law. The bill allows for longer sentences for those convicted of child abuse. It makes it a crime for witnessed of child abuse to ignore it and do nothing. It also adds penalties for those who commit abuse in front of other kids. “From this day forward child abusers are going to have to deal with Dominick’s Law,” said Rick Calhoun, Dominick’s grandfather. The governor now has to sign the bill for it to become law.  Link to Article  Comment by C. Enright: While this may be an emotionally satisfying and politically expedient move, any criminologist can tell you it will have no deterrent effect whatsoever. And it will cost a bundle of taxpayer money to house those convicted.

Dad’s Love Can Be Crucial for Happy Childhood, Study Confirms

June 15, HealthDay News: Move over, tiger moms. Dads can play an even more significant role in the development of happy, well-adjusted children than do mothers, a new study indicates. “In our 50 years of research, we have found that nothing has as strong and consistent an effect on personality development as does being rejected by a parent — especially by a father — in childhood,”. The study, published recently in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, analyzed 36 studies, from 1975 to 2010, involving almost 1,400 adults and 8,600 children in 18 countries. The children ranged in age from 9 to 18, and adults were between 18 and 89. All the studies included in the review included an assessment of seven personality traits considered central to what is called “parental acceptance-rejection theory.” Those traits — aggression, independence, positive self-esteem, positive self-adequacy, emotional responsiveness, emotional stability and positive worldview — were evaluated using self-report questionnaires. Participants were asked about their parents’ degree of acceptance or rejection during their childhoods and about their own personality characteristics or tendencies. “The study shows a strong relationship between those seven traits and the experience of feeling accepted and cared about by your parents,” said Dr. John Sargent, a professor of psychology and pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, in Boston. “What’s really important to kids is to know they’re accepted by their parents,” Sargent said. Study author Rohner said fathers may have a greater impact on a child’s personality because children and teenagers pay more attention to the parent who seems to have greater interpersonal power, or influence, in the family’s power hierarchy. Link to Article

RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE 

Differential Response Systems

July 2011, National Quality Improvement Center: Traditional child protection systems have been hindered by challenges of “over-inclusion” of low risk referrals, “under-inclusion” of families who have high needs, and have been burdened by a “one size fits all” high resource investigative approach. Differential response now allows for more than one way for an agency to respond to reports of child maltreatment concerns; forensic, investigative resources can be allocated to high risk (for reoccurrence) situations and an alternative (different) response can meet the needs of family support issues (often currently assessed as low or moderate risk). As child welfare systems implement new ways of working in the context of differential response, practice model development, supervision, management, and skill building emerge again as priorities. Link to Issue Brief

Link to many more resources on DR from the National Quality Improvement Center

Apparently, many states have adopted this system to more effectively respond to CA&N from both improved outcomes and cost efficiencies perspectives.

 

LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE

 

Tips for Child Welfare Professionals: Talking about LGBT-Headed Families.

June 2012, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections:  (1) Tips for Talking about LGBT-Headed Families; (2) Tips for Talking to Birth Families about their Child Joining an LGBT-Headed Family; (3) Tips for Talking to Children/Youth about Becoming Part of a LGBT-Headed Family. Link to pdf Guide

Eliminating Barriers to the Adoption of Children in Foster Care.

2012: Today there are more than 100,000 children waiting in foster care in large part because of barriers in the adoption system that could be eliminated through changes in policy and practice.

Barriers to adoption from foster care identified by participants in the Executive Session include:

•   financial disincentives for creating interstate adoptions;

•   lack of standardized information about families seeking to adopt and about children waiting to be adopted;

•   insufficient post-adoption support compared to support for youth aging out; and

•   absence of a robust model for creating adoptions, including effective recruitment of adoptive families; appropriate caseloads, training, and supervision for workers; and significant youth involvement. Link to pdf Recommendations

Social Media Connects Adoptive Parents and Birth Families.


2012, Adoption Center for Family Building: Today, many birth parents and adoptive parents are embracing social media and interactive communication tools like instant messaging, photo/video sharing, text messaging, and video teleconferencing, to share information and stay in touch. While many may celebrate this expansion of openness, some ground rules are recommended. Link to Article

 

Understanding the Reasons for Placement Instability: Lessons from Case Data

2011, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Children and Family Research Center: Conclusions: Most children in unstable cases have been moved for several different reasons:

caregiver reasons, child behavior and/or system and policy reasons. Child behavior is only one source of instability. Skill and commitment of foster parents plays a role. Increased licensing of kin caregivers should be considered. Child behavior problems are both a cause and effect of instability. Caregivers need resources, training and support. Sometimes behavior problems are expectable for child’s developmental level. Moves made by child welfare to improve children’s lives carry some risk of instability. Planned moves should be made carefully, taking into account past instability as one factor. Link to Presentation Slides

 

This Is My Baby: Foster Parents’ Feelings of Commitment and Displays Of Delight.

2011, Infant Mental Health Journal: This study examined the association between foster parents’ commitment to their young foster children and the delight they showed in their interactions with children. Foster parents who were more highly committed to their foster children showed greater delight in their children than did foster parents who were less highly committed. These results suggest an important way in which caregiver commitment is transmitted to foster children. Link to pdf Report

The National Wraparound Initiative

The NWI works to promote understanding about the components and benefits of wraparound, and to provide the field with resources to facilitate high quality and consistent wraparound implementation. Wraparound has been most commonly conceived of as an intensive, individualized care planning and management process. Wraparound is not a treatment per se. The wraparound process aims to achieve positive outcomes by providing a structured, creative and individualized team planning process that, compared to traditional treatment planning, results in plans that are more effective and more relevant to the child and family. Additionally, wraparound plans are more holistic than traditional care plans in that they are designed to meet the identified needs of caregivers and siblings and to address a range of life areas. Through the team-based planning and implementation process, wraparound also aims to develop the problem-solving skills, coping skills, and self-efficacy of the young people and family members. Finally, there is an emphasis on integrating the youth into the community and building the family’s social support network. Link to NWI Web Site

Creating a Safe Place for Trafficked Youth in Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs

The National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth: Survivor-led programs like GEMS have emerged as models for other youth-serving organizations that come into contact with trafficked youth, but aren’t sure how to ensure their physical and emotional safety. Experts say that with some precautions and training, runaway and homeless youth programs, with their dual focus on understanding and treating young people’s trauma and on empowering youth to reach their full potential, can create their own version of Rachel’s Group: a safe, nonjudgmental environment where formerly trafficked youth feel comfortable getting help. Link to NCFY Child Trafficking Web Page

Additional Resources for Homeless Youth: Link to NCFY Homeless Youth Page

 

Home Away From Home: A Toolkit for Planning Home Visiting Partnerships with Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers.

2012, CLASP: Family, Friend, and Neighbor and Home Visiting Partnerships, and How Can They Help You Reach Families

In its work to inform and strengthen home visiting policy, CLASP aims to:

•  Maximize the extent to which states effectively reach and serve vulnerable families with culturally and age appropriate home visiting models that address their needs and build on their strengths; and

•  Assist states in reaching children and their families in the settings in which children are cared for, whether that is at home with their parents; in family, friend, and neighbor care; or in regulated child care settings.

Home visiting and FFN partnerships can help achieve both of these goals. By adapting or altering a traditional home visiting model to include an FFN caregiver in the caregiver’s home, these partnerships reach children and families who may be more difficult to reach through traditional home visiting models. At the same time, home visiting and FFN partnerships can benefit caregivers, improving the quality of their interactions with children, and the level of care they provide. Finally, such partnerships can strengthen the relationship between the child, the parent, and the caregiver. By strengthening these relationships, the strategy may provide greater continuity of care for children, as well as allow the home visiting model’s services to have a stronger impact. Strengthening the quality of care provided by caregivers may also benefit additional children in their care. Link to Program Description

The Signs of Safety: Comprehensive Briefing Paper

April 2012: One of the biggest problems that bedevils child protection work, identified in many child death inquiries, is the Tower of Babel problem, where everyone is speaking a different language. The Signs of Safety framework is designed to create a shared focus among all stakeholders in child protection cases, both professional and family, it is designed to help everyone think their way into and through the case from the ‘biggest’ person (often someone like a director general, a judge or child psychiatrist) to the ‘smallest’ person (the child). However, completing the Signs of Safety framework—even when it is done collaboratively between the parents and children and all the professionals involved in the case—is only a means to an end. Large child protection systems, with their bureaucratic tendencies can often get means and ends confused and thus the completion of assessment frameworks can become a highly prized, over-valued key performance indicator. Completing the Signs of Safety assessment framework is, in the end, simply a process of creating a map of the circumstances surrounding a vulnerable child. As with all maps, the Signs of Safety map needs always to be seen as a mechanism to arrive at a destination. That destination is rigorous, sustainable, everyday child safety in the actual home and places in which the child lives. Link to Briefing Paper

APPELLATE COURT CASES 

Court: Michigan Supreme Court
Case Name: In re Budd

In an order in lieu of granting leave to appeal, the court reversed that part of the Court of Appeals judgment (see e-Journal # 49863 in the 10/14/11 edition) applying the “conditional-affirmance remedy,” conditionally reversed the trial court’s order terminating the respondent-mother’s parental rights, and remanded the case to the trial court for resolution of the notice requirements of the ICWA. The court instructed the trial court on remand to “first ensure that notice is properly made to the appropriate entities.” If the trial court conclusively determines that the ICWA does not apply to this child protective proceeding – “because the children are not Indian children or because the properly noticed tribe does not timely respond” – the trial court’s order terminating respondent’s parental rights shall be reinstated. However, if the trial court concludes that the ICWA applies, the trial court’s order terminating respondent’s parental rights must be vacated and all proceedings must begin anew in accord with the procedural and substantive requirements of the ICWA. Full Text Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Dembny-Reinke

The court held, inter alia, that the trial court committed reversible error by moving so swiftly to termination without attempting to provide the respondent-father with services required by statute and Mason, and that the respondent-mother, too, should have been afforded the opportunity to formally participate in services. Both parents appeared to be improving and rehabilitating themselves, the trial court compounded the error by not permitting them to work toward reunification. The father argued that his incarceration alone should not have resulted in termination of his parental rights and that no evidence presented by the petitioner-DHS indicated that he was not capable of being a good parent. The mother argued that the evidence showed that she was conquering her addictions, as she had been clean and sober for a year. She was also visiting the child regularly, working, and living in adequate housing. Full Text Opinion

 

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

The court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the petitioner-DHS established by clear and convincing evidence sufficient statutory grounds for termination of respondent-Dobson’s and respondent-Cataford’s parental rights. However, the court vacated in part the trial court’s decision to the extent that it found that termination of the parental rights of Dobson and Cataford was in the child’s best interests and remanded for reconsideration of the child’s best interests in accordance with the court’s opinion. Apparently, the child lived with her maternal grandparents “off and on for her entire life,” and was placed with them when the wardship case was opened. The caseworker (G) recommended against a guardianship in lieu of termination and adoption and claimed that the child felt “that adoption would be great.” The court noted that when a child is living with relatives when the case proceeds to termination, the trial court “must consider that factor” in determining whether termination of the natural parents’ rights is in the child’s best interests. Further, the child liked the idea of being adopted by her grandparents. There was also no evidence that she wanted to cease all contact with her father. The court held that the trial court clearly erred in determining that termination was in the child’s best interests without considering her placement with relatives. Thus, the court vacated the trial court’s best-interests determination and remanded for reconsideration of her best interests in light of Mason and Mays. Full Text Opinion

 

June 13-19: CA&N News Articles and Resources

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
(989) 600-9696
[email protected]
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 

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.
Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.org

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

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES 

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

Jun 6-12: CA&N News Articles and Resources

Jun 6-12: CA&N News Articles and Resources  

Some recent media articles and resources relating to child abuse and neglect. If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block.
These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community.  MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles.  They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare.

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 600-9696
[email protected]
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 NEWS ARTICLES

MI: Ferris State University Receives Grant to Help Foster Care Students

June 11, Grand Rapids Press: Ferris State University has received a three-year, $397,000 grant from the state to hire a life coach for the Ferris Youth Initiative, a scholarship and mentoring program. The program is designed to increase higher education opportunities for low-income orphans or those who have aged out of the foster care system, according to the Ferris press release. The initiative teaches skills needed to live independently, connect socially and perform well academically through mentoring and offers a special scholarship for financial assistance. The “Youth in Transition” grant from the Department of Human Services is meant to fuel program efforts to help former foster care students in need achieve success. Link to Article

MI: Michigan Bills Would Extend Biological Dads’ Rights

Jun 10, NECN.com: The Michigan Legislature has sent Gov. Rick Snyder bills that would give biological fathers some rights to their children, even if the mothers were married to other men at the time of a child’s birth. The current 1956 law presumes that a woman’s husband is the father of her children, making the husband responsible for their support and denying parental rights to the biological father. Link to Article; Link to Same Article in Detroit News

MI: EDITORIAL: Education Programs Are Best at Combating Drug Abuse

June 10, Oakland Press: While we compliment officials in Macomb and Oakland counties for moving quickly to curtail the dangerous use of K2, Spice and other so-called synthetic marijuana, we have to ask: ‘Why?’ Why are our youngsters driven to use chemicals known to have dangerous health effects? Why are parents -– after their children suffer health problems or even death -– prone to blaming others rather than facing the fact that it was their child who knowingly used a dangerous drug? And lastly, why hasn’t America come to the realization that as a nation we have lost the so-called war on drugs? We think it is time our government officials look to education and prevention as the keys to controlling drug abuse. Drug courts throughout Macomb and Oakland counties stress rehabilitation over punishment and are remarkably successful. Educational programs, like the Fraser-based Families Against Narcotics, are helping hundreds of youngsters remain drug free. As a nation, we may have lost the war on drugs, but we can still win the battle against teenage drug abuse: one youngster at a time. Link to Op Ed

MI: In Wake Of Sandusky Scandal, Questions About Laws

Jun 9, ABC12.com; AP: When the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State erupted last year, public anger was directed not only toward Jerry Sandusky, but toward the people around him who didn’t report their suspicions to police. In the months that followed, that anger led many states to re-examine and expand their so-called mandatory reporting laws that require people to report suspected abuse or face civil and criminal penalties. Some state laws apply to professionals like doctors and teachers, while others apply universally to all adults. said Teresa Huizar of the National Children’s Alliance said standardizing the current patchwork of requirements, agencies and procedures would make reporting abuse less intimidating and difficult – but perhaps more importantly, a national awareness campaign would be an invaluable step to reducing the societal stigma that makes victims and witnesses remain silent. “In the same way we’ve taught people about the dangers of smoking, about using seat belts, about drinking and driving, when there’s that kind of a commitment, you really see the dial move in the right direction,” she said. “Without that level of investment, you’re not going to see that kind of result.” Despite the uncertainty about whether legislation brings about better outcomes, Huizar said the Sandusky case has shown that there have been encouraging changes when it comes to the way Americans view child abuse. “The instantaneous and universal outrage … really is different than what you would have had a decade ago,” Huizar said. “People were instantly saying, ‘Why didn’t the adults do more?’ That assumption is an enormously positive change in our societal understanding of who has responsibility for reporting abuse. So we’re learning.” Link to Article

But see also: PA: Child Abuse Reports Lead to Threats: Link to Article

MI: 4 Of 190 Child Predators Caught Were From MI

18 victims rescued during Operation Orion
June 8, WOOD TV: Four Michigan residents are among 190 people arrested during a month-long, nationwide operation targeting those who possessed child pornography. Names of the Michigan four are provided.  Link to Article

US: Bill Seeks Greater Access to School Records for Child Welfare Agencies

June 8, Palm Beach Post: Foster child advocates in Florida and nationwide are counting on a bill currently before federal lawmakers to ease access to children’s school records and improve education for foster children. The Access to Papers Leads to Uninterrupted Scholars Act, or the A+ PLUS Act, was introduced May 31 and could eliminate the hurdles that case workers often face when trying to obtain a child’s school records. Currently, federal law requires social workers to get a court order or parental consent to access a foster child’s school records, a move meant to protect the child’s privacy. But advocates said the extra red tape has made it difficult for social workers because foster youths change schools frequently as they move between different homes. “Given that child welfare agencies are responsible for the educational needs of foster youth, it is essential that they have access to students’ records. This will allow those agencies to do their jobs better and more efficiently,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Link to Article

US: Adoption Agency May Be Liable for Child’s Rape

June 8, Courthouse News Service: A federal judge refused to dismiss claims that an adoption agency is liable for the rape of a 2-year-old because it failed to disclose the prior sexual abuse experienced by a teenager the infant’s family took in. Martin and Tracey Stewart adopted their 13-year-old nephew Dalon Holmes in 2009. Before going through with the adoption, however, the Stewarts say they asked for confirmation that Holmes had never been sexually abused – circumstances they needed to know because several young children also lived with the Stewarts at the time. The Stewarts say Holmes raped and molested their biological grandchild in 2010, and the teenager charged with various crimes related to the attack. Holmes is allegedly a ward of Pennsylvania because the Stewarts relinquished custodial rights. They filed suit against the Bethanna adoption agency and the city of Philadelphia, claiming that both entities knew and concealed the fact that Holmes had been molested by his mother and various unidentified males before Social Services took custody of him in 2007. Link to Article

MI: Feds Break International Child Porn Operation

June 7. Grand Haven Tribune: Investigators have busted a child pornography ring spread across the U.S. and Europe that produced and distributed sexually explicit images of babies and toddlers online, federal prosecutors in Indianapolis said Thursday. Seven American men have been convicted and sentenced on various charges in the case, including three who were sentenced in federal court in Indianapolis on Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Two more who pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing. Link to Article

OH: For Former Foster Children, Mentors Make the Difference

June 7, Wall Street Journal: Three years ago, a mere 45 out of 150 students in the Hamilton County foster care program graduated from high school, and only three went on to higher education. The low graduation rate was just one obstacle facing foster care youth nationally; according to a 2004 Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care report:

— 25 percent are incarcerated within the first two years;

— 20 percent become homeless;

— Foster youth have disproportionately high rates of early pregnancy, are more prone to sexual and physical victimization, mental illness and substance abuse.

The Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) drastically changed the opportunities available to young adult foster children. HEMI’s goal is to prepare foster children for post-secondary education. The initiative recruits, trains and supports a network of adult mentors to establish long-term, positive relationships with foster care youth. It is the first program of its kind in Ohio, and has become a state- and nation-wide model for mentoring foster youth pursuing higher education. Link to Article

US: Deportation-Separated Parents and Children Need Executive Order to Allow Reunion

June 6, Huffington Post: A Latino advocacy organization has called on President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to bring some measure of relief to young adults and children entangled in an immigration system that even the president describes as broken. The Latino Policy Coalition urged Obama to issue an executive order requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to identify and locate children who have been adopted or placed in foster care after their undocumented immigrant parents were deported from the United States. State child welfare agencies and the Department of Homeland Security should also be forced to help deported adults reunite with their children in the countries to which the parents have been deported, the coalition said in a letter sent to the president this week. According to the group, children are disappearing into the foster care system and being made available for adoption despite the fact that they have parents who want to reunite with them. Last week, a group of nearly 100 lawyers and law school professors at some of the nation’s leading universities also called on the president to use his executive authority to help young adults brought to the country illegally by their parents while these young adults were children. Link to Article

US: House Acts on International Child Support Treaty

June 5, Associated Press: Legislation passed by the House June 5th would make it easier for states to collect child support payments from parents living outside the United States. Link to AP ArticleLink to Summary of Bill

US: Lawyers To Obama: You Can Help DREAMers Without Congress

June 4, Huffington Post: Nearly one hundred lawyers, including professors at some of the nation’s top universities, wrote former law professor, President Obama, with some legal advice. The letter, although written in legal jargon, had a simple message: the President has the constitutional power to help DREAMers without changing the law. The DREAM Act, a bill which would provide a path towards citizenship to some undocumented immigrants who have served in the military or attended college, and came to the U.S. at a young age, was defeated in congress in 2010. Activists who would have benefitted from the bill call themselves DREAMers. The New York Times notes in a Sunday editorial that, “the White House has been insisting that only Congress can pass the Dream Act, and that it can offer deportation relief only on a case-by-case basis.” But law professors from dozens of top universities, including Yale Law School and Harvard Law School, want the Commander-in-Chief to know he has options. Link to Article

Parental Abuse, Neglect Linked to Increased Skin Cancer Risk

June 4, HealthDay News: New research suggests that early childhood abuse and neglect may raise the risk for recurring skin cancer later in life. According to the findings, early childhood neglect and maltreatment by parents may actually trigger a lowered immune response that lasts a lifetime. This may make a person more susceptible to cancers that are often successfully fought off by the immune system, which includes the most common form of skin cancer, known as basal cell carcinoma. Link to Article

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Comments?  

See also:

WI: Wis. Black Earth Pastor Gets 2 Years in Child Abuse Case

May 26, Wisconsin State Journal: A Black Earth pastor was convicted of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating the use of wooden rods to spank children and has been sentenced to two years in prison and court supervision afterward. Link to Article

A CROSS POST:

I am cross posting from another list on the topic of Reasonable Efforts, the requirement and the compliance or non compliance. As if the Children’s Rights case was not enough, someone posted a report. But I assume, by now, this is ancient history and thus untimely.

See Below for the link:

Original Post:

I am looking for data on how frequently judges rule against the child welfare agency on the reasonable efforts requirement. I would like to know both for RE to prevent removal and RE to provide reunification services. Does anyone know if there is a source or if someone has done an assessment on this? Overall data would be great but even better if there is information why the judge made the ruling.

Response:

Our first report on child welfare in Michigan includes a summary of a survey of Michigan judges on this topic. Among the survey findings: 40 percent of the judges admitted that they checked the box on the relevant form stating that “reasonable efforts” had been made even when the judges believed this was not the case. In half of those instances, the judges said they did this because, under Michigan law, if the federal government didn’t help pay for the placement (which it won’t do in the absence of a “reasonable efforts” determination), the county would have to pick up that part of the cost. The survey is discussed on Page 33 of our report:

Cycle of Failure
HOW MICHIGAN KEEPS “THROWING THE FIGHT” FOR CHILDREN – AND HOW TO MAKE THE STATE A CONTENDER AGAIN
By Richard Wexler, NCCPR Executive Director
February 18, 2009
http://www.nccpr.org/reports/michigan1976.pdf and Endnote #72 includes a link to the full survey.
Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.org

Link to earlier report. Page 106 has he survey results of which Mr. Wexler speaks.

MICHIGAN COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM REASSESSMENT August 2005

RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE

Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the State of Michigan

Several different collateral consequences attach to delinquency adjudications in Michigan family courts. Despite the juvenile justice system’s historic commitment to shielding children from the stigma of a criminal conviction, modern lawyers must be aware of the serious consequences arising from juvenile adjudications. While adjudications are not criminal convictions, their subsequent impact is often quite similar to that of a conviction. In most cases, juveniles will be unaware of the collateral consequences that attach to a formal disposition, and Michigan law does not require that a juvenile be made aware of these consequences before entering a plea of admission or no contest. Many of these consequences will stem from decisions made by entities possessing the authority to grant or deny important opportunities, as a juvenile’s court involvement may limit subsequent access to employment, licensing, public housing, or higher education. Link to Info at ABA Web Site

The Michigan Statute governing access to juvenile records: MCL 712A.28(2):

“Beginning June 1, 1988, the court shall maintain records of all cases brought before it and as provided in the juvenile diversion act. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, records of a case brought before the court shall be open to the general public. Diversion records shall be open only as provided in the juvenile diversion act. Except as otherwise provided in section 49 of the crime victim’s rights act, 1985 PA 87, MCL 780.799, if the hearing of a case brought before the court is closed under section 17 of this chapter, the records of that hearing shall be open only by court order to persons having a legitimate interest.”

Thanks to posters on the Children’s Law Section of the Michigan State Bar for this information.

 

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES To Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living with HIV in Child Welfare Settings

Through these Recommended Practices, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and co-authors seek to provide guidance to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), state and local child welfare agencies and their contract providers on how to fulfill their professional and legal obligations to ensure safe and proper care consistent with the best interest and special needs of each and every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) child in the child welfare system. On April 6, 2011, the ACYF Commissioner, Bryan Samuels, issued a memorandum encouraging protection and support of LGBTQ youth in foster care. These Recommended Practices elaborate on the provision of services to LGBTQ youth in the areas of foster care, child protection, family preservation, adoption and youth development. They aim to assist state child welfare agencies to meet the needs of this particularly vulnerable and underserved population by promoting safe, competent and supportive settings for LGBTQ youth. Link to pdf of Recommended Practices

LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE 

Representing LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Systems.

2012, Management Information Exchange Journal: The legal services world prides itself on fighting for those members of our communities that are most marginalized by society. Our practitioners strive each day to right the injustices caused by a failing economy, racial bias, draconian immigration laws, and victimization by governmental agencies of those people they are charged to assist. Unfortunately, our world is lagging behind in a major way — competent services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clients. This article is about how one firm challenged itself through internal constructive criticism and formulated a concrete action plan to improve its cultural competency and services to these communities. Link to pdf Journal Article

Supporting Maltreated Children: Countering the Effects of Neglect and Abuse.

June 2012, National Council for Adoption Adoption Advocate:  A child’s ability to feel empathy, be caring, inhibit aggression, love, and acquire other characteristics typical of a healthy, happy, and productive person are tied to the child’s care at the beginning of life. Impaired childhood bonding affects people differently. In general, the level of impairment is related to how early in life the emotional neglect began as well as its severity and duration. With help, neglected children can learn to navigate normal relationships. Responsive adults—parents, teachers, and other caregivers—make all the difference for children. Clinical experiences and a number of studies suggest, though, that the path to improvement is a long, difficult, and frustrating process for families and children. Link to pdf Journal Article

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ethics Opinion on Adoption.

June 2012, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Ethics: Obstetrician–gynecologists may find themselves at the center of adoption issues because of their expertise in the assessment and management of infertility, pregnancy, and childbirth. The lack of clarity about both ethical issues and legal consequences may create challenges for physicians. Therefore, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists discusses ethical issues, proposes safeguards, and makes recommendations regarding the role of the physician in adoption. This Committee Opinion was developed by the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a service to its members and other practicing clinicians. Although this document reflects the current viewpoint of the College, it is not intended to dictate an exclusive course of action in all cases. This Committee Opinion was approved by the Committee on Ethics and the Executive Board of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Link to html Opinion; Link to pdf Opinion

Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators

June 2012: In an effort to improve services for children and families involved in the child welfare system, the Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project (CTISP), as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), has coordinated a groundbreaking national effort to create a new resource to help professionals understand the impact of trauma on these children and families. This new resource, Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators, informs the reader about how trauma can affect children and families in all aspects of the child welfare system and gives practical implications for child welfare administrators in each chapter. Experts in the fields of child welfare, child trauma research, clinical practice, and policy worked together with the CTISP staff to create these guidelines. Link to Link to Guide This is only a Link to a Link. You will be directed to provide information in order to obtain the actual Guide.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

 Senate Bill 320: Sent to the Governor for Signature June 5, 2012

The bill would amend the juvenile code within the Probate Code to do the following:

• Allow a law enforcement officer to take a child into protective custody without a court order if there were reasonable cause to believe the child is at substantial risk of harm or is in surroundings that present an imminent risk of harm. DHS would have to be immediately notified.

• Require a judge or referee to be designated as the contact when a placement order is sought and require the designated judge or referee to be contacted regarding a court order for placement if the child were not released from protective custody.

• Allow a judge or referee, if the court is closed, to receive a petition or affidavit of facts by electronic means, and to issue a written ex parte order for DHS to take the child into protective custody by electronic means under certain conditions.

• List conditions under which a court could order the placement of an abused child in foster care.

This Bill was a response to the Mike’s Hard Lemonade case.

US H.R. 4282, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012

Under the current Federal Child Support Enforcement program, States have the option to recognize child support orders from other countries, and many of them do. Unfortunately, at times other countries do not reciprocate our States’ efforts to collect child support from a noncustodial parent living abroad. To address this problem, the United States negotiated and signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance in 2007. The Senate then gave its consent in 2010, but the United States cannot implement the treaty without enacting implementing legislation. H.R. 4282 provides the necessary implementing legislation and includes two additional no-cost improvements to the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program. Link to Summary of Bill;

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Published)
Case Name: In re Olive/Metts

The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in finding that legal grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing legally admissible evidence. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s order as to the respondent-mother’s minor children RO, AM, and AM. As to the minor twins, DM and DM, the court affirmed the portion of the trial court’s order determining that at least one statutory ground supported termination, but vacated the trial court’s best interest analysis and remanded. The court held that the evidence supported the trial court’s determination that termination was in the best interests of RO, AM, and AM. The trial court did not expressly address the fact that the two youngest children were residing with a paternal relative. Because the trial court was required to consider the best interests of each child individually and to explicitly address each child’s placement with relatives at the time of the termination hearing if applicable, the court held that the trial court clearly erred in failing to do so. Thus, the court vacated the trial court’s best interest analysis as to the twins DM and DM, and remanded the case to the trial court. Full Text Opinion

Case Name: In re Brent

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Brent

The trial court did not plainly err in admitting photos of the respondents-parents’ home that were taken by CPS investigators or in excluding photos depicting respondents’ improvements to the home after their children were removed, the court affirmed the trial court’s order asserting jurisdiction over the children pursuant to MCL 712A.2(b). The court noted that the trial court later returned the children to respondents’ custody and terminated its jurisdiction over the children. While the petitioner-DHS moved to dismiss on the basis the appeal was moot since the children were no longer subject to the trial court’s jurisdiction, the court previously denied the motion. Respondents argued, inter alia, that the photos taken by CPS investigators were taken without their knowledge or consent in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, MCL 750.539d, and the DHS’s internal policies. Reviewing the Fourth Amendment claim for plain error, the court noted that there was no factual record as to this issue because respondents failed to raise it in an appropriate motion to suppress. Without an appropriate record to review, the court was unable to find a plain error. Also, the CPS investigator testified at trial that the photos were taken with respondents’ knowledge and without their objection. The court could not conclude based on this record that their Fourth Amendment rights were violated. As to the alleged violation of MCL 750.539d (a criminal statute), the court noted that it was unclear whether the CPS investigators took the photos without respondents’ consent and thus, in violation of the statute. Further, even if the statute was violated, it did not prohibit the admission of the photos into evidence. “Because the statute does not contain any exclusionary provision, suppression of the photographs was not required.” The court also was unable to determine whether the DHS’s alleged internal policy precluded photos taken in violation of the policy from being used as evidence in child protective proceedings. Thus, this argument did not provide a basis for relief.

Full Text Opinion