Category Archives: CA&N Articles

Nov 27: News Articles Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

TN: Tennessee to Require Reporting of Addicted Babies

Nov 26, The Tennessean: The Tennessee Department of Health will begin requiring hospitals to report babies born with addictions Jan. 1 so it can better monitor a rising epidemic caused by mothers taking prescription narcotics. The state will also look for better ways to treat at-risk mothers who are pregnant and care for addicted babies born with what doctors call neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS. “The group felt incredibly strongly that we really needed to take a supportive rather than a punitive approach,” Warren said. “There are certainly schools of thought that say we need to criminalize every mother who uses these substances during pregnancy and has a baby with neonatal abstinence syndrome. “Yet from a public health perspective, we know that could be disastrous in terms of the moms who would choose not to seek prenatal care because they were worried about the consequences.” Link to Article

US: In Juvenile Detention, Girls Find Health System Geared To Boys

Nov 26, NPR: For the growing number of teenage girls who are incarcerated each year, detention may be the only time they get health care. Up to 90 percent of these girls have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse, Pierce says. Their health statistics are particularly grim: 41 percent have signs of vaginal injury consistent with sexual assault; up to a third have been or are currently pregnant; 8 percent have had positive skin tests for tuberculosis; and 30 percent need glasses but don’t have them, according to research from the National Girls Health and Justice Institute. Link to Article

CA: Does California’s ‘Open Adoption’ System Help Heal a Baby’s Separation Wound?

Nov 26, Southern California Public Radio: As the process of adoption has gotten more open, research and studies into what adoptees experience has also advanced. According to Marcy Axness, an adopted child and family therapist with a specialization in Early Childhood Development, the relationship between a birth mother and baby is critical in the early days and weeks. Axness cites “17 different bio-regulatory channels” that exist between a birth mother and baby, “From breathing to respiration, heart-rate, to blood.” To take a baby away at birth, says Axness, cuts off all this regulation that the baby requires from its biological mother and causes a wound to the baby. Link to Article

MI: Foster Kids Get New Direction

Nov 25, Traverse City Record-Eagle: McGovern found stability as she emerged from the foster care system, thanks both to her foster parents and an innovative program called Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative. That program seeks to increase the odds of success for foster care kids like McGovern by teaching them valuable life skills like budgeting, saving, setting long-term goals, and advocacy. Link to Article

US: Report: Disabled Parents Face Bias, Loss of Kids

Nov 25, Minnesota Public Radio: Millions of Americans with disabilities have gained innumerable rights and opportunities since Congress passed landmark legislation on their behalf in 1990. And yet advocates say barriers and bias still abound when it comes to one basic human right: to be a parent. A Kansas City, Mo., couple had their daughter taken into custody by the state two days after her birth because both parents were blind. A Chicago mother, because she is quadriplegic, endured an 18-month legal battle to keep custody of her young son. Link to Article See also a lengthy Report by National Council on Disability; Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children Link to Report

TN: Tennessee’s DCS’s Payments, Penalties Under Fire: Private Providers Dislike System

Nov 23, dnj.com: The Department of Children’s Services found itself in urgent discussions with the 30 private companies and nonprofits that the department pays to clinically treat children in state custody. Many of the companies have become dissatisfied with a DCS program that levies cash penalties and bonuses based on how the agencies care for children. “The system certainly has brought attention to doing your best work as effectively and efficiently as possible, but I think it’s outgrowing itself in some ways,” said Darci Halfman, executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Children and Families. The alliance, which speaks on behalf of the private companies, has pushed for a meeting with top DCS officials to discuss changes to the incentives payment system, which is known as “performance-based contracting.” Changes have been discussed this year, but not fast enough, some providers say. Yet amid the recent critiques, even the private providers agree that the way Tennessee reformed its payment system has greatly benefited high-needs children and set a standard so highly regarded that DCS officials frequently give presentations to officials from other states, including some who have followed Tennessee’s example.  Link to Article

MI: Michigan Families File Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Adoptions

Nov 21, WXYZ: Kimberly and her husband of Waterford adopted Zola two years ago, but Kimberly says she feels betrayed by the state’s Department of Human Services, or DHS, and some adoption workers. She says they withheld information that Zola had sickle cell disease. “We asked (if she had any health issues) and they had very little information to give us. They didn’t even know why she was in foster care,” she says. Link to Article

US: Dive Off Fiscal Cliff Could Be ‘Disastrous’ For Adoptive Parents, Say Advocates

Nov 21, Fox News: Among the so-called Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2012 is a one-time adoption tax credit that gave $12,650 this year to families who adopt. However, unless Congress acts to extend it, the only tax credit for adoptive parents on Jan. 1, 2013, will be to those who take in special needs children from within the United States. For them, the credit will be just $6,000. “And it’s really not going to do much,” said Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council for Adoption. “Most families adopting those kids won’t even qualify for it because of the strict income requirements. It really would be a credit unclaimed at that point and that could have pretty disastrous impact for kids awaiting adoption in foster care.” Link to Article

NY: Child Welfare in the Storm: What Happens to Vulnerable Families after a Disaster?

Nov 14, Child Welfare Watch: The day after Hurricane Sandy blew through the eastern seaboard, a social worker in Manhattan was frantic to track down a little girl on Long Island. The child is 2 years old and lives with her foster mother in a neighborhood that had been slammed by the storm. She had a tracheotomy when she was a baby, and needs a feeding tube to eat and an oxygen machine to breath. No one knew whether the family had been evacuated or where they were. Article also looks at several other types of issues likely to come up as a result of an overwhelming natural disaster. Increased workload and increased likelihood of PS reports when families are living in shelters and the like. Link to Article

MiPSAC WEB PAGE / ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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
These and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles where you can subscribe to an abbreviated version of posts such as this one.

 

Nov 6-20: News Articles Legislative Updates and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES

US: Mandated Reporting of Child Maltreatment: Developments

Fall 2012, APSAC Alert: Our own Frank E. Vandervort discusses the history of mandated reporting statutes and considers the variation in state reporting laws. Several changes have been enacted or proposed prompted mainly by the Penn State scandal and the author considers the value of these changes. Recent changes to the reporting laws will no doubt fuel the long-standing debate about the efficacy of such statutes, whether they are efficient uses of resources, and whether they invite unnecessary intrusion into the private realm of family life. APSAC Alert Fall_2012.pdf; APSAC_Alert_Fall_2012_Spanish.pdf

For example, see:

D.C.: Bill That Expands Child Sex Abuse Reporting Requirements Advances

Nov 15, Washington Post: Nearly all adults in the District would be held liable if they fail to report suspected child sex abuse under a bill tentatively approved Thursday by the D.C. Council. But the proposal is prompting some unease about government overreach that would set the stage for a surge in thinly vetted complaints, which could lead to false accusations. “I think we definitely want to achieve more reporting, but there is definitely some concerns around how [authorities] will handle the level of reports that they will get and potentially false allegations,” said council member Kenyan M. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), a former Prince George’s County assistant state’s attorney. “And does having lots of false allegations have the effect of making it more challenging to prove some of these cases?” Link to Article

CA: I-Team Investigates International Adoption Facilitator

Nov 20, KGO-TV: Families across the country have trusted a Santa Clara County man to help adopt Ukrainian children. But there are concerns that aren’t getting full story when it comes to the kids’ mental health. The family profiled in this story thought they were adopting healthy children from the Ukraine, a boy and a girl. They found out later the kids actually came from a mental institution and have serious problems. How could the adoption facilitator not have known? Link to Article

CO: Seeking Solutions to Improve Colorado’s Child Welfare System

Failed To Death – An Eight-Part Denver Post Investigative Series

Nov 20, Denver Post: About This Series:

Day 1: More than 40 percent of children who died of abuse and neglect in the last six years in Colorado were known to child protection workers.

Day 2: Caseworkers are the backbone of the system but often fail to follow state policies.

Day 3: Some children never get a chance for help because their cases were “screened out.”

Day 4: Too often child welfare workers and law enforcement fail to work together.

Day 5: Funding inequities have plagued Colorado s child welfare system.

Day 6: People who kill children serve much less prison time than those who kill adults.

Day 7: Abused children often suffer from a long-term psychological impact.

Day 8: There are answers to the problems that face Colorado s child welfare system but they require political will and often money. Link to Summary of Articles

PA: Health IT Startup Building System to Improve Access to Foster Children Health Records

Nov 19, MedCity News: One of the complexities of the foster child system is that children tend to move around. A lot. That can make it tricky to ensure their medical records are kept up to date and that foster parents have access to this information, along with the children themselves when they leave the system. A health IT startup is developing a variation of its cloud-based patient record system to make it easier to do both things. Link to Article

MI: Michigan Foster Care Kids May Qualify for Extended Benefits And a Better Chance at Success

Nov 19, MLive.com: Josie Brown had no place to call home after leaving the state’s foster care system at age 18. Brown found out about a new program allowing young adults who have aged out of foster care to continue receiving certain types of support until they turn 21 years old. “It has helped me grow, it has helped me realize I’m not alone,” Brown said of the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care program — signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder one year ago this week. “I feel like this program is going to help me become something that I never thought I would be able to, and be stronger.” The program formally launched in April. The Department of Human Services says 269 young adults are enrolled in the program, but there could be many more who are eligible. State officials are using the one-year anniversary of the law to raise awareness among potential participants – most of whom lose contact with the state as soon as they “age out” of traditional foster care at age 18. Link to Article

US/MI: National Safe Place Gets $10.5M Federal Grant for Training, Assistance

Nov 18, Courier Journal.com: The Louisville-based National Safe Place has received a $10.5 million grant over five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide training and technical assistance to more than 400 runaway and homeless youth agencies across the country. National Safe Place was competitively selected by the Family and Youth Services Bureau to receive $2.1 million a year and will coordinate the efforts of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center for the next five years. Link to Article

Safe Places in Michigan

Child and Family Serv. Of SW Michigan
269.925.1725
2450 M-139
Benton Harbor, MI 49023
www.cfsswmi.org
Coordinator: Tanisha Craig
Click here to list all Safe Places for this agency >

Matrix Human Services-Off the Streets
313.873.0678
680 Virginia Park
Detroit, MI 48202
www.matrixhumanservices.org
Coordinator: Taneisha King
Click here to list all Safe Places for this agency >

Advocacy Group Urges Feds to Block DCFS Program Cuts

Aim is to stop reductions to intact family service program

Nov15, Chicago Tribune: An advocacy group filed a federal complaint Thursday against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to halt cuts to an intervention program that links struggling parents to support services. Lawyers for the Family Defense Center argue that the changes will lead to more children being removed from their homes in violation of a federal law that requires DCFS to exhaust all “reasonable efforts” to keep families together. No more info in Article

“Crossover Youth”: The Intersection of Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Nov 15, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: The long-term consequences for crossover youth are significant with many suffering higher incidence of drug use and exacerbated mental illness. Crossover youth have a higher recidivism rate than non-crossover youth, and more than 30 percent have new maltreatment referrals following their arrest. These young people may not only commit offenses as adults, but may well perpetuate the cycle of maltreatment as parents.

What can be done? Fortunately, juvenile justice professionals are increasingly recognizing the unique situation of crossover youth and are developing system tools sensitive to the specifics of their problem. Law enforcement officials, judges, and child welfare practitioners are beginning to collaborate on how to best meet the needs of this unique population early enough to offset the substantial human and fiscal cost. In addition, reform-minded foundations and non-profits have initiated pilot technical assistance programs across the country, in the hopes of creating replicable best practices. The recent OJDDP webinar featured speakers advocating for multi-disciplinary teams to bridge the system-wide gap, an approach shared by others. For example, the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, at Georgetown University, developed The Crossover Youth Practice Model, which is currently used at 11 jurisdictions across the country. A central feature of the model is to encourage multi-agency collaboration across the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Such coordinated case management and supervision fosters family engagement and youth permanency. This directly addresses the instability that leads many young people from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system. In California, the Sierra Health Foundation, through their Positive Youth Justice Initiative, has also taken a lead in fostering county-level innovation to address this issue. Link to Article

US/OR/CA: Behind The Story: An Information Gap in Child Abuse Cases

Nov 15, Investigate Reporters & Editors: There were signs of problems before 15-year-old Jeanette Maples died of starvation and abuse in Oregon in December 2009. There had been substantiated reports of abuse in California. When Oregon protective services workers tried to get that information, it was denied. Congress had mandated that states share information with one another in 2006, passing a law requiring the establishment of a national database of proven child abuse cases. But there was no deadline for the project or plan for its implementation. Link to Article

MI: Mother of Battered 3-Year-Old Boy also Charged with Child Abuse

Nov15, MLive.com: FLINT, MI – Prosecutors have charged the mother of a 3-year-old boy who remains hospitalized after he was allegedly beaten by her boyfriend. Wyatt’s boyfriend, Robert L. Martin III, was charged with child abuse Nov. 6 The boy has been hospitalized since Nov. 1 after his mother’s boyfriend allegedly beat him over a series of days. The boy was “covered head to toe in bruises,” court documents said on termination of his mother’s parental rights on accusations of neglect and failure to protect her child. Link to Article

MI: Self-Proclaimed ‘Pit Bull’ of Psychiatric Hospital Ordered to Stand Trial on Sexual Assault Charges

Nov 15, MLive.com: SAGINAW, MI — Despite reported attempts to convince psychiatrists that he is not mentally fit for trial, a Saginaw man will stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old boy. McRannolds was charged in April, but it took months for him to face preliminary hearings as personnel at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti and the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital worked to ensure he was mentally fit for trial. The judge in July relied on a report from the Ypsilanti center to rule that McRannolds was not fit for trial. McRannolds then was transported to the Kalamazoo hospital. Psychiatrist Angela Jacobs filed a report stating that based on her observations and interviews of McRannolds that he was acting in an attempt to persuade personnel that he was incompetent. Jacobs wrote that she conducted a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales test, a “reliable measure of nonverbal, verbal, and general cognitive ability.” McRannolds, Jacobs wrote, was “putting forth very little effort during the administration of the test, and answering items in a deliberate/inaccurate manner.” “He is able to function at a much higher level than he would have others believe,” Jacobs wrote. “He is capable of higher-level functioning. He has the ability to reason and rationalize as well as manipulate. He is clearly very motivated to demonstrate that he is incompetent to stand trial, although the facts do not support it.” Link to Article

Proposed Law Would Block Sex Offenders’ Access to Kids

November 14, CBS Detroit: Should sex offenders have access to their own children? State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood of Taylor is pushing a bill that would block such access unless proof is offered that the child would not be at risk. The Downriver Democrat would like to see the public get involved in the push to get this new child protection law on the books. Link to Article

MI: Juveniles Serving Mandatory Life for Murder Won’t Be Freed, Michigan Appeals Court Rules

November 17, Detroit Free Press: The Michigan appeals court has ruled that a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ends mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder will not apply retroactively to teens already found guilty who have exhausted their direct appeals. The decision, released Friday by a three-judge panel, came nearly a month after it heard oral arguments on whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision should apply retroactively to Michigan prisoners. It was in response to an appeal filed on behalf of Raymond Carp, a St. Clair County man serving life in prison without parole in the murder of Maryann McNeely, 43, when he was a juvenile. Link to Article

See somewhat related story:

MI: Juvenile Lifers: Michigan Lawmakers Quietly Propose New Sentencing Hearings, Possibility of Parole

Nov 14, MLive.com: The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that sentencing minors to life in prison without the possibility of parole is an unconstitutional form of cruel and unusual punishment, prompting calls for legislative action in Michigan and other states with mandatory sentencing guidelines that apply to juvenile offenders. House Bills 6013-6019 were introduced during the opening days of the state Legislature’s lame-duck session. Michigan is home to more than 350 inmates serving mandatory life sentences without parole for serious crimes they committed as minors. Link to Article

WI: Actors Embrace Atypical Gig to Help Child Welfare Caseworkers

Nov 14, Newswise.com: An angry “client,” 25-year-old, redheaded Wilma, storms into the room and slams the door. “Let’s get this shit out of the way,” Wilma says angrily to Gray, her “social worker,” by way of introduction. Wilma’s enraged, on the hook for behavior that could lead to the state separating her from her children. Gray smiles at her. “Do you mind if I sit here?” she asks Wilma quietly, eyeing a chair in the sparse room. “Do what you want. It’s a free country,” Wilma snaps as she plunks in a nearby chair and folds her arms across her lap. Gray, who has earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, is in what amounts to an apprenticeship to be a Milwaukee child welfare caseworker. “Wilma” is a Milwaukeean with a theater background, whose real name is Jessie Moffat (’03 Anthropology). The two women represent an unusual and successful partnership in which social work educators enlist the help of local actors to boost the skill level of new child welfare caseworkers. The caseworkers are clear: They are here to learn and welcome criticism, no matter how difficult it is to hear. While medical colleges have long used actors to help students hone clinical skills, Wisconsin social work educators have only started to do the same in earnest in the past few years. Gray, recently hired by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, is one of about 100 new child welfare caseworkers annually who receive job training from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families requires that all new caseworkers throughout the state complete job-specific training within 18 months of being hired. The school’s Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership for Professional Development (MCWPPD) provides the training, and has worked since 2008 with In Tandem Theatre to supply actors to play the roles of traumatized adults on the brink of losing their children. Link to Article

TN: Advocates Call for Justice for Drug Dependent Babies

Nov 13, WVLT-TV: Lawmakers and medical experts agree drug dependent babies have become an epidemic. But in Tennessee, the law doesn’t classify the condition as child abuse or neglect. Advocates say it should. Link to Article

US: Congress: Save Adoption Tax Credit

Nov 13, Washington Times: Congress will take up the issue of taxes at the end of this year. If the adoption tax credit is not among the list of credits to be extended, it will no longer be a help to the majority of families who adopt. If the credit is extended, but is not made refundable, this will leave out a large percentage of families who adopt from foster care. Link to Article

MI: 8-Year-Old Boy Testifies His Mother Hit His Infant Brother with a Bat; Boy’s Statements, However, Are Inconsistent

Nov 13, MLive.com: JACKSON, MI – Amber Murphy struck her 9-month-old son with a bat, Murphy’s 8-year-old son said Tuesday. “My mom hit him like crap,” the boy testified. The child, however, went on to say he did not see his mother hitting his baby brother, Seth Murphy, shortly before the infant’s August 2009 death. His father, who was not there when Seth was hurt, told him this is what occurred, he said in a soft voice barely audible to people sitting in courtroom pews. He was testifying before Jackson County District Judge Daniel Goostrey for a preliminary examination. Goostrey listened to his and others’ statements and found there was probable cause to believe Murphy committed open murder. He sent her case to Circuit Court. The 8-year-old’s testimony was confusing and inconsistent. Portions of it were untrue. Link to Article

MS: Analysis: Legislators Aim to Prevent Child Abuse

Nov 12, NECN.com: JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — “Erin’s Law” is described as a tool to keep sexual predators away from children. Four states — Maine, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri — have enacted it and a dozen more may consider it in 2013. The law would require schools to create lessons to help children understand and talk about sexual abuse. Supporters say teachers and administrators may be best positioned to identify children who are abused at home.

Miles says he and Collins support a program that educates children “to know when they are being messed with and that they can go to an authority figure and not be scared to report it.” “It’s also a deterrent to sexual predators who will now know that they will be reported to authorities,” Miles said. Link to Article Comment by C. Enright: Not sure why a statute is required. We had a disclosure by a child recently in Muskegon County by an alleged victim when a lesson on abuse was presented to grade school students.

MI: ‘Bad Parent List’ a Rights Violation? People Stay on Abuse/Neglect Registry for Life

Nov 12, WOOD TV: A little-known list can cause big problems for parents across Michigan. If you land on it, it could cost you your job, your reputation and your ability to parent your kids. It’s called the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, and the State of Michigan can put you on it for life without a judge’s ruling. Family law attorney Elizabeth Warner represents four parents in Kent, Calhoun and Jackson counties who are all part of a federal suit against the State of Michigan. Warner said the list violates constitutional rights because people are put on it without having a day in court. She calls the registry a “blacklist” of people unfairly labeled as child abusers. “It’s the most massive civil rights violation in Michigan,” Warner said. “It affects hundreds of thousands of people, and if you take that out, it affects their families for all generations because once you’re on the registry, you’re on for life.” Department of Human Services officials defend the registry as a useful tool available to businesses, schools and daycare centers to screen job applicants. “It allows us to do that background check to ensure that Michigan’s children are not put under the care and supervision of individuals who have a substantiated history of abuse and neglect,” said Steve Yager of DHS. The agency says at any time up to 300,000 people are on the registry. Unlike the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, the Central Registry is not open to the public. Critics say the Central Registry is too subjective, and that it’s easy to get on but almost impossible to get off. Yager said he doesn’t think that’s accurate. “I would refer to the investigation process,” said Yager. “It is not a process we take lightly. We take it very seriously.” DHS says in each case, its investigators base their findings on evidence and a risk assessment. Link to Article

US: Shaken-Baby Syndrome: US Resists Conviction Reform, Unlike England

Nov 8, Plain Error: Student fellows working under Prof. Alec Klein with The Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University are assessing why the United States criminal justice system’s treatment of shaken-baby syndrome (SBS) cases has a dangerous potential of leading to wrongful convictions. This is the first of a three-part series discussing Shaken-Baby Syndrome. Link to Article

MI: Ypsilanti Resident Found Guilty of Forced Labor Charges in Human Trafficking Case

Nov 6, Ypsilanti Courier: An Ypsilanti man has been found guilty on charges of forced labor for bringing four minors to Michigan from Africa and using force to have them perform domestic labor. Evidence presented during the trial showed the defendant used force and threats of force to obtain domestic labor from the four minors between January 2006 and January 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “This conviction and the liberation of these victims occurred because of the diligence of school teachers, advocates, investigators and prosecutors.” The defendant brought the minors to the United States by giving them passports with false names and dates of births, according to the press release. He represented them as his biological children on immigration papers. Link to Article

MI: Unusual Muskegon County Child Abuse Charge Sends Alleged Alabama Molester To Jail

Nov 1, MLive.com: MUSKEGON, MI – Swift work by the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office and an unusual charging decision by the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office led to the recent arrest of an Alabama man accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a girl in that state. To get six children, including the now 16-year-old alleged victim, out of Grdjan’s household and get him into jail, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office charged him with two non-sexual crimes. In the words of the Muskegon County arrest warrant, the alleged second-degree child abuse was committed “by forcing the victim to continue to reside with the defendant who had sexually assaulted her repeatedly,” thereby allegedly causing her emotional harm. The delinquency count alleged child neglect, for a similar reason. Link to Article

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

Committee Meeting

Committee     Families, Children, and Seniors

Location          Room 327 House Office Building, Lansing, MI

Date                Tuesday, 11/27/2012

Time                10:30 AM

Agenda

SB 246 Juveniles; criminal procedure; revise juvenile competency standards;.
HB 4555 Juveniles; criminal procedure; clarify juvenile competency and culpability;.
HB 5641 Children; protection; central registry records; require certain notifications to recipients regarding expungement and limit maintenance of records to 10 years.
HB 5763 Children; adoption; allow objection to placements by child placing agency based on religious or moral convictions
HB 5764 Children; adoption; allow licensure of child placing agency that objects to placements on religious or moral grounds.

Senate Bill 0694 (2011) Tie Barred to Senate Bill 1303 (2012)

Both passed by the Senate and pending before the House Judiciary Committee

Senate Bill 694 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to revise a provision granting the family court jurisdiction over a juvenile whose home or environment is an unfit place for the juvenile to live in, to do the following:

— Refer to a home or environment that “is or will be” unfit.

— Define criminality, and include violations that do not result in a conviction.

— Add abuse and substance abuse to the factors that make a home unfit.

— Require the court to consider allegations against an absent parent.

— Provide that, in a consideration of whether offenses against children rendered the home unfit, it would not matter if the child victim was related to the parent, guardian, nonparent adult, or other custodian.

Senate Bill 1303 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to provide that the Department of Human Services would be permitted, but not required, to provide services to reunify a child with his or her parent, and the court could order the DHS to provide those services, in situations involving a parent who “is or will be imprisoned for 2 or more years”.

Senate Bill 1000 (2012) would prohibit parenting time in a country not a party to the Hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. Passed by Senate and referred to House committee on the Judiciary.

APPELLATE COURT CASES 

ICWA: Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re ENM

Delta circuit terminated parental rights of parents on or about June 14, 2011. Terminated mother enrolled in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe on August 2, 2011. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians motioned to intervene when a non-Indian petitioned to adopt. They claimed ICWA applies because the child is now eligible although enrollment in their tribe was closed during an audit. They claimed an Indian relative was available to adopt the child. Trial court ruled the tribe could not intervene in the termination or in the adoption. The NHBPI appealed.  COA followed the trial court’s reasoning under Nielson v Ketchum, 640 F3d 1117 (CA 10, 2011) which held a tribe cannot expand the reach of a federal statute by a tribal provision that extends automatic citizenship to the child of a non-member of the tribe. COA affirmed the trial court. Thanks to John Forczak for this summary. Full Text Opinion 

MiPSAC WEB PAGE / ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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
These and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles where you can subscribe to an abbreviated version of posts such as this one.

 

October 16-30: News Articles Legislative Updates and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES

MI: Traverse City’s Child & Family Services: Born of an Orphan Train

Oct 30, Traverse City Ticker: Notes the history of legendary pediatrician Mark Osterlin – helping Munson Hospital get off the ground, heading up its newly formed Children’s Clinic, and his early efforts leading to the establishment of today’s Child and Family Services, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month. You might not know is that the inspiration for this community staple traces back to New York – and to the legendary orphan trains that whisked abandoned and neglected city kids off the streets, cleaned them up, and sent them west to families who promised a better life. Osterlin contacted the Michigan branch of the orphan train folks and proposed a northern Michigan branch, and in October 1937, realized his dream. Link to Article

US: The Only Hope for Many Who Want Children

Oct 30, New York Times Op Ed: Children’s lives depend on the renewal of the adoption tax credit. Most adoptive families need it in order to afford adoption, which costs an average of $30,000. Most of our applicants at Helpusadopt.org spend $30,000 to $50,000, and sometimes more depending on the circumstances and travel involved. Many American families seeking to build their families through adoption can provide for a child on a day-to-day basis but cannot pay these fees in full and up front. So these large costs present insurmountable financial obstacles. Link to Op Ed

 

MI: Foster Kids “Age Out” Without a Financial Education – OR NOT!:

Oct 29, The Street.com: This program is available in Michigan!

So what can be done to give foster kids a solid personal finance foundation? Opportunity Passport bridges the gap. Eddye’s story isn’t that of the typical kid aging out of the system.

After she turned 18, her caseworker told her about a program called Opportunity Passport that would match every dollar she saved, up to $1,000 per year. All she had to do was complete some personal finance classes. Eddye used matched funds to purchase a car and a laptop. She’s also used her savings to pay for her Certified Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Technician licenses. The program has three main benefits for participants:

First, the program gives foster kids experience in handling money.

Second, the program gives kids incentive to save.

Third, the program provides education and support.   Link to Article

FL: Florida Foster Children Wind Up In Unlicensed Religious Homes

Oct 29, Tampa Bay Times: Child care workers have violated Florida law by sending foster children to unlicensed religious homes, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found. The Times discovered at least four state children living this year in three separate unlicensed religious homes. Two homes told the Times about the transfers. The third published information about the children in its newsletter. Department of Children and Families officials are investigating how the transfers occurred. “It’s a mistake,” said DCF spokeswoman Erin Gillespie. “We’re owning up to it. Everyone’s owning up to it.” Link to Article

Brain Scans Show the Impact of a Mother’s Love on a Child’s Brain Size

Oct 29, Medical Daily: Neurologists say that the latest images provide more evidence that the way children are treated in their early years is important not only for the child’s emotional development, but also in determining the size of their brains. Experts say that the sizeable difference shown in the two brains is primarily caused by the difference in the way each child was treated by their mothers. While at first glance, the images might indicate that the child with the right brain might have suffered a serious accident or illness, neurologists said that the truth is that the child with the shrunken brain was neglected and abused by its mother, and the child with the larger and more fully developed brain was raised in a loving, supportive home and was looked after by its mother. Link to Article

MI: New U of M Public Safety Division Announced in Response to Child Porn Case Involving Six-Month Delay

Oct 29, Ann Arbor Journal: A review of how the University of Michigan handled the discovery of child pornography within its health system has concluded with the recommendation to create a single, unified new division. Board of Regents Chair Laurence B. Deitch announced this new unit, the Division of Public Safety and Security, at Friday’s meeting at the university’s Flint campus. Board regents unanimously approved the recommendation for this new division. Stephen Jenson, a former pediatric resident in the University of Michigan Health System, was dismissed in December and was charged for possession of the child pornography. The Board also thanked the University of Michigan physician who did step up to make the discovery of the child pornography known, which ultimately led to Jenson’s arrest and prosecution. Link to Article

OR: States Don’t Often Share Child-Abuse Records. and Sometimes Kids Die.

Oct 26, The Oregonian: A 10-year-old girl is found dead in a footlocker in Arizona and police learn her family had been under investigation by child welfare authorities in Utah. A teenager is murdered in Eugene, leaving a trail of questions from Sacramento to Salem about who failed to protect her. A baby spends its vital first year with a stranger in Alabama foster care while relatives in Oregon wait for word that they can raise the child. The fate of those three children and thousands more across the nation might have been different if only critical information had made it across state borders. An investigation by The Oregonian finds child welfare workers in different states often fail to communicate about a family’s history or a child’s needs. Federal law directs states to cooperate in child abuse investigations, foster care placements and interstate adoptions. But that doesn’t always happen. The federal government offers few deadlines and weak enforcement about what can and should be shared. There is no national database identifying proven child abuse cases, though Congress passed a law requiring that in 2006. Link to Article

MI:Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler Honored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan

Oct 26, MLive.com: Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler was recently honored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan for being a strong proponent of child abuse and neglect prevention. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan is a statewide crime prevention, nonprofit organization led by more than 500 of Michigan’s best-known police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime survivors. Gribler was presented the award by Clinton County Sheriff Wayne Kangas, the statewide co-chairman of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan. “Sheriff Gribler has been a strong representative for public investments in voluntary home visitation and parent coaching, and high-quality preschool, after-school programs, and community-based treatment programs,” Kangas said. Link to Article

FL: Agencies Work to Unite Foster, Biological Parents

Oct 25, CDAPress.com: Days after Austin-Knight’s children were put in foster care, she met foster mother Krista King at a park as part of an effort in Florida to encourage more foster parents to communicate with birth parents, let them talk to their children and honor their child-rearing wishes. Similar programs are in California, Virginia and New Mexico. The programs have been developed as child welfare administrators acknowledge that more than half of foster children will eventually return home to their parents _ a longstanding proportion that wasn’t always addressed in innovative ways. The approaches provide an opportunity to help rehabilitate the parents, most of whom lose their children because of drugs and alcohol or neglect issues related to poverty. Caseworkers and judges decide how much contact is appropriate. Birth parents who were abusive often aren’t allowed to maintain a relationship with the foster family. States vary widely on whether they encourage birth parents to stay involved. In states and counties now encouraging the interactions, parents may keep in contact over the phone or face-to-face. Foster parents are taught to speak positively about birth parents and are encouraged to do small things like place a birth parent’s picture in the child’s room. “It may not always be comfortable for the adults to navigate these relationships, but it’s about the best interest of the child,” said Claudia McDowell, who heads Bridging the Gap in Fairfax County, Va. The program in Northern Virginia arranges icebreaker meetings, often during the first week after a child’s removal. Link to Article

UK: 300 Potential Abuse Victims Emerge in BBC Scandal

Oct 25, Detroit News: London – The scale of the child sex abuse scandal engulfing the BBC expanded on Thursday as authorities announced that 300 potential victims had come forward with accusations against one of the broadcaster’s most popular children’s entertainers and that others might have acted with him. The well-known children’s TV and radio host is accused of using his fame to coerce teens into having sex with him in his car, his camper and even in dressing rooms on BBC premises. All but two of the cases involved girls and detectives have interviewed 130 people. Savile, who died last October at age 84, was “undoubtedly” one of the worst sex offenders in recent British history. Previously feted for his charity work at hospitals and homes for children, Savile is alleged to have deliberately supported such causes to target troubled youths whose credibility would be questioned if they reported the alleged sexual abuse.
The Savile scandal has rocked the BBC and prompted disbelief that the TV host’s crimes could have gone unnoticed or unreported by colleagues or managers. Link to Article

MI: Livonia Teacher Accused of Child Abuse Resigns

Oct 25, Observer & Eccentric: The Livonia Public Schools teacher accused of abusing special-needs preschoolers resigned Oct. 16, school officials said Tuesday. Sharon Turbiak will remain on paid administrative leave until March 31, 2013, the effective date of her resignation, they said. She has not been charged with any crime. Turbiak was scheduled to go before the Michigan Tenure Commission Monday. The school board voted unanimously June 18 to recommend the tenure commission terminate Turbiak’s employment. The tenure commission has the final say in whether a teacher is fired. Superintendent Randy Liepa said the district had the choice of proceeding through the tenure process or accepting her resignation, and it made more sense to accept the resignation. Turbiak is accused of slapping, grabbing and force feeding special-needs preschoolers in her classroom at Webster Elementary, among other unprofessional classroom management practices, from about October 2011 to April 2012. Link to Article

US: More States View Registration Requirements for Youth who Commit Sex Offenses as Inappropriate

Oct 24, Models for Change: In fact, registries actually have the potential to decrease public safety as well as needlessly harm youth’s lives. Researchers have shown that youth who commit sex offenses – including violent sex offenses – recidivate at the rate of one to three percent. Thus, 97 percent of the youth placed on sex offense registries will never commit another sex offense – a much higher percentage than youth who commit other crimes. Putting youth on these registries means that law enforcement resources must be put toward unnecessary tracking of these youth – often for decades – and this backlog of useless data on the registry can actually impede the ability of police to speedily investigate new sex offenses. One might argue that these drawbacks are worth it, if it means tracking the one to three percent of youth who will recidivate. The problem is that it’s not at all clear that registries help us do that. And that’s not all: a recent federal law that made state registries even tougher has only made this problem worse. Link to Article

US: Tough Times For Girls In Juvenile Justice System

Oct 24, NPR: Experts say girls make up the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile justice system, with more than 300,000 arrests and criminal charges every year. A new report by the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy says the system isn’t doing enough to help those young girls. Most girls who wind up tangled in the justice system have family problems, trauma or a history of abuse, says Georgetown University professor Peter Edelman, who co-authored the report, “Improving the Juvenile Justice System for Girls.” More than half of the girls detained these days don’t commit big crimes. More often their transgressions are things like skipping school, breaking curfew or running away from home, says Edelman, who has studied justice up close since the 1970s. “Getting them back into school and getting them back on a path without invoking the sanctions of the juvenile and criminal justice system,” Edelman says, “that is so much better in terms of not leaving those wounds and scars and preserving the possibilities for the future.” Link to Article

MI: Analysis : 4 University of Michigan Public Safety Failures That Contributed to 6-Month Child-Porn Reporting Delay

Oct 23, Ann Arbor.com: In winter 2011 University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman learned that at least eight officials failed to timely report a pediatrician caught looking at child pornography while at work. The six-month reporting lapse occurred because of a variety of reasons, including poor decisions by university attorneys and the misconception that hospital security acted as police. But perhaps one of the most significant factors leading to the lapse was the animosity between hospital security and university police, which multiple individuals say contributed to a “culture of fear and blame” between the units. The Board of Regents in March commissioned Margolis Healy to conduct a review of the safety culture, where if fell short and how insufficiencies contributed to the six-month reporting lapse that allowed Stephen Jenson, 37, to work alongside children at University Hospital while viewing child porn at his home and, worse, during shifts at work. The result was a scathing report of problems between the Department of Public Safety, hospital security and, less so, housing security. Link to Article

MI: Boy Scouts ‘Perversion’ Files Show 3 Cases of Alleged Sexual Abuse by Saginaw County Scoutmasters

Oct 23, MLive.com: The Boy Scouts of America severed ties decades ago with three Saginaw scoutmasters after sexual assault claims arose, according to documents contained in the more than 14,500 pages of the organization’s secret files. The records, released last week by an order from the Oregon Supreme Court, document sex abuse allegations across the country from 1965 to 1985. The records include about 50 files from Michigan, including three in Saginaw County. Link to Article

NYU Dentistry, Foster Care Agency Partnership, Improves Child Health, Aids Student Training

Oct 21, Science Codex: The New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) and Graham Windham, a local NYC-based foster care agency, have partnered to provide regular dental care to more than 650 children since spring of 2011. The success of the program, Partners Against Caries (PAC), both for the participating foster children and the dental school students, may serve as a model for other dental schools’ outreach programs. PAC’s successes were outlined in an oral as well as a poster session at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, October 20-23, 2012. “The program has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for both the children and families in foster care, as well as for the NYUCD dental students,” said study author Elizabeth A. Best, MPH, Department of Pediatric Dentistry. “The pediatric patients enjoy receiving care from the dental students, who are very engaged with the children.” For the dental students, the experience has been eye-opening. “Most of the dental students have little knowledge of the foster care system,” commented Best. “At NYUCD, we are now graduating dental students who have worked with this population, and are aware of their unique health care needs,” she said. Link to Article

PA: Outsmarting The Abusers; Police Here Make Inroads in Fight Against Child Abuse

Oct 21, Lancaster Online: “Nobody wants to believe that an adult would hurt a child,” Lancaster city Detective Aaron Harnish told a large audience last week at a local conference. “But these are crimes that happen every day.” However, Harnish and other experts explained at the two-day conference in downtown Lancaster, advancements in detection here have made it harder for offenders to hide. “It’s a matter of the expertise and investigative ability,” said Randall L. Miller, a veteran prosecutor hired by Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman to handle child-abuse cases. And those advancements have helped bring justice to more abused kids, local investigators say. At the conference, Harnish and Miller discussed methods that help Lancaster County stay ahead of the curve in investigating abuse. The article includes suggested investigative techniques. Link to Article

UT: Fewer Foreign Children Available For Utah Families to Adopt

Oct 21, Salt Lake Tribune: There is no single factor that explains the free fall, adoption experts say, which has occurred as the number of orphans continued to grow — now at 153 million worldwide, including 18 million who have lost both parents and as many as 8 million living in institutions, according to UNICEF. And interest in adoption remains strong as ever, though the recession may have affected some families’ ability to handle the expense. But most experts bring up two issues when asked to explain the decline: the rise in nationalistic policies by foreign countries favoring domestic adoption, and The Hague Adoption Convention, which was fully implemented in the United States in 2008. The United States recorded a peak number of adoptions of children from foreign countries in 2004 — 22,991 — but international adoptions have fallen steadily since then. In 2011, slightly more than 9,300 children were brought into the United States from another country. Link to Article

MI: Resentence Juvenile Lifers? Michigan Appeals Court Considers Implications of US Supreme Court Ruling

Oct 17, Mlive.com: The Michigan Court of Appeals is weighing arguments in a single case that may shape the fate of 368 prisoners serving mandatory life sentences for violent crimes they committed when they were minors. The nation’s highest court ruled mandatory life terms without the possibility of parole is an unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment for minors, invalidating sentencing schemes in Michigan and other states. In her 5-4 majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan wrote such mandatory sentences fail to recognize the potential for cognitive and character development in young people. Judges, she said, need the ability to consider mitigating factors and circumstances at the time of sentencing. But Kagan did not indicate whether the ruling should retroactively apply to convicts who were sentenced years ago. Michigan has more “juvenile lifers” than most states, according to an MLive Media Group analysis. Defense attorneys are expected to request hundreds of resentencing hearings in coming months, and judges around the state are looking to the Court of Appeals for guidance. Link to Article  Comment by C. Enright: An important factor not discussed in the article or in the Supreme Court opinion is the impact of juvenile incarceration on the cognitive development of the offenders. Say a 30 year old gets out of prison after 15 years of incarceration. Even if he has a high school diploma – how likely is that since he was told he was never going to get out anyway? – He has not been outside for 15 years. He wouldn’t know how to act in a public place. He has never needed to get a job so has no job skills and has none of the normal social skills that those never incarcerated have developed without thinking about it. Are we ready to give these potential parolees the help they need to stay outside? Or will release just become an inevitable revolving door?

TX: CPS Target Of Probe After Toddler Dies

Oct 14, Houston Chronicle: Six days before officers were called to the home, a newly-minted Texas Child Protective Services supervisor hastily but quietly closed an 11-month-old neglect investigation involving Tamryn, the dead toddler, without making a required final visit to the family or having someone approve the case’s closure. Those two errors, along with a series of others committed by CPS workers in Abilene, are the latest fatal foibles involving child abuse victims across Texas in which too few workers are investigating too many cases at one time. In this instance, the Houston Chronicle has learned, CPS – the state agency charged with caring for abused children – is now the target of a rare criminal investigation. “The Abilene Police Department is actively investigating the local CPS office,” Chief Stan Standridge confirmed, declining to give any other details. In August, the Chronicle reported on the death of Houston toddler Julia Martinez, whose case languished as Harris County CPS workers shouldered as many as 80 cases a month with many of those 60 days old or more. Link to Article

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

House Bill 5600 (Substitute H-3)
Expand & Clarify Eligibility For Set-Aside Of Juvenile Adjudications

Brief Summary: The bill would allow an individual to have more than one adjudication for a juvenile offense set aside under certain conditions. (Unlike adults, who are convicted when found guilty of an offense, juveniles are found responsible, and the process is referred to as an adjudication.)

The Apparent Problem: Traditionally, the emphasis in the juvenile justice system has been on rehabilitation. However, beginning in the late 1980s and continuing through the 1990s, the trend shifted toward treating juvenile offenders more harshly. This was due, at least in part, to a rise in serious juvenile crime. Laws across the country were changed to reduce judicial discretion for certain offenses, resulting in more juveniles being tried as adults. Even those remaining in the juvenile justice system faced more punitive treatment than before. One result has been that juveniles who have turned their lives around are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to move forward. With their juvenile record following them into adulthood, these now-responsible citizens are blocked from joining the military, going to college, and finding employment. As the trend across the nation has begun to shift in the other direction, back to an emphasis on rehabilitation, some states have amended their expungement laws to make it easier for youth who have demonstrated change to clear their records. It has been suggested that Michigan review its treatment of juvenile offenders who were adjudicated in the juvenile justice system (not those tried as adults in adult court) to make it easier for deserving individuals to put their past behind them. Link to Bill Status Page See the Fiscal Analysis for the pros & cons.

Senate Bill 694 (Substitute S-1 as reported)
Senate Bill 1303 (Substitute S-1 as reported)

Senate Bill 694 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to revise a provision granting jurisdiction to the family court over a juvenile whose home or environment is an unfit place for the juvenile to live in due to neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, criminality, or depravity on the part of a parent, guardian, nonparent adult, or other custodian. The bill would refer to a juvenile’s home or environment that “is or will be” an unfit place to live in.

Senate Bill 1303 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to provide that the Department of Human Services (DHS) would be permitted, but not required, to provide services to reunify a child with his or her parent, and the court could order the DHS to provide those services, in situations involving a parent who “is or will be imprisoned for 2 or more years”. Link to Bill Status Page for both bills.

 

Senate Bill 1240
Social Services Agency Liability Act

The bill would grant immunity to a social services agency, and its officers and employees, for injury or damage caused by the provision of a child social welfare program. Specifically, a social services agency would be immune from liability for personal injury or property damage caused by its provision of a child social welfare program. A director, member, officer, employee, or agent of a social services agency also would be immune from liability for personal injury or property damage caused by that person while he or she was acting on behalf of the agency in the conduct of a child social welfare program, if he or she were acting or reasonably believed he or she was acting within the scope of his or her authority. The immunity provisions would not apply if the conduct that caused personal injury or property damage amounted to gross negligence or were willful misconduct. In a civil action for damages resulting from the conduct of a child social welfare program, there would be a presumption that a director, member, officer, employee, or agent of a social services agency was acting within the scope of his or her authority and that his or her conduct did not amount to gross negligence and was not willful misconduct. Link to Bill Status Page

 

Senate Bill 1314
Copying Or Reproducing Child Sexually Abusive Activity Or Material

The bill would amend the Michigan Penal Code to include copying or reproducing child sexually abusive activity or material in the current prohibition against, and the penalty for, involvement in child sexually abusive activity or material. The bill also indicates that a violation would be committed when actions were taken for personal, distributional, or other purposes. Link to Bill Status Page

 

Senate Bill 934
Criminal Sexual Conduct: Foster Homes & Child Care Organizations

The bill would amend the criminal sexual conduct (CSC) provisions within the Michigan Penal Code. This section lists the conduct for which a person would be guilty of CSC. The bill would add circumstances in which the actor (person committing the offense) was an employee, contractual service provider, or volunteer of a child care organization, or a person licensed to operate a foster family home or a foster family group home in which that other person (the victim) is a resident, and the sexual conduct occurred during the period of that other person’s residency. Link to Bill Status Page

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Garrison; Wayne County

Although the court held that the respondent-mother did not show a violation of her procedural due process rights, the court concluded that remand for further proceedings was necessary because the trial court’s determination that “there were no allegations against the father” and thus, that it had “no other choice but to return” the child to his care was both factually and legally flawed. The trial court placed the minor child with the father, and terminated its jurisdiction over the child. The petition for temporary custody identified the father as a respondent and alleged that he had no relationship with the child. He entered a plea at the pretrial hearing and the order of adjudication indicated that the trial court acquired jurisdiction in part because he lacked a home and a source of income. Thus, the trial court clearly had a choice whether to return the child to her parent and the relevant inquiry under MCL 712A.19a(5) was whether returning the child to the father would or would not “cause a substantial risk of harm to the child’s life, physical health, or mental well-being.” In making that determination, the trial court is to consider whether the parent substantially complied with the case service plan as well as “any condition or circumstance of the child that may be evidence that a return to the parent would cause a substantial risk of harm to the child’s life, physical health, or mental well-being.” The trial court did not address these issues before deciding that it was compelled to return the child to the father and terminate its jurisdiction over the child. “There was evidence suggesting that such action could cause a substantial risk of harm to the child.” The foster-care worker testified that the father had suitable housing, but he had not completed parenting classes and the worker did not know whether he was participating in or benefiting from the classes. Further, the record showed that his attendance at family visits had been sporadic throughout the proceedings, even though he was granted unsupervised visitation in 10/11. Also, the father had a wife and three other children in his home and there was no evidence as to the child’s relationship with them. Full Text Opinion

MiPSAC WEB PAGE / ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

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
These and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles where you can subscribe to an abbreviated version of posts such as this one.

 

Aug 28-Sep 4: News Articles Legislative Updates and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES

KY: Kentucky Supreme Court to consider fairness of child-abuse registry

Sep 3, Courier Journal: A Louisville Sunday school teacher for 25 years, “W.B.” was appalled when he found out he might be listed on Kentucky’s Central Registry of substantiated child abusers because of an accusation for which he was never charged, says his lawyer, J. Fox DeMoisey. W.B. feared that being listed would cost him his teaching post — and worse, his reputation, DeMoisey said. So W.B. skipped the normal appeals process and sued, saying he deserved to have his case heard by a jury. A Jefferson Circuit Court judge and the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled against him, saying that while the state should not “stigmatize the innocent,” it has an overriding interest in “keeping child abusers out of the ranks of child-care workers.” Now, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments Sept. 12 in the case, deciding just how much due process individuals deserve before they are branded as abusers. Link to Article

OH: Court Reverses Custody Ruling: Judges Say Lesbian Has No Right to Child

Sep 3, The Columbus Dispatch: After years of argument, acrimony and legal action, Maggie Gross won her child-custody battle this spring in Franklin County Juvenile Court. But the Franklin County Court of Appeals recently rendered that decision hollow. Judges said that Gross, a lesbian, has no rights to the biological daughter of her former partner because the child was adopted months earlier — in January 2011 — by the man Jennifer Herrick married after she and Gross split. Put another way, the appeals court said, the statute severs “legal relationships with non-relatives, such as (Gross), who attempt to base their claims on relationships in existence prior to the adoption.” Judges said the juvenile court no longer had jurisdiction to order shared custody, even though Gross filed for custody in 2009, before the adoption. “They’re saying that half of all this never happened, that half of her life didn’t exist,” Gross said of the 7-year-old girl, who was almost 3 when Gross and Herrick ended their relationship in 2008. Link to Article

WV: U.S. Finds W.Va. Not In Compliance on Foster Care

Sep 3, Charleston Gazette: While West Virginia officials cut child-care assistance to hundreds of low-income working parents, federal reviews show the state could do better at accessing other federal resources for children. In a May 2011 review, the feds evaluated the state foster care cases during a six-month period from April through September 2010. Officials from the Administration for Children and Families found that 12 of the 80 cases evaluated were in error and another 18 cases were ineligible for federal funding. The federal review also found that in 17 of the cases, the state did not claim foster care maintenance payments, though it was eligible for them. According to the review, having more than four error cases knocked the state out of compliance. Link to Article

US: Medical Consensus or Child Abuse? Moms on Methadone Caught in the Middle

Sep 2, Daily Beast: It can be a Catch-22 for new mothers addicted to opiates-doctors treat them with methadone while child-welfare caseworkers report them for continuing to use drugs. But because methadone is an opiate, like the drugs it is prescribed to treat, there is confusion among some doctors, child welfare workers and judges that using it is just substituting one drug for another, said Jocelyn Woods of the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery. Mothers get caught in the middle. “Judges and caseworkers are practicing medicine without a license, even against medical advice,” said Emma Ketteringham of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who worked on Rebecca’s case. Link to Article

IA: Two Parents Sue Iowa DHS Over Kids Removed From Homes

Sep 1, Des Moines Register: State social workers have taken custody of children even when there is no proof of harm by a parent or caregiver, according to two lawsuits filed against the Iowa Department of Human Services. The lawsuits allege children are being removed from their homes based on voluntary agreements signed by non custodial parents who are no longer the child’s legal guardian. The use of voluntary agreements sidesteps formal oversight and intervention by juvenile court judges. DHS has said in its defense that social workers cannot know who has custody when they respond to allegations of abuse. Wendy Rickman, a DHS administrator overseeing child-protective services, said, the growing use of voluntary agreements stems from “huge” criticism, from the federal government and families, that the agency was not doing enough to engage families. Link to Article

NE: Feds Order Nebraska HHS to Pay Back $3.2 Million

August 31, Omaha World-Herald: The cost of Nebraska’s experiment in privatizing child welfare services has jumped by $3.2 million. Federal officials notified the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on Friday that the state would be penalized for failing to follow regulations for use of foster care funds. The penalty announced is for fiscal year 2010. Additional penalties are likely for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. The financial penalty is the latest blow to Nebraska’s failed privatization effort. Launched with promises of reform, the initiative wound up costing millions more than planned during its 2½-year life. Four of the five private agencies lost or dropped their contracts, citing inadequate reimbursement from the state, and the goal of improving care for children went unrealized. The $3.2 million penalty will come out of the $19.4 million worth of federal foster care funds that Nebraska receives annually. Link to Article

MI: Sexual Abuse Victims Call For Saginaw Diocese Bishop’s ‘Transparency’ In Philadelphia Sex Abuse Case

Aug 30, Saginaw News: Two victims of sexual abuse now advocating for children’s rights this afternoon delivered a letter asking for answers from the Most Bishop Joseph Cistone, whose name recently was linked to a planned clergy sexual abuse-based lawsuit in Philadelphia.
Cistone, the diocese’s leader, earlier this year was not named in any criminal indictments, but lawyers say he and others will be named in a civil case brought on by a former altar boy who claimed sexual abuse at a Philadelphia diocese in 1992, media reports indicate.
Lawyers claim Cistone, who was appointed as the Saginaw diocese’s leader in 2009, helped oversee the shredding of documents relating to the alleged abuse. Link to Article

MI: Michigan Adoption Ban for Unmarried Couples Being Challenged in Court Today

Aug 29, Detroit News: The state of Michigan is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges a ban on adoption by unmarried couples. The lawsuit is led by two Detroit-area lesbians who are raising three children. State law says that April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse can’t adopt them as a couple, because it is an option available only to heterosexual married couples. DeBoer and Rowse say their civil rights are being violated. Detroit federal Judge Bernard Friedman will hear arguments Wednesday. In a court filing, the state attorney general’s office says Friedman should defer to the judgment of Michigan lawmakers and dismiss the case. No More Info in Article  But see: Link to 2nd Free Press Article : Link to 3rd Detroit News Article

IN: Indiana Child Abuse Reports Not Being Submitted

Aug 29, IndyStar.com: Jayden Noel’s ear was bruised and discolored. There was another bruise on the side of the baby’s face. His lip was cut. The emergency-room physician who examined Jayden in July 2011 at Major Hospital in Shelbyville was initially suspicious the injuries might have been signs of abuse. But ultimately the doctor determined the family’s explanation was plausible. “Do not feel at this time,” the physician wrote, “that a state of abuse exists.” Six months later, Jayden was dead, another victim of deadly abuse who appears to have fallen through the cracks in a system designed to protect innocent Hoosier children. Marion Superior Court Judge Marilyn Moores made a point of specifically chastising the emergency-room doctor, saying he “failed to make a report of suspected child abuse.” “When you have a pre-verbal child with bruising that seems inconsistent with the injury, living in a home with a (mother’s) boyfriend who is not the father, err on the side of caution,” Moores said of her reason for noting the actions of the ER doctor. Indiana law requires anyone “who has a reason to believe a child is a victim” of abuse or neglect to file a report with police or DCS. Link to Article

See also, a somewhat related story: 

A Different Take on Child Abuse Reporting Laws

Aug. 30, IndyStar.com: I had a story in The Star today about Hoosiers failing to follow a state law that requires anyone who “has reason to believe” a child is being abused or neglected to make a report to the Department of Child Services or local police. On the surface, the state’s mandatory reporting law seems like a no-brainer. But not everyone agrees. And I think it is worth considering a different take on the issue. Richard Wexler, who heads the National Coalition for Child Welfare Reform, has put a lot of time, energy and thought into his the stance opposing broad-based mandatory reporting laws. It is a position that — at least, initially — seems to run counter to common sense. But he makes some very strong and valid points. He has a position paper on the coalition’s website that details his reasoning — along with thoughts of others in the child welfare and social services fields and links. Link to IndyStar Article

MSU Police Instrumental in Tracking Suspected Child Porn & Extortion Case

Aug 30, WILX.com: A child pornography suspect in Pennsylvania was identified with the help of Michigan State University Police Computer Forensic Unit. The FBI arrested Joseph Ostrowski, 28, for attempted production of child pornography and extortion. He was also charged with cyber-stalking, once investigators learned he persuaded and tricked people in East Lansing to engage in sexual acts through Skype and recorded them without their knowledge. During 2011, the Michigan State University Police became aware of student social networking sites being compromised. Throughout the investigation by the MSU Police Computer Forensic Unit, records were obtained that led to the development of Ostrowski as a suspect. MSU Police detectives were with the FBI when search warrants on Mr. Ostrowski of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania were served. No more info in article. 

US: Why We Need to Treat Parenthood as a Privilege

Aug 28, Huffington Post: In our society, driving is a privilege because if we aren’t able to drive well, it will result in harm to others. Because parenthood can potentially cause great harm to children and society, and because it’s arguably the most important job in the world, it’s time we get more serious about holding these same attitudes when it comes to having children.
And we need to translate these attitudes to the development of programs, such as nationally mandating high school parenthood education. It exists in some schools, but more often than not it isn’t mandatory, and when it does exist, needs to go further than introducing what’s involved in parenting. At this age, young people need to begin exploring their interest, desire and aptitudes for parenting one day. Link to Article

Netherlands: Routine Screening Catches Child Abuse in ER

Aug 28, Reuters Health: Routinely screening all children seen in the ER for signs of maltreatment seems to have improved child abuse detection in the Netherlands, a new study finds. The progress suggests that such systematic screening helps catch more cases of child abuse, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. But whether the findings could extend to other countries is unclear. Link to Article  See also: Link to MedLinePlus Article

US: Shauna Prewitt on Protecting the Children of Rape

Aug 27, Washington Post: Shauna Prewitt grew up in a Kansas City suburb. She was a 21-year-old college student when she was raped. Prewitt admits she struggled with the decision about an abortion until almost the last minute. It wasn’t out of hatred for her child, but the fact that pregnancy at 21 wasn’t in her plans. She soon discovered that keeping a rape-conceived child can come with a new set of problems: Her attacker sued for joint custody of her daughter. In more than half of states, the rapist-father is free to sue for custody and visitation. He has the same paternal rights as any other father. Those rights serve as a way to assert power over the rape victim. “And I can’t imagine anything more powerful than terrorizing a woman through access to her child.” Threats to sue for custody also serve as a bargaining chip for many rapists, who agree to terminate their parental rights in exchange for agreements to drop criminal charges. That’s what Prewitt is working to change. Link to Article

AK: Court Reduces Punitive Damages in Evangelist Child Abuse Case

Aug 28, Detroit News: Little Rock, Ark. – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered punitive damages against an evangelist who ordered two boys to be beaten to be reduced from $60 million to $24 million. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an additional $3 million award each for the two men, now in their 20s, who grew up in Tony Alamo’s ministries. The court’s decision comes after a jury last year found Alamo liable for battery, outrage and conspiracy and awarded the two men $30 million each in punitive damages, plus another $3 million each for the abuse they suffered. The appeals court said Tuesday that the men should get $12 million each instead of $30 million each in punitive damages. The federal appeals court shot down Alamo’s other arguments, including one that he wasn’t liable because he was exercising his First Amendment rights to freedom of religion. The court said the two young men who sued Alamo were raised in Tony Alamo Christian Ministries and were forced to work without pay starting at the age of 8. Alamo had an enforcer beat one of the boys when he was 12 because he made a small tunnel while hauling dirt for the church. The court said other boy was hit so hard he vomited. Link to Article

APPELLATE COURT CASES 

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

The court held that the trial court properly terminated the respondent-mother’s parental rights and that termination was in the minor child’s best interests. Respondent did not expressly challenge the trial court’s decision as to the statutory grounds for termination. The sole issue raised on appeal was whether the trial court properly concluded that termination of her parental rights was in the child’s best interests where the trial court failed to consider relative placement in making its best interest decision. The court noted that the trial court expressly considered the fact that the child was placed with a relative and that a guardianship with the relative was proposed in lieu of termination. However, the trial court ruled that a permanency plan was not in the child’s best interests because respondent never had custody of the child, the child’s contact with her was extremely limited, and respondent would not be available as a parent for at least six or seven years due to her incarceration. Respondent never cared for the child and rarely had contact with her. Further, in light of the evidence that respondent did not have a close relationship with the relative caregiver and presented no evidence that the relative was open to a long-term guardianship, the trial court did not clearly err in finding that termination of respondent’s parental rights was in the child’s best interests. Full Text Opinion

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit
Case Name: United States v. C.T.H.

Defendant pleaded guilty to an act of juvenile delinquency after he was charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute. The district court held a dispositional hearing in which it found by a preponderance of the evidence that defendant was responsible for the distribution of 647 grams of heroin. It then sentenced him to five years’ “official detention.” The appeals court accepted defendant’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s precedent – that any fact (other than the fact of a prior conviction) that increases a juvenile’s statutory-maximum term of official detention must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The court then found that the district court’s drug-quantity finding was such a fact, and therefore had to meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. Full Text Opinion

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Weaver/Mullen

Respondent claimed that the trial court clearly erred when it found that termination of the respondent-mother’s parental rights was in the best interests of the children, because the trial court failed to consider that the children were placed with relatives, and cited Mason and MCL 712A.19a(6)(a). The Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirement of explicit consideration of placement with relatives at the time of termination in Mays, stating “that the trial court’s failure to consider the children’s placement with relatives at the time of the termination rendered the factual record ‘inadequate to make a best interests determination.'” The court recently spoke to this issue in Olive/Metts, stating that “the trial court was required to consider the best interests of each child individually and was required to explicitly address each child’s placement with relatives at the time of the termination hearing if applicable.” The appellate court also issued a order with the opinion providing the trial court with remand instructions, particularly to limit the issue of examination of each child’s placement as it relates to the best interests analysis. Full Text Opinion

MiPSAC WEB PAGE / ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

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
These and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles where you can subscribe to an abbreviated version of posts such as this one.

 

Aug 21-28: News Articles and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

Childhood is the barrel they give you to go over the falls in. Whatever you get to take with you in it can’t be bigger or sharper than an idea.

Linda McCarriston 

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES 

US: Helping Foster Kids Even After Adoption

Aug 28, NPR: The U.S. adoption system was largely organized around placing infants, both from this country and abroad. But, it turns out that, by far, the largest number of adoptions in the U.S. is through the foster care system. That means toddlers, young children, even teens. Yet many in the field say the system does little to help families cope with the special issues a number of these children will face, even years after adoption. Foster adoptions have nearly doubled since 1997, when a policy change gave states financial incentive to place children with permanent families. The federal government has also waged an aggressive and charming ad campaign, with TV spots reassuring people that they “don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” Debbie Riley, head of the Center for Adoption Support and Education in Maryland, says she is seeing an increasing number of “disruptions.” “Families are calling and saying, ‘I can’t do this,’ and [they’re] putting children back into [foster] care”. Link to NPR Article

Baby, Allegedly Shaken, Still Critical: Justin Mcintyre Charged in Injury of Son Bentley

28 Aug, WOOD TV: – A 6-week-old boy hospitalized last week after showing symptoms of having been shaken remains in critical condition. Bentley McIntyre was admitted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids on Aug. 24 with brain trauma. His family has been by his side the whole time. Police suspect Bentley was shaken by his father — 23-year-old Justin McIntyre — at their home in Ferrysburg late last week. He is charged with felony child abuse. He was in court on Tuesday in which a preliminary hearing was scheduled for September. Link to Article

MI: Saginaw’s Top Catholic Bishop To Be Named in Philadelphia Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Aug 27, Saginaw News: Attorneys plan to name the leader of the Diocese of Saginaw in a lawsuit surrounding clergy sex abuse allegations at his former assignment in Philadelphia, media reports indicate. Bishop Joseph Cistone earlier this year was not named in any criminal indictments, but lawyers say Cistone and others will be named in a civil case brought on by a former Philadelphia altar boy who claimed sexual abuse in 1992. “My best description of them is that they were the kingpins,” Slade McLaughlin, a Philadelphia attorney, told the news station when describing Cistone and another former Catholic administrator in Philadelphia. Link to Article

GA: Georgia Makes Parent Volunteers In Schools Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters. Is That A Mistake?

Aug 26, AJC.com: Schools in Georgia are now informing parents of a law passed this year that broadens the list of people mandated to report child abuse. The list now includes volunteers at churches, colleges, clubs, summer camps or soccer fields or parents who chaperone a field trip. They could go to jail if they fail to report suspected abuse. Link to Article

MA: Program Helps Families Create Their Own Solutions

Aug 26, Boston Globe: The Family Independence Initiative, which recruits families, urges them to identify their aspirations, and pays them $160 a month to record their progress toward achieving them. The central idea behind the initiative is that poor people have the resourcefulness to solve their own problems. That with the support – and the watchful eyes – of a small community of peers, they can transform their lives. The results so far have been stunning. Among the first families to join these groups two years ago, personal savings have grown a massive 264 percent. Average monthly incomes have risen 25 percent, not counting FII payments. Children’s grades have jumped 25 percent, too. Members have started businesses, bought houses, enrolled in college, begun microloan programs, gotten care for sick children, lost weight, and found community. Link to Article

US: Finding Hope after Trauma: The Remarkable Recovery of the Adolescent Brain

Aug 26, Huffington Post: A 2005 study conducted by Casey Family Programs found rates of PTSD in young people formerly in foster care to be more than twice that of U.S. war veterans.
Young people who have experienced trauma are extraordinarily resilient. Nowhere is this clearer than among the population of young people who have been in foster care. Trauma comes in all forms, and whether the trauma young people in foster care experience is defined by physical or sexual abuse, moving from place to place, being separated from siblings and other loved ones, or living in a disjointed system — its impact can be devastating. Without access to a supportive family or network, young people in foster care — especially those who abruptly age out of the foster care system — don’t have the same opportunity to recover and move on. And yet, it is precisely during that window of their young lives — between ages 14 and 25 — that young people have the most potential for recovery and resilience. New advances in neuroscience tell us that the brain is not “done” by age six, as previously thought. Instead, the adolescent brain continues to develop, providing a “use it or lose it” timeframe similar to that which exists in early childhood. Even after significant trauma, the brain can indeed rewire itself — meaning that the physiological consequences of trauma can be reversed. Systems that support young people must seize this window of opportunity. Link to Article

Young and Alone, Facing Court and Deportation

Aug 25, New York Times: Immigration courts in this South Texas border town and across the country are confronting an unexpected surge of children, some of them barely school age, who traveled here without parents and were caught as they tried to cross illegally into the United States. The youths pose troubling difficulties for American immigration courts. Unlike in criminal or family courts, in immigration court there is no right to a lawyer paid by the government for people who cannot afford one. And immigration law contains few protections specifically for minors. So even a child as young as six years old has to go before an immigration judge — confronting a prosecutor and trying to fight deportation — without the help of a lawyer, if one is not privately provided. Link to Article

US: Special Visa Program Offers Citizenship Path For Illegal Immigrant Youth In Foster Care

Aug 27, Washington Post: Two years ago, her mother was deported, her brother was detained and she was put in foster care. A powerful reminder of all she lost and gained is printed on the top right corner of her green card: “SL6.” That’s the code for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), the little-known program that allows Boudet and hundreds like her each year to live and work in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. The program has quietly helped 10,000 young illegal immigrants become legal permanent residents since 1997. More recently, much attention has been focused on President Barack Obama’s deferred action policy that allows some young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation by obtaining temporary work permits. Thousands flocked to apply for that program on the first day alone. Advocates say that the new Obama administration policy won’t directly change the juvenile visa program, and that it’s too soon to tell exactly how the visa program may be affected by the policy change. But it may make young illegal immigrants more comfortable coming forward for help staying in the U.S. That could lead to more people applying for the visa. The policy change also gives them another option if they don’t qualify for the special visa program because of key requirements to be under the age of 21, unmarried and a dependent of the state at the time of the application.  Link to Article

US: As Thousands of Parents Are Deported, US Citizen Kids Face Fallout; Some Placed For Adoption

Aug 25, Associated Press: It’s a question thousands of other families are wrestling with as a record number of deportations means record numbers of American children being left without a parent. And it comes despite President Barack Obama’s promise that his administration would focus on removing only criminals, not breaking up families even if a parent is here illegally. Nearly 45,000 such parents were removed in the first six months of this year, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Critics say the parents are to blame for entering the country illegally in the first place, knowing they were putting their families at risk. These parents have taken a reckless gamble with their children’s future by sneaking into the country illegally, knowing they could be deported. “Not to deport them, gives them the ultimate bonus package, and creates an incentive for others to do the same thing.” Others, including Obama, say splitting up families is wrong. A year ago, he told a Texas audience that deportation should target “violent offenders and people convicted of crimes; not families, not folks who are just looking to scrape together an income.” And, last year ICE announced a new policy of “prosecutorial discretion” that directs agents to consider how long someone has been in the country, their ties to communities and whether that person’s spouse or children are U.S. citizens.

In Congress, California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard has proposed legislation that would make it more difficult for local agencies to terminate the parental rights of immigrants. She calls it “heartbreaking … that in the U.S., immigration status in itself has become grounds to permanently separate families.” It is, she said, “absolutely, unquestionably inhumane and unacceptable, particularly for a country that values family and fairness so highly.” Link to Article

TX: A Child’s Life Lost Amid Too Many Cases at CPS

Aug 24, Houston Chronicle: Information obtained by the Houston Chronicle shows the fragile toddler died earlier this month on a mattress inside her southeast home as her case remained stuck in the investigative stacks at a protective services office with some of the highest caseload volumes in Houston. Link to Article

WI: Father Reaches Settlement with Welfare Workers in Death of Infant Son

Aug. 24, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The father of a 5-month-old boy who was drowned by his mentally ill mother in October 2007 has settled his federal lawsuit against three child welfare workers and their employers, according to online court records. The suit, filed in federal court in Milwaukee, alleged wrongful death and a violation of the 14th Amendment. When Will Robert Johnson was just 1 month old, child welfare workers removed him from his mother’s home because they feared that her serious mental illness compromised his safety. Yet four months later, social workers left him alone with her for a visit, and he drowned in the bathtub. Two social workers and a supervisor were named as defendants. The three and their employers, which had contracted with the state, knew or should have known Will’s mother, Arkisha Johnson, had a long history of mental illness, which included threats of violence, emotional instability, multiple suicide attempts and failure to take her medication, according to the suit. In October 2010, the Child Welfare Disclosure Act was passed without opposition by state lawmakers and quickly signed by the governor. It requires the state Department of Children and Families to notify the public when a child has been killed or suffered serious injury. Link to Article

MA: Children’s Rights Chides Mass. System on Foster Care

August 24, Boston Globe: A children’s advocacy group has issued a series of scathing reports on the Massachusetts foster care system, contending that nearly 1 in 5 children in state custody for at least two years have suffered abuse or neglect. The group, called Children’s Rights, released the reports Thursday as part of a federal class-action lawsuit it brought against the state’s child welfare system in 2010. It asserts that children are mistreated at a high rate under state care, that they often bounce from one foster home to the next, and that they sometimes stay in the foster system for years. Approximately 1 in 6 who are reunited with their families return to foster care after further abuse or neglect, the group says. In several reports submitted by child welfare specialists, the group said the state’s Department of Children and Families is plagued by dysfunction, low staffing, and lax oversight. Link to Article

ID: 3-Year-Old Idaho Child Reunited With Father in Mexico

Aug 23, Miami Herald: A young girl whose custody case was ultimately decided by the Idaho Supreme Court traveled to Mexico earlier this week to begin living with a father she had never met before. Maria Ramirez, 3, flew to Mexico on Monday and was handed over to her father, Jesus Ramirez, to begin a new life with him and his family in Salamanca, a small town in central Mexico, according to officials with the Consulate of Mexico in Boise. In April, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a lower court erred in severing the man’s parental rights even though he had never met his daughter, initially came to the U.S. illegally and was barred from ever returning. The Idaho Department of Health and Human Services argued to have the father’s custody rights severed as the agency explored placement options for the child after officials removed the girl from the mother’s home. Mexican officials in Boise cheered the girl’s transfer to her father’s custody and the legal process that affirmed the rights of birth parents over questions of a parent’s immigration status. Link to Article  Comment by C. Enright: How can someone be reunited with a parent she had never met? This must be a very traumatic experience for this girl.

US: For Chinese-American Adoptees, Matters of Identity

Aug 23, NPR: Of the roughly 80,000 Chinese children adopted in the United States since 1979, almost all are girls, abandoned at birth by their parents because of China’s one-child policy, coupled with inheritance laws that favor boys. Waiting for them at this end was the pent-up parental longing of thousands of infertile couples, single women (and a few single men) and gay and lesbian couples. This is hardly unexplored territory, but until now most of the copious commentary on Chinese adoption has come from the parents’ point of view. Now some of the girls are old enough to speak for themselves, and Linda Goldstein Knowlton, a Hollywood producer and an adoptive mother herself, picks up their story in Somewhere Between, a warm-hearted if somewhat over-orchestrated documentary that gives voice to four teenaged adoptees from loving but very different homes. Link to Article

MI: Saginaw Woman Charged With Sexually Assaulting 6-Year-Old Boy Mentally Fit For Trial

Aug 22, Saginaw News: A Saginaw woman charged with sexually assaulting a 6-year-old boy is mentally fit for trial, a judge has ruled. Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank on Monday relied on a report from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti to determine that Jessica D. Nielson, 28, is mentally competent. Link to Article

CA: Senate Unanimously Passes Bill to Protect Child Actors

August 22, Los Angeles Times: The California Senate unanimously passed a bill today that would provide greater safeguards for child actors in Hollywood, moving the measure one step closer to adoption. The bill would require criminal background checks for talent managers, publicists, photographers and others in the entertainment industry who would have unsupervised access to young performers. It also would prohibit registered sex offenders from representing minors. Link to Article

CA: Social Workers Build Bridges to Find Homes for Foster Children Living on the Street

Aug 21, Los Angeles Times: L.A. County’s staying connected to juveniles on the street via Facebook, family ties and foot patrols and placing them when they’re ready. The Department of Children’s and Family Services doesn’t have enough famil y foster homes for parent-less adolescents. Unhappy teens who run away become wards of the Probation Department because they’re considered delinquents. The two agencies barely talk to one another, so those children languish on the streets and are often victimized by thieves, drug dealers and pimps. Four years ago, in the wake of a scandal over hundreds of unaccounted-for children the foster care agency agreed to try an unconventional approach, forming a small Runaway Outreach Unit that relies not on hauling kids in from the streets, but building trust to bring them back. “The old way wasn’t working,” said the unit’s leader, social worker Eric Ball. Since 2008, his team — using Facebook, family connections and foot patrols — has located 1,500 missing youths and eased 500 into independent living and out of foster care, he said. “The important thing is to make contact and begin to earn their trust,” Ball told me Saturday, from a crowded downtown community center, where his team had gathered hundreds of their teenage wards for a daylong conference on healthy living. “We’re trying to empower them,” Ball said. “Nobody likes being told what to do.” Link to Article

IN: Some Judges, Police Call Department of Child Services Child Abuse Hotline ‘Frustrating,’ ‘Inefficient’

Aug 21: IndyStar.com: Department of Child Services officials call the agency’s centralized child abuse hotlinea “model for other states,” “one of the most up-to-date and effective” in the nation. The hotline’s workers in Indianapolis answer calls promptly and effectively 24 hours a day, the state officials say, delivering consistent results for children in all of the state’s 92 counties. But local officials who have been using the centralized hotline since it went into effect in 2010 paint a different picture. They use descriptions such as “constant problem,” “very frustrating” and “inefficient.” “They do not seem to understand the issues that are actually going on in the field,” a Warrick County sheriff’s detective says. A Knox City police detective is more blunt: “Children are not getting the help they need.” Those comments are contained in responses to an informal survey conducted by Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, which he shared exclusively with The Indianapolis Star. Link to Article  See also: Link to Courier Press Article and Link to Indiana Public Radio Article

FL: Florida Turns Down $4.9 Million from Federal Government Designed to Strengthen Parenting

August 21,Tampa Bay Times: Kimberly Dudley says she is grateful for the agency Healthy Start, which sent an educator into her home to help her get off drugs and prevent her kids from being shipped to foster care. “If I didn’t have the program, I would be homeless with a premie,” said Dudley, 21, a Clearwater mother of two young children. Now the program is in danger. Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health turned down a $4.9 million federal grant that already has helped 84 Pinellas County families and hundreds more statewide. The department was forced to turn down the money after the Florida Legislature refused to accept it. Some state lawmakers were upset because the program is connected to the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Link to Article

FL: State’s DCF Removes Child Protective Investigation Function Away from Sheriff’s Office

Aug 20, Citrus Daily: The state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has taken child protective investigations away from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said the DCF’s move was totally unanticipated. “I never saw it coming,” said Dawsy. “I’m shocked.” The DCF has optioned to bring Citrus County’s child protective investigations (CPI) back in-house, effective as of Oct. 31. DCF’s precise reasoning is cloudy, but the state agency has said that the performance and measurable outcomes of the program under the Sheriff’s Office was never in question. The DCF exercised the exit clause in a one-year contract, signed earlier this year, to keep the program under the auspices of the Sheriff’s Office. After hearing the news, Sheriff Dawsy promised to make the transition of services as smooth as possible, although he admitted to worries about the safety of the county’s children. The Sheriff’s Office said today that the DCF’s decision in no way impacts the six other Florida sheriffs who currently perform the same CPI function. No additional info in article.

GA: Degarmo Publishes Book on Foster Parenting

Aug 20, Jackson Progress-Argus: John DeGarmo has worked as an English and drama teacher, managed a day care center, hosted various radio shows throughout both the United States and Australia, and even worked in the field of professional wrestling. He is currently serving as a media specialist at both Jasper County High and Middle schools. He recently earned his doctorate and he published his doctoral dissertation on the challenges that foster children face in public schools. “Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey,” according to DeGarmo, was about his own personal experiences with the foster care system. It takes actual events that have taken place in his first nine years as a foster family and puts them in writing. He uses the perspective of himself as the parent and the stories form from how each experience affected him and his own children. Link to Article

GA: Court Cases Show Challenge of Prosecuting Child Abuse

Aug 18, Augusta Chronicle: The challenges of prosecuting crimes against children were on full display the past two weeks in the Augusta judicial circuit. jurors delivered a partial acquittal of Corduray Scott, who was charged with fatally squeezing and shaking his 3-month-old son, Corduray Jr., in 2010. While convinced Scott was guilty of felony murder, they cleared him of killing the boy with malice. The week before in Columbia County, jurors deadlocked after 11 hours of deliberations could not produce a verdict in the case of Lawanda Concettes Tripp, a baby sitter accused in the 2009 death of a 22-month-old toddler. Former assistant district attorney Adam King said the prosecution walks into a trial with the jury’s sympathy for a child victim. But the advantage is limited – human nature makes it hard to believe someone could be so cold-hearted they would harm a child, King said. “That sympathy cuts both ways,” he said. The same can be said of the scientific and medical evidence. Link to Article

APPELLATE COURT CASES

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

The court held that because the trial court intended that the child should be allowed to maintain a relationship with the respondents-parents, it clearly erred in finding that termination was in the child’s best interests. Thus, the court vacated the termination order and remanded for further consideration of the best interest factors. In an order issued concurrently with its opinion, the court set a schedule for the proceedings on remand, and retained jurisdiction. In the consolidated appeals, both parents challenged the termination of their parental rights to their infant son (TM). The petitioner-DHS presented clear and convincing evidence that at least one statutory ground supported termination. However, the trial court did not properly consider TM’s placement with his paternal grandmother when deciding whether termination was in his best interests. The court noted that relative placement is relevant to the best interest analysis because the relative may be open to allowing the parent to maintain a relationship with the child, which may be in the child’s best interest even if the parent is not a fit full-time custodian. Full Text Opinion

MiPSAC WEB PAGE / ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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
These and previous CA&N News Articles can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles where you can subscribe to an abbreviated version of posts such as this one.

 

August 14-21: News Articles Legislative Updates and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect

RECENT CA&N NEWS ARTICLES

NE: Privatization Fails: Nebraska Tries Again To Reform Child Welfare

Aug 21, Center for Public Integrity: Across the board, lawmakers, foster parents and child advocates now say Nebraska’s privatization effort failed because it was ill-conceived, rushed, and inadequately funded. They also say often the caseworkers hired by the private companies had caseloads that were too heavy and in many cases did not have enough training to deal with the complexities of the welfare system. Said state Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha: “Ultimately, the initiative failed because there was never a strategic plan serving as the blueprint on how to reform the system. The entire episode became an experiment on what not to do when trying to reform state government.” It’s ridiculous to call it reform when we’re doing the exact same thing with just different people. That’s not a reform; it’s just a burden shift. We have to figure out how we’re going to do it differently.” Link to Lengthy and Detailed Article

OR: Vatican Win: Judge Says Priests Aren’t Employees

August 21, Associated Press: The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests. The plaintiffs tried to show that the accused molester and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions. The plaintiffs argued that the accused molester’s fealty to the Pope, the Vatican’s ability to promote priests, the Vatican’s laicization — or removal — process, and the ability to change priests’ training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests. “We believe that under further scrutiny,” plaintiff’s counsel said in a news release, “the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States.” The impact of Mosman’s ruling on other priest sexual abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican. Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can’t be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so. “This was likely filed more to make a political statement,” Laycock said. Link to Article; Or see: Link to Article in Detroit News

MI: Preschool Children at Risk for Stress After Seeing Domestic Violence and Another Traumatic Event

Aug 20, International Business Times: Researchers sampled 120 children between ages 4-6 who were exposed to domestic violence in the past two years. About 38 percent of the kids were faced with additional traumatic events, such as sexual assaults by family members, physical assaults or life-threatening illnesses. Those children had higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than the other children who were exposed to domestic violence. “Such findings draw attention to an at-risk sample of children who may be labeled as aggressive due to their behavior problems, but are in fact highly traumatized,” Sandra Graham-Bermann, the study’s lead author and professor of psychology and psychiatry. “It is especially important to accurately diagnose these children so they gain access to appropriate treatment services.” Link to Article

AZ: Catholic Diocese Misses Abuse Report Deadline

Aug 19, NECN.com: The Roman Catholic office overseeing parishes in Maricopa, Coconino, Yavapai and La Paz counties has missed its own deadline to publish a report detailing sexual abuse by priests. The Diocese of Phoenix promised to publish a comprehensive list of abusive clergy and a financial accounting by June 14. The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/NaJbto) reports that diocese officials are refusing to discuss why they missed their own deadline. The report is supposed to detail the church abuse scandal in Phoenix, where more than two dozen priests were either arrested or accused of sexual misconduct. The scandal erupted in 2002 with the release of diocesan files in Boston and is believed to have cost about $3.3 billion in settlements and verdicts nationwide. Link to Article

OR: Case in Adoption-Immigration SNAFU to Proceed

Aug 19, Seattle Times: A 21-year-old woman who was born in Mexico and adopted by a U.S. couple has received the go-ahead to sue the state of Oregon for mistakenly telling her parents that she automatically became a citizen when she was adopted. Link to Article

PA: Devon Case Shows How Religious Orders Evade Scrutiny in Priest Abuse Cases

Aug 19, Philadelphia Inquirer: “It is so much easier to deal with the dioceses than with the religious orders,” said Thomas S. Neuberger, a Delaware lawyer who has represented clergy-sex abuse victims in claims against the Wilmington Diocese, as well as two orders, the Norbertines and Oblates of St. Charles. Neuberger said the independents fiercely protect their members and their secrecy. “You are a made man when you join a religious order,” he said. “They will run interference for you for life.” Link to Article

VA: Virginia Beach Police May Consider Child Welfare Cases

Aug 18, The Virginian-Pilot: City police officials might consider a suggestion that they take over child welfare investigations of abuse and neglect, currently the responsibility of the city’s embattled Human Services Department. Chief Jim Cervera recently met with Human Services Director Bob Morin to discuss the idea, which was Morin’s, according to Deputy Chief Bill Dean. Dean said the department is open to the proposal but needs more information about its impact. “We’re amenable to considering anything to increase services to children who’ve been victimized in these crimes,” Dean said. Joron Moore-Planter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services, said state law would have to change for Beach police to oversee the unit. Link to Article

OK: Children’s Rights Filing Is Called Inflammatory

Aug 18, Tulsa World: A recent filing by a New York-based nonprofit organization in a federal class-action lawsuit concerning the state’s child-welfare system is inflammatory and inaccurate, attorneys for Oklahoma Department of Human Services officials argued Friday. The lawsuit, which alleged flaws and unsafe conditions in the state’s child-welfare system, was filed against various DHS officials in Tulsa federal court in 2008. A settlement reached in January led to a child-welfare improvement plan that is being overseen by an independent three-person panel. Attorneys for the sued DHS officials argued in an Aug. 3 filing that Children’s Rights must produce all documents with its unnamed sources so they can verify claims made in its attorney fee request. In response, Children’s Rights claimed in an Aug. 10 filing that DHS has offered no explanation of why the identities would help the court.  Link to Article

IL: Kids Behind Bars: Illinois Rethinks Juvenile Justice

Aug 18, NPR: A damning report [PDF] from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission called the state youth prison system an expensive failure. Its study showed that “well over 50 percent of youth” leaving the state’s facilities will go back to juvenile facilities — and others will head to adult corrections system. Many of the juveniles who ended up back in custody didn’t commit new crimes, but instead were found guilty of technical violations of a parole order, such as skipping school and staying out late. While the push to change the culture of Illinois’ juvenile justice system may help reduce the number of kids who end up in facilities, it is also tied to the state’s deep budget woes. In 2010, the Illinois auditor general said [PDF] that it costs an average of $86,861 a year to keep a juvenile in Illinois’ Youth Centers – far more than for community-based strategies. That point is underscored in a 2011 report released by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which shows a dramatic difference nationwide between the average annual cost for housing a juvenile compared with community-based programs and public college tuition. Link to Article

PA: Penn State to Host National Child Sex-Abuse Panel

Aug 15, Detroit News: Penn State announced Wednesday that it will host a national child sex-abuse conference this fall, the latest in a series of initiatives designed to raise awareness of the issue and help the university recover from a devastating molestation scandal. The gathering scheduled for Oct. 29-30 in State College will feature academic and clinical experts on childhood molestation and trauma, as well as remarks by retired boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard and former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse. “Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that,” university President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. Link to Article

MI: Disabled Child’s Family Worried About Lost Services

Aug 15, Oakland Press: When he was six weeks old, Ben Zentz was the victim of “shaken baby syndrome,” leaving him with severe lifelong disabilities. Though he will turn 9 years old on Aug. 16, his cognitive age is about 12 months. He needs constant care, and as a result of being shaken to the point his skull was fractured, Ben has cerebral palsy, is blind and has a seizure disorder, said his adoptive mother, Debi Zentz. Debi and her husband, Phil, of Shelby Township adopted Ben when he was two. Many people with disabilities fear they might lose services because of proposed Medicaid cuts under an austere plan by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan just was named as vice presidential candidate by Mitt Romney. Federal funds provide money for CMH budgets in Michigan through Medicaid. Ben receives medical care under Children’s Special Healthcare, funded by CMH. The Zentzes worry Ben will lose any gains he has made because Macomb County Community Mental Health basically has eliminated most of his therapies. Link to Article

PA: Prosecutors: Statute of Limitations Doesn’t Apply in Case Against Tim Curley, Gary Schultz

Aug 17, Centre Daily Times: State prosecutors are arguing that the 10-year statute of limitations for failure to report child abuse charges that Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are facing doesn’t apply in this case. “To date, (d)efendants still have not notified the proper authorities that they had information that Sandusky was abusing children,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed in Dauphin County court Wednesday. Attorneys for the former Penn State administrators argue the statute has passed, because the incident it applies to — when Mike McQueary found Jerry Sandusky naked in a campus shower with a boy — took place in February 2001. In the latest court filing, the prosecution compares the offense to someone failing to register as a sex offender with state police.  Link to Article

US: Adoption, Destiny and Magical Thinking

August 15, New York Times: A doctoral student at Northwestern University interviewed 38 adoptive parents. It turns out that most of the parents had told her that their children had been brought to them by destiny. Adoptive parents don’t have exclusive rights to the story of boy and girl meet baby, boy and girl fall in love with baby, boy and girl think they were meant to be with baby. Many birth parents also feel their children were destined to be in their lives. But when your child doesn’t come to you through “natural” means, the possibility of an intervening force — God, karma, destiny — becomes more salient. Adoptive parents don’t have as much control over their situation as other parents. They often adopt in response to infertility, and the adoption process is long and difficult. According to one adoptive mother, “The planets have to align.”Link to Article

AZ: Steven And Roger Ham, Gay Arizona Fathers Of 12 Adopted Children, Are Officially A Family After Legal Delays

Aug 14, Huffington Post: Though they reside in a state where same-sex couples can’t wed or adopt, two Arizona-based gay fathers are making national headlines after successfully challenging a series of legal restrictions in becoming an official family despite the odds. After an intense legal process and a little help from Washington state-based attorney Shelly Krebs, each of the 12 children now have both men’s names on their birth certificates as of July 13 — not an easy task in a state where same-sex partners are usually barred from adopting their partner’s children. Link to Article

US: One Baby, Two Moms: a Rise in Open Adoptions

Aug 14, Wall Street Journal: A three-decade study called the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project tracked 720 people—adopting parents, children and birth mothers—and found all parties involved in an open adoption usually found it more satisfying than families involved in closed adoptions. Openness in adoption has been spreading across the U.S. since the 1980s, when agencies started brokering contact between birth and adoptive families. Birth families were demanding a greater role in choosing an adoptive family for their babies, and birth mothers had more clout in the negotiating process as the stigma of having child out of wedlock eased.
Today, there is some degree of contact in about 95% of adoptions, according to a study published in March by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute in New York, a nonprofit focused on adoption policy and practice. That is up from 79% in 1999 and about 36% in the late 1980s. Link to Article

MI: Parents Spank, Slap Kids in Public More Often Than Thought

Aug 7, Health Day New: Parents may resort to physical means of admonishing their kids in public spaces much more frequently than they admit to in surveys, a new study suggests.
In another finding, the research showed that fathers tended to more often dole out hugs versus spankings to their kids when out in public. The study, from a team at Michigan State University, is published in the current issue of Behavior and Social Issues. “I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers,” study leader Kathy Stansbury, trained psychologist and associate professor in Michigan State University’s department of human development and family studies, said in a university news release. “I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.” Link to Article

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES 

Senate Bill 1232 (2012): Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act

Adds a new act requiring provision of remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and to reunify the child with the Indian family. Active efforts require engaging the Indian child, child’s parents, tribe, extended family members, and individual Indian caregivers through the utilization of culturally appropriate services and in collaboration with the parent or child’s Indian tribes and Indian social services agencies. Many other changes are included in the new statute. Link to Bill Status Page

House Bill 5812 (2012)

Amends MCL 722, Child Protection Law to modify the best interest of the child criteria relating to child abuse and neglect. Link to Bill Status Page

Senate Bill 0989 (2012)

The bill would amend the Child Custody Act to prohibit a court from granting child custody or parenting time to a person required to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) for an offense that would make custody or parenting time contrary to the child’s best interests or an offense in which the victim was a child, or if the person had been convicted of a specific offense listed in the bill. The bill also would:

  • Prohibit a person from being granted custody of or parenting time with a child if anyone in the person’s household were required to register under SORA for a felony in which the victim was a child or an offense that would make custody or parenting time contrary to the child’s best interests.
  • Allow a court to grant custody or parenting time despite these prohibitions if there would be no significant risk to the child, and if the other parent and the child (if old enough) consented.
  • Create a rebuttable presumption that there would be a significant risk to the child from unsupervised contact with an individual who was required to register under SORA for a felony in which the victim was a child.
  • Require the court to determine if the child’s other parent was a fit parent and was making the custody or parenting time decision in the best interests of the child.
    Link to Bill Status Page
    Comment by C. Enright: At last a bill to reverse the case I love to hate: DeVormer v DeVormer where a father was granted parenting time even though he had been convicted of molesting his son’s step sibling. Maybe, this time it will pass.

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Greenhoe v. Slater

Plaintiff-husband requested a change of custody, seeking sole legal and primary physical custody for himself. In the motion, he alleged that CPS had alerted him to allegations of physical abuse of the child by defendant-mother, that her home had been officially tagged as unsafe, and that she was residing with her abusive boyfriend, against whom she had obtained a PPO, but which she did not enforce. The matter was then referred to the FOC, who recommended that joint legal and physical custody be maintained, but that defendant’s parenting time be limited and supervised. She objected to the proposal, and a hearing was held, following which the trial court found that plaintiff had established by clear and convincing evidence that the FOC recommendation was appropriate. Defendant argued that the trial court did not satisfy its duty to articulate specific findings concerning each of the statutory best-interest factors. The trial court admitted on the record that it failed to make findings and conclusions addressing the remainder of the factors. “A trial court must render factual findings and conclusions with regard to each best interest factor, or at least render a finding regarding its applicability.” “The remedy when a trial court fails to make reviewable findings on the record, as the trial court failed to do here, is a remand for a new child custody hearing.” Full Text Opinion

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

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision that statutory grounds existed to terminate both respondents-parents’ parental rights to their three children. But, the court held that the trial court did not consider how the children’s placement with relatives affected whether termination was in their best interests and thus the record was inadequate for purposes of the best interests determination. The court vacated the trial court’s best interests decision and remanded the case to the trial court to consider the issue. The proceedings on remand were limited to this issue and the court ordered a specific time frame for the remand proceedings. Full Text Opinion

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
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