Category Archives: Legislative Updates

July 18-24: CA&N News Articles

July 18-24: CA&N News Articles

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

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES 

US: Foster Kids Learn Resilience from Compassion

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

PA: Officials Weigh In On Changes To Child Abuse Law

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

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

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

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

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

KY: Files Provide Unprecedented Look at Child Abuse in Kentucky

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

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

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

CA: New Safeguards for Children Moving Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NE: Subsidies End for Two Omaha Child Care Centers

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

PA: Miss America Speaks To Children of Incarcerated Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MT: Adopted Kids’ Ranch in Montana Denied License

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

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

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

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

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

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

MO: Undocumented Immigrant Mother Loses Adoption Battle

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

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

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

 

ND: FBI Victim Specialists Urge Teamwork on Indian Cases

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

US: Adopted From China: Finding Identity Through Heritage

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

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

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

MI: Grosse Pointe Choir Director May Face Firing

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

AZ: Keeping Kids Connected With Their Jailed Parents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US: Deportation Pyramid Illustrates Effects Of Deportation On Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN: Purdue Study Says Child Abuse Can Increase Cancer Risk

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

US: Securing Legal Ties for Children Living in LGBT Families

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

AZ: Preschool Services Help At-Risk Parents, Children

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

US: Oxygen Media Study Reveals Women Say Yes to Adoption

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

US: Child Abuse Rises When Economy Sags: Study

Risk is highest in families losing their homes

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

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

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

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

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

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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

Senate Bill 1112 as passed by the State Senate:

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

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

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

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

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

APPELLATE COURT CASES

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

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

Senate Bill 596 (Passed by the Senate)

Senate Bill 596 (Passed by the Senate) would amend the Michigan Penal Code, MCL 750.520d & 750.520e to eliminate the maximum age of a student in third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) violations involving a student and a school official, employee, contractor, or volunteer or a government employee providing service to a school, district, or intermediate school district (ISD). Link to Bill Status Page

Senate Bills 0246 and 0247

Senate Bills 0246 and 0247 amend the Juvenile Code and the Mental Health Code, respectively, to do the following regarding juveniles subject to a delinquency petition:

– Establish a presumption of competence to proceed for a juvenile who was 10 years of age or older, and a presumption of incompetence for a juvenile who was under 10.

– Allow a court to order, or a party to request, a competency evaluation to determine whether a juvenile was incompetent to proceed if he or she were charged as a juvenile in court.

– Establish standards for conducting a competency evaluation of a juvenile, including a requirement that an evaluation be conducted by a qualified forensic mental health examiner.

Approved by governor June 25th; assigned PA 0247’12 with immediate effect. Link to Bill Page

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

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

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

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES 

LA: Sen. Mary Landrieu Presses for Improved Adoption Procedures

June 17, Times-Picayune: A labor, health and human services, and education spending bill approved Thursday by the US Senate Appropriations Committee encourages HHS to focus new federal grants on strengthening post-adoption services and recruiting adoptive parents for minority children, older child adoption and children with special needs. The bill also includes what Landrieu says is robust funding for programs such as Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG) and the Adoption Incentives program. “I believe that every child deserves a loving, safe and permanent home and that promoting adoption must be a national focus,” said Landrieu, who has two adopted children. Landrieu said the bill also refocuses federal efforts into an area where it is supposed to be all along — helping children in long-term foster care situations get adopted by loving parents. No additional info in article

FL: Hillsborough’s New Child Protection Director Readies for July 1 Takeover

June 17, Tampa Bay Times: Shirley’s employer, Eckerd Community Alternatives/Hillsborough, is replacing Hillsborough Kids Inc., the nonprofit agency that for a decade was the county’s lead child protection agency for the state Department of Children and Families. Overshadowing the change were the nine deaths in two years of children under Hillsborough Kids’ supervision. Link to Article

Comment by C. Enright: The beauty of privatization: when the contractor screws up and nine kids die, just change contractors – problem solved.

AZ: Child Protective Services Struggling to Fill Jobs

June 15, AZFamily.com: Sweeping changes are coming to the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Child Protective Services division. The department has seen a massive increase in tips from the public on its hotline. “That’s good for the safety of children, but our system is not currently configured to handle that kind of volume,” said Clarence Carter, director of CPS and the Department of Economic Security. The department currently has 785 employees, after a number of case workers resigned in the past few months. There are currently around 30 job openings, and the department loses an average of nearly 30% of its work force each year, which is higher than the national average for similar offices. “The things that people can imagine to do to a child are absolutely unconscionable,” said Carter, “this is one of the most difficult jobs in public service.” Link to Article

US: Strange Reason Found For Newborns’ Positive Pot Test

June 14, MSNBC: Certain soaps used to wash babies shortly after birth may cause the baby to test positive for marijuana on some newborn screening tests, a new study suggests. A screening test that indicates a baby has been exposed to marijuana can lead to the involvement of social services, and accusations of child abuse, the researchers said. Given these consequences, it is important for health-care providers and laboratory staffs to be aware that these soaps may lead to a positive test for marijuana, and to consider confirming positive tests with a more sensitive method, the researchers said. Link to Article

US: Catholic Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits

June 14, New York Times: While the first criminal trial of a Roman Catholic church official accused of covering up child sexual abuse has drawn national attention to Philadelphia, the church has been quietly engaged in equally consequential battles over abuse, not in courtrooms but in state legislatures around the country. The fights concern proposals to loosen statutes of limitations, which impose deadlines on when victims can bring civil suits or prosecutors can press charges. These time limits, set state by state, have held down the number of criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits against all kinds of people accused of child abuse — not just clergy members, but also teachers, youth counselors and family members accused of incest.
Victims and their advocates are pushing legislators to lengthen the limits or abolish them altogether, and to open temporary “windows” during which victims can file lawsuits no matter how long after the alleged abuse occurred. The Catholic Church has successfully beaten back such proposals in many states, arguing that it is difficult to get reliable evidence when decades have passed and that the changes seem more aimed at bankrupting the church than easing the pain of victims. Link to article

OK: DHS Revises Child Services Improvement Plan

June 14, Enid News: Oklahoma DHS on Thursday released its revisions to a plan to improve child welfare services that is part of the settlement of a lawsuit that alleged mistreatment of children in state custody. The revisions to the so-called Pinnacle Plan include placing all children younger than 2 in a family-like setting rather than a group shelter by Dec. 31 and establishing a training program for DHS staff by July 1, 2013, rather than Sept. 1. The plan is part of a January settlement agreement with the New York-based children’s advocacy group Children’s Rights, which sued over DHS’ treatment of foster children. Link to Article

NC: ACLU: NC adoption Laws Unconstitutional

June 13, MyFox8.com: The ACLU sued North Carolina on Wednesday to change state adoption laws that they argue unconstitutionally prevent unmarried couples from adopting their partners’ children. The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to rule that the N.C. Supreme Court’s ruling violated their constitutional rights and to order that the defendants stop enforcing the prohibition of second-parent adoptions. ACLU legal director Chris Brook said the N.C. Supreme Court in 2010 banned second-parent adoptions for unmarried couples, whether straight or gay. That ruling prevents those couples from jointly adopting children. The ACLU lawsuit focused on same-sex couples, saying that second-parent adoptions are the only way a North Carolina family with gay or lesbian parents can ensure that both parents have a legal relationship with their child. “Children who are prevented from having such a legally recognized relationship with both parents suffer numerous deprivations as a result, including exclusion from private health insurance benefits, public health benefits, veterans’ benefits, disability benefits and Social Security benefits,” the lawsuit said. Link to Article

MI: Center for Family Health Cutting State Ties to Maternal Infant Program; Child Advocacy Center to Move

June 13, MLive.com: The Center for Family Health in Jackson MI will cut ties with the state on the Maternal Infant Health Program it offers beginning in mid-July. In addition, the Child Advocacy Center run by the Department of Human Services will be moving out of the donated space at the Center late August. Molly Kaser from the Center for Family Health said services and referrals for maternal infant care to the Jackson County Health Department, which offers a similar program, will still be available. Jackson County Health Department Director Ted Westmeier is anticipating the county will see a heavy increase in demand once the Center for Family Health ends its program. He warned commissioners that the county health department may need more funds in 2013 to keep up with the anticipated demand. Jackson County DHS Director Jerome Colwell told commissioners the DHS is currently looking for another location for when it moves out the Center for Family Health in August. Link to Article

NJ: Supporters, Critics Debate N.J. Bill Linking Foster Care to Religion

June 13, The Record: A bill that would make religion a determining factor in foster care and adoption placement has been slammed by critics who say it would limit the pool of families to care for children and could restrict parenting rights for gays. Link to Article
See the Legislative Updates section below. Michigan has a bill establishing similar rights for child placing agencies in Michigan.

Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse And Helping Victims Recover

June 13, The Diane Rehm Show/NPR: The highly publicized trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sex abuse is escalating attention to the problem. Last Sunday, The New York Times published a piece on alleged incidents at a prestigious private school in New York City. Joining me to talk about child sex abuse, Frank Cervone of the Support Center for Child Advocates, Dr. Liza Gold, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center. Joining us from a studio at NPR in New York, Dr. Richard Gartner. Link to Show, Transcript or Recording
Most notable about this otherwise mundane discussion of child sexual abuse is the first comment in the Comments section:
Like so many other Americans, I count on The Diane Rehm Show to be a voice of reason, cutting through the fog of hype and hysteria that can cloud good judgment about the most important issues of our time. The problem of child sexual abuse is serious and real. But the solutions often have been phony. So here’s what I’m hoping I *won’t* hear this morning, and some links to more details:
–Hyped, phony statistics. There’s a statistic about child sexual abuse that is scary, ubiquitous – and wrong. I’ll be disappointed if it is used by a guest and even more disappointed if it is presented as fact in Ms. Rehm’s intro. Details are in our column for the website of the trade journal Youth Today: http://bit.ly/vchxSL
–Calls to require even more people to report their slightest suspicion of child abuse to authorities. Such laws have been around for more than four decades, yet there is not a shred of evidence that they actually make children safer, and considerable evidence that they do harm. Details here: http://bit.ly/s0EBF2
–Various claims about Pennsylvania supposedly investigating and substantiating fewer allegations of child abuse than other states. Again, not true; details here: http://bit.ly/uIL0XP
–A general call for families to instill fear in their children at every turn. Details are in this post to my organization’s child welfare blog: http://bit.ly/z50hgk
We can curb child sexual abuse in America – that’s clear from the fact that the rate of child sexual abuse actually has sharply declined in recent decades. But real solutions require putting children’s needs ahead of phony, feel-good remedies that pander to adult self-indulgence.
Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.org

US: After Ousting CEO Over Abuse Allegations, AAU Mandates Child Protection Measures

June 12, Forbes: The Amateur Athletic Union is finally getting in step with most youth sports organizations and instituting child-protection measures that will prevent, say, the organization’s CEO from preying on children, and, depending on if you believe his innocence, prevent, say, the organization’s CEO of being in a position where he could be falsely accused of preying on any of the AAU’s 500,000 child participants. Link to Article

MD/TX: Girl Scouts Program Helps Girls with Mothers in Prison

June 12, Yahoo Shine: Girl Scout Troop 1500 does all the usual things: Sells cookies, goes on camping trips, and earns merit badges. But once a month the troop, which is based in Austin, Texas, does something out of the ordinary: The girls take an hour-long trip to Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, so the troop members can visit their mothers behind bars. The program purpose is to “deter girls from making decisions that would land them in prison. It also focuses on developing the mother-daughter bond. More than 1.5 million children have a parent behind bars, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 75% of all incarcerated women are also mothers, many of them single. Said Spiro, “These kids aren’t in control of their situations. There are all these children who are essentially being punished for crimes that they did not commit.” Link to Article

US: Eliminating Barriers to Interstate Adoption

June 10, Cleveland Plain Dealer: Why is it easier for an American family to adopt a child from across the world than adopt a foster child across a state line? State Department data show that in fiscal 2010, Americans adopted 11,058 children from other countries. By contrast, according to data from the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Americans adopted just 527 children from foster care across state lines that same year. Link to Article

RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE 

Title: Performance Audit of Youth Transitioning from Foster Care to Self-Sufficiency.

February 2012, Michigan Office of the Auditor General
Abstract: This report presents the findings of an audit that assessed the effectiveness of the Michigan Department of Human Services’ (DHS’s) efforts to evaluate services provided to youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency, efforts to ensure the propriety and reasonableness of discretionary payments and post-secondary educational assistance payments made on behalf of youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency, and efforts to ensure that training for caseworkers is tailored to address youth transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency. The audit was conducted from May through August 2011 and generally covered the period October 1, 2008 through May 31, 2011. Findings indicate DHS was not effective in evaluating services provided to youth and had not developed or implemented a comprehensive process to evaluate the outcome and value of the services, was moderately effective in ensuring the propriety and reasonableness of discretionary payments and post-secondary educational assistance payments, had not fully established guidance for discretionary payments on behalf of transiting youth using youth in transition resources, and was effective in providing training. Five recommendations are made for improving services. Link to pdf Audit Report

Title: MiTEAM: Michigan’s Child Welfare Practice Model.

2012, Michigan Dept. of Child Welfare  Link to Agency Web Site
This paper explains MiTeam, Michigan’s child welfare practice model that is designed to improve family engagement practices and establish a unified approach that helps to provide for consistency in practice, clarify roles and expectations for staff, inform policy and training, explain how child welfare interventions and services are delivered, focus reform efforts on utilizing accepted principles of good social work practice, and encourage family driven solutions. Information is provided on the emphasis of teaming, engagement, assessment, and mentoring in MiTeam, key outcomes expected of the MiTeam model, and elements of MiTeam practice. Components of Family Team Meetings are listed, and the impact of MiTeam implementation on children, youth, families, and caregivers is explained. The final section reviews practice skills that will be required of processionals at all levels of the child welfare system and the benefits expected for all involved in the child welfare system. Appendices include outcome indicators and principles of MiTeam, the MiTeam implementation plan and timeline, guidelines for the implementation of Family Team Meetings, and the concurrent permanency planning process. Link to Word Document of Practice Model

LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE 

Meeting the Developmental Needs of Infant and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System

[Webinar slides and recording].
2012, ZERO TO THREE. Child Welfare Information Gateway: This Call to Action represents the collective vision of leading child welfare and early childhood development organizations on the important steps that can and should be taken in policies, programs, and practices to address the needs of vulnerable infants and toddlers who come to the attention of the child welfare system. The policy agenda is intended to provide a starting point for policymakers at all levels of government in creating a response to these special needs. It first presents the compelling evidence for addressing the needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system, and then suggests key elements of a developmental approach for this vulnerable population. Organizations joining with ZERO TO THREE to create the policy agenda and urge action include American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, and Children’s Defense Fund. Link to Webinar and Slides

Meeting the Special Needs of Foster Children in Child Care.

2012University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. Division of Community Research. Project Play: Children can benefit from attachment to more than one person. This means that secure attachments with teachers or caregivers can be helpful for young children. Researchers have found that in a child care setting, babies who are securely attached to a caregiver explore, play, and interact better than babies whose teachers/caregivers change frequently. These important relationships develop over time, and cannot fully develop if the child experiences frequent disruptions in child care providers. When you provide sensitive care giving, you are making an important difference in the life of a foster child! Link to pdf Report

Prenatal Substance Exposure: Fact Sheet

Mar 2012, National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center: In the United States, a risk factor for poor behavioral and developmental outcomes among children is prenatal exposure to substance use. Outcome studies of drug use among pregnant women continue to grow as an awareness of the consequences increase and drug epidemics spread. Existing studies have found that a number of factors contribute to substance use among pregnant women including environmental and familial triggers, which consequently have an effect on the development of a child. Fact Sheet includes a discussion about the contributing factors of substance use among pregnant women, its consequences, and possible paths to address the problem. Link to pdf Fact Sheet

The Characteristics and Circumstances of Teen Fathers: At the Birth of Their First Child and Beyond

June 2012, Child Trends: The negative consequences associated with early parenting are well documented, although much more is known about both the circumstances and consequences of teen parenthood for women than it is for men. To support teen fathers and to make male involvement more central to current pregnancy prevention approaches, as well as to inform father engagement and child support efforts, it is important to understand who becomes a teen father and what their trajectories are after they become parents. Our results suggest that many teen fathers go on to have more children by the time they reach their early twenties and many are not living with their children by this time. Further, some men who had fathered children in their teens go on to have more children with different women by young adulthood. Prevention and intervention efforts for teen parents may therefore want to target both men and women, and address issues such as repeat teen pregnancy and multiple-partner fertility. Research indicates that many men who have children in their teens hope to be good fathers. Taking a closer look at teen fathers’ unique circumstances and experiences may help to prevent early fatherhood and subsequent teen births, especially with different partners, and may better equip the current generation of teen fathers with the parenting skills they need to succeed. Link to pdf Report

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES 

Senate Bill 557, now Public Act 0159 of 2012

Enacted the “Revocation of Paternity Act” to allow various parties to bring an action to determine that a presumed father is not a child’s father or an action to set aside an acknowledgment of parentage or an order of filiation. The bill does the following:
— Allows a child’s mother, presumed father, or alleged father, or the Department of Human Services, to file an action to determine that the child was born out of wedlock for the purpose of establishing paternity, under various sets of criteria.
— Allows an action to revoke an acknowledgment of parentage to be brought by the child’s mother, the acknowledged father, an alleged father, or a prosecuting attorney.
— Allows an action to set aside an order of filiation to be brought by the affiliated father, the mother, or an alleged father, if the affiliated father failed to participate in the court proceedings that determined filiation.
— Allows a court to deny an order if it would not be in the child’s best interests; and specifies factors the court may consider.
— Requires the court to order the parties to participate in and pay for blood or tissue typing or DNA identification profiling; and provides that the results are not binding on the court.
— Requires an action to be brought before a child is three years old (or within one year after the Act took effect); and allows the court to extend the deadline under certain circumstances.
Link to SB 0557 Bill Status Page

House Bill 5763: Introduced in the House: Adds the following language to current child placement statutes:

A child placing agency is not required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. A state or local government entity may not deny a child placing agency a grant, contract, or participation in a government program because of the child placing agency’s objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, facilitating, referring, or participating in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies. Refusal by a child placing agency to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement that violates the child placing agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies does not constitute a determination that the proposed adoption is not in the best interests of the adoptee. Link to Bill Status Page

APPELLATE COURT CASES

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re Gillies/Kaczor

The court held that the trial court did not clearly err in exercising jurisdiction over the respondent-mother’s minor children and making them temporary wards of the court. The appellate Court held that it was appropriate for the Trial Court to take jurisdiction of the minor children. Even though the mother kicked the her husband out of the house when his stepdaughter disclosed sexual abuse by the father to her because the mother did not report the disclosure to authorities and permitted contact of the father with his biological daughter, thus placing her at risk of sexual abuse. Under the doctrine of anticipatory neglect, the trial court could also exercise jurisdiction over the stepdaughter whom the mother had protected. . Full Text Opinion

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

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

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

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 600-9696
cenright@ymail.com
Secretary,
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: https://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles

RECENT NEWS ARTICLES

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

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

MI: Michigan Bills Would Extend Biological Dads’ Rights

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

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

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

MI: In Wake Of Sandusky Scandal, Questions About Laws

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

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

MI: 4 Of 190 Child Predators Caught Were From MI

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

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

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

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

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

MI: Feds Break International Child Porn Operation

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

OH: For Former Foster Children, Mentors Make the Difference

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

— 25 percent are incarcerated within the first two years;

— 20 percent become homeless;

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

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

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

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

US: House Acts on International Child Support Treaty

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

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

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

Parental Abuse, Neglect Linked to Increased Skin Cancer Risk

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

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Comments?  

See also:

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

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

A CROSS POST:

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

See Below for the link:

Original Post:

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

Response:

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

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

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

MICHIGAN COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM REASSESSMENT August 2005

RESOURCES WITH ONGOING VALUE

Juvenile Collateral Consequences in the State of Michigan

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE 

Representing LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Systems.

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

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

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

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Ethics Opinion on Adoption.

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

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

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

LEGISLATIVE UPDATES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APPELLATE COURT CASES

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

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