Some recent media articles and resources relating to child abuse and neglect. If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block.
These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community. MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles. They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare.
Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI 48642
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
This and previous posts can be found at: http://www.mipsac.org/category/can-articles
RECENT MEDIA ARTICLES
Infant’s Death Under Investigation
Apr 9, Sentinel-Standard.com: The Ionia County Prosecutor’s Office is waiting for an autopsy report in the death of a 3-month-old Portland boy, who allegedly died from “non-natural injuries” in March. Court documents say the infant was taken to Sparrow Ionia Hospital with “life-threatening injuries” on March 24. The attending physician stated that the injuries were inconsistent with the father’s explanation, and the injuries appeared to be “non-accidental and consistent with child abuse and neglect.” The infant died on March 25. The document also reports that some of the injuries happened several weeks before the infant was taken to the hospital. The Department of Human Services filed a petition to the probate court on March 26, requesting that the deceased child’s twin brother be removed from the care of the parents. The request was granted. According to court documents, the twin sustained a bucket handle fracture on the left lower leg. Link to Article
Young Adults Now Can Stay in Foster Care Until Age 21
Apr 8, StateNews.com: For the approximately 150 students who came to MSU from foster care, adjusting to college life without the support of a family can be difficult, but with help from a new state program, things might get easier. The new Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care program, which changed the age young adults can stay under foster care from 18 to 21, went into effect April 2. Link to Article
US: Welfare Limits Left Poor Adrift as Recession Hit
April 8, New York Times: The old program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, dates from the New Deal; it gave states unlimited matching funds and offered poor families extensive rights, with few requirements and no time limits. The new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, created time limits and work rules, capped federal spending and allowed states to turn poor families away. “My take on it was the states would push people off and not let them back on, and that’s just what they did,” said Peter B. Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University who resigned from the Clinton administration to protest the law. “It’s been even worse than I thought it would be.” Link to article
Detectives Investigate How Croswell Baby Was Injured
Apr 7, Huron Daily Tribune: Detectives from the Michigan State Police post in Caro are investigating how a 4-month-old Croswell child sustained serious injuries. State police report the child was taken by ambulance Monday to a Port Huron hospital with severe head trauma. The child was then transported by medical helicopter to Detroit Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan where he remains in critical condition. “The investigation revealed that the child sustained severe injuries consistent with being shaken,” according to the press release from the state police. “No arrests have been made as of yet.” The allegations of possible child abuse remain under investigation. Link to Article
Chief Left Bruise, Bump on 8-Year-Old Autistic Boy Who Left School Playground
Apr 6, MLive.com: Kristen Kolodie imagines if she treated her 8-year-old autistic son the way she said the Jonesville police chief did, the consequence might be serious. “You would arrest me for child abuse,” she said she told the chief last week. She talked to Chief Brian Corbett after she said he “whacked” her son, Eli, with a baton on the ankle and the shin on March 27 as Eli was sitting in the back of a police car. The boy had left school grounds during the school day and was yelling, screaming and kicking, she said. To return him to class at Emily B. Williams Elementary School on Adrian Street, Eli, then calmer, was handcuffed, she said Thursday from a Hillsdale music store and coffee shop. Kolodie and her husband, Mike, were meeting with other Hillsdale County parents of children with autism or special needs. They want to prevent this from happening in the future. Kolodie complained to the village about the treatment of her son, and Corbett has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation, according to a Tuesday statement from the village manager. Link to Article
Macomb County’s Care House hopes to turn tide on child abuse VIDEO
Apr 05, Macomb Daily: As the nation recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, Macomb County boasts a top-notch child abuse prevention program based on a proven national model. The three-hour training session, provided by the only three qualified educators in the county — and among just 20 in Michigan — may soon be offered by Care House to faculty at Macomb County public and charter schools. Link to Article
Adoption Credit is Not Well Known
Apr 5, Detroit Free Press: The tax break for adoption costs isn’t well-known, even among families who have adopted children. People who adopt are emotionally focused on the joy — and challenges — of building a family and they’re not generally studying the tax code. Link to Article
Saginaw Juvenile Judge Says Increasing Foster Care Fees Could Cost Saginaw $100,000
Apr 5, Saginaw News: In a move that would be contrary to Saginaw County Circuit Court Juvenile Division Judge Faye M. Harrison’s wishes, private foster care placement agencies could receive a raise. Agencies that administer and monitor foster care placement currently earn $37.50 per child per day — the rate was $17.50 four years ago and state budget planners may increase the fee to $47.50, Harrison said. She said that increase does nothing to improve the current services and in no way benefits foster care children or their caretakers. Saginaw County has 289 children in foster care and 84 are placed through private agencies, Like Holy Cross Children’s Services in Saginaw and Lutheran Family Services, Harrison said. “We’ve really cut the number” in child care, she said. “We’re making a big push to keep kids in their homes if we can.” The state is making a push to transfer foster care placement and supervision to private agencies. The cost increase would be offset at the state level initially, so many counties aren’t concerned with the extra cost, but long-term Harrison is concerned that could change. Link to Article
Layla Still Serious; DHS Takes Action. Hurt Baby’s Dad Has Past Child Abuse Conviction
Apr 4, Wood TV 8: A five-month-old girl injured in what authorities say is a case of abuse remains in the hospital in serious. Baby Layla’s father, Ryan Kupres, has not been charged with anything, and police aren’t officially calling him a suspect. Kupres spent a year in jail, and nearly 18 months on probation after being convicted in 2009 of abusing his then-infant son. Baby Layla had a head injury and a broken ankle, as well as two broken legs and two broken arms. Monday, the Department of Human Services started the process that would take away Kupres’ visitation rights with his son and parental rights of Layla. The petition is also seeking to terminate Layla’s mother’s rights, as well. Court documents say Layla’s mom knew that Kupres had a past history of abusing his child and put Layla at “unreasonable risk of harm.” The documents also say Layla’s mom “continues to disbelieve that Ryan would cause injury to Layla.” Link to Article
Two Charges Dropped Against Alleged ‘Baby Kate’ Abductor
Apr 4, MLive.com: Two charges against Sean Michael Phillips, who allegedly abducted his daughter Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips nine months ago, have been dropped. The charges against Phillips for parental kidnapping and custody interference were dropped by Mason County prosecutors. Phillips, 21, of Victory Township, is still charged with one count of unlawful imprisonment, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. After being postponed twice, Phillips’ trial begins April 16 at the Mason County Courthouse. Link to Article
MO: Kansas City abuse case decision expected to center on ‘mandated reporter’ statute
April 3, National Catholic Reporter: The first criminal case against a Catholic bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse scandal is expected to take a pivotal turn this week, as a county judge decides whether Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, can be tried on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse. Central to the decision will be the question of whether Finn can be considered a “mandated reporter” in the case. Link to Article
RESOURCES WITH TIME LIMITED VALUE
2012 Michigan Teen Conference! Take Charge of Your Journey
Youth ages 14 – 21 who are in foster care or independent living are invited to the annual teen conference at Ferris State University on June 19-20. Request YIT funds now for youth registration fees. Click here for cost and registration information.
Achieving Permanency in Child Protection Proceedings: The “Yellow Book” Training
Thursday, Jul 26 at 9 AM EDT at the Hall of Justice, 925 West Ottawa, Lansing, 48915.
The book titled Guidelines for Achieving Permanency in Child Protection Proceedings, more commonly referred to as the “Yellow Book,” explains the specific responsibilities of each participant in child welfare proceedings at each stage of a case. This one-day training is for private agency and DHS child welfare caseworkers whose work involves using the Yellow Book. Also, at the end of the training, caseworkers will understand the purpose of each child protective hearing and the role of the various child welfare professionals in those hearings. Target Audience: Judges, referees, attorneys for children and parents, and caseworkers for the Michigan DHS, tribes, and private agencies. Link to Training Information
Telling a Story: Trial Skills for the Child Welfare Lawyer
Marvin Ventrell, Director, Juvenile Law Society. Thursday, Aug 16 at 9 AM EDT: This training will give the child welfare lawyer the trial skills necessary for zealous advocacy in every child welfare case. It is tailored for lawyers who represent children, parents, and state agencies in abuse and neglect cases. The training is a combination of lecture, demonstrations, and participant learn-by-doing performances focusing on the following skills: opening and closing statements, handling difficult witnesses, direct and cross-examination, expert testimony, and making objections. Target Audience: Lawyer-guardians ad litem, parents’ attorneys, Assistant AGs, and Prosecutors. Link to Training Info
LINKS FROM CHILD INFORMATION GATEWAY WEB SITE
Child Information Gateway Quick Links such as those below are distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It is a first look at new online materials related to child welfare and adoption. Free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at www.childwelfare.gov/admin/subscribe.
Children’s Bureau Marks 100 Years
April 4, NASW News: It took the vision and determination of a group of pioneering women to bring to light a simple fact: Children have unique needs from their adult counterparts. If society was to better itself, a federal approach was necessary to help children thrive into adulthood.
Link to NASW Post Also: Link to Second Article
US: Child Abuse Pediatricians Recommend Basic Parenting Classes to Reduce Maltreatment and Neglect
Apr 4, TIME: “If parents understand the challenges and understand that temper-tantrum behavior is perfectly normal in young kids and there are ways to handle that, they will have better success,” says the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Child abuse pediatricians are very much interested in prevention. But we seem to be not very interested as a country in teaching parenting skills.” Link to Article
CANADA: Child Advocate Program One-Of-A-Kind in Ontario
April 4, Canada News Wire: The Anishinabek Educational Institute in partnership with Canadore College launched the First Nation Child Welfare Advocate Certificate Program today at the Union of Ontario Indians head office. Students will gain knowledge of the Canadian Child Welfare System, treaty and aboriginal rights, the Indian Act, First Nations and their organizational political structures, and the Child and Family Services Act. Link to Article
Comment: There is a significant Anishinabek presence in Michigan. I am wondering if this sort of initiative might come to Michigan.
Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
These videos is part three of a three-part series titled “Three Core Concepts in Early Development” from the Center and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. The series depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse. Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, lifelong health, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation.
“Three Core Concepts in Early Development” Series
1. Experiences Build Brain Architecture >>
2. Serve & Return Interaction Shapes Brain Circuitry
3. Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development
Understanding Childhood Trauma and its Lifelong Effects: A Systems Approach
Presentation Slides. 2012: Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Overview of Presentation
Adverse effects on healthy development due to toxic stress and trauma
● Approaches to improving the odds
● Development of a trauma informed Minnesota public child welfare system
● Building hope from resiliency
Child Abuse Hotline Team Summary and Recommendations
March 2012, Change and Innovation Agency
The ideas contained in this summary save a total of 28,990 hours of work time for Hotline Specialists and supervisors and reduces time in the field by 94,830 hours. These hours represent building increased capacity for the Hotline and the CPS staff in the field to help provide some support for the current workload. If approved these recommendations should reduce wait times and dropped calls and improve the handoff between the Hotline and the Field. The freed up time not only allows Specialists to answer more calls without long hold times, it gives Specialists the time to dedicate to more complex interviews and assessments. Link to Article
How Well Is the Child Welfare System Serving Youths with Behavioral Problems?
2011, MacArthur Foundation. Models for Change Research Initiative
Child welfare systems were designed with a focus on ensuring the safety and stability of abused and neglected children. Today, though, these systems also serve as an alternative to secure confinement for juvenile offenders, who generally require behavioral health and rehabilitation services. The researchers view this as a potential mismatch between individual youth needs and professional capacity, and in this study they looked at the effects of the mismatch. They found that youths with behavioral problems experience more changes in placement and are placed in more restrictive settings, such as group homes and residential centers, rather than with foster families. They also found that youths placed entirely or in part because of behavior problems are at greater risk of subsequent arrest when compared with youths placed only for abuse or neglect. Since child welfare is often the only resource available to vulnerable families struggling with behavioral issues, they suggest improving the collaboration between child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Link to pdf
Cracks in the Cost Structure of Agency Adoption.
2011, Capital University Law Review: It is no longer a secret. Domestic adoption is big business. Baby selling has long been vilified and remains unlawful. However, a close examination of the cash that changes hands in the garden-variety domestic adoption would make it difficult for most people to tell the difference. Link to Article
US: Buying Babies
Salon April 2, 2012
Does the word “buy” offend you? Then don’t adopt, because you would be offended often. Adoption, at its core, is a business transaction. It shouldn’t be, but it is. You will pay for lawyers, counselors, doctors, and legal assistants. You will pay for the home study, paperwork, fingerprinting, licenses, travel expenses, filing costs, courtroom costs, and postage. You might also pay for background checks, a private detective (if you’re smart), psychologists, psychiatrists, the birthmother’s housing expenses during pregnancy and six weeks after, a mediator, and a breast pump. (She didn’t like the one the hospital had.) Link to Article
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Victimization: Implications for Families, Educators, Social Services, Law Enforcement, and the Judicial System.
2011, Journal of Psychiatry and Law: Link to Journal Article
US: Congress Takes on Fetal Alcohol Exposure
April 2, Alaska Dispatch: Alaska’s U.S. Senators have joined colleagues from South Dakota and Hawaii in a national push to help prevent pregnant mothers from drinking alcohol and assist individuals living with the life-long effects of various fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Link to Article
US: Family Supports Save Lives: A new study finds a link between cuts to preventive services and child deaths.
Rise April 2012
When child welfare systems are forced to cut their budgets, often it’s preventive services that are hit the hardest, while child protective investigations and foster care remain funded. The belief is that family support services are nice if the government can afford them, but it’s investigations that prevent child deaths. But a new study of 20 years of child deaths in Sacramento, Calif., has found that cutting preventive services puts children at risk—and wastes money. Link to Article
US: Adoption Help for Military Families
April 2, WHNT: Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. can adopt children from the U.S. foster care system. Adoption advocates are working to reduce barriers to adoption for military families. This includes free assistance to military families who are seeking to foster or adopt children from foster care. Kids To Love has also developed free resources for child welfare agencies on best practices for working with military families. Link to Article
MICHIGAN APPELLATE COURT CASES
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: In re JMR
The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court’s reliance on MCL 710.39 to terminate the respondent-father’s parental rights was misplaced because MCL 710.39 applies only to putative fathers and there was an Order of Filiation establishing respondent as the minor child’s father, the court held that trial court erred by terminating respondent’s parental rights to JMR under MCL 710.39(1). Full Text Opinion
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)
Case Name: Baird v. Richmond (Custody dispute in domestic relations case)
The parties are the natural parents of the minor child. They initially stipulated to joint legal custody with the mother having sole physical custody and the father having parenting time. The father filed a motion for sole physical custody. A referee denied the father’s motion, the father objected, and the trial court held a de novo hearing limiting proofs to those events occurring after the entry of the last custody order. The mother offered evidence that in the past showed that her living situation was safe for the children. The trial court declined to hear or consider such evidence. The trial court held that the father had shown proper cause or change in circumstances, considered the best interest factors, and granted the father’s motion to change custody of the child to him. On appeal, the mother contended, inter alia, that the trial court erred in limiting the evidence submitted and considered to those events occurring after entry of the last custody order. The appellate court noted the record showed that the referee hearing transcripts (on which the trial court relied) expressly limited the proofs, the trial court made several statements restricting the proofs to events after entry of the last custody order, and stated in its written order that it was not considering such evidence. The appellate court noted that in a prior opinion, the appellate court did hold that, when considering whether there was a change of circumstances sufficient to warrant reconsideration of custody, a trial court should limit itself to considering the evidence since the last custody order. However, the same appellate court also clearly stated that its limitation was applicable only to the question of whether a change of circumstances or proper cause exists. Thus, while the trial court could not consider evidence before entry of the order in determining whether the father had met his burden to show a change in circumstances or proper cause, there existed no such “blanket limitation for the best interests determination.” At a minimum, evidence of prior behaviors is necessary to determine whether a party is continuing to make bad decisions or working to improve their life. Nothing prevents the trial court from weighing the evidence of recent behaviors more heavily. “The court may not, however, draw an arbitrary temporal line and refuse to consider any behaviors that occurred before that time. Rather, the trial court must consider all evidence that might be relevant to the best interests determination.” Full Text Opinion