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Social Work's Finest
September 3, 2010 permalink
When social workers, the clairvoyant experts who can see future behavior, assessed Joy Heaven's application for foster parent, one wrote:
Her patient, loving and compassionate personality will be a tremendous asset in her caring for children.
The worker recommended Heaven be allowed to care for three children as young as 5, with a spectrum of special needs.
So what happened when they gave her a girl to care for? Joy violently shoved 5-year-old Emily Meno causing a fatal head injury.
Enclosed is an article from the Grand Rapids Press along with an online comment by Richard Wexler.
Joy Heaven, accused of killing foster child, passed foster care licensing review with flying colors, report shows
GRAND RAPIDS -- When Bethany Christian Services interviewed Joy Heaven about her desire to become a foster parent, the licensing specialist wrote to the Michigan Department of Human Services recommending Heaven be allowed to care for three children as young as 5, with a spectrum of special needs.
"Her patient, loving and compassionate personality will be a tremendous asset in her caring for children," the worker states in a foster home evaluation dated March 3.
Wednesday's hearing in Kent County District Court presented a much different Heaven, -- a foster mother accused of inflicting fatal brain injuries to a foster child. Authorities say Heaven, 30, was frustrated with 5-year-old Emily Meno's behavior in mid-July and violently shoved the little girl, causing the injury.
During the hearing, forensic pathologist Dr. Stephen Cohle reported Emily's injury was consistent with someone hitting their head on a hard object with significant force.
He said his investigation indicated that this was no accident. It was homicide.
"I don't think that with a typical shove ... that there would be that type of injury," Cohle said. "It would take an adult person using all the strength they could muster to lift a child off the floor."
Before the probable cause hearing began, Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Helen Brinkman offered Heaven the opportunity to plead guilty to second-degree murder. If she agreed, the felony murder charge would be dismissed, giving her the possibility of parole at some future date.
But Heaven's attorney, Matthew Smith, said his client would not take the deal.
This was good news to Lori Meno, Emily's biological mother, who attended the hearing, weeping throughout.
"I want her to pay," said Meno after the hearing. "She needs be locked up without parole."
On July 15, Heaven sought treatment for Emily, who was comatose. She told medical personnel that the little girl -- one of a set of twins Heaven was caring for in her Gaines Township home -- seemed to suffer an epileptic seizure.
But when the girl died at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, an autopsy showed a brain injury, and Heaven then admitted she abused Emily out of frustration for wetting her pants and "being in the way," detectives said in a statement made in court.
Kent County Sheriff's Detective Randy Kieft described how Heaven admitted harming the child in her home at 6212 Fordwick Drive SE in the Southland Village mobile home complex.
Kieft said Heaven told police during a 90-minute interview that she was holding Emily's twin sister in her arms, getting her ready for bed, when she tried to get into the kitchen and Emily refused to move from a doorway.
Kieft said he asked Heaven to demonstrate and she pushed him fairly hard. He then asked her if she had pushed the child harder than she had pushed the detective.
"She said 'Oh yeah,'" Kieft said, adding that Emily was briefly unconscious after the injury.
Heaven managed to get Emily to wake up and then sent her to bed, but the girl woke up two hours later and vomited. She then fell to the ground, unresponsive, police said.
Heaven allegedly told detectives she tried to revive Emily and called 911 when Emily would not wake up.
The hearing was interrupted so Judge Steven Servaas could listen to the 90-minute interview between detectives and Heaven. The hearing is to conclude on Sept. 15.
Emily and her sister, Tiffany, were placed in foster care in February amid Child Protective Services' allegations that their mother, Meno, of Cedar Springs, could not properly care for the girls, who were described as mentally impaired. Meno also was described as impaired by CPS staff, who wrote that "chronic neglect exists which threaten the welfare of the children."
Emily and her twin were the first children Heaven had cared for as a foster parent.
According to the report, Heaven first contacted state authorities about becoming a foster care provider in July 2009. There were phone calls and home visits made over the next several months, a criminal background check was completed and referrals were contacted, who all gave glowing reports of Heaven's personality and family life.
"Joy has reviewed this agency's discipline policy as it relates to foster children," the report states. "She expressed her willingness to abide by the terms of this policy and agrees to no corporal punishment."
The report says Heaven claims she wanted to do foster care since she was little girl and was waiting for the right time.
"Joy hopes to gain a sense of purpose in life and know that she was able to make a difference in a young child's life," the report states.
Heaven remains free on a $10,000 bond.
NCCPR September 02, 2010 at 4:30PM
There’s an even larger issue here. Over the past year, hundreds of Michigan children, placed in foster care with good, loving grandparents and other relatives, instead of strangers, have been expelled from those homes. Why? Because a clause in a lawsuit settlement between DHS and the group that so arrogantly calls itself “Children’s Rights” demands that, with only extremely rare exceptions, relatives comply with exactly the same ten pages of single-spaced hypertechnical licensing requirements used to license strangers.
But most of those requirements have little to do with safety and everything to do with middle-class creature comforts. Because many grandparents are poor, they can’t comply with all of them – or they are justifiably suspicious of DHS and don’t want to be subjected to their micromanaging.
So the children wind up expelled and forced into the homes of duly-licensed strangers. And, by the way, this isn’t the first case in which a Michigan foster child may have been “licensed to death.” Remember Ricky Holland? His fully licensed foster/adoptive parents also received glowing evaluations from DHS workers. Details are in this post to our Child Welfare Blog: http://nccpr.blogspot.com/2010/03/foster-care-in-michigan-war-against.html
Of course every foster home should have to meet minimum health and safety standards, and relatives should have to go through a background check. But it is state-sanctioned child abuse to sacrifice the love and security of care from a good grandparent on the altar of the bureaucratic obsessions of some New York lawyers.
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
Source: Grand Rapids Press