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Surviving Uncle Deprived of Custody
February 28, 2015 permalink
Angila Wilson was murdered by her estranged husband. Angila's brother, Frank Wilson, promised to look after the children if anything happened to her. But nearly a year later her three children are still in British Columbia foster care.
NDP joins call for slain woman’s kids to be with family
The NDP’s spokesperson for children and family development is calling on the provincial government to reunite the children of a woman killed in Clearwater last year with her family members in Hope.
Doug Donaldson said he also wants to see an investigation launched to determine why it’s taken so long to do so.
Angila Wilson was murdered in her Clearwater home on April 20, 2014. Her three children — ranging in age from three to seven — have been in foster care since, despite Wilson’s brother’s family attempting to take them in.
“I think that when you look at the horrific situation that started this — the murder — this is one of the most grievous cases one could imagine,” Donaldson said.
“I believe what’s needed is for the children to be placed in permanent care immediately with the family and an investigation be held to determine how this happened.”
Wilson’s estranged common-law husband, Iain Scott, is charged with first-degree murder. He was denied bail this week and is slated to return to court for a preliminary inquiry in May.
Frank Wilson, Angila’s brother, said he told his sister before she died that he would take her kids in if anything happened to her.
“I’m here to try to have my sister’s wishes met,” he said. “I feel as though they [the children] have been let down by the system because they are still in foster care and they should be in the care of a family member.
“The whole point was for them to be integrated into our family as an adoption.”
Leanne Bowcott, who is married to Frank Wilson and was close with his sister, said Angila Wilson fled Scott three times in the years leading up to her murder — at one point staying in Bowcott’s Hope home for three months.
“She expressed to us on several occasions that if anything happened to her, ‘Could you please take care of my three children?’” she said.
“We want the children to have a home — a permanent home. They’ve experienced trauma like no child should experience.”
Bowcott said the Ministry of Children and Family Development refuses to transfer the file for Wilson’s children to Hope from Clearwater — a necessary step to have them re-united with family members.
“She would just be horrified that her children are not with us,” she said.
“It’s been a rough 10 months to say the least. They need a home. They need to be loved. They need a family.”
The children are presently in foster care in Hope, and they are allowed limited visits with family members.
In a statement, a spokesman for the Ministry of Children and Family Development called the situation “tragic and difficult,” but said he could not speak to the specifics of individual cases.
Source: Clearwater Times
Family Law Gets Muddy
February 28, 2015 permalink
Ralxa Begooshka, which may be a pseudonym, is enjoined from publicly mentioning the names of her children. But the foster mom of two of her children has published a book, The Fluffy Puppies Get Muddy". Amazon portrays the author:
Vicky L. Govier lives in the beautiful village of Thorndale, Ontario, in the big house where Diesel and Ruby make their home, along with her husband and four children.
In this blurb Govier counts two of Begooshka's children as her own. While the real mother is silenced, the foster mom posts pictures of the children to her own Facebook account.
So the CAS had the judge make an order that I am not supposed to post anything on social media about the CAS and/or my case and/or my kids and/or the trial, etc., although I do not know the exact wording of it as I have never been provided with a copy. They have tried to use my posts in this group under multiple Facebook accounts against me in court including saying I am breaking this order. Part of me is so fed up with their BS that I am wanting to start posting sections of the recordings I have made and very disturbing things in the more than 5000 pages of disclosure I have. I don't know how to blur out parts though and if they are paying close enough attention, even if I use yet another account, then there's a possibility they will try to use this against me as well. I know the CAS never gets in trouble for contempt of court, but I also know that they tried to reopen the trial based on one post in this group, which they were unsuccessful in doing, but since they don't have anything else now they are trying to twist things to make it look like I was breaking the supervision order, and they reapprehended my two youngest children who I had under temporary care and custody without any evidence and without warrants and the judges wouldn't listen and sided with them and in my opinion committed judicial misconduct. Anyway, the point of this is, since CAS is so good at trying to intimidate people and like to lie about things they can do to make your life even worse (like illegally kidnapping your children isn't bad enough), I am just wondering legally if they decided to pursue it how much trouble I could get in for breaking this order to not post things? Patricia Miller (the OCL who is guilty of a lot of different things herself including lying to the court and not following the rules of the OCL) also threatened to go after me about posting things about my children, even though the foster parents are guilty of doing it and they aren't even their kids. http://www.amazon.ca/The-Fluffy-Puppies-Get-Muddy/dp/1486604080 If you click on read more you can read the about the author and while it doesn't name my children (she does post pictures of my kids on Facebook though, including two with my preteen daughter in her housecoat), it says that she lives with her husband and four children, however her husband and her only have two children. The other two children are my children. Again, just wondering if this would be a criminal proceeding, a civil proceeding, if anyone has actually gotten in trouble for something like this before and what the consequences were? I honestly can't think of worse consequences than what they have done and are trying to do to our family right now anyway. It's not like they don't already cancel my visits on a weekly basis as well.
The recordings are only audio, but that is what the OCL threatened me with despite letting the foster parents get away with it. Not to mention I have no idea how she got access to my private highest privacy settings account, which is where the information she quoted came from. In this group I don't post identifying information but if they know what's going on and are paying attention then they can figure out my fake accounts. The OCL is not happy that I have named her and been open about how she has lied and isn't doing her job properly either. Then finding out that she used to be a lawyer for the CAS seems like a huge conflict of interest to me.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
February 27, 2015 permalink
British social workers snatched a baby because of abuse by her father. Police cleared the father when finding he had been out of the country at the time of the alleged abuse. But social services kept the girl anyway.
Social workers are sitting in judgment argues ANN WIDDECOMBE
SOCIAL workers snatched a newborn baby after her father had been accused of child abuse but comprehensively cleared when police discovered he was not even in the country at the time of the alleged incident.
Services won't admit wrong and still haven't returned the child
That did not stop a West Lothian social worker entering a note on the file that he had been “charged” with child abuse, a straightforward libel.
Refusing to admit they were wrong, the social services concerned have still not returned the child who was taken last August.
I say again that social workers in such cases should be named and the council sued for exemplary damages, because nothing else will stop them destroying the lives of innocent people.
I could almost say that they should lose their own children for a while so that they would know what it feels like but that would be unkind to the children.
What a pity they cannot feel such mercy for other people’s little ones.
Of course there are cases where social workers are damned if they do and damned if they don’t and the media shower opprobrium on their heads if they leave a child in danger but when social services are told by police that there is no case and they still proceed to intervene and then not only to persist with their actions for months but to compound it by a lie on the family’s notes, they should be brought firmly and publicly to book and subjected to the sort of punishment which might deter others.
In another incident Darlington social workers removed a child from his parents because they disapproved of the father’s politics.
He had connections to the English Defence League which is a perfectly lawful organisation if not a particularly nice one. They too should have to pay large damages rather than just be rebuked by a scandalised judge.
Already there is solid evidence that some social services are refusing to allow people to foster or adopt if they will not sign up to believing in gay marriage. These power-crazed bureaucrats now believe themselves to be censors of other people’s beliefs.
Perhaps they should go and live in a totalitarian state where they would feel perfectly at home.
The former Tory Minister writes exclusively for the Daily Express
Source: Daily Express (UK)
Judge Disgusted with CAS
February 27, 2015 permalink
A Judge contacted Canada Court Watch recently in confidence to report that in the view of the Justice, the children's aid society was not a very credible organization with workers brutally overstepping their authority under the law. The Justice will be speaking publicly about this in the not too distant future but has asked to remain anonymous for now. Whistle-blowers are beginning to come out and wiling to speak when the time is right. All parents must keep up the fight to bring accountability and transparency to CAS by not giving in. Correction to the CAS system as it is presently operating is imminent.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Innu Shut Down Child Protection
February 27, 2015 permalink
The chief of an Innu band in Sheshatshiu Labrador forced the local child protection (CYFS) office to close over the placement of a foster child. The closure ended with an undisclosed agreement.
Band council forced closure of CYFS office in Sheshatshiu
Dispute stemmed from foster placement of an Innu child
The Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) office in Sheshatshiu was forced to close for several hours between Monday and Tuesday, according to a band council member there.
Jack Penashue, Sheshatshiu’s social health director, told The Labradorian that band chief Andrew Penashue asked CYFS to leave the Innu community due to a dispute over the foster placement of an Innu child.
Jack Penashue said the rest of the band council supported the chief’s decision.
“It had to do with a child, an Innu child, relocated outside of the community,” he said.
“The chief has the ultimate decision in regards to what direction is taken. So he was supported by the council and then we had a meeting … Tuesday morning.”
According to Jack Penashue, the office was allowed to reopen Tuesday at noon after a meeting between band council members and representatives from CYFS.
“We had a conference call with (CYFS officials) and through that conference call we made a commitment to work on some of the confusion and also the disagreements.
“So we have a timeline to work (on) developing some capacity in regards to foster parents.”
The Innu First Nation reserve has been at odds with CYFS many times in the past. The main issue involves where Innu children are placed in foster care after they are put in government custody.
“The chief felt that, if it’s an Innu child, we should do every effort in the best of our abilities to have that child stay in the community,” said Jack Penashue.
“If Innu children are supposed to be taken out of the community, the community needs to know about it, or especially the leadership.”
Jack Penashue said better communication between the band council and CYFS could have prevented the office closure.
“We need to be working together collaboratively,” he said.
The Labradorian’s request for an interview with CYFS Minister Sandy Collins was met with an emailed statement from the department.
A spokeswoman wrote that, due to confidentiality laws, the department can’t comment on specific cases.
The statement did, however, note government policy on providing protective services in Sheshatshiu: “The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is committed to providing child protection services in the community of Sheshatshiu in a manner that ensures the safety and well-being of children and youth, while respecting the culture of Innu community members. Wherever possible, children and youth requiring out-of-home placement are matched with an appropriate foster family in their home community.”
It went on to say the department takes a collaborative approach with aboriginal leaders and communities to improve planning for the safety and well-being of children and youth.
The statement also pointed to financial expenditures made in child protection in Labrador, including “a new team for Sheshatshiu, which includes six new positions.”
The Labradorian was unable to reach Andrew Penashue for comment.
Source: St John's Telegram
Drunk and Disorderly Child Protection
February 26, 2015 permalink
Justin Arthur Reyna, a conservatorship specialist for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), was charged with drunk driving and resisting arrest. The response of his employer? He remains on the job, working with children.
CPS Worker Arrested for DWI, Resisting Arrest
AMARILLO -- A worker with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is facing serious allegations. The agency is also known as CPS.
The worker deals with children on a daily basis and is still on the job despite being arrested on two charges.
Justin Arthur Reyna, 23, was arrested in the early morning hours of New Year's day for allegedly driving drunk and resisting arrest.
He has since bonded out of jail and is back on the job.
Reyna began working with the DFPS last July as a conservatorship specialist.
That means he has direct contact with children who have been removed from homes and parents who are being investigated by the state.
Officials with the agency say they've been informed of the charges saying Reyna is innocent until proven guilty and would not comment further
Two local agencies that work directly with DFPS would not comment about this specific case but had this to say.
"Normal expectations are that we would have people who would be responsible in dealing with children". Said April Leming, the executive director of "The Bridge."
Lara escobar of the court appointed special advocacy group known as CASA said, "We have every faith CPS will handle this the right way".
Agency guidelines stipulate that anyone with DFPS who is arrested on allegations like this must inform their supervisor within five days. Reyna has apparently done that.
If Reyna is convicted, they may take further action up to and including firing.
The regional director or section manager will make a final decision on any further actions, if any, taken against Reyna.
February 25, 2015 permalink
A rally against London CAS is scheduled for Monday March 2.
Rally Against London CAS! Families fighting for their rights!
- Monday, March 2
- 9:00am - 2:00pm EST
- on the public sidewalk outside London CAS 1680 Oxford Street East London Ontario Click for map
Lets all band together & hold a rally outside the London CAS office at 1680 Oxford Street on Monday March 2nd 2015! Lets all show CAS & the world how corrupt the family courts are & Ontario Child Protection! It's time for a change & if we all don't act now our kids will be lost forever! Bring your signs lets show everyone that things need to change now! We are stronger in numbers & together we can beat these monsters & bring our children home!
Parricide of Social Workers
February 25, 2015 permalink
Jason Hendrix, the adopted son of Kevin and Sarah Hendrix, murdered his adoptive parents and a twelve-year-old sibling, then died later in a shootout with police. Both parents were in social services and were the kinds of professionals who should have been able to prevent this kind of tragedy. Father Kevin Hendrix worked for the Whitley County (Kentucky) Circuit Court Clerk as a domestic violence and disability intake clerk. Mother Sarah Hendrix was a social worker and professor at Union College.
Adopted children bear a burden unknown in past generations. When they reach the age of reason, they come to understand that they are not abandoned by their parents, but stolen by the social services system. The burden is accentuated when the adoptive parents are the kinds of professionals who mediate the child theft.
Family's murder shocks Ky. social workers
Dr. Sarah Hendrix built what seemed, to her closest friends, a perfect family.
She was a prominent social worker and professor at Union College, dedicated to mending Kentucky's broken families. She and her husband, Kevin, were hobby beekeepers, a regular presence at their small-town farmer's market, who fell in love with two foster children, adopted them and raised them alongside their own biological children.
"I thought they hung the moon," said Dr. Peggy Munke, a close friend and director of Murray State's social work program.
But what happened to the Hendrix family this month sent tremors through the social work community across the state. Sarah Hendrix, her husband and her 12-year-old daughter Gracie, a bubbly middle school cheerleader, were murdered in the sort of violent explosion she spent her life trying to prevent in other people's families.
Her son, Jason Hendrix, 16 — a straight-laced high school junior and member of the ROTC, a devout church-goer, who by all accounts adored his family — is believed to have shot all three, one by one, as they walked into their Corbin home on a Wednesday afternoon.
No one knows why.
Then the boy loaded six guns into his mom's SUV, drove to Baltimore and opened fire on police officers who tried to stop him. The teen died in the shootout.
"What happened to her is exactly what we're in this business to avoid," said Dr. Ruth Huber, who mentored Sarah Hendrix as a doctoral student at the University of Louisville. "As social workers we like to fix things, to make them better. But there's no fixing this. We can't even find the very first answers: why? What happened?"
'Sometimes, there are no explanations'
Jason Hendrix arrived at his church for youth group around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11. Nothing seemed amiss, said Drew Mahan, pastor of Forward Community Church, a non-denominational church the Hendrix family had joined several years earlier.
"He was totally normal, the same Jason we'd always known and loved," Mahan said. He gave kids piggyback rides; he'd recently bought a guitar and was trying to learn worship songs.
Mahan said he gave them no reason to worry, no indication that he had, according to police, just massacred his entire family and left their bodies in their tidy, suburban home.
Corbin police said each member of the family was killed between 4 and 6 p.m., according to The News-Journal in Corbin.
Each was shot multiple times in the head as they entered the home, police told the newspaper. Jason Hendrix allegedly put pillows to their faces to muffle the thunder of the gunfire. Kevin Hendrix died wearing the jacket and tie he wore to work; Sarah was believed to have been attacked on her way in from the garage.
"How am I making sense of it? I'm not. And I don't think we will ever be able to make sense of it at all," Mahan said. "We have replayed this thing in our minds, looking for what we all might have missed. But as difficult as it is to understand, I think there's nothing."
Their bodies were not discovered for three days, after Jason Hendrix was killed in a gun battle with police more than 600 miles away. Baltimore police alerted Kentucky authorities that something might be wrong at the house.
The Baltimore Sun reported Jason Hendrix had with him a backpack full of ammunition and six guns — four .38-caliber revolvers, a 9 mm pistol and a double-barreled shotgun.
By then, no one had heard from his family for days.
Kevin Hendrix worked for the Whitley County Circuit Court Clerk as a domestic violence and disability intake clerk. Donna Broughton, his supervisor, said she received a text message from Kevin Hendrix's phone on Wednesday evening. The message said he'd come down with something — a sore throat and vomiting — and wouldn't be at work the next day. Broughton does not know if Kevin Hendrix sent the message himself.
Mahan said he recently counseled Jason and Kevin Hendrix through a problem in their relationship, but it was a typical teenager disagreement and both seemed eager to work through it.
The entire family was active in the church, he said, which held its weekend services in a Cineplex. They arrived at 7 a.m. on Sundays to help set up: Jason always hung lights and swept the parking lot; Kevin took out the trash, Gracie set up the chairs.
Jason was polite and "happy-go-lucky," he said. He had a lot of friends and mentored the younger kids.
Munke, who often traveled to conferences with Sarah Hendrix, said the family was close. Sarah often talked about her children and how proud she was of who they were growing up to be.
"She was the kind of person who embodied what we hope a good social worker would be," Munke said. "She loved life, loved living and saw the funny in the world."
But the Hendrixes recently caught Jason circumventing parental controls on his computer to access gaming sites. They were angry at him and took his computer and phone privileges away, Munke said
Some have suggested that his rage over that punishment led to the killings.
Munke, a professor of social work and mental health, believes it was shame, not fury.
The Hendrixes began fostering Jason when he was barely over 1 year old and adopted him soon after, she said. Adopted children often feel a deeper sense of obligation to their parents, she said. And with that comes a greater need for approval.
"He was so used to being an almost perfect kid, he didn't know how to handle it when his parents were disappointed in him," Munke said. "And he snapped. Sometimes there are no explanations."
Coping with tragedy
Kentucky's most prominent social workers, in all corners of the state, are left grappling with questions of a magnitude they imagined they'd only consider from a professional distance.
"I've seen a fair amount of violence, I used to work with street gangs, but when it happens to someone you know, it's unsettling," said Dr. Terry Singer, dean of the University of Louisville's Kent School of Social Work. "Nobody ever thinks that will happen in their circle. It's eerie, it's a different experience, there aren't many words you can find to describe it."
Sarah Hendrix was already a successful businesswoman when she enrolled in the Kent School's doctoral program, which she completed in 2006. Kevin Hendrix worked for the clerk's office and was passionate about his bees. Broughton recalls a day he asked to run to the post office to pick up a delivery: a new queen bee. He returned with a tiny box, fed her honey and showed her off to his co-workers.
The family's two oldest children, both away at school, survived. Fred Thomas, Sarah Hendrix' son from a previous marriage, is a student at the University of Kentucky. The Hendrixes' oldest daughter, Lizzy, goes to Berry College, a private school in Georgia. The family was often seen in the neighborhood, walking its miniature pinscher.
"Our family has been affected by the most horrific of tragedies," the family wrote in a statement. "All of us are attempting to make sense of this loss. We are buoyed by the love and support of so many of you who knew and loved Sarah, Kevin, Jason and Gracie."
Dr. Barbara Head, a professor at the University of Louisville, who studied with Sarah Hendrix, said her most startling realization last week was that no one, not even one of most highly regarded social workers in the state, is immune from family violence; no one can be sure they'd see it coming.
"I teach death and grief, but that doesn't make it any easier for me," Head said. "It's so shocking and surreal you don't really grieve the loss of that person until you can answer the question of why. And there are no answers in this case. It's a meaningless, tragic death. ... So the person you're grieving gets lost in the details of how it all happened. And sometimes it takes quite awhile to get back to that person."
The family chose to have all four — including Jason — side-by-side at a joint funeral Sunday. They were all to be buried together — what Hendrix would have wanted, Munke believes.
Some of Hendrix's friends are left looking for some sort of meaning. Huber sent an email around the social work communities, called "Promises that Comfort Me." She listed Bible passages she hopes might help them cope: "I will carry you," she included. "I will give you rest."
But for Singer, there's no comfort, no lesson to be learned to make their deaths meaningful.
"There's no takeaway, just sadness," the doctor said. "I suppose that's one of the reasons I stay in this business is the hope that we can find ways to prevent this. But people are complex and problems are complex. I know we really desire to wrap them up neatly, because if we can understand it, we can control it. It's never that simple."
Reporter Claire Galofaro can be reached at (502) 582-7086. Follow her on Twitter at @clairegalofaro.
An account has been set up to help the Hendrix' family pay for funeral expenses and associated costs. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/mjgq4w
Social Worker Assaulted
February 25, 2015 permalink
Tylor Nataway has been arrested for attacking a social worker in Yellowknife. No other details are available.
Social worker assaulted at Centre Square Tower, say police
A man has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a social worker at Yellowknife’s Centre Square Tower.
RCMP say they were called to the lower end of the tower’s mall at around 1pm on Friday, February 20.
Tylor Nataway, of Yellowknife, was subsequently arrested. He faces a charge of assault with a weapon and is appearing in court today.
The victim was treated at Stanton Territorial Hospital for injuries that are not life-threatening.
Source: My Yellowknife Now
Correction: A reader pointed out that our earlier description of "social worker stabbed" was not supported by the news item.
Happiness is a Warm Gun
February 25, 2015 permalink
British social worker James John Gurie knows how to provide warm and loving care to children. He brings guns to work. Music for this article (mp3).
Social worker struck off for taking guns into Monmouthshire child care home
REGISTERED residential child care worker has been struck off after taking guns into a Monmouthshire home and letting two young people fire them.
James John Gurie’s removal from the Register of Social Care Workers means he will no longer be able to work as a residential child care worker in Wales.
A Care Council conduct committee found Mr Gurie guilty of misconduct after he had failed to protect the welfare and safety of residents and colleagues at the residential child care home where he worked. All the charges related to an incident in March 2014 when Mr Gurie took two firearms to work and allowed two young people to fire them in the grounds and area surrounding the residential care home.
Mr Gurie, a team leader at the care home which has not been named, was not present at the hearing held in Cardiff.
The conduct committee found that the registrant’s conduct, by allowing young people in his care to use firearms in the grounds of the home, at times without supervision, was “wholly inappropriate and unacceptable”.
In reaching its decision, the conduct committee took into account that the young people were very vulnerable, with complex needs, and that one of them presented a significant risk to himself and others.
The Committee found Mr Gurie’s conduct called into question his suitability to remain on the Register and fell short of the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers.
It was decided that the registrant had breached parts of all but one of the Code’s standards. These included the need to ensure the behaviour of individuals did not harm themselves or others and upholding public trust and confidence in social care services.
In deciding on a sanction, the committee took into account that Mr Gurie had co-operated with the Care Council to a certain extent and that the incident was isolated, with the registrant having no previous record of misconduct.
However, the committee believed Mr Gurie had abused the trust of the care home manager and that of the young people; his conduct posed significant risk to the young people and others at the home, and he had shown serious disregard for the Code of Practice.
Chair of the committee, James Crowe, said: “The registrant showed a serious departure from the relevant professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Social Care Workers.
“The registrant’s conduct could have resulted in serious harm to the young persons involved and potentially to others. The Committee also finds that the registrant abused his position and the trust that had been placed in him in relation to supporting vulnerable service users.
“The Committee concluded that a Removal Order is the proportionate sanction in the light of the seriousness of the misconduct.”
Source: Monmouthshire Beacon
February 20, 2015 permalink
Do you think fixcas is unfair to social workers, showing only stories of their failures? The enclosed article from Community Care, a site advocating for social workers, is an example of why there is little point in reading news coming out of the social services system itself. It tells of a disciplinary action. The name of the perpetrator is not mentioned. The name of the victim is not mentioned. The specifics of the offense are not mentioned. Why bother posting this kind of non-news?
Social worker who admitted to child neglect has been suspended
The social worker received a 12 month ban after being cautioned by the police
A Coventry social worker who received a police caution for “child cruelty” has been banned from practising for 12 months.
A Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) panel heard the social worker had been cautioned in April 2014 for an incident relating to the neglect or ill treatment of a child. The panel was not able to disclose the exact details of the offence or relationship of the child for legal reasons.
The misconduct was a one-off, and because it was seen as unlikely to be repeated the panel found removing the social worker from the register would be disproportionate.
However, because she did not attend the hearing and declined to submit written evidence, there was also no indication the social worker in question had insight into her actions, the panel said.
The panel’s finding stated: “The core of the allegation relied on by the HCPC relates to a single event, albeit serious. The registrant is an experienced social worker and will have had relevant training in safeguarding and risk assessment in order to work with children.
“Nevertheless, the panel is satisfied that the shortcoming of the [social worker] could be remedied without difficulty.”
The hearing was held in private to protect the child’s identity.
Source: Community Care
Foster Kids Abandoned Behind Bars
February 20, 2015 permalink
When a teenager is released from jail, mom or dad comes to pick him up. But what if the legal parent is the state? In Illinois foster children released by a court stay in jail for weeks or months until the state can find a social worker to take him home.
Illinois' child welfare system leaves kids stuck in jail
There’s a kid in the Cook County juvenile jail right now who isn’t supposed to be there. A judge ordered his release on January 29.
Because he is a juvenile, WBEZ isn’t using his name, but his problem is not unique. Even after a judge has ordered their release, lots of kids wait weeks, even months to be picked up.
Their deadbeat guardian is the State of Illinois, and these kids are stuck in juvenile jail because the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can’t find a place to put them.
A WBEZ analysis of data from Cook County found that in the three-year period between October 2011 and October 2014, there were 344 instances when kids waited a week or more in the jail for DCFS to come pick them up.
Last year the longest wait was 190 days—more than half the year.
And it’s not just that there are a lot of young people waiting. They are waiting specifically because of the failures of DCFS.
Kids get sent to the juvenile jail for a number of reasons. Some are waiting for trial, others are serving a punishment. No matter who they are or why they’re there, kids can’t leave unless someone comes to take custody of them.
The data doesn’t account for how many of the 344 times involved the same kid held more than once, so to check on daily counts, we asked jail staff to give us a snapshot of every kid who was waiting to be picked up. On the day we asked, Oct. 16, 2014, there were 19 kids in the jail who had been ordered released by a judge and were just waiting on a guardian to pick them up.
Thirteen were waiting for DCFS.
“I think it sends a very disturbing message to a child to say there’s no reason for you to be held in detention, but we’re not working hard enough, or we’re not making you enough of a priority to find a place for you to go,” said Bruce Boyer, the director of the Civitas Childlaw Clinic at Loyola University Chicago.
”We’re talking about children that a judge has looked at their case and said, ‘There’s no risk here. This child should be at home or in a community based setting, whether it’s a foster home or somewhere else.’ So, that’s incredibly disruptive to the child,” he said.
Antoine Brown has lived through that disruption.
Brown is 25 now and lives in Marion, Illinois. But when he was 14, Brown spent about six months in Cook County’s juvenile jail waiting for DCFS to find him a bed.
“It kinda like crushes your spirit so you’ll be like ... I don’t care anymore so I’m just gonna act out and do whatever I want to do,” Brown said. “It’s hell. I mean, if you’re not a cool person then you get picked on.”
Jennifer Vollen Katz with prison watchdog John Howard Association says Brown’s frustration is typical for kids stuck in jail.
“You will see the behavior begin to deteriorate, because that’s just an incredibly high level of frustration for a young person to grapple with,” Vollen Katz said.
Vollen Katz says that’s especially bad because this is a population at a crucial point. The choices they—and their caregivers—make will decide if these kids move on from a troubled childhood to become successful adults, or get stuck in the so-called prison pipeline.
“The system has failed them time and again, so for the system to tell them, if you do this then you’re gonna get to go and for that not to actually happen, I think is just another indicator that trusting authority is probably not a safe bet for some of these kids," Vollen Katz said. "And that’s not a message we want to be giving them."
Boyer says many of the kids forced to wait have been in the child care system for most of their lives. Often they’ve been abused or neglected, passed from foster home to foster home.
That means most of these young men and women truly have special needs.
“These are the needs that really require treatment, whether it’s counseling or other kinds of services. And these are the sorts of things that frankly are just not available in the detention center,” Boyer said.
DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says the department is aware of kids languishing in jail, but right now the department isn’t planning any changes to fix it.
Flach says more money would help, but the state also needs more well-run residential treatment centers able to care for these children.
Flach believes leadership from new Director George Sheldon will eventually fix problems like kids waiting in jail.
Loyola’s Bruce Boyer says the best way to address the problem is to keep kids out of jail in the first place.
“If we had resources for dealing with kids who get into conflict with the law, that would allow us to find placements in the community for them that would be a lot less expensive than maintaining kids in a very expensive detention facility,” Boyer said. “I don’t know how we break out of this cycle, but we have to figure out a way … to be more farsighted.”
Cook County estimates that it costs more than $500 a day to house one person in the juvenile temporary detention center.
And those instances when kids waited a week or more—the time they spent waiting on DCFS adds up to more than 7,300 days in Cook County juvenile jail.
That’s almost $4 million taxpayer dollars spent over three years.
And for all that money, the kids didn’t get special counseling or intensive therapy. Instead, they got all the wrong lessons about the justice system, and a pretty direct message that they don’t matter. At least not enough.
Source: WBEZ Chicago
Addendum: Instead of letting the kids out promptly, one level of government is billing another for the cost of jailing.
Cook County demands payment from state for kids left waiting in jail
Invoice goes out after WBEZ uncovers DCFS practice of leaving kids behind bars waiting for placement.
For the first time ever, Cook County is sending a bill to the State of Illinois for the cost of holding state wards left waiting at the juvenile jail by the Department of Children and Family Services.
The decision to demand reimbursement is part of a larger push back by the county against the human and financial costs of the failures of the state’s child welfare agency.
It comes after a recent WBEZ investigation found that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) routinely leaves hundreds of kids stuck behind bars for weeks, or even months, after a judge has said they can go home. Because they are wards of the state, the kids can’t leave the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center until the department finds them proper placement.
“The message is that we don’t care about them, and that we think their liberty isn’t an important issue. And I think that’s a terrible message to send to young people,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
And Preckwinkle said it’s a financial burden for the county.
“The obligation of every executive is to run their unit of government to the best of your ability. And that means you don’t cost-shift your financial obligations and burdens,” she said.
Preckwinkle said the impact on children is her main concern, “but the money is not a trivial matter either.”
That’s why Preckwinkle said she is glad to hear that outgoing Cook County Juvenile Detention Center administrator Earl Dunlap is sending a bill to the state.
“And I’d be happy to second the motion,” Preckwinkle said.
The invoice being sent to DCFS covers just two months—December and January—and it comes to $232,750.
The invoice is for 41 DCFS wards who spent a combined 665 days in jail after a judge told them they were free to go.
The juvenile jail is in Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele’s district. And he recognizes that at that rate, the cost could amount to $1.5 million a year.
“So that’s a huge burden to Cook County and its taxpayers,” Steele said.
Along with the invoice is a letter from juvenile jail administrator Dunlap to DCFS Director George Sheldon. In it, Dunlap blasts the department for the “agency’s willful disregard to juveniles’ constitutional rights.”
“Prolonged stays at [the juvenile jail] for children awaiting DCFS placement … can cause lasting damage to a youth,” Dunlap wrote.
Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans oversees the juvenile jail. He said he’s not particularly concerned about which agency foots the bill.
“The counties pull from the same taxpayers that pay the taxes on a statewide basis, so the main thing is that we don’t want taxpayers to have to pay for anything unnecessarily,” Evans said.
WBEZ interviewed Evans in late February. He said on the day of the interview there were 12 state wards in the juvenile jail waiting on DCFS.
“Many of them are suffering already … many of them, they’ve been abused and neglected on one side and then they engage in some delinquent conduct on the other side. And so they’re already subjected to trauma in many instances and having them stay longer in a place they shouldn’t be in just exacerbates the problem,” Evans said.
DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says his department has not yet received the invoice. But he’s acknowledged the issue, and said he believes the agency’s new leader will bring stability to the department.
“The governor has made it a priority to help turn the agency around, and that’s bringing someone in like Director George Sheldon … to help us get the job done,” Flach said.
Cook County’s demand for repayment comes at a particularly bad time for the state government. Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for massive cuts to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap.
Source: WBEZ Chicago
Anonymous Call to Arms
February 18, 2015 permalink
The group Anonymous has directed its attention to the child protection system. A YouTube video (local copy, mp4) addresses Ontario's children's aid societies. Owing to the furtive nature of this group, it is impossible to tell how it is connected to other actions by Anonymous.
Addendum: Anonymous has compiled several videos of Joey Knelsen deleted by YouTube at the request of the (Canadian) government. The Anonymous video is on YouTube. Fixcas is assisting in preserving this material by keeping a local copy (mp4).
Can Politically-Incorrect Man be a Father?
February 18, 2015 permalink
British social workers wanted to take a baby from a father. One of their reasons was his former membership in the politically-incorrect English Defence League. Judge James Munby blocked the social workers and ordered the baby back with his dad.
Why the judge was right to reunite a child with his EDL-supporting father
Social engineering is not the job of Sir James Munby, still less the borough council that argued it was ‘immoral’ to allow the young father to bring up his son
A child is born to a woman while she is serving a prison sentence for sexual offences involving a minor. Using its powers under the Children Act, Darlington borough council arranges foster care for her baby boy. Social workers decide to put the child up for adoption.
But the boy’s parents object. The father, now in his mid-20s, wants to bring up his son with the support of his own mother and stepfather. The child’s mother supports his application, and does not put herself forward as a carer. By the time the council makes its application to the court, she is out of prison — but no longer in a relationship with her son’s father.
He already has two children with a previous partner, though they are not being brought up by him. The failure of his former relationship, however, is not the main reason that social workers think his new son should be taken away from him.
They regard his behaviour as “immoral”. For one thing, they claim, he was once a member of the English Defence League. For another, as a 17-year-old he once had sex with a girl aged 13 and accepted a police caution.
To his credit, the most senior family judge in England and Wales took over the case. Sir James Munby, president of the family division, spent three days in Middlesbrough listening to evidence. In a judgment delivered this week, he dismissed the council’s arguments in typically forthright terms.
What, he asked, was the relevance of the social workers’ assertion that the father’s under-age sex offence was immoral? “The city fathers of Darlington and Darlington’s director of social services are not guardians of morality,” said Munby. “Nor is this court.”
And what had the father’s admitted offence got to do with care proceedings involving his son? “Some 17-year-old men who have sexual intercourse with 13-year-old girls may have significantly distorted views about sex and children, and therefore pose a risk to their own children of whatever age or gender, but that is not automatically true of all such men.”
It was extraordinary that the council should have relied on the father’s alleged membership of an extremist group, the judge continued. “The mere fact, if fact it be, that the father was a member, probably only for a short time, of the EDL is neither here nor there, whatever one may think of its beliefs and policies.”
There are two sides to every story and, no doubt, the social workers saw the case very differently. Perhaps they genuinely believed that the child was at risk from his father. No doubt they believed that adoptive parents would be able to give the little boy a better life. Fearing the dreadful consequences that have occurred when social workers have failed to protect children from abusive carers, they must have thought that adoption was the safer option.
But I find Munby’s conclusions entirely convincing. Despite a pre-birth plan, the council took nine months to bring the case before a court — a delay the judge said was shocking and an abuse of its powers under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
Neither the social workers nor their lawyers seemed to understand that they needed to produce hard evidence in support of their allegation that the toddler was at risk of neglect. Claiming that the father “lacks honesty with professionals” proved nothing.
It’s easy to forget that, until Munby took over the high court family division, judgments such as this would not have been published, even anonymously, and local authorities would not have been named and shamed. Even so, the judge was merciful to the allocated social worker, who had clearly been out of her depth.
Why, to take her as an example, should the hapless [social worker] be exposed to public criticism and run the risk of being scapegoated when, as it might be thought, anonymous and unidentified senior management should never have put someone so inexperienced in charge of such a demanding case. And why should the social workers… be pilloried when the legal department, which reviewed and presumably passed the exceedingly unsatisfactory assessments, remains, like senior management, anonymous beneath the radar? It is Darlington borough council and its senior management that are to blame, not only [the social workers and their team manager].
What the council failed to understand is that the relationship between parent and child must be severed only where “nothing else will do” to protect the child’s welfare. It is not enough to show that a child could be placed in a more beneficial environment.
As Mr Justice Hedley said in 2007: “Society must be willing to tolerate very diverse standards of parenting, including the eccentric, the barely adequate and the inconsistent … It is not the provenance of the state to spare children all the consequences of defective parenting.”
These comments were endorsed in the supreme court two years ago by Lady Hale. As she said: “The state does not and cannot take away the children of all the people who commit crimes, who abuse alcohol or drugs, who suffer from physical or mental illnesses or disabilities, or who espouse anti-social political or religious beliefs”.
But surely the interests of the child are paramount? Surely this little boy would be better off if he were adopted by two loving parents rather than brought up by a young man who smokes cannabis, sometimes drinks too much and who has already had two failed relationships? Maybe, but that’s not a decision for the judges and, still less, for social workers. As Munby concluded:
I can accept that the father may not be the best of parents. He may be a less than suitable role model. But that is not enough to justify a care order, let alone adoption. We must guard against the risk of social engineering, and that, in my judgment is what, in truth, I would be doing if I was to remove [the child] permanently from his father’s care.
Munby was right. The judges are not there to put right all the wrongs of society.
Source: Guardian (UK)
February 17, 2015 permalink
A recalcitrant mother was subdued by Michigan police with a taser used in drive stun mode. In drive stunning the taser is held against the body of a victim already restrained for the purpose of inflicting pain.
Police use stun gun on mother at McDonald's
ESSEXVILLE, MI (WNEM) - A woman remains behind bars after being arrested during an alleged assault at an area McDonald's restaurant on Thursday.
The woman was having a meeting with a Child Protective Services worker at the restaurant on Center Avenue in Essexville around 5 p.m. when she became upset. The woman then took her children into a bathroom and wouldn't come out.
The woman then came out of the bathroom and allegedly assaulted the worker.
The woman began a struggle with officers and allegedly tried to bite one of them before making an attempt to grab the officer's stun gun.
An officer deployed a stun gun but that did little to subdue the woman. Officers then executed a method called "drive stunning", which intends to cause pain without incapacitating the target.
The children were taken back into their temporary care. The mother is currently jailed.
No one was injured.
Source: WNEM Saginaw
February 17, 2015 permalink
Windsor-Essex children's aid, supported by Sun Life Financial and Sobeys, took the occasion of family day to collect food for foster children. Many donors go away from this kind of drive with the warm feeling of helping a child in need. But in the past fixcas has found that donations to social services agencies were split among the social workers, stolen by a social worker    or sold for cash to foster children.
Family Day Food Drive
Sun Life Financial along with Sobeys on Manning Road hope to provide food for 1000 Windsor families.
On Family Day, Monday, February 16th, volunteers will gather at Sobeys from 10am to 2pm to fill boxes that will be distributed to families by the Children’s Aid Society.
“We recognized the need that exists in our community to support families who may be struggling. Good nutrition and healthy living are keys to a positive lifestyle. By partnering with the Children’s Aid, this food drive will go far in reaching out to the 1 in every 8 children in our area that the Children’s Aid provides services to.” remarked Paul Lue Pann, Financial Centre Manager of Sun Life’s Anchor Drive office/.
Bill Bevan, Chief Executive Officer of the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society comments, “What better way to spend Family Day then to gather your family together, come to Sobeys and give a couple hours to help families in need. The Children’s Aid Society is most appreciative to Sun Life Financial, Sobeys and the people of Windsor-Essex who are supporting this effort.”
KFC Promotes Foster/Adoption
February 17, 2015 permalink
KFC is promoting foster care and adoption in an advertisement YouTube and local copy (mp4). It follows the life of a foster/adoptive child from the day he is dropped off by a social worker through to his return to his adoptive family as an adult. Not all foster/adoption placements are as successful as the fantasy in the ad.
February 17, 2015 permalink
Ontario is contemplating gathering data on foster children by race. One prospective culmination is the creation of a new Black children's aid society. Black Canadians can look forward to an agency whose only mission is breaking up black families.
Persons offended by the collection of race data can obstruct when filling out questionnaires. For the race question check the box marked "other", then write in a nationality such as "Canadian". Even better, write in the universal "human" race.
Ontario may collect race-based data on kids in care
Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles will consider ways to fix systemic issues affecting black families, and hasn’t ruled out creating a separate CAS.
Ontario’s children’s minister, Tracy MacCharles, will look at having all children’s aid societies in the province collect race-based data on the kids in their care.
MacCharles is also considering several changes in keeping with the goal of keeping families intact and, when those efforts fail, to improve the experience of children in care.
The moves come on the heels of a Toronto Star investigation that found Ontario’s most vulnerable children are in the care of a child protection system that is often unaccountable and secretive.
The probe revealed for the first time that 41 per cent of children and youth in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto are black, though only 8.2 per cent of the city’s under-18 population is black.
MacCharles, who became Minister of Children and Youth Services last summer, is so concerned by those numbers she’s considering a province-wide count of black kids in care to determine the extent of the challenge. Few of Ontario’s 46 children’s aid societies track such data, and those that do keep the statistics secret.
Black community leaders have complained for years that their children are taken into care at rates far higher than white children. They say it is hard to get government to pay attention without hard statistics.
“I think there’s a lot more receptivity to looking at (race-based data) in this sector and beyond,” MacCharles said of the government’s current attitude. “We’re also looking at this notion of disaggregated data, which includes black children and youth in care, in schools, and in our youth justice system,” she added.
Without committing to making such data public, MacCharles told the Star: “My bottom line is, any data that helps improve the security and safety of children, I’m willing to have a hard look at.”
The Star used sources to obtain the Toronto data, later confirmed by the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, which had been quietly sharing the numbers with leaders and advocates in the city’s black communities.
MacCharles hasn’t ruled out setting up a new children’s aid society focused exclusively on black children. Black community leaders argue that might be the only way to overcome systemic biases.
“I’m open to all ideas,” MacCharles, MPP for Pickering-Scarborough East, said in an interview with the Star.
“The starting point for me is, are the CASs across Ontario culturally appropriate in terms of the programs and services and supports they provide?”
MacCharles also wants to examine systemic reasons that might fuel the breakup of black families, such as poverty and the lack of affordable housing. Other ministries such as education and health, she said, must be involved in finding a solution.
The Star investigation also found that almost half of children and youth in foster or group homes are on behaviour-altering medication, such as Ritalin, tranquilizers or anticonvulsants. In group homes, the number is even higher.
Children aid societies have failed to act on troubling statistics they have been aware of for years, the Star found, including the fact that more than half the children in their care do not graduate from high school.
CAS involvement is one of the main reasons children in care are absent from school. Because of frequent moves, many are forced to deal with several unplanned school changes. And because there’s no obligation for a new school to enroll them during the term, they sometimes wait weeks to return to class.
“It’s important to keep kids in school wherever we can and to minimize that kind of delay,” said MacCharles, who is troubled by these issues. “I’ve seen the results of kids not being in school, some in child welfare and some not, and it’s worrisome.”
She stressed the need to consult children’s aid societies on changes and also made clear that while the province fully funds them — at a cost of $1.5 billion a year — they are private corporations, with each determining its own programs and services.
“CASs know their communities best,” she said. “I just don’t want to overstep and get into their territory.”
MacCharles was accused of taking a timid and slow approach to child welfare changes last week, after her response to recommendations made at the inquest into the death of 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin, who died in 2002 after being kept locked in his bedroom, repeatedly beaten and rarely fed by his grandparents, who had a separate record of child abuse that wasn’t checked by the CAS that placed him with them.
MacCharles refused to consider a recommendation to amalgamate the 46 agencies, and confirmed that a central database containing such records won’t be fully ready until 2019 or 2020 — up to four years past the deadline set by the coroner’s inquest.
There are about 23,300 children and youth in care in Ontario. Most children removed from their parents are returned within a year, while children in continued need of protection are made Crown wards.
In 2013-14, about 7,000 children and youth were wards of the province, living in foster care or group homes, and 1,000 more were on the path to joining them. The government effectively remains their parent until they are adopted or turn 18. However, youth can decide to leave care at age 16.
Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, says the ministry needs to move faster to reduce the number of black children and youth in care.
“This is an urgent crisis. We’ve been saying it for years,” she said, noting community leaders have been discussing the overrepresentation with the province since 2006.
Lawyers, black community leaders and child advocates blame cultural misunderstandings as well as the stress and neglect created by poverty for some of that imbalance. They also believe systemic racism is at play within the child protection system, policing and schools.
During reporting for the Star’s series, a Peel CAS worker noted her agency received a call because school officials thought roti was not a healthy lunch for a child.
After the Star series appeared, Parsons’ clinic was swamped with calls for help from black families who have had children apprehended.
She wants the government to mandate the involvement of African Canadian community organizations whenever a child worker is called to investigate a black family. They could, for example, help draft a plan of care to keep the family intact and ensure the plan is followed.
As a last resort, Parsons says her clinic will push for an African Canadian children’s aid society — an option she will present to MacCharles at a meeting this week.
Parsons’ clinic is also part of an initiative by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies to draft a “practice guide” for working with black families. It will help educate child-care workers about systemic racism, the impact of migration, and a host of cultural, religious and ethnic issues related to the black community, said the association’s Virginia Rowden.
It is also directed to police, school boards and medical professionals, who represent the majority of referrals to children’s aid societies.
“It’s not just how the CASs serve these families, but how these families end up at the door of CASs,” Rowden said.
Leading the project is Kike Ojo, Peel CAS’s respected senior manager of diversity and anti-oppression.
Part of the project, Rowden said, is to try to get a handle on how many black children and families are involved with agencies in Ontario.
Reporters can be reached at email@example.com
Ontario’s current five-year review of the Child and Family Services Act seeks to modernize and clarify language in the legislation, among other improvements.
The Children in Limbo Task Force, a coalition of children’s advocates, says terms such as “custody,” “apprehend” and “probation” demean and stigmatize children and youth who are experiencing abuse or neglect in their homes.
The task force is urging Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles to replace them with more humane language.
MacCharles says she is “very supportive” of doing away with terms that describe these young people as criminals.
“I think language is very important, and especially important when it comes to talking about the care and welfare of children,” she told the Star.
“Anything we can do to reduce the stigma is important.”
Source: Toronto Star
February 16, 2015 permalink
Brits in Liverpool rallied against family judge Robert Dodds.
Parents whose children were taken away stage protest against Liverpool family court judge Robert Dodds
Families gathered at court today to express anger at judge who was rebuked by Court of Appeal
PARENTS whose children have been taken away at the hands of a Liverpool family court judge staged a protest outside court today.
Families from Merseyside held banners in protest against Judge Robert Dodds outside Liverpool Civil and Family Court this morning.
Justice chiefs were recently asked to investigate Judge Dodds, who was accused of being “gratuitously rude” and “unprincipled”.
He was criticised by the Court of Appeal in two separate rebukes issued within days of each other.
Judge Dodds was told that he should be “embarrassed” by his “unrestrained and immoderate language” after he told a 13-year-old girl that her case was “codswallop”.
The dad of the girl, told The ECHO: “He said the case was ‘codswallop’. I couldn’t believe how he spoke to us. I was in shock. It’s totally wrong. He was very rude and we just wanted to be treated fairly.”
The father-of-five from Birkenhead added: “My wife and I are very happy Judge Dodds is under investigation. He’s still sat in there today, though.”
The organiser of the protest said: “I can’t see my daughter anymore. She was unfairly taken away from me after her birth.”
On a Facebook page she said: “Protest against Judge Robert Dodds. Very rude and unfair behaviour towards biological parents who enter his court.”
Another mum had her children taken away from her two years ago and is not allowed to see them.
She said: “It’s disgusting what’s going on. I’m very close to my kids. I feel like I’ve been bullied.”
The mother-of-two from Toxteth was in court today fighting for contact with her children.
Another mother protesting today had her 15-year-old daughter taken away from her and put in a foster home last week.
The 52-year-old said: “What they’ve done is absolutely shocking. My daughter is not well. No one will listen to me.”
A spokesman for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said: “HHJ Dodds’ conduct is now the subject of a disciplinary investigation which will be conducted in accordance with the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2014.”
Source: Liverpool Echo
Judge Tries to Clean Up Family Court
February 14, 2015 permalink
Christopher Booker commends judge James Munby for his efforts in cleaning up the mess in British family courts. In British family law, children can be permanently separated from parents in a case in which the parents are not even admitted to the courtroom.
Why don’t the family courts obey the law?
Too many cases are standing the fundamental principles of British justice on their head, writes Christopher Booker
For two years, Lord Justice Munby, the head of our family courts, has been heroically fighting to restore some semblance of justice and common sense to our horribly secretive and corrupted “child protection” system, which I have been reporting on here since 2009 as one of the most shocking scandals in Britain today.
Two weeks ago, Munby again made headlines when he and two other judges in the Appeal Court magisterially tore apart a Liverpool judge, Robert Dodds, for his handling of a case-management hearing involving an intelligent boy, described as an “over-achiever” at school, who was desperate to return to live with his mother.
In 2012, Liverpool social workers sent the boy to live with his abusive father, who was sent to jail for assaulting him. They then placed him miserably in 14 different foster homes. The social workers were now considering that it might be best for him to return to his mother. But Dodds refused to hear any evidence and, without issuing a formal judgment or even giving his reasons, instantly ordered that the boy must remain in care.
After highly critical rulings from the other two judges, Munby weighed in by saying that he wished to emphasise two “important” points. The first was that it is “one of the oldest principles of our law”, going back 400 years, that “no one is to be condemned unheard”. Any “parent faced with the removal of their child must be entitled to make their case to the court”; and if they wish “to give evidence in answer to a local authority’s care application”, they must be permitted to do so. Secondly “there is the right to confront one’s accusers”, and to cross-examine any important witness on whose evidence the local authority is relying. Judge Dodds’s adoption of such a “ruthlessly truncated process” in this case was “fundamentally unprincipled and unfair”.
Just when Munby was making these points another case came my way which, as so often in the family courts, stood those fundamental principles on their head. A woman in Wales, after being made pregnant from a rape, lived for some years with the father, who continued to treat her so violently that she eventually fled with her son to a women’s refuge. They then began living happily with a new partner by whom she had two more sons. Because of her past involvement in violence, however, Denbighshire social workers intervened to say that, unless she handed over her oldest son to his father, they would also remove her other two boys. She had no choice but to obey.
When the middle son was two, his mother took him to her doctor to look at a small bruise, which he said was nothing to worry about. But, on learning of this, the social workers insisted that the boy be examined by another doctor, who said that the injury might be “non-accidental”, i.e. a sign of parental abuse. On a court order, the two boys were taken into care, and over the following months, through several court hearings from which the parents were excluded by their lawyers, they were shocked at “contact sessions” to see both the boys displaying many cuts and bruises (which they photographed).
Last April, the couple were summoned to a final hearing to decide their sons’ future. The mother was represented by lawyers she had been given by Women’s Aid, which works closely with the local authority. As an intelligent woman, studying for a university degree, she and her partner arrived early at the court, for what was scheduled to be a five-day hearing. They were armed with files of evidence and a list of witnesses they wished to call, all of which they believed would demolish the local authority’s case.
But the mother describes how they were astonished to be told by their lawyers that again they would not be permitted to enter the court. Half an hour later, the barristers emerged to say that the judge had decided that their two boys should be placed for adoption. There was no judgment for them to see, and no possibility of any appeal against his decision. This Wednesday the couple will have a final “goodbye session” with their sons, never to see them again.
What makes this even odder is that two months later the same judge, Gareth Jones, made national headlines for ruling that Anglesey social workers acted “above the law” in removing a nine-year-old boy from his family without a court order. This judge is clearly capable of upholding the law when he sees social workers acting improperly. But, since we cannot know what happened in his other courtroom weeks earlier, we cannot know how a planned five-day hearing came to be cut to just 30 minutes; or why those lawyers told the parents that they were not allowed even to enter the court, let alone to give evidence. We can only surmise what Lord Justice Munby might say were he given the chance to pronounce on a case that seems so flagrantly to have flouted those same fundamental rights under the law that he was recently so insistent must be upheld.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Booker follows up on the family excluded from the courtroom in their own case. Someone hoodwinked the judge.
Mystery over parents denied their right to enter the courtroom
It would seem that 'one of the oldest principles of our law' has not been followed, writes Christopher Booker
A curious puzzle has arisen following my piece a fortnight ago headed, “Why don’t the family courts obey the law?” I quoted a trenchant recent judgment in which Lord Justice Munby, the head of the family courts, went out of his way to emphasise that “one of the oldest principles of our law” is that “no one is to be condemned unheard” – and that “any parents faced with the removal of their child must be entitled to make their case to the court”, and to challenge any evidence brought against them.
I then contrasted this with a case last year in which two parents arrived for a final hearing armed with a pile of evidence they wished to produce to support their case that their two young sons had been wrongly removed from them. (This included photographic evidence to show extensive injuries exhibited by their sons while in care, which were much worse than the single bruise used to justify their removal in the first place.)
According to the parents, they were astonished to be told by their lawyers that they could not come into the courtroom (as had happened on three previous occasions). And even more so when the lawyers emerged half an hour later from a private meeting with the judge to say that the case had gone against them and that their boys were to be sent for adoption. The judgment was apparently issued later that day, but the parents were not allowed to see it, and were told there were no grounds for any appeal.
I found all this surprising, not least because the judge in question, Judge Gareth Jones, has shown himself ready to be highly critical of social workers whom he finds to have acted improperly. When I argued that the case seemed to contradict what Munby called “one of the oldest principles of our law”, my article provoked some discussion on legal blogs. Then, 10 months after it was given, the judgment suddenly appeared on the Bailii website (EWFC/OJ/2014/B201). In a key paragraph, Judge Jones referred to “Miss Erwood”, representing the mother, and stated “the mother has been present during the course of today but she, like the father, has decided not to remain in this courtroom this afternoon for the purposes of this judgment”.
But the mother, an intelligent woman who is studying for a degree, is adamant that she and the father had not been allowed into the courtroom at all during that day. They had been told to wait in another room until the lawyers emerged to say that the judge had found against them. I gather on unimpeachable authority that the judge was “told” that the parents had “voluntarily left the court”, and that it was certainly not his decision that they be excluded from his courtroom.
On Thursday, I asked Miss Erwood’s chambers to confirm the circumstances whereby her client had been refused entry to the courtroom, but have had no reply. Three days after my last article, those parents were allowed to see their children for the last time. Although this is not the only occasion when I have come across parents being excluded from a family court, this particular case does appear to be such a conspicuous example of how Munby’s principles can be set aside that this matter should not be allowed to rest.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Foster Kids Fed Bleach
February 13, 2015 permalink
Kansas foster mother Pam Pertl, who got an F in physiology, made her foster kids drink bleach to mask traces of marijuana in an upcoming urine test. The incident occurred last summer, there is no news of the outcome of the charges.
Foster teen says she drank bleach to mask cannabis
BUNKER HILL, Kan. (AP) — A 54-year-old Kansas foster mother faces a felony charge of endangering a child after one of the teenagers under her care said they drank milk laced with bleach to “clean up” urine samples of marijuana traces, authorities said Friday.
Russell County Attorney Daniel Krug said that Pam Pertl of Bunker Hill was charged Thursday with misdemeanor marijuana possession, felony distribution of marijuana and felony aggravated endangerment of a child.
The Russell County Sheriff’s department said in a press release Thursday that deputies were called June 5 after a social worker and state officials reported Pertl and three foster teens in her care tested positive for marijuana. Undersheriff Max Barrett told The Associated Press on Friday that Pertl and two of her foster teens tested positive for marijuana, a third juvenile tested negative and a fourth was not involved. All four juveniles have been placed elsewhere.
The department did not release juveniles’ names or ages, but said they were female teenagers who had been living with Pertl in Bunker Hill, a town of about 100 residents in central Kansas.
Barrett said one of the teens told the social worker that Pertl and the teens also drank milk mixed with bleach to try to mask their urinary drug samples.
“They were trying to use the bleach to be able to clean up their UA,” their urinary analysis samples, Barrett said.
It was unclear Friday if Pertl had a lawyer. Calls to a phone listing under Pertl’s name were not answered Friday.
The sheriff’s department has been aware of Pertl as a longtime foster care provider and has had issues with her before, Barrett said.
“She is a foster mom who we have had a lot of trouble with, and in the last year we’ve had a numerous number of runaways from her home, so it’s a person we’re very familiar with,” Barrett said.
Theresa Freed, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families, said in an email Friday she could not comment on cases, but said foster parents “are held to high standards.”
“If it is determined a foster home is unsafe, children will no longer be placed there,” Freed said. “Any report of abuse or neglect made to the Department for Children and Families is taken seriously.” Krug said.
Pertl was released Thursday on $40,000 bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 10.
Source: KSNT News
Unborn Fetus is Legal Child in Ontario
February 12, 2015 permalink
David Froom appeared in a courtroom with a pregnant mother-to-be. Because it was a child protection proceeding the judge wanted him out of the room. No said Mr Froom, there is no child under the law until it is born. Judge Deborah L Chappel ruled that there was a child in this case. This ruling sets Ontario back to the days when abortion was homicide. Here is letter by David Froom (pdf).
Foster Boy Assaulted
February 12, 2015 permalink
Michael McLellan has been sentenced to ten years for sexually assaulting an eleven-year-old foster boy in Hamilton Ontario. The victim's family name remains confidential.
Hamilton man gets 10 years for sexual assault
A Hamilton father says he still has a lot of unanswered questions after a man was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting his 11-year-old son.
The father — whose name The Spectator can't publish by law to protect the boy's identity — said the boy is doing better about eight months after the incident, but "had a lot of anger" and still won't talk about what happened.
The father said the boy was relieved to hear that Michael McLellan, 49, pleaded guilty to sexual assault, breach of probation and breach of a court order in a Hamilton courtroom Thursday. Charges including sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching were withdrawn.
The plea spared the boy from having to testify.
"We were preparing him (for court)," the father told The Spectator Friday. "He didn't want to do it. He broke down."
McLellan was on probation at the time, after being convicted on similar charges. He befriended the boy and a friend at Beasley Park on the morning of June 18, 2014, Hamilton police said. He invited the boys — 11 and 15 years old at the time — back to his apartment where the younger boy was sexually assaulted.
The father said he first learned of the assault on Facebook.
"Sadly enough, we read about it on Facebook, that there was an assault at Beasley Park," he recalled. "I remember thinking 'Thank God it's not my kid.'"
Two hours later, the phone rang to let the father know his son was at the police station and had been assaulted.
The father's biggest concern is how a convicted offender was out in a downtown park on a summer morning. He said no one has answered that question. Police have previously declined to say if McLellan was registered as a sexual offender.
"There was no response. Never," the father said. "This guy (McLellan) is a mystery."
"There's tons I'd like to ask," he added. "I know I won't get any answers."
The father said he was also shocked because his son was in the care of the Children's Aid Society at a home in Brampton at the time. Even though the boys had no money, the father believes they talked a GO bus driver into letting them ride from Brampton to Hamilton for free that morning.
The two boys left the foster home at 4 a.m., the dad said.
"The couple in the home told us legally they can't put a hand on them," the dad said. "All they can do is call police and with police response time, they were already gone."
Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, said she wasn't familiar with the case but said such incidents can be a tough call for foster parents. Younger children can be prevented from leaving she said and police can be called when older children are involved.
"The foster parent's responsibility is to do what any parent would do," she said.
After pleading guilty Thursday, McLellan was sentenced to nine more years in custody for the sexual assault and one more year for breaching probation and a court order.
Detective John Pauls, of the Hamilton Police Child Abuse Branch, said the case can serve as a reminder for parents.
"We just want to remind parents to teach kids to be careful," Pauls said. "He befriended these boys in the park."
Source: Hamiltion Spectator
Faux Voluntary Adoption
February 12, 2015 permalink
In July 2014 mother Denise Michelle Shaver of Keswick Virginia took her own teenaged son from his foster home. A year earlier she voluntarily gave up her son for adoption.
This item severely distorts the meaning of voluntary. In relinquishing a child it likely means her signature is on a document. These signatures are often the product of coercion or deception. Shaver's actions showed that the adoption was not really voluntary. She answered a call for help from her son. This perilous situation is the only one in which fixcas recommends defying a court order to assist a child. The alternative entails too great a danger of child death.
The story ends with Shaver's guilty plea to kidnapping. Again, no mention of the coercion used to induce her plea.
Mother sentenced for kidnapping son
Denise Michelle Shaver, 39, of Keswick pleaded guilty Tuesday to the July 7, 2014, abduction of her 15-year-old son from his foster home in Level Run.
Shaver, who voluntarily gave up her son for adoption in 2013, was one of three people charged in the kidnapping.
Her daughter, Kayla Michelle Hoy, 21, of Amherst, and boyfriend, Kevin Scott Parrish, 24, of Keswick, both pleaded no contest to felony abduction charges Feb. 3 in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court.
The abduction charge stemmed from an Amber Alert issued by the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office after Dustin Wade Shaver went missing during the early morning hours of July 7 from a home in Hurt, where he had spent the night with an approved guardian.
The teenager was found unharmed about a week after he disappeared at Parrish’s aunt’s home in Benson, N.C.
On Tuesday, Shaver’s attorney, Michael Nicholas, waived a pre-sentence report and asked that his client be sentenced.
“Ms. Shaver immediately upon her arrest accepted responsibility for this crime. She admitted right away that she knew she didn’t have rights to him,” said Nicholas.
“Dustin called her and said he was in trouble. Her motivation was love for her child, not malice or anything else. It was a mother’s love for her son that drove her to do this,” he said.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Burke pointed out that Shaver kept Dustin hidden for several days before police caught up with them.
In her allocution prior to sentencing, Shaver, who has no prior felony record, said, “Your honor, my son needed me. I apologize. What I did was wrong.”
Judge Stacey W. Moreau fired back at Shaver, saying, “You had no rights at all to him; you gave him up. He gets in trouble going into an abandoned home and you undermined the foster parents. You were the catalyst to remove him out of a safe environment. That’s not acting out of love; that’s selfishness.
“You tried to justify it by saying, I’m his mother. Instead, you amplified all of the problems he had. You didn’t cooperate until you were caught hiding him,” the judge said.
“In September 2013, you authorized placement for adoption, then at a pivotal point, you come and take him away. If you really cared about him, you would have called social services, not plotted to abduct him,” said Moreau.
The judge then sentenced Shaver to five years in prison, all suspended except for six months.
She gave the defendant, who has been in jail since the incident, credit for time served and placed her on 24 months probation and good behavior for eight years.
The judge also ordered Shaver to have “absolutely no contact, direct or indirect, with Dustin Shaver.”
According to the evidence, Dustin Shaver had been causing trouble with the neighbors near his foster parents’ home and had learned two weeks prior to his disappearance that he was most likely going to be moved to a group home.
On the morning of July 7, he called his biological mother and told her to pick him up at Wayside Park in Hurt.
He had just returned from vacation with his foster family and had spent the night at their daughter and son-in-law’s home in Hurt.
Shaver, Hoy, and Parrish picked him up between 6 and 7 a.m. and then drove him to the foster parents’ home to get his dog before taking off to North Carolina where Parrish’s parents lived.
The foster family did not get worried until around 2 p.m. that afternoon, because the teenager was known for taking walks in the woods.
It was after that that Deputy Devin Taylor of the Pittsylvania County sheriff’s office issued an amber alert.
Authorities eventually tracked down the juvenile by checking an unidentified phone number on the foster family’s cell phone. The boy had called Kevin Parrish’s phone to give directions to his mother.
Source: Chatham (Virginia) Star Tribune
Cultural Enrichment Punished
February 12, 2015 permalink
Washington DC mother Jessica Smith decided to enrich her son's life by taking him along on a month-long trip to Mongolia. The boy, Zorigt (Ziggy), had been adopted from Mongolia and was curious to see his country of origin. To ensure Ziggy did not fall behind in the second grade, Jessica arranged a study plan with his school and hired him a tutor while in Mongolia. There the family adopted another Mongolian.
None of this satisfied social workers. A year after their return from Mongolia Jessica was charged with criminal child neglect.
How a family adoption trip led to a charge of criminal child neglect
For three years, Jessica Smith’s son had been begging her for a little brother.
Then the orphanage in Mongolia that had given her Ziggy called to tell her that it had another young boy for her. At the time, Ziggy, whose given name is Zorigt, had just started second grade at a D.C. public school.
Smith had to make a decision. Should she and Ziggy fly to Ulaanbaatar and adopt the child they’d been seeking to make their family three? Or should she avoid the risk of too many classroom absences and give up on the child for which they had been longing and waiting?
The decision she made landed Smith in D.C. Superior Court last month on a charge of criminal child neglect. In a city battling a sky-high truancy rate, her story illustrates the absurd rigidity of the rules, which forbid excusing more than 10 absences without a doctor’s note, a court note or an emergency.
Smith knew there was little chance she could travel to Mongolia, endure the rigorous, in-person vetting process, get all the adoption paperwork finished and make it back to Washington in fewer than 10 days. She’s a single mom with no family in the District, and she didn’t have anyone she could ask to care for Ziggy while she was gone.
She also knew that if she brought the first child she had adopted from that orphanage — now a bright, articulate, independent and bubbly hockey player beloved by his friends — she would have a better chance of being approved for a second child.
And Ziggy had been asking about his homeland. His mother thought three weeks in Mongolia would be a vastly richer experience for him than three weeks in second grade. He would learn so much from seeing people who look like him, hearing people who talk like the Mongolians he meets at local cultural gatherings, and eating the lamb and beef dumplings he had heard so much about. Plus, maintaining a connection to his heritage was part of that country’s adoption requirements.
Smith asked Peter Young, the principal of Brent Elementary School on Capitol Hill, if this trip could be considered an emergency, if she could put Ziggy on a study plan while they were gone. She exchanged e-mails with Young and another school administrator. Those e-mails led Smith to believe that she had received permission and that Ziggy’s absences would be excused.
She got a study plan, lugged along a six-inch-high pile of homework and even hired a tutor in Mongolia to keep Ziggy up on his studies.
But, according to D.C. Public Schools records, the principal signed a truancy referral less than two months after Ziggy, his new brother, Nergu, and Smith returned from Mongolia. That referral went to a school social worker and then to the courts.
Young wouldn’t comment on his e-mails with Smith, and DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said she wouldn’t comment on an individual case.
But what happened — according to the paper trail Smith gave me and four interviews with her — was that Smith took Ziggy to Mongolia, returned with a 2-year-old brother for him, and life went back to normal.
There were no calls or e-mails from the principal, Smith said, and Ziggy successfully finished second grade and started third grade in August. There were also no robocalls, no scary truancy letters or brochures about truancy law, like the kind that Avery Gagliano’s parents received when their middle-schooler missed class to perform at international piano competitions and prestigious festivals two years ago.
Avery, a 13-year-old piano prodigy, is now being home-schooled because her parents were so rattled by their brush with the truancy system.
Smith said the first sign that she had been ensnared by the city’s truancy law came just a few weeks ago, when someone knocked on her door and served her with a summons. She was ordered to appear in court on a criminal neglect charge because Ziggy was absent for 20 days nearly a year and a half ago.
Outraged, she contacted the school — and Young — demanding to know why this was happening.
In an e-mail to her, Young called it the result of “miscommunication. I am the person who, as the ‘personal institution’ last year, ultimately approved the days as ‘excused.’ My signing of the truancy referral must have been made initially when I communicated that the days would be ‘unexcused.’ I will work on my end to contribute to an amicable resolution in hopes that we are all able to move forward in a positive way from this.”
For Smith, the prospect of a court appearance on Jan. 27 was frightening. She texted me from court as she waited for her case to come up: “I didn’t realize this is a criminal charge. Even more scary. I can’t believe a principal would do this and not know the consequences.”
Adoptive parents are forever under a microscope. And a single mother who has adopted two orphans from a foreign country may be judged a little more harshly, she worried.
Smith, 48, recently left her job as a producer for National Public Radio to focus on her boys. Jail time would be disastrous.
When the judge took the bench and Smith approached with her packet of files, letters and paperwork, the two recognized each other from their sons’ sports teams.
The judge recused herself from the case, and Smith’s court date was rescheduled. She was assigned a public defender but also started shopping for a lawyer, dipping into the savings that was meant to carry her and the boys through her time at home with them.
Then, another surprise arrived several days ago, when Smith heard from her public defender. The case had been dismissed. Young had written a letter excusing the absences.
Victory? Not quite.
Like the Gaglianos, Smith said she has lost faith in the school system because of this episode. School officials had her child in class for a year and a half, knew her family well and still proceeded with a court referral. “It’s a slap in the face and it’s insulting,” she said.
DCPS stands by the way the case was handled.
“What I believe is most important to emphasize here is why these protocols exist in the first place, which is to protect children,” Salmanowitz said. “It is explicit for a reason — that reason being that no matter why the absence, someone is looking out to make sure the child is safe.”
For example, Salmanowitz said, what if a parent told the school that he or she would be taking a child on a trip to a foreign country?
“It is likely that is the case at face value,” she said. “It is also possible, however, that a parent could say they were going somewhere and instead put that child in harm’s way. We wouldn’t know unless we have a protocol that is thorough and explicit. We have to protect children. We do not have to protect or excuse a parent who wants their child to miss school.”
Yes, that sounds good. And it’s a great way to protect a child in real danger, such as Relisha Rudd.
Relisha was 8 when she was last seen nearly a year ago. Someone at her elementary school — also on Capitol Hill — finally realized she had been missing classes for about 30 days and sounded an alarm. It didn’t help that her mother had lied to the school about where Relisha was. But that protocol didn’t save the girl.
No one is trying to play down the truancy problem, either locally or nationally. Studies show that frequent absences lead to low test scores, high dropout rates and trouble. Between 5 million and 7.5 million kids miss about a month of school every year in America.
And the last thing we want to do is create a two-tiered system that gives the thumbs-up to affluent parents skipping school for long trips to Vail, Colo., when the skiing conditions are great, classes be darned.
But Ziggy’s and Avery’s cases aren’t exceptional. I’ve received dozens of calls and e-mails from parents whose kids also got caught in the truancy system because of legitimate absences. There were other horror stories about lawyers and court dates, too.
The problem isn’t going after chronic truancy. The problem is an absence of common sense when resources are heaped upon students who are doing just fine in school, whose parents are engaged and communicating with teachers while the kids who desperately need more support, more help and more attention — like Relisha — end up at the bottom of the pile, again.
That’s why this is absurd. And why badgering parents such as Smith and the Gaglianos is a waste of everyone’s time.
Source: Washington Post
Help Joey Knelsen!
February 11, 2015 permalink
Foster boy Joey Knelsen is fed up with his treatment by Ontario CAS and his foster parents. He has posted a plea for help to YouTube and our local copy. Joey knows the names of most of his siblings, but not the youngest. His social worker Kerry (spelling uncertain) Anderson lied about its birth. Expand to read the YouTube blurb.
Kindnapped child by the devils (children aid) finally escapes from hell
I'm sick of the courts, the police and the children aid society. No one is helping me get back to my real parents house, so I'm finally standing up for myself and for my nine other siblings that are in foster care. My real parents are Arnold and Maria Knelsen and I and my nine other sibling in foster care want to be with and live at our biological parents house. They live at 2514 Highway 59, Langton ON, N0J 1E0. Please help us get back to our real parents. We are sick an tired of getting verbally and physically abused by the children aid and the foster parents. They deprive us of food, money, clothing. We, Arnold, Ben, Martin, Helen, Mina, Tina, Luka, William, and little baby want to go to and stay at our real parents house forever!
Addendum: The press prints the story.
Teen boy reported missing in Fisherville
FISHERVILLE - A 14-year-old boy reported missing in Haldimand County Monday afternoon remains unaccounted for 24 hours later.
Joey Knelsen, of Fisherville, left school in Hagersville during the lunch hour Monday and did not return for afternoon classes, the Haldimand OPP said.
“We’re still working on it,” Const. Mark Foster, spokesperson for the Haldimand OPP, said Tuesday around 3 p.m. “We’re in meetings to determine what our next avenue of investigation is going to be.”
Knelsen’s parents contacted police at 4:05 p.m. when he did not return home from school. The parents say this is out of character for the teen.
Police say his friends and addresses Knelsen normally frequents have been checked.
Knelsen is described as white, about 168 cm (5’6”) tall, and weighing 59 to 64 kgs (130 to 140 lbs). His hair is dyed a bright red.
He was last seen wearing a grey Argyle sweater, grey jeans, a dark blue-pea coat and fluorescent yellow, high-top running shoes.
Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1–888–310-1122. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1–800–222–TIPS (8477). Anonymous messages can be left at www.helpsolvecrime.com.
The Haldimand OPP will provide updates as they become available.
Source: Simcoe Reformer
A friend with knowledge of the family tells the truth:
Joey has run from foster where he was being abused. Parents have been fighting to have the nine children returned home. They have lost everything financially including the farm to pay for the legal fees. Funny how this news article is saying he ran from home. NOT TRUE. He ran from the foster mother who is verbally and physically abusing him! ~ He reached out for help last week on youtube with a video. We are hoping he contacts Canada Court Watch so advocates can help him!
Source: Facebook, name suppressed by request
Some of the YouTube videos posted by this family have been blocked with the message: "This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government. Sorry about that."
Addendum: An February 25 Anonymous posted a video preserving much of the censored material on the Knelsen family.
Boys are Fungible
February 11, 2015 permalink
A British social worker took a boy from primary school for a visit with his dad. But she grabbed the wrong boy, Kenzie Joe Jubb. This is not the first time a social worker took the wrong child.
Social work? More like social berk: Wrong boy removed from school and taken to visit 'dad'
His parents are demanding to know why their boy, who has no dealings with social services, was plucked from the classroom
A social worker was given the simple task of collecting a lad from his primary school and driving him to see his dad for a supervised visit.
But the WRONG BOY was taken from the class and sent off in the social worker’s car.
The confused lad – four-year-old nursery pupil Kenzie Joe Jubb – had arrived at a social services office before the school realised there had been a shocking mistake.
School staff alerted the council about the blunder and Kenzie was hastily returned.
His parents are demanding to know why their boy, who has no dealings with social services, was plucked from the classroom.
Kenzie’s dad Alistair, said: “We are furious. CCTV shows he was away from school for 11 minutes.
"Eleven minutes is a long time when your son is with someone he doesn’t know.
How do you get the wrong child? Someone has messed up and we want to know who.
“When I was told about Kenzie being taken, the first thing that went through my head was that it was by someone with a fake identification. It was horrific.”
A two-year-old girl – who is the sister of the boy who was meant to be taken to his dad – was also in the car when the social worker drove Kenzie from Francis Askew Primary School in Hull, East Yorkshire.
Hull city council says it will join forces with the school to investigate the blunder.
John Readman, the authority’s director of children’s services, said: “This incident should not have occurred.
“The school and the local authority have apologised to the families involved for the distress it must have caused.
"Importantly, the child was at all times supervised by an experienced member of staff.”
Source: Mirror (UK)
Motherisk Failures Expand
February 11, 2015 permalink
More investigative reporting by the Star shows that Motherrisk has continued issuing false test results in spite of press releases claiming that the problems have been corrected. Earlier news   .
Motherisk review should be expanded: Innocence Project
York University's Innocence Project says the scope of the review of hair drug tests performed at Sick Kids lab should be broadened in light of one mother’s recent case
Sarah was in the midst of a bitter child custody fight with her ex when she got drug test results she feared could tip the scales in his favour.
With both partners levelling allegations of substance abuse, they agreed last spring to submit hair samples to the Motherisk Laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children for testing.
“I had zero concerns. Sick Kids is a well-known, respected hospital,” says the 34-year-old health-care worker, who claims she has only an occasional glass of wine, and does not do drugs.
Her confidence crumbled when she got the results, which indicated she had used marijuana — at a rate, she was told, of at least three to five joints per week — in the previous three months.
“I started almost hyperventilating, because I didn’t know what to do,” says Sarah, whose name has been changed to protect the identity of her young daughter. “I was terrified.”
It would take days of pleading with Motherisk to retest her sample, and nearly a month of waiting for the results, before the lab confirmed in a letter that the analysis was, in fact, incorrect.
“(Sarah’s) hair sample should be considered negative for cannabinoids,” Motherisk manager Joey Gareri wrote in a letter last June. “It is highly likely that the initial positive finding for cannabinoids ... was a false-positive result.”
According to York University’s Innocence Project, the case suggests that the problems at Motherisk may have continued beyond 2010.
Following a Star investigation, the province appointed a retired judge in November to probe the “reliability and adequacy” of five years’ worth of hair drug tests performed by Motherisk and used in child protection and criminal cases, from 2005 to 2010.
In light of Sarah’s story, the Innocence Project is asking the province to expand the scope of the review to include more recent cases, as well as child custody battles that do not involve protection issues.
“In order to have the best and more informed perspectives on (Motherisk’s) problems, it is necessary to look at other instances where they may have made mistakes,” reads a letter sent to Justice Susan Lang last month, signed by all 12 of the project’s law students and law professor Alan Young.
“The case at hand is evidence that these problems have persisted past 2010 and that they have occurred in a variety of currently unexamined contexts.”
The Star started asking questions after an appeal court decision in October cast doubt on the reliability of the screening test used before 2010. At the time, Motherisk’s hair drug test results were routinely accepted without challenge in courts as evidence of parental substance abuse.
The terms of the review were set after the investigation revealed that Motherisk used a screening technique called enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), to test hair for cocaine from at least 2005 to 2010, when the lab said it switched to a gold-standard technique for the drug.
As the Star has reported, the literature in the field of hair testing states that results using a screening method such as the ELISA test must be confirmed using a gold-standard test before being presented in a court of law. Experts agree that this analysis should be done in a forensic lab, which has more rigorous standards than a clinical lab, such as Motherisk.
In response to questions for this story, the hospital confirmed that Motherisk used the ELISA screening method to test hair for evidence of marijuana use until May 2014.
Sarah’s test was performed a few weeks earlier, on April 16, 2014.
Citing privacy concerns, Sick Kids spokeswoman Gwen Burrows said she could not discuss the case. But she said Motherisk’s switch last year to the new technique, called liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), “was not prompted by any specific cases.”
Burrows continued to defend the reliability of the ELISA screening technique.
“Based on our proficiency testing history, the test exhibits no evidence of false-positive risk,” Burrows said, adding that retesting is considered “when results are close to detection limits.”
That appears to contradict the letter from Gareri.
Sick Kids and Motherisk “have the utmost respect to the families, their rights and vulnerabilities,” she said. “If the results of a hair test are disputed by the mother, the family or their lawyer, the test is repeated by (Motherisk) and/or by an outside laboratory.”
In Sarah’s case, Gareri said in his letter that after she disputed the findings, Motherisk retested her hair sample on-site, using LC-MS/MS technology, and sent a sample to the United States Drug Testing Laboratories in Illinois, which tested it using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), another gold-standard technique. Both of those tests came back negative.
Burrows said Motherisk has performed gold-standard testing on-site since 2010 to analyze hair samples for evidence of opioids (such as heroin), meperidine, methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine.
She did not explain why the lab continued using the screening method to test for marijuana use until 2014.
But the Innocence Project’s Bethany McKoy said this discrepancy “highlights the urgency” of broadening the scope of the review.
“What it really says is there may be other questions that we haven’t even begun to probe. There may be other areas for review that we haven’t even considered,” said McKoy, a second-year law student.
“Unless the review shows that sort of flexibility ... we cannot be sure that we’re covering everything.”
Justice Lang is not giving interviews to media “to preserve her impartiality,” her counsel, Linda Rothstein, said.
Rothstein said Lang does not have the authority to change the terms of the review, which were established through an order of the Ministry of the Attorney General and “can only be expanded through a new order.”
Asked whether the attorney general would consider making such an order, spokesman Brendan Crawley said on Monday that the ministry “has not been contacted by the Innocence Project, and has no information on this case.”
Crawley said the outcome of the review will be made public this summer and “will determine whether further actions are necessary to ensure public confidence in the province’s child protection system and the operation of the courts.”
Sarah, for one, is anxious for answers. Her custody battle is ongoing.
“People need to start explaining what’s happened,” she said. “How many people has this happened to?”
About the Motherisk review
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur has described the independent review launched in November as a first step that could lead to a much broader inquiry.
On a website created for the independent review, www.m-hair.ca , Justice Susan Lang said she will be meeting with scientists and organizations, but will not be holding public meetings.
In late January, she announced the appointment of two forensic toxicologists to help with the review: Prof. Olaf H. Drummer, deputy director at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and head of the Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia; and Dr. Gail Audrey Ann Cooper, an independent consultant forensic toxicologist and director of Cooper Gold Forensic Consultancy Ltd., in Scotland.
To make a submission or request a meeting with Justice Lang or her counsel, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Toronto Star
February 10, 2015 permalink
Norwegian child protectors took two Michalák brothers from their family and placed them for adoption by two separate foster families. As in almost all child protection cases, the loss of the children led to the breakup of the marriage. The now-single mother is still trying to get her children back. Her contact is limited to 15 minutes twice a year, and in that time she is not allowed to communicate in the Czech language. Czech Republic president Miloš Zeman has likened the actions of Norway to Lebensborn, the Nazi program that seized infants from occupied countries. If they qualified as Aryan under tests by Nazi race experts, the babies were deported to Germany to be raised as Germans.
Zeman makes Nazi comparison in custody case
President compares Norway’s child welfare service to Germany’s wartime Lebensborn program
Prague, Feb 8 (ČTK) — Czech President Miloš Zeman compared the Norwegian child welfare service, which has taken kids from a Czech mother, to the Nazi child-raising program Lebensborn, in a debate on tabloid Blesk’s website, but stressed that this parallel is exaggerated, provocative and means a hyperbole.
He said the children, placed in Norwegian foster families, are to be estranged from their national identity.
The Norwegian authorities took the Michalák brothers from their Czech parents in 2011 on suspicion of maltreatment. The boys have been placed each in a different foster family.
Their mother has almost no chance to see them. She wants the boys to return to her and she turned to the Norwegian court with her claim last year again.
“The boys are in a foster facility similar to Lebensborn. Their mother can meet them for 15 minutes twice a year. She must not talk in Czech to them. In other words, the kids are being estranged from their national identity,” Zeman said.
The Norwegian system raises “young Norwegians,” he added.
Lebensborn was the Third Reich’s program for raising Aryans. The children, born in special facilities, were designed for adoption by German families. The racially pure offspring were intended to populate the occupied areas from which the Nazis transferred the original inhabitants.
Zeman said Norway’s approach has “certain elements common” with Lebensborn. He added, nevertheless, that his statement is a provocation, a hyperbole and exaggeration that will surely trigger an uproar.
Zeman said a week ago he met the Norwegian ambassador to Prague over the Michalák brothers and conveyed his “very critical position” on the case to her. The ambassador told him that the information about the boys’ lives is confidential.
In a situation where neither the Norwegian authorities nor the Czech side have any documents to explain why the boys were taken from their parents, the Norwegian child welfare service is “a state in a state,” Zeman said.
He recommended that the Norwegian court discuss the case again and provide information to the Czech Republic.
Zeman said he had also asked the ambassador to currently inform Prague about the development of the Michaláks case. However, if he heard the ambassador say once again that the information is confidential, he cannot rule out using the Lebensborn parallel in an official conversation as well, Zeman said.
Source: Prague Post
Las Vegas Child Protectors Defy Court
February 10, 2015 permalink
Las Vegas child protectors are in direct violation of an order from the supreme court of Nevada. They are refusing to return Emma to her birth family after ordered to do so by the court.
Clark County & State Argue Over Foster Child
Nevada Supreme Court orders 5-year-old returned to birth parents
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Clark County Department of Family Services is fighting to keep a 5-year-old girl with her foster parents instead of her birth parents.
The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled the girl should be sent back home to the same parents investigators say were responsible for nearly beating her to death when she was a baby.
The girl, only identified as “Emma,” has been with the J.D. Smith family since county investigators removed her from her birth parents’ home when she was 5 weeks old.
Court records show she suffered a head fracture and subdural hematomas.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brigid Duffy told KLAS-TV that all legal options are being considered to determine if the family services agency can fight the ruling to ensure the girl’s safety.
Source: KLAS-TV CBS Las Vegas
Alberta's Former Medical Examiner Sues Province
February 8, 2015 permalink
Doctor Anny Sauvageau left the office of Alberta's chief medical examiner in January when her contract was not renewed. She has just filed suit against the province for wrongful dismissal. She makes several claims alleging that political interference prevented her from functioning in her job. So far the press has mentioned no connection with foster deaths. This article is posted here just in case that issue comes up in the future.
Alleging political interference, former chief medical examiner files $5.15-million lawsuit against Alberta’s justice minister
Four civil servants also named
EDMONTON - Alberta’s former chief medical examiner has named Justice Minister Jonathan Denis and four senior civil servants in a $5-million wrongful dismissal lawsuit that makes explosive allegations of political interference.
In a statement of claim filed Tuesday in Edmonton, Dr. Anny Sauvageau alleges she was intimidated and the independence of her office compromised during her tenure as the province’s chief medical examiner.
The 24-page lawsuit claims direct interference with the office’s body-viewing policies, review of cause of death procedures, staffing decisions, and Sauvageau’s role as the province’s top forensic pathologist.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Sauvageau claims in the lawsuit her concerns about the political interference resulted in intimidation and her requests for meetings with both Denis and Premier Jim Prentice went unanswered.
Her contract expired in June 2014, but was extended to Jan. 1, 2015, until new contracts could be finalized. In the lawsuit, she says she was given repeated verbal and written assurances her contract would be renewed for a five-year term. She claims the province’s decision not to renew her term “was in direct retaliation and retribution for the concerns (Sauvageau) raised about political interference.”
Prentice said Thursday Sauvageau outlined her concerns in writing shortly after he became premier. He then forwarded those concerns to Denis for review.
“I did not think it was appropriate for me to be involved in that. I asked the Attorney General to look at it, examine it closely and make sure that it was handled in an appropriate manner, and my understanding is that is exactly what has been happening,” Prentice said by phone from New York.
Sauvageau is seeking $5.15 million in lost wages and damages in the lawsuit naming Denis, deputy minister of Justice Tim Grant, associate deputy minister and deputy Attorney General Kim Armstrong and assistant deputy ministers Maryann Everett and Donavon Young.
In an email, a spokeswoman for Denis said Sauvageau “was not dismissed.”
“Her contract expired Dec. 31, 2014, and no government contractor is entitled to an automatic renewal,” spokeswoman Jessica Jacobs-Mino said. “These are unproven allegations. As they begin a legal action, it is inappropriate to comment further as in general for matters before the courts.”
Sauvageau claims she was under “intense pressure” to approve amended body transportation contracts to appease the Alberta Funeral Services Association and “the rural vote.” In the lawsuit she says she was intentionally excluded from discussions about body transportation services — which had a direct impact on her office — and was opposed to the changes because it would mean spending an extra $3 million over a three-year term.
The statement of claim says Sauvageau expressed her concerns in a letter to Prentice on Sept. 23, 2014, in which she outlined complaints her office had received about body transportation services handled by funeral homes.
Among the complaints included in her letter were a body transported in the bed of a pickup truck; funeral home staff taking photos of crime scenes for personal collections; and funeral homes sending the bill for body transportation to both the family of the deceased and the office of the chief medical examiner.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: Here is the statement of claim (pdf).
Source: David Swann
February 6, 2015 permalink
What do children need for comfort after forced separation from their families through apprehension and crown wardship? They need more friendly terminology. The Children in Limbo Task Force is suggesting no improvements in the lives of families and children, only more pleasant terminology. Apprehension will become "bring (or take) into care". Crown wardship will become "permanent guardianship" or "temporary care". The full glossary includes nine new terms. The trouble is, the current terms are already euphemisms. Apprehension is really arrest, and a crown ward is a sham orphan.
This news is in anticipation of the five-year review of the Child and Family Services Act due in April. If terminology change is one of the prime recommendations, the review will offer no relief to children and families, only window dressing.
Why are children in CAS care described like criminals?
Advocates for youth in Ontario's children's aid system want to change the stigmatizing language in the legislation.
Thousands of Ontario children and youth are apprehended, placed into custody or put on probation every year without ever committing a crime.
And yet those are some of the terms Ontario’s child welfare legislation uses to describe how children’s aid societies treat kids who are neglected or physically and emotionally abused in their homes.
Advocates for children hope Ontario’s current five-year review of the provincial Child and Family Services Act will change this “archaic” terminology, using as a guide the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Every organization has a culture, and the language used within its services reflects that culture,” says the Children in Limbo Task Force, in its submission to the review.
“It is time to modernize and humanize the language by eliminating demeaning terms such as ‘apprehend,’ ‘custody,’ and ‘runaway,’ thus effecting a positive change to the act and to the culture in which we all live,” says the task force, a coalition of lawyers, social workers, academics and children’s aid officials.
The group partnered with former and current youth in the care of children’s aid societies. The young people’s views are also included in the submission.
They noted that children and youth in foster care and group homes already feel stigmatized because they aren’t living with their birth parents. The legal language used to describe their experiences adds to the pain, the task force said.
The review, launched last fall, specifically highlights modernizing and clarifying language in the act as a key goal for the province. Children’s Minister Tracy MacCharles is scheduled to report on the review in April.
“We must change the lexicon,” said task force member Marv Bernstein, policy adviser for UNICEF Canada. “These children are not offenders, victims, or the property of others, but rather individuals full of potential for achievement and success in each of their own ways.”
Bernstein was Saskatchewan’s independent children’s advocate from 2005 to 2010 and chief legal counsel for the Toronto Catholic Children’s Aid Society from 1980 to 2000.
As a lawyer, he said he recognizes that changing legislative language may open the system to legal challenges. “However, as a task force we feel it’s important to convey a strong message to children and families that they are respected, that we want to humanize their situation,” he said.
“Apprehension” seems to be the most objectionable term, the task force found. In New Brunswick and British Columbia the term “removal” is now used in the legislation to indicate the non-consensual removal of a child from his or her home, Bernstein said.
Another option would be to say that a child has been “given into care” or “placed into care” of a children’s aid society without the consent of the parent or caregiver, he said.
“Custody” implies punishment and control, the task force heard. Instead, the legislation should say a child has been “placed in the care of a child welfare agency or residence.”
It is also important to look at language used in child welfare practice, the task force says. Young people don’t like being referred to as “cases” or “files,” Bernstein said.
When asked for their impressions of the act, youth were particularly upset about the term “runaway,” because it automatically labels them delinquent when they may be running away from a dangerous situation involving physical or sexual abuse.
“It takes away from the story of why the young person might want to escape from where they are,” said Cheyanne Ratnam, 27, a former youth in care who advised the task force.
“I know because I ran away before coming into care,” said Ratnam, who ran away because of “domestic issues” and chose to go into group care at age 13.
“The language is very stigmatizing and very disempowering,” she said.
“Crown wardship” and “society wardship” are outdated terms not used anywhere else in Canada, said task force member Gail Aitken, a former Ryerson University social work professor.
One of the youth who participated in the task force focus group wondered if becoming a Crown ward meant getting a crown, she said.
Instead, the act should refer to children “being placed into the temporary or permanent care of a children’s aid society,” she said.
The negative language persists even when children are adopted and put under “probation” before the arrangement is finalized, the task force said.
Instead of using such a quasi-criminal term, the task force suggests the act should say a child is in the “initial” or “first phase” of an adoption placement.
Youth should be consulted province-wide on any language changes to ensure they don’t find the new language equally offensive, Bernstein added.
The task force said it hopes addressing the language problems will open the door to a more thorough review that looks at the legislation through a children’s rights lens.
“We see this as a golden opportunity.”
Source: Toronto Star
Pope Supports Parental Authority
February 6, 2015 permalink
Pope Francis believes it is fine for parents to smack their children as punishment for bad behavior. The pope is one of the few authority figures willing to incur the wrath of child protectors and stick up for families.
Pope Francis: parents can smack their children for bad behaviour
Pope Francis says it is acceptable for parents to smack their children to punish bad behaviour
Pope Francis believes it is fine for parents to smack their children as punishment for bad behaviour.
He made the remarks, which were condemned by campaigners for child protection, in front of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square during a homily about the responsibilities of fatherhood.
The Pope recalled a conversation he had had with a father, who told him that on occasion he hits his children if they have been naughty.
The Pope, smiling and miming the action of slapping a child on the bottom, said: “One time, I heard a father say, 'At times I have to hit my children a bit, but never in the face so as not to humiliate them.’
“That’s great. He had a sense of dignity. He should punish, do the right thing, and then move on,” he told around 7,000 people gathered in the Pope Paul VI Hall on Wednesday.
The endorsement of corporal punishment was condemned by campaign groups.
“It is disappointing that anyone with that sort of influence would make such a comment,” said Peter Newell, the coordinator of the Global Alliance to End Corporal Punishment of Children.
Peter Saunders, the founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told The Telegraph: “I think that is a very misguided thing to have said and I’m surprised he said it, although he does come up with some howlers sometimes.”
Mr Saunders, who was abused by two Catholic priests as a child in London, was appointed by the Pope to a Vatican commission on protecting children from abusive priests and will take part in its first full meeting on Friday in Rome.
“It is a most unhelpful remark to have made and I will tell him that,” said Mr Saunders, who expects to meet the Pope this weekend.
But the remarks were defended by Father Antonio Mazzi, a priest well-known in Italy for his television appearances.
“This Pope is always astounding us because he uses the same language we use. Naturally there will be psychologists who protest, but they make me laugh,” he said.
Last month, during a visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the Pope said that if someone insulted his mother, they could expect “a punch” in the face.
He made the comments in relation to the terrorist attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, suggesting that someone who insults another person’s religion should not be surprised by a violent reaction.
Meanwhile it was announced that the 78-year-old Argentinian pontiff will address the US Congress on Sept 24, becoming the first Pope ever to do so.
“That day His Holiness will be the first Pope in our history to address a joint session of Congress,” John Boehner, the House Speaker, said.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Ontario Foster Mom Sentenced
February 5, 2015 permalink
Sherilee Slatter, mentioned in earlier news reports, has been sentenced to three years for three sexual offenses against her parents' foster daughter and later her own foster son.
Former foster mom gets three years
BELLEVILLE - A former Bloomfield foster parent has been sentenced to three years in jail.
Sherilee Slatter was sentenced Thursday morning by Justice Wolf Tausendfreund in Belleville.
In December, Slatter was found guilty of sexual exploitation and sexual assault stemming from allegations that first arose in 2005 when she was the foster mother of a 15-year-old boy. Her married name at the time was Sherilee Fildey.
Slatter had also been found guilty of one count of invitation to sexual touching linked to her abuse of a 15-year-old girl, who was a foster child in the home of Slatter’s father, back in 2008.
Slatter is now in her mid-30s, she lives in Sudbury with her partner and two young children.
Aside from her three years in custody, Slatter has also been ordered to provide DNA for the national DNA bank.
She will also be registered on both the provincial and federal sex offender registry.
Both teen victims were wards of the now-defunct Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society. The Highland Shores CAS now covers the areas once managed by the societies in Prince Edward, Hastings and Northumberland Counties. The merger was triggered by a government investigation which found instances of neglect, lapses in oversight and an overall dysfunctional Prince Edward County entity.
Assistant Crown Attorney Jodi Whyte had suggested Slatter serve between six and eight years in custody while the defence suggested between two and three.
Tausendfreund said although the crimes took place during another stage in her life and “she has moved on,” the assaults represent, with respect to the male victim, a “concerted breach of trust.”
He also said there were five sexual encounters between Slatter and the male victim, some of which took place when he was 15-years-old, but it is unclear how many occurred before or after he turned 16.
“The significance of (him) turning 16, is once he turned 16 he was then in a legal position to consent,” said Tausendfreund.
The judge also said the male victim disclosed his sexual encounters with Slatter “when and to whom it suited him, he was not shy about it.”
“What he did not do, however, was to mention it or to complain to his Children’s Aid Society worker or to anyone from the CAS. When the OPP investigated the matter in 2005, he told police he did not want to proceed with charges,” he said. “In fact, no further action was taken by the OPP and the matter lay dormant for seven years.”
In 2012, he said, the male learned other former foster children were moving ahead with civil actions for damages – against the CAS – based on alleged abuse on them while they were in foster care.
“He decided he would like to be part of such a claim for damages, which prompted him to speak to police again, and these charges followed.”
Tausendfreund said the most troubling aspect of Slatter’s involvement with the male victim was the fact she was a foster parent to him at the time.
“That I find to be an egregious breach of trust by her. That was a breach of a trust she owed not only to (victim) but also to the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society and to the entire system,” he said.
The incident with the female victim occurred in June 2008 when Slatter, who’s marriage had broken up, lived with her parents – who were also foster parents. The victim was a foster child in the care of Slatter’s parents.
“She made the arrangement....plied the complainant with alcohol and encouraged her (victim) to fondle herself. The complainant, years later, is still embarrassed and mortified about her actions which unfolded entirely and only as a result of the encouragement of the accused and in a setting which she had arranged.”
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Parents Don't Know How Daughter Died
February 4, 2015 permalink
Six-week-old Dani Isabella Jean died in Alberta provincial care on May 4, 2013. Nearly two years later parents Kuna-Bianca Sauve and Paul Jean do not know for sure how their daughter died. First it was reported as SIDS, then as accidentally tangled in bedsheets. The next explanation may come from the fatality inquiry announced last December.
Alberta couple accuses province of withholding information about daughter’s death while in care
EDMONTON — An Edmonton mother and father whose infant daughter died while in the care of the province in 2013 say they thought for more than a year that their baby died of sudden infant death syndrome, when that wasn’t the case.
Kuna Sauve and Paul Jean say they first learned of the cause of their six-week-old daughter Dani Jean’s death through a newspaper report.
“The reason I was upset about it was that I had known nothing about it,” said Sauve, Dani’s mother.
Dani was three weeks old when she was taken into provincial care. Three weeks later, Sauve received a phone call telling her Jean was in the hospital.
“On the way to the hospital I kept praying that she wasn’t dead,” she recalled. “But she was gone.”
A few days after Dani’s death, Sauve says she was told by the medical examiner that her daughter died of SIDS. But the couple learned through a media report last August that Dani died after becoming tangled in her foster parents’ bed sheets. Her death was deemed accidental.
The newspaper report had to do with the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta’s report into the baby’s death. Sauve and Jean received a copy of it, but didn’t realize it would be published.
“So now I’m confused, ME (medical examiner) says sudden infant death, this report says accidental death due to bed-sharing and I have no idea anymore,” said Sauve.
Sauve says there was another surprise this past December, again through a media report, when the couple learned the province had ordered a fatality inquiry into Dani’s death.
Dani’s parents accused the province of leaving them in the dark.
“It makes it really hard for us to get any kind of closure because who’s telling the truth? What is the actual truth about how she died?” said Jean.
Alberta’s foster care system has been under scrutiny in recent years. In April 2014, the province introduced changes to allow the publication of names and photos of children who had died in government care. Bill 11 became law in July of last year.
Some critics say the system is still broken.
“For a long time now this PC government has not dealt with children in care properly,” said NDP Human Services critic David Eggen. “It’s an indication of larger issues of not caring about people who need care the most.”
“In general, the family or next of kin is informed of the public fatality inquiry when it is confirmed there will be an inquiry and when the inquiry is scheduled,” Dan Laville, a spokesperson with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, said in an emailed statement.
“The notification process can be affected for any number of reasons, including difficulties related to locating the next of kin and precautions related to privacy considerations.”
Laville says there are a number of ways for families to raise concerns, including contacting the Fatality Review Board.
Sauve and Jean say they want accountability to ensure no parents have to experience what they’ve been through.
“It’s really questionable whether we’re really getting all of the pertinent information,” said Jean. “This should never happen. This should never happen to any family. Ever.”
Source: Global News
Children's Rights Inc Sues Arizona
February 4, 2015 permalink
Children's Rights Inc, which earlier this month sued South Carolina, is launching another suit against Arizona. Many newcomers to the issue of child protection are filled with hope that these suits will correct the abuses. They won't. The suits are a form of collusion with social services    , they are a money grab by Children's Rights Inc   and by increasing the budget for foster care  increase the incentives to take children from mom and dad.
Lawsuit Accuses Arizona of Placing Foster Children in Jeopardy
Insufficient Health-Care Services, Dearth of Foster Homes Among Allegations
Link to graphic Arizona Foster-Care Census Rises.
Child-welfare advocates filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday accusing Arizona officials of jeopardizing the well-being of nearly 17,000 children in the state’s foster-care system by failing to provide sufficient health-care services and an adequate number of foster homes.
The complaint comes as Arizona’s foster-care population rose more rapidly in recent years than any other state in the nation. Some foster children, the lawsuit alleges, slept in offices because they didn’t have homes.
A spokesman for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, said the state is reviewing the allegations.
“Gov. Ducey takes the safety and well-being of foster care children extremely seriously,” the spokesman said. “They are among the most vulnerable in our state, and the governor believes it is imperative that the government protect them,” he said.
The number of children in Arizona’s foster-care system rose to 13,461 in 2012, an 80% increase from 2003, according to federal data. The number of children in foster care nationally fell 22% during that same period, according to the data.
The suit, filed in federal court in Phoenix, alleges a broad range of failures throughout the foster-care system.
The lawsuit alleges there is a severe shortage of health-care services for foster-care children and a dearth of foster-care homes.
The suit also claims state officials didn’t adequately preserve foster children’s ties to their biological families and haven’t investigated reports of child abuse in a timely manner.
The suit named Charles Flanagan, director of the state’s Department of Child Safety, and William Humble, director of the state’s Department of Health Services, as the defendants. Both agencies didn’t comment on the allegations, referring inquiries to the governor’s office.
Arizona has previously come under intense scrutiny over its ability to care for children potentially facing abuse.
In 2013, the head of the state agency that oversaw child-protective services disclosed publicly that the agency had failed to investigate thousands of reports of abuse and neglect beginning in 2009.
Last year, then-Gov. Jan Brewer , a Republican, called a special legislative session that ultimately approved a major overhaul of the child-welfare system, creating the stand-alone Department of Child Safety.
But Tuesday’s lawsuit alleged the changes enacted last year haven’t addressed the failings in the state’s foster-care system. The suit was filed by three law firms on behalf of 10 children currently in the foster-care system. It seeks class-action status.
“Arizona’s reforms to date will not keep children safe,” said Anne C. Ronan, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest who is part of the lawsuit. “The state’s recent efforts to reduce its huge backlog of reports that children have been maltreated in their homes do not even address, much less remedy, the core deficiencies that are harming children already in state custody.”
The 51-page complaint outlined the stories of 10 children in state care ranging in age from 3 to 14. These children haven’t received essential services because of a lack of resources, the suit alleged.
Some of the children were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and others threatened suicide, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit charged that the state has a shortage of family foster homes.
There were 9,418 children who needed a licensed foster-care home as of September, but there were only 4,397 foster homes with 5,669 available spaces, according to the suit. That left 3,749 children without foster homes, resulting in some children sleeping in offices, the lawsuit charged.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Here is the complaint (pdf) in the case known as Beth K vs Flanagan or BK vs Flanagan. Paragraph 19 on page 5 starts the biographies of the complaining foster children, conveniently supplied to Children's Rights Inc before the litigation reached the discovery phase.
February 3, 2015 permalink
Fixcas cannot report on incidents of pedophilia within the social services system. There are too many. To give some idea of the magnitude of the problem, LegallyKidnapped (Patrick Rafferty) has assembled a list of persons within the social services system who molested their wards. The list is limited to just the United States and just the month of January 2015. LK ends with the reminder: "The sad thing is that God only knows how many of these cases get swept under the rug."
Persons whose aspirations include inflicting harm on children naturally gravitate toward the social services system. It gives them the opportunity to satisfy their unnatural urges.
Social Worker Fratricide
February 3, 2015 permalink
Philadelphia social worker Randolph Sanders stole $40,000 from his employer. When colleague Kim Jones found out about it, she make plans to report the impropriety to DHS. But on her way she was killed by Sanders.
Co-worker charged in North Philadelphia bus stop murder
NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) --
Police have identified the man charged with murdering his co-worker as she waited for a bus in North Philadelphia.
36-year-old Randolph Sanders has been arrested and charged with the murder of 56-year-old Kim Jones.
Police say Sanders was brought in to speak with homicide detectives on Saturday, during which time he allegedly confessed to the murder.
According to police, Sanders killed Jones because she was going to report him for the alleged theft of funds from the nonprofit where they worked.
Captain James Clark called the killing a "premeditated assassination style murder."
Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross said at a press conference Monday, "This is the type of investigation that leaves you angry and confounded."
Randolph Sanders, 36yrs arrested for cold blooded murder of Kim Jones, 12th & Jefferson. Great job Homicide Unit! pic.twitter.com/dG7IMiwCyQ
— John Stanford (@PPDJohnStanford) February 2, 2015
The shooting happened around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 13th at 12th and Jefferson Streets in North Philadelphia.
Police say Jones was waiting for the Route 23 SEPTA bus. She had headphones in her ears and was listening to gospel music at the time.
That's when, according to investigators, Sanders, dressed in a disguise, quietly walked up from behind and shot her in the back of the head.
Action News spoke with Sanders during the initial coverage of Jones' murder.
"We're all just stunned, just stunned, just stunned," he said in a January 14th interview.
"A psychopath can do something crazy like that - kill a human being and not think anything of it," said Jean-Paul, Jorden, victim's son.
The victim and Sanders ran a program for Turning Points for Children on South 15th Street, which has a contract with the city's Department of Human Services.
"That was the main goal of her life - just to give and not take. And the fact that this guy's main goal was to take," said Jorden.
Captain Clark says that Jones hired Sanders two years ago as an assistant director for the non profit organization.
However, Jones allegedly accused Sanders of mismanaging funds and possibly stealing thousands of dollars from the nonprofit.
Police say the preliminary investigation into the theft estimates the total amount stolen at $40,000.
On the morning of her murder, police say Jones was on her way to DHS to report Sanders.
On Sunday, detectives were back on the scene with a metal detector looking for evidence.
However, Clark says surveillance video of the shooter led them to a vehicle, which led them to Sanders.
Clark says surveillance cameras captured the suspect through Temple University's campus, onto the subway system and exiting the subway at Broad and Hunting Park. The cameras then captured the suspect walking to a vehicle, a 2007 GMC Yukon, parked on the 4200 block of Carlisle Street.
Detectives' big break in the case was when they realized Sanders drove the same type of vehicle.
Police took Sanders in to custody at his Northeast Philadelphia home on Ryerson Road, where they searched the residence and also found three guns.
Jones' son continues to ask why?
"To find out that that's the reason that I will never see my mom again and I'll never talk to my mom again and my inspiration is gone for life - i's heartbreaking," said Jorden.
As for the alleged theft of funds from the nonprofit, those accusations are still under investigation.
Michael Vogel, CEO Turning Points for Children released the following statement amid the news:
We learned earlier today that Turning Points for Children employee, Randolph Sanders, confessed to killing Kim Jones. Randolph was the Assistant Director of the FAST program, which provides parent education and family support services. Mr. Sanders has been an employee of the organization for more than two years. We are both shocked and saddened by this news. Right now our primary concern is the well-being of the entire staff.
Through this entire investigation we worked closely with the Philadelphia Police Department and are relieved that they have found her killer, but devastated by the discovery.
Turning Points for Children is working to understand why this tragedy occurred, and fully cooperating with authorities. Additionally, we will begin conducting our own internal investigation.
Since Kim's senseless and tragic death, we have provided grief counselors to all our employees. We will continue to make those services available in light of today's news.
Source: WPVI-TV Philadelphia
January 31, 2015 permalink
An Australian foster family ran a sex-shop out of their home. Foster children in the home got early sex-ed from examining sex toys and watching videos in the inventory.
Foster parents caught running a sex shop in NSW still have children in their care
A COUPLE who ran a sex shop out of the back of their home and locked their eight-year-old foster son inside his bedroom at night in nappies are still authorised Family and Community Services foster carers.
The Sunday Telegraph has independently confirmed the couple from northern NSW still currently have two other children in their care despite “a gross breach of the duty of care” found by the NSW Ombudsman.
A document obtained by The Sunday Telegraph shows the NSW Ombudsman raised serious concerns about the carers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as far back as 2007.
The office of the Ombudsman wrote to the Chief Executive of Community Services Maree Walk on May 2, 2013 raising concerns about the children’s exposure to adult products.
“Based on the evidence, the allegations that the children were exposed to adult products was substantiated: and it was further suggested (boy) was exposed to this environment for prolonged periods of time, as he has demonstrated clear understanding of ‘rude videos’ and ‘pornos’ and has been accessing pornographic websites in his new placement,” the letter states.
Furthermore the letter indicates concerns had been raised about the appropriateness of couple as foster parents back in 2007 by a local paediatrician.
“Additionally it is alarming to learn that Mr and Mrs (name withheld) engaged in extremely dangerous, restrictive practices of locking (son’s) door, from the outside at night, forcing a long term reliance on night nappies at the age of eight,” the letter states.
Foster carers can earn between $15,000 and $39,000 per child per year depending on categories of care.
The allegations that the children were exposed to adult products was substantiated: and it was further suggested (boy) was exposed to this environment for prolonged periods of time, as he has demonstrated clear understanding of ‘rude videos’ and ‘pornos’ and has been accessing pornographic websites in his new placement
An investigation from the Ombudsman’s office also raises concern about the risk of harm to the other two girls still in the placement, one of which was still wearing night nappies despite ‘reasons unknown to medical professionals’.
“It is the assessor’s professional opinion that the substantiated harm and substantiated risk of harm to (name withheld) and (name withheld) is too high to consider the children remaining in the placement.”
Sources within Family and Community Services have confirmed two girls remain in the care of the couple. Last year the couple ran a motorcycle shop which displayed Nazi paraphernalia on display in Facebook pictures. The Ombudsman questioned why the couple still had carer authorisation despite recommendations that it be cancelled.
Dr Joe Tucci, from the Australian Childhood Foundation, said the case highlighted the current crisis in child protection: a growing number of children needing out of home care and a diminishing number of available foster carers.
“Kid who are removed from abusive families should be given the best quality care to recover from the abuse and neglect. They need carers who can meet their needs in a loving way. To move them into another house of abuse is to multiply the impact,” Dr Tucci said.
FACS senior bureaucrat Kate Alexander told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse last year that some foster children were being abused and some had died of abuse and neglect in care.
“There will be some people who choose to misuse their power with children, who are very good at not being detected,” she said.
But Dr Tucci said it was of extreme concern that authorities already know the situation with the carers in question and had failed to act.
“This is the bit that defies logic, but when a system knows carers are providing an abusive environment, then the system is culpable,” he said.
The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services published last week found that 365 children were abused by someone living in their foster home during 2013-14, but the figures did not include Victoria and NSW — which together account for three-quarters of all kids in care. NSW and Victoria do not provide statistics on the number of children harmed in foster care.
The report on state and territory community services shows that 45,746 abused and neglected children were living in foster care last financial year.
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Colette Prevost Switches Job
January 31, 2015 permalink
Colette Prevost has moved from heading the Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin to replacing Patrick Lake as executive director of the York Region Children’s Aid Society.
York Region CAS appoints new CEO
Colette Prévost replaces Patrick Lake at helm
Colette Prévost has been named chief executive officer, York Region Children’s Aid Society, board chairperson Jill Moore announced Wednesday.
Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin executive director, Prévost’s appointment is effective April 1.
She succeeds Patrick Lake who served as the agency’s executive director/CEO for the past seven years.
“We chose Colette because she is a proven leader in the child welfare sector, with a strong organizational vision, and the ability to bring people together,” Moore said. “Colette shares our enthusiasm and commitment to champion the care and protection of children and youth, and the well-being of their families in our community.”
A social worker by training, Prévost has worked in Northern Ontario in the development and managment of social services and mental health services. Her work has ranged from direct intervention, advocacy, coalition building, administration, and she has served as a sessional faculty member at Nipissing University and Laurentain University.
Prévost has worked with many non-profit organizations in the areas of policy development, board governance, staff training, as well as consulting on organizational restructuring. She has a francophone Bachelor of Social Work degree from Laurentian University and a Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to join such a motivated and committed organization, one with such a clear and focused vision – thriving children, resilient families, caring communities – in the diverse community of York Region,” Prévost said.
Prévost has demonstrated excellent leadership in her current role, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies executive director Mary Ballantyne said.
“She has played a key role in representing the needs of children, families and agencies in northern Ontario,” Ballantyne said. “It will be great for the sector to have Colette bring her leadership to southern Ontario.”
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto CEO David Rivard has worked alongside Prévost for more than 25 years.
“She brings a wealth of experience to this position and we look forward to working with her,” he said.
The board acknowledged Lake’s contribution to the society and his successful career in child welfare.
“The agency is deeply grateful for the relationship he has fostered with the Chippewas of Georgina Island and for his integral role in the development of an improved child welfare funding model,” read an society issued release. Under the executive leadership of Colette, York Region Children’s Aid Society is embarking on an exciting new phase of our journey of growth and development. Together, there is a great deal we will be able to accomplish in the care and protection of children, youth and the well-being of their families.
Source: Metroland/ York Region
Baby Dies for Unknown Cause
January 29, 2015 permalink
Baby Khloe Shoars was born prematurely with injuries at birth. The family loved and cared for her but on August 14, 2014, while under care of a babysitter, Khloe collapsed and survived only until termination of life-support. Arizona CPS quickly swept up the family's seven other children and is moving to terminate parental rights.
What caused Khloe's death? Nobody will say, and the family cannot get answers. Police first suspected the babysitter, but have released him. And child protectors response to public criticism? They got a gag order against the family, one so secret that the family was not informed of its existence.
The Shoars case follows a familiar pattern. When a family suffers a misfortune, such as an accidental death, CPS does not extend a helping hand to assist the family. CPS instead adds to the distress by breaking up the family just when they need each other the most.
Arizona CPS Takes 7 Children Away from Parents after Accident
The judge issued a gag order on the parents forbidding them to talk about the case. Story here: Arizona Court Issues Gag Order on Family of 7, Detective Wants to Subpoena Interview on Radio Fixcas enclosed the article below.
The unthinkable happened to a family in Arizona. Their three-year-old daughter mysteriously collapsed while her parents were away from home, and she died shortly after. As horrible as that tragedy was, Khloe’s death was only the beginning of the devastation to the Shoars family. Child Protective Services immediately came in and took away all seven of their other children, placing them in various foster home settings around the area.
The children now don’t have their parents, or even each other, as they try to grasp what has happened to their sister. None of the children, ranging in age from 2 to 9 years old, have been placed with family or friends, and they cry to come home. They don’t understand what has happened, and neither do their parents, Jeff and Tabitha Shoars.
“It’s like a bad nightmare you can’t wake up from,” says Jeff.
No charges have been filed against anyone, yet the state of Arizona has already begun the TPR process, Termination of Parental Rights.
Khloe’s Story: Beautiful Daughter Born in Troubled Circumstances
Khloe has been described a “bubbly, bouncy, giggly” little girl who was a huge blessing to her family. Jeff says that this is “way too soon for her to be out of our lives.”
Khloe’s life began under very difficult circumstances. Her mother Tabitha was sexually assaulted by two men when the family lived in Minnesota. The men went to prison, but Tabitha found that she had become pregnant from the attack. She says that abortion was never an option for her, and together she and Jeff made the choice to give life to the baby that had been conceived.
Tiny Khloe only weighed a pound and a half when she was born prematurely, at just 27 1/2 weeks. She had a brain hemorrhage at birth, and she was in very serious condition at the same time that her mother suffered a placental abruption. While the doctors fought to save Tabitha’s life, Jeff, who has always been terrified of needles, never hesitated when the baby needed a blood transfusion, promptly volunteering to donate blood for Khloe.
The doctors allegedly told the Shoars that she would grow out of the brain hemorrhage condition, and despite Tabitha’s requests, no further testing was ever done on Khloe to monitor the situation. Like the rest of the Shoars children, Khloe was fully vaccinated, and always got the annual flu shot.
A Family that Loved Her
Khloe captured the hearts of her family from the very beginning. Even though she was conceived from assault, Jeff says that he “always considered her mine,” and he vowed to always protect her. According to Tabitha, “she came from a bad situation, but she is our blessing.”
When the Shoars learned Tabitha’s attackers were about to be released from prison, they decided to move cross-country in March 2014, settling in Avondale, Arizona, a city just outside of Phoenix. Leaving the fears for their safety behind, they found that life was going well for the big family with lots of kids, until that one horrible night in August.
These are the pieces that Tabitha and Jeff have been able to put together of the events that occurred.
A Terrible Accident
On the afternoon of August 14, Jeff and Tabitha left together at about 3:30 pm, leaving their children in the care of a babysitter whom they trusted. The young man, in his twenties, has been described as being “like a big brother to the kids,” and he had a history of playing with and caring for the children, both with and without the parents’ supervision.
She didn’t have much of an appetite for dinner that night, although her family reports that she usually eats seconds. After dinner the kids were playing outside, and Khloe fell and hit her head on the ground. Her siblings and the babysitter found no mark or bump. She went to bed early, which her mother says is what she would do whenever she had a headache. Tabitha also reports that she had a headache a few days before, but they thought nothing of it, since it went away.
After Khloe went to sleep that night, she woke up with a high-pitched scream, then she was crying. The babysitter ran in to her to see what was wrong. He says that he thought at the time that she must have had a nightmare. He helped her get out the bed where she had been asleep with the younger children, and walked her to the kitchen for a drink of water. He reports that she was wobbly on her feet, but he thought that she was just sleepy. After she sipped some water, she collapsed in the hallway, with her eyes rolling back in her head and gasping. The babysitter called 911. Her lips were turning purple as he was trying to do CPR.
When the police arrived before the paramedics, the first officer on the scene moved him out of the way and squeezed her. She threw up, but remained unresponsive. Later, the medical reports would show kidney damage on the side of Khloe where she was squeezed.
Jeff and Tabitha were about 45 minutes away in a Phoenix suburb when they got word that their baby had collapsed. By the time the frantic parents got home, there was police tape surrounding their house. Tabitha was directed to go to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Jeff stayed behind to check on the other kids and talk to the officials at their home.
What this mother found at the hospital was “every single parent’s worst nightmare.” The doctor told her that Khloe (who had been admitted as a Jane Doe) had bleeding and swelling of the brain and kidney damage, and that she was unresponsive. She was on life support.
Tabitha says she was distraught and tried to get answers, but there were none to be had. She wanted to know what happened, but the doctors reported that nothing showed up in her blood work. “There was no bruises, scars or marks, or signs of anything! She wasn’t bitten, she wasn’t stung, she wasn’t shaken NOTHING.”
CPS Removes Remaining Children from Home
When Jeff arrived at the hospital, he told his wife that CPS was taking the other kids for 72 hours, because it was “protocol for them to investigate.” At the time, they were fine with that because they needed to focus on Khloe. None of their family lived in Arizona, and Tabitha and Jeff didn’t question the actions of CPS, which seemed reasonable to them at the time.
As the day progressed, it became clear that it was only the life support machines keeping their little girl alive. Tabitha says that CPS didn’t even want to let the other children come to the hospital to say goodbye to their sister, but that the doctor insisted that CPS let them come.
Tabitha tearfully described to me the most heart-rending day of her life, as she had to let go of her baby Khloe. Jeff choked up as he told me, “I adored her and I loved her more than anything.” They lay with her in the hospital bed as her heart stopped and she let go of this life.
And yet, they still haven’t had a chance to grieve the most difficult thing a parent could go through, because CPS didn’t bring their other children back to them. Even now, they only get to visit a few hours a week.
No Charges Filed, but Children Not Returned
Understandably, there was an investigation. The babysitter was originally arrested, then released. The parents have been investigated. The police are allegedly calling this a homicide investigation; however, to date no charges have been filed against anyone. The investigators allegedly do not appear to be looking at the babysitter any more.
Jeff says that they still don’t know the answer to the big question: “what happened to Khloe?” It’s kind of like Sherlock Holmes trying to put together all the pieces.
Health Impact News spoke with Tabitha’s sister-in-law Lisa Shoars R.N., who said, “The symptoms that were described to me definitely seem to be consistent with a brain aneurysm, from what I’ve learned in nursing school.”
An autopsy was performed, but the results have not yet been released. The Shoars are hoping that the autopsy will help to fill in the pieces. The Shoars are concerned about the fact that they were told that the autopsy was completed, but that the medical examiner is waiting for the police report before releasing the autopsy. Supporters have told Tabitha and Jeff that this is not the usual order of things.
They report that all of the doctors say there were no signs of abuse. A rape kit was done, and it came back negative. Tabitha says that she does not believe that the babysitter hurt Khloe, and the family’s thinking is that their little girl died from tragic natural causes.
Reasoning Behind Why Children were Removed from Parents is Not Clear
Family and Child Advocate Steven R. Isham M.A., L.B.S.W., recently met with the Shoars and has reviewed the available records. He expresses concern that there are a number of issues with the state of Arizona’s treatment of the Shoars family. Among his findings are the following:
- The court documents and child protective services documents misrepresent and conflict with the facts. There is documentation that has been added to reports that did not occur. There seems to be documentation of threats made to the children by the Foster Parents, and by CPS workers to elicit certain behaviors and language.
- I was unable to discover in the records or through conversation exactly what the accusations are that drew the conclusion of imminent harm and immediate removal of the children from the Parents and from the Grandparents.
- Concerns for the children:
- Medications not provided in state care
- Long absences from school
- Holidays and Family milestones ignored in state care
- Multiple separation anxiety provoking events in state care with no evidence of accompanying support services for those many events
- Separated from original home
- Separated from Parents
- Separated from Grandparents
- Separated from siblings
- Separated from schools
- Children told to address Foster Parents as Mother and Father causing confusion and distrust in these already traumatized children as listed above.
- Placed with Hispanic families with cultural differences causing anxiety with language, foods, clothing, and a variety of other cultural items
- It is reported that one child was told by Foster Parent that biological Mother was in heaven with deceased sibling. It is reported that child was shocked and confused when he saw the biological Mother at the next visit.
- It appears that the Parents and Grandparents participation has already been discontinued if it ever was actively sought during the reunification process.
- It does appear that Parents and Grandparents have actively participated in every condition asked of them. There is nothing that shows they have not fully participated when asked to do so by the court or by Child Protective Services.
Arizona CPS: Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Despite the fact that there have been no charges filed, and the autopsy has not even been released, Arizona’s Child Protective Services appears to have condemned the Shoars without a trial, deeming them guilty until proven innocent. A caseworker allegedly told the family that the accusation is neglect, because the parents allegedly failed to protect the children from abuse by the babysitter.
There is a hearing scheduled for January 16. This hearing is reportedly about three things:
- TPR – to determine if the state will terminate parental rights to the Shoars seven living children. The Shoars have been told that at least one of the foster parents wants to adopt some of her kids, the kids who have parents who love them. It is unclear if this is the same foster parent who makes the children call her “mom.”
- to determine if the grandparents may be awarded custody. Currently, two of the children are in a group home, and two others are in a non-English speaking home (the Shoars report that all of their children speak only English).
- a pre-trial conference
Tabitha says that she is worried sick about her children and scared for their safety. She has heard horror stories about what happens to kids in foster care, and wants desperately to protect them from that. The Shoars are concerned because their children have reportedly been sick quite frequently since entering foster care.
“The CPS is traumatizing our kids.” They reportedly cry and beg their parents to let them come home, but their parents are powerless to do anything.
The Shoars have named a star after their little girl, who would have turned 4 on December 19. The star “Khloe Madison” is in the Sagittarius constellation. “This star shines for you in your memory.” Tabitha hopes that knowing that there is a star in the sky looking down on them in their sister’s name will somehow bring comfort to their other children.
A Family Torn Apart During Time of Tragedy
Jeff and Tabitha want answers, but more than anything, they want their kids back, these children whom they love “more than anything in the world.”
Tabitha says, “I want my kids to know that I will always fight for them.” The Shoars have suffered the tragic unexplained death of one of their children. How cruel to have to suffer the loss and separation from the rest of their children.
Mr. Charles Flanagan is the Director of DCS/CPS in Arizona. He may be reached at 1-602-542-5844. Concerned citizens might want to ask him how his agency can think that it is acceptable to attempt to terminate parents’ rights when no charges have been filed against them, and there are allegedly no signs of abuse.
Newly elected Governor Doug Ducey can be reached by phone or email here.
For those who want to follow the Shoars family story and support them in their struggle to get their kids back, there is a Facebook page set up:
Freedom and Justice for the Shoars Family. #justice4shoars
The next court hearing is on Friday, January 16, at 9 am at the Family Courthouse at 3131 West Durango, Phoenix. The family welcomes people to come to the courthouse in support.
Source: Medical Kidnap
Original page has many more photos and media,
Arizona Court Issues Gag Order on Family of 7, Detective Wants to Subpoena Interview on Radio
Friday January 16, 2015 the Shoars family had a hearing in Arizona family court over the custody of their 7 children that were taken away by the State after the accidental death of their three-year-old daughter Khloe.
At this hearing, the judge reportedly issued a gag order on the parents, and ordered them to stop discussing the case on the Internet. The Fight for Lilly Foundation was present, along with other supports, at the court house in Arizona, and they issued the following report at the Freedom and Justice for the Shoars Family Facebook Page:
At court today, the Judge had been made aware of our petition, told the parents to tell us to take it down, and closed the court room so that these parents would have ZERO support or witnesses to the repeated violations of this family’s Constitutionally protected parental rights.
Apparently, when I first made this page, DCS retaliated and petitioned to violate these parents’ 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech and of the press by obtaining an order prohibiting dissemination of information regarding this case.
The order was granted, and filed Dec. 22nd, but the parents were never informed.
Their incompetent public defenders never informed them or gave them a copy of the petition, never gave them a chance to respond to it, and never gave them the order.
So the parents never knew…
Today, the court used taxpayer dollars to threaten these parents with contempt of court on an order they never received.
Moms public defender quit two days ago, and the new court appointed attorney quit on her today, just 5 minutes after meeting her. He refused to even discuss the case with me present, despite Tabitha’s repeated request that I stay as her legal advocate.
It was a mess, and the judge just continued the pretrial for a couple weeks out. They are facing contempt of court charges for the interview with medical kidnap, but are going to fight, because they were not aware of the gag order.
Tabitha and Jeff will make their own decision in regards to that, but in the mean time, I am here and will not be going away. I will continue to advocate for their legal rights, until those children are home and this family is complete once again.
One supporter started video recording inside the court house and was then asked to leave:
Robert Scott Bell Radio Show Contacted by Law Enforcement Regarding Mother’s Interview
Two days before this hearing, on Wednesday January 14, 2015, Tabitha Shoars was interviewed by Ty Bollinger on the Robert Scott Bell syndicated national radio program. The segment of the show where Tabitha was interviewed can be heard at Epic Times here.
On the Friday night (January 16, 2015) broadcast of the Robert Scott Bell show, they reported that a “Detective Kalcum” from Arizona had contacted their syndicator wanting to “subpoena” the broadcast of the show with Tabitha Shoars. They apparently were not aware that the show was archived and available for free download. A search online for a “Detective Kalcum” revealed that there is a “Detective Olivia Kalcum” in Avondale Arizona listed on the Avondale Police website, who might be the person that called Genesis Communications Network.
Producer Don Naylor of the Robert Scott Bell show asks:
“What have you got to hide Arizona?”
In the original interview with the mother, Tabitha Shoars, which can be heard here, Ty Bollinger and Tabitha Shoars discuss the fact that the State of Arizona is considering permanently severing the parental rights with the mother and father of the 7 Shoars children, even though no formal charges have been brought against them, nor the babysitter who was watching the children at the time of the accident that led to their 3-year-old daughter’s death.
Source: Medical Kidnap
Original page has many more photos and media,
Carter Trial Ends
January 28, 2015 permalink
Chris Carter, who was arrested three years ago and charged with impersonation, was acquitted at his trial on Monday, but fined $400 for breaching a publication ban. Fixcas has earlier articles on this arrest and prosecution:    .
Chris has fared better than his accuser. At the time he was arrested, the executive director of Chatham-Kent CAS was Mike Stephens. Mr Stephens retired prematurely when an audit disclosed financial chaos at his agency.
Former Canada Court Watch member fined
After almost 30 court appearances spanning 35 months on two criminal charges, Chris Carter left the Chatham courthouse a free man Monday.
Citing case law and his review of the Crown's evidence, Ontario Court Justice Paul Kowalyshyn dismissed a charge of personation with intent, but found the 48-year-old guilty of breaching a publication ban which was a condition of his bail.
For the breach, Carter was fined $400 and given six months to pay.
Assistant Crown attorney James Boonstra sought a "short, sharp custodial sentence" of seven to 10 days in jail.
Boonstra said the time would be appropriate given the defendant's dated record of an offence "against the administration of justice" in Guelph in 2005.
However, unlike the time of Carter's most recent arrest and first court appearances, there was no fanfare on this occasion.
No information pickets and no show of support in the courtroom to witness his fate.
Carter grabbed headlines in February 2012 organizing rallies and pickets against the treatment of families by Chatham-Kent Children's Services.
It was an incident at the society that led to his arrest.
During the trial, court heard Carter identified himself as Anthony O'Reilly and told a staff member he had come as an advocate for a man who had a meeting with a case worker at the society.
The agency later learned the man purporting to be Anthony O'Reilly was really Chris Carter, a self- described activist with Canada Court Watch.
The judge found all the defendant did was use a pseudonym.
"As far as he knew, Anthony O'Reilly represented a fictitious person because he made up the name using his middle name and his mother's maiden name," Kowalyshyn said.
At the time of his arrest, Carter told media it was his intent to put Children's Aid Societies under a microscope.
Until Monday, the publication ban prevented media from publishing evidence given during 28 days Carter used to argue motions and represent himself in court.
During the trial, the judge told the defendant on numerous occasions he was "off topic and to please move on."
At one point in the trial when Carter continued to use expletives to express his frustration with the justice system, Kowalyshyn said he would rise for a brief recess.
"The judge is abandoning the bench," Carter said in a raised voice from the public gallery where he stood during much of the proceedings.
While in the witness box, Carter testified he was approached by a blogger to record a video the day after his release on bail.
The judge found Carter was not responsible for uploading the video to YouTube which prompted police to charge him with breach of his bail conditions.
However Kowalyshyn said Carter clearly knew he was bound by a publication ban and mentioned people by name in the recording.
Carter had testified he only spoke of the events that led up to his arrest on a video to record his memory of what had transpired while it was still fresh in his mind.
While in court Monday, Carter continued his custom of refusing to move into the body of the courtroom where microphones are placed to record proceedings.
"If it's not compulsory, I'm not going to do it," Carter said.
"It's the procedure, something that is ordinarily required, but Mr. Carter let's just move on to the decision," Kowalyshyn said.
Later, outside the courtroom, Carter told The Chatham Daily News he no longer represents Canada Court Watch and he will appeal the judge's findings.
"It's being shoved down my throat," he said.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Baby Killed Over Delinquent Fines
January 27, 2015 permalink
News analysis following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri last year brought to light the widespread American municipal practice of rising money through numerous petty fines instead of taxes. Poor people unable to pay on time are assessed additional monetary penalties and jail time. The mother of Justice Hull, born October 28, 2014, was one of them. While she was in jail because of problems with traffic tickets, little Justice was drowned by the teenaged daughter of the foster mom. The good news for the city is they will collect their fines. Friends of the bereaved mother are taking up a collection so that she can be out of jail in time for her daughter's funeral. Two articles are enclosed.
Teen in custody after baby is drowned in Red Bird apartment
A woman returned to her Dallas home Monday morning and found the baby girl she was caring for had been drowned and her 14-year-old daughter was in police custody.
The drowning was reported about 6 a.m. at the Rosemont at Hickory Trace apartments on South Westmoreland Road in Red Bird.
The 2-month-old, Justice Hull, was dead when police and paramedics arrived, police Maj. Rob Sherwin said. She would have been 3 months old Wednesday.
Sherwin said the teenager called police, but he declined to discuss details of the 911 call.
The teen, whose name has not been released because of her age, has been charged with capital murder of a person younger than 10. She was being held at the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center.
The juvenile justice system and the district attorney’s office will determine whether the teen will be certified to stand trial as an adult.
“There’s very little doubt that this investigation has revealed that this is an intentional act,” Sherwin said.
When Justice’s mother was jailed shortly after giving birth, she asked Child Protective Services to place the baby in the home of the woman, a family friend, Sherwin said.
No matter what the child’s mother did, “she didn’t deserve to have her baby killed,” he said.
Investigators say the baby was killed shortly after the teen’s mother left for work.
Neighbors said they could hear the woman wailing when she returned home and found police investigating Justice’s death.
Kaleisha Taylor, who has lived in the complex for nine years, said the death was unthinkable.
She said she hopes the tight-knit community will come together to help the family and other children in the neighborhood.
“They say it takes a village to raise a family,” said Taylor, who has a 7-month-old, “so we’re going to have to be the village they need.”
The girl in custody has a twin sister and a 19-year-old brother, neighbors and police say. Other witnesses in the home were taken to Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.
Neighbors gathered near the family’s apartment Monday morning described the twin sisters as kind and respectful. They were often outside walking the family dog.
“They’re always together. You never see one without the other,” Taylor said.
She said the sisters were popular and played basketball at their middle school. Their mother works at the Wal-Mart across the street from the apartment complex.
Another neighbor, Shalonda Shanks, said she worked with the mother.
“That 3-month-old didn’t even get a chance to live,” Shanks said.
Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas teen faces murder charge after baby drowns
DALLAS — Two-month-old Justice Hull lived most of her short life with another family at a southern Dallas apartment complex because her mother was jailed shortly after giving birth.
Justice's mom received approval from Child Protective Services to leave her baby in the care of a friend. But when that friend left for work Monday morning, police say her 14-year-old daughter murdered the infant at the Hickory Trace Apartments in the 8400 block of Westmoreland Road.
"The facts of the case are that a 14-year-old intentionally drowned a two-month-old girl," Dallas police Maj. Robert Sherwin said.
It is now up to prosecutors to decide whether a teenage caretaker will be tried as an adult in the drowning death of two-month-old Justice Hull.
Details are few. According to police, the teenager called 911 to report the death. Police say they still don't know the motive.
Shuntavia Calhoun, who also lives at the Hickory Trace Apartments, can't imagine, either. She said this seemed like a good family.
"They had smiles on their faces, they spoke politely… you know… manners," Calhoun said. "They seemed so sweet and innocent, so for something like this to happen is like, wow."
A relative of baby Justice collapsed outside the apartment after being told of the infant's death. Family members said the infant's mother saw that moment on TV from inside the jail where she's still locked up, and now dealing with a wrenching loss.
"We talked to her," Sherwin said. "That is obviously not a pleasant conversation. Regardless of what she did, she didn't deserve to have her baby killed."
A family member said Justice's mother was jailed because of problems with traffic tickets. Relatives are now trying to raise hundreds of dollars to get her out so she can attend her baby's funeral, but they have no idea how they will be able to pay for the burial.
CPS wouldn't comment on the case Monday, but a spokesperson said the agency may have information to share on Tuesday.
As for the 14-year-old suspect, since she is charged with capital murder it will be up to the court system to determine if she should be tried as an adult.
Even if that happens, if she is convicted she can't face the death penalty because of her age.
CAS Moves Boy From Mom to Dad
January 25, 2015 permalink
According to a friend of the family, children's aid took Mathias Wint from his mother and placed him with his father. The press is now reporting, without the CAS detail, that father Mario Wint killed his son.
At the funeral the mother plans to play Michael Jackson singing Gone Too Soon (mp3) as the requiem for Mathias.
Newmarket man charged in death of 2-year-old son
Mario Wint, 29, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of his toddler, found not breathing on Thursday afternoon.
Homicide investigators have arrested a Newmarket man in connection with the death of his 2-year-old son.
Officers were called to a home on Longford Dr. in Newmarket on a report of an injured person at 2:22 p.m. Thursday, York Region Police said in a news release. They found a young boy who was not breathing and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The cause of death is not being released as police continue their investigation.
On Saturday, police arrested the boy’s 29-year-old father. Mario Wint is charged with second-degree murder.
Neighbours described Wint to the Star as a loving, caring father of two young boys. They say he recently got full custody of the 2-year-old and an older son a neighbour believed to be 4.
Nicole Grove, who lives behind Wint’s home and has known him for more than a decade, said he was always playing with the children, “buying things, whatever they needed. He was a picture of a dad.”
She alluded to problems with the law in the past by both Wint and the child’s mother. However, “He’s turned his life around. He’s a good guy,” she said.
“I’m not sure what happened with the child,” she added, “but I’m sure that he tried to prevent his death. There’s no way that he [killed the child]. He’s not that type of person.
“He never had a violent history — nothing like that.”
Wint is to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket on Sunday.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: Father Mario Wint has a lot of community support.
Friends refuse to believe Newmarket father killed son, Ty, 2
Tasha Lena Milleman has never seen Mario Wint fight or even raise his voice toward someone.
What she has seen out of the 29-year-old is plenty of emotion and care for his family and those around him.
“I’ve seen him cry more times than he’s seen me, let’s just put it that way,” she said after explaining how she met Wint, while she attended Sacred Heart Catholic High School and he, Newmarket High School.
Now, 15 years later, Milleman refuses to believe the “loving father” of two young boys could purposefully hurt, let alone kill, one of the boys, Noah, 4 and Mathias, nicknamed Ty, 2.
But that’s just what York Regional Police say happened at his Longford Drive home, near Davis Drive and Yonge Street, last Thursday.
Wint was charged Saturday with second degree murder of Ty.
Milleman is just one of a number of Wint’s supporters who are making their voices heard online, after gathering more than 1,000 followers on the Facebook page called Supporters of Amazing Father, Mario Wint.
A number of these supporters are also turning up to Wint’s court dates, including his bail hearing at Newmarket court yesterday.
Although not much was accomplished during the hearing, Feb. 18 was set as the return date.
A number of his friends said he looked withdrawn, thin and noted that he was wearing the same clothes he wore on his Sunday appearance, a hooded sweater with the words “XMas is cancelled”.
After the hearing, lawyer Steven Skurka said his prospective client is holding up well, but his mood is a solemn and serious one, considering his son has died and the charges against him.
Milleman, who also showed up, said Mario, who is a spoken word and slam poetry MC, is the ideal father, who recently gained custody of the boys from his former partner.
“He was always so proud of them,” said the mother of two girls who lives in Brampton, but still has family in Newmarket. “Mario is an upbeat, happy-go-lucky guy; he’s not impulsive. He can barely stand the sight of blood.”
Neighbours also have spoken to the media regarding his good character, relationship with his kids and friendliness toward his neighbours. There is a small tribute at Wint’s front door.
Milleman also insisted the details of how police were contacted don’t add up, considering Wint was the one who called 911 when the incident occurred.
But while a police source confirmed that Wint was in fact the one who called police, he added that when charges occur this quickly after an autopsy — about one day — it usually means detectives believe they have sufficient evidence to convict.
“After an autopsy, it is usually very straight forward,” the officer said. “Usually, when it happens this quickly, there’s medical evidence to support the charges.”
Wint is being held at the Lindsay jail.
Source: Metroland News / York Region
Single Foster Mom Seeks Companion
January 25, 2015 permalink
A foster mom has separated from her husband and is seeking a companion.
Just found out that my baby's foster parents are legally separated and foster mom is advertising her new man which she has been seeing for six months plus on her Facebook page and she has changed from her married name back to her maiden name, and has unfriendly, blocked, and removed all photos of her husband from her FB page, and her husband has done the same. And this has been going on for over six months because her last name has been changed for over six months. My question is how could CPS not know this? Is it because they are making it look as though they are still together and hiding it from CPS? Or does CPS know and are just hiding it from me and my attorney? Has CPS checked this new boyfriend's background because husband isn't living with foster mom? Is there anything I can do about this and could it help my case?
Source: Facebook, AFRA
Orphans for Smallpox
January 23, 2015 permalink
Near the turn of the nineteenth century Edward Jenner discovered that a relatively harmless infection of the cattle disease cowpox conferred lifelong immunity from smallpox, a scourge that killed up to a third of those infected and permanently maimed many of the survivors. The Spanish king wanted to vaccinate his subjects in the new world, but the technology of the time was lacking. Two centuries ago there was no refrigeration or sterilization. Spanish doctor Francis Xavier de Balmis devised a primitive means of transporting the cowpox vaccine across the Atlantic in living form. He used a human chain, transmitting the virus person-to-person en route. And the human subjects selected? They were boys taken from an orphanage.
You can listen to the story as the first part of the audio on Futility Closet The Balmis Expedition: Using Orphans to Combat Smallpox or local copy (mp3). The expand block contains a passage on the incident from Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox by Jonathan B Tucker published in 2001 by Grove Press.
By the early 1800s more than 100,000 persons in Great Britain had been vaccinated. Although the wold was clamoring for Jenner's vaccine, it was difficult to obtain an adequate supply because outbreaks of cowpox in European cattle were sporadic and unpredictable and the disease did not exist on other continents. The vaccine consisted of the "matter" of cowpox — pus and lymph containing the live virus — which had to be extracted from pustules on the udders of infected cows at just the right stage of the disease. Since the cowpox material had to be "active" for vaccination to be effective, distribution and handling posed major hurdles. Although the vaccine could be preserved for a few months by drying it on threads, quills, glass, or slivers of ivory, it was rapidly inactivated by high temperatures or by exposure to sunlight, factors that were poorly understood at the time. As a result, cowpox material shipped over long distances often lost its effectiveness before arriving at its destination.
One solution to this problem was to keep the vaccine "alive" by transferring it from one human recipient to the next, a practice known as the "arm-to-arm" technique. First, an individual was vaccinated, and as soon as a cowpox pustule had appeared on his or her arm, matter from the lesion was then used to vaccinate other recipients. In 1801 in St Petersburg, Russia, for example, a recently vaccinated girl was sent to a local orphanage to serve as the source of smallpox vaccine for all children more than a week old. From then on, the orphanage continuously transferred the vaccine from one child to another for more than ninety-two years (1801-93).
The arm-to-arm method was also used to distribute Jenner's vaccine throughout the Spanish Empire. Spanish King Charles IV's daughter had been stricken with smallpox in 1798, and after she recovered, he arranged to have the rest of his family vaccinated. In 1803, the king, convinced of the benefits of the vaccine, ordered his personal physician, Francis Xavier de Balmis, to deliver it to the Spanish dominions in North and South America and, if possible, in Asia as well. To maintain the vaccine in a viable state during the long sea voyage, the physician recruited from the orphanages of Spain twenty-two young boys, aged three to nine years, who had never had cowpox or smallpox before.
During the trip across the Atlantic, de Balmis sequentially vaccinated the orphans in a living chain. Two children were vaccinated immediately before departure, and when cowpox pustules had appeared on their arms, material from these lesions was used to vaccinate two more children. This procedure was repeated at roughly ten-day intervals until the ships arrived in Venezuela so that at least one child always had a cowpox pustule at the right stage of maturation to provide the active vaccine. In return for the orphans' service, the Spanish royal court arranged foster families for them and paid their living and schooling expenses in the New World. Thanks to The Royal Smallpox Expedition, more than 100,000 people in Latin America were vaccinated. The expedition then recruited twenty-six more orphans and continued transferring the vaccine from arm to arm throughout the remainder of the three-year voyage, which included stops in the Spanish Philippines, Macao and Canton.
Source: Google Books
Texas Fakes Child Death Numbers
January 23, 2015 permalink
Over the past five years Texas has reported a decrease in the number of child deaths caused by abuse and neglect. But an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman has shown that most of the decrease is accounted for by changes in classification. The reported deaths are only those subjectively classified as caused by abuse or neglect. Deaths not so classified remain unreported. The newspaper found that the number of unreported deaths has reached a level nearly equal to those reported.
Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences: Part 1
Publicly reported numbers don’t tell the whole story
Abuse-related fatalities only disclosed if mistreatment directly caused death, and case classification is inconsistent
Texas is not publicly reporting hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths each year, raising questions about the accuracy of the state’s official fatality count, an American-Statesman investigation into the state’s child protection system has found.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Department of Family and Protective Services did not publicly report 655 child abuse-related fatalities, even though the department confirmed that those children had been mistreated prior to their deaths. Because Child Protective Services caseworkers decided that mistreatment or abuse did not directly cause those fatalities, state law does not require the agency to publicly reveal those numbers.
Publicly reported vs. unreported deaths
State law does not require Child Protective Services to publicly report abuse- and neglect-related deaths if caseworkers decide that mistreatment did not directly cause those fatalities.
Source: Child Protective Services, Statesman research
Yet the rationale behind those classifications has been inconsistent. In some cases, for example, the state has assigned blame for co-sleeping or drowning deaths, meaning the fatality was at least partially caused by negligence or abuse. Those go on the publicly reported list. But numerous child deaths that occurred under similar circumstances are kept off the public list, with little explanation.
The way senior DFPS officials review such cases also tends to skew the number downward. Those reviewers check for accuracy for only those fatalities that caseworkers have already labeled as directly caused by abuse and neglect. Last year that review resulted in 10 cases being overturned, reducing the number on the final, publicly released list.
Yet deaths that field staff has concluded were not due directly to abuse or neglect don’t receive that extra level of attention. The result: The system is set up only to lower the annual number of children whose deaths were attributable to neglect or abuse and never to add to it.
The state’s accounting methods mean the public has no true idea how many children are dying in abuse-related circumstances. Names, ages and even causes of death are off-limits. CPS’ history with the family is also blocked, shielding the agency from external scrutiny into those cases.
Two sets of numbers
That stands in stark contrast to the way CPS must handle cases in which caseworkers rule that maltreatment directly killed a child. In those cases, a 2009 law requires the agency to provide the public with a detailed report on the case.
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who authored that law, said he was shocked that legislators were not being provided information on all of the abuse-related cases. “I’m speechless,” he said. “I want to know who these kids are. Every one of these kids has a name and has a story and would have had a life ahead of them.”
Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins say the agency isn’t trying to hide anything. The agency has followed state and federal laws, he said. And aggregate nonidentifying information — such as ages, genders and types of abuse and neglect — has always been available to anyone who wanted it. But until the American-Statesman, no one asked.
Because of the newspaper’s inquiry, the agency plans to publicly report those numbers in the future, Crimmins said. But legally, CPS cannot release details on individual cases.
Uresti said he intends to close that gap in the upcoming legislative session: “If there’s a loophole, we’re going to fix it unless someone can convince me why we should not know all the facts.”
At issue is how officials categorize the deaths of Texas children under the age of 17.
CPS investigates every potential abuse or neglect death reported to it. In the field, caseworkers decide if the child was abused or neglected and, if so, whether that maltreatment contributed to the death.
If CPS decides abuse killed the child, the fatality goes into the state’s official child abuse and neglect death count. Official numbers have not been released, but the agency says the tally for 2014 is tentatively 136.
But the agency has a separate way of classifying those cases in which abuse was found to be present but did not directly contribute to the death. According to tentative 2014 numbers, 125 child fatalities were categorized that way.
Yet it is not always clear why seemingly comparable deaths end up on different lists. For example, Crimmins said that one type of case that might not be included in the public fatality count is when a child riding a four-wheeler is killed. The failure to supervise the child would not necessarily be considered to have been directly connected to the death, he said.
But the American-Statesman analysis found three such fatalities in which a family member was blamed and so landed on the publicly disclosed list.
While CPS investigators are not specifically trained on how to classify child deaths, they employ the same general methods they use in all investigations, Crimmins said. “The worker does this by gathering as much information as possible about the circumstances of the death, including information gathered from medical or forensic examinations, photographs and the autopsy of the deceased child.”
Two other CPS employees, a supervisor and a child safety specialist, must approve the ruling.
Different death tallies
Advocates say the state is intentionally suppressing the number of child abuse deaths. By keeping those fatalities out of the public eye, officials can minimize the scope of the problem and demonstrate that the agency is reducing the number of child abuse-related fatalities, said Randy Burton, founder of the Houston-based Justice for Children.
“It’s an effort to play with the numbers to minimize their culpability,” he said.
And the publicly reported numbers have drastically decreased over the past five years. In 2009, the state reported 280 child abuse deaths. In 2014, CPS is tentatively reporting 136 child abuse deaths, a 51 percent decrease.
But when the reported and unreported fatalities are combined, the drop is only 25 percent.
While CPS boasts of its declining public death tally, officials say they don’t know why the numbers have dropped. At a conference hosted by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities last year, John Specia, the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, speculated it could be connected to greater efforts to publicize the dangers of co-sleeping. Yet state numbers show that co-sleeping deaths have remained relatively stable since 2010 and actually increased in 2014.
Michael Petit, a commission member and president of Washington, D.C.-based Every Child Matters, says he is skeptical of Texas’ plummeting numbers. “If you can’t document cause and effect, then I don’t think you have anything,” he said.
Other child welfare agencies across the country have been accused of manipulating numbers to look better. In Florida, the Department of Child and Family Services has come under fire for not counting 96 children in its fatality numbers over a three-year period.
Experts say one reason for inconsistencies surrounding death tallies is that the definitions of abuse and neglect vary vastly across the country, leading to incomplete and inaccurate numbers of child abuse deaths. The federal government hasn’t helped, giving states little guidance on how to count and report such deaths in a uniform manner, Petit said.
Petit agrees that not all child deaths should be judged the same when it comes to blame. A drunk or high parent who accidentally rolls over and smothers a child while co-sleeping isn’t the same as a parent who is not under the influence and has no CPS history, he said.
But if the state cites someone for abuse or neglect in those cases, then that information needs to be made public to present a comprehensive picture of the problem, he said.
That’s what one Dallas-based child advocacy group, TexProtects, wants CPS to do. The group intends to ask legislators to change the law and make all of the information public.
Uresti said he supports the change because legislators need all the information they can get if they are to make long-lasting changes to the child welfare system.
“No one needs to hide from the facts,” he said. “Full disclosure and transparency: that’s the way we can help.”
Source: Austin American-Statesman
Social Worker Falsely Accuses Father
January 23, 2015 permalink
When a Georgia social worker rammed John Blue's van, she did not admit her mistake, instead she accused him of attacking her. After Blue spent seven months in jail waiting for trial a jury acquitted him. Now he is free but has lost his interior design shop, his apartment and most of his belongings.
Father wants DFCS worker charged after spending 7 months in jail
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
A Gwinnett County father cleared after spending seven months in jail now wants police to charge the state worker who accused him of attacking her.
John Blue lost his interior design shop, his apartment and most of his belongings as he sat in jail for seven months. It took a jury less than 45 minutes to find Blue not guilty.
Channel 2’s Tony Thomas met Blue at the Duluth police headquarters.
For the past several days, Blue has been living in his van. Police said it is the same van he used to ram a state welfare worker last summer during a Division of Family and Children’s Services investigation at the time.
Blue left with his children, and a Levi’s Call was issued hours later. As police arrested Blue that day, he insisted that the worker assaulted him.
“She crashed my car. She rammed my car,” said Blue.
Blue said his girlfriend and sons told police he didn’t attack the DFCS worker, but no one listened.
Now out of jail following the not-guilty verdict, Blue is on a mission to recover some of what he lost.
“I sat in jail for seven months because someone lied on me,” said Blue. “If I was charged with aggravated assault and didn’t do anything, let her stand before the same people.”
No one from Duluth police or state DFCS was available to comment on Monday’s holiday.
Blue is currently interviewing for jobs and said he hopes to move his sons back in with him.
“My kids have never wanted for anything. This is not fair, not right; my family has been destroyed,” said Blue.
January 22, 2015 permalink
James, son of Crystal Cross, has been adopted. by John and Teresa Osten in Michigan. The real family knows the identity of the adopters and has registered their objections on a Facebook page, Little JAMES Illegal Adoption Case--FORCED ADOPTION. Early postings to the page recount the abusive tactics of social workers used to separate James from his real mother.
Enclosed is a press article favorable to the adopters. The distant relatives mentioned are James' mother and his aunt and uncle in Texas.
Family says they’re being harassed after they adopted a child
GALESBURG, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A Galesburg couple is fighting online harassment from a family member of their adopted son.
Newschannel3 talked to the couple who says they're being stalked, and fear for their safety.
The family says they've been told their options from a criminal standpoint may be tough, because much of what is said online is protected by Freedom of Speech.
After finding out they couldn't have children of their own, adopting two boys was a dream come true for John and Teresa Osten.
Teresa says James was addicted to meth at birth and was placed in their care as foster parents.
About the time they started the adoption process six months later, the Osten's say they discovered they were being stalked by one of James' distant family members from Texas.
“Apparently, she had seen us at the zoo, she made comments he had severe sunburn, that we didn't know she was there,” said Teresa Osten.
Then they discovered someone had created a page on Facebook called, "Stolen, Little James Illegal Adoption Case."
It listed the Osten's home address along with a family photo.
“Our fear is that she would go and take him,” said Osten.
The Facebook page also shows James as a baby with the word stolen on it and says the Osten's are quote, "foster parents stealing children for profit."
“We're foster parents for a reason. We're here to take care of these children. We could lose children over this, we could lose our licenses,” said Osten.
The Osten's say they've contacted the authorities, but were told the harassment falls under free speech. But they tell us they're not giving up.
“We don't feel safe you know, we don't,” said Osten.
The Osten's say they tried to file a personal protection order, but didn't have all the information they needed about their stalker to legally file it.
Now they're reaching out to Galesburg Police.
Battered Mother Sues Child Protectors
January 22, 2015 permalink
Damon Mammaro assaulted his wife by choking her and stabbing her with a fork, then kidnapped their daughter Daniella. But instead of helping mother Michelle Mammaro, New Jersey authorities accused her of child abuse. Now a court has granted her the right to sue the state Department of Children & Families and the local police department.
N.J. mom can sue 'DYFS' employees, judge says
PHILLIPSBURG—A Phillipsburg mother has won the right to sue state employees who charged her with child abuse after her husband allegedly stabbed her and kidnapped their child.
Michelle Mammaro, 29, continues to "seek justice in her case against" the state child services workers and police who "pursued her as a child abuser," her attorney said today.
The Federal District Court in Trenton ruled that these state employees are not immune from suit for conduct in violation of the constitution rights of parents, and Mammaro has won the right to sue department heads and individual employees of the state Department of Children & Families, its Division of Child Protection and Permanency (then the Division of Youth and Family Services, DYFS) and the Watchung Police Department, Kenneth Rosellini of Clifton said in a press release.
The case began after an incident in July 2011 involving Mammaro's then-husband. Damon Mammaro allegedly assaulted his wife by choking her and stabbing her with a fork at their home in Phillipsburg. He then left with the couple's 19-month-old daughter, Daniella.
A manhunt ensued, lasting several hours, before he was arrested in Easton and taken to Northampton County Prison, according to reports at the time.
Initially, Damon alone was investigated by state services for child abuse, but the agency filed charges of child abuse against Michelle in September that year, Rosellini said Jan. 21.
"This is a victim of domestic violence, and instead of helping her, they investigated and targeted her," he said.
It took more than a year for a Warren County Family Court judge to rule that Michelle Mammaro was not guilty of child abuse, Rosellini said. During that time, Rosellini and his client allege, caseworkers and police violated Michelle Mammaro's parental rights and went "beyond their constitutional bounds."
According to their complaint, in 2012, Mammaro was no longer able to stay at a state "safe house" and had to move to a friend's home in Watchung.
Rosellini said that instead of inspecting her new living space, case workers arrived with police to take the child from her mother.
Under the law, the "emergency removal" called for a court hearing within 72-hours and a judge ultimately ruled that the agency should not have removed the child, Rosellini said.
"The Attorney General's Office argues immunity through prosecutorial conduct, however, they're not protected if they do something outside of that, and the judge agrees with us," he said.
In addition to monetary judgments against the individuals named in the complaint— department heads, three case workers, two case worker supervisors, a police chief and two officers — Mammaro seeks injunctive relief requiring reform of current practices such as advising parents of their rights, training case workers properly and expediting the review process.
Most importantly, Rosellini said, their goal is to ensure that case workers "don't retaliate when parents do assert their rights."
"We want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else," he said.
A management conference is scheduled for March, after which, Rosellini said, he plans to question the state employees under oath.
Source: The Warren Reporter
Winnipeg's Worst Mom
January 21, 2015 permalink
A mother in Winnipeg left her six-year-old son alone for 90 minutes at home. She lost custody of the boy and has not seen him for eighteen months. On top of that she faces criminal charges of abandonment. America's worst mom, Leonare Skenazy, is defending the mother.
City parent defended by 'worst mom'
Abandonment case continues
Was a Winnipeg mom wrong to leave her six-year-old son home alone for 90 minutes?
Or are police and justice officials acting like helicopter parents?
Either way, America's worst mom is on her side.
New York City resident Lenore Skenazy says the Winnipeg mom -- who left her son alone in a locked bungalow on a summer afternoon with the TV on and food and water with him -- should not have been charged with child abandonment.
Skenazy said, at most, the mother should have been told "don't do it again."
"Just because something makes you feel uncomfortable or self-righteous doesn't make it dangerous," Skenazy said during a phone interview Tuesday.
"This mother loves her child more than anyone. She knows her child better than the judge, lawyers and police.
"Every parent makes decisions that other parents don't agree with."
Skenazy knows what it's like to be accused of bad parenting.
She made international headlines in 2008 and was dubbed America's worst mom after she gave subway fare to her nine-year-old son so he could fulfil his request of finding his way home by himself.
Since then, Skenazy has written the book Free-Range Kids, is the host of the TV show World's Worst Mom, and has been interviewed by media outlets from around the world. She said free-range kids are treated as smart people who don't need to be watched constantly.
Earlier this week, a Winnipeg mother was on trial after pleading not guilty to child abandonment.
Provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe was told the woman left her child alone at home for 90 minutes so she could run some errands.
Court was told the child's father -- the parents are separated -- spotted the mom driving alone on Pembina Highway and phoned the home. When the child said he was alone, the dad called police.
The Crown called it abandonment and argued there were numerous ways the child could have been injured or worse while alone, including turning on the stove, choking on food or falling out of a window.
"Just because nothing bad happened, that's not the test," Crown attorney Nancy Fazenda said.
Michael Law, the woman's lawyer, said there was no evidence of potential harm brought forward and said people who had been convicted of the offence in the past had left their children in vehicles during hot summer or cold winter days, or with weapons.
"It must be more than purely speculative," he said.
Skenazy said she doesn't understand why the mother has not seen her son since she was arrested 18 months ago. Law would only say Child and Family Services is involved in the case.
"That's horrific," she said. "How's that in the best interests of the child?"
Skenazy said the court case is one more example of how North American society is too protective of children.
"I was walking to school as a kindergartner. Now you can't ever walk to school when you are 10," she said.
"What we have done is massively underestimate our children and massively overestimate the danger."
Arthur Schafer, a University of Manitoba professor and the director of the U of M Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said whatever happens to the Winnipeg woman will be at the discretion of the court and will take into consideration whether harm was intended or negligently risked through her actions and what, if any, punishment there should be.
"The defence that nothing bad came of it, if the child had come to harm, it would have been worse," Schafer said. "Imagine two parents who leave their kids for the same length of time in a locked house in similar circumstances and one house burns down and the other doesn't or in one, the child manages to fall out of a window to its death and the other that doesn't happen. But they could equally have happened so both can be very serious."
If the woman was convicted, Schafer said he would expect any punishment would take into account that the woman hasn't seen her child in 18 months.
"It seems unlikely they'd need to imprison her or fine her heavily. The fact that she has suffered greatly, she's lost custody of her child, she's been stigmatized, she's been charged, even if she's not convicted, might be viewed by the court as sufficient punishment. Or not."
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: Acquitted. But no sign of her children returning.
Winnipeg mother found not guilty for leaving child unattended in locked home
Mother not guilty for leaving child in locked home
A Manitoba court acquitted a Winnipeg mother in a case involving a six year old child left home alone for an hour and a half.
The name of the family is being withheld to protect the child.
In July 2013, the woman left her son alone in front of the TV, inside her locked home, while she ran errands.
Police arrested the woman after Child and Family Services found out she intentionally left her child unattended for 90 minutes.(file image)
The father, her estranged husband, found out and called police.
She was charged with child abandonment for intentionally leaving the boy unattended for 90 minutes.
“The child was found safe, TV on, he was eating pudding,” said Mike Law, the woman’s defence lawyer.
Child abandonment charges could result in up to five years in jail.
The judge said in this case the mother used "poor judgment" and made a mistake, but she didn't break the law.
“She's estranged from the father and his family, so she really had nobody and she had to go to work and she had to get medication,” said Law.
The decision came down to risk.
Provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe said the boy was left “in a well-kept home with no evident or immediate dangers."
“It would be a stretch and new area of law to consider this circumstance to be child abandonment,” said Law.
If the mother was convicted the case could have set precedent; potentially making it a crime to leave kids under 12 home alone across Canada.
“That has a huge ramifications in that if the government is not going to support more child space, what do you do?,” said child development expert Ruth Lindsey-Armstrong.
Lindsey-Armstrong said that would exacerbate a growing problem.
“Nowadays people are looking for childcare for their 12, 13, 14-year-old because they feel their children aren't independent enough to stay by themselves,” she said.
The mother broke down in tears when she heard the not-guilty decision. She hadn’t seen her son for 15 months and hopes to see him soon.
Since the incident the child been staying with his father, whose role in this played a part in the judge's decision.
The father called police to say he was worried about his son's safety, yet didn't immediately drive over to check on him.
According to Manitoba’s Child and Family Services act kids under 12 must be left with reasonable provisions made for supervision.
If not, child and family services could get involved.
An incident becomes a criminal charge of child abandonment if there are risks to a child's life or health.
Girl Dies after Refusing Chemo
January 20, 2015 permalink
Makayla Sault, who last year refused chemo therapy for leukemia, has died. McMaster Children’s Hospital tried to get CAS to intervene, but Brant CAS refused, and the courts did not compel CAS to act. Expect this death to be the basis of a new power grab by CAS. To keep this story in one place, it is an addendum to Girl Wants Out of Chemo
Addendum: Contrary to expectations, Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman is supportive of a child's right to control his own medical treatment.
Children can decide health treatment, advocate says
Brant Family and Children's Services did the right thing in cases where two First Nations families decided to opt out of chemotherapy for their young children, says the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
"I'm concerned that the discourse happening is about 'How can we let children have decisions about their health care?' and I want to make sure people know what the law says," said Irwin Elman, who is an official champion of children's rights.
"They have the right, like any adult, to make health decisions as long as they have capacity."
Elman said that those rights are often eroded by parents, foster systems and health-care professionals who sometimes want to leap over the part of the process where they are to involve and inform the patient about medication and procedures.
Instead of getting consent from kids, people tend to make decisions for them, he said.
In a statement released to the media, Elman said that every individual, regardless of age, has the right to consent or refuse treatment, as long as they can understand the treatment information and consequences.
Since the death of Makayla Sault last month, opinion has run high against the judicial and child welfare systems.
The 11-year-old New Credit girl, who had stopped chemotherapy treatments at her own request, and a parallel case of "J.J." a Six Nations girl, have become lightning rods for public outrage.
In the case of the Six Nations girl, who can't be named because of a court order, McMaster Children's Hospital applied to have Brant Family and Children's Services apprehend her so she could continue chemotherapy for her leukemia.
Elman said that, if a child is incapable of understanding treatment options, a parent can act as a substitute decision-maker.
Then if a doctor thinks the parent isn't acting in the child's best interest, the matter should go to the Consent and Capacity Board, not a court, he said.
"The unfortunate reality is that too often medical decisions are being made for young people without their direct involvement "¦ and, most importantly, without their consent."
Elman said that his office hears from many young people who were given no explanation for why they were being hospitalized or administered psychotropic drugs.
The advocate said one investigation found up to 49% of children in care of protection agencies are being given drugs, such as tranquillizers and Ritalin.
Lawyer Mark Handelman said he thinks the Brantford court case missed a critical point of law.
Representing the Brant Family and Child Services agency in the case, Handelman was the winning lawyer but he's still not happy.
"We got the result we sought but, because of the judge's decision, the law has been muddled.
"We don't have clarity of law as to how it impacts non-First Nations children and what's expected from a physician if they deem a child not capable."
Justice Gethin Edward said that pursuing traditional medicine was an "aboriginal right" protected by the Constitution for the Six Nations family. Handelman said the judge should have focused on the proper way to deem someone not capable.
"Capacity is issue specific. Someone can be capable of some decisions and incapable of others. A child may have the inability to understand information relevant to the decision or appreciate the consequences so you suss that out by addressing relevant questions to the child."
Handelman said doctors especially need to practise talking to kids about medical procedures.
"There's an old joke that if you agree with your doctor, you're capable and if you disagree, you're incapable. Without charting, without asking, without informing a child how to challenge a decision - all of which the law expects from every health professional - kids' rights are being ignored.
"I hope this case is a wakeup call."
For Andy Koster, executive director of the Brant Family and Children's Services, Elman's public statement of support has been a relief from the cries of outrage lobbed by columnists and bloggers.
"Our agency felt vindicated to some degree, although it's still tempered by what's happened to Makayla," said Koster.
"A child didn't make it, so we didn't feel any joy, but I'm glad he expressed himself."
Koster emphasized that the agency's decision came down to points of law.
"People are getting caught up in emotions. When we see a story like this we think of our own kids but we followed the law."
Koster said he attended Makayla's funeral and saw the great sadness in the community at her loss.
He said as far as he knows, the Six Nations girl is doing well.
"She has a doctor and is being seen at a children's hospital and we are providing support."
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Children have a lot more rights than many know when it comes to their own health.
The Health Care Consent Act is silent when it comes to setting an age where kids can turn down medical procedures or medication.
The office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth has produced a survival guide for young people and all those who treat them in the health-care system.
“You can make your own decision if you can understand the treatment information and what might happen if you take or don't take the treatment,” says the guide.
“And you can change your mind.”
According to the law, even those younger than 12 can make decisions about their health, including choosing alternative treatments, traditional medicine and culturally appropriate treatment.
No one – not social workers, CAS workers, parents or guardians or Youth Service Officers – can decide that you aren't able to make decisions. Only a doctor or other health care professional can. And they have to tell you that you're allowed to challenge that decision.
Irwin Elman, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, says whether people like it or approve of it, that's the law.
But he wants to see additional ways of respectfully working with young patients to ensure they take responsibility for their health that will last a lifetime.
“If you develop this responsibility as a child, you're going to have health adults and them means less burden on society.
“All of us have some responsibility for our own health care, to take some of the burden off the health care system.”
To download a copy of the Ultimate Health Rights Survival Guide, go to http://bit.ly/1DeYaj1.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Mentally Disturbed Criminal Snatches Children
January 20, 2015 permalink
What kind of conduct is permissible for a social worker? Georgia DFCS investigator Paige Newsome was convicted of forgery, reckless driving and pointing a gun at a motorist, but remains on the job. She also stated under oath in court that she suffers from a mental or emotional disability.
DFCS has no problem with investigator's criminal record
CANTON, Ga. – A state investigator responsible for ensuring the safety of Georgia's children can be convicted of forgery and pulling a gun in a road rage incident and still keep her job. That's the answer from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to questions raised by the 11Alive Investigators.
DFCS child protection investigator Paige Newsome was hired last year by the Cherokee County DFCS office even after the agency learned she had failed to report her conviction on a 2011 gun charge. The state requires applicants to report all convictions and pending charges on a security questionnaire and loyalty oath. Newsome had reported four traffic convictions, but omitted her guilty plea for drawing a revolver on another driver in I-20.
According to documents obtained by the 11Alive Investigators, the West Monroe Police Department in Louisiana arrested Newsome after the other driver called 9-1-1 and reported Newsome had pointed a gun at him after she cut him off on the interstate. As part of her guilty plea, she was required to turn over the gun to police. The missing conviction was found as part of a criminal background check by the state on May 1, 2014 -- the day Newsome was hired.
A month after she started working in a position that would send her into the homes of at risk children, Newsome was in court again. She pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery in the 4th degree for signing her father's name to checks without his permission. Newsome had reported the pending charges on her application, but explained that her plea under the Georgia First Offender Statute would not involve a fine or probation.
Newsome is currently serving 12 months probation and she was fined $250 by the court, contrary to her statement when applying for the DFCS job.
As part of her guilty plea, Newsome was required to answer several questions asked by the court. While employed as a DFCS investigator, she answered "yes" to the question, "Do you now suffer from any mental or emotional disability?"
A spokesperson from the Georgia Department of Human Services which oversees DFCS told The 11 Alive Investigators that Newsome's mental issues are protected under federal law and can not be discussed by the state. DHS issued a statement to 11 Alive, copied below, but the agency had no issues with Newsome's criminal history or what she failed to report.
The DHS spokesperson called Newsome a model employee, adding she's had no disciplinary actions during her time at DFCS.
The agency also knew about Newsome's 2012 arrest for driving under the influence on I-20. She reported it as a conviction for reckless driving – the final disposition -- but a copy of the DUI arrest report was in Newsome's personnel file. She supplied an explanation the day after signing her application.
Newsome wrote, "I had an accident…I was charged with suspicion of DUI though the breath-a-lizer (SIC) showed nothing." Georgia State Patrol records show a portable breath test reading of 0.11% blood alcohol level, well above the driving limit of 0.08.
Court records show Newsome was arrested by the state trooper at the scene of the one car crash, and she pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of reckless driving while a blood test was still pending.
DFCS officials accepted her explanation without question and she was hired as an investigator, even though the agency had the GSP report showing a completely different blood alcohol result.
Similarly, records indicate that DFCS didn't have a problem with Newsome completely omitting the gun charge. Emails obtained by the 11 Alive Investigators under open records laws show a human resources manager was concerned about the omission as recently as last month, but still recommended "continued employment."
A former DFCS official told us the agency follows its employment policies to the letter because of fear over lawsuits from terminated employees. Department of Human Resources Policy #504 lists several charges that would disqualify an applicant, but if an applicant or employee is convicted of a charge not listed in the policy, they can be hired or keep their job of they're already working for the agency.
DHS lists forgery in the first and second degree in Policy #504, but forgery in the fourth degree is perfectly acceptable for its employees and prospective employees. Likewise, pulling a gun during a road rage incident is not on the list and therefore it has no effect on a child protection investigator's employment.
Even though Newsome reported the forgery charge on her application, she didn't have to do so. The application says charges handled under the First Offender Statute do not need to be reported.
The emails discussing Paige Newsome's job included some confusion on the part of a DHS regional HR manager. She wrote, "we may be speaking about another employee situation. We truly have too many problem children." She included the :) emoticon for a smiley face at the end of the sentence.
The emails also show a discussion of pulling Newsome from her child protection duties during the agency's investigation, but as of this week Newsome was back at work at the Cherokee County DFCS office and The 11 Alive Investigators found her repeatedly parking in the Employee of The Quarter parking space.
DFCS said she is not the Employee of The Quarter.
We reached out to Paige Newsome for her side of the story but she did not reply.
They're hired to protect Georgia's helpless children, but how many DFCS child protection investigators have criminal records? That's the $64,000 question. WXIA
State lawyers replied to our open records request for the loyalty oaths of only those DFCS employees with criminal records, saying we would have to pay more than $64,000 to get copies of the records.
The agency released the following statement to 11Alive:
"The Division of Family and Children Services hired Paige Newsome as a social services case manager in May 2014. Her qualifications and history deemed her eligible for employment according to the policy at that time.
After initial hiring, employees are evaluated based upon their ability to perform assigned job duties and by their adherence to agency policy and procedures, including the standards of conduct for employees.
Agency policy regarding personnel and child welfare practice is always under review, and the agency takes action to revise those policies when appropriate."
Source: WXIA-TV Atlanta
Foster Dog Bites Boy
January 20, 2015 permalink
A ten-year-old boy known only as DR had a fear of animals. Oregon DHS knew where to place him: in the home of Lillian Yun, a woman who rescued lost animals. Patron, a Doberman Pinscher mix, mauled the boy, inflicting permanent facial scars.
Foster child who was afraid of animals placed in home with Dobermans, then mauled, suit says
A 10-year-old foster child who had a fear of animals was nonetheless placed in a Gresham foster home that also served as a Doberman Pinscher rescue and then was mauled in the face by one of the dogs, according to a $900,000 lawsuit.
The boy will need an estimated $50,000 for counseling and for cosmetic surgery for permanent scars on his face, according to the suit filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The suit also seeks $850,000 for the boy’s anguish and suffering, including nightmares and trouble sleeping because of the “savage attack” last last July 10, the suit states.
An attorney for the boy filed suit on his behalf against the Oregon Department of Human Services, which certified the boy’s Gresham foster mom, and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, which DHS contracted with to place the boy in the home of foster mom Lillian Yun, the suit states. Yun also is listed as a defendant.
The suit states that the boy, identified by the initials D.R., moved into Yun’s home on Feb. 14, 2014. At some point after that, he was bitten at least once by Patron, a Doberman Pinscher mix who lived in Yun’s home. Then on July 10, he was attacked so badly he was sent to the hospital -- and that led to his immediate removal from the home, the suit states.
The suit faults Catholic Community Services for keeping the boy in the home, “even after D.R.’s counselor voiced concerns to her supervisors at CCS about D.R. being placed in a home with dogs.”
The suit states that Yun also had repeated contacts with animal control services and “had been bitten multiple times in the past by dogs she had ‘rescued.'" The suit states that DHS and Catholic Community Services should have known that children placed in her home could be in danger.
DHS, Catholic Community Services and Yun couldn’t be reached for immediate comment. Hillsboro attorney Matthew Kehoe is representing the boy.
Leonard Henderson R.I.P.
January 19, 2015 permalink
Leonard Henderson has passed away. The founder of the American Family Rights Association, he had been in ill health for several years.
RIP Leonard Henderson - The Grandfather of Family Rights
I am devastated after receiving the following message from Roz McAllister of the American Family Rights Association. We lost one of the greatest, the Grandfather of Family Rights and co-founder of AFRA himself Leonard Henderson who died of natural causes on January 1st 2015.
It is with great sadness that I must inform everyone of the death of the remaining founder of American Family Rights Association (www.familyrightsassociation.com).
Leonard was a dear friend of many. His leadership created the best source of help for parents who are under attack by CPS agencies. His facebook groups cover everything from news to help groups in many states, and reform and activist groups.
Leonard suffered with a lung disease for many years. He has been bedridden for the last few years. On January 1st, he could finally catch his breath and fill his lungs with the crystal clear air of Heaven, for there was waiting for him a very special place!
Goodbye my friend and "Big Brother". See you later!
My heart and prayers goes out to Leonard and his family, and we all thank him for the help he brought to the families who have become victims of CPS.
RIP my friend. You will be missed.
Source: LegallyKidnapped (Patrick Rafferty)
Child Advocate Stymied
January 19, 2015 permalink
Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman tried to find out whether CAS in Ontario puts foster children in motels, as happened in Manitoba. He could not get an answer from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, so he asked the executive director of every children's aid society. He only got answers from half of them.
You might remember when I learned of the practice in Manitoba of using hotels and motels as a "placement" for children and youth in care I had asked the Ministry of Children and Youth Services if this practice was in place in Ontario. I asked whether there were guidelines about the practice. I was told the Ministry had no guidelines, that this would be up to each local CAS. I was told the MCYS would be surprised if the practice was used but that they did not know that I should check with the local CASs.
I then wrote every Director of a local CAS asking the same questions. Sadly but I guess not surprisingly only 24 of the CASs responded (approximately half) bothered to respond after two months.
Those that responded indicated either they do not make use of hotels or motels ever or only in rare instances for youth over 16 years on independent living in an emergency situation for a few days. One agency was using hotels as a temporary placement in past years but has ended the practice by policy and now never uses them. Another reported using a hotel once in the past as a "mental health" placement because there was no mental health supports available in the community.
It leads me to wonder about what the other half of the CASs do.
I will pass what I have learned on to the MCYS. Perhaps they might make their own inquiries. Until Bill 8 is proclaimed a CAS does not have to respond to me but they must respond to the MCYS.
I will keep at it and not lose this thread.
Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman
Boy's Experience in CAS Care
January 19, 2015 permalink
Vern Beck spoke to a teenaged boy in CAS care. The boy related a litany of problems with CAS, problems accentuated by the man supposedly acting as his lawyer.
I interviewed another teen on video yesterday. Same story as many other kids. Some of the points captured on video:
- He hates CAS workers and wants them out of his life. He does not trust them.
- He does not like CAS workers coming to his school. If CAS workers want to interview him he would prefer it to be at CAS offices, not his school.
- The CAS have not helped his family in any way but have only made things worse over the years for his family.
- The CAS workers showed a bias in favor of his mother and worked against his father when his father was a good parent
- The Office of the Children's lawyer nor the CAS told him of his rights and freedoms nor of his rights to be informed of what was going on in court.
- The CAS and his OCL lawyer kept him from seeing his father which is not what he wanted at all. The OCL lawyer did what the boy did not want. The boy wants to see his father.
Overall, this teen's testimony is the same as I gather from many teens. Teens are beginning to speak out. Judgement day will be coming soon for these unregistered CAS workers and incompetent OCL lawyers who continue to do incompetent work and cause destruction to children and families. Some heads are going to roll as the parents and kids are complaining about the same workers.
If any readers have a child who wishes to speak on on video and is willing to disclose their thoughts and feelings about the CAS and the OCL with our elected officials and the family court judges, then private message me. Children speaking out can make a difference in making CAS and the OCL accountable and transparent. Information disclosed by some kids may even qualify for a lawsuit for those who are willing to have their video reviewed by a litigation lawyer.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Adopted Woman Unknowingly Passes Disease to Children
January 17, 2015 permalink
Monique Lair was adopted as a child and her genetic heritage was concealed from her. Had she remained in contact with her natural parents, one of them would have exhibited symptoms of Steinert disease, also called Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), before she reached child-bearing age. Instead she remained unaware of her condition while giving birth to two children. When one of the children developed symptoms, all family members were tested for DM1. Monique and both children tested positive.
Monique Lair is helplessly watching her children deteriorate.
She hangs onto two medical books she was lucky to acquire that tell her all about the disease her children inherited hoping a cure will be found before it's too late.
The guilt is unimaginable.
Lair, who was adopted at a young age, never knew she had myotonic dystrophy. She unknowingly passed the disease to her children.
Jessica, 22, and Marcel, 19, both have myotonic dystrophy type 1, also called Steinhart disease.
The disease affects more than just muscles. It also attacks the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, vision, immune system, skin, reproductive and gastrointestinal systems.
“My children are deteriorating,” Lair says while holding back tears. “I wouldn't have had children if I knew I carried this disease.”
Myotonic dystrophy is a complex variable disease that is quite rare. Little information is known about it and there is no treatment or cure. Only one out of 8,000 people worldwide is diagnosed with the disease.
Lair says she thought myotonic dystrophy was just a disease that affects the muscles, but she quickly learned it was much more complicated.
Jessica was diagnosed at about 11 when she suffered from chronic ear infections.
There also were language and behavioural issues at school.
“I just knew something wasn't right,” Lair says. “But our pediatricians continued to say there was nothing wrong with her.”
Three months later, Lair had her daughter tested at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
“We were told Jessica had myotonic dystrophy. However, we were assured nothing would really come of it,” she says.
Because it's a genetic disease, both Lair and her husband, Dan, were tested. It came back Lair was the source.
“The doctors asked me if I wanted my son to be tested. He was also having issues.”
After diagnosis the situation became worse, Lair says, explaining there was bullying by both peers and teachers.
“Jessica had her head slammed against the wall. Teachers would tell us our kids were lazy and not motivated,” Lair says.
Both graduated, but Marcel might never hold down a job.
“He has a hard time focusing and he's always tired. He has a hard time swallowing and has been abused in the workforce. My kids are deteriorating right before me,” Lair says.
“They have an invisible disability. If they would have been born in a wheelchair they would have received a lot of help,” she says.
“They look normal. But what people don't see is what's happening inside.”
Lair is doing everything she can to give her son and daughter the quality of life they deserve. But, right now, the disease is winning.
It's a battle Lair wasn't prepared to fight.
In the last 10 years, Lair has had to educate herself, her family and medical professionals about the disease.
She's reduced her workload as a nurse to part time so she can care and advocate for her children.
“I'm not going to lie, this disease has certainly taken a toll on our family,” Lair says, adding there are few resources to help financially or to provide support to those with the disease and their family members.
“I know what this disease will eventually do to them. I want to help before the physical symptoms become too much.”
Lair says she recently decided to go public because she wants to help others facing a similar fate.
“Help has to start at an early age. The medical profession must get up to speed on this disease,” she says.
“There's hurtles we constantly have to jump over just to get the care they need and we're still coming up short. I just wonder if it's too late for them.”
Ideally Lair would like to see supports in place that would allow her children to begin to live independently.
“I'm not going to be around forever. I want them to be able to survive on their own,” she says.
“If I'm going to get any help it has to come before the physical disabilities begin to set in and that will eventually happen. I also want people to be aware that before they say things like these kids are simple or lazy, consider that there might be an underlying condition.”
Source: North Bay Nugget
Fake Social Worker Stalks Manitoba
January 17, 2015 permalink
Police in Manitoba are looking for a fake social worker after she called on a home in Blumenort, southeast of Winnipeg.
RCMP on alert south of Winnipeg after woman posed as CFS worker
Suspicious woman knocked on door of Blumenort, Man. resident, claimed to be on house call for CFS
Residents an hour southeast of Winnipeg are on alert after RCMP said it received reports of a suspicious person posing as a Manitoba Child and Family Services (CFS) worker in the area.
A woman knocked on someone's door in Blumenort, Man. Wednesday and said she worked for CFS. The homeowner claims the woman said she was doing a house call to ensure a child was being properly cared for.
The homeowner reported the incident to police. It was later confirmed the woman did not work for CFS.
RCMP have advised area residents to exercise caution when considering allowing someone unknown to them into their home.
Police are reminding people to ask to see credentials and to call the authorities if something feels suspicious.
CAS Broken Promise
January 14, 2015 permalink
CAS promised the family of Katie Pearce's nephew that he would come home today provided they got certain documents to court. The family got the documents with heroic efforts, but CAS kept the nephew anyway.
I made this cake for my nephew today for his welcome home party because CAS agreed to let my nephews go home (basically promised!) as long as she had certain papers at court today, which she did! My nephew's father took the bus at 2AM last night for a 3 and a half hour drive just to go get these papers and fax them over. Then we got to court waited about 4 hours, finally got in to see the judge only to hear my nephew is not going home today [cry emoticon] and you won't believe why!
Hey sorry for making everyone wait. The reason was because my mother lied and said she took care of my nephew for the first year of his life (he is only about 17 months old now) so they are saying my sister can't have him back because she doesn't have enough experience!! So now they are making a "care plan" with her ... What I find stupid is there are plenty of new moms with no experience at all, that's how we learn!!! The girl my nephew is with right now does not have any kids and has no experience with kids! They are just making up excuses now! They are not even thinking of my nephew anymore.
Source: Stop the CAS ...
Girl Threatened over Exotic Pet
January 14, 2015 permalink
Jamie Guarino is a professional snake handler who let his baby daughter play with a python. Michigan child protectors are investigating the family. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the embedded video.
Human Services Officials Alerted to Kids Who Play with Pythons
The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an investigation after viral video shows toddler playing with Burmese python.
Child protective workers have begun an investigation into a White Lake couple who allow their children to play with Burmese pythons.
Oakland County Chief Prosecutor Paul Walton told The Oakland Press authorites have asked the Michigan Department of Human Services to determine if abuse or neglect is takling place in the home.
The county prosecutor’s office initiated the investigation after becoming aware through media reports that Jamie Guarino’s children play with Nay-Nay, a 13-foot python, and other large snakes in some of the approximately 105 videos on his SnakeHuntersTV channel on YouTube and his website.
Guarino thinks Burmese pythons get a bad rap and are suitable as family pets. He said his at-the-time 14-month-old toddler was never in any danger in the video of Barcroft TV’s YouTube channel that has been viewed 1.5 million times.
Walton said he can’t recall the prosecutor’s office ever having initiated a child-abuse investigation involving snakes, but said officials launched investigations after children were allowed to be around vicious dogs, including one in which a pit bull chewed off a child’s foot.
Source: Huntington Woods-Berkley Patch
Even Successful Adoption is Traumatic
January 13, 2015 permalink
Shaaren Pine was successfully adopted from India by a Massachusetts family. She has no complaints about her adoptive parents, but reports that her separation from her real family continues to be a burden for herself and her daughter.
Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted
I’ve never been good at embracing my story, but lately I’ve found help in the most unlikely of places: my 7-year-old daughter, Ara.
A few months ago a good friend relayed a conversation she had just overheard between Ara and the friend’s 6-year-old son.
“I heard you were talking to Graham about adoption?” I asked Ara later.
“Yeah,” she said.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I just said that I’m kind of like an adoptee, but instead of being taken away from my brown mom, I was taken away from my brown grandma.”
I was stunned. There she was, then 6, expressing her feelings about my adoption so clearly. She was able to acknowledge that like me, she, too, feels she has been cut off from her family, her culture and her story and that she is missing a part of who she is.
And Graham was such a wonderful friend to her. He listened, asked a question or two, and, most important, didn’t shut her down by telling her she was too sensitive or overreacting.
In my almost 40 years, I’ve only recently been able to talk about adoption honestly and openly. And it is incredibly difficult.
At 4 months old, I was flown from my orphanage in India to my adoptive parents in Groton, Mass. I would never say I didn’t have a good childhood — I did. My life was enviable in too many ways to mention. But what’s also true is that adoption is a traumatic, lifelong experience that is rarely recognized as one. Unfortunately, there is no way to convince a non-adoptee that adoption is hard and that its effects continue into adulthood unless that person is willing to hear it. And in my experience, few have been.
For me, being an adoptee is like getting into a horrible car accident and surviving with devastating injuries. But instead of anybody acknowledging the trauma of the accident, they tell you that you should feel lucky. Even if the injuries never stop hurting, never quite heal. Even if the injuries make it impossible to feel comfortable in everyday life.
So I learned not to talk about it. Even though my bones ached.
For some reason, my amazing kid knows that she is allowed to talk about how that car accident has made an impact on her life, even if you can’t see any visible scars on me and even if she wasn’t there when it happened. Adoption loss is truly multi-generational.
In her younger years, Ara was always coming up with ways we could find our missing family. “Maybe, Momma, if we … call the orphanage or go to India or write a letter … we could find them.” I wish I had had the strength to verbalize this primal need when I was a child. But I didn’t. I’m still learning how to express it.
I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like if I had had her confidence. If I had felt safe enough to claim my story and the pain of being an adoptee. If I had felt secure that I could share it openly. And if I had believed people would support me when I did.
I probably wouldn’t have wished to die so often starting when I was 11.
And I probably wouldn’t have started cutting myself when I was 12.
I know that not every adoptee has had the same experiences that I have had, but I also know that my story isn’t unique. Adoptees are about 2.5 times as likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees, according to a 2001 study of adopted adults published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. A 2000 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that adoptees are twice as likely as non-adoptees to have received counseling. And prevalence of substance abuse was 43 percent higher among adoptees than non-adoptees, according to a 2012 study published in the journal PLOS One.
Adoptees are often so busy trying to prove that we’re fine, that it’s too late when we realize we’re not. At some point, I stopped running a knife across my wrist, but for many years, that was my solution to denying — and being denied — my truth.
The physical pain of cutting numbed my emotional pain, and it helped me close the gap between my two falsely dichotomous selves: the “happy” adoptee who had everything given to her and the angry adoptee who had everything taken away. On the one hand I was having a regular life with friends and sports and sleepovers and school. But I was also always wondering where I came from, who I looked like, when my real birthday was and if my mother was thinking about me when I was thinking about her. Did my mother love me? And if she didn’t, why not? What was wrong with me? Why would people tell me that my mother loved me so much that she gave me away?
I was also trying to understand why everyone thought I should be grateful because I was adopted. Or why they told me that my adoptive parents saved me. Or why people felt that being upset or angry is an irrational response to living, forever, with no answers.
Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?
On top of this internal, secret questioning, I was carrying the weight of growing up in an all-white town in an all-white family, unbearably alone and hopelessly on display. It was impossible for me to embrace adopted-ness, or brownness or Indian-ness. And there was no space for me to be confident or beautiful because I was too busy wanting to be white or petite or not-adopted, like my friends.
A few weeks ago in my daughter’s gymnastics class, a little white girl looked up at me and gushed, “You are so beautiful!” I couldn’t believe it. I am so grateful that my daughter is growing up in a community where brown can be beautiful. Where she doesn’t have to wish her skin white.
My daughter tells me all the time, especially if I’m going out and am dressed up — “Oh, Amma, you’re so beautiful.” She loves my heels, and especially the Indian outfits. The more important part, though, as I watch her put on my heels and the Indian clothes, as she stands in front of the mirror checking herself out, is that she thinks she’s beautiful.
Obviously, it’s not just about being grateful that she can see her beauty. I still worry about how she’ll continue to process her place in the world. Adoptees and our children, despite being connected to each other, can still feel alone, without extended families or roots or anybody who looks like us. There is that inescapable feeling that many of us, ourselves and our kids, have: that we could, at any moment, just float away into the ether because we have nothing to hold on to.
I hope my daughter always feels confident in her beauty and strength. And I hope she’s always willing to tell me her truth. And even more so, I hope I’m always willing to hear her. Especially if she stops being confident, as I did. And especially if she stops talking, as I did.
As she says herself, she already feels like an adoptee.
And being an adoptee, sometimes, is too much to bear.
Shaaren Pine lives in Washington.
Source: Washington Post
Mom Punches Cop
January 13, 2015 permalink
When Florida police and DCF investigators removed a baby from mother Chinwe Onyiuke she punched the cop.
Note. The police slam the mother noting that she has outstanding warrants. In American jurisprudence this does not mean she has committed multiple serious offenses. It almost always means she has a number of unpaid fines.
West Palm Police: Woman punched officer as baby removed by DCF
A woman who was having her 2-year-old boy removed by investigators with the Department of Children and Families was arrested Friday after she allegedly punched a West Palm Beach police officer.
Chinwe Onyiuke is facing charges of battery on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. Onyiuke, 36, remains in the Palm Beach County Jail where she is being held in lieu of $6,000 bail.
Police were called to the Days Inn at 2300 45th Street where they met with DCF investigators. Two officers and three investigators went to a room being rented by Onyiuke and an adult male.
“Onyiuke was verbally abusive from the initial contact,” according to an arrest report.
When Onyiuke, who had outstanding warrants in Miami-Dade County, was told the child was being removed, she got up from a chair and walked toward the baby.
Given her “demeanor,” the officer decided it was best for Onyiuke not to have contact with the child. He grabbed the woman’s hand and instructed she was being arrested for the warrants. After submitting to having her right wrist handcuffed, Onyiuke allegedly struck the second officer on the right side of this face with her left hand.
Onyiuke tried to hit the officer a second time, according to the report, and was taken to the ground. When she continued to resist and attempted to bite the officer, he responded by punching her in the head.
“I am done,” Onyiuke said, according to the report.
Source: Palm Beach Post
Children's Rights Sues South Carolina
January 13, 2015 permalink
Children's Rights Inc is suing South Carolina alleging failings in its foster care system. This time they have another organization joining as plaintiff, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
2 groups file federal lawsuit against South Carolina DSS
Two nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, acting on behalf of children in the agency’s care.
The suit, filed by national child advocacy agency Children’s Rights and the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, argues, “As a direct result of longstanding, well-documented failures by DSS, Plaintiff Children have been and continue to be harmed physically, psychologically and emotionally and continue to be placed at ongoing risk of such harms while in DSS custody. DSS is re-victimizing the very children it is charged to protect.”
The suit names 11 children in DSS care as plaintiffs (represented by adult lawyers) but seeks reform as a class action on behalf of nearly 3,400 children statewide whom the suit describes as “abused and neglected.”
The suit cites numerous alleged problems at DSS, including “a drastic shortage of foster homes, excessive caseloads and a failure to provide children with basic health care.”
The 11 named plaintiffs range in age from 2 to 17 and collectively have lived in foster homes and institutions across the state. The suit alleges all have suffered neglect and abuse. Plaintiff Michelle H., 16, has been through at least 12 placements in about 8 years, including abusive foster homes, according to the suit.
DSS, according to the suit, also failed to provide plaintiff Ava R., 15, with necessary mental health treatment for 10 months and that Ava was denied her depression medication as punishment at a group home.
“Foster care is supposed to be a safe haven for abused and neglected children, yet South Carolina is re-victimizing the kids it’s supposed to protect,” said Ira Lustbader, litigation director for Children’s Rights. “There’s got to be accountability when longstanding systemic problems, like a severe lack of mental health services, gross over-reliance on institutions and high caseloads, continue to harm innocent children.”
According to the complaint, child maltreatment in foster care goes uninvestigated, inaccurate data masks a much higher rate of abuse and neglect in care than the state reports to the federal government, and caseworkers are so overburdened that kids suffer unnecessary harm.
“For the 25 years that I have been advocating on behalf of South Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens, DSS has continuously failed to make changes to ensure kids in foster care are protected and given proper treatment,” said Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. “Since South Carolina has repeatedly ignored its own admissions about the system, we have no choice but to act and demand reform.”
The lawsuit also states that DSS does not provide basic medical, dental and mental health evaluations and treatment as is require explicitly by law. It asks the court to assert federal jurisdiction and take action to fix the alleged shortage of foster homes, excessive caseworker caseloads and inadequate health care for children.
“We want to stop the Band-Aid approach,” Berkowitz said. “The problems have been known for decades and have not been fixed. We think it’s time for the court to step in.”
Gov. Nikki Haley and acting DSS Director Susan Alford are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Neither immediately replied Monday to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Source: Cola Daily
Perverse Social Worker / Barber
January 12, 2015 permalink
A young man in British Columbia was drinking at the home of his former social worker Michael Hume. He fell asleep and when he awoke he was naked and Hume had shaved off most of his body hair. Police believed the story after finding the hair in Hume's vacuum cleaner.
Social worker accused of sexual assault
A longtime youth and justice worker in Lytton is accused of sexually assaulting a resident of the community he once assisted.
Michael Hume is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats stemming from an incident the Crown alleges occurred on Aug. 8, 2013, at his home in the small Fraser Canyon community.
Hume’s trial began on Thursday, Jan. 8, in front of a 12-person jury in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.
The complainant cannot be named due to a court order protecting his identity.
Lytton First Nation Chief Janet Webster testified that Hume arrived from outside the small community more than 10 years ago. His first position was as a recreation and youth worker and, later, as a court worker with a restorative-justice program that brings victims and those convicted of crimes together in a healing circle or by other means.
Hume became ingrained in the band, marrying the former band administrator, who has since died.
Crown prosecutor Chris Balison told the jury the young adult who went to police after the incident “didn’t have the easiest life.
“He was a drinker,” Balison said.
“He struggled with anxiety.”
The man testified he was drinking at a friend’s house in Lytton on Aug. 8, 2013, when he decided to walk home.
He changed his mind en route, stopping at St. Bartholemew’s Hospital to use the phone.
In his opening to the jury, Balison said Hume came along and the two smoked and chatted outside the hospital. Balison said Hume offered a ride to his own house, which the young man declined several times before eventually accepting.
Once at Hume’s house, Balison said, the man went into the bathroom where he was sick. Twenty minutes later, he came out to a drink prepared by the social worker.
Balison said the young man awoke unclothed after blacking out to find Hume shaving his body, including his genitals.
Balison said the man looked beside him and saw what he thought was his own body hair shaved off.
“He didn’t agree to this,” Balison told the jury. “He didn’t want this to happen. He was scared.”
A recording was played in court of a telephone call the complainant made to the band chief from Hume’s house, after when the Crown alleges the assault occurred.
“I need you to pick up right now, please — pick up, please,” the man could be heard pleading on the message to an empty house.
Balison said the Crown will attempt to prove Hume cleaned up the shaven hair, which was later obtained from Hume’s vacuum after RCMP obtained a search warrant.
Webster testified she noticed one of the young man’s armpits was shaved, something she had not seen before.
The young man is expected to testify that after the assault, Hume grabbed a bottle of alcohol, wielding it in a threatening way and telling him not to leave.
Balison said Hume later drove the young man home, giving him $50 and telling him not to tell anyone of the incident.
The trial is scheduled to continue on Friday.
Source: Kamloops This Week
‘He pretty much shaved me everywhere,’ complainant says of social worker charged with sex assault
A Lytton resident struggled through tears in B.C. Supreme Court as he testified about awaking naked after a drinking session to find his former social worker shaving off most of his body hair.
Michael Hume is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats stemming from an incident the Crown alleges occurred on Aug. 8, 2013, at his home in Lytton
The young man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban protecting his identity, testified this week in a B.C. Supreme Court trial in front of a 12-person jury.
The complainant testified he reluctantly accepted a ride from Hume to his house after drinking at a friend’s house. He otherwise faced a long walk home.
“I gave in and said yes,” he told court.
Once there, the young man said he immediately went to the bathroom because he was sick from drinking too much alcohol.
When he came out, he found Hume at the kitchen table offering him a drink of Captain Morgan rum and root beer.
He had a few sips but didn’t like it. He testified going to his backpack to retrieve a beer but there were none inside.
The young man also told the jury he tried to steal one of Hume’s other bottles of hard liquor but got caught and was told to put it back.
He went back to the drink at the table chatting with Hume before finishing about a quarter of his drink and passing out.
“I woke up on the floor naked in the living room,” he said.
“He [Hume] had my left leg in the air and was shaving underneath my testicles. I said ‘what the f–k are you doing?'”
The complainant testified Hume replied, “Don’t be mad — your girlfriend will like it anyway.”
“He pretty much shaved me everywhere,” he said.
“I was itchy and there was hair everywhere beside me.”
Janet Webster, chief of the Lytton First Nation, testified Hume arrived in the small Fraser Valley community 10 years ago, working first as a youth and recreation councillor and later as a native court worker assisting with restorative justice and helping young band members in trouble with the law — including the complainant.
The complainant said following the shaving, Hume at first threatened him with a bottle, telling him he couldn’t leave. He said he made several frantic phone calls to get a ride while Hume was elsewhere in the house.
When he told Hume he was going to report the episode, he said the social worker “just laughed and said, ‘No one will believe you anyway.’
“He’s probably right,” he said.
“He buys everyone’s love with money. Everyone likes him.”
Throughout his testimony, the young man said he felt scared and disgusted by the episode.
Eventually, the complainant said, Hume drove him to his cousin’s house, throwing him $50.
“He told me not to tell anyone,” he said.
“He told me I was a good kid and didn’t want me to do anything bad.”
The complainant said he immediately told his cousin about the incident. Soon after, RCMP took him to hospital for photographs of his shaven body, which were shown to jurors as evidence. He said he’d never shaved his own body hair.
In his opening to jurors, prosecutor Chris Balison said the Crown will attempt to prove Hume cleaned up the shaven hair, which was later found inside Hume’s vacuum cleaner after RCMP obtained a search warrant.
Source: Kamloops This Week
January 11, 2015 permalink
Royce Rigney, age 19, is the kind of boy any parent would be proud of. "Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future". Rigney's legal parents are the social services system of South Australia. They are touting their success with his real name. The social services system keeps the names of their failures secret (most of their wards).
Foster child Royce Rigney praises embattled child-protection agency Families SA for giving him a chanceto realise his dreams
A CHANCE meeting in a hospital waiting room about five years ago was the last time Royce Rigney saw his mother.
He didn’t recognise the woman who quickly hugged him and then walked away, and had to be told by his foster father who she was.
Royce, now 19, was taken from his mother’s care at birth, after her heavy drinking led to his premature arrival and serious health problems.
He was one of hundreds of children taken from their parents each year by child-protection workers and placed in the care of the state.
Royce was fortunate to be placed with a stable foster family who saw him through a childhood of operations and intermittent contact with his biological family.
Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future. But he knows of many other foster kids who haven’t been as lucky.
“I never went to a (state) home or anything, I always had a mother and a father figure in my life,” Royce told the Sunday Mail.
“But I’ve heard a lot of stories. A lot of other kids, they had been abused by their foster parents, which is terrible.
“If they move from one family to another, it confuses them. They don’t know who’s Mum or who’s Dad any more.”
Royce was 13 when his father – who he had never met – died.
He knows very little about his biological family but has heard enough to believe that Families SA made the right decision in taking him into care. Royce’s medical problems included heart trouble, a cleft palate and speech impediment, mild hearing loss in his right ear and vision impairment in his right eye.
“I was very, very sick when I was young,” he said. “The doctors didn’t think I was going to live. Families SA got called and I wasn’t allowed to go back to my mother.
“At the end of the day, they helped me, they chose a family for me – the best that I could be with.” Royce lives with three foster siblings – an older brother in his 20s, a teenage sister and a pre-school-aged brother.
Other children have come and gone from the home over the years.
“There was a foster kid I knew who was abused, got raped, the worst things you can think of,” Royce said.
“I thought ‘how can this happen?’ They (Families SA) gave you a kid so it has a hope of a good future and you’re taking their lives away.”
Growing up as a foster child, Royce’s life was pretty normal. He was shy at kindy but a cheeky performer at home.
Later, he played football and wanted to hang out at his friends’ houses.
But there were some significant differences between Royce and his peers.
“I had to get permission from Families SA to go on school camps and stuff,” he said.
“They did police checks on my friends’ families.”
As a teenager, Royce wrote in his high school year book that he wanted to be a police officer.
“I want to do something that will help, especially the Aboriginal community, younger kids and the next generation,” he said.
Royce acknowledges that some people hold a certain impression of foster kids as “messed-up”.
“(Foster children) may have anger issues, or be going through depression – there’s a whole range of things that could be happening in their minds – and they need to be aligned with the right foster family,” he said.
“I did at one stage, when I was younger, look at my other friends and think they had a really good life with their real mum and dad and (think) ‘why couldn’t I have that?’
“(But) sometimes it’s not about blood but it’s the psychological connection you have and the love.
“The most important thing ... is the child – raising them, getting a good education to get the best out of them – because if they stay with abusive parents it’s just going to repeat in the next generation.”
Source: Courier-Mail (Australia)
January 11, 2015 permalink
When Tamara Loertscher suspected she was pregnant she stopped using drugs and asked Taylor county Wisconsin social services for help. They knew just what to prescribe: 18 days in jail.
Pregnant woman challenging Wisconsin protective custody law
For the second time, a pregnant Wisconsin woman has challenged a state law that landed her in jail after she admitted to past drug use while seeking prenatal care.
Tamara Loertscher, 30, of Medford was jailed in Taylor County for 18 days — including three in solitary confinement — after a judge found her in contempt for refusing to move to a residential treatment center, according to the federal civil rights lawsuit she filed in Madison.
The lawsuit claims Wisconsin's so-called cocaine mom statute — meant to provide protection for developing fetuses — is unconstitutional, and seeks an injunction against its further use.
The 1998 law lets adult pregnant women suspected of current or past drug or alcohol use that could affect their fetus be held in secure custody and subjected to medical treatment involuntarily. Social workers can initiate confidential legal action in children's court; lawyers get appointed for a woman's fetus.
Last year, a pregnant woman ordered into a residential drug treatment center in West Bend also went to court, with the help of the same organization aiding Loertscher, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Lawyers helped get Alicia Beltran released and Washington County to drop actions against her. Her federal lawsuit was dismissed this year as moot, because she has since had her baby and is not in custody or facing other legal consequences.
"As shocking as Beltran was, the Loertscher case is more so, and more revealing of how dangerous this law is to pregnant women and their unborn children," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Critics, including many medical professionals, have long said laws aimed at protecting a fetus can scare pregnant women from seeking prenatal care or being honest with their doctors.
Neither the Taylor County officials involved in detaining Loertscher nor the state officials named as defendants in the lawsuit would comment on her case or the law in general.
But Rep. Andres Jacques, (R-De Pere) who was not in the Legislature when the law was passed, said it has likely helped dozens of women and their babies over the years, who were perhaps glad for the intervention.
"It's not meant to be hostile to women," he said, but if the lawsuits expose some problems administering the law, that could be addressed.
"But scrapping the whole law? That's a very strong overreach," he said.
At the time the bill was working its way through the Legislature, lawmakers also said it could save money. Republican Mary Lazich of New Berlin — then a state representative, now a state senator — argued that delivery and initial medical care for cocaine-addicted babies, for example, cost more than eight times as much as delivery of a non-addicted baby.
Tests reveal past drug use
According to the suit:
Loertscher was suffering from hypothyroidism and depression when she began using methamphetamines last winter. In late July she stopped using any drugs because she thought she might be pregnant. On Aug. 1, she sought help with Taylor County social services, which referred her to the emergency room at Eau Claire Mayo Clinic.
At the clinic, a urine test showed Loertscher was pregnant, and also revealed her past drug use. Another test confirmed she had a severe thyroid condition.
Medical officials shared the findings with the county social services personnel, who subsequently went to court and had a guardian ad litem appointed for Loertscher's 14-week-old fetus.
Social workers asked Loertscher repeatedly to release her medical records to county officials, and said that if she didn't, she would be jailed until she had her baby, which would then be put up for adoption.
When Loertscher finally said she wanted to go home, she was told she was the subject of a temporary custody order obtained by Taylor County and could not leave. The next day, still at the Eau Claire Mayo Clinic, she was taken to a room where Court Commissioner Greg Krug was on speaker phone and told her to sign a petition — as if she was initiating protective action on the unborn child herself. She refused and said she wouldn't answer questions without a lawyer and left the room.
The court commissioner deemed that Loertscher had waived her appearance. Taylor County Corporation Counsel Courtney Graff, also on speaker, told a doctor at the Mayo Clinic that breaching Loertscher's confidentiality was not an issue for this type of proceeding and the doctor then discussed Loertscher's conditions and treatment, as well as her past drug use that she admitted to in her initial interview at the clinic.
Krug then ordered Loertscher held. The next day, she was told, she would be taken from Mayo to a residential addiction center in Eau Claire pursuant to court order, but would first have to supply a blood sample. She refused, and demanded to go home.
Mayo doctors then met with her, prescribed medication for depression and hypothyroidism and released her.
About 10 days later, Taylor County officials and the guardian ad litem asked a court to order Loertscher into custody. On Sept. 14, Loertscher appeared in court without a lawyer. A judge ordered her jailed on contempt for not following the earlier orders.
Jail, solitary confinement
In jail, she was told to provide a urine sample, and when she refused, was put in solitary confinement for 36 hours. She missed prenatal care appointments and claims jail staff said she shouldn't have gotten herself in the position to miss the appointments.
Eventually, a public defender appointed for Loertscher won her release after she agreed to get drug and alcohol testing at her expense and share the results with the county.
But next, Taylor County human services made an administrative finding against Loertscher for child maltreatment, based on her medical records. She is appealing that finding.
"From our perspective, the entire proceeding was a violation of constitutional rights from start to finish," said Loertscher's Madison attorney, Freya Bowen.
She said all the drug test results have been negative, and Loertscher is expecting her first child in late January.
Bowen and Paltrow say the "cocaine mom" law subjects adult women to juvenile court jurisdiction based only on speculative harm to a fetus and violates their medical confidentiality.
The suit names as defendants Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson. A Van Hollen spokesman said he had no comment, and one for Anderson said too many people were on vacation over the holidays to provide any information about how often the "cocaine mom" law is enforced.
Krug and Graff, the Taylor County officials described in the complaint, both said they could not comment because the actions against Loertscher were a juvenile court matter.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Derelict Social Worker Excused
January 11, 2015 permalink
Philadelphia DHS worker Nefertiti Savoy placed Beatrice Weston, age 10, with her aunt Linda Ann Weston in 2002. Savoy overlooked the fact that aunt Linda had been convicted of murder in a starvation death two decades earlier. In the foster placement Beatrice was beaten, sexually assaulted, denied food, and denied schooling, abuse that went on until police rescued her in 2011.
A judge has just ruled that Nefertiti Savoy has no responsibility for the abuse. Fixcas has pointed out before that when a man gets thrown to the lions, the lions are not the ones responsible for killing him. Rulings like that for Savoy continue to exempt the real wrongdoers from responsibility for the failings of the foster care system.
Judge tosses lawsuit by niece of Linda Ann Weston against city, DHS worker
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a niece of alleged kidnapper and torturer Linda Ann Weston against the city and a former Department of Human Services worker.
In a judgment filed Monday and made public yesterday, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled in favor of the former DHS worker, Nefertiti Savoy, and the city, and against Beatrice Weston, 23, who filed the suit.
The judge ruled that while Savoy - the DHS case worker who recommended to a judge that Beatrice live with her aunt and who failed to investigate Linda Weston's criminal background - was negligent, she could not be found liable for the abuse Beatrice suffered by her aunt.
Beatrice was 10 when at an August 2002 Family Court hearing, her mother, Vickie Weston, and Beatrice's aunt, Linda Weston, agreed they wanted Beatrice to live with Linda. Savoy and Richard Ames, then a deputy city solicitor, recommended that Linda be granted temporary legal custody of Beatrice, with DHS supervision. The judge did so.
DHS contracted with a third-party agency, Intercultural Family Services, to provide home services to Beatrice.
At a Family Court hearing in April 2003, in which Savoy was present, another judge concluded Beatrice was safe living with her aunt and continued the temporary custody, and discharged DHS supervision in the case.
But over the years, Beatrice was "subjected to imprisonment and horrible abuse by Linda Weston and others," Surrick wrote. "Among other things, she was beaten, sexually assaulted, denied food, and denied schooling." The judge noted it was not clear when the abuse began, but said it continued until 2011, when cops rescued Beatrice.
In the lawsuit, Beatrice contended Savoy, the city and Ames were liable for her suffering. Ames has since been dismissed from the suit. (Beatrice agreed he was entitled to immunity.)
Beatrice's claims centered on a "state-created danger theory of liability," the judge wrote. She contended, for one, that Savoy failed to investigate Linda Weston's background, and if she had, she would have learned that Weston had been convicted of murder in the 1980s in a starvation death.
Beatrice also contended that Savoy failed in her oversight and failed by representing in Family Court that Beatrice was safe in her aunt's home.
Surrick, however, wrote that Savoy's "failures to act do not constitute an affirmative misuse of state authority." This was "not a case where Savoy's conduct, alone, affirmatively placed Beatrice in a position of danger that she would not otherwise have been in," the judge wrote.
Surrick also ruled that because Beatrice failed to make her claim against Savoy, her claim against the city must also be dismissed.
Dominic Guerrini, a partner at Kline & Specter, who represents Beatrice, said yesterday that Beatrice "was devastated by the news. She doesn't understand how the city could have placed her into this situation, recommended the placement, then escaped any responsibility for the atrocities she suffered over the course of a decade." Guerrini said he plans to appeal Surrick's decision to the Third Circuit.
Chief Deputy City Solicitor Craig Straw, who heads the Law Department's Civil Rights Unit, which represented Savoy, the city and Ames, said: "We are happy with Judge Surrick's decision and believe that he addressed the issues that we raised."
Linda Weston was originally sued in this lawsuit, too. A default judgment was entered against her after she had failed to respond to the complaint.
Guerrini also represents Beatrice in a Common Pleas lawsuit against Intercultural Family Services and two child advocates. He said this case is expected to go to trial this summer or fall.
Linda Weston and three other defendants face a federal trial on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit hate crime and kidnapping in relation to victims they allegedly kept hostage, beat and starved in different states. Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, who was also federally indicted, recently pleaded guilty in the criminal case.
Weston and the others were arrested after four mentally disabled adults were found locked in a dank, urine-reeking Tacony sub-basement in October 2011.
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Real Mother Takes Child from Foster Home
January 11, 2015 permalink
Monique Farias retrieved her daughter from her foster mother through burglary. The reporter says Farias gave up the girl through a voluntary agreement. Often this kind of agreement is imposed on the mother by child protectors through coercion or deception. But in the current instance foster parents Terry and Kimberly Finch strengthened their custody with an court order in December.
Birth mother allegedly kidnapped child from home of new family
Monique Farias gave up her 2 1/2-year-old daughter in December, agreeing to let another family have temporary guardianship and custody of the child.
But she changed her mind.
Deputies said Farias and her boyfriend abducted the girl Monday afternoon from her new home in Oildale. The child was recovered -- and Farias and her boyfriend arrested -- early Tuesday in downtown Bakersfield.
Farias, 33, and her boyfriend, Ricardo Arredondo, 37, are being held on $525,000 bail on suspicion of kidnapping, burglary and conspiracy.
Deputies said Farias had been unable to care for her daughter and left her with her mother for an extended period of time. The mother then asked Kimberly Finch and her husband, Terry Finch, to care for the child beginning in July.
Kimberly Finch said in a Tuesday morning interview she knows Farias' mother because they attend the same church.
Kimberly and Terry Finch filed for and obtained guardianship of the child in December after Farias voluntarily released custody of her daughter, deputies said.
Farias and Arredondo contacted the Finches and asked to visit the girl Sunday evening. Kimberly Finch said the two visited with the child for a couple hours, and everything went well -- with one exception.
In the course of their conversation, Finch said Arredondo told her a daughter he'd fathered had been taken away from him, and it made him think about kidnapping her to get her back. Finch said that comment made her uneasy.
Farias asked to visit with the girl again Monday. Finch said she was home alone with the child, but everything had gone well the night before so she decided to let Farias and Arredondo in her house in the 500 block of Twinleaf Drive.
She refused, however, to let them take the girl to lunch at McDonald's, even though Arredondo claimed her husband had given them permission. Finch called her husband, who denied giving permission, and said he was on his way home to confront Arredondo.
Soon after Terry Finch arrived, he, his wife and Arredondo talked in the living room while Farias took her daughter to a back bedroom. Terry Finch was seated in a chair facing the street. He had a perfect view a short time later of Farias running from the house with her daughter in her arms.
Kimberly Finch called 911. Arredondo walked out of the house and followed Farias and the girl.
Finch said she and her husband didn't chase Farias because they don't have weapons or cellphones, plus their two young boys were home.
"I was very angry she tried something like that," Kimberly Finch said.
During the 12-hour investigation, deputies served three search warrants, a probation search and conducted several other searches on properties in the Bakersfield area.
Deputies found Farias, Arredondo and the child about 2:40 a.m. at a residence in the 700 block of L Street. The girl was unharmed.
Source: Bakersfield Californian
Je Suis Charlie
January 10, 2015 permalink
France, and the world, were shocked by the assassination of ten employees of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7. A policeman and a maintenance worker were also killed. The two attackers were brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi.
The press is telling of the connection of the two to Islam, and anti-immigrant political movements are expecting a big increase in their support. Fixcas is mentioning this story to point out a fact downplayed by the rest of the press. The two brothers were raised in foster care.
Paris attacks: What do we know about the Kouachi brothers?
It seems that the deadly Paris attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a family affair. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
It seems that the deadly Paris attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a family affair with the suspected perpetrators named by French police as Said Kouachi, his brother Cherif Kouachi and Hamyd Mourad, Cherif’s brother in law.
Cherif Kouachi is also known as Abou Issen, according to French daily Le Monde.
Cherif, who was born on November 28, 1982 in Paris not far from where the attack took place, is well known by the anti-terror police in France, the newspaper reported.
In 2008, Cherif was convicted to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for his association with a group sending extremist fighters to Iraq.
Describing Cherif, his lawyer of the time, Vincent Ollivier, told Le Parisien: “A loser, a delivery boy in a cap who smokes hashish and delivers pizzas to buy his drugs.
“A clueless kid who did not know what to do with his life and then overnight met people who gave him the impression he was important.”
Following his release, Cherif, who holds the French nationality, worked as a fish vendor in French supermarket Leclerc in north-central France.
In 2010, Cherif was arrested again when his name was associated to an attempted prison escape of Islamist Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, a former member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) that carried out a spate of bombings and a plane hijacking in France in the 1990s.
Belkacem was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 for a bombing at France’s Musee D’Orsay rail station in October 1995 that left 30 people wounded.
In 2005, images of Cherif were broadcasted on French television as part of a program called “Piece a conviction” which was focusing on terrorism.
Cherif is also suspected of being linked to Djamel Beghal, a French jihadist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for planning terror attacks, Le Parisien reported.
Cherif’s brother Said was born on September 7, 1980, also in Paris.
The Kouachi brothers were reportedly abandoned by their Algerian parents at a very early age, Le Parisien stated.
They were placed in foster care in the eastern city of Rennes before moving back to Paris.
The Third suspect, Hamyd Mourad, was born in 1996 and turned himself in at Charleville-Mézières, some 230 kilometers northeast of Paris near the Belgium border, an official at the prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press. BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the 18-year-old had decided to go to the police after seeing his name on social media.
Source: Al Arabiya Network
New Jersey Tolerates Maternal Cannabis
January 9, 2015 permalink
Here is a rare case of a court rejecting one of the reasons for taking a child. A New Jersey court has ruled that a child cannot be removed from her mother solely for use of Cannabis (marijuana).
New Jersey Appeals Court Rules Cannabis Use Alone Not Reason to Remove Child
Two days before Christmas, an appellate court in New Jersey gave one Garden state mother the best possible gift; a panel headed by Honorable Carmen Alvarez ruled that not only were verbal admissions about possible cannabis use insufficient evidence for an emergency removal order of an infant child but that the state failed to provide any evidence that simply using cannabis constituted child abuse or neglect. While at first glance, this simply appears to be a case of the courts using common sense, in reality it is a major departure from the common practices of the family court system that have existed for decades.
The unnamed 18-year-old mother (R.W.), who became the defendant in this case, was arrested for a violation of her parole in March of 2011. Shortly thereafter, she and her daughter were placed in the state’s Capable Adolescent Mothers (CAM) Program. R.W. naively believed that speaking honestly with the CAM worker was the best way to handle the situation, and she allegedly admitted to cannabis use while caring for her daughter. This was passed along the chain of command, and an emergency order for R.W.’s daughter’s removal was issued.
That story is one that plays out regularly across the nation. Because there are no national reporting requirements for child welfare agencies, it is impossible to know exactly how many children are removed from parental custody solely for cannabis, but anecdotal information indicates that they represent a not insignificant percentage of children removed from their homes. Thankfully, in this case, R.W. decided she was going to fight for her daughter. Even more thankfully, her appeal landed in front of a reasonable panel.
Judge Alvarez and the appellate panel decided, after reviewing the case, that a CAM worker’s verbal testimony to a superior about R.W.’s alleged cannabis confession should not have been admissible, as the original judge would not be able to assess the trustworthiness of this statement as anything other than hearsay. Moreover, they ruled that simply violating parole, an act which could leave R.W.’s daughter without parental care if R.W. was incarcerated, was not an act of abuse or neglect.
Most importantly, the review panel also ruled that using cannabis while caring for a child does not inherently create a situation where the child is in imminent danger and needs to be removed from parental custody. They indicated that the state failed to provide any documentation that cannabis use by parents has a deleterious effect on children in their custody.
While this is only one specific case and will not impact the broader practice of enforcing cannabis prohibition at the criminal and family court levels, it certainly sets a positive precedent for otherwise excellent and loving parents caught up in the legal system over their cannabis use. Hopefully, this decision will impact how lower courts in New Jersey process custody issues involving cannabis, and hopefully that rational policy will influence judges and lawmakers in other states as well.
Source: Ladybud Magazine
Guatemalan Child Theft/Adoption
January 9, 2015 permalink
A journalist has assembled all of the pieces of the fraudulent adoption of a Guatemalan girl by a Missouri family. In January 2005 Dayner Orlando Hernández and his wife Loyda Rodríguez gave birth to a daughter they named Anyelí. In November 2006 she was kidnapped and within Guatemala's corrupt adoption system given the false identity of Karen Abigail Lopéz García and a false mother, Felicita Antonia López. When dna of the child did not match the purported mother, the adoption was stalled, but not for long. A Guatemalan court declared the child abandoned and the adoption by Missouri parents Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan was completed.
The birth parents pursued a diligent search for their lost daughter and eventually, given access to their country's adoption records, found her, but only four months after she had departed for the United States. Many Guatemalans involved in the fraudulent adoption have been convicted for their crimes or are awaiting trial. The adopters have used American law to fight all efforts by the real parents to connect with their daughter. Anyelí/Karen will soon be old enough to find her own story with Google, learning that the adults she thought of as loving parents were the ones who financed the entire fiasco with their adoption fees. When she reaches the age of majority, the US may refuse to treat her as a citizen because of the fraudulent documents used to obtain her initial US passport. She will have the choice of living in Guatemala, where she does not know the language and customs, or continuing as an illegal immigrant in the US.
To keep all of this story in one place, the investigative report has been added as an addendum to an earlier story Stolen Baby Found.
Mandatory Flu Shots
January 9, 2015 permalink
To be a foster parent in Washington you will have to get an annual flu shot.
Foster mom says she's willing to lose infant over flu shot mandate
TACOMA, Wash. -- Foster families are under a new mandate that everyone in their house needs a flu shot if they have foster kids under two years of age.
If they don't comply, the children will be taken from them. At least one foster mom is going to fight that.
Foster parent Jamie Smith of Tacoma has a new addition to her foster home.
"He was born on Christmas. He's our little Christmas baby," Smith said.
Seven other babies have come through her home, including Bonnie, who is now 4-years old and adopted by the Smith family.
But the little 2-week-old may get taken away by the state unless Smith and all the members of her house get a flu shot. That includes the older foster kids in her care. She's not going to comply.
"I've done a lot of research on it and I don't like some of the side effects that it has," she said.
Smith says she's worried about mercury in the vaccine and its effects on the brain. She doesn't want her or her five children exposed to that even if it means losing the little one.
"I've thought about that a lot," said Smith. "Unfortunately, I have to think about our kids who are in the house first and to me they're more important, their safety, than trying to fight to keep this little guy."
She isn't getting the shot, but her electrician husband did. He works for MultiCare and they require all employees to get a shot. Nurses at Multicare's Tacoma General and Good Samaritan Hospitals are suing the company over its insistence they get flu shots or face termination.
"It is serious," said Heather Stephens-Selby of the Washington State Nurses Association.
Now the foster families who handle young foster children are under the same gun. They hope by speaking out the state will ease up and keep the foster families together.
"I'm hoping that we can raise enough of a voice that the state will at least give waivers or do something so the children won't be taken out of their homes," Smith said.
The Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees foster care, issued this statement: "Our rules are designed to protect the safety and well-being of children, which is the sole focus of DSHS Children's Administration. We selected this age group because these are the children who are most vulnerable to illness. We are examining issues being brought to our attention now and have made no decisions regarding changes."
The deadline for getting flu shots is the end of February.
Adoption Disclosure Punished
January 8, 2015 permalink
Lawyers can represent and advocate for the worst-of-the-worst, rapists, terrorists, murderers, and it's all a legitimate part of the job. But a lawyer can be censured for revealing the truth. North Carolina lawyer Leslie Oliver Wickham Jr is in the legal doghouse for telling a mother and former foster mother the name of the family that adopted their child.
Durham attorney censured for revealing identity of a child's adoptive parents
Durham attorney Leslie Oliver Wickham Jr. was censured by the the N.C. State Bar after he revealed the names of a child's adoptive parents to the child's biological mother and the child's former foster mother, according to the order signed by John M. Silverstein, chairman of the Bar's Grievance Committee.
When contacted by phone, Wickham declined any further comment.
The release of this specific information constitutes a misdemeanor that "reflects on your trustworthiness as an attorney," according to the order. "You failed in your response to this grievance to recognize the real or potential harm of your conduct on the child and his adoptive family."
In the legal world, a censure is a more severe punishment than a reprimand, though not as serious as a disbarment.
"The Grievance Committee trusts that you will ponder this censure, recognize the error that you have made, and that you will never again allow yourself to depart from adherence to the high ethical standards of the legal profession," according to the order. "This censure should serve as a strong reminder and inducement for you to weigh carefully in the future your responsibility to the public, your clients, your fellow attorneys and the courts, to the end that you demean yourself as a respected member of the legal profession whose conduct may be relied upon without question."
Wickham, 62, holds a degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and works primarily as a personal injury attorney in the area of workers' compensation. According to the profile on his law office website, he has tried worker's compensation cases in 25 counties in North Carolina, deposed more than 100 doctors in North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Virginia, and has served as chairman of the Workers' Compensation Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and of the Workers' Compensation Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Source: Triangle Business Journal
January 8, 2015 permalink
In an article in Teal Star, Erin Paterson reveals some inner workings of children's aid in Ontario. Erin formerly worked for Blue Hills Child and Family Centre, where she assisted clients of children's aid. She says children were auctioned off for adoption. Wealthy clients could place orders for the kind of child they wanted. When CAS found matching children, they were taken from the parents, who never saw them again. Erin was an adoptive parent herself, and her adopted children were in and out of CAS care. There is one incident never reported by anyone else: She was offered her children back provided she reunited with her ex-husband.
When I met Erin Paterson via Facebook mid-summer of 2012, I had no idea this petite blonde woman:
- Had so much in common, both in life history and passion, as me...
- Would become one of my most trusted "inner circle" friends
- Would entrust me with the beautiful privilege of sharing her truly incredible story with the world in it's entirety for the first time...ever.
To say that I am quite nervous as to whether my "word-smith" skills will do her story justice is an understatement, but alas, this story is not about me. This is a story as incredible as that of Bilbo Baggins, the tiny Hobbit, venturing through treacherous terrain to save all of Middle Earth —but this time our "unlikely hero" is venturing to save something far more precious, and this intangible "ring to rule them all" is literally the hearts, souls and very lives of children —both Erin's and those of the currently unregulated region of Ontario. "Sauron", in this particular tale, is played by none other than the Children's Aid Society of Ontario — an organization touted as "more powerful than God" in a heart-wrenching documentary than can be viewed HERE.
Our interview for this piece began mid-October 2014, and was wonderful yet frustrating at the same time because Erin skillfully dodged questions about her story, as she was not yet ready to reveal her secret pain...a pain that has fueled her passion to help others and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge as she attempts to understand trauma and it's effect on humanity around the world...a quest that has earned her numerous credentials such as: Good Will Ambassador for Canada representing Alliance for Medics PTSD, Independent researcher for: the Global Unification International, the boarding schools of Kanata and Neuroscience as it relates to PTSD, Freelance journalist for International Peace, Activist with focus on political prisoners and reform of the categorization of PTSD in the DSM-5, CEO and Founder of Warriors Landing for men, women and children, Founder of the PTSD Support and Global Awareness Campaign, Equestrian Instructor with International Coach Training, Founder of Harnessing Horse Power Healing Program, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Coach and NLP Master Coach Practitioner specializing in Mindfulness, Resolving PTSD, NLP Hypnotherapy, releasing PTSD with NLP, Time Line Coach, Eye Movement Integration Practioner and many, many others.
When asked about her formal education, Erin responds by saying, "I do not pride myself on my formal education. Though I grew up in a family line with strong academics, I had to say no to the endless degrees — regardless of family rejection. I do take courses in fields of study that can benefit my research and ability to help others. Einstein wrote a quote and it is one I know to be true...'You cannot fix problems with the same thinking used to create them.'"
Without further delay, here is part one of one of the most incredible interviews you'll ever read:
#1 What is your story?
Previously, I was very involved with the Children's Aid Society of Ontario, Canada. I worked in a joint program with Ontario mental Health called Blue Hills. So, I was a parent therapist and specialized foster parent. This role was different as there were few of us and I took the lead role on a clinical team of specialists. I don't believe Bluehills knew the full extent of what was going on, but they were concerned also. I loved my job and went above and beyond my job description consistently because I just loved helping these families who needed a hand-up in getting their lives back together to ensure they could raise their beautiful children. During my time there, I found out about auctions that were going on with these children. It is something that seems impossible to believe in a country like Canada, but after doing some digging, I found out that not only was child trafficking an issue in the form of these auctions, CAS was actually taking "orders" from wealthy people for the kind of child they wanted. At that point in time, every birth in Ontario had to be reported, and if a child matched an order, sure enough, a reason would be found to take the child away and the parents would never see them again.
I'd arranged for a meeting to sort of "put out fires" during the initial phase of my finding out about this information. I still couldn't believe it on some levels, but time and time again, I saw healthy, beautiful babies that were clearly not neglected being taken from loving families who just needed help to get through a rough patch. I didn't realize how much my life would change because of opening my mouth and trying to help.
I was in the process of finalizing the adoption of my children — whom I'd had since their birth, for the most part — we were literally waiting on the judge's stamps for these adoptions to be finalized when I came home the morning of October 1, 2008 to my home being raided. I can't even describe the scene adequately because it was so horrific...my children with their arms up in the air screaming, "Mommy! Help me!" And I could do nothing.
I immediately secured a lawyer and was able to get 2 of my children, both boys, back in 16 days. They returned to me traumatize and deeply scarred emotionally — I would spend nights roaming room to room, sleeping on the floor beside them — soothing them from nightmares and ensuring they didn't hurt themselves.
My youngest child I never saw again because I'd discovered my child had been sold to a buyer. One of my son's who was returned to me was given a "cash offer" from CAS when he turned 19 to stay quiet and never interact with me again. I know about the offer because I was inadvertently included in the email exchange back and forth — I know why he took the offer, but my heart still aches at losing my son. During this time I was married. My now ex-husband was always a little narcissistic — like you would expect a "jock" to be, but the power that was given to him by CAS to keep my quiet turned him into a monster. The entire time I was fighting to get my children back, he would withhold food from me, have women come around the house wearing my clothing, throw away one of the shoes to pairs of my shoes and even rape me repeatedly. When I would call the police, my then husband would call my mother, who is a pediatric nurse, to come over. She would tell the police who she was and what she did for a living before telling the police I was schizophrenic or crazy in some way or another, and the police would leave after hearing and believing what she said. I mean, after all, she is a pediatric nurse, right? She must know what she is talking about.
Finally, in 2012,1 escaped with my 3 small children from the horror and tyranny of my now ex-husband. I was finally heard and believed. We were given a miracle...a fresh start in the form of a home and freedom from the abuse and sexual assault of my ex. I'd been told before this that "one day I might escape and experience freedom, but it wouldn't be for long."
About the time my children and I were settling into our new-found freedom, my ex-colleagues came into the picture saying I was making false allegations. My ex ended up being charged with only 4 counts of sexual assault, but the judge who was presiding over the case was promoted and the case was stayed.
Then on February 25, 2014, I was asked to come into a meeting late on a Friday night. I'd had my girlfriend who lived near where the meeting was to watch the children for me. While I was at this meeting, listening to lie after lie being told about me — lies that I can prove are not true, but have yet to be given the chance — my girlfriend's house was raided and my children were taken. Not only were they taken, they were put back into full time custody of my ex — even with the documentation of the charges of 4 counts of sexual assault and abuse against me. I've only been able to speak to one of my children once — my daughter who reached out and told me they are scared to death.
I am preparing to face my first Christmas without my children — that I am prevented from speaking to or seeing. Even the picture collages I put together for them, to be able to look at and know that their Mommy loves them and is still fighting to get them back, were ripped up and never given to them.
On December 8, 2014, I attended another meeting — a meeting that wasn't even scheduled with the court clerk where I had to fight to not go into a room with my ex. During this meeting I was told, "Your children have been made aware that you have PTSD, and they do not ever want to see you again. If you try to open this up in court again, we will strongly advocate for your never being allowed near children again because of your PTSD, and your children will be placed in foster care. However, if you make the decision to go back to your husband and leave with him tonight, you will be able to have your children back tonight."
#2 How have you been able to continue helping others even through this complete hell you have been experiencing?
For me this is not just about getting my children back — this is about doing whatever it takes to get regulation in Ontario so that no other family has to be ripped apart and experience what I'm experiencing. I'm not going to say it has been easy — I spent 2 days after the most recent meeting basically in a fetal position on the floor, but I have learned that it is very true — that you rise by helping others. So, I was able to wipe the tears from my eyes and the dust from my clothes — head over to the computer and do some research or help someone else that is hurting somewhere in the world.
#3 Why are you so dedicated and so passionate about what you do?
The answer to this is simple. I made a promise to myself that as long as I survived I would do whatever it took to ensure no one I could reach would ever feel what I have felt. That they would know they are not alone — that I would stay true to myself and live knowing, regardless of the adversity, that life is beautiful — and sometimes you have to wait for what is beautiful...that means you may fall, but you must climb back up, know that you are not dying — no matter how badly it hurts and how much it feels like you are dying — make a healing adventure and live like you were flying. The faster we turn our wounds into wisdom, the more knowledge we seek...the closer we all will come to healing and authentic global peace.
#4 You said earlier that you "do not pride yourself on formal education" — can you expand on that?
In my experience, any prior education I had in respect to mental health was irrelevant and completely inaccurate. When it comes to this injury — it is an injury and not a mental illness. Nothing taught was even close to reality. Independent research, networking with doctors, other researchers, etc., but most significantly, listening to and caring about others and their loved ones who has experienced a markedly abnormal traumatic life event, powerful enough to cause this injury and most of a establishing an International family of advocate who were on the same path is ultimately why I am able to understand and see this injury for what it is...it is not a disorder. It is an injury.
Left untreated, the side effects very often mirror those of mental illness. I mean, who feels sane without sleep? Who feels sane who is experiencing extreme pain? The medications used to "treat" this injury also cause these "insane" feelings because these medications were not intended for injuries. For PTSD, the FDA approved drugs are not even maintenance. Knowing this offers amazing hope for the future because when properly identified and treated, injuries heal. Regulating the nervous system via holistic modalities
One of the main problems with PTSD is the lack of 1st response care.
People back away rather than surround the injured person with love and support.
It's so important to remember this is not the end...this is an opportunity to grow and become. It is an exciting and positive thought process.
To be continued month's issue...
Source: Teal Star December 2014 pages 22-26
The article may not be verified to the standards customary in professional journalism. But fixcas has encountered some of the cited abuses from reliable sources. The news series by WLKY in Louisville Kentucky reports that children were snatched to order.
Politically-Incorrect Teaching Investigated
January 7, 2015 permalink
The newest reason for calling child protectors: Showing an anti-abortion movie to children. A mother in the UK got a visit after admitting showing the offending film to her two children.
Woman reported for sharing pro-life film with her own children
A woman was dismissed from a Christian school in the U.K. for recommending a Christian documentary on abortion, and then contacted by Child Protective Services for showing the film to her own children.
At a Church of England primary school fair, the woman provided tracts with a note encouraging children to watch 180, the highly popular Christian documentary on abortion. She was suspended, and told later that Child Protective Services had been notified since she admitted showing the film to her own two children.
Ray Comfort, the producer of 180 and founder of Living Waters, is horrified to hear of such strong opposition to a woman sharing the pro-life film.
“I found through my Facebook page that if there's anything that stirs up demons, it's the issue of abortion,” he tells OneNewsNow. “It's not about choice. It's about the killing of children, and it's a horror beyond words. For this to happen in England is horrific, and I think it will come to the states if we don't stand up as Christians and proclaim the gospel and see this nation reached for Jesus Christ.”
Comfort was surprised that it was a Christian school that became the woman's adversary.
“When you read Scripture, it's the religious people who tried to kill Jesus,” he says. “I don't know if you realize it, but they tried to kill him ten times before he got to the cross. Jesus warned that the time will come when people will kill Christians thinking they're doing God a service. And that really is the case with this. It's religious people, people who have a form of godliness, who have come against this poor woman, and she's just a sweetheart.”
Since the incident, Christians have risen in support of the woman. Comfort continues to work on his next film, Audacity, which deals with the subject of homosexuality.
Source: One News Now
Ontario Courthouse Security
January 5, 2015 permalink
Ontario has eliminated public trials. Not by a law, but by imposition of court security. All persons entering a courthouse have to state their business to building security. It is unlikely that the words of a traditional spectator such as: "I am just looking around for interesting cases" will get you in.
Why the security? Courts have moved beyond locking up muggers and bank robbers and advanced to separating parents and children. The love of a parent for a child is greater than the love of a thief for his money, so breaking up a family is more dangerous to the court staff.
Family court lawyer urges colleagues to speak out against new courthouse security
New security legislation affecting access to Ontario courthouses is an overreaction by the provincial government and “vulnerable” to a Constitutional challenge, a leading Ottawa family court lawyer said Friday.
Pam MacEachern, part of a family law community that handles more than half of Ottawa court business, is urging more lawyers to speak out about changes to the Police Services Act.
“My hope is that enough people would speak out against limiting public access to the judicial process and raise issues about how this is a step in the wrong direction,” MacEachern told the Citizen.
The Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa has described the new measures as “draconian.”
The Ottawa courthouse has had three open access entrances since it opened in 1986 but when a $1-million-plus security re-construction project is finished next spring, members of the public will have to line up at the Elgin Street entrance to be security-screened and pass through metal detectors.
What irks lawyers most are new measures already in place where police and security guards are asking members of the public to state their business at the courthouse and respond to any other related questions.
Ottawa court officials planned to introduce the enhanced security as a package with the metal detectors and searches but fast tracked the “question and answer” screening portion after October’s shooting at the nearby National War Memorial.
Police and security staff can also search people if they choose to do so and, in extreme cases, arrest them.
“I’m not thrilled about metal detectors,” said MacEachern, “but they are installed in many other courthouses. We just escaped it in Ottawa for a while. “
But questioning and possibly searching people is an overreaction, she said.
“In the name of security we are attacking a fundamental underpinning of our democratic process,” she said. “There is no basis for doing it. More people get shot in fast food outlets than in courthouses.”
While many of the complaints about the new security measures are common to all lawyers, people arriving to resolve family issues such as custody and financial support are especially vulnerable and likely to be intimidated at the courthouse door, added MacEachern.
“You’ve got people from marginalized groups who have an urgent need for the justice system to assist them,” she said. “To put up barriers to (those) people is concerning.’
Defence Counsel Association president Trevor Brown, who has vowed to challenge the new measures at a stakeholder meeting at the courthouse later this month, has called them fundamentally flawed.
“While there is always a need to make sure the courts are secure,” he said, “these are draconian measures, and are susceptible to arbitrary use and abuse.
“One should not be required to submit to an interrogation and a search as the price to be paid for accessing what are supposed to be public courts,” he added. “The courts are where we go for protection and enforcement of our most fundamental rights and freedoms. It’s not supposed to be the place we go to have them abused.”
The traditional system of placing portable metal detectors outside courtrooms where high-profile cases are being heard has worked well, said Brown.
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi says that police in each jurisdiction are best-placed to decide on security levels at courthouses.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Foster Death Leaves Questions
January 5, 2015 permalink
The first death in care for 2015 is ten-year-old Xavier Brothers-Bartholomew in Cleveland Ohio. He suffered a cardiac arrest two years after removal from his parents following the death of his brother Isaac. Both Isaac and Xavier were born with a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental impairments. Xavier's parents and grandmother pleaded guilty to child endangering and are in prison.
Like many foster stories, this one leaves lots of unanswered questions. Were the parents falsely accused or truly neglectful? If so, why did Xavier die the same way as his brother? What about the foster parents? Karen Balconi Ghezzi of the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services said Xavier had been living with foster parents trained to care for the boy's medical needs. In the case of Samamtha Martin, specialized foster care turned out to be neglectful care at a premium price.
With Xavier, the list of children dying under state protection has reached 1,848 names.
Brother of Malnourished NE Ohio Toddler Dies in Foster Care
The 10-year-old brother of a toddler whose death was attributed to malnourishment has died while in a Cleveland foster home.
Authorities say Xavier Brothers-Bartholomew was found in full cardiac arrest Sunday and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. The cause and circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner and Cleveland police, which is normal procedure when a child dies.
Xavier and his five siblings became the focus of attention in November 2012 when their 18-month-old brother, Isaac, was found dead in his crib in the family's home in Vermilion, west of Cleveland. Authorities ruled that Isaac had died of malnourishment and that his siblings had been neglected by their parents, James Brothers and Adrienne Bartholomew, and their grandmother and paid caregiver, Deborah Nelson.
The parents and grandmother pleaded guilty last year to child endangering charges and are in state prison.
Isaac, Xavier and three other siblings were born with a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental impairments. A lawsuit filed in November 2014 on behalf of Isaac's estate and the guardian for his siblings said the eldest child, a boy who is not disabled, often was left to care for the younger children. The lawsuit was filed against the parents and grandmother, officials in Erie County whose agencies were responsible for overseeing the children's well-being and doctors who had treated the children.
The attorney who filed the lawsuit said the disabled children had begun to thrive in foster care and had doubled their weight.
The director of the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services issued a statement Monday that said there was no indication that the boy's death "involved any concerns of abuse or neglect."
The statement from Karen Balconi Ghezzi said Xavier, since November 2012, had been living with foster parents trained to care for the boy's medical needs. Social workers and medical professionals made weekly visits to the home, the statement said.
The statement called Xavier's death "a very sad case."
Source: ABC News/WEWS-TV Cleveland
Addendum: In another list, that of children who died without a name, the first of the year is a twelve-year-old girl in Milwaukee who died of influenza.
12-year-old Milwaukee girl dies from influenza
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed a child in the City of Milwaukee died from complications related to influenza. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office tells CBS 58 the deceased is a 12-year-old girl who was admitted to Children's Hospital on Christmas Day, and died on New Year's Day. The medical examiner's office has confirmed the child was a part of Milwaukee's foster care system.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department says this is the first child death involving the flu for the 2014-2015 flu season. "We are deeply saddened to learn that a child has died of complications related to the seasonal flu, and our thoughts remain with the child's family,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker.
The health department reports an increase in flu-related hospitalizations in the City of Milwaukee. More than 360 flu hospitalizations have been reported in the city with the majority of them involving people over the age of 50.
State Health Officer Karen McKeown said, "Seasonal influenza is not life-threatening for most people; however, this is a serious disease that can be especially dangerous for children, older adults, individuals with compromised immune systems and those with chronic health issues."
McKeown says the public to get flu shots to help reduce the severity of flu symptoms among the population who catch the flu.
Flu deaths in Wisconsin are only reportable if they involve patients under the age of 18.
Source: WDJT Milwaukee
Tattle on Terrorist Tots
January 5, 2015 permalink
Warning! This item is not a spoof. Under pending rules in the UK, professionals caring for children will be required to report potential terrorists as young as toddlers.
Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers 'is heavy-handed’
Nursery staff and childminders are given 'duty' to report toddlers they suspect of being at risk of becoming terrorists under new Home Office measures
Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.
The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.
Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.
The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.
The consultation paper adds: “Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.
“They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.”
But concern was raised over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers.
David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.
“Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don’t think so.
“It is heavy-handed.”
Mr Davis also accused the Home Office of pushing the legislation too quickly.
Isabella Sankey, the policy director at human rights body Liberty, said: “Turning our teachers and childminders into an army of involuntary spies will not stop the terrorist threat.
“Far from bringing those at the margins back into mainstream society, it will sow seeds of mistrust, division and alienation from an early age.
“The Government should focus on projects to support vulnerable young people – instead they’re playing straight into terrorists’ hands by rushing through a Bill that undermines our democratic principles and turns us into a nation of suspects.”
Headteachers’ union NAHT, said it was “uneasy” with the new guidance. General secretary Russell Hobby, said: “It’s really important that nurseries are able to establish a strong relationship of trust with families, as they are often the first experience the families will have of the education system.
“Any suspicions that they are evaluating families for ideology could be quite counterproductive.
“Nursery settings should focus on the foundations of literacy and socialising with other children – those are the real 'protections’.”
Schools and nurseries, he said, should not be required to act as a police service.
A Home office spokesman last night said: “We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life, but we do expect them to take action when they observe behaviour of concern.
He added: “It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way. For children in the early years, this will be about learning right from wrong and in practitioners challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.
“We would expect staff to have the training they need to identify children at risk of radicalisation and know where and how to refer them for further help if necessary.”
It is understood ministers will expect nursery staff to report for example, anti-Semitic comments made in front of them by toddlers.
“We would not expect this behaviour to be ignored,” said a source. Other examples of children at risk of radicalisation include instances where a Muslim child might tell a teacher that he has been taught at a religious school, or madrassah, that all non-Muslims “are wicked”.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Report to Your Doctor Or Else!
January 3, 2015 permalink
This simple post by expectant mother Morgan Nicole Oldershaw ten weeks into her pregnancy vividly shows the duress exerted on parents. She made five appointments with her doctor, but missed the sixth. The doctor sicced the authorities on her.
Morgan Nicole Oldershaw I have to rant right now. So my doctors office is absolutely crazy! I missed my doctors appointment so in result they have called FACS on me because they are concerned I'm not taking care of myself yet I've been to the 5 other appointments they have made me go to so far and the ultrasounds and blood work and have always been on time! And I'm only 10 weeks pregnant! Am I the only one who finds this completely stupid?! What am I supposed to do here, I seriously don't need this stress also just so you all know I'm 21 this month so I'm not a teenager anymore.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Best Interest of the Police State
January 2, 2015 permalink
Chinese authorities are separating a child from her parents as a means of suppressing dissent in Hong Kong. The prior dissent in Beijing's Tiananmen square in 1989 was broken up with tanks, leaving China with a scarred reputation that has not healed. The new method comes from successful police states such as East Germany that separated parents and children to stifle embryonic dissent. The Chinese are even claiming that the separation is in "the best interest of the subject child".
Hong Kong Police Try to Take 14-Year-Old Protester Away From Parents
A teenage girl in Hong Kong who was arrested after drawing chalk flowers on a wall during recent pro-democracy protests could be removed from her father’s care.
The girl, 14, was arrested on Dec. 23 at a staircase leading to the Central Government Offices in the city’s Admiralty district, an area which pro-democracy protesters had occupied for more than two months until mid-December.
The wall had been covered with Post-its carrying notes from well-wishers during the protests, and was named the “Lennon Wall.” It became one of the most iconic landmarks of the protests.
A judge ruled Monday that the girl be sent to a children’s home for three weeks while the court considers an application by Hong Kong police that she be removed from the care of her father, prompting anger from activists. Patricia Ho, a legal representative for the girl, said that the police had said they believe the father can’t exercise proper care for his daughter.
“I still don’t understand why [the police] are not charging the kid if they wish to deter them from the actual action. They’re going sideways and looking at whether the family can take care of them, almost implying that if any parent allows their child to take part in this movement then they are neglecting their child,” said Ms. Ho.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, Hong Kong police said the application is in “the best interest of the subject child” and has no “political consideration.”
Numerous teenagers who participated in the protests were arrested on various charges. Some teenagers who took part in the protests and weren’t arrested also say they have been refused entry to mainland China and Macau.
According to Ms. Ho, the girl had a previous run-in with the police involving a bullying incident in school where she was the victim. The girl’s father also has a serious hearing disability. Ms. Ho said the family wasn’t currently available for comment.
“It’s premature and disproportionate,” said Ms. Ho. “It wasn’t an application by the Social Welfare Department as it usually would be. Police threw in a bunch of facts they obtained about the family in a very superficial manner.”
Since the clearance of the Admiralty site, protesters have returned to the wall to stick Post-it notes on it again. Since the arrest of the girl, there has been a police presence guarding the wall. A small protest camp on the sidewalk outside of the Legislative Council building remains, where protesters have pitched dozens of tents.
Police have also applied for a 14-year-old boy to be removed from his parents after he was arrested during the clearance of another protest site in Mong Kok in late October. Ms. Ho is also representing the boy.
Lawyers representing the girl filed an application for a re-hearing on bail conditions for the girl on Tuesday. According to a court order, the girl is now allowed to go home, so long as she stays with her father at his residence and attends school. She is also under curfew from the hours of 10pm to 6am, and when going outside must be in the company of her father, sister or a social worker.
The girl will also attend a court hearing on Jan. 19, when a judge will decide on the police application.
Source: Wall Street Journal
CAS Lawyers Can't See Parents as Good for Kids
January 2, 2015 permalink
Lawyer Gillian Hayes, an associate of Gene Colman, comments that when a judge orders a child returned to the parents at the first court hearing, the CAS counsel thinks of it as a defeat. CAS counsel should be telling their clients that they need to find the best route to maintain the integrity of the family unit - not to split it up. CAS lawyers need to realize that working cooperatively with parents' counsel should be the proper path.
C.A.S. Attitude: Win child welfare cases at all costs
It should not be a matter of "win" or "lose" when it comes to Ontario child welfare law. Ontario's Child and Family Services Act tells us that the paramount purpose is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children." One might note the glaring lack of any reference to family. In fact, there is a paucity of references to family throughout the entire CFSA even though many judges recognize the importance of maintaining family whenever possible.
I had a recent experience with CAS counsel at court when representing a family unjustly caught up in the system. Our office had prepared a very persuasive and comprehensive response to the Society's Application. We attended at the mandated five day hearing that follows apprehensions from parental care. The CAS certainly had not expected such forcefulness; normally parents are so overwhelmed at this early stage that they are unable to mount an effective defence. Generally, the court will rubber stamp the CAS requests. We did not agree to just stand idly by at the first appearance and CAS counsel was surprised by our aggressive (yet fair) approach.
Our written material seemed to have persuaded the judge. He instructed the lawyers to prepare a consent endorsement along the lines that we were seeking (which of course included an immediate return of the children to parental care). As we were returning to the courtroom after preparing the consent, the experienced and respected CAS counsel turned to me and my clients and remarked: "This is the third time your lawyer has beaten me."
The CAS counsel's comment was made innocently enough and indeed was intended to be complimentary. But still I was shocked (but probably should not have been). Why was I so shocked? -
The three times I had opposed this particular lawyer included one that took place over five years ago; I was only a summer student assisting a lawyer in a child welfare proceeding. I couldn't believe this lawyer remembered that first of the three times she and I had been on a case together, particularly given that I wasn't even lead counsel at the time. This reminded me that many parents and their lawyers are not challenging the CAS at the first return date, particularly where there has been an apprehension. That is why this counsel recalled me so well. I suggest, that as parents' counsel, we have an obligation to mount as an aggressive and fulsome a defence as possible to the Society's Application at the first appearance which takes place five days after the children have been apprehended.
Further, the lawyer's comment concerned me because it seemed that she saw this as a "win or lose" situation. She highlighted to my clients that I had "beat her" three times. I don't see these situations as "win" or "lose". The removal of the child from his/her family in and of itself is a loss for the family whether or not the CAS was justified to apprehend. CAS counsel should be telling their clients that they need to find the best route to maintain the integrity of the family unit - not to split it up. CAS lawyers need to realize that working cooperatively with parents' counsel should be the proper path. (It follows that Legal Aid needs to assist parents even before an apprehension takes place.)
The recent series in the Toronto Star has highlighted a number of issues raging in the child welfare system. Families, and in particular visible minorities, are struggling to battle child protection authorities throughout this province, and disproportionately these families are split up. The Societies seem to focus on getting children into care and then trying to fix the families that have been broken up.
Child protection agency attitudes need a paradigm shift. Families need to be maintained with supports in place as opposed to removing children and then trying to repair. When a lawyer succeeds in keeping a family together, that is a "win" for both the parents and the CAS. The CAS mindsight of seeing this as a "loss" is indeed discouraging and disconcerting.
Source: Gene C Colman Family Law Centre