Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stability For Children Is The Goal Of Social Workers Aiming To Strengthen Relationships, Marriages

We don't know what our readers think but we believe that as badly as social workers, CPS and DHHS have proven that they can mess up children and children's lives, maybe it is better if they don't dabble in families as noted in this article.

We fear that this porgram is just one more addition to the many in a social workers' arsenal of weapons to interact with families and children to build more cases to remove children from their homes, thus destroying more families.
Article Date: 06 Sep 2011 - 0:00 PDT

Child welfare professionals know that children are safer and healthier when the adults in their lives have healthy relationships, but most social workers are not trained to educate couples about strong relationships and marriages. Researchers at the University of Missouri are working to train child welfare professionals and future social workers to help individuals and families strengthen their relationships.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education Training (HRMET), is a five-year project facilitated by MU Extension and David Schramm, assistant professor of human development and family studies and state extension specialist in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. The purpose of the project is to develop training programs that give child welfare workers basic tools to foster positive relationships. The ultimate goal is to improve the stability and well-being of children by helping their parents and caregivers form and maintain strong couple and marital relationships.

"Many parents face multiple stressors that can weaken their couple relationships and spill over into parent-child relationships," Schramm said. "If social workers can teach parents to be more kind, understanding and respectful in their couple relationships, the result will be safer, happier environments for children."

HRMET's curriculum is two-pronged: a graduate-level course for social work students at MU and online and one-day training sessions for child welfare professionals. Both courses give current and future social workers simple tools to help parents choose partners, manage conflict and remain committed in their relationships.

"Most social work graduate programs focus on helping children, so the subject of healthy relationships for parents tends to be left out," Schramm said. "This project is exciting because the fields of human development and family studies and social work are merging for the first time to create better tools for child welfare professionals."

The graduate course is being taught for the second time this fall; six workshops were offered in the summer for social work professionals. More than 200 social workers throughout the state have received training and the feedback indicates that it is meeting a need within the profession.

"I learned a great deal about communication within couples, different communication styles and how to teach partners to communicate positively," said a HRMET participant. "As a child welfare worker, I can now identify problems within clients' relationships, explain to couples how their relationships affect their children, and offer them tools to help open the lines of communication."

The project, which started in 2008, is wrapping up its third year of research and curricula development. Project leaders, including faculty from universities around the U.S., hope to expand the program nationally.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Caught in the middle of Rice County child protection case

Posted at 3:34 PM on September 6, 2011 by Bob Collins

A heartbreaking case in Rice County is a compelling example of how a child can get caught in a tug-of-war in the child protection system in Minnesota.

Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that a juvenile court and the county coerced parents of a child apparently in need of mental health treatment to admit that the need for intervention "are (is) due to deficiencies in their parenting."

The story starts in November 2010 when the teenager ran away from home. Police brought him home but the police officer thought he'd be at risk there, so he was placed on a 72-hour emergency "hold." Rice County, through a social worker, petitioned the juvenile court to determine that he was a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS).

At a hearing last winter, a juvenile court judge told the parents, "If you want to admit that your son has special care needs and you're unable to provide those, that is not saying that you're not a good parent. That's saying (the child) has special care need and you're not ... the Mayo Clinic and you're not a psychiatrist ..."

"I am a damn good mother," the woman insisted.

The parents admitted to the petition for services, believing their son would be placed at Gerard Academy, a residential treatment facility, at county expense. Instead, their child was put in foster care. The county, according to the Appeals Court, then claimed the placement "was necessary to keep him safe from his parents."

The parents tried to withdraw their petition, but a court refused.

In a decision today, Appeals Court Judge Terri J. Stoneburner suggested the county was threatening to withhold any services unless the parents admitted to the petition, writing that "a threat to act in a manner that is not in a child's best interests constitutes a manifest injustice" in ordering the decision overturned.

In a dissent, however, Appeals Court Judge Heidi S. Schellhas said the father of the child had been charged with physical abuse and that the parents had previously told Rice County "they did not want him back in their home." And that the teen didn't want to return home after running away because he was afraid of punishment.

She said the juvenile court was clear that the parents would not be able to dictate the services their child would get once they signed the paperwork, and that the parents were free to place their child in a treatment program of their choice at their own expense instead.

"The district court considered all of the parents' argument in connection with their motions to withdraw their admission, and, in my opinion, properly rejected their arguments and denied their motions," she said.

The case settles who won the right to withdraw the petition for services. What it doesn't clear up is what happens to the teenager caught in the middle. I've placed calls to his public defender for clarification.

Click Here To Read The Opinion


Sex, Drugs, and Child Protective Services


Forensic pathologist: Nathaniel Craver's injuries could not be self-inflicted

"Traumatic brain injury" and "failure to thrive" caused Russian boy's death

Daily Record/Sunday News
Posted: 09/07/2011 09:29:04 AM EDT

A close-up photograph of 7-year-old Nathaniel Craver's face as he lay on an autopsy table showed his swollen head.

How extensive that swelling was became apparent when his head was compared to the frailness of his neck.

Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathologist who has performed more than 9,000 autopsies and post-mortem exams, could not keep the astonishment out of his voice as he described the dead boy to the jury.

"His head, virtually his entire head, was swollen up like a balloon," he said. "And I don't mean just a little bit of swelling. The entire skull and head looked like a watermelon. Like an alien."

Ross, who conducts many York County autopsies for suspicious deaths, was testifying on the second day of trial for Michael and Nanette Craver, the Carroll Township couple accused of killing Nathaniel, their adopted Russian son.

Nathaniel died on Aug. 25, 2009 at Hershey Medical Center, five days after Michael Craver, 46, rushed him to the hospital.

Ross was on the witness stand for more than four hours, testifying about the boy's injuries and giving his expert opinion how they occurred. He said Nathaniel died from "complications of a traumatic brain injury" and "severe failure to thrive."

He said he was told before autopsy that Nathaniel's parents said he had a history of injuring himself.

Michael and Nanette Craver, 55, have maintained the boy struck his head on a wood stove in their home. They told police, doctors and child abuse investigators Nathaniel seemed all right except for a mark on his head. They put an ice pack on the mark and put him to bed about 45 minutes later. In they morning, they said, they could not rouse him.

Ross told the jury he began his examination from that aspect.

He said, during his examination, he turned to the police officer observing the autopsy and told him the boy's death "needed to be pursued from the aspect of abuse caused by another person."

Ross said he found evidence of injury to the right side of the boy's brain, a subdural hematoma, from an impact "of hundreds of Gs of force," inflicted about two weeks before he was brought to the hospital in a coma.

Ross said the swelling of the boy's head was the result of "multiple impacts."

Relying on photographs taken of Nathaniel during the summer of 2009, including one of a healthy, well-toned shirtless boy, Ross concluded that six weeks before his death the boy suffered repeated impacts to his head, pulled legs and arms, blunt force trauma to the chest, possibly was bound and was starved.

The doctor also found evidence of a skull fracture on the right side of the head, a healing broken rib, compression spinal injuries, and high enzyme levels confirming liver and heart damage.

The child otherwise was covered with small bruises and abrasions on his chest and back. In a picture of the dead child laying on his back, every rib could easily be counted.

Ross said Nathaniel's swollen brain at autopsy "was a mess."

"It was soft as anything," he said. "It was purple and it was dead. Flat and mushy and just horrible."

On cross-examination, defense attorneys pushed Ross with alternative theories for the injuries, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, self-abuse, genetic disorders and diseases. Ross conceded such theories could account for injuries in some cases but "not in this case."

He said he specifically looked for and did not find evidence of alcohol fetal syndrome in Nathaniel's brain.

When York County Office of Children, Youth and Families placed Nathaniel and his twin sister, Elizabeth, in her foster care at age 5, "They asked me to watch them to see if they injured themselves in any way," foster mother Lori Ferree said.

She testified neither child did while in her care for about two weeks.

Ferree said Nathaniel was an active boy who loved to play but seemed confused about being allowed to play in the dirt and get dirty. She said when she would take the children for supervised visits with the parents, the children would return in more "formal" clothes.

She said Nanette Craver chided her one time for dressing Elizabeth in the wrong shoes for her outfit."

Catholic Charities parent educator Lisa Blake testified that Michael Craver railed against Children, Youth and Families' "interference" in the family's lives.

She said during one meeting with him, he was so verbally abusive, she was happy to cut the session short.

Andrew Blochichak, a family physician and Nanette Craver's brother-in-law, testified he did not see Michael and Nathaniel Craver at any family gatherings the summer of 2009. He said he did see Nanette and Elizabeth. His testimony implied Nathaniel was being kept from sight.

He said he asked Nanette why Nathaniel was not at a July 4th party and a later wedding.

"Nanette said, 'Nathaniel is a handful,' and she didn't want to bring him," he said.


Jury hears details of adopted Russian boy's serious injuries

The Carroll Township couple, which adopted twins, have remained in prison.

Daily Record/Sunday News
Posted: 09/06/2011 08:56:57 AM EDT

After Michael Craver rushed his unresponsive 7-year-old son to Holy Spirit Hospital, the first doctor to examine him noticed an unstitched, healing wound on the back of the boy's head.

Beside the boy's frighteningly swollen face, mottled bluish skin, fixed pupils, raspy respiration and deep coma, the doctor wondered about the untreated head wound.

Dr. Nicholas J.T. Baran said Craver told him, "These injuries kind of happen all of the time."

Craver later said, "... it's amazing what you get used to," a York County Child abuse investigator said.

Nathaniel Craver, Michael and Nanette Craver's adopted Russian son, died at Hershey Medical Center on Aug, 25, 2009, five days after he was first taken to the hospital.


(SUBMITTED)in opening statements in the York County Judicial Center, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said the Cravers were charged with the boy's murder for both inflicting the injuries and denying him their parental duty to care for and protect him. Both parents are charged with criminal homicide, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.
Barker told the jury of Nathaniel's uncountable injuries spread "head to toe" over his body. He said there was evidence of repeated physical abuse, "pattern" injuries and binding.

He focused specifically on the boy's swollen face and his underlying head injuries. Barker said he was told people cried when they saw Nathaniel in the hospital and that some described his appearance as "a little monster."

He said the Cravers' contention that the boy's physical and emotional disorders - fetal alcohol syndrome and reactive detachment disorder - and allegations of injuring himself resulted in his death.

"The defendants have used Nathaniel's background .... to cover what was really going on," he said. "There is only one conclusion. he did not self-abuse himself to death."

First Assistant Public Defender Clasina Mahoney argued that is exactly what happened. She said the Cravers "did not sit back and watch it happen, as the commonwealth would have you believe. They desperately searched for help."

They sought answers from doctors and hospitals throughout southeastern Pennsylvania, including Hershey Medical Center and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, she said.

She said therapy at a Lancaster facility, where Michael Craver batted balloons with his son and acted like a princess with his daughter, Nathaniel's twin sister, helped the girl who had similar problems, but not Nathaniel.

The first day of testimony focused on Nathaniel's appearance when he entered the hospital. His parents said he had hit his head on a wood stove in their Carroll Township home.

An emergency room nurse at Holy Spirit Hospital said the boy's head, "to me, felt like a wet sponge."

Baran testified Nathaniel registered the lowest possible score on a medical coma test. He also told the jury that a scan of the grotesquely swollen left side of the boy's face showed no subdural fresh bleeding and was the result of an older injury.

Dr. Mark Iantosca, a Hershey Medical Center neurosurgeon who removed part of Nathaniel's skull to relieve the swelling, said he found older blood under the boy's scalp and fresh blood pushing on his brain.

Iantosca also said the injury could have happened the way the Cravers' said it did.

"I think a 7-year-old child, throwing himself with a running start headfirst into a metal object would be sufficient to cause that injury," he said.

He added that the head injury could have been caused by "a closed fist, a blunt object or a car accident ...."

He also agreed with the defense that the child could have appeared uninjured and then suffered bleeding and swelling of the brain during the night.

The trial continues today and is expected to last through next week.

Parents' defense

On trial for murder, Michael and Nanette Craver maintain they never harmed their 7-year-old son, Nathaniel, but that the boy they adopted at 18 months old in Russia had physical and emotional problems that caused him to injure himself.

From the time Nathaniel was rushed to Holy Spirit Hospital on Aug. 20, 2009, to their arrests in February 2010 to the first day of their trial in the York County Judicial Center, they have consistently said the boy struck his head on a wood stove in the couple's Carroll Township home.

According to testimony, evidence and statements presented in court Tuesday during the first day of trial, the jury learned:

Nathaniel and his twin sister were born prematurely in a Russian prison to a mother with substance abuse problems;

Both children were diagnosed in the United States with fetal alcohol syndrome and reactive detachment disorder;

Nathaniel was hyperactive, mentally delayed and had a short attention span;

He pinched and bit himself, pulled his hair and eyebrows out and pulled the skin under his nose until it bled;

He had a high pain tolerance and appeared fearless;

He would bang his head and rock himself to sleep;

The Cravers were reported twice to York County Children, Youth and Families for apparent injuries on the children. The children were placed in foster care but no findings of abuse were substantiated;

After returning from foster care, Nathaniel was distant with his parents;

Nathaniel was distant with children but "touchy-feely" with adults, offering them hugs and kisses;

He would pull the family dog's fur;

He was abusive to his sister;

He frequently wet the bed.

Nathaniel's injuries

The jury also learned Nathaniel's injuries included:

A fresh hematoma, massive bleeding between the skull and the brain;

Older evidence of bleeding between the scalp and the skull;

A boxer's cauliflower ear on the left side of his head;

A ruptured right eardrum;

Evidence of binding;

Pattern bruising to the back and buttocks;

Emaciation and less than one millimeter of subcutaneous fat;

And "head-to-toe" marks, bruising, contusions and abrasions, according to at least two medical witnesses.

Click Here To Read More About This Case

FTC Testifies on Children's Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission today told the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security that, "Protecting consumers th especially vulnerable consumers such as children th against identity theft and its consequences is a critical component of the Commission's consumer protection mission."

The Federal Trade Commission today told the House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security that, “Protecting consumers – especially vulnerable consumers such as children – against identity theft and its consequences is a critical component of the Commission’s consumer protection mission.”

Delivering the Commission’s testimony at a field hearing in Plano, Texas, Deanya Kueckelhan, Director of the FTC’s Southwest Regional Office, told the committee that millions of consumers are victimized by identity thieves each year. She said that the cost and prevalence of identity theft have caused the FTC to devote significant resources to combating the problem, acting aggressively on three fronts: law enforcement, nationwide complaint management, and education.

The testimony details some of the FTC’s initiatives to combat identity theft. For example, since 2001, the Commission has brought 34 law enforcement actions against businesses that failed to take reasonable steps to protect sensitive consumer information that they maintained. In one such case, the FTC alleged that ChoicePoint, Inc., sold sensitive information, including Social Security numbers in some cases, about 160,000 consumers to data thieves posing as ChoicePoint clients. In many cases, the thieves used the information to commit identity theft.

In addition to law enforcement, the FTC collects, manages, and analyzes identity theft complaints in order to target its education efforts and assist criminal law enforcement authorities. The FTC manages the Identity Theft Clearinghouse, a secure online database of identity theft-related complaints, the testimony states. The Commission makes the Clearinghouse data available to over 2,000 American and Canadian federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies who have signed confidentiality and data security agreements.

According to the testimony, the FTC and its partners have provided identity theft training to over 5,400 state and local law enforcement officers from over 1,770 agencies, and the agency also makes available a wide variety of consumer educational materials - including many in Spanish - to help consumers deter, detect and defend against identity theft.

The testimony noted that in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, the Commission recently hosted Stolen Futures, a forum where educators, child advocates, legal services providers, and government and private sector participants explored issues associated with children’s identity theft.

The forum panelists noted that while identity thieves can access SSNs from children’s records in schools, doctors offices and other sources, sometimes family members who have fallen on hard economic times use the identities of their children. In addition, several panelists noted that sensitive health and other personal information of children in foster care is often circulated widely within the schools and social services networks, leaving foster children particularly vulnerable to identity theft, the testimony states.

The testimony cites one recent survey of children enrolled in an identity protection service that found that more than 10 percent had loans, property, utility and other accounts associated with their Social Security numbers. Another study estimated that more than 140,000 instances of identity fraud per year are perpetrated on children in the United States..

According to the testimony, children’s SSNs are uniquely valuable because they lack a credit history and can be paired with any name and birth date. “In effect, a child’s identity is a blank slate that can be used to obtain goods and services over a long time period because parents typically do not monitor their children’s credit, often having no reason to suspect any problem.”

Therefore, “child identity theft is especially pernicious because the theft may not be detected until the child becomes an adult and seeks employment, or applies for student and car loans,” the testimony notes.

The testimony identifies steps parents can take to minimize their children’s risk of being targeted by identity thieves, including challenging requests for SSNs and other personal information, and understanding how and by whom the information being collected is going to be used.

The testimony notes that based in part on the information gained through the Stolen Futures forum, the FTC is developing, with the assistance of the Department of Education, a “back to school” alert to educate parents about the importance of safeguarding their children’s sensitive information, which will be distributed widely through local and community organizations.

The Commission vote to approve the testimony was 5-0. Copies of the testimony can be found on the FTC’s Website and as a link to this release.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP ( 1-877-382-4357 ). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs
Steven Toporoff
Bureau of Consumer Protection

Child safety improves as CPS takes fewer kids

by Richard Wexler, published on September 7, 2011 at 5:42 AM

Sacramento Press

After years of holding the dubious distinction of tearing apart families at one of the highest rates in California, Sacramento County finally has brought its rate of child removal in line with the state average, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

But the Bee left out some good news: The two key measures of safety used by the federal government show that, as entries into foster care declined, child safety improved.

Apparently even with budget cuts, setting clear standards and doing a better job of weeding out false reports and trivial cases has given workers more time to focus on finding children in real danger.

One would think the fact that Sacramento County used to be the child removal capital of California was unknown to the Bee before Monday – since that’s the first time I saw it reported in that newspaper. In fact, reporter Margie Lundstrom was aware of this, but I have never seen it in any of her stories. Lundstrom has been Sacramento media’s biggest cheerleader for the county’s previous, failed take-the-child-and-run approach to child welfare.

In contrast, Brad Branan, who reported Monday’s story, apparently takes the refreshing position that readers are entitled to all sides of a story.

Of course, some Sacramento Press readers have known about the county’s dubious distinction for more than a year – it was the subject of a series of stories I wrote for the Press in 2010.

Those stories also outlined the enormous harm done to children when they are torn needlessly from everyone they know and love and consigned to foster care, and they discussed the significant risk of abuse in foster care itself.

Now, at last, the Bee acknowledges that, as Monday’s story put it:

Even those charged with advocating for abused and neglected children accused the agency of overreaching. "They were removing too many children," said Bob Wilson of Sacramento Child Advocates, which provided legal representation for children in Juvenile Dependency Court for almost 20 years, before losing its contract in July.

The Bee notes that the number of children torn from their homes declined from 2,391 in 2008 to 1,005 in 2010, according to county data. Unfortunately, data from a comprehensive database maintained by the University of California, Berkeley show that the rate of removal is increasing again, but not to its previous level.

That same database tracks the two key measures used by the federal government to assess child safety, the percentage of maltreated children who are maltreated again within six months and the percentage of children sent home from foster care who are removed again within 12 months.

During the same time period that entries into care declined, both of these measures improved.

Now, instead of being the child removal capital of California, Sacramento’s rate of removal is about average for the state’s larger counties, when entries into care are compared with the number of impoverished children in each county. Full details are in NCCPR’s updated California Rate-of-Removal Index available here:

But Sacramento can do better still.

Orange County does almost as well as Sacramento on one safety indicator, and significantly better on the other. But Orange County removes children at a rate more than 20 percent lower than Sacramento.

The Bee story notes concerns by Wilson and others that, as a result of budget cuts, the county may be overlooking children in real danger. And it cites a report from the CPS Oversight Committee which found lapses in investigations of cases that ended in tragedy.

But sadly, both problems existed even before the budget cuts – when Sacramento was squandering money on tearing apart all those families needlessly. The data suggest that these problems remain serious and real, but they occur less often now.

Another concern is the elimination of a key prevention program, the family maintenance unit. That program provided voluntary help to families before problems reached the point where CPS intervention was needed. Eliminating that program may indeed set the stage for future tragedies.

But there is a way to revive it without adding to the total budget of the agency. The agency can free up a lot of money by ending the barbaric practice of parking children at that very expensive relic of 19th Century child welfare, the Children’s Receiving Home. I discussed the problems with using the home in this story last year.

CPS actually faces a bigger challenge than money: maintaining its smart, sensible new approach in the face of the next horror story. You can bet that those wedded to the disgraced take-the-child-and-run approach are just waiting for the next tragedy so they can scapegoat the reforms – and hope everybody forgets that the same tragedies occurred when the county was tearing apart far more families. And you can bet Margie Lundstrom will be glad to oblige them with a front-page story parroting their views and ignoring all dissent.

By now, however, perhaps the leadership in county government and the people of Sacramento County know better than to be fooled again.

Former journalist Richard Wexler is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, based in Alexandria Va. The full NCCPR California Rate of Removal Index and comprehensive recommendations for reforming child welfare in California and nationwide are available at


Social Worker X has a lot to say but she is scared.

From Corrupt Ct:

Click here to read the story.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grandmother fights for relative rights for children

Posted: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 4:00 am

By JENNIFER SUMMER Houston Community Newspapers

A grandmother’s love is what kept her four grandchildren out of foster care.

For Cleveland’s Linda Boles, it has been a fight to gain grandparental rights and any monetary support for all four children, a fight she is planning to take to Washington, D.C. to rally for more rights as well as the opportunity to gain custody and support as a caregiver for her grandchildren.

“My daughter was with four different drug dealers, so Child Protective Services was called numerous times. It took 29 voluntary placements for them to give me the paperwork to keep the kids at my house and keep them safe,” Boles said.

Boles was working in real estate at the time when she would receive the calls from CPS where she would keep them for several days then they would go back to the mom’s house.

After the numerous calls and the evidence, Boles now has all four grandchildren and started the group Kids Left Behind which fights for grandparental rights in Texas.

“There are a lot of grandparents in Texas who do not know we have no rights. In 2008, I spoke in Washington, D.C. on the fact there is no funding from the state for grandparents to care for their grandchildren. They are not told from the beginning what they can have and what they cannot,” Boles said.

With the Kids Left Behind group, Boles has worked with other grandparents who are going through the same thing she has.

Boles asks the questions, how many calls does it take for a true CPS investigation? and why is adoption not available to grandparents and relatives but it is to foster parents?

A few of her cases, the children are placed into a foster home and then they are picked up by the grandparents who must go through the same background checks and house checks as a foster parent would have to but they do not have the same paperwork or the same rights.

“We go through the same things foster homes do but we get nothing. Why is there not some kinship added when they develop these committees? Our voice is not heard. Grandparents are raising 3 percent of the children in this state, yet we do not have a voice,” Boles said.

Every couple of months, the grandparents have to file for custody of the children again and must take off work whenever CPS calls for a home check or visit.

In Boles’ case, she is not receiving any child support from the parents of the children so she must support them as much as she can, but they currently live on 53 cents a day.

For foster families, they are reimbursed for most of their expenses while the grandparents and other relative caregivers are not.

“Voluntary placement needs to be done away with. The parents cannot just show up when they want to. Relative caregivers need rights to take care of the children. We deal with doctor appointments, school and transportation every day so we need help,” Boles said.

There are several others across the country who are rallying behind Boles and hoping to raise funds to help her have a place to stay while in Washington, D.C. so she can share her story and rally for relative caregiver rights.

They have already received some monetary support but they are hoping for more support and donations to help the trip be successful for Boles.

“I cannot understand why Texas does not want to help with all of these children. If they are put in a relative caregiver’s home, they have a better chance at succeeding than in a foster home,” Boles said. “I have lost everything, but that is the love I have for these grandchildren; I would never give that up.”

To support her family, Boles hunts, fishes and gardens to ensure there is always food on the table.

She and the children have also had the opportunity to go Echo Hill Ranch which is owned by the son of Kinky Friedman, Dr. S.T. Friedman, where they learned how to fold the flag properly and play with other kids.

“It is wrong for the children when we do not get to participate in things because we cannot afford it. Every child should be treated the same,” Boles said.

The rally Boles plans to attend is the GrandRally in Washington, D.C. Sept. 15 where she will have the chance to meet other relative caregivers and have her voice heard.

“It is time for our voice to be heard,” Boles added.

For more information about the GrandRally, log on to


Utah CPS database has false allegations & foster histories - Central Registry

From our experience and what others have told us, all states have a Central Registry and all kinds of reports are kept there. Even some that are 30 - 40 years old or more.

Note from video creator:

Utah's Department of Social Services has a database all allegations of child abuse and neglect are kept in. It's called SAFE and it is a form of SACWIS. Although this spokesperson claims the money is not in to link into the other states as of yet, she does admit they keep record of anonymous allegations that the accused may not even hear about, ever. Also, to boot, an individual's foster care record is kept in this system.

Why else could they possibly keep someone's foster care record in the system used to pull information from to take custody of an individual's children? Some would ask the same of unfounded accusations.

Part 1

Part 2

Rather Unpleasant Evening On Facebook

Well, we learned tonight just how unpleasant things can get on Facebook. It likely is not over either with one person posting on others' walls that we are hooked into a pedophile ring (we are not) and that we are sending threatening messages through Facebook's message system (we did not) simply because we will not reveal our names.

One individual got so obnoxious that we had to report some of their posts and also block them.

No wonder CPS keeps getting away with stealing children. Those that are suffering through this ordeal can not even band together and get along amongst themselves, let alone fight the CPS monster.

Even after we stated that we are afraid for our children and that CPS has let it be known that we are not to speak about the situation, that was not good enough reason not to share our names, for at least one person. Evidently, they either have nothing left to lose or they are not living where the state threatens families (thought they did that everywhere.)

We will not tolerate defamation and slander, that is for sure and for anyone to think that what happened was okay, they have to think about how they would think or feel had the exact same thing happened to them. It was ridiculously horrible, at the minimum.

One thing is for certain, if this person (and any cohorts) want to continue with defaming us, we will do what we can to stop it, including court action.

No one deserves the kind of treatment we went through this evening - no one!


Update: Dumped Facebook like the rotten apple that it is. It's hard to believe the messages we found there written by a vicious person and their friend. What is worse, we could find nowhere to report the behavior since we already blocked them. What a cesspool that place is. We found some nice people but this select batch of nasty people made the whole thing disgusting to contend with. Some people just think that hurting other people is a lot of fun, especially when we are already in pain. Sad lot - a very sad lot indeed.

Here's an interesting tidbit that proves that supposed adults can act as bad as high school bullies only they try to destroy you rather than just poke at you:

CPS Juvenile Family Court Criminal Racket - Lawyers Judges Activists Speak

Original info: This is a brief preview of an incomplete documentary about the abuses of America's Justice system, particularly in the family courts.
All credit goes to: Paul Ciccotelli, who originally uploaded parts 1 and 2 of Deconstructing America.

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, September 5, 2011

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts talks about CPS

Recent tragedies cast doubt on Montana's child-protection services

When CPS fails the children, which seems quite often, the children suffer or die. Why can't CPS get it right? Why do they take children from homes on false allegations yet leave other children in homes where abuse really is ocurring? Why?


The name October Perez was on the radar of state social workers months before it made its way into headlines about her tragic death.

The 2-year-old died in June from injuries prosecutors allege were caused by abuse.

Perez's body was bruised, multiple bones were broken, her brain was swollen and she had suffered severe head trauma. She spent two days in a Salt Lake City hospital, then was taken off life support after being declared brain dead. Her mother's then-boyfriend, David Wayne Hyslop, was charged in the death of Perez. Hyslop pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide, and a trial has been set for October.

Caseworkers from the Child and Family Services Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services had visited the house where Perez lived at least three times. Two of those visits were to investigate allegations of abuse involving the toddler, according to Child and Family Services documents obtained by the Tribune.

How the division handled the Perez case is being investigated by the Department of Public Health and Human Services, according to the agency's director.

"We've had people put on administrative leave during the investigation," Director Anna Whiting Sorrell said.

Sorrell added that other workers in the department made employment decisions, but she declined to elaborate, or to say who was put on administrative leave.

"I'm working hard every day to look at and examine this situation and circumstances around this case," Sorrell said.

From almost the moment Perez died of alleged abuse, questions swirled regarding what Child and Family Services knew about her home situation, and whether anything could or should have been done before her death.

It wasn't the first time such questions were asked.

In September 2010, 4-year-old Kiera Pulaski was found dead in Missouri less than three months after her 1-year-old half brother Darby Hodges died in Kalispell under mysterious circumstances. Family members said Child and Family Services was alerted to concerns about the children's safety before they died.

In 2009, after Kendra Bernardi's daughter went blind as a result of being slammed against a crib, she said the child protection system failed the child, Seraphina Bernardi. Alicia Jo Hocter eventually was convicted of beating the child and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Court documents from the initial investigation indicate Child and Family Services caseworkers received five reports regarding the conditions Seraphina Bernardi and Hocter's newborn daughter lived in prior to the abuse taking place in February 2009.

Perez's death spurred a petition drive organized by Blaine County child advocate and school superintendent Lisa Stroh, as well as members of Perez's family. The petition, which called for changes in the state's child welfare system, garnered about 3,000 signatures and eventually got the attention of Gov. Brian Schweitzer. On Aug. 3, a handful of Perez's family members met with Schweitzer and Sorrell.

"They did not feel that they were listened to (by Child and Family Services workers)," Sorrell said.

According to Child and Family Services documents, three earlier allegations of maltreatment of Perez were listed as unsubstantiated. April Hall, Perez's paternal grandmother, said that Child and Family Services caseworkers also investigated a claim of abuse involving Perez's 5-year-old half brother, which he reported in April to a teacher at Head Start. That report also was found to be unsubstantiated, Hall said.

Division documents describe caseworkers first going to the home where Perez lived based on allegations that the children were in a "filthy" environment. No allegations of abuse were mentioned. Social workers checked the home, deemed that Perez was safe, and closed the case, according to the documents.

The first time Hall called the division was in January, when she noticed bruises on Perez's body that seemed to come and go. While Hall said she couldn't know for sure what caused the injuries, it was unsettling enough for her to call the child abuse hotline.

"It was just getting pretty obvious that there were things, and it wasn't natural," she said. "A child doesn't constantly have bruises on them."

What followed was a series of visits to the home where Perez lived, followed by increasing frustration from family members who kept reporting abuse but couldn't get the girl out of an environment they thought was unsafe.

"We were treated like low-lifes who didn't know what we were talking about," said Hall's sister, Mary Leibrand, who also talked to Child and Family Services social workers about Perez. "The longer we worked with them, the more pathetic it got."

Child and Family Services was back at the home in February to investigate a fracture of Perez's left arm. The break was discovered after the child was taken to the emergency room when Hall and Perez's maternal grandmother saw Perez crying uncontrollably.

X-rays revealed a fracture to Perez's left forearm, plus a healed fracture to her right forearm that an orthopedic surgeon determined to be as old as 6 weeks, the documents state.

Great Falls Police were called that same day to investigate whether Perez's injuries were caused by abuse. However, after medical professionals at Benefis Health System were unable to determine whether the fractures were caused by abuse, the police dropped the investigation. Child and Family Services listed the initial abuse claim as unsubstantiated.

"It was determined by physicians that October's buckle fracture to her left arm was caused by an accident, not by a grab or twist," the division's report states.

In every investigation, caseworkers are required to make a decision on the merit of the initial report of maltreatment, as well as on the child's safety. Although the report of abuse was found to be unsubstantiated, the caseworker made another decision regarding Perez's safety. The child was determined to be in "impending danger," which is worse than "safe," but not as severe as "present danger" under the division's guidelines.

About two months later, the division was called to investigate the abuse allegation from Perez's half-brother. The boy told a teacher at Head Start, and the teacher reported it to Child and Family Services. Hall said a caseworker checked the boy for bruises and interviewed him, but eventually decided that the report was unsubstantiated. Without division intervention, the boy was sent to live with his father in Phoenix on April 9.

Later that month, a Child and Family Services worker paid another visit to the home to investigate reports that Perez had bruises on her forehead and cheeks and some of her teeth were falling out. The caseworker who visited the home noted bruises on the girl's head but was told by someone whose name was redacted from the report the Tribune received that those bruises were from Perez running into a countertop. The maltreatment reports were found to be unsubstantiated, but Perez was again found to be in "impending danger."

During this time, Perez's biological father, Michael Arndt, was stationed in Afghanistan with the Army. He retained Great Falls attorney David Dennis in an effort to gain custody of his daughter because he thought she was in danger. Dennis wrote a letter dated June 3 to Perez's caseworker, expressing his concern about the division's visits to the girl's home.

"It is my understanding that you are conducting home visits and monitoring October's care," the letter reads. "If this is the case, I am at a loss to understand how the department can justify subjecting October to further injury."

Toward the end of the letter, Dennis wrote: "She is suffering daily, and in danger of serious injury."

By the end of the month, Hall would learn while on a trip to New York City that her granddaughter was in the hospital and probably wouldn't survive.

"Every person tells me: 'April, you did everything right,'" she said. "If I did everything right, why is my baby dead?"

While questions piled up about the division's involvement with Perez before her death, it wasn't the first time a family asked those type of questions.

Tommy Hodges, who paid for the funerals of his son and stepdaughter within three months of each other, said he made Child and Family Services aware of his concerns about each child's safety.

In April 2010, Hodges was stationed at an Army base in Georgia when he placed a call to Child and Family Services asking if someone could check on the welfare of his son, Darby, and Darby's half-sister, Kiera Pulaski. Hodges had just separated from his wife, who then moved back home to Kalispell from Georgia. The response he received from the division surprised him.

"They said they don't do that kind of thing," Hodges said. "I thought that is exactly what they do."

On June 27, 2010, Darby was found dead in his crib. The cause of death was officially listed as undetermined, but his autopsy revealed bruises on his forehead and fractures of two of his ribs. His death is under investigation.

After Darby's death, Kiera was placed in a foster home for three days as a precaution, Hodges said. After that, she was placed back into the custody of her mother, who moved to Republic, Mo., shortly after Darby's death.

Hodges called Child and Family Services in Montana to express his concerns about Kiera's safety. He again was told there was nothing the division could do. On Sept. 17, 2010, Kiera died from what an autopsy determined was blunt-force trauma to her head. She was found dead in a hotel room in Missouri, with bruises on her chin, right ear, shoulder and knees.

Her death also is under investigation.

No one has been charged in the deaths of Darby Hodges or Kiera Pulaski, but Tommy Hodges, who now lives in Shelby, is convinced their deaths could have been prevented. So is his mother, Cheryl Hodges.

"All I wanted was for them to stop by and check it out," Tommy Hodges said of the first contact he made with Child and Family Services. "They just brushed it off."

"Everything slipped through the cracks," Cheryl Hodges added.

In accordance with state law, Children and Family Services is not allowed to comment on specific cases and actions taken by the department.

However, Cory Costello, field services director for Child and Family Services, said, speaking generally, that child protection specialists don't make decisions in a vacuum.

If a caseworker is sent to a call for child protective services because of a complaint the centralized intake division received, he or she is required to make contact with supervisors, if possible, before removing the child from a home. Sometimes that doesn't happen immediately.

"The first priority is to determine if the child is safe," Costello said. "Major decision points are staffed with a supervisor."

But supervisors aren't the only ones who are involved. If a child is removed, child protection specialists have 48 hours to file an affidavit with the court to grant temporary custody of a child to the department.

Even then, if it's a case of physical abuse or neglect, medical records and examinations have to be sought, and usually police are involved.

"There's quite a lot of information," Costello said. "We do what we have to do to keep a child safe."

But if a judge rules that the department doesn't have enough information to take temporary custody of a child, that child is returned to the home at the end of the 48-hour period.

"People worry then if a child will be safe," she said. "There are all these checks and balances, which support the rights of individuals."

Montana received a grade of "C" in terms of legal representation for abused and neglected children in the second edition of a report called Child's Right to Counsel, which was produced by First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute.

That's not surprising to Kristina Davis, executive director of the Montana Children's Defense Fund.

During the 2011 session, Montana legislators signed onto a resolution supporting the efforts of the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The proposed federal amendment argues that federal and state governments shouldn't be able to interfere with aparent's right to parent a child.

Even though it was only a resolution, Davis said that sort of thinking — that government shouldn't intervene — makes it difficult to advance the cause of improving child protective services and the state's ability to act in the best interest of children when their parents can't or won't.

Montana also is one of 10 states that earned an "F" on a report card from First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute when it comes to publicly disclosing child fatalities or near fatalities as a result of abuse and/or neglect.

Montana law states that not only is it a violation of confidentiality for any member of the child death review team to release information from its findings, it is also a misdemeanor crime.

National advocates say reporting of this data is crucial to understanding and developing policy that better strengthens child-protection laws.

"We're really protecting these kids to death," said Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance. "I would like to see every state improve their performance."

Costello said laws in Montana are designed so that the department can intervene only when abuse and neglect happens, rather than before.

"It's more of an after-the-fact response mechanism," she said.

Costello said child-protection specialists — and the entire agency — have to work within the confines of the law, even if it's a law they don't feel is strong enough.

In the face of criticism that reuniting children with their parents — especially those that have been abusive — isn't the best policy, Costello said those critics need to listen to the children who have been a part of the system.

"When you talk to children, they will tell you they want to be connected to their roots," she said. "Even if they have been abused and neglected, they still love their parents."

Lisa Stroh was shocked when she read about Perez's death in the newspaper.

A couple of days later she found out that she was distantly related to the girl through marriage. As word got out that Child and Family Services had made contact with Perez on allegations of abuse before her death, the Blaine County schools superintendent felt like she was reading a familiar story.

As an educator, Stroh is required to report abuse if she suspects it, but she said she found herself running into walls at the division numerous times.

"I've made referrals that they've refused to take because I didn't know the birth dates of the kids," Stroh said. "If they do take a referral, they'll never tell you if they've even acted on it."

Even before Perez's death, Stroh decided that the system needed major changes. She said as much in a letter addressed to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

"The role of this department is to keep children safe, and the people involved are not responsive when there is a critical need," she wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 26, 2010.

"After the experience I have gotten with (Child and Family Services), I will not only hesitate to report in the future, but I will also lobby my legislators and governor to have a complete audit and revision of the delivery model, because I do not believe it is meeting the tremendous needs of Montana's young people," Stroh wrote.

She said changes in the model are needed more than ever now.

While Stroh cited a lack of urgency from people who took her calls to the statewide hotline, she also faulted the system's framework for what she sees as a failure to protect children such as Perez.

"Most of the people that work for this agency truly care about children," Stroh said. "However, they are working within a system that does not have the proper checks and balances in place. Therefore, children are falling through the cracks."


Senate approves Foster Care Act

September 5, 2011, 5:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate has approved on third and final reading the Foster Care Act of 2010, a measure giving tax breaks to foster parents and donor agencies that put a premium on homeless children.

Senate Bill no. 2486, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada and Sen. Pilar “Pia” Cayetano, aims to establish a system that would promote foster care for homeless children by giving foster parents and donor agencies tax incentives.

“Foster care” is defined by the bill as the provision of planned temporary substitute parental care to a child. The bill seeks to address the lack of institutions in the country that attend to the needs of abandoned and neglected Filipino children.

In order to qualify as a foster parent, a person must be of legal age and must meet a set of qualifications to prove that he or she is of good moral character, and capable of providing for the needs of the foster child.

During her sponsorship speech, Cayetano stressed the need for government to give attention and consideration to foster care as a preferred way of caring for homeless children as opposed to the current practice of placing them in institutions, such as orphanages and youth centers.

“Studies show that foster care creates a better living environment, and develops better individuals as opposed to institutional care,” Cayetano said.

“Through foster care, children are given more attention and care in a home setting, thus providing them with more opportunities for normal, mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical growth,” she added.

Once it is enacted into law, Estrada said, the government will provide assistance and tax incentives to foster parents, child-caring agencies and donor institutions.

The bill grants foster parents medical insurance through the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) if they are non-members at the time of foster care. They will also be provided with counseling, training on child care and development, skills training, and livelihood assistance.

Foster parents are also entitled to personal tax exemption, and additional exemptions for dependents. The Department of Welfare and Development (DWSD) will also see to it that the foster child will receive monthly support.