Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tell Congress Your Foster Care Horror Stories

Here's a very good blog we want to share with our readers.

Ex-Okla. child welfare worker charged with theft

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A fired Oklahoma Department of Human Services child welfare worker has been charged with stealing nearly $3,700 from three disabled foster children.

Michelle Fausett, of Oklahoma City, has been charged with three counts of financial exploitation of a minor.

A working telephone number for Fausett could not be found Saturday. Online court records show a warrant has been issued for her arrest, but do not list an attorney for her and county jail records did not list her as an inmate.

The charges filed Monday by Oklahoma County prosecutors allege that Fausett used federal disability payments to the children in order to by video game systems, laptop computers and televisions, but never delivered the items to the foster homes where the children were living.

One child lost $972, another lost $1,446, and the third lost $1,247, according to prosecutors.

Fausett, who was fired Jan. 20 for dereliction of duty because she stopped coming to work, was charged after DHS completed an internal investigation and sent the findings to prosecutors.

DHS "holds its employees to a very high standard because of the vulnerable people we serve," department spokeswoman Sheree Powell told The Oklahoman for a story published Saturday.

"The financial exploitation of a foster child is particularly disgraceful, and we will not tolerate any employee committing such an act," Powell said.

Fausett, who had worked at the agency more than three years, turned in her DHS identification badge, cellphone and computer Dec. 7 after a co-worker confronted her Dec. 5 about why a foster child never got items purchased for him in August, DHS records show.


Family not notified about daughter's alleged abuse at school - Texas


FORNEY, Texas - A Forney family has filed a compliant with the state, claiming that Child Protective Services and Forney ISD failed to tell them about an abuse investigation involving their daughter.

Four-year-old Bella Holt is a special needs student at Henderson Elementary School in Forney. On Jan. 31, school officials were notified by an employee that Holt's teacher reportedly pushed the child to the ground.

"CPS told me she fell on her bottom, hit her elbows, her head, and started crying," her mother, Tana, said.

The district looked into the incident and during the investigation reassigned the teacher to another school. Child Protective Services was also asked to look into the matter.

But at no time was the little girl's family contacted about what was going on.

It wasn't until March 1, four weeks later, they say they received a call from a CPS case worker.

"The first thing out of her mouth was, 'I apoligize for not contacting you,' said Rene Keitch, the child's grandmother.

"She was there four times, observing the child, but not once was her parent, [or] her grandparent notified," she continued. "Not one time."

The family says the case worker interviewed and photographed 4-year-old Bella without their permission.

Child Protective Services would not comment on the incident, or the allegations against their case worker. School district officials confirm Bella's family was not contacted by the school.

A spokesperson for Forney ISD said the teacher's transfer had nothing to do with the investigation, and called the timing of her move a coincidence.


Calif. prof gets prison term for child abuse

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A former assistant professor of justice studies at California State University has been sentenced to 37 and 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing an infant.

Kenneth Martin Kyle entered the plea in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday to molesting a 5-month old infant in St. Louis, Mo. over several months. He was then sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $50,000 to the victim.

Kyle resigned his position at California State University East Bay after his arrest in March 2010.

Authorities say Kyle acknowledged traveling to St. Louis in 2009 to abuse the infant. He came to authorities' attention after he was allegedly discovered sharing child pornography over a so-called peer-to-peer network.

The infant's mother has pleaded guilty to state molestation charges in St. Louis and still faces federal child pornography charges.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some Child Abuse Offenders Could Be Removed From Database - Conn.

By SHANNON YOUNG, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Low-risk and rehabilitated suspects of child abuse and neglect might soon have the opportunity to have their names removed from the state’s database under legislation being considered by the General Assembly.

The proposed bill would allow offenders on the state’s child abuse and neglect database to appeal their listing after five years if they aren’t involved in any new abuse reports or investigations.

Appeals would be granted to applicants who have rehabilitated themselves or have demonstrated other legitimate reasons for removal. Applicants would be required to submit at least two letters in support of the appeal from competent adults.

If the bill is passed, individuals would be able to begin applying for an appeal as early as July 1.

Currently, anyone identified as a suspect in Department of Children and Families investigations of child abuse and neglect is listed in a registry for such offenses, even if the individual is not convicted of a civil or criminal offense. Those listed in the registry can initially appeal the listing and can appeal it in court, if necessary.

However, if they lose the appeal, they are permanently placed in the DCF child abuse database.

The database, unlike the sex offender registry, is private and not available to the public. Employers who work with children, however, can contact DCF with a release, signed by the potential employee, to verify that the individual doesn’t present a risk to kids.

Because of this, some argue that while the registry was created to ultimately protect children, it can permanently damage the reputation of suspected offenders and subject them to unemployment.

Michael Agranoff, an attorney specializing in DCF cases, said he has been pushing the state legislature to adapt this measure. He said that while he is successful in winning appeals for some clients, Connecticut has very few DCF attorneys for adults and not every person accused can afford representation.

Agranoff said he has seen hundreds of people successfully rehabilitate themselves. He said no one should be subject to a potential lifetime of unemployment without being allowed to defend him or herself.

Thomas DeMatteo, the assistant agency legal director for DCF, said the agency supports the proposed legislation and is willing to give listed individuals a second look. Thousands of names are on the child abuse and neglect registry, he said.

“DCF works on the basis that people can rehabilitate themselves,” DeMatteo said.

He said, now, around 30 percent of all alleged offenders who appeal their listing are successful.

Despite DCF’s support, some child advocate agencies and activists have raised concerns over the bill’s lack of details and potential effects on other registries.

Mickey Kramer, with the state’s Office of the Child Advocate, said that while the bill sounds like a fair concept, she believes the proposed appeals process needs to be carefully scrutinized and, if passed, applied consistently across the state.

“The devil is in the details, which this legislation doesn’t address,” she said.

Kramer said she agrees with the concept of the legislation but thinks it needs to be more specific before she could support it outright. She said she will likely testify at the hearing.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, ranking member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, also raised concerns over the bill’s lack of details, specifically what qualifies a suspected offender as “rehabilitated.” He said he’d like to see a more specific definition of the term and learn more about how a person would be evaluated.

“God forbid someone gets off of the registry and harms another child,” Kissel said.

The Judiciary Committee will hear opinions on the bill at a Wednesday morning public hearing at the Legislative Office Building.

Wallingford Republican Sen. Len Suzio said the Select Committee on Children, on which he serves as ranking member, reviewed identical legislation on the issue before ultimately removing it from the bill.

He said that among other things, the committee questioned how the process of removing a person’s name from the child abuse and neglect registry would work when a suspected offender could potentially still be listed on the state’s sex offender registry.

Like Suzio, Karen Jarmoc, the executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, also expressed concerns on the relation between the child abuse and sex offender registries.

Jarmoc said allowing offenders to remove their names from the child abuse and neglect database may open the door for individuals to try and get their names off of other lists, like the sex offender registry.

She said the legislature needs to be careful that it doesn’t create a precedent for this type of name removal.

Last year, similar legislation that included a section concerning parental consent for children being interviewed by DCF failed to make it to the floor for a vote in the Senate. This year, the measures are separated into two bills.

Bill supporters are optimistic that the name removal legislation could be passed this session, as DCF is once again behind the measure.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Occupy the American Psychiatric Association Convention Protest May 5th

We got an email from PsychRights that we would like to share.
Hi All,

Below is the News Release MindFreedom just issued regarding the Occupy the APA protest on May 5th in Philadelphia. I hope you can come. PsychRights is coming with a limited number of t-shirts with the following design for people who come to the Protest. To reserve yours, with your name and size.
I hope to see you there.

Also, MindFreedom is devoting its monthly radio show to the Occupy the APA protest and I will be on this Saturday, March 10th, at 2 pm Eastern Time. People are encouraged to call in.

Press Release - For immediate release

Protesters, Rejecting Mental Illness Labels, Vow to "Occupy" the American Psychiatric Association Convention

PHILADELPHIA (3/6/12) - On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and other supporters will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA's proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for publication in May 2013. Occupy the APA will include distinguished speakers from 10 a.m. to noon at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia). A march at 1 p.m. from Friends Center will lead to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where the group will protest beginning at 1:30 while the APA meets inside.

"This peaceful protest exposes the fact that the DSM-5 pushes the mental health industry to medicalize problems that aren't medical, inevitably leading to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs - including for people experiencing natural human emotions, such as grief and shyness," said David Oaks, founder and director of MindFreedom International (MFI), which has worked for 26 years as an independent voice of survivors of psychiatric human rights violations. "We call for better ways to help individuals in extreme emotional distress."

Other speakers criticizing the revised manual, considered the psychiatric industry's bible, include Brent Robbins, Ph.D., Secretary of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, which has gathered more than 8,000 signatures from mental health professionals calling for "developing an alternative approach" to the DSM.

Jim Gottstein, Esq., founder and president of the Alaska-based Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), will cross the country to speak. "The public mental health system is creating a huge class of chronic mental patients through forcing them to take ineffective yet extremely harmful drugs. As the APA gets ready to do even more harm with its proposed expansion of what constitutes mental illness, I want to be there in person to participate in the protest."

Occupy the APA will begin at 10 a.m. at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia), where the speakers will also include Dr. Paula Caplan, a psychologist, playwright and activist from California; Dr. Al Galves, director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry (ISEPP); Joseph Rogers, chief advocacy officer of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP); and Dr. Stefan P. Kruszewski, a whistleblower who was fired by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare after he reported the abuse and deaths of Pennsylvania children as a result of systemic physical and psychiatric malfeasance. His subsequent federal lawsuit was successfully settled in 2007.

"We will promote humane alternatives to the traditional mental health system, such as peer support, which evidence proves is effective in helping individuals recover from severe emotional distress," Oaks said. "Our protest is about choice, and everyone is welcome."

Contact: David Oaks, MFI,, 541-345-9106

James B. (Jim) Gottstein, Esq.
Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
406 G Street, Suite 206
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
Phone: (907) 274-7686) Fax: (907) 274-9493
Law Project for Psychiatric Rights

The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights is a public interest law firm devoted to the defense of people facing the horrors of forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock. We are further dedicated to exposing the truth about these drugs and the courts being misled into ordering people to be drugged and subjected to other brain and body damaging interventions against their will. Currently, due to massive growth in psychiatric drugging of children and youth and the current targeting of them for even more psychiatric drugging, PsychRights has made attacking this problem a priority. Children are virtually always forced to take these drugs because it is the adults in their lives who are making the decision. This is an unfolding national tragedy of immense proportions. Extensive information about all of this is available on our web site, Please donate generously. Our work is fueled with your IRS 501(c) tax deductible donations. Thank you for your ongoing help and support.

No autopsy of Monroe child despite police requests

Police say examiner's office ignored their concerns about child's death

By Noah Haglund, Diana Hefley and Rikki King

MONROE -- Police say they repeatedly tried to tell the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office that a 7-year-old boy who showed up dead at a Monroe hospital had a history of mistreatment and neglect.

Police wanted an autopsy and called at least three times to make their case. They were given "a dismissive 'no,'" Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis said Tuesday.

State officials confirmed that a social worker witnessed at least one of those conversations, and the detective mentioned Child Protective Services' past involvement with the boy's family.

Still, the medical examiner's office ruled the boy's death "low suspicion." His body was released and cremated without an autopsy. Two weeks later, toxicology tests ordered by the medical examiner came back showing the boy died with lethal amounts of what appears to be over-the-counter painkillers in his system.

Police are investigating the death as a potential manslaughter. The case is complicated by a lack of evidence from a body, little cooperation from the boy's parents and possible missteps in how his death investigation was handled. National experts say there aren't clear-cut policies for when a child death investigation requires an autopsy.

The boy, identified in court papers only as "A.J." of Monroe, was pronounced dead Jan. 30. His father brought the boy into the hospital emergency room unresponsive, nearly 40 minutes after he said he found the boy "ash white," the documents showed.

In the days after the boy's death, a detective called the medical examiner's office at least twice to request an autopsy, Willis said. A sergeant called, as well.

The detective attempted to explain that he'd investigated the boy's parents in a reckless endangerment case two years before, she said.

"It was a dismissive 'no,' they were not going to do an autopsy," she said. "They asked if we had documentation of any physical abuse, and we said no."

The medical examiner representative reportedly told the detective that if police wanted to send documents, they'd be reviewed, Willis said. They asked for no additional information.

"The detective felt at that point that we'd had three dismissive phone calls, they're not listening, and we have an investigation to continue here, and did not send any reports to them," Willis said.

The Snohomish County Executive's Office, which oversees the medical examiner, has declined to discuss any specifics of the case, citing the ongoing police investigation.

Police look into deaths that may involve crimes, but the medical examiner's office determines how someone died and whether the death was natural, an accident or the result of someone else's actions.

A determination on the boy's manner of death is pending, meaning there's not enough information.

State toxicologists reported finding lethal amounts of salicylates in the boy's blood. Salicylates are common in aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs.

The tests determine the presence and amount of the drug in the blood, not how it was ingested.

An autopsy would have answered important questions, such as whether there were pills in the boy's stomach. Even without that evidence, authorities still should be able to investigate, said Janice Ophoven, a Minnesota-based pediatric forensic pathologist who has consulted on cases nationally and abroad.

"In this particular case, we have a cause of death -- that's not going to be in dispute," Ophoven said. "Then the question becomes how did that stuff get in there, and is there a reasonable explanation for that?"

Salicylate poisoning generally causes noticeable symptoms that last hours before death, she said. Those include breathing problems, nausea and vomiting.

"Assuming that the numbers are reported accurately and this is a fatal dose, somebody is going to have to answer the question of what the family thought when they saw signs of salicylate poisoning," Ophoven said.

The case ultimately will come down to "good police work in the days and weeks to come," she said.

Job defies policy

There are no policies to tell forensic pathologists in Snohomish County, or anywhere else, exactly when to perform autopsies. Instead, death investigators must rely on their training and experience to make the right call.

"The almost infinite varieties in ways that people die makes it impossible to write a policy to deal with every kind of death," said Dr. Andrew Baker, spokesman for the National Association of Medical Examiners and medical examiner for Hennepin County, Minn.

Baker added: "Whether one is done is only a piece of the much larger puzzle. Whether you do one or not depends on what historical information is available to you."

A former associate pathologist for Snohomish County said the information from Child Protective Services should have made a decision on the Monroe boy's case an easy call.

"To me, it's obligatory to do an autopsy in this case if the medical examiner knew of the CPS reports," said Dr. Carl Wigren, who left Snohomish County in 2009 and now consults with coroners, attorneys and families.

The child's father pleaded guilty in 2010 to reckless endangerment after police discovered his children living in deplorable conditions. The children, then 10 and 5, were removed from the home for three months. Before then, state social workers investigated numerous allegations of mistreatment involving the couple's two sons, including a report that the older boy, now 12, had been given a double dose of anti-seizure medication on at least two occasions.

Both boys were severely developmentally delayed, but doctors haven't found genetic or neurological reasons. The older boy has been removed from the home.

Timeline still unclear

What also remains unclear is the timeline of events between the younger boy having medical trouble and the hospital declaring him dead, police said.

His father said the boy was breathing and alive when they left the home, but the emergency room doctor said when they arrived, the boy appeared to be in the early stages of rigor mortis, which happens hours after death.

Child Protective Services received notice from the hospital about the younger boy's death, said Sherry Hill, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Health Services

A social worker was investigating the case by 10 a.m. that morning. That included contacting Monroe police to ask if they would be assigning a detective.

Generally, hospitals contact CPS or law enforcement when the child's death is unexpected.

The social worker was in frequent contact with the detective. The social worker noted that she was there when the detective called the medical examiner's office. During that conversation, the detective conveyed the family's history with CPS. CPS officials never received a request from the medical examiner to see those reports, Hill said.

"We felt assured that the M.E. was aware of the history of this family," Hill said.

The social worker noted that the medical examiner expected to determine a cause of death that day. The social worker noted that the medical examiner planned to complete a toxicology screen and a full body scan to determine if there were any signs of abuse or neglect, Hill said.

Once the medical examiner concluded that the death wasn't suspicious, the social worker talked with the family about the possibility of doing an autopsy. She advised the family that an autopsy could be helpful to determine what caused the boy's seizures, which could be helpful to their care of their older son. The social worker made it clear that the family would need to request a full autopsy.

The social worker reported that the parents said they would consult with their own doctors and "take care of it."

Officials with the Children's Administration plan to convene a child fatality review. The law calls for a review when a child dies of suspected neglect or abuse and has received services from the state in the past year.

Shortly after A.J.'s death, leaders at his school broke the news to students and families.

A.J. was in a first-grade class.

"He faced many health challenges in his short life and we will miss him," Fryelands Elementary School Principal Jeff Presley wrote at the time. "A.J. was a wonderful member of our school family and our thoughts are with his parents and brother."


Teacher's aide at a special needs school arrested on child abuse charges

By Jessica Janner

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A teacher's aide at Variety School in Las Vegas was arrested on Tuesday on child abuse charges after school district police obtained surveillance video of the alleged acts.

The teacher's aide has been identified as 28-year-old Lachelle James. James has worked directly with special needs children, at Variety School, for more than seven years.

She was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on five counts of felony child abuse charges and one count of battery.

According to the arrest report, James hurt an 11-year-old student by "dragging him to the floor and using physical force to restrain him." In the report, she is also accused of battery against another student by "pushing him twice" and "grabbing him by the face and pinning him to rolling wardrobe cabinets."

Surveillance video was obtained by Clark County School District Police. The alleged crimes occurred on March 6 according to police paperwork.

The Clark County School District said a school police investigation led to the arrest of the teacher's aide. The superintendent ordered her suspended without pay and she will be terminated upon approval of an arbitrator.

"Our community should be assured that the district will not tolerate this behavior by any employee and that our police department will work swiftly on this case," a spokersperon with the district said.



Grandparent visit rights backed under Ga. bill

Associated Press

ATLANTA — The right of grandparents to visit their grandchildren caught up in custody or divorce cases would be strengthened under a bill passed by Georgia lawmakers.

House lawmakers voted 154-0 on Wednesday to pass the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Meadows of Calhoun.

The bill seeks to increase the visitation rights of grandparents whose grandchildren are involved in cases involving child custody, divorce or the termination of parental rights. It would encourage judges to allow children to visit their grandparents when that grandparent has financially supported the child for a year or regularly visited with the child.

The bill would allow judges to rule that the child's interests would be harmed without some "minimal" contact with their grandparents. Those visits would total at least 24 hours in a month.

Father of 3 children slain in Riviera Beach sues DCF

By Jane Musgrave

WEST PALM BEACH — The father of three children who were killed and a fourth who was injured when his ex-wife's estranged husband went on a deadly rampage in September 2010 is suing the Florida Department of Children & Families for negligence.

The suit filed by Michael Barnett comes a month after the father of a fourth child who was killed in the massacre filed a similar lawsuit against the state agency that is to protect children from harm.

Instead, according to the lawsuit Barnett filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, the agency ignored obvious warning signs. For instance, the Riviera Beach Police Department was summoned to Natasha Whyte-Dell's home 34 times before Patrick Dell broke in and shot and killed Whyte-Dell and four of her seven children and wounded another youngster before turning the gun on himself.

The agency did open an investigation in December 2009 after Dell was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief for coming after Whyte-Dell with a knife. While she and a friend cowered behind a door, she told police he screamed at her, "Your family is going to cry today" and "You will be going to the morgue."

However, despite the threats and ongoing violence, the agency closed its investigation, concluding the children weren't at "significant risk," according to Barnett's lawsuit.

In May 2010, Whyte-Dell got a restraining order against Dell after he again attacked her. In her petition, she said she heard Dell was trying to buy a gun and would use it to hurt her and her children. Four months later, that's exactly what he did.

Killed in the attack were Barnett's children: Daniel, 7; Diane, 13, and Bryan, 14. Injured was the divorced couple's 15-year-old son Ryan. Also killed was Javon Nelson, 11, the son of Leroy Nelson Jr., who is suing DCF. Two children survived.

DCF officials declined comment on the lawsuit. Shortly after the attack, then-DCF regional director Perry Borman admitted the case was not handled properly. The investigator was fired after being charged with battery in an unconnected incident.

Systems have been put in place in hopes of averting a similar disaster, said Mark Riordan, an agency spokesman. DCF now receives copies of any requests for restraining orders filed with the Palm Beach County Clerk of Courts. There also is greater cooperation between the agency and local law enforcement agencies, he said.


Foster Child Burned - Oregon

Nicholas Santos: CPS Investigator arrested for sexual assault

Nicholas Santos was arrested March 4 and has been charged with Sexual Assault of a Child and booked into the Dallas County Jail.

by Jennifer Shrum

DALLAS— Child Protective Services investigator Nicholas Santos has been arrested for sexual assault and has been booked into the Dallas County jail. CPS Public Information Officer Marissa Gonzales confirmed the arrest and said Nicholas Santos has been an investigator with CPS since 2006. The 34-year-old is charged with Sexual Assault of a Child; bond has been set at $25,000.

CPS issued this statement following the arrest:

"We have been notified by law enforcement that one of our employees, Nicholas Santos, has been arrested and charged with felony sexual assault. He is currently incarcerated. Mr. Santos has been suspended from his current job as CPS investigator,. He has been in that role since he joined the agency in March 2006. We are conducting an internal investigation. If we determine that these criminal charges are true, he will be fired immediately. There is no place in Child Protective Services for employees who betray the public's trust, or who take advantage of young people we are supposed to protect."


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment Request

Title: National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System
OMB No: 0980-0229.

Description: The Administration on Children, Youth and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) to respond to the 1988 and 1992 amendments (100 and 102) to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.), which called for the creation of a coordinated national data collection and analysis program, both universal and case specific in scope, to examine standardized data on false, unfounded, or unsubstantiated reports.

In 1996, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was amended by Public Law 104-235 to require that any State receiving the Basic State Grant work with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide specific data on child maltreatment, to the extent practicable. These provisions were retained in the 2010 reauthorization of CAPTA (Pub. L. 113-320).Show citation box
Each State to which a grant is made under this section shall annually work with the Secretary to provide, to the maximum extent practicable, a report that includes the following:

1. The number of children who were reported to the State during the year as victims of child abuse or neglect.Show citation box
2. Of the number of children described in paragraph (1), the number with respect to whom such reports were—

A. substantiated;
B. unsubstantiated; or
C. determined to be false.

3. Of the number of children described in paragraph (2)

A. the number that did not receive services during the year under the State program funded under this section or an equivalent State program;
B. the number that received services during the year under the State program funded under this section or an equivalent State program; and
C. the number that were removed from their families during the year by disposition of the case.

4. The number of families that received preventive services, including use of differential response, from the State during the year.
5. The number of deaths in the State during the year resulting from child abuse or neglect.
6. Of the number of children described in paragraph (5), the number of such children who were in foster care.
7.A. The number of child protective service personnel responsible for the

i. intake of reports filed in the previous year;
ii. screening of such reports;
iii. assessment of such reports; and
iv. investigation of such reports.

B. The average caseload for the workers described in subparagraph (A)

8. The agency response time with respect to each such report with respect to initial investigation of reports of child abuse or neglect.
9. The response time with respect to the provision of services to families and children where an allegation of child abuse or neglect has been made.
10. For child protective service personnel responsible for intake, screening, assessment, and investigation of child abuse and neglect reports in the State

A. information on the education, qualifications, and training requirements established by the State for child protective service professionals, including for entry and advancement in the profession, including advancement to supervisory positions;
B. data of the education, qualifications, and training of such personnel;
C. demographic information of the child protective service personnel; and
D. information on caseload or workload requirements for such personnel, including requirements for average number and maximum number of cases per child protective service worker and supervisor.

11. The number of children reunited with their families or receiving family preservation services that, within five years, result in subsequent substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect, including the death of the child.
12. The number of children for whom individuals were appointed by the court to represent the best interests of such children and the average number of out of court contacts between such individuals and children.
13. The annual report containing the summary of activities of the citizen review panels of the State required by subsection (c)(6).
14. The number of children under the care of the State child protection system who are transferred into the custody of the State juvenile justice system.
15. The number of children referred to a child protective services system under subsection (b)(2)(B)(ii).
16. The number of children determined to be eligible for referral, and the number of children referred, under subsection (b)(2)(B)(xxi), to agencies providing early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.).

The Children's Bureau proposes to continue collecting the NCANDS data through the two files of the Detailed Case Data Component, the Child File (the case-level component of NCANDS) and the Agency File (additional aggregate data, which cannot be collected at the case level). Technical assistance will be provided so that all States may provide the Child File and Agency File data to NCANDS.Show citation box
The Children's Bureau proposes to modify the Child File by adding five new fields.

Field 147, Report Time: The Report Time field will collect the hour and minutes when the report was received. Currently NCANDS collects only the date when the report was received. Adding the time field will allow for a more accurate computation of the time between receipt of the report and the start of the investigation or other response.

Field 148, Investigation Start Time: The Investigation Start Time field will collect the hour and minutes when the investigation or other response was initiated. Currently NCANDS collects only the date the investigation or other response was started. Adding the time field will allow for a more accurate computation of the time between receipt of the report and the start of the investigation or other response.

Field 149, Maltreatment Death Date: The Maltreatment Death Date field will collect the date when a child who died of child abuse or neglect died. Currently NCANDS only collects that the child was determined to have died due to maltreatment, but does not collect the date. Since determinations of cause of death can take several months, adding the date of death will allow for more accurate counts of deaths that occurred during the reporting period in addition to the ability to count those for which the finding was established during the reporting period.

Field 150, Near Fatality: The Near Fatality field will establish a flag as to whether the State has determined that the child was so severely injured that it should be classified as a near fatality. A focus on near fatalities is evident in CAPTA (Sec.106 (b)(2)(B)(x)) and the counts of such cases will be useful in establishing prevention activities.

Field 151, Foster Care Discharge Date: The Foster Care Discharge Date field will collect the date of discharge, if discharge has occurred, for each child who has the Removal Date field. Currently NCANDS collects only the start of foster care but does not collect the end of foster care, when a child is returned home or has another permanent outcome. Adding this field will allow a more accurate computation of the number of children who were maltreated in foster care.

The reauthorization of CAPTA specifies for two counts, “The number of children determined to be eligible for referral, and the number of children referred, under subsection (b)(2)(B)(xxi), to agencies providing early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.).” (Sec. 106(d)(16)).

The children under subsection (b)(2)(B)(xxi) are defined as, “* * * a child under the age of 3 who is involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect [referred] to early intervention services funded under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.).”

The Children's Bureau proposes to modify the Agency File by adding two new fields.

Field 5.1, Number of Children Eligible for Referral to Agencies Providing Early Intervention Services Under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act: This field will collect the number of children who are considered by the State to be eligible for referral to Part C agencies.

Field 5.2, Number of Children Referred to Agencies Providing Early Intervention Services Under Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act: This field will collect the number of children who were actually referred to Part C agencies.

The information collected by NCANDS will be used to better understand the experiences of children and families served by State and local child protective services agencies and to guide policy and program development at the national and local levels. Data collected through the NCANDS will also be used to support HHS with responding to the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA); reporting to Congress on States' performance on national child welfare outcomes; and monitoring States through the CFSRs.

Respondents: State governments, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 6,292.

In compliance with the requirements of Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Administration for Children and Families is soliciting public comment on the specific aspects of the information collection described above. Copies of the proposed collection of information may be obtained and comments may be forwarded by writing to the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Administration, Office of Information Services, 370 L'Enfant Promenade SW., Washington, DC 20447, Attn: ACF Reports Clearance Officer. Email address: All requests should be identified by the title of the information collection activity—National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.

The Department specifically requests comments on: (a) The proposed change to the two data collection instruments—the Child File and the Agency File; (b) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (c) the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; and (e) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Robert Sargis,

Reports Clearance Officer.

[FR Doc. 2012-5251 Filed 3-2-12; 8:45 am]



Monday, March 5, 2012

Child welfare confidentiality draws scrutiny - Indiana

Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— An Indiana law that keeps all child-protection records confidential except in cases of fatality or near fatality is out of date and prevents accountability when a child dies, some judges and lawmakers say.

"I have to make decisions based on the evidence before me," said St. Joseph Probate Judge Peter Nemeth, "and I'm not always sure that DCS is telling me everything."

The Indiana House has voted to create a legislative committee to review changes in how the state investigates reports of child abuse and neglect. Democratic legislators have questioned the Department of Child Services' spending and a new child abuse hotline that routes all reports to a centralized call center in Indianapolis

Republican legislators have defended the agency's performance, saying DCS has doubled the number of caseworkers and helped reduce the number of child abuse deaths since 2005.

But critics say there is a cloak of secrecy surrounding the agency and worry that failing to provide some information could have tragic consequences.

An Indiana child fatality review team studies and reports on deaths of Indiana children. Its public reports provide a general overview and broad recommendations but don't delve into specifics of what happened or did not happen, the South Bend Tribune reported (

Reports from a DCS ombudsman office established in 2010 to investigate complaints involving the department also contain only general trends and non-identifying information about specific cases.

DCS Director James Payne said he supports more openness.

"I'm not opposed to loosening up the confidentiality. I've said for years that `confidential' is really `secret,"' said Payne, a former juvenile court judge who opened his Marion County courtroom to cameras for a "Dateline" television special about the juvenile justice system. "The issue really is the degree of that."

Child protection officials say they worry that more openness could expose parents to unfounded tips and stigmatize children.

But others note that unsubstantiated reports of abuse or neglect are only kept for three months and say that has prevented child welfare workers from having all the information they need in some cases, including the beating death of Tramelle Sturgis, a 10-year-old South Bend boy, in November.

In that case, prosecutors learned that earlier reports to DCS about the boy and his family had been destroyed.

State Sen. John Broden, D-South Bend, introduced an amendment this session to change DCS record-keeping rules to store records of unsubstantiated reports for at least three years.

Broden, a former DCS attorney, advocates easing the system's confidentiality requirements so long as names of children and parents remain confidential.

"If the press wants to come and look at various cases and orders, I'd have no problem with that," he said.


Iowa settles suit over boy's foster care injuries

Associated Press

Iowa will pay $275,000 to settle a lawsuit brought against two state employees on behalf of a toddler who suffered brain damage from severe head injuries while in the state foster care system, according to records released this week.

The payment settles a lawsuit that alleged that an Iowa Department of Human Services worker and a supervisor were warned that Jayden Clark was suffering neglect and abuse while under the care of foster parents in Albia but failed to take action. Half of the money will be invested for the 4-year-old boy, who will get access when he turns 18, while his parents will get $15,000 apiece and his attorney will get $101,000 in fees.

The lawsuit in federal court continues against foster parents Jason and Christen Morgan, who have denied wrongdoing.

"We are satisfied with the way it came out. But because there is ongoing litigation against the foster parents, I really can't comment beyond that," said the boy's attorney, Jeffrey Lipman of Clive.

Authorities responded to the Morgans' home in February 2010 when Clark, then 2, was found unresponsive with extensive injuries to the head and were told he had fallen out of a bunk bed. Fighting for his life, the boy was treated for head trauma and a lacerated liver and was hospitalized and forced to undergo rehabilitation for months.

Local and state investigators conducted an extensive look into whether he was abused, but they filed no criminal charges. The lawsuit blames the foster parents' "abuse or neglect" for the injuries, without elaborating on how they occurred.

A DHS investigation resulted in a finding of confirmed child abuse that was not serious enough to be placed on the Child Abuse Registry, a designation used for cases involving a lack of proper supervision or physical abuse that was minor. In court documents, state lawyers said the finding was not for physical abuse and denied that "findings of neglect, as such, were made."

After the boy's hospitalization, child welfare officials removed his siblings from the home while then-Gov. Chet Culver expressed outrage and ordered an investigation.

The lawsuit alleges Clark's parents, Travis and April Clark, and a social worker started noticing significant black bruises across his forehead "from ear to ear" in January 2010 after he and three siblings were placed with the Morgans the prior month. The foster parents blamed his siblings for causing the bruises, but his parents and the social worker suspected abuse and reported it to the DHS worker and his supervisor, who failed to visit the home or conduct an investigation, the suit claims.

As the bruising got worse in following weeks, the social worker warned DHS about the "increased level of abuse and injury" and said the agency needed to consider removing him from the home, but no action was taken, the suit said. Clark's parents took photographs to document the bruising and also warned DHS, the lawsuit said.

Ultimately, Clark "suffered a closed head injury as a result of the abuse or neglect and has permanent brain damage," the lawsuit said. Lipman said the boy was now living with his parents, who are originally from Centerville, but he would not say where.

"He's always going to have some impairment from this," Lipman said.

In a memo made public with the details of the settlement, Assistant Attorney General Diane Stahle said the state decided on the cash payment after investigating the case and "balancing the likelihood of an adverse verdict against the likelihood of a defense verdict." The details were worked out during mediation, she wrote.

In court documents, state lawyers acknowledged DHS employees were twice told about the bruising to the boy but said that it was attributed to his siblings. The foster parents have denied they breached their duty to provide a safe environment for Jayden and also blamed his siblings for the bruises. Their attorney didn't return a phone message.

DHS spokesman Roger Munns declined comment on the case but said both employees named in the lawsuit remain in state employment, one by his agency and one by Iowa Workforce Development.


Sometimes, secrecy isn't best for children

Here's an interesting editorial:

Child abuse attorney not trained - Penn.

By Terrie Morgan-Besecker

WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County has lost out on potentially thousands of dollars in state reimbursements because an attorney who represented children in abuse cases did not obtain training required by the state.

Frank Castano, executive director of Children and Youth Services, said he cannot seek reimbursement for work attorney John Bellino performed as a guardian ad litem after July 1, 2011 because Bellino did not obtain specialized training mandated by state legislation that went into effect last year.

The revelation comes as the court system faces mounting criticism for failing to monitor payments made to Angela Stevens, a Kingston attorney who admitted she double billed the county for representing parents in Children and Youth cases.

A Times Leader investigation revealed Stevens, who was paid more than $144,000 in 2011, charged the county for each fee petition she delivered to the court, even though many appeared to have been delivered in one trip.

President Judge Thomas Burke on Friday would not comment on why Bellino, who was paid a flat salary of $50,230, was permitted to remain employed if the county could not be reimbursed. Burke said he could not discuss the matter because it is a personnel issue.

Guardian ad litems are attorneys appointed by the court to represent children who are in the custody of Children and Youth Services to ensure their best interests are protected, independent of their parents’ interest.

The state Department of Public Welfare reimburses Luzerne County Children and Youth 50 percent for guardian services. As of July 1, the department no longer provided that funding for a guardian who did not obtain the training, which was mandated under an amendment to the state’s Adoption Act that went into effect last April.

Bellino, who had served as guardian for 11 years, was among the 59 county employees who were laid off Thursday.

It’s not known how much of Bellino’s salary from 2011 and 2012 might have been reimbursed by the state because the court system did not submit any invoices to Children and Youth detailing the number of hours he worked on cases, Castano said.

In the 2010-11 fiscal year, Castano said he sought 50 percent reimbursement for $48,208 in invoices submitted by court administration for work Bellino performed. The court had to submit invoices, even though Bellino was paid a flat salary, because DPW required documentation of the number of hours and cases on which he worked, Castano said.

Bellino said Friday he did not obtain the training because he did not know he was required to take it.

“I thought I was exempt from it because I’ve been doing this so long. I thought it was for new guardians,” Bellino said.

Bellino said was told by Castano of one training session held last year, but he did not learn about it until the last minute and could not attend due to a conflict. He said he assumed he could take it this year.

“When (Castano) told me that was a requirement for reimbursement, I believed at that point I could get it this coming year,” he said.

Children and Youth also has a contract with North Penn Legal Services to provide two attorneys as guardian ad litems. Castano said he was able to seek reimbursement for their work because both of those attorneys had received the training.

To date DPW has reimbursed the county $17,833 for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011-2012, according to deputy press secretary Ann Bale. The county spent a total of $66,252 with North Penn in the second quarter, which will be eligible for 50 percent reimbursement. That request has not yet been processed, Bale said.


Three charged over prostituting adopted boy - Ohio

(CNN) -- The adoptive father of three young children in Troy, Ohio, was charged Thursday with raping three of his adopted sons and prostituting his 10-year-old son out to two other men.

The man, 39, who CNN is not naming to protect the identity of the children, is in jail on rape charges along with Jason Zwick, 29, and Patrick Rieder, 31, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor spokesman Greg Flannagan.

"It's just shocking," Flannagan said.

Troy police said they impounded the father's truck and confiscated four laptops, a video camera and two wooden paddles from his home.

The man does not appear to have a past criminal record, had adopted three children and was in the process of adopting a fourth child who already lived with him, Police Capt. Chris Anderson said.

The children were three boys ages 9 through 12 and a 9-year-old girl, he said.

Anderson said the boy who was allegedly prostituted to Zwick and Rieder told authorities that he was afraid to talk because he didn't want to be taken away from his new brothers and sister.

On February 24, police said they received a call from the state's internet crimes task force saying the father had offered an undercover officer sex with a boy. The man was arrested that day, police said.

"I've seen a lot of bad things in 35 years of law enforcement," said Attorney General Mike DeWine. "But I've never seen anything like this."

He said authorities are now "trying to unravel what kind of background check was done."

The defendants' attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment.


Colorado considers easing rules on child-abuse investigations

By Jordan Steffen

Barely two weeks after state officials announced a plan to reduce the number of children who die after entering Colorado's child welfare program, the same agency began work Friday to relax rules dictating when caseworkers must investigate reports of abuse and neglect.

The Colorado Department of Human Services is proposing a change that would remove a rule requiring that county social workers automatically open an investigation if they receive three reports of child abuse or neglect within two years — and the first two referrals were not investigated. Instead, social workers would examine prior contacts with the child — such as any actions taken and services provided — to determine whether an investigation is warranted.

Julie Krow, head of the department's Office of Children, Youth and Families, and Judy Rodriguez, assistant director of the Division of Child Welfare, presented the proposal at Friday's meeting of the State Board of Human Services.

The rule change could help conserve limited resources and allow social workers to focus on cases that may be more severe, Rodriguez said.

"Supervisors look at each case and approve or disapprove a referral," Rodriguez said. "They are the ones who know their communities."

Opponents of the rule change said the proposal is based on anecdotes instead of data.

"In a time when we've had 43 child deaths, one would think that we would be trying to figure out how to address our own accountability," said Stephanie Villafuerte, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center. "We don't need to be worrying about giving discretion to the caseworkers, but we should figure out what went wrong in the discretion that was already given."

An investigation by The Denver Post in January showed that in the past five years, 43 children died after entering the state's child welfare system. In every one of the deaths — which occurred in 18 counties — social workers repeatedly failed to complete basic functions, according to a review of state investigative reports.

In 17 of those cases, county social workers failed to start an investigation after a report of abuse or neglect warranted one.

Friday's discussion occurred less than a month after the department opened its second child fatality review this year — an Adams County boy allegedly killed by his grandmother.

Such an investigation is opened whenever a child's death is a result of abuse or neglect and there was contact with the child welfare system during the two previous years.

Board members are selected by Gov. John Hickenlooper and operate outside of the department. The board holds public hearings on the first Friday of every month to discuss proposed changes to the rules that regulate county child welfare departments.

Friday, board members expressed mixed responses to the proposed rule changes. Some said they worried that changing the rule could result in children falling through the cracks, while others advocated for more county control.

"We're trusting people to make the first judgment, we're trusting them to make the second, but for some reason we're not trusting them to make the third," said Stephen Johnson, board member and county commissioner for Larimer County.

REAL Colorado, an initiative of Colorado Counties Inc., suggested the rule change to the state department last fall.

The board approved the proposal to go forward to a final adoption hearing, scheduled for April 6. Before then, the board requested data about who is making the referrals and how many each county receives.