AG Paxton Urges HHS to Repeal Rule that
Violates the Religious Liberty of Texas’
Faith-Based Foster Care and Adoption
AUSTIN, TX – In a letter today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Attorney General Ken Paxton urged prompt repeal of an Obama-era rule that violates the religious liberty of Texas’ faith-based foster care and adoption service providers by requiring them to abandon their core religious beliefs as a condition of receiving federal funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.
“People of faith should not be required to forfeit their sincerely held religious beliefs as a condition of helping Texas’ most vulnerable children,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We’re asking HHS to repeal its unlawful rule on child welfare funding or, alternatively, grant the state of Texas an exemption from the rule.”
Attorney General Paxton, in his letter to Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, pointed out that the rule on Title IV-E funding exceeds statutory authority, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and conflicts with Texas law.
Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child welfare organizations and prohibits the state from granting or refusing to grant funding to such organizations because of their religious beliefs, including the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Texas’ share of Title IV-E funding is administered by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) through its Child Protective Services, which works with secular and faith-based communities to find loving homes for children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.
Some faith-based providers who receive Title IV-E funding through DFPS require potential foster care or adoptive parents to share a particular religious faith, be a member of a congregation, or agree to the provider’s statement of faith. But the federal rule requires those organizations to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs as a condition of receiving funding.
Did the Trump Administration Separate
Immigrant Children From Parents and
President Trump over the weekend falsely blamed Democrats for a “horrible law” separating immigrant children from their parents. In fact, his own administration had just announced this policy earlier this month.
His comments followed days of growing alarm that federal authorities have lost track of more than 1,000 immigrant children, mostly from Central America, giving rise to hashtags like #WhereAreTheChildren and claims that children are being ripped from their parents’ arms at the border and then being lost.
But the president is not the only one spreading wrong information. Across social media, there have been confusing reports of what happened to these immigrant children. Here are some answers.
Did the Trump administration separate nearly 1,500 immigrant children from their parents at the border, and then lose track of them?
No. The government did realize last year that it lost track of 1,475 migrant children it had placed with sponsors in the United States, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee last month. But those children had arrived alone at the Southwest border — without their parents. Most of them are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse, according to government data.
Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees refugee resettlement, began making calls last year to determine what had happened to 7,635 children the government had helped place between last October and the end of the year.
From these calls, officials learned that 6,075 children remained with their sponsors. Twenty-eight had run away, five had been removed from the United States and 52 had relocated to live with a nonsponsor. The rest were unaccounted for, giving rise to the 1,475 number. It is possible that some of the adult sponsors simply chose not to respond to the agency.
Losing track of children who arrive at the border alone is not a new phenomenon. A 2016 inspector general report showed that the federal government was able to reach only 84 percent of children it had placed, leaving 4,159 unaccounted for.
This is a prime example of fake news, with the exception to the fact that it is just plain BS, that attempts to cover-up the loss of 90,000+ immigrant Children lost by the Obama Administration and a very corrupt CPS(HHS).
On Monday evening, Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary for Health and Human Services, expressed frustration at the use of the term “lost” to refer to the 1,475 unaccounted-for children. In a statement, he said that the department’s office of refugee resettlement began voluntarily making the calls as a 30-day follow-up to make sure that the children and their sponsors did not require additional services. Those calls, which the office does not view as required, Mr. Hargan said, are now “being used to confuse and spread misinformation.”
In many cases, the statement said, sponsors cannot be reached because “they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities.”
10 children taken from Fairfield home, Dad charged with torture
FAIRFIELD, CA – Fairfield police said they rescued ten children found living in squalor and arrested their parents.
Jonathan Allen, a father of eight of the children, was charged with seven counts of torture and nine counts of felony child abuse, by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office. Police believe more charges could be filed as the investigation continues.
Fairfield Police Department Lt. Greg Hurlbut said the children were living in unsafe living conditions. Responding officers found spoiled food, as well as animal and human feces on the floor. There was so much debris that some areas of the home were inaccessible, according to Hurlbut.
Investigators believe nine of the 10 children were abused. In interviews the children described incidents of intentional abuse resulting in puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with a BB gun or pellet gun.
“I have not had a case where we charge someone with torture of their own children if that tells you something. I’ve been in law enforcement since… well… more than 30 years ago,” said Hurlbut.
The Solano County District Attorney’s Office described this type of crime of torture as inflicting pain with the intent to cause cruel and extreme pain and suffering, and in this instance, for a sadistic purpose.
But the children’s mother said it’s all a big misunderstanding.
Officers responded to the home and discovered the apparent abuse when the children’s mother, Ina Rogers, called 911 on March 31.
Rogers told KTVU she called 911 after her 12-year-old son went for a walk and didn’t return home. She said her son was upset when she took his iPad away because he didn’t do one of his chores.
Fairfield police located the boy asleep under a bush and returned him to the family home in the 2200 block of Fieldstone Court. Officers said they conducted a search of the home due to concerns for the safety and health of the child and the child’s siblings.
During the search officers located nine more children, ranging in age from 4 months to 11-years-old. Officers said the children were living in squalor and unsafe conditions.
Rogers said the home’s condition was a result of her “tearing up” the house because her son was missing. “I was afraid that I could not find him. Once that fear sets in, you don’t know what to do so in that moment,” she said. “I tore up my house, I lifted up beds, I ripped things out of the closet, I completely tore up everything to make sure that he really wasn’t here.”
Rogers, a 30-year-old Fairfield resident, was arrested and booked into Solano County Jail for child neglect. All ten children were taken into protective custody by Solano County Child Welfare Services. According to Rogers, the children are now staying with family members.
Investigators from Child Welfare Services, Solano County District Attorney’s Office, Fairfield Police Department’s Family Violence Unit allege there has been a long and continuous history of severe physical and emotional abuse of the children.
Rogers denies any abuse, neglect or torture by her or her husband Jonathan Allen. “I am 30-years-old and I have 11 children and also homeschool all of my children and people don’t agree with that lifestyle. And so I’ve had many people question my right to parent and I feel this whole situation has exploded.”
Ina Rogers denies any abuse, neglect or torture by her or her husband Jonathan Allen. @FairfieldPolice say 10 of her 11 kids were living in squalor & unsafe conditions. The couple have 8 biological children together. 5,6p @KTVU pic.twitter.com/qQMwiWDar0— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) May 14, 2018
On May 11, detectives with the Fairfield Police Department arrested Jonathan Allen, a 29-year-old Fairfield resident. He was booked into the Solano County Jail for nine counts of felony torture and six counts of felony child abuse. Eight of the ten children are Rogers’ and Allen’s biological children. Rogers has 3 older children from a previous relationship. Her oldest child, who is 14, does not live in the home and was not taken by Child Welfare Services.
“This is absolutely appalling to me. I strive and I pride myself on being a good parent to my children, My husband has a lot of tattoos. He looks like a scary individual and that’s why people are so quick to judge him. My husband is an amazing person and I am an amazing mother. I am not going to allow this to break us and I am not going to stop fighting,” Rogers said.
Allen is due back in court May 24th.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the Fairfield Police Department.
Child Abuse reports up, morale poor among
Iowa social workers, consultant reports
Child abuse investigations in Iowa have increased 43 percent since last year, but the state’s response to those reports needs work, according to a wide-ranging review released Friday.
About 8.2 children of every 1,000 in Iowa are in foster care, higher than the national rate of 5.5 per 1,000, the report by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group shows.
“One long-time external partner observed that the emphasis on working with families and on reunification seems to have been lost.”
The consultant’s review of child welfare practices in Iowa criticized both the Department of Human Services for high turnover and poor morale among caseworkers and state policies and spending priorities.
It was initiated amid investigations into several reported child abuse cases that were not caught in time, including the deaths of Natalie Finn of West Des Moines in October 2016 and Sabrina Ray of Perry last May.
Ray’s adoptive parents and other family members face multiple felonies next year following her starvation and physical abuse.
Finn’s mother was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping this month. Her ex-husband, Joseph Finn II, goes to trial next month.
The reviewers made numerous short- and longer-term recommendations that likely will be discussed next month at the Iowa Legislature.
The consultants found morale is poor among state social workers.
And while Iowa’s Department of Human Services enjoys a largely stable workforce, turnover and caseloads are high in Polk and Linn counties.
Staff complain that training is insufficient and the state for too long has expected them to do more with less.
The report recommended, among other things, that Human Services:
Provide more accurate caseloads of child welfare workers in each Iowa county and more competency-based training;
Provide better services and communication with children and families; and
Eliminate barriers to its central abuse intake system.
“The department will look closely at the recommendations to see what we can move on within the agency, and what may require legislation or additional action,” spokesman Matt Highland said.
Mandatory reporters of child abuse in Iowa voiced frustration with the state agency charged with investigating abuse because they weren’t able to find out what happened after they provided information, the report found.
“Physicians, educators and providers of community-based prevention services… expressed frustration with their inability to communicate with DHS, particularly following their having made a report,” the report said.
Educators complained that parents often disengaged because they were able to figure out where abuse reports originated, and then those same reports resulted in no intervention by social workers.
“Several also cited situations in which this has resulted in parents’ retaliation against children as information made available to the parents made it clear that children disclosed alleged maltreatment,” the report states. “In these cases, children may cut off communication with teachers, counselors or mentors with whom they had previously trusted.”
But in some places, the report was as much a critique of state leaders’ policy and spending priorities as Iowa’s child welfare practices.
“Child welfare intervention should not be viewed as a substitute for universally available basic health, mental health and supportive community services that can help families, especially those in poverty, to voluntarily access resources needed by themselves and their children that may keep their needs from escalating to the point that they result in a report of abuse or neglect,” the report said.
The state’s child welfare system is not doing enough to engage children’s parents in assessing needs related to child safety and evaluating progress, according to interviews with youth, parents, grandparents, foster parents and DHS case managers.
“One long-time external partner observed that the emphasis on working with families and on reunification seems to have been lost.”
Another issue: Agencies that contract with Human Services are receiving $500 per family for each referral, regardless of whether the family uses the voluntary services.
The consultants voiced concern about child welfare being housed within the Department of Human Services, the state’s largest agency which juggles sizable responsibilities.
They also said its staff is tasked with administering so many programs in search of efficiency, their understanding of child welfare initiatives and policies is hindered.
“Assessing the often multiple and complex needs of families and children who present to child welfare systems requires substantial clinical knowledge and skill in gathering and interpreting information,” the report said.
Child Abuse reports soar across Minnesota, straining child protection system
State reports 25 percent rise, marking 2nd straight year of sharp increases.
A dramatic surge in child maltreatment reports is putting new strains on Minnesota’s child protection system, as local agencies struggle with soaring caseloads and stagnant funding, according to state and county officials.
Maltreatment reports to county and tribal governments rose 25 percent last year, with 39,531 children suspected of being abused and neglected, according to state data released Tuesday. This marks the second straight year of sharp increases since outrage over the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean at the hands of his abusive stepmother sparked far-reaching reforms of the child protection system.
State and county officials attribute the surge to greater publicity surrounding child abuse among mandated reporters — people who are required under state law to report maltreatment — as well as an increase in neglect fueled by the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
All told, 26 Minnesota children died from maltreatment last year, the highest level in five years. Seven of the children were known to child protection workers before their deaths, state officials said.
“This reflects that we have a lot of families across this state that are under stress,” said James Koppel, assistant commissioner for children and family services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “We have to deal with this problem head-on.”
But across much of the state, local funding for child protection has not kept pace with the rise in abuse and neglect reports, resulting in virtually unmanageable caseloads for many social workers. In some Minnesota counties, the average caseload has reached nearly 30 cases per child-protection worker — three times the standard set by Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2015 task force on child protection.
One consequence, say county administrators, is higher turnover of child protection workers, who are feeling emotionally drained.
“We have never experienced anything quite like this,” said Paul Fleissner, director of community services at Olmsted County, which includes Rochester. “The intensity and scrutiny involved with this work can be overwhelming … and we haven’t seen this level of [staff] turnover in a very long time.”
The combination of rising child deaths and climbing caseloads has prompted state and county agencies to put a greater emphasis on abuse prevention. The Department of Human Services is pushing a package of initiatives in the 2017 Legislature aimed at improving stability for children from troubled homes. It includes increased state benefits for children under age 6 who are adopted out of foster care, and a proposal to expand the state’s capacity to monitor local child protection agencies.
Together the proposals would cost about $20 million in the coming biennium, but are not included in the spending bills making their way through the Republican-controlled Legislature. “The system we have is not preventing. It’s responding,” Koppel said. “We absolutely have to put more of an emphasis on prevention.”
In Hennepin County, where reports of child abuse and neglect have nearly doubled since 2009, administrators are not waiting for state help. Last year, the county embarked on an ambitious $13 million overhaul of the county child protection system. As part of the effort, the county is hiring 108 child protection staff and investing millions of dollars in mental health and child care assistance programs aimed at preventing abuse.
Even with these investments, the county is struggling with high staff turnover and excessive caseloads for child-protection workers, said deputy Hennepin County administrator Jennifer DeCubellis, who oversees child protection. “Incrementally, the system is in crisis,” she said. “But we can’t regulate our way out of this. We need to shrink the size of child protection by investing in children and communities.”