Tag Archives: Children

ACCORDING TO WHO’S DATA????

.jpg photo of Quote by Martin Luther King Jr
Dr Martin Luther King Jr

New Federal Data Shows Nearly 3 Percent Rise in Child Abuse

The number of U.S. children victimized by abuse and neglect increased by nearly 3 percent in the latest annual reporting period, according to new federal data.

According to the report released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services, the estimated number of victimized children in the 2014 fiscal year was 702,208 — up from 682,307 in 2013.

The report estimated fatalities attributable to child abuse and neglect at 1,580 — up from 1,530 in 2013.

HHS said Rafael Lopez, commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, had sought input from child welfare officials in states with the increases in reported abuse and neglect.

According to Lopez, the officials cited substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence as factors contributing to the increased maltreatment.

Wisconsin 4-Month-Old Treated

.jpg photo of man charged with Child Abuse
Lavel Pollard

4-Month-Old Treated for Injuries Consistent of Child Abuse at Children’s Hospital

Shorewood, Wisconsin  –  A Shorewood man was charged with child abuse and neglect after a four-month old infant was taken to Children’s Hospital regarding possible child abuse.

The child, who resided in the 4000 block of North Morris Blvd., sustained injuries consistent with an intentional act.

Lavel Pollard is currently in custody facing charges of one count of child abuse and one count of child neglect.

In 2003, Pollard was charged and found guilty of one count of child abuse. 

Federal Judge Finds Texas Has Broken System

.jpg photo of Child Protective Services graphic
CPS is a “broken” system.

Federal judge finds Texas has “broken” foster care system, says she’ll order changes

AUSTIN, TX  –  Long-term foster care in Texas is “broken” and routinely does grave harm to children already dealt a tough hand, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi said the state violated the Constitution by keeping about 12,000 youngsters for years in an underfunded and poorly run system “where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm.”

Defendants John Specia and his staff at the state Department of Family and Protective Services have “the best intentions, she wrote. ” But the system, despite 20 years of reports and attempted fixes, keeps harming the children it’s supposed to help”, the stinging opinion reads.

Jack, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton, ruled in favor of nine children who sued the state in 2011 on behalf of all Texas children in long-term foster care.

Their lawyers, who included members of the Dallas-based Haynes and Boone firm, said Texas’ foster care system forces thousands of youngsters to live in poorly supervised institutions.  The department frequently moves the children from one place to another and often splits up siblings, plaintiffs said.

Jack agreed, saying Texas routinely violates the children’s 14th Amendment rights to be free from harm while in state custody.

Julie Moody, a spokeswoman for the protective-services department, said it’s disappointed with Jack’s ruling.  The state has insisted that plaintiffs’ lawyers have ignored recent improvements that followed the Legislature’s sweeping changes to Child Protective Services in 2005, along with an overhaul of foster care two years later.  They also repeatedly boosted the agency’s budget — Texas current spends $1.4 billion a year on Child Protective Services.

“Texas performs comparably with other states in this area, and has steadily improved,” she said.

While Texas fiercely contested the suit, officials didn’t immediately say whether they would appeal Jack’s ruling.

The case centers on children removed from their birth homes by Child Protective Services who then linger for at least a year, sometimes 18 months, in foster care.  Because CPS and its contractors have been unable to reunite them with their birth families or find a lasting home with relatives or an adoptive parent, the youngsters are in limbo.

Even though judges work to try to avoid it, many children then enter CPS’ “permanent managing conservatorship.”  At that point, the state often drops the ball because the law does not require that the children have their own lawyer and another adult advocating for them, plaintiffs argued – and Jack agreed.

She found that CPS has too few conservatorship caseworkers, so their huge caseloads cause them to fail to pay enough attention to their charges.

“Texas’ foster care system is broken, and it has been that way for decades,” Jack wrote.  “It is broken for all stakeholders, including DFPS employees who are tasked with impossible workloads.  Most importantly, though, it is broken for Texas’ [permanent managing conservatorship] children, who almost uniformly leave state custody more damaged than when they entered.”

Jack said that within 30 days, she would appoint a special master to develop a sweeping plan for improvements.

The cost to the state is uncertain but likely to be in the millions.  CPS has authority to employ more than 9,200 people, though turnover is a chronic problem, as the judge noted.

Jack said she’ll ask the special master to recommend how many more CPS workers should be hired and how many more child-care licensing inspectors should be added.

She’s requiring each child in long-term care to have an attorney ad litem as well as a court-appointed special advocate.

The judge also said the special master will study “child-on-child abuse” at group homes and treatment centers.  The master will push for the state to move children who do not have severe physical or behavioral impairments into the least restrictive settings possible.

CPS also would have to improve case files it keeps on the children – including annual photos, to help in identifying runaways.  The state also will have to stop placing certain foster children in unsafe placements like “foster group homes that lack 24-hour awake-night supervision,” Jack said.

Marcia Robinson Lowry, the founder of New York-based Children’s Rights, which led the effort and has filed similar suits in more than a dozen states, called Jacks’ decision “stunning” and painstakingly researched.

“Texas certainly has one of the worse foster care systems in the country,” Lowry said.

Radiothon To End Child Abuse

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
Radiothon To End Child Abuse

Family Fun Pizza Night brings in $2,389

Walker, MN  –  The Family Safety Network and the Village Square once again partnered with each other last Thursday night to host the Family Fun Pizza Night.

The event is part of the 27th Annual Radiothon to End Child Abuse, an event of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting that raises money and awareness of child abuse and local resources available to the community.  The funds go to help end child abuse and neglect in Minnesota and for local counties of Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater and Hubbard.  These include the Leech Lake Reservation Children’s Initiative and the Family Safety Network.

The Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Student Council also held a Change for Child Abuse fundraiser leading up to the Radiothon.  The seventh- through 12th-grade classes donated $764.39, with the senior class winning the class competition with $440.

“We thought this would be a great cause and to get the students to realize what change they can make by giving a few cents,” said Maizee Freeman of the WHA Student Council.  “I was blown away by how successful it was.  We didn’t know how it was going to go over, but we were going to try.”

Shelby Short, another student council member, said they started collecting the change back in November, and will do this again next year.

Both Freeman and Short attended the Family Pizza Night so they could pass along the money raised by the senior high classes.

There are about 40 students part of student council with teacher Paul Schroeder serving as the advisor.

Hayford Racing of Walker, a cross-country snowmobile racing team, is purchasing all the pizzas for the senior class, which were brought up to the school Monday for lunch.

The Pizza Night brought in $1,624.61 for a total of $2,389.39.  A total of $37,000 was raised during this year’s Radiothon to fight child abuse.

The Walker event featured celebrity waiters from the Cass County Sheriff Office, including Sheriff Tom Burch and some deputies, and the administration of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School.

Village Square owners Gary and Theresa Bilben donated a $1 for every pizza ordered that evening along with all tips the celebrity wait staff collected.

All proceeds from Pizza Night and WHA School fundraiser directly benefit communities, as the funds stay local and help support the Family Safety Network programming and services.

Pledges were also collected throughout the 24-hour period, and a live, on-air auction was held.

Since the Radiothon started 1989, nearly $1,050,000 has been raised since the Radiothon began.

Child Deaths Unsolved As Autopsies Fall Behind Pt-2 of 2

.jpg photo of Child killed while under state supervision
Jeremiah Oliver. vanished while under social services supervision

Frustrating state delays

The slow pace of the medical examiner’s office can be frustrating to families and law enforcement officials alike, potentially stalling the criminal justice process indefinitely.

Even in the notorious case of Fitchburg preschooler Jeremiah Oliver — who vanished while under state social service supervision — no cause of death has yet been announced almost two years after his body was found.  Jeremiah’s mother and boyfriend, already charged with assault, kidnapping, and child endangerment, could face murder charges if the medical examiner rules the case a homicide.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.

The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”  In some cases, even a finding of homicide does not prompt action.  The medical examiner ruled that one-year-old Keanu Ramos of Pittsfield died of “blunt trauma” in February 2010 and the Berkshire County district attorney’s office confirmed the investigation is still open almost six years later.

But Keanu’s family said they were never even informed that the child allegedly was a victim of homicide.  “You have shocked me,” said his great-grandmother, Sandra Mills, when a New England Center reporter informed her earlier this year.

She later told her family what she learned and reported back, that they believe his death was natural: “None of us believe it,” she said about the state report.

There’s some indication that state social workers did not know about the medical examiner’s ruling either: DCF didn’t include Ramos on its list of abuse victims.  DCF officials declined to talk about the case, but have said generally that medical examiners have not always alerted the agency when a child’s death was linked to abuse and neglect as required by law.

Felix Browne, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety, said medical examiners are supposed to notify district attorneys and DCF when a death is ruled a homicide.  He would not comment on the Ramos case.

Family members also are waiting for answers in the case of 2-year-old Dean McCullough of Lowell, whose 2010 death was ruled a homicide seven months after his passing, caused by “blunt force trauma of head with injuries to brain,” according to his death certificate.

No charges in five years

McCullough had an open DCF case at the time of his death and the state child protection agency later determined that his death was linked to abuse and neglect, records show.

But five years later, no one has been charged in Dean’s death.  Jennifer Fontes, McCullough’s great aunt, said she is angry and disgusted.  “He is literally just forgotten,” she said.

Medeiros feels her grandson was failed in life and in death.

Medeiros said she called DCF multiple times to warn that Jay was at risk after she quarreled with her daughter, Hailey Corrente, and Corrente moved out of her North Attleborough home in September 2012. Corrente, now 28, was showing she couldn’t be a responsible parent, Medeiros said.

Two months later, in November 2012, police were called to Richmond Avenue, after a 911 call that a baby wasn’t breathing, police records show.  Corrente met them at the front door and sent them upstairs, where her boyfriend Santiago was giving Jay cardiopulmonary resuscitation, police reported.

Medeiros said she repeatedly called police to investigate and the medical examiner for a death ruling.  She said Corrente and Santiago left town not long after the child’s death.

Worcester police declined to comment, except to say an investigation into Jay’s death is “active.”  Redacted records show officials did obtain several search warrants, which Medeiros said focused on Richardson Avenue.

The young couple may have wanted to move on, but their past followed them as they settled into a second-floor apartment with their new baby on a residential street in Lakewood, Ohio.

In June 2014, the couple was contacted by Cuyahoga County social workers who heard about Jay’s death from the Massachusetts child welfare agency, said county spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.  The Ohio case was closed in October 2014 after workers visited the family home and determined there was no evidence the baby was unsafe, Madigan said.

In December 2014, Lakewood police knocked on their door after Corrente’s aunt called to say that her niece told her that Santiago was “beating her up.”  When police came to the home, Santiago, dressed in a T-shirt and boxers, refused to let officers in for several hours.

Corrente eventually came downstairs and told police she was OK, inviting them upstairs to check on her infant son.  Santiago was later convicted of obstructing official business, police records show, and ordered to pay a $150 fine.

Last spring, a New England Center reporter knocked on the door of the couple’s closed apartment and left a letter requesting comment when nobody answered.  Corrente came downstairs a few minutes later to read the note after the reporter drove away.  Santiago, later reached by phone, declined to comment.

Medeiros, meanwhile, speaks to anybody she can about her grandson.  Her home is filled with Jay’s pictures, her closet stuffed with his toys and clothes, his death certificate clipped to her refrigerator.

She said the district attorney’s office provides no information.  A local police officer has told her privately that without more information, the investigation is stalled.  She worries incessantly about Jay’s little brother, now nearly 2 years old.

“I want justice for Jay,” said Medeiros.  “I have to speak for my grandson Jay because nobody else will.”