Tag Archives: CPS Mismanagement

Almost Twice National Average In IA Foster Care

.jpg photo of Child Abuse graphic
“One long-time external partner observed that the emphasis on working with families and on reunification seems to have been lost.”

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.

VA CPS Ignored Shredded Child Abuse Reports

.jpg photo of Virginia CPS Officials
Bill Burleson, Interium Director in Rockbridge and Piedmont Regional Director Susan Reese

51 formally ignored cases of Child Abuse
reopened in Rockbridge by state

ROCKBRIDGE CO., VA  –  An investigation into the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services has led to more than 50 cases of potential child abuse being re-opened.

This comes after an internal review into the organization revealed reported cases of child abuse were shredded or never investigated.

This week, five members of the state team are investigating those cases thanks to the help of current employees who kept copy of records that their supervisor destroyed.

Almost a third of those have now been validated by the state team, meaning they have been investigated further.

That’s 51 cases of potential child abuse that have been reopened.

Piedmont Regional Director Susan Reese is first pointed out issues during an internal review.

Report: Rockbridge Co. Social Services ignored, shredded child abuse reports
Read the 38 page PDF report

She said the work of current employees who kept copies of those cases is key, and was a “bold, brave” move she applauds.

“It helped a great deal.  They knew.  I guess they just had a feeling that something was not right and they kept those and that was a great help to us in this,” Reese said.

In all they’ve reviewed about 180 cases.

“Between the ones that were shredded and the ones that were pulled from the system, we checked everything,” Reese said.

Now she and another member of the state team are personally investigating each one.

“It makes me feel much better to be able to assess the safety of these children and know that the children involved are safe,” Reese said.

His first week on the job, Bill Burleson will now be the interim director in Rockbridge.

“I’m not here as a hatchet guy, I’m here as a fix it guy,” Burleson said.

He is on a three-month contract and has been temporarily hired after retiring from a lifelong career in the field.  He’s working to reorganize the office.

“My job is to take the agency from right now and to get some people in here, get some training in here, do a little reorganizing and establish some lines of communication,” Burleson said.

He’s meeting with county leaders including the sheriff who he says will help in the hiring process of a new county director.

“First thing I did was give them my home phone number, my cell phone.  I’m here part-time… but I’m always on the other end of the telephone,” Burleson said.

He says he is committed to getting the office on the right track before a permanent replacement is hired.

He says on Monday, a newly hired employee will start at the office to ensure that every case is entered in to the system.

Alabama CPS Out Of Control

.jpg photo of graphic Alabama CPS wrong-doing
Alabama CPS Out-Of-Control

Pattern of Child Kidnappings by Alabama CPS (DHR) Exposed

#SaveBraelonsFamily  #ReturnBabyBraelon
#Taken  #Cash4Kids
#MedicalKidnapping  #DHRStealsBabies

http://medicalkidnap.com/2016/06/26/pattern-of-child-kidnappings-by-alabama-dhr-exposed-another-new-born-infant-seized-at-hospital/

How long will this out-of-control, corrupt organization be allowed to continue their Dereliction of Duty and Mismanagement and Theft of Billion$$$$ of Tax Payer Dollars Annually.

Alabama CPS (DHS) has NOT met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government in 2001 even one (1) time. Those standards include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse.

Abuse and Neglect cases, ESPECIALLY THOSE RESULTING IN DEATH, are often not disclosed as required by law.

LIGHT UP THE PHONES!!!!

Governor Bentley – (334)242-7100
DHR:  Kim Mashego, Director – (205)669-3000
DHR:  Nancy Buckner Commissioner – (334)242-7100
Congressman Gary Palmer – (202)225-4921
State Rep Matt Fridy – (205)665-1795
Senator Richard Shelby – (202)224-5744
Senator Jeff Sessions – (202)224-4124
Alabama Attorney General – (334)242-7300

** When on the phone refer to the medicalkidnap.com articles and identify the Family as Baby Brandon’s Family in Alabama

CPS Ignored Pleas For Help

.jpg photo of Children that died due to CPS inactivity.
CPS ignored pleas for help

Teacher says Bureau of Child Welfare ignored pleas for help

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin  –  A FOX6 Investigation has found that kids with disabilities are dying in Wisconsin from abuse and neglect, despite repeated calls to child protective services.

It’s a frustration shared by many who work to keep kids safe, including mandated reporters like teachers.

“I feel like I failed so much because I don’t view my job as a teacher — I view my job as also protecting them because they are disabled,” says April Eckdahl, a special education teacher in Milwaukee.

Eckdahl says she’s watched the child welfare system in Milwaukee County fail kids in her classroom.

“They need an advocate and I just feel really powerless even though I have done everything I can do.  It makes me really, really worried about all those kids,” Eckdahl said.

A FOX6 review of state records shows 15 disabled kids have died in Wisconsin in the last five years, even though there were repeated reports of abuse and neglect to county welfare agencies.  Nine other disabled kids were seriously injured, despite repeated calls to child welfare agencies.

Our research got the attention of Disability Rights Wisconsin.

“Until something bad happened, nothing was done,” says Lisa Pugh, public policy director for Disability Rights Wisconsin.

A boy with autism drowned while his mom got high.  A toddler with cerebral palsy overdosed on morphine.  A blind, paralyzed six-year-old was left in a scalding hot bath.  A little girl starved, locked in the basement.

These families had previously been reported to CPS — sometimes dozens of times.  When FOX6 took a closer look we noticed most of them had one thing in common.  The victims, children with disabilities, couldn’t talk or had a hard time communicating.  When that happened, investigations would stall, or be shut down altogether.

“If they can’t have the kid, the student tell them — literally say out loud what is going on, they just close it,” Eckdahl says.

Eckdahl says she spent an entire school year trying to get the Milwaukee County Bureau of Child Welfare to help one of her students with autism.  kids Before she became a teacher, she was a social worker.

“She is being sexually abused and nobody is helping her,” Eckdahl said.

In the classroom, her eight-year-old student used Barbie dolls to tell her teacher what was happening at home.

“She turned Barbie over and put Ken on top of Barbie,” Eckdahl says.

Then the student said, “and then boyfriend lays down next to me and says, ‘I’m sorry.'”

Eckdahl says it was the worst thing she’s ever heard.

“It’s classic manipulation.  Like, ‘I’m sorry.  I’m going to do it again later, but I’m sorry right now,'” she says.

Eckdahl says she reported suspected sexual abuse and neglect at least 15 times.  When caseworkers would come out to the school, though, nothing would happen.

“It took me a long time to build that relationship with her.  They are not going to tell some random person that they just met.  They need to build a rapport with someone,” Eckdahl said.

She says children with autism will often have a lot of anxiety.  They will repeat themselves and change the subject to avoid talking about traumatic or uncomfortable topics.  That’s why, Eckdahl says, specialists should be brought in to interview these kids after allegations are reported.

After reviewing FOX6’s research, Disability Rights Wisconsin officials saw a pattern.

“It appears that clearly there’s no one in the room or required to be part of that investigative process that would have any level of expertise in communicating with a child with a disability that has difficulty communicating,” Pugh said.

It’s an issue that’s now getting the attention of lawmakers in Madison.

“There’s been a number of situations in which we’ve had children die in this stateWe’ve had a number of situations in which children continue to be abused.  So we have to make some changes,” says Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney.

One of those proposed changes comes with the Justice for Children package.

“The need for this legislation is now,” Ozanne says.

The Justice for Children package is a series of bills, supported by Attorney General Brad Schimel, aimed at making Wisconsin kids safer.

“Many cases involving children with special needs indicate repeated calls to child protective services and in one fatal case there were more than 20 calls,” Pugh testified.

While the legislation doesn’t specifically focus on kids with disabilities, if passed, it would require Child Protective Services to get police involved every time abuse or neglect is reported.

“We are asking human services to actually share information with law enforcement and the prosecution,” Ozanne says.

Remember the girl with autism in Brookfield, forced to live in her basement?  Her family was reported to county child welfare agencies 40 times in eight years.  It wasn’t until a concerned citizen called police directly that she was removed from her home.

In Dane County, another teenage girl with disabilities was helpless and suffering.

“We found that child had been in the basement for six years.

That child had been malnourished to the point of having her physical growth permanently stunted,” Ozanne said.

Her family was reported to the Dane County Department of Health and Human Services eight times, but nothing was done until police got involved after the girl was found wandering the streets.

“That is a problem,” Ozanne says.

Eckdahl agrees.  She says when she walked her student to her bus at the end of the school day she felt helpless.

“I feel like I am sending her right back to be abused,” Eckdahl said.

Eckdahl made a trip to Madison to advocate for her former student, whom, she says, is still not safe.

“This was a little girl with autism,” she told lawmakers.  “And she was trying to do the best she can to articulate to us, the people that she trusts, what’s going on with her.”

She told lawmakers what she’s been trying to tell the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare for a year.

“I don’t think I should have to be worried when I put her on the bus.  I don’t think I should have to be calling 15 times and then still have a case shut.  Their jobs were made to help and protect kids,” Eckdahl said.

Disability Rights Wisconsin has initiated an investigation to see if the Milwaukee Bureau of Child Welfare followed proper protocol when investigating the teacher’s reports.

The organization also hopes to craft new legislation, to be introduced next year, that would specifically address the investigative process used in Wisconsin when victims of abuse and neglect are children with disabilities.

Federal Judge Finds Texas Has Broken System

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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.