Morgan County, Colorado – Caregivers, law enforcement officers and others in Morgan County are still adjusting to Colorado’s new method for reporting child abuse.
This month is the one-year anniversary of the statewide child abuse and neglect hotline, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS. The hotline was created by the Colorado Department of Human Services in an effort to give “mandatory reporters”—those who are required by law to report suspected child abuse—and others a single phone number to call whenever they’re concerned about a child, no matter where they are.
In 2015 the hotline received more than 26,000 calls statewide, but many people are still using the old, county-specific numbers, and Morgan County is no different.
Before 2015, people who suspected a case of child abuse would typically call the police or the Morgan County DHS directly. The new hotline automatically links callers to the appropriate call-taker for their county. In Morgan County, that’s usually someone in the DHS, who then notifies the police if necessary.
“There are goods and bads to it,” Fort Morgan police chief Darin Sagel said.
The hotline slightly delays police officers’ response time in emergencies, he said. Sagel also worries that some severe cases aren’t being reported to the police, since individuals who call the hotline are “not always equipped to tell how extensive the abuse is.”
But Jacque Frenier, director of the Morgan County DHS, said the hotline can save callers time by directing them to the right local organization immediately. It’s also helpful for those who don’t know which county the child lives in, or don’t speak English, she said.
“Initially, there were some hiccups,” she said. “But they’ve got most of them fixed now… the county’s mandatory reporters were used to calling us directly, but they’re getting used to it.”
The DHS has a few screeners whose job is to take calls about child abuse and determine the cases’ severity. In about three cases out of four, they then pass it along to the police. The only exceptions are cases which they determine require more assessment.
Many mandatory reporters, like teachers and medical workers, still call DHS or the police directly because those are the numbers they’re familiar with. Altogether, Frenier estimated her organization gets about 50 calls a month reporting child abuse or neglect.
Above all, she said it’s important to gather as many details about the situation as possible before calling the hotline. The more information DHS workers and law enforcement have, the faster they can respond.
“Many of us want to do the right thing, but some are unsure about first steps,” Robert Werthwein of the Colorado Department of Human Services said in a press release about the hotline. “This hotline can, and in many instances, should be step one.”
Suspects arrested in Child Abuse case that “shocks the soul”
MESA, AZ – Two people have been arrested in connection to a severe child abuse case that police say “shocks the soul.”
The Mesa Police Department says a 3-year-old girl was found in a trash bag, covered in feces, duct-taped and hidden in a closet. The girl’s mother, Mayra Solis and her friend, Fransisco Javier Rios-Covarrubias, have been arrested.
According to police, Solis would leave the girl with Covarrubias at his home while she was at work, and he would put the girl in a closet for hours, and possibly days at a time. The child was found by police after a man, who Covarrubias met online, went to the suspect’s home and was offered the girl for sexual activities.
“@mesapd says mother of 3yo found bound in closet had shaved head of daughter to pander for money, claiming she had cancer. Mom is homeless.” — Liz Kotalik (@LizKotalik) January 19, 2016
Police also say the girl’s head was shaved because Solis pandered her for money and claimed she had cancer.
Covarrubias has been charged with sex trafficking, kidnapping, sexual conduct with a minor and child abuse. Solis is facing child abuse charges.
CORRUPT CPS STILL TRYING TO KEEP LAW ENFORCEMENT OUT OF THE LOOP
Madison, Wisconsin – The State Senate on Tuesday passed two bills backed by Attorney General Brad Schimel aimed at protecting child abuse victims.
One of the bills grants an advocate to victims of sexual assault, human trafficking or child abuse and another creates a new felony crime for engaging in repeated acts of child abuse. Under current law, different acts of child abuse must be prosecuted separately.
The bills were introduced in October as part of a package that included two other bills that have drawn broader opposition, including a resolution opposing them by the Dane County Board.
Those bills, which broaden the definition of child neglect and expand reporting requirements to law enforcement for child abuse and neglect, passed committee on party lines, but have not been scheduled for a full Senate vote. Opponents worry they will disproportionately affect low-income minorities and widen disparities in the criminal justice system.
Jason Mugnaini, an aide to Sen. Rob Cowles, who authored the bills, said the senator remains hopeful the other two will pass this session.
Legislation on child abuse reporting draws concerns from Dane County social workers
NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! believes every call of Child Maltreatment should be reported to Law Enforcement first, and all investigations be made by Law Enforcement only.
Only with Law Enforcement involved in every case will we begin to see an end of the corruption within CPS.
Wisconsin legislation that would change how child abuse and neglect cases are handled is drawing sharp disagreement between Dane County prosecutors, law enforcement officials and social services providers about what is best for children.
Introduced by Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, in October, and garnering bipartisan support since, the package of bills would clarify the definition of child neglect, designate a specific crime of repeated acts of neglect or physical abuse of the same child and require social services agencies to report all allegations of child abuse or neglect to law enforcement, among other components.
Legislators, prosecutors and law enforcement officials pushing for the changes say they do not currently have enough tools to charge adults for certain situations of child neglect or abuse, including cases where children are exposed to the dealing or manufacturing of illegal narcotics.
Social services providers conversely argue the changes — particularly requirements involving reports to law enforcement — could have a chilling effect on cases reported, lead to increased trauma for families and create an unfunded burden on law enforcement.
“We have a wonderful system in Dane County by which we protect kids, but we try to keep the situation from re-traumatizing kids and families,” said Dane County Human Services director Lynn Green, who was a social worker in Child Protective Services early in her career. “A lot of what we try to do is reach out, help people make the parenting changes they need to make, educate them while we keep the kids safe.”
Currently, there is a memorandum of understanding in place between Dane County Human Services and county law enforcement agencies that lays out which cases will be reported to law enforcement. In addition to cases of sexual abuse, which providers are required to report under state law, the agreement includes reporting cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse and threat of harm.
Right now, Green said, about 40 percent of cases the department receives get referred to law enforcement and they work together on the case.
“If there is a feeling that some of the cases that should go aren’t going, we can amend that,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “But to send all cases to law enforcement I’m concerned will have an unintended consequence.”
Some reporters call the county when they feel there’s a family in need. They are not mandated to report and can remain anonymous. If law enforcement gets involved, Green said, their name will have to go on a police report. She said callers may also hesitate to report concerns if they know a law enforcement official will knock on the door.
“We’re concerned it’s actually going to stem the number of calls we get and our possibility of intervening with families and being able to serve them,” Green said.
Green said they are also concerned about the trauma inflicted when law enforcement gets involved with families — especially of color and in high-risk neighborhoods.
In Dane County, a black parent is at least seven times more likely to be referred to Child Protective Services than a white parent, raising concerns about the legislation disproportionately affecting communities of color.
“Many of the parents that come into the Child Protective Services system have themselves been impacted by trauma in their own childhoods, and that trauma has affected their functioning, their brain development, to the point where when they’re confronted with authority or people trying to impose rules on them, they can come across as sounding very oppositional,” said Dane County Child Protective Services manager Julie Ahnen. “The idea that we’re going to change their behavior by increasing their involvement in the criminal justice system is just backward.”
The Dane County Board Executive Committee passed a resolution on a voice vote Thursday evening opposing the state legislation with those concerns in mind, as well as the concern that it will create additional case burden on law enforcement agencies without funding it.
Unlike this legislation, a series of child protection reforms in Minnesota recently signed into law also allocated $52 million to hire more workers and expand services for abused children.
“I recognize that some of these changes might be difficult to implement, but I don’t want to see cases of child neglect continue to go to unreported or unaddressed in our community,” said Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, who introduced similar legislation last session and is a sponsor of this package.
Shilling said she doesn’t want there to be an unintended consequence or chilling effect but wants prosecutors to be able to address issues like child exposure to the dealing or manufacturing of illegal narcotics.
“So how do we make sure the process and definitions are something that, again, help prosecutors have the tools they need to properly charge adults with the situation that innocent children are placed in,” Shilling said.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has testified at hearings in support of the legislation. He did not respond to a request for comment. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney declined a request for comment. The Madison Police Department emailed a statement calling the actions of the bill’s sponsors “laudable” in working to protect children but also acknowledging the concerns of social workers.
The Association of State Prosecutors, the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association all have registered in support of the bill on required reporting.
Dane County, the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies all oppose it.
Multiple Dane County legislators who initially signed on as cosponsors for the legislation have since withdrawn their support for the bill requiring reporting to law enforcement, including Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, and Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison.
A federal commission to prevent children’s deaths from abuse and neglect held its first meeting on Monday. Figuring out the extent of the problem is just one challenge facing the new commission.
(CT – Commission talking) About 1700 children die in the U.S. each year as the result of abuse and neglect. At least that’s the official count.
Many experts think the real number is much higher.
“DEATHS AT THE HANDS OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS”????
(CT) The stories are usually too horrific for people to think about; children beaten, stabbed, abused to death often at the hands of family or friends. And often in families that have already raised red flags with authorities.
HEAD OF “EVERY CHILD MATTERS” GIVES SUGGESTION
Michael Petit, who heads an advocacy group called Every Child Matters, says one problem is that the cause of death is often in dispute.
And I think knowing what those three or 4,000 deaths are is going to be important to us, in terms of what’s the cause of death, who is that’s doing the crime, and so forth, right?
FORMER CHILD WELFARE OFFICIAL CHAIRS THE COMMISSION????
(CT) But panel members say there is a lot that is known about such deaths, such as their prevalence in households with a history of domestic violence or drug abuse.
(CT) Others have been down this road before and we’ve still got child deaths. I think we’re idealistic to think that we’re going to stop all child deaths.
(CT) The panel could make some progress reducing them. It has two years to complete its work. ∗∗∗∗(3 months left)
Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren’t Being Enforced, Report Finds January 27, 2015
The numbers are grim. Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.
FEDERAL OFFICIALS SAY NUMBERS ARE LOWER????
Federal officials say they’re encouraged that the numbers are lower than they were in 2012. But children’s advocates say abuse is so often not reported that it’s impossible to know if there’s really been a decline.
DATA IS FLAWED
“This is just something that’s chronically underreported,” says Elisa Weichel, a staff attorney with the Children’s Advocacy Institute, which published the report Tuesday.
She says abuse and neglect cases — especially those resulting in death — are often not disclosed as required by law. That lack of information has led to other problems in the system.
“It all boils down to having the right amount of data about what’s working and what’s not,” Weichel says. “And when your data is flawed, every other part of your system is going to be flawed.”
NOT ONE STATE MEETS MINIMUM CHILD WELFARE STANDARDS
Her group has found plenty of flaws. The institute conducted a three-year study and found that not one state has met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government.
LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE
“Whether or not individual states can meet a reporting standard to us is not where the emphasis ought to be,” says Ron Smith, director of legislative affairs for the American Public Human Services Association, which represents child welfare administrators.
“It needs to be on making sure that the kids who need assistance are getting assistance, and the families that need assistance are getting the assistance,” he says.
Smith says state and local officials complain that they spend too much time filling out federal forms and trying to meet requirements that aren’t necessarily best for kids.
Instead, he says, they want flexibility on how to spend federal funds so they can focus more on keeping families together.
∗Just in case someone wants to look at this report or download it:
CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report: SHAME on U.S. Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm January 27, 2015