Florida Child Protection News for March 2017

This news has been gathered by KARA volunteer Dr. Denise R. Womer, Ph.D., a former law enforcement officer for 17 years and former DCF Investigator for the State of Florida. Dr. Womer has taught in higher education for 14 years and currently is a Professor for Kaplan University teaching in the School of Social and Behavior Sciences.

March 1, 2017

Three charged with abusing autistic child at recreation center

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —

Three adults were arrested Thursday afternoon after an investigation determined they were involved in the physical and mental abuse of an autistic child

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Florida Child Protection News October 2015

FL: DeWitt: Step up to save Hernando’s visitation center (Opinion)
Tampa Bay Times – October 15, 2015
What this state most certainly does not need is one less safe place for vulnerable children. That, however, is what it will get at the end of this month with the closing of the Family Visitation Center of Hernando County. Actually, the center in Citrus County will also shut down, making two fewer safe places.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/dewitt-step-up-to-save-hernandos-visitation-center/2249849

FL: Special-needs families find wait list up to 10 years long (May require free registration)
Orlando Sentinel – October 17, 2015
Theoretically, the state of Florida helps families like the Creeses. In fact, Avery is on the state’s waiting list to get a Medicaid waiver that would provide help, including at-home care to give Greg some relief, because, in Florida, the average wait time is six years.
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-medicaid-waiver-scott-maxwell-20151017-column.html

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Florida, The Land Of Oranges & Prosecuting 14 Year Olds As Adults (sentenced to 70 years – for robbery)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In decisions widely hailed as milestones, the United States Supreme Court in 2010 and 2012 acted to curtail the use of mandatory life sentences for juveniles, accepting the argument that children, even those who are convicted of murder, are less culpable than adults and usually deserve a chance at redemption.
But most states have taken half measures, at best, to carry out the rulings, which could affect more than 2,000 current inmates and countless more in years to come, according to many youth advocates and legal experts.

“States are going through the motions of compliance,” said Cara H. Drinan, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America, “but in an anemic or hyper-technical way that flouts the spirit of the decisions.”

Lawsuits now before Florida’s highest court are among many across the country that demand more robust changes in juvenile justice. One of the Florida suits accuses the state of skirting the ban on life without parole in nonhomicide cases by meting out sentences so staggering that they amount to the same thing.

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Focus On Texas, California, & Florida Child Welfare

CA: Programs for transitioning San Diego foster youth
San Diego Entertainer Magazine – November 26, 2012
Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) envisions a future in which every youth leaving the foster care system has a community of caring adults waiting for them after 18. We believe consistent, long-term help from the heart is the foundation for the success of our youth so that they can thrive and enjoy productive, satisfying lives.
http://www.sdentertainer.com/lifestyle/just-in-time-for-foster-youth-steve-sexton/

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Following Up On The 7 Year Old Foster Boy That Hung Himself & Left An Anti-Prozac Note

The recent 3 Billion Dollar fine of GlaxoSmithKline for hiding information, bribing doctors, & promoting unapproved (and dangerous) drugs to children, included criminal as well as civil settlements is a snapshot of what’s wrong with mental health services for abused & neglected children. Just a few months ago Abbott Laboratories paid 1.6 billion dollars for off label marketing its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Glaxo was sued in 2004 by New York State over Paxil’s criminal marketing of psychotropics.

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For The Record – Minneapolis Arrests 44% Of Its Black Adult Male Population (2001 was not that long ago)

The central question posed by this report
is, “How can young African American men
and Hennepin County help each other
succeed?” For years, there have been
many mechanisms in place to benefit 18
to 30-year-old African American men; yet
the outcomes for many of these men
continue to be poor. For example:
• Forty-four percent are arrested
each year.
• They are 27 times more likely to go to
jail than young white men.
• Twenty-eight percent of these young
men enrolled in the Minneapolis Public
Schools graduate from high school in
four years.
• They are twice as likely to die
as young white men ages 18 to 30. read the whole report here;

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For The Record (Toni Carter’s Comments on the Death Of Eric Dean + my response)

A central theme in the April 20 article “7 of 10 abuse calls not checked” was that Minnesota counties appear to “screen out” more reported cases of child abuse than other states, and that the percentage of cases that are closed without investigation varies between Minnesota counties. But it’s important to look beyond the data points to the data collection to understand these differences.

Increases in the statewide “screen out” rate from 2000-2010 may reflect changes in data recording practices rather than changes in agencies’ screening decisions. In 1999 a new data reporting system was implemented. As counties became more adept at using the new system the amount of data reporting increased. However, the actual number of reports “screened out” did not.

Despite the resulting higher “screen out” rate, Minnesota did the same number of assessments per year from 1996-2010, with a low of 16,384 in 2001 and a high of 19,846 in 2006, even though our child population is decreasing. While serving the same number of families, counties now document information received in a more consistent manner.

We believe it’s misleading to compare Minnesota screening practices to other states because of the variation in state laws, data collection systems and data retention practices.

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FORGOTTEN CHILDREN RALLY STATE CAPITAL

On May 4, 2009 a small crowd of about 100 citizens – social workers, politicians, child advocates, and children – gathered on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol to bring attention to Minnesota’s “Forgotten Children.” The 187 children placed in foster care each week in Minnesota all have unique circumstances but they all share one thing in common: They need advocacy in the legislature to address not only their current needs but the future issues they will face as they transition into adulthood.

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Foster Care Fail

There are ten states that place foster children in juvenile detention centers because there are not safe foster homes or other adequate facilities for them.  What’s it like being placed in a jail like setting just because you came from a toxic birth home?

Montana is not the only state to shut down a licensed child care facility for foster children.  Every state has the problem.  The Great Falls Tribune news in Montana today of “egregarious, chronic and persistent child abuse and neglect by this licensed child care facility is just the tip of the iceberg.  Anyone from Montana reading this should contact their State Representative and complain that the DHS hearings should NOT be kept confidential and closed to the public.

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Foster Mom Charged With Breaking Bones of 7-Week Old Foster Boy (thank you Brandon Stahl & Star Tribune)

Abused and neglected State Ward children have already suffered enough when they enter foster care.

To be removed from a birth home by a judge means that the child’s life has been in imminent danger of serious harm. Most of the children I’ve worked with as a volunteer CASA guardian ad Litem have stories that still make me shudder (some) from twenty years ago.

Brandon Stahl’s article in today’s Star Tribune is one of those stories.

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Founder of ACEsTooHigh and ACEsConnection Jane Stevens

The ACEs scoring is hugely important and with attention to and implementation of the programs and disciplines that reverse or mitigate the terrible impact of childhood trauma our communities will see an improvement in graduation rates, a decline in crime and prison populations, much safer and happier neighborhoods.

The opposite side of this approach are DR. Bruce Perry’s words that if these issues are not addressed, “25% of Americans will be special needs people by the end of this generation”. He spoke that sentence 8 years ago. And he & the medical community have more than adequate research to back up that statement.

Jane Stevens s the most informed and articulate person I’ve listened to in this field. She has a unique perspective as a researcher/reporter who has read and studied the huge volume of information not just from a single aspect of child abuse and neglect, but from the various institutional perspectives as well as how different communities within the states are using or not using and the results the states are seeing with the use or non-use of the ACEs research and recommendations.

If you read nothing else today, introduce yourself to www.ACEsTooHigh and http://www.acesconnection.com/

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Four Year Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson Murdered – Two & Three Year Old’s Starved (2 families reported by the Star Tribune today)

I hope that the task force is working fast and that it’s efforts will lead to a reduction in the number of murdered, tortured, and suicidal very young children in Minnesota.

Today’s Star Tribune indicates the “colossal failure” (Governor Dayton’s words) of child protection in the death of Eric Dean after fifteen reports of child abuse by mandated reporters is still causing torture and death to Minnesota children today.

Just a few months ago, six year old Kendrea Johnson’s social worker was unaware of her suicidal and homicidal talk before she died by hanging herself with jump rope. Today’s Star Tribune has two disturbing accounts of worst case abuse suffered by two, three, and four year old Minnesota children.

Four year old Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson’s mother found guilty in the repeated assaults and eventual murder of her son Key’Ontay Miller-Peterson.

The two year old and three year old children of Michael Gunderson of Princeton were starved to the point of eating feces when discovered by the Sheriff’s Department.

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Free College Tuition For Foster Children and other good news for at risk youth

Here are recent positive developments in support of people, policies, and programs for abused and neglected children;

Arizona has granted free tuition for foster children

California; Overwhelming response to request for more foster homes

New Mexico offers free home visits to first-time families (including fathers and adoptive families)

Oregon legislates a Foster Children’s Bill of Rights

Pennsylvania DHS receives U.N. award for improvements

U.S. Senate provides automatic citizenship to all persons born outside the U.S. and were adopted by American Citizens

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Free Printed Book With Each Audiobook Order (thru 8.15.12)

Read and listen to the important issues raised on this blog while supporting our efforts to “get the word out”.

Pass it onto your friends & ask the library to carry it. This information has been kept under wraps for far too long.

Buy or sample the INVISIBLECHILDREN audiobook

Best wishes from the team at Kids At Risk Action

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Friends of KARA – A Favor (watch this video)

Mari Frankel’s video documentary “Foster” below is stunning. Although it is about Florida’s foster system (by a CASA GAL just like me) it demonstrates the problems within the child protection system and the traumas & medications foster children live.with.

Mari Frankel’s video is aligned with KARA’s book and documentary projects that address child protection stories that are happening in MN.

Share this with people you know and/or,

Contact me to talk about ideas for making this video in MN (we have begun the process and have been partnered with TPT) but need help to complete the project.

Let’s be a voice for children

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

https://vimeo.com/139417634

The password is foster

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From Child Protection to Soldier

Pressed by the demands of the “global war on terrorism”, theUnited States is violating an international protocol that forbids the recruitment of children under the age of 18 for military service, according to a new report released Tuesday by a major civil rights group that charged that recruitment practices target children as young as 11 years old.

The 46-page report, “Soldiers of Misfortune”, was prepared by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for submission to the U.N. Committeeon the Rights of the Child.

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From Child Welfare In The News

AZ: Money for foster care in Arizona could be cut by more than half

ABC15.com April 18, 2012

The Chandler couple doesn’t understand why state lawmakers would even consider a 60 percent cut to Child Protective Services.

Under one of the two proposed budgets, $49 million used for monthly expenses would be slashed.

The Bartos said their monthly allowance was already cut by 20 percent a year and half ago.

http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_southeast_valley/chandler/money-for-foster-care-in-arizona-could-be-cut-by-more-than-half

AZ: Arizona CPS seeing increase in child-abuse reports

Associated Press April 18, 2012

A record-high number of child abuse reports in Arizona has led the state’s child welfare agency to turn to a special investigative team to help with case management, officials said Wednesday.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/04/18/20120418arizona-cps-seeing-increase-child-abuse-reports.html

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From Our Friends At Safe Passage For Children (today’s Safe Passage message)

The Metric that Matters

I have a friend who thinks government can always cut more staff. I told him when child protection investigators get more than 4-5 new cases a week they become ineffective.

He grudgingly conceded “I guess there have to be some metrics”.

Minnesota tried to keep this caseload ‘metric’ manageable last year by only responding to 28% of maltreatment reports, compared to 62% nationally. This means 21,960 children didn’t get a needed visit from a child protection worker.

Sorry, but fixing this will require adding staff, because decisions to investigate families and potentially even remove children can’t really be privatized.

We have to put aside reservations about ‘big’ government and help counties excel at this work so we can achieve the metric that matters: as many safe children as possible.

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Fumbled Child Protection Warnings Cost Children Their LIves (thank you Brandon Stahl- Star Tribune)

Seven children died last year from abuse or neglect despite prior knowledge by Minnesota child protection agencies that their lives were at risk, records provided to the Star Tribune show.

That total is the highest in the state’s records, which go back to 2005. The Department of Human Services said it will study each case to probe whether county social workers missed chances to save the child, but an initial review has found that some counties could have done more.

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Gender Pay Gap & How it Relates to Child Well – Being (see where Minneapolis ranks)

I was raised by a single mom who made a fraction of the salary that men in her office earned. It was harder in other ways for her also as overt sexism was not just tolerated, it was the rule.

It hurts me to see that today my home town is the second poorest in the nation in this study;

http://www.businessinsider.com/gender-pay-gap-in-us-cities-2016-6

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