Pennsylvania Child Protection News For January & February 2016

PA: Lackawanna County settles foster child abuse case
Scranton Times-Tribune – February 27, 2016
Lackawanna County agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by the mother of a 7-year-old boy who was sexually abused his foster parents’ adopted son. The mother filed suit in August 2014, alleging the abuse could have been avoided had the county’s former Children and Youth Services — now called the Office of Youth and Family Services — heeded a written profile that warned the adopted son previously sexually abused others.
http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-settles-foster-child-abuse-case-1.2012322

PA: Lawmakers work to close loophole, require doctors to get background checks (Includes video)
WHTM – February 25, 2016
Vulakovich said during the rewrite of child protection laws, doctors and medical professionals were not specifically mentioned as being required to get background checks. DHS interpreted that as an exemption even though health care professionals had always been required to have those checks. Vulakovich and Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) are sponsoring a bill that would put them back in and close the loophole.
http://abc27.com/2016/02/25/lawmakers-work-to-close-loophole-require-doctors-to-get-background-checks/

PA: County supports human services funding outcry
New Castle News – February 25, 2016
The county opposes “rebalancing” initiatives for child welfare services that will force counties to reduce funding by a fourth, reduce payments to providers, shorten contract periods or use county property tax funds to cover the state’s obligation until a future budge makes a true allocation.
http://www.ncnewsonline.com/news/county-supports-human-services-funding-outcry/article_1be71fc0-db41-11e5-9c05-57c548484217.html

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Recent MN Child Abuse In The News (would daycare or crisis nurseries have prevented these sad stories?)

1.16.16 Minneapolis, Reggie Delaine Harper pleads guilty to intentional murder of 23 month old infant son because the baby was crying (Reggie had been reported at least 3 times for prior child abuse).

1.8.16 Minneapolis Father arrested in assault of 21 month old Rae’Ana Hall

1.6.16 Ramsey County, Austiin Gustafson pleads guilty to killing 3 month old

1.5.16 Minneapolis, 22 month old Rae’Ana Hall in critical condition with life threatening injuries (broken ribs, fractured pelvis and head injuries apparentlyh the cause of a strong force) while in the care of her father.

1.5.16 MN Vikings Adrian Peterson reflects on violent death of his 2 year old son, beating his boy and violence in his own life. USA Today

1.4.16 St Cloud 22 month old Billy Rebel Chapman Died of multiple blunt-force injuries & being investigated as a homicide. Star Tribune

12.30.15 Blooming Prairie MN Cory Stucky Charged in alcohol related manslaughter death of 8 week old son Myles Stucky.

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Child Protection and Appreciating Social Workers (we really should)

Christopher Sorenson recently wrote a compelling piece in the Star Tribune about animal safety as the foundation underlying our current child protection system and how only extreme cases of child abuse make the news or public awareness.

Speaking of service providers Chris writes; “On a daily basis these folks see what none of us wants to see – children being destroyed by neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and …, Our dirty secret in Minnesota and in this country is the abuse and neglect of children that continues each and every day”.

He points out how hard social work is and how stressed employees in a high-pressure and overburdened system do very difficult work under tight deadlines for modest pay. I would add; and with far too resources to get the results needed for the children they are working with. Turnover is high.
20,000 two-year olds were proscribed psychotropic medications in 2014 and millions of terribly abused 3-10 year old children took those drugs without adequate therapy and suffered greatly because of it. Ddrug companies were fined billions for selling these drugs to pediatricians for use on children. Millions more abused children were ignored after being reported to child protection services in this nation.

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 1.1.16-2.13.16

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

– See more at: CASA News

An advocate for adolescents
Sierra Vista Herald
For the last 20 years, Hager has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate — who call themselves CASAs — for Cochise County. A CASA is …
Chamber Spotlight: CASA volunteers work to help abused, neglected children – gulflive.com (blog)
CASA volunteer training set for February – Tahlequah Daily Press
Determined, and a bit overwhelmed, I work through rigorous CASA training – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
Full Coverage

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DCS workers deny allegations they failed to protect abused child
nwitimes.com
Elizabeth Lozano took the 4-year-old boy to a hearing in Lake County on Oct. 23, 2013, and a court-appointed special advocate noticed he had a …

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Public invited to CASA of McKean County annual meeting
Bradford Era
Bob Esch, board president, will talk about what is special about being a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteer Gary DeVore of Port …

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Letter: Remembering Chief Judge Kaye
Albany Times Union
The Court Appointed Special Advocates Programs of New York state and the New York State CASA Association are deeply saddened by the recent …

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CASA guardian ad-Litem News Around The Nation 10.1.15 Through 12.31.15

FIND YOUR CASA here – This page tells the stories of CASA’s around the U.S. If you are not listed, send me your info and we will include it. Thank you Sai Yang and Century College for your research and writing on this page.

See what other CASA volunteers are doing – share your stories and blogs; info@invisiblechildren.org

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Progress & Next Steps in County Child Protection (thank you SafePassageForChildren)

This week the Hennepin County Oversight Committee reviewed efforts by child protection managers to implement recommendations in the Casey Report, which was critical of the program.

Progress was reported for example in rolling out a 24/7 child protection response, and adding screening and investigation staff.

In another part of this hearing, Casey staff presented a draft child protection ‘Practice Model’. While it identified child safety as the paramount responsibility of the program, much of the language – as Commissioner Mike Opat and others pointed out – echoed the old Family Assessment philosophy, which is weighted towards the needs and preferences of parents.

The final version of this practice model should reflect more clearly the priority that recent changes in state law and recommended practices gave to child safety and well-being.

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New York Child Protection News December 2015- January 2016

Reporting compiled and submitted by KARA volunteer Corey Wasser NY: New York State’s Safe Harbour Project is working to combat human trafficking (Opinion) Buffalo News – January 24, 2016 The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) works to combat human trafficking through efforts that include the Safe Harbour Project, which assists…

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News December 2015

Two Bills Aim To Improve Lives Of PA’s Foster Children
90.5 WESA – December 28, 2015
Act 75 of 2015 and House Bill 1603 came about a result of the 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which mandated that every state had until Jan. 1, 2016 to pass laws that would help foster youth.
http://wesa.fm/post/two-bills-aim-improve-lives-pas-foster-children This page contributed by Krista Neuner

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Think Again MN Feb 16 (includes KARA presentation)

THE IMPACT OF DOMESTIC ABUSE ON CHILDREN
Tuesday, February 16
6 p.m. Light Supper and Social 6:30 P.M. Program
Cafeteria, Hennepin Technical College, 9000 Brooklyn Blvd, Brooklyn Park, Map
RSVP on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kWpPiG or to CarolWoehrer@usfamily.net

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Public Records (the mystery of child abuse and child protection)

My story is triggered by a graphic demonstration of malfeasance by a public servant (Harper’s Magazine article below) and my response to conversations with Brandon Stahl at the Star Tribune and a former administrator at Hennepin County.  Both told me how inaccessible important child protection public records become when someone decides for no good reason to…

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Pennsylvania Child Protection News November 2015

State Budget Impasse Impacts Columbia County Social Service Agency (Includes video)
WNEP – November 23, 2015
“It’s frustrating that child welfare is not considered an essential service at the state level because that would allow some money to continue to flow to the agencies to help provide services for a very vulnerable population,” April Miller of Columbia County Children & Youth Services said.
http://wnep.com/2015/11/23/state-budget-impasse-impacts-columbia-county-social-service-agency/

State budget impasse: counties may protest by keeping revenue owed state
Lancaster Online – November 22, 2015
Commissioners Dennis Stuckey and Craig Lehman said withholding revenue is worth exploring as Lancaster County sees reserves dwindle to support programs for children, the elderly and the mentally ill the state is supposed to fund.
http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/pennsylvania-state-budget-impasse-counties-may-protest-by-keeping-revenue/article_6871b9ee-8fc0-11e5-be74-f73d2d40362a.html

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Child Sex Abuse & The Mormon Church (stopping child abuse requires adults report it)

This article from an abused child about the Mormon Church hiding abuse her was another sad and eye opening look into how hard it is to achieve transparency and accountability in children’s rights issues.  Join KARA’s Facebook Page   ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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January Sad Stories (2016 KARA reporting)

Every month Kids At Risk Action draws attention to the plight of abused and neglected children by gathering the stories of at risk children from around the nation.  You will find your community on this page.  Please share this page with your friends and networks to make this conversation come alive with the hope that…

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Mental Health Shortages, Sheriffs & Children

I attended Syl Jone’s play BECAUSE at the Mixed Blood Theatre last week. It’s a moving piece that explores living with mental health issues from multiple perspectives leaving the audience with a personal sense of what it’s like to be this person, live with this person and understand this person. Syl is now the Resident Fellow for Narrative Health at HCMC (I think every hospital should have such a position – how else can these stories be told?)

I asked Syl at the play if he would consider writing about the mental health issues of children in child protective services, he seemed interested. If you know Syl Jones, please let him know how important this topic is.

Back to Sheriffs and Children (the title).

At the end of the play, Syl Jones & a panel (moderated by Eduardo Colon, the new Psychiatry Chief at HCMC) of professionals & one very articulate person living with serious mental health issues further explored the realities of mental health and mental health services in our community.

Today’s Star Tribune continues Dr Colon’s discussion about the shortage of beds for psychiatric emergencies and draws attention to how the problem is being compounded by the law that inmates take priority over everyone else for emergency psych beds (the 48 hour rule).

This newly enforced rule is a result of the sheriff’s (Washington, Ramsey and Hennepin Counties) threat to sue because their departments had become mental health service providers as a result of the state’s failing to honor the 48 hour rule.

While I’m all for providing services to inmates in need of psychiatric beds, I am appalled that the children in need of protection are suffering because of the shortage of beds and the use of psychotropic medications in place of therapy. I have attended multiple children on hours long trips outside of the metro because services were not available for them here.

The depth and scope of children’s mental health in this community is profound. As a long time CASA guardian ad-Litem I have accompanied many children on long trips for mental health services because there were no services here & I know that much of what is provided here is inadequate (this was referred to by Dee Wilson from the Casey Foundation).

Thank You Dr Colon, HCMC and Syl Jones for starting this conversation – it may be the only way our community can begin to understand the profound depth and scope of mental health issues and their impact on our quality of life.

Please share this post with policy makers and contacts in foster/adoption, education, health, policing and social workers.

ALL ADULTS ARE THE PROTECTORS OF ALL CHILDREN

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Violence Against Children & Policing

This morning’s Safe Passage For Children about how police have put battered children back in the home because they like to keep families together reminds me of a man who kicked a 7 year old girl so hard she went into convulsions and went into the hospital Emergency Room with her injury. The police in that case sought safety for her and her siblings and involved Child Protection right away.
That girl had been sexually abused for four years (from 4 to 7), my first visit to her younger year sister was at the suicide ward of the hospital & the 2 other children had problems so severe that they could not be together in foster care because of the things that happened when they were together.

The man who did these things to the children remained in the home for many years, and was never charged or made to answer for any of his crimes. More than ten years later he was still sexually abusing children in the same home and he had never been mentioned in the justice system.

Children have no rights in the homes they live in, no access to safety other than our community efforts to keep children safe and no way to influence policy makers to improve the existing system. The Safe Passage Article above includes a snapshot of how the rest of the industrialized world keeps children safe and is well worth reading.

All Adults Are The Protectors of All Children

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CASA MN News (help KARA find volunteer guardian ad-Litems for MN’s abused children – share this)

CASA Minnesota is a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to support and promote volunteer advocates to ensure that every abused and neglected child in Minnesota has a safe, stable and permanent family. Our advocates are everyday citizens who become extraordinary volunteers. Judges appoint volunteer advocates to speak for the safety and well-being of a child in the court system. CASA Minnesota volunteers stand up for these children and help change their lives.

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Important Information About Child Protection in MN (from Safe Passage For Children)

Although counties disagree, the Department wants an outside expert to review screening practices. This is because, contrary to new guidelines, counties are still responding to half as many maltreatment reports as an average state, and the percentage of cases getting an investigation rather than a less rigorous assessment has barely changed

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The Administration That Poisoned the Children of Flint Michigan

It’s hard to believe that a political administration could go so far in negating the value of a city’s children as just happened in Flint Michigan.

For 2 years Flint children have been poisoned with lead and other toxins in the face of scientific evidence, political backlash and community outrage with nothing but misfeasance, malfeasance and non-feasance from the Governor’s office (all 8000 of Flints children).

Flint needs disaster relief from the EPA, CDC and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the State sponsored child abuse that poisoned the children of Flint Michigan.

Elected officials need to be made aware that what happened in Flint was wrong and the people in charge made public, made to resign and be punished. Sign Michael Moore’s petition on Facebook to let Michigan’s Governor know that what he has done to Flint’s children is a crime (if the Michigan State found you knowingly poisoning your children over an extended period of time you would be guilty of second degree felony child abuse)*

Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b:

“A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if…the person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child,” Michigan Penal Code, section 750.136b states. “[This] is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a first offense of not more than 10 years…[and] for a second or subsequent offense not more than 20 years.”

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Child Death & Drugs (send KARA your stories)

Today it’s time we learn about the growing problem of newborns dying after being sent home with mothers struggling with drug addiction. This Reuters investigation starkly demonstrates that doctors are not alerting social services to thousands of infants living in toxic homes with addicts. Every 19 minutes an American baby is born dependent on opioids.
KARA needs your help finding information on the topic (forward related local news & your stories); info@invisiblechildren.org

All Adults Are The Protectors Of All Children

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Talking About Gun Safety Is Now A Punishable Offense For Doctors & DHS (in some states)

Foster families in Oklahoma are suing the state because they were asked by DHS to store guns according to best safety practices, In Florida actual fines and threats of incarceration face doctors for similar acts. Imagine talking to parents about protecting their children against gun accidents.

265 moms dads, brothers, sisters and selves were shot by very young children this year.

That’s where we live today friends. I wonder what Kansas and Texas are up to?

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Children, Trauma & School (what’s it like to teach tortured children?)

Today’s Star Tribune article nails it. Thank you Annie Mogush Mason for your clear explanation of how child abuse impacts schools. Coping skills (learning skills) are not brought by the stork. Add to that, the terrible things done to at risk children in the home, children bring fear & high anxiety into the classroom instead of the ability to sit still, play well with others or learn.

Teaching *traumatized children is different than teaching other students. Way different.

The sadness that is child abuse triggers unpredictable and often violent behaviors in the classroom. Many a teacher has talked to me about the larger percentage of their daily efforts being directed toward the one, two or three disruptive students in their classroom. I know educators that have quit their jobs in tears and with genuine fear of going to work every day because of this.

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