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CAS Moves Boy From Mom to Dad
January 25, 2015 permalink
According to a friend of the family, children's aid took Mathias Wint from his mother and placed him with his father. The press is now reporting, without the CAS detail, that father Mario Wint killed his son.
The mother plans to play Michael Jackson singing Gone Too Soon (mp3) as the requiem for Mathias.
Newmarket man charged in death of 2-year-old son
Mario Wint, 29, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of his toddler, found not breathing on Thursday afternoon.
Homicide investigators have arrested a Newmarket man in connection with the death of his 2-year-old son.
Officers were called to a home on Longford Dr. in Newmarket on a report of an injured person at 2:22 p.m. Thursday, York Region Police said in a news release. They found a young boy who was not breathing and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
The cause of death is not being released as police continue their investigation.
On Saturday, police arrested the boy’s 29-year-old father. Mario Wint is charged with second-degree murder.
Neighbours described Wint to the Star as a loving, caring father of two young boys. They say he recently got full custody of the 2-year-old and an older son a neighbour believed to be 4.
Nicole Grove, who lives behind Wint’s home and has known him for more than a decade, said he was always playing with the children, “buying things, whatever they needed. He was a picture of a dad.”
She alluded to problems with the law in the past by both Wint and the child’s mother. However, “He’s turned his life around. He’s a good guy,” she said.
“I’m not sure what happened with the child,” she added, “but I’m sure that he tried to prevent his death. There’s no way that he [killed the child]. He’s not that type of person.
“He never had a violent history — nothing like that.”
Wint is to appear in the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket on Sunday.
Source: Toronto Star
Single Foster Mom Seeks Companion
January 25, 2015 permalink
A foster mom has separated from her husband and is seeking a companion.
Just found out that my baby's foster parents are legally separated and foster mom is advertising her new man which she has been seeing for six months plus on her Facebook page and she has changed from her married name back to her maiden name, and has unfriendly, blocked, and removed all photos of her husband from her FB page, and her husband has done the same. And this has been going on for over six months because her last name has been changed for over six months. My question is how could CPS not know this? Is it because they are making it look as though they are still together and hiding it from CPS? Or does CPS know and are just hiding it from me and my attorney? Has CPS checked this new boyfriend's background because husband isn't living with foster mom? Is there anything I can do about this and could it help my case?
Source: Facebook, AFRA
Orphans for Smallpox
January 23, 2015 permalink
Near the turn of the nineteenth century Edward Jenner discovered that a relatively harmless infection of the cattle disease cowpox conferred lifelong immunity from smallpox, a scourge that killed up to a third of those infected and permanently maimed many of the survivors. The Spanish king wanted to vaccinate his subjects in the new world, but the technology of the time was lacking. Two centuries ago there was no refrigeration or sterilization. Spanish doctor Francis Xavier de Balmis devised a primitive means of transporting the cowpox vaccine across the Atlantic in living form. He used a human chain, transmitting the virus person-to-person en route. And the human subjects selected? They were boys taken from an orphanage.
You can listen to the story as the first part of the audio on Futility Closet The Balmis Expedition: Using Orphans to Combat Smallpox or local copy (mp3). The expand block contains a passage on the incident from Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox by Jonathan B Tucker published in 2001 by Grove Press.
By the early 1800s more than 100,000 persons in Great Britain had been vaccinated. Although the wold was clamoring for Jenner's vaccine, it was difficult to obtain an adequate supply because outbreaks of cowpox in European cattle were sporadic and unpredictable and the disease did not exist on other continents. The vaccine consisted of the "matter" of cowpox — pus and lymph containing the live virus — which had to be extracted from pustules on the udders of infected cows at just the right stage of the disease. Since the cowpox material had to be "active" for vaccination to be effective, distribution and handling posed major hurdles. Although the vaccine could be preserved for a few months by drying it on threads, quills, glass, or slivers of ivory, it was rapidly inactivated by high temperatures or by exposure to sunlight, factors that were poorly understood at the time. As a result, cowpox material shipped over long distances often lost its effectiveness before arriving at its destination.
One solution to this problem was to keep the vaccine "alive" by transferring it from one human recipient to the next, a practice known as the "arm-to-arm" technique. First, an individual was vaccinated, and as soon as a cowpox pustule had appeared on his or her arm, matter from the lesion was then used to vaccinate other recipients. In 1801 in St Petersburg, Russia, for example, a recently vaccinated girl was sent to a local orphanage to serve as the source of smallpox vaccine for all children more than a week old. From then on, the orphanage continuously transferred the vaccine from one child to another for more than ninety-two years (1801-93).
The arm-to-arm method was also used to distribute Jenner's vaccine throughout the Spanish Empire. Spanish King Charles IV's daughter had been stricken with smallpox in 1798, and after she recovered, he arranged to have the rest of his family vaccinated. In 1803, the king, convinced of the benefits of the vaccine, ordered his personal physician, Francis Xavier de Balmis, to deliver it to the Spanish dominions in North and South America and, if possible, in Asia as well. To maintain the vaccine in a viable state during the long sea voyage, the physician recruited from the orphanages of Spain twenty-two young boys, aged three to nine years, who had never had cowpox or smallpox before.
During the trip across the Atlantic, de Balmis sequentially vaccinated the orphans in a living chain. Two children were vaccinated immediately before departure, and when cowpox pustules had appeared on their arms, material from these lesions was used to vaccinate two more children. This procedure was repeated at roughly ten-day intervals until the ships arrived in Venezuela so that at least one child always had a cowpox pustule at the right stage of maturation to provide the active vaccine. In return for the orphans' service, the Spanish royal court arranged foster families for them and paid their living and schooling expenses in the New World. Thanks to The Royal Smallpox Expedition, more than 100,000 people in Latin America were vaccinated. The expedition then recruited twenty-six more orphans and continued transferring the vaccine from arm to arm throughout the remainder of the three-year voyage, which included stops in the Spanish Philippines, Macao and Canton.
Source: Google Books
Texas Fakes Child Death Numbers
January 23, 2015 permalink
Over the past five years Texas has reported a decrease in the number of child deaths caused by abuse and neglect. But an investigation by the Austin American-Statesman has shown that most of the decrease is accounted for by changes in classification. The reported deaths are only those subjectively classified as caused by abuse or neglect. Deaths not so classified remain unreported. The newspaper found that the number of unreported deaths has reached a level nearly equal to those reported.
Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences: Part 1
Publicly reported numbers don’t tell the whole story
Abuse-related fatalities only disclosed if mistreatment directly caused death, and case classification is inconsistent
Texas is not publicly reporting hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths each year, raising questions about the accuracy of the state’s official fatality count, an American-Statesman investigation into the state’s child protection system has found.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Department of Family and Protective Services did not publicly report 655 child abuse-related fatalities, even though the department confirmed that those children had been mistreated prior to their deaths. Because Child Protective Services caseworkers decided that mistreatment or abuse did not directly cause those fatalities, state law does not require the agency to publicly reveal those numbers.
Publicly reported vs. unreported deaths
State law does not require Child Protective Services to publicly report abuse- and neglect-related deaths if caseworkers decide that mistreatment did not directly cause those fatalities.
Source: Child Protective Services, Statesman research
Yet the rationale behind those classifications has been inconsistent. In some cases, for example, the state has assigned blame for co-sleeping or drowning deaths, meaning the fatality was at least partially caused by negligence or abuse. Those go on the publicly reported list. But numerous child deaths that occurred under similar circumstances are kept off the public list, with little explanation.
The way senior DFPS officials review such cases also tends to skew the number downward. Those reviewers check for accuracy for only those fatalities that caseworkers have already labeled as directly caused by abuse and neglect. Last year that review resulted in 10 cases being overturned, reducing the number on the final, publicly released list.
Yet deaths that field staff has concluded were not due directly to abuse or neglect don’t receive that extra level of attention. The result: The system is set up only to lower the annual number of children whose deaths were attributable to neglect or abuse and never to add to it.
The state’s accounting methods mean the public has no true idea how many children are dying in abuse-related circumstances. Names, ages and even causes of death are off-limits. CPS’ history with the family is also blocked, shielding the agency from external scrutiny into those cases.
Two sets of numbers
That stands in stark contrast to the way CPS must handle cases in which caseworkers rule that maltreatment directly killed a child. In those cases, a 2009 law requires the agency to provide the public with a detailed report on the case.
Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who authored that law, said he was shocked that legislators were not being provided information on all of the abuse-related cases. “I’m speechless,” he said. “I want to know who these kids are. Every one of these kids has a name and has a story and would have had a life ahead of them.”
Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins say the agency isn’t trying to hide anything. The agency has followed state and federal laws, he said. And aggregate nonidentifying information — such as ages, genders and types of abuse and neglect — has always been available to anyone who wanted it. But until the American-Statesman, no one asked.
Because of the newspaper’s inquiry, the agency plans to publicly report those numbers in the future, Crimmins said. But legally, CPS cannot release details on individual cases.
Uresti said he intends to close that gap in the upcoming legislative session: “If there’s a loophole, we’re going to fix it unless someone can convince me why we should not know all the facts.”
At issue is how officials categorize the deaths of Texas children under the age of 17.
CPS investigates every potential abuse or neglect death reported to it. In the field, caseworkers decide if the child was abused or neglected and, if so, whether that maltreatment contributed to the death.
If CPS decides abuse killed the child, the fatality goes into the state’s official child abuse and neglect death count. Official numbers have not been released, but the agency says the tally for 2014 is tentatively 136.
But the agency has a separate way of classifying those cases in which abuse was found to be present but did not directly contribute to the death. According to tentative 2014 numbers, 125 child fatalities were categorized that way.
Yet it is not always clear why seemingly comparable deaths end up on different lists. For example, Crimmins said that one type of case that might not be included in the public fatality count is when a child riding a four-wheeler is killed. The failure to supervise the child would not necessarily be considered to have been directly connected to the death, he said.
But the American-Statesman analysis found three such fatalities in which a family member was blamed and so landed on the publicly disclosed list.
While CPS investigators are not specifically trained on how to classify child deaths, they employ the same general methods they use in all investigations, Crimmins said. “The worker does this by gathering as much information as possible about the circumstances of the death, including information gathered from medical or forensic examinations, photographs and the autopsy of the deceased child.”
Two other CPS employees, a supervisor and a child safety specialist, must approve the ruling.
Different death tallies
Advocates say the state is intentionally suppressing the number of child abuse deaths. By keeping those fatalities out of the public eye, officials can minimize the scope of the problem and demonstrate that the agency is reducing the number of child abuse-related fatalities, said Randy Burton, founder of the Houston-based Justice for Children.
“It’s an effort to play with the numbers to minimize their culpability,” he said.
And the publicly reported numbers have drastically decreased over the past five years. In 2009, the state reported 280 child abuse deaths. In 2014, CPS is tentatively reporting 136 child abuse deaths, a 51 percent decrease.
But when the reported and unreported fatalities are combined, the drop is only 25 percent.
While CPS boasts of its declining public death tally, officials say they don’t know why the numbers have dropped. At a conference hosted by the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities last year, John Specia, the commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, speculated it could be connected to greater efforts to publicize the dangers of co-sleeping. Yet state numbers show that co-sleeping deaths have remained relatively stable since 2010 and actually increased in 2014.
Michael Petit, a commission member and president of Washington, D.C.-based Every Child Matters, says he is skeptical of Texas’ plummeting numbers. “If you can’t document cause and effect, then I don’t think you have anything,” he said.
Other child welfare agencies across the country have been accused of manipulating numbers to look better. In Florida, the Department of Child and Family Services has come under fire for not counting 96 children in its fatality numbers over a three-year period.
Experts say one reason for inconsistencies surrounding death tallies is that the definitions of abuse and neglect vary vastly across the country, leading to incomplete and inaccurate numbers of child abuse deaths. The federal government hasn’t helped, giving states little guidance on how to count and report such deaths in a uniform manner, Petit said.
Petit agrees that not all child deaths should be judged the same when it comes to blame. A drunk or high parent who accidentally rolls over and smothers a child while co-sleeping isn’t the same as a parent who is not under the influence and has no CPS history, he said.
But if the state cites someone for abuse or neglect in those cases, then that information needs to be made public to present a comprehensive picture of the problem, he said.
That’s what one Dallas-based child advocacy group, TexProtects, wants CPS to do. The group intends to ask legislators to change the law and make all of the information public.
Uresti said he supports the change because legislators need all the information they can get if they are to make long-lasting changes to the child welfare system.
“No one needs to hide from the facts,” he said. “Full disclosure and transparency: that’s the way we can help.”
Source: Austin American-Statesman
Social Worker Falsely Accuses Father
January 23, 2015 permalink
When a Georgia social worker rammed John Blue's van, she did not admit her mistake, instead she accused him of attacking her. After Blue spent seven months in jail waiting for trial a jury acquitted him. Now he is free but has lost his interior design shop, his apartment and most of his belongings.
Father wants DFCS worker charged after spending 7 months in jail
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
A Gwinnett County father cleared after spending seven months in jail now wants police to charge the state worker who accused him of attacking her.
John Blue lost his interior design shop, his apartment and most of his belongings as he sat in jail for seven months. It took a jury less than 45 minutes to find Blue not guilty.
Channel 2’s Tony Thomas met Blue at the Duluth police headquarters.
For the past several days, Blue has been living in his van. Police said it is the same van he used to ram a state welfare worker last summer during a Division of Family and Children’s Services investigation at the time.
Blue left with his children, and a Levi’s Call was issued hours later. As police arrested Blue that day, he insisted that the worker assaulted him.
“She crashed my car. She rammed my car,” said Blue.
Blue said his girlfriend and sons told police he didn’t attack the DFCS worker, but no one listened.
Now out of jail following the not-guilty verdict, Blue is on a mission to recover some of what he lost.
“I sat in jail for seven months because someone lied on me,” said Blue. “If I was charged with aggravated assault and didn’t do anything, let her stand before the same people.”
No one from Duluth police or state DFCS was available to comment on Monday’s holiday.
Blue is currently interviewing for jobs and said he hopes to move his sons back in with him.
“My kids have never wanted for anything. This is not fair, not right; my family has been destroyed,” said Blue.
January 22, 2015 permalink
James, son of Crystal Cross, has been adopted. by John and Teresa Osten in Michigan. The real family knows the identity of the adopters and has registered their objections on a Facebook page, Little JAMES Illegal Adoption Case--FORCED ADOPTION. Early postings to the page recount the abusive tactics of social workers used to separate James from his real mother.
Enclosed is a press article favorable to the adopters. The distant relatives mentioned are James' mother and his aunt and uncle in Texas.
Family says they’re being harassed after they adopted a child
GALESBURG, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A Galesburg couple is fighting online harassment from a family member of their adopted son.
Newschannel3 talked to the couple who says they're being stalked, and fear for their safety.
The family says they've been told their options from a criminal standpoint may be tough, because much of what is said online is protected by Freedom of Speech.
After finding out they couldn't have children of their own, adopting two boys was a dream come true for John and Teresa Osten.
Teresa says James was addicted to meth at birth and was placed in their care as foster parents.
About the time they started the adoption process six months later, the Osten's say they discovered they were being stalked by one of James' distant family members from Texas.
“Apparently, she had seen us at the zoo, she made comments he had severe sunburn, that we didn't know she was there,” said Teresa Osten.
Then they discovered someone had created a page on Facebook called, "Stolen, Little James Illegal Adoption Case."
It listed the Osten's home address along with a family photo.
“Our fear is that she would go and take him,” said Osten.
The Facebook page also shows James as a baby with the word stolen on it and says the Osten's are quote, "foster parents stealing children for profit."
“We're foster parents for a reason. We're here to take care of these children. We could lose children over this, we could lose our licenses,” said Osten.
The Osten's say they've contacted the authorities, but were told the harassment falls under free speech. But they tell us they're not giving up.
“We don't feel safe you know, we don't,” said Osten.
The Osten's say they tried to file a personal protection order, but didn't have all the information they needed about their stalker to legally file it.
Now they're reaching out to Galesburg Police.
Battered Mother Sues Child Protectors
January 22, 2015 permalink
Damon Mammaro assaulted his wife by choking her and stabbing her with a fork, then kidnapped their daughter Daniella. But instead of helping mother Michelle Mammaro, New Jersey authorities accused her of child abuse. Now a court has granted her the right to sue the state Department of Children & Families and the local police department.
N.J. mom can sue 'DYFS' employees, judge says
PHILLIPSBURG—A Phillipsburg mother has won the right to sue state employees who charged her with child abuse after her husband allegedly stabbed her and kidnapped their child.
Michelle Mammaro, 29, continues to "seek justice in her case against" the state child services workers and police who "pursued her as a child abuser," her attorney said today.
The Federal District Court in Trenton ruled that these state employees are not immune from suit for conduct in violation of the constitution rights of parents, and Mammaro has won the right to sue department heads and individual employees of the state Department of Children & Families, its Division of Child Protection and Permanency (then the Division of Youth and Family Services, DYFS) and the Watchung Police Department, Kenneth Rosellini of Clifton said in a press release.
The case began after an incident in July 2011 involving Mammaro's then-husband. Damon Mammaro allegedly assaulted his wife by choking her and stabbing her with a fork at their home in Phillipsburg. He then left with the couple's 19-month-old daughter, Daniella.
A manhunt ensued, lasting several hours, before he was arrested in Easton and taken to Northampton County Prison, according to reports at the time.
Initially, Damon alone was investigated by state services for child abuse, but the agency filed charges of child abuse against Michelle in September that year, Rosellini said Jan. 21.
"This is a victim of domestic violence, and instead of helping her, they investigated and targeted her," he said.
It took more than a year for a Warren County Family Court judge to rule that Michelle Mammaro was not guilty of child abuse, Rosellini said. During that time, Rosellini and his client allege, caseworkers and police violated Michelle Mammaro's parental rights and went "beyond their constitutional bounds."
According to their complaint, in 2012, Mammaro was no longer able to stay at a state "safe house" and had to move to a friend's home in Watchung.
Rosellini said that instead of inspecting her new living space, case workers arrived with police to take the child from her mother.
Under the law, the "emergency removal" called for a court hearing within 72-hours and a judge ultimately ruled that the agency should not have removed the child, Rosellini said.
"The Attorney General's Office argues immunity through prosecutorial conduct, however, they're not protected if they do something outside of that, and the judge agrees with us," he said.
In addition to monetary judgments against the individuals named in the complaint— department heads, three case workers, two case worker supervisors, a police chief and two officers — Mammaro seeks injunctive relief requiring reform of current practices such as advising parents of their rights, training case workers properly and expediting the review process.
Most importantly, Rosellini said, their goal is to ensure that case workers "don't retaliate when parents do assert their rights."
"We want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else," he said.
A management conference is scheduled for March, after which, Rosellini said, he plans to question the state employees under oath.
Source: The Warren Reporter
Winnipeg's Worst Mom
January 21, 2015 permalink
A mother in Winnipeg left her six-year-old son alone for 90 minutes at home. She lost custody of the boy and has not seen him for eighteen months. On top of that she faces criminal charges of abandonment. America's worst mom, Leonare Skenazy, is defending the mother.
City parent defended by 'worst mom'
Abandonment case continues
Was a Winnipeg mom wrong to leave her six-year-old son home alone for 90 minutes?
Or are police and justice officials acting like helicopter parents?
Either way, America's worst mom is on her side.
New York City resident Lenore Skenazy says the Winnipeg mom -- who left her son alone in a locked bungalow on a summer afternoon with the TV on and food and water with him -- should not have been charged with child abandonment.
Skenazy said, at most, the mother should have been told "don't do it again."
"Just because something makes you feel uncomfortable or self-righteous doesn't make it dangerous," Skenazy said during a phone interview Tuesday.
"This mother loves her child more than anyone. She knows her child better than the judge, lawyers and police.
"Every parent makes decisions that other parents don't agree with."
Skenazy knows what it's like to be accused of bad parenting.
She made international headlines in 2008 and was dubbed America's worst mom after she gave subway fare to her nine-year-old son so he could fulfil his request of finding his way home by himself.
Since then, Skenazy has written the book Free-Range Kids, is the host of the TV show World's Worst Mom, and has been interviewed by media outlets from around the world. She said free-range kids are treated as smart people who don't need to be watched constantly.
Earlier this week, a Winnipeg mother was on trial after pleading not guilty to child abandonment.
Provincial court Judge Margaret Wiebe was told the woman left her child alone at home for 90 minutes so she could run some errands.
Court was told the child's father -- the parents are separated -- spotted the mom driving alone on Pembina Highway and phoned the home. When the child said he was alone, the dad called police.
The Crown called it abandonment and argued there were numerous ways the child could have been injured or worse while alone, including turning on the stove, choking on food or falling out of a window.
"Just because nothing bad happened, that's not the test," Crown attorney Nancy Fazenda said.
Michael Law, the woman's lawyer, said there was no evidence of potential harm brought forward and said people who had been convicted of the offence in the past had left their children in vehicles during hot summer or cold winter days, or with weapons.
"It must be more than purely speculative," he said.
Skenazy said she doesn't understand why the mother has not seen her son since she was arrested 18 months ago. Law would only say Child and Family Services is involved in the case.
"That's horrific," she said. "How's that in the best interests of the child?"
Skenazy said the court case is one more example of how North American society is too protective of children.
"I was walking to school as a kindergartner. Now you can't ever walk to school when you are 10," she said.
"What we have done is massively underestimate our children and massively overestimate the danger."
Arthur Schafer, a University of Manitoba professor and the director of the U of M Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said whatever happens to the Winnipeg woman will be at the discretion of the court and will take into consideration whether harm was intended or negligently risked through her actions and what, if any, punishment there should be.
"The defence that nothing bad came of it, if the child had come to harm, it would have been worse," Schafer said. "Imagine two parents who leave their kids for the same length of time in a locked house in similar circumstances and one house burns down and the other doesn't or in one, the child manages to fall out of a window to its death and the other that doesn't happen. But they could equally have happened so both can be very serious."
If the woman was convicted, Schafer said he would expect any punishment would take into account that the woman hasn't seen her child in 18 months.
"It seems unlikely they'd need to imprison her or fine her heavily. The fact that she has suffered greatly, she's lost custody of her child, she's been stigmatized, she's been charged, even if she's not convicted, might be viewed by the court as sufficient punishment. Or not."
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Girl Dies after Refusing Chemo
January 20, 2015 permalink
Makayla Sault, who last year refused chemo therapy for leukemia, has died. McMaster Children’s Hospital tried to get CAS to intervene, but Brant CAS refused, and the courts did not compel CAS to act. Expect this death to be the basis of a new power grab by CAS. To keep this story in one place, it is an addendum to Girl Wants Out of Chemo
Mentally Disturbed Criminal Snatches Children
January 20, 2015 permalink
What kind of conduct is permissible for a social worker? Georgia DFCS investigator Paige Newsome was convicted of forgery, reckless driving and pointing a gun at a motorist, but remains on the job. She also stated under oath in court that she suffers from a mental or emotional disability.
DFCS has no problem with investigator's criminal record
CANTON, Ga. – A state investigator responsible for ensuring the safety of Georgia's children can be convicted of forgery and pulling a gun in a road rage incident and still keep her job. That's the answer from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services to questions raised by the 11Alive Investigators.
DFCS child protection investigator Paige Newsome was hired last year by the Cherokee County DFCS office even after the agency learned she had failed to report her conviction on a 2011 gun charge. The state requires applicants to report all convictions and pending charges on a security questionnaire and loyalty oath. Newsome had reported four traffic convictions, but omitted her guilty plea for drawing a revolver on another driver in I-20.
According to documents obtained by the 11Alive Investigators, the West Monroe Police Department in Louisiana arrested Newsome after the other driver called 9-1-1 and reported Newsome had pointed a gun at him after she cut him off on the interstate. As part of her guilty plea, she was required to turn over the gun to police. The missing conviction was found as part of a criminal background check by the state on May 1, 2014 -- the day Newsome was hired.
A month after she started working in a position that would send her into the homes of at risk children, Newsome was in court again. She pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery in the 4th degree for signing her father's name to checks without his permission. Newsome had reported the pending charges on her application, but explained that her plea under the Georgia First Offender Statute would not involve a fine or probation.
Newsome is currently serving 12 months probation and she was fined $250 by the court, contrary to her statement when applying for the DFCS job.
As part of her guilty plea, Newsome was required to answer several questions asked by the court. While employed as a DFCS investigator, she answered "yes" to the question, "Do you now suffer from any mental or emotional disability?"
A spokesperson from the Georgia Department of Human Services which oversees DFCS told The 11 Alive Investigators that Newsome's mental issues are protected under federal law and can not be discussed by the state. DHS issued a statement to 11 Alive, copied below, but the agency had no issues with Newsome's criminal history or what she failed to report.
The DHS spokesperson called Newsome a model employee, adding she's had no disciplinary actions during her time at DFCS.
The agency also knew about Newsome's 2012 arrest for driving under the influence on I-20. She reported it as a conviction for reckless driving – the final disposition -- but a copy of the DUI arrest report was in Newsome's personnel file. She supplied an explanation the day after signing her application.
Newsome wrote, "I had an accident…I was charged with suspicion of DUI though the breath-a-lizer (SIC) showed nothing." Georgia State Patrol records show a portable breath test reading of 0.11% blood alcohol level, well above the driving limit of 0.08.
Court records show Newsome was arrested by the state trooper at the scene of the one car crash, and she pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of reckless driving while a blood test was still pending.
DFCS officials accepted her explanation without question and she was hired as an investigator, even though the agency had the GSP report showing a completely different blood alcohol result.
Similarly, records indicate that DFCS didn't have a problem with Newsome completely omitting the gun charge. Emails obtained by the 11 Alive Investigators under open records laws show a human resources manager was concerned about the omission as recently as last month, but still recommended "continued employment."
A former DFCS official told us the agency follows its employment policies to the letter because of fear over lawsuits from terminated employees. Department of Human Resources Policy #504 lists several charges that would disqualify an applicant, but if an applicant or employee is convicted of a charge not listed in the policy, they can be hired or keep their job of they're already working for the agency.
DHS lists forgery in the first and second degree in Policy #504, but forgery in the fourth degree is perfectly acceptable for its employees and prospective employees. Likewise, pulling a gun during a road rage incident is not on the list and therefore it has no effect on a child protection investigator's employment.
Even though Newsome reported the forgery charge on her application, she didn't have to do so. The application says charges handled under the First Offender Statute do not need to be reported.
The emails discussing Paige Newsome's job included some confusion on the part of a DHS regional HR manager. She wrote, "we may be speaking about another employee situation. We truly have too many problem children." She included the :) emoticon for a smiley face at the end of the sentence.
The emails also show a discussion of pulling Newsome from her child protection duties during the agency's investigation, but as of this week Newsome was back at work at the Cherokee County DFCS office and The 11 Alive Investigators found her repeatedly parking in the Employee of The Quarter parking space.
DFCS said she is not the Employee of The Quarter.
We reached out to Paige Newsome for her side of the story but she did not reply.
They're hired to protect Georgia's helpless children, but how many DFCS child protection investigators have criminal records? That's the $64,000 question. WXIA
State lawyers replied to our open records request for the loyalty oaths of only those DFCS employees with criminal records, saying we would have to pay more than $64,000 to get copies of the records.
The agency released the following statement to 11Alive:
"The Division of Family and Children Services hired Paige Newsome as a social services case manager in May 2014. Her qualifications and history deemed her eligible for employment according to the policy at that time.
After initial hiring, employees are evaluated based upon their ability to perform assigned job duties and by their adherence to agency policy and procedures, including the standards of conduct for employees.
Agency policy regarding personnel and child welfare practice is always under review, and the agency takes action to revise those policies when appropriate."
Source: WXIA-TV Atlanta
Foster Dog Bites Boy
January 20, 2015 permalink
A ten-year-old boy known only as DR had a fear of animals. Oregon DHS knew where to place him: in the home of Lillian Yun, a woman who rescued lost animals. Patron, a Doberman Pinscher mix, mauled the boy, inflicting permanent facial scars.
Foster child who was afraid of animals placed in home with Dobermans, then mauled, suit says
A 10-year-old foster child who had a fear of animals was nonetheless placed in a Gresham foster home that also served as a Doberman Pinscher rescue and then was mauled in the face by one of the dogs, according to a $900,000 lawsuit.
The boy will need an estimated $50,000 for counseling and for cosmetic surgery for permanent scars on his face, according to the suit filed Friday in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The suit also seeks $850,000 for the boy’s anguish and suffering, including nightmares and trouble sleeping because of the “savage attack” last last July 10, the suit states.
An attorney for the boy filed suit on his behalf against the Oregon Department of Human Services, which certified the boy’s Gresham foster mom, and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, which DHS contracted with to place the boy in the home of foster mom Lillian Yun, the suit states. Yun also is listed as a defendant.
The suit states that the boy, identified by the initials D.R., moved into Yun’s home on Feb. 14, 2014. At some point after that, he was bitten at least once by Patron, a Doberman Pinscher mix who lived in Yun’s home. Then on July 10, he was attacked so badly he was sent to the hospital -- and that led to his immediate removal from the home, the suit states.
The suit faults Catholic Community Services for keeping the boy in the home, “even after D.R.’s counselor voiced concerns to her supervisors at CCS about D.R. being placed in a home with dogs.”
The suit states that Yun also had repeated contacts with animal control services and “had been bitten multiple times in the past by dogs she had ‘rescued.'" The suit states that DHS and Catholic Community Services should have known that children placed in her home could be in danger.
DHS, Catholic Community Services and Yun couldn’t be reached for immediate comment. Hillsboro attorney Matthew Kehoe is representing the boy.
Leonard Henderson R.I.P.
January 19, 2015 permalink
Leonard Henderson has passed away. The founder of the American Family Rights Association, he had been in ill health for several years.
RIP Leonard Henderson - The Grandfather of Family Rights
I am devastated after receiving the following message from Roz McAllister of the American Family Rights Association. We lost one of the greatest, the Grandfather of Family Rights and co-founder of AFRA himself Leonard Henderson who died of natural causes on January 1st 2015.
It is with great sadness that I must inform everyone of the death of the remaining founder of American Family Rights Association (www.familyrightsassociation.com).
Leonard was a dear friend of many. His leadership created the best source of help for parents who are under attack by CPS agencies. His facebook groups cover everything from news to help groups in many states, and reform and activist groups.
Leonard suffered with a lung disease for many years. He has been bedridden for the last few years. On January 1st, he could finally catch his breath and fill his lungs with the crystal clear air of Heaven, for there was waiting for him a very special place!
Goodbye my friend and "Big Brother". See you later!
My heart and prayers goes out to Leonard and his family, and we all thank him for the help he brought to the families who have become victims of CPS.
RIP my friend. You will be missed.
Source: LegallyKidnapped (Patrick Rafferty)
Child Advocate Stymied
January 19, 2015 permalink
Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman tried to find out whether CAS in Ontario puts foster children in motels, as happened in Manitoba. He could not get an answer from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, so he asked the executive director of every children's aid society. He only got answers from half of them.
You might remember when I learned of the practice in Manitoba of using hotels and motels as a "placement" for children and youth in care I had asked the Ministry of Children and Youth Services if this practice was in place in Ontario. I asked whether there were guidelines about the practice. I was told the Ministry had no guidelines, that this would be up to each local CAS. I was told the MCYS would be surprised if the practice was used but that they did not know that I should check with the local CASs.
I then wrote every Director of a local CAS asking the same questions. Sadly but I guess not surprisingly only 24 of the CASs responded (approximately half) bothered to respond after two months.
Those that responded indicated either they do not make use of hotels or motels ever or only in rare instances for youth over 16 years on independent living in an emergency situation for a few days. One agency was using hotels as a temporary placement in past years but has ended the practice by policy and now never uses them. Another reported using a hotel once in the past as a "mental health" placement because there was no mental health supports available in the community.
It leads me to wonder about what the other half of the CASs do.
I will pass what I have learned on to the MCYS. Perhaps they might make their own inquiries. Until Bill 8 is proclaimed a CAS does not have to respond to me but they must respond to the MCYS.
I will keep at it and not lose this thread.
Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman
Boy's Experience in CAS Care
January 19, 2015 permalink
Vern Beck spoke to a teenaged boy in CAS care. The boy related a litany of problems with CAS, problems accentuated by the man supposedly acting as his lawyer.
I interviewed another teen on video yesterday. Same story as many other kids. Some of the points captured on video:
- He hates CAS workers and wants them out of his life. He does not trust them.
- He does not like CAS workers coming to his school. If CAS workers want to interview him he would prefer it to be at CAS offices, not his school.
- The CAS have not helped his family in any way but have only made things worse over the years for his family.
- The CAS workers showed a bias in favor of his mother and worked against his father when his father was a good parent
- The Office of the Children's lawyer nor the CAS told him of his rights and freedoms nor of his rights to be informed of what was going on in court.
- The CAS and his OCL lawyer kept him from seeing his father which is not what he wanted at all. The OCL lawyer did what the boy did not want. The boy wants to see his father.
Overall, this teen's testimony is the same as I gather from many teens. Teens are beginning to speak out. Judgement day will be coming soon for these unregistered CAS workers and incompetent OCL lawyers who continue to do incompetent work and cause destruction to children and families. Some heads are going to roll as the parents and kids are complaining about the same workers.
If any readers have a child who wishes to speak on on video and is willing to disclose their thoughts and feelings about the CAS and the OCL with our elected officials and the family court judges, then private message me. Children speaking out can make a difference in making CAS and the OCL accountable and transparent. Information disclosed by some kids may even qualify for a lawsuit for those who are willing to have their video reviewed by a litigation lawyer.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Adopted Woman Unknowingly Passes Disease to Children
January 17, 2015 permalink
Monique Lair was adopted as a child and her genetic heritage was concealed from her. Had she remained in contact with her natural parents, one of them would have exhibited symptoms of Steinert disease, also called Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), before she reached child-bearing age. Instead she remained unaware of her condition while giving birth to two children. When one of the children developed symptoms, all family members were tested for DM1. Monique and both children tested positive.
Monique Lair is helplessly watching her children deteriorate.
She hangs onto two medical books she was lucky to acquire that tell her all about the disease her children inherited hoping a cure will be found before it's too late.
The guilt is unimaginable.
Lair, who was adopted at a young age, never knew she had myotonic dystrophy. She unknowingly passed the disease to her children.
Jessica, 22, and Marcel, 19, both have myotonic dystrophy type 1, also called Steinhart disease.
The disease affects more than just muscles. It also attacks the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, vision, immune system, skin, reproductive and gastrointestinal systems.
“My children are deteriorating,” Lair says while holding back tears. “I wouldn't have had children if I knew I carried this disease.”
Myotonic dystrophy is a complex variable disease that is quite rare. Little information is known about it and there is no treatment or cure. Only one out of 8,000 people worldwide is diagnosed with the disease.
Lair says she thought myotonic dystrophy was just a disease that affects the muscles, but she quickly learned it was much more complicated.
Jessica was diagnosed at about 11 when she suffered from chronic ear infections.
There also were language and behavioural issues at school.
“I just knew something wasn't right,” Lair says. “But our pediatricians continued to say there was nothing wrong with her.”
Three months later, Lair had her daughter tested at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
“We were told Jessica had myotonic dystrophy. However, we were assured nothing would really come of it,” she says.
Because it's a genetic disease, both Lair and her husband, Dan, were tested. It came back Lair was the source.
“The doctors asked me if I wanted my son to be tested. He was also having issues.”
After diagnosis the situation became worse, Lair says, explaining there was bullying by both peers and teachers.
“Jessica had her head slammed against the wall. Teachers would tell us our kids were lazy and not motivated,” Lair says.
Both graduated, but Marcel might never hold down a job.
“He has a hard time focusing and he's always tired. He has a hard time swallowing and has been abused in the workforce. My kids are deteriorating right before me,” Lair says.
“They have an invisible disability. If they would have been born in a wheelchair they would have received a lot of help,” she says.
“They look normal. But what people don't see is what's happening inside.”
Lair is doing everything she can to give her son and daughter the quality of life they deserve. But, right now, the disease is winning.
It's a battle Lair wasn't prepared to fight.
In the last 10 years, Lair has had to educate herself, her family and medical professionals about the disease.
She's reduced her workload as a nurse to part time so she can care and advocate for her children.
“I'm not going to lie, this disease has certainly taken a toll on our family,” Lair says, adding there are few resources to help financially or to provide support to those with the disease and their family members.
“I know what this disease will eventually do to them. I want to help before the physical symptoms become too much.”
Lair says she recently decided to go public because she wants to help others facing a similar fate.
“Help has to start at an early age. The medical profession must get up to speed on this disease,” she says.
“There's hurtles we constantly have to jump over just to get the care they need and we're still coming up short. I just wonder if it's too late for them.”
Ideally Lair would like to see supports in place that would allow her children to begin to live independently.
“I'm not going to be around forever. I want them to be able to survive on their own,” she says.
“If I'm going to get any help it has to come before the physical disabilities begin to set in and that will eventually happen. I also want people to be aware that before they say things like these kids are simple or lazy, consider that there might be an underlying condition.”
Source: North Bay Nugget
Fake Social Worker Stalks Manitoba
January 17, 2015 permalink
Police in Manitoba are looking for a fake social worker after she called on a home in Blumenort, southeast of Winnipeg.
RCMP on alert south of Winnipeg after woman posed as CFS worker
Suspicious woman knocked on door of Blumenort, Man. resident, claimed to be on house call for CFS
Residents an hour southeast of Winnipeg are on alert after RCMP said it received reports of a suspicious person posing as a Manitoba Child and Family Services (CFS) worker in the area.
A woman knocked on someone's door in Blumenort, Man. Wednesday and said she worked for CFS. The homeowner claims the woman said she was doing a house call to ensure a child was being properly cared for.
The homeowner reported the incident to police. It was later confirmed the woman did not work for CFS.
RCMP have advised area residents to exercise caution when considering allowing someone unknown to them into their home.
Police are reminding people to ask to see credentials and to call the authorities if something feels suspicious.
CAS Broken Promise
January 14, 2015 permalink
CAS promised the family of Katie Pearce's nephew that he would come home today provided they got certain documents to court. The family got the documents with heroic efforts, but CAS kept the nephew anyway.
I made this cake for my nephew today for his welcome home party because CAS agreed to let my nephews go home (basically promised!) as long as she had certain papers at court today, which she did! My nephew's father took the bus at 2AM last night for a 3 and a half hour drive just to go get these papers and fax them over. Then we got to court waited about 4 hours, finally got in to see the judge only to hear my nephew is not going home today [cry emoticon] and you won't believe why!
Hey sorry for making everyone wait. The reason was because my mother lied and said she took care of my nephew for the first year of his life (he is only about 17 months old now) so they are saying my sister can't have him back because she doesn't have enough experience!! So now they are making a "care plan" with her ... What I find stupid is there are plenty of new moms with no experience at all, that's how we learn!!! The girl my nephew is with right now does not have any kids and has no experience with kids! They are just making up excuses now! They are not even thinking of my nephew anymore.
Source: Stop the CAS ...
Girl Threatened over Exotic Pet
January 14, 2015 permalink
Jamie Guarino is a professional snake handler who let his baby daughter play with a python. Michigan child protectors are investigating the family. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the embedded video.
Human Services Officials Alerted to Kids Who Play with Pythons
The Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office has initiated an investigation after viral video shows toddler playing with Burmese python.
Child protective workers have begun an investigation into a White Lake couple who allow their children to play with Burmese pythons.
Oakland County Chief Prosecutor Paul Walton told The Oakland Press authorites have asked the Michigan Department of Human Services to determine if abuse or neglect is takling place in the home.
The county prosecutor’s office initiated the investigation after becoming aware through media reports that Jamie Guarino’s children play with Nay-Nay, a 13-foot python, and other large snakes in some of the approximately 105 videos on his SnakeHuntersTV channel on YouTube and his website.
Guarino thinks Burmese pythons get a bad rap and are suitable as family pets. He said his at-the-time 14-month-old toddler was never in any danger in the video of Barcroft TV’s YouTube channel that has been viewed 1.5 million times.
Walton said he can’t recall the prosecutor’s office ever having initiated a child-abuse investigation involving snakes, but said officials launched investigations after children were allowed to be around vicious dogs, including one in which a pit bull chewed off a child’s foot.
Source: Huntington Woods-Berkley Patch
Even Successful Adoption is Traumatic
January 13, 2015 permalink
Shaaren Pine was successfully adopted from India by a Massachusetts family. She has no complaints about her adoptive parents, but reports that her separation from her real family continues to be a burden for herself and her daughter.
Please don’t tell me I was lucky to be adopted
I’ve never been good at embracing my story, but lately I’ve found help in the most unlikely of places: my 7-year-old daughter, Ara.
A few months ago a good friend relayed a conversation she had just overheard between Ara and the friend’s 6-year-old son.
“I heard you were talking to Graham about adoption?” I asked Ara later.
“Yeah,” she said.
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I just said that I’m kind of like an adoptee, but instead of being taken away from my brown mom, I was taken away from my brown grandma.”
I was stunned. There she was, then 6, expressing her feelings about my adoption so clearly. She was able to acknowledge that like me, she, too, feels she has been cut off from her family, her culture and her story and that she is missing a part of who she is.
And Graham was such a wonderful friend to her. He listened, asked a question or two, and, most important, didn’t shut her down by telling her she was too sensitive or overreacting.
In my almost 40 years, I’ve only recently been able to talk about adoption honestly and openly. And it is incredibly difficult.
At 4 months old, I was flown from my orphanage in India to my adoptive parents in Groton, Mass. I would never say I didn’t have a good childhood — I did. My life was enviable in too many ways to mention. But what’s also true is that adoption is a traumatic, lifelong experience that is rarely recognized as one. Unfortunately, there is no way to convince a non-adoptee that adoption is hard and that its effects continue into adulthood unless that person is willing to hear it. And in my experience, few have been.
For me, being an adoptee is like getting into a horrible car accident and surviving with devastating injuries. But instead of anybody acknowledging the trauma of the accident, they tell you that you should feel lucky. Even if the injuries never stop hurting, never quite heal. Even if the injuries make it impossible to feel comfortable in everyday life.
So I learned not to talk about it. Even though my bones ached.
For some reason, my amazing kid knows that she is allowed to talk about how that car accident has made an impact on her life, even if you can’t see any visible scars on me and even if she wasn’t there when it happened. Adoption loss is truly multi-generational.
In her younger years, Ara was always coming up with ways we could find our missing family. “Maybe, Momma, if we … call the orphanage or go to India or write a letter … we could find them.” I wish I had had the strength to verbalize this primal need when I was a child. But I didn’t. I’m still learning how to express it.
I sometimes imagine what my life would have been like if I had had her confidence. If I had felt safe enough to claim my story and the pain of being an adoptee. If I had felt secure that I could share it openly. And if I had believed people would support me when I did.
I probably wouldn’t have wished to die so often starting when I was 11.
And I probably wouldn’t have started cutting myself when I was 12.
I know that not every adoptee has had the same experiences that I have had, but I also know that my story isn’t unique. Adoptees are about 2.5 times as likely to attempt suicide than non-adoptees, according to a 2001 study of adopted adults published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. A 2000 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that adoptees are twice as likely as non-adoptees to have received counseling. And prevalence of substance abuse was 43 percent higher among adoptees than non-adoptees, according to a 2012 study published in the journal PLOS One.
Adoptees are often so busy trying to prove that we’re fine, that it’s too late when we realize we’re not. At some point, I stopped running a knife across my wrist, but for many years, that was my solution to denying — and being denied — my truth.
The physical pain of cutting numbed my emotional pain, and it helped me close the gap between my two falsely dichotomous selves: the “happy” adoptee who had everything given to her and the angry adoptee who had everything taken away. On the one hand I was having a regular life with friends and sports and sleepovers and school. But I was also always wondering where I came from, who I looked like, when my real birthday was and if my mother was thinking about me when I was thinking about her. Did my mother love me? And if she didn’t, why not? What was wrong with me? Why would people tell me that my mother loved me so much that she gave me away?
I was also trying to understand why everyone thought I should be grateful because I was adopted. Or why they told me that my adoptive parents saved me. Or why people felt that being upset or angry is an irrational response to living, forever, with no answers.
Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?
On top of this internal, secret questioning, I was carrying the weight of growing up in an all-white town in an all-white family, unbearably alone and hopelessly on display. It was impossible for me to embrace adopted-ness, or brownness or Indian-ness. And there was no space for me to be confident or beautiful because I was too busy wanting to be white or petite or not-adopted, like my friends.
A few weeks ago in my daughter’s gymnastics class, a little white girl looked up at me and gushed, “You are so beautiful!” I couldn’t believe it. I am so grateful that my daughter is growing up in a community where brown can be beautiful. Where she doesn’t have to wish her skin white.
My daughter tells me all the time, especially if I’m going out and am dressed up — “Oh, Amma, you’re so beautiful.” She loves my heels, and especially the Indian outfits. The more important part, though, as I watch her put on my heels and the Indian clothes, as she stands in front of the mirror checking herself out, is that she thinks she’s beautiful.
Obviously, it’s not just about being grateful that she can see her beauty. I still worry about how she’ll continue to process her place in the world. Adoptees and our children, despite being connected to each other, can still feel alone, without extended families or roots or anybody who looks like us. There is that inescapable feeling that many of us, ourselves and our kids, have: that we could, at any moment, just float away into the ether because we have nothing to hold on to.
I hope my daughter always feels confident in her beauty and strength. And I hope she’s always willing to tell me her truth. And even more so, I hope I’m always willing to hear her. Especially if she stops being confident, as I did. And especially if she stops talking, as I did.
As she says herself, she already feels like an adoptee.
And being an adoptee, sometimes, is too much to bear.
Shaaren Pine lives in Washington.
Source: Washington Post
Mom Punches Cop
January 13, 2015 permalink
When Florida police and DCF investigators removed a baby from mother Chinwe Onyiuke she punched the cop.
Note. The police slam the mother noting that she has outstanding warrants. In American jurisprudence this does not mean she has committed multiple serious offenses. It almost always means she has a number of unpaid fines.
West Palm Police: Woman punched officer as baby removed by DCF
A woman who was having her 2-year-old boy removed by investigators with the Department of Children and Families was arrested Friday after she allegedly punched a West Palm Beach police officer.
Chinwe Onyiuke is facing charges of battery on an officer and resisting an officer with violence. Onyiuke, 36, remains in the Palm Beach County Jail where she is being held in lieu of $6,000 bail.
Police were called to the Days Inn at 2300 45th Street where they met with DCF investigators. Two officers and three investigators went to a room being rented by Onyiuke and an adult male.
“Onyiuke was verbally abusive from the initial contact,” according to an arrest report.
When Onyiuke, who had outstanding warrants in Miami-Dade County, was told the child was being removed, she got up from a chair and walked toward the baby.
Given her “demeanor,” the officer decided it was best for Onyiuke not to have contact with the child. He grabbed the woman’s hand and instructed she was being arrested for the warrants. After submitting to having her right wrist handcuffed, Onyiuke allegedly struck the second officer on the right side of this face with her left hand.
Onyiuke tried to hit the officer a second time, according to the report, and was taken to the ground. When she continued to resist and attempted to bite the officer, he responded by punching her in the head.
“I am done,” Onyiuke said, according to the report.
Source: Palm Beach Post
Children's Rights Sues South Carolina
January 13, 2015 permalink
Children's Rights Inc is suing South Carolina alleging failings in its foster care system. This time they have another organization joining as plaintiff, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
2 groups file federal lawsuit against South Carolina DSS
Two nonprofit organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday against South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, acting on behalf of children in the agency’s care.
The suit, filed by national child advocacy agency Children’s Rights and the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, argues, “As a direct result of longstanding, well-documented failures by DSS, Plaintiff Children have been and continue to be harmed physically, psychologically and emotionally and continue to be placed at ongoing risk of such harms while in DSS custody. DSS is re-victimizing the very children it is charged to protect.”
The suit names 11 children in DSS care as plaintiffs (represented by adult lawyers) but seeks reform as a class action on behalf of nearly 3,400 children statewide whom the suit describes as “abused and neglected.”
The suit cites numerous alleged problems at DSS, including “a drastic shortage of foster homes, excessive caseloads and a failure to provide children with basic health care.”
The 11 named plaintiffs range in age from 2 to 17 and collectively have lived in foster homes and institutions across the state. The suit alleges all have suffered neglect and abuse. Plaintiff Michelle H., 16, has been through at least 12 placements in about 8 years, including abusive foster homes, according to the suit.
DSS, according to the suit, also failed to provide plaintiff Ava R., 15, with necessary mental health treatment for 10 months and that Ava was denied her depression medication as punishment at a group home.
“Foster care is supposed to be a safe haven for abused and neglected children, yet South Carolina is re-victimizing the kids it’s supposed to protect,” said Ira Lustbader, litigation director for Children’s Rights. “There’s got to be accountability when longstanding systemic problems, like a severe lack of mental health services, gross over-reliance on institutions and high caseloads, continue to harm innocent children.”
According to the complaint, child maltreatment in foster care goes uninvestigated, inaccurate data masks a much higher rate of abuse and neglect in care than the state reports to the federal government, and caseworkers are so overburdened that kids suffer unnecessary harm.
“For the 25 years that I have been advocating on behalf of South Carolina’s most vulnerable citizens, DSS has continuously failed to make changes to ensure kids in foster care are protected and given proper treatment,” said Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. “Since South Carolina has repeatedly ignored its own admissions about the system, we have no choice but to act and demand reform.”
The lawsuit also states that DSS does not provide basic medical, dental and mental health evaluations and treatment as is require explicitly by law. It asks the court to assert federal jurisdiction and take action to fix the alleged shortage of foster homes, excessive caseworker caseloads and inadequate health care for children.
“We want to stop the Band-Aid approach,” Berkowitz said. “The problems have been known for decades and have not been fixed. We think it’s time for the court to step in.”
Gov. Nikki Haley and acting DSS Director Susan Alford are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Neither immediately replied Monday to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
Source: Cola Daily
Perverse Social Worker / Barber
January 12, 2015 permalink
A young man in British Columbia was drinking at the home of his former social worker Michael Hume. He fell asleep and when he awoke he was naked and Hume had shaved off most of his body hair. Police believed the story after finding the hair in Hume's vacuum cleaner.
Social worker accused of sexual assault
A longtime youth and justice worker in Lytton is accused of sexually assaulting a resident of the community he once assisted.
Michael Hume is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats stemming from an incident the Crown alleges occurred on Aug. 8, 2013, at his home in the small Fraser Canyon community.
Hume’s trial began on Thursday, Jan. 8, in front of a 12-person jury in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops.
The complainant cannot be named due to a court order protecting his identity.
Lytton First Nation Chief Janet Webster testified that Hume arrived from outside the small community more than 10 years ago. His first position was as a recreation and youth worker and, later, as a court worker with a restorative-justice program that brings victims and those convicted of crimes together in a healing circle or by other means.
Hume became ingrained in the band, marrying the former band administrator, who has since died.
Crown prosecutor Chris Balison told the jury the young adult who went to police after the incident “didn’t have the easiest life.
“He was a drinker,” Balison said.
“He struggled with anxiety.”
The man testified he was drinking at a friend’s house in Lytton on Aug. 8, 2013, when he decided to walk home.
He changed his mind en route, stopping at St. Bartholemew’s Hospital to use the phone.
In his opening to the jury, Balison said Hume came along and the two smoked and chatted outside the hospital. Balison said Hume offered a ride to his own house, which the young man declined several times before eventually accepting.
Once at Hume’s house, Balison said, the man went into the bathroom where he was sick. Twenty minutes later, he came out to a drink prepared by the social worker.
Balison said the young man awoke unclothed after blacking out to find Hume shaving his body, including his genitals.
Balison said the man looked beside him and saw what he thought was his own body hair shaved off.
“He didn’t agree to this,” Balison told the jury. “He didn’t want this to happen. He was scared.”
A recording was played in court of a telephone call the complainant made to the band chief from Hume’s house, after when the Crown alleges the assault occurred.
“I need you to pick up right now, please — pick up, please,” the man could be heard pleading on the message to an empty house.
Balison said the Crown will attempt to prove Hume cleaned up the shaven hair, which was later obtained from Hume’s vacuum after RCMP obtained a search warrant.
Webster testified she noticed one of the young man’s armpits was shaved, something she had not seen before.
The young man is expected to testify that after the assault, Hume grabbed a bottle of alcohol, wielding it in a threatening way and telling him not to leave.
Balison said Hume later drove the young man home, giving him $50 and telling him not to tell anyone of the incident.
The trial is scheduled to continue on Friday.
Source: Kamloops This Week
‘He pretty much shaved me everywhere,’ complainant says of social worker charged with sex assault
A Lytton resident struggled through tears in B.C. Supreme Court as he testified about awaking naked after a drinking session to find his former social worker shaving off most of his body hair.
Michael Hume is charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement and uttering threats stemming from an incident the Crown alleges occurred on Aug. 8, 2013, at his home in Lytton
The young man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban protecting his identity, testified this week in a B.C. Supreme Court trial in front of a 12-person jury.
The complainant testified he reluctantly accepted a ride from Hume to his house after drinking at a friend’s house. He otherwise faced a long walk home.
“I gave in and said yes,” he told court.
Once there, the young man said he immediately went to the bathroom because he was sick from drinking too much alcohol.
When he came out, he found Hume at the kitchen table offering him a drink of Captain Morgan rum and root beer.
He had a few sips but didn’t like it. He testified going to his backpack to retrieve a beer but there were none inside.
The young man also told the jury he tried to steal one of Hume’s other bottles of hard liquor but got caught and was told to put it back.
He went back to the drink at the table chatting with Hume before finishing about a quarter of his drink and passing out.
“I woke up on the floor naked in the living room,” he said.
“He [Hume] had my left leg in the air and was shaving underneath my testicles. I said ‘what the f–k are you doing?'”
The complainant testified Hume replied, “Don’t be mad — your girlfriend will like it anyway.”
“He pretty much shaved me everywhere,” he said.
“I was itchy and there was hair everywhere beside me.”
Janet Webster, chief of the Lytton First Nation, testified Hume arrived in the small Fraser Valley community 10 years ago, working first as a youth and recreation councillor and later as a native court worker assisting with restorative justice and helping young band members in trouble with the law — including the complainant.
The complainant said following the shaving, Hume at first threatened him with a bottle, telling him he couldn’t leave. He said he made several frantic phone calls to get a ride while Hume was elsewhere in the house.
When he told Hume he was going to report the episode, he said the social worker “just laughed and said, ‘No one will believe you anyway.’
“He’s probably right,” he said.
“He buys everyone’s love with money. Everyone likes him.”
Throughout his testimony, the young man said he felt scared and disgusted by the episode.
Eventually, the complainant said, Hume drove him to his cousin’s house, throwing him $50.
“He told me not to tell anyone,” he said.
“He told me I was a good kid and didn’t want me to do anything bad.”
The complainant said he immediately told his cousin about the incident. Soon after, RCMP took him to hospital for photographs of his shaven body, which were shown to jurors as evidence. He said he’d never shaved his own body hair.
In his opening to jurors, prosecutor Chris Balison said the Crown will attempt to prove Hume cleaned up the shaven hair, which was later found inside Hume’s vacuum cleaner after RCMP obtained a search warrant.
Source: Kamloops This Week
January 11, 2015 permalink
Royce Rigney, age 19, is the kind of boy any parent would be proud of. "Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future". Rigney's legal parents are the social services system of South Australia. They are touting their success with his real name. The social services system keeps the names of their failures secret (most of their wards).
Foster child Royce Rigney praises embattled child-protection agency Families SA for giving him a chanceto realise his dreams
A CHANCE meeting in a hospital waiting room about five years ago was the last time Royce Rigney saw his mother.
He didn’t recognise the woman who quickly hugged him and then walked away, and had to be told by his foster father who she was.
Royce, now 19, was taken from his mother’s care at birth, after her heavy drinking led to his premature arrival and serious health problems.
He was one of hundreds of children taken from their parents each year by child-protection workers and placed in the care of the state.
Royce was fortunate to be placed with a stable foster family who saw him through a childhood of operations and intermittent contact with his biological family.
Today, he is the picture of success, holding down an administration traineeship with SA Police and confident about his future. But he knows of many other foster kids who haven’t been as lucky.
“I never went to a (state) home or anything, I always had a mother and a father figure in my life,” Royce told the Sunday Mail.
“But I’ve heard a lot of stories. A lot of other kids, they had been abused by their foster parents, which is terrible.
“If they move from one family to another, it confuses them. They don’t know who’s Mum or who’s Dad any more.”
Royce was 13 when his father – who he had never met – died.
He knows very little about his biological family but has heard enough to believe that Families SA made the right decision in taking him into care. Royce’s medical problems included heart trouble, a cleft palate and speech impediment, mild hearing loss in his right ear and vision impairment in his right eye.
“I was very, very sick when I was young,” he said. “The doctors didn’t think I was going to live. Families SA got called and I wasn’t allowed to go back to my mother.
“At the end of the day, they helped me, they chose a family for me – the best that I could be with.” Royce lives with three foster siblings – an older brother in his 20s, a teenage sister and a pre-school-aged brother.
Other children have come and gone from the home over the years.
“There was a foster kid I knew who was abused, got raped, the worst things you can think of,” Royce said.
“I thought ‘how can this happen?’ They (Families SA) gave you a kid so it has a hope of a good future and you’re taking their lives away.”
Growing up as a foster child, Royce’s life was pretty normal. He was shy at kindy but a cheeky performer at home.
Later, he played football and wanted to hang out at his friends’ houses.
But there were some significant differences between Royce and his peers.
“I had to get permission from Families SA to go on school camps and stuff,” he said.
“They did police checks on my friends’ families.”
As a teenager, Royce wrote in his high school year book that he wanted to be a police officer.
“I want to do something that will help, especially the Aboriginal community, younger kids and the next generation,” he said.
Royce acknowledges that some people hold a certain impression of foster kids as “messed-up”.
“(Foster children) may have anger issues, or be going through depression – there’s a whole range of things that could be happening in their minds – and they need to be aligned with the right foster family,” he said.
“I did at one stage, when I was younger, look at my other friends and think they had a really good life with their real mum and dad and (think) ‘why couldn’t I have that?’
“(But) sometimes it’s not about blood but it’s the psychological connection you have and the love.
“The most important thing ... is the child – raising them, getting a good education to get the best out of them – because if they stay with abusive parents it’s just going to repeat in the next generation.”
Source: Courier-Mail (Australia)
January 11, 2015 permalink
When Tamara Loertscher suspected she was pregnant she stopped using drugs and asked Taylor county Wisconsin social services for help. They knew just what to prescribe: 18 days in jail.
Pregnant woman challenging Wisconsin protective custody law
For the second time, a pregnant Wisconsin woman has challenged a state law that landed her in jail after she admitted to past drug use while seeking prenatal care.
Tamara Loertscher, 30, of Medford was jailed in Taylor County for 18 days — including three in solitary confinement — after a judge found her in contempt for refusing to move to a residential treatment center, according to the federal civil rights lawsuit she filed in Madison.
The lawsuit claims Wisconsin's so-called cocaine mom statute — meant to provide protection for developing fetuses — is unconstitutional, and seeks an injunction against its further use.
The 1998 law lets adult pregnant women suspected of current or past drug or alcohol use that could affect their fetus be held in secure custody and subjected to medical treatment involuntarily. Social workers can initiate confidential legal action in children's court; lawyers get appointed for a woman's fetus.
Last year, a pregnant woman ordered into a residential drug treatment center in West Bend also went to court, with the help of the same organization aiding Loertscher, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Lawyers helped get Alicia Beltran released and Washington County to drop actions against her. Her federal lawsuit was dismissed this year as moot, because she has since had her baby and is not in custody or facing other legal consequences.
"As shocking as Beltran was, the Loertscher case is more so, and more revealing of how dangerous this law is to pregnant women and their unborn children," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Critics, including many medical professionals, have long said laws aimed at protecting a fetus can scare pregnant women from seeking prenatal care or being honest with their doctors.
Neither the Taylor County officials involved in detaining Loertscher nor the state officials named as defendants in the lawsuit would comment on her case or the law in general.
But Rep. Andres Jacques, (R-De Pere) who was not in the Legislature when the law was passed, said it has likely helped dozens of women and their babies over the years, who were perhaps glad for the intervention.
"It's not meant to be hostile to women," he said, but if the lawsuits expose some problems administering the law, that could be addressed.
"But scrapping the whole law? That's a very strong overreach," he said.
At the time the bill was working its way through the Legislature, lawmakers also said it could save money. Republican Mary Lazich of New Berlin — then a state representative, now a state senator — argued that delivery and initial medical care for cocaine-addicted babies, for example, cost more than eight times as much as delivery of a non-addicted baby.
Tests reveal past drug use
According to the suit:
Loertscher was suffering from hypothyroidism and depression when she began using methamphetamines last winter. In late July she stopped using any drugs because she thought she might be pregnant. On Aug. 1, she sought help with Taylor County social services, which referred her to the emergency room at Eau Claire Mayo Clinic.
At the clinic, a urine test showed Loertscher was pregnant, and also revealed her past drug use. Another test confirmed she had a severe thyroid condition.
Medical officials shared the findings with the county social services personnel, who subsequently went to court and had a guardian ad litem appointed for Loertscher's 14-week-old fetus.
Social workers asked Loertscher repeatedly to release her medical records to county officials, and said that if she didn't, she would be jailed until she had her baby, which would then be put up for adoption.
When Loertscher finally said she wanted to go home, she was told she was the subject of a temporary custody order obtained by Taylor County and could not leave. The next day, still at the Eau Claire Mayo Clinic, she was taken to a room where Court Commissioner Greg Krug was on speaker phone and told her to sign a petition — as if she was initiating protective action on the unborn child herself. She refused and said she wouldn't answer questions without a lawyer and left the room.
The court commissioner deemed that Loertscher had waived her appearance. Taylor County Corporation Counsel Courtney Graff, also on speaker, told a doctor at the Mayo Clinic that breaching Loertscher's confidentiality was not an issue for this type of proceeding and the doctor then discussed Loertscher's conditions and treatment, as well as her past drug use that she admitted to in her initial interview at the clinic.
Krug then ordered Loertscher held. The next day, she was told, she would be taken from Mayo to a residential addiction center in Eau Claire pursuant to court order, but would first have to supply a blood sample. She refused, and demanded to go home.
Mayo doctors then met with her, prescribed medication for depression and hypothyroidism and released her.
About 10 days later, Taylor County officials and the guardian ad litem asked a court to order Loertscher into custody. On Sept. 14, Loertscher appeared in court without a lawyer. A judge ordered her jailed on contempt for not following the earlier orders.
Jail, solitary confinement
In jail, she was told to provide a urine sample, and when she refused, was put in solitary confinement for 36 hours. She missed prenatal care appointments and claims jail staff said she shouldn't have gotten herself in the position to miss the appointments.
Eventually, a public defender appointed for Loertscher won her release after she agreed to get drug and alcohol testing at her expense and share the results with the county.
But next, Taylor County human services made an administrative finding against Loertscher for child maltreatment, based on her medical records. She is appealing that finding.
"From our perspective, the entire proceeding was a violation of constitutional rights from start to finish," said Loertscher's Madison attorney, Freya Bowen.
She said all the drug test results have been negative, and Loertscher is expecting her first child in late January.
Bowen and Paltrow say the "cocaine mom" law subjects adult women to juvenile court jurisdiction based only on speculative harm to a fetus and violates their medical confidentiality.
The suit names as defendants Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson. A Van Hollen spokesman said he had no comment, and one for Anderson said too many people were on vacation over the holidays to provide any information about how often the "cocaine mom" law is enforced.
Krug and Graff, the Taylor County officials described in the complaint, both said they could not comment because the actions against Loertscher were a juvenile court matter.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Derelict Social Worker Excused
January 11, 2015 permalink
Philadelphia DHS worker Nefertiti Savoy placed Beatrice Weston, age 10, with her aunt Linda Ann Weston in 2002. Savoy overlooked the fact that aunt Linda had been convicted of murder in a starvation death two decades earlier. In the foster placement Beatrice was beaten, sexually assaulted, denied food, and denied schooling, abuse that went on until police rescued her in 2011.
A judge has just ruled that Nefertiti Savoy has no responsibility for the abuse. Fixcas has pointed out before that when a man gets thrown to the lions, the lions are not the ones responsible for killing him. Rulings like that for Savoy continue to exempt the real wrongdoers from responsibility for the failings of the foster care system.
Judge tosses lawsuit by niece of Linda Ann Weston against city, DHS worker
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a niece of alleged kidnapper and torturer Linda Ann Weston against the city and a former Department of Human Services worker.
In a judgment filed Monday and made public yesterday, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled in favor of the former DHS worker, Nefertiti Savoy, and the city, and against Beatrice Weston, 23, who filed the suit.
The judge ruled that while Savoy - the DHS case worker who recommended to a judge that Beatrice live with her aunt and who failed to investigate Linda Weston's criminal background - was negligent, she could not be found liable for the abuse Beatrice suffered by her aunt.
Beatrice was 10 when at an August 2002 Family Court hearing, her mother, Vickie Weston, and Beatrice's aunt, Linda Weston, agreed they wanted Beatrice to live with Linda. Savoy and Richard Ames, then a deputy city solicitor, recommended that Linda be granted temporary legal custody of Beatrice, with DHS supervision. The judge did so.
DHS contracted with a third-party agency, Intercultural Family Services, to provide home services to Beatrice.
At a Family Court hearing in April 2003, in which Savoy was present, another judge concluded Beatrice was safe living with her aunt and continued the temporary custody, and discharged DHS supervision in the case.
But over the years, Beatrice was "subjected to imprisonment and horrible abuse by Linda Weston and others," Surrick wrote. "Among other things, she was beaten, sexually assaulted, denied food, and denied schooling." The judge noted it was not clear when the abuse began, but said it continued until 2011, when cops rescued Beatrice.
In the lawsuit, Beatrice contended Savoy, the city and Ames were liable for her suffering. Ames has since been dismissed from the suit. (Beatrice agreed he was entitled to immunity.)
Beatrice's claims centered on a "state-created danger theory of liability," the judge wrote. She contended, for one, that Savoy failed to investigate Linda Weston's background, and if she had, she would have learned that Weston had been convicted of murder in the 1980s in a starvation death.
Beatrice also contended that Savoy failed in her oversight and failed by representing in Family Court that Beatrice was safe in her aunt's home.
Surrick, however, wrote that Savoy's "failures to act do not constitute an affirmative misuse of state authority." This was "not a case where Savoy's conduct, alone, affirmatively placed Beatrice in a position of danger that she would not otherwise have been in," the judge wrote.
Surrick also ruled that because Beatrice failed to make her claim against Savoy, her claim against the city must also be dismissed.
Dominic Guerrini, a partner at Kline & Specter, who represents Beatrice, said yesterday that Beatrice "was devastated by the news. She doesn't understand how the city could have placed her into this situation, recommended the placement, then escaped any responsibility for the atrocities she suffered over the course of a decade." Guerrini said he plans to appeal Surrick's decision to the Third Circuit.
Chief Deputy City Solicitor Craig Straw, who heads the Law Department's Civil Rights Unit, which represented Savoy, the city and Ames, said: "We are happy with Judge Surrick's decision and believe that he addressed the issues that we raised."
Linda Weston was originally sued in this lawsuit, too. A default judgment was entered against her after she had failed to respond to the complaint.
Guerrini also represents Beatrice in a Common Pleas lawsuit against Intercultural Family Services and two child advocates. He said this case is expected to go to trial this summer or fall.
Linda Weston and three other defendants face a federal trial on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit hate crime and kidnapping in relation to victims they allegedly kept hostage, beat and starved in different states. Weston's daughter, Jean McIntosh, who was also federally indicted, recently pleaded guilty in the criminal case.
Weston and the others were arrested after four mentally disabled adults were found locked in a dank, urine-reeking Tacony sub-basement in October 2011.
Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Real Mother Takes Child from Foster Home
January 11, 2015 permalink
Monique Farias retrieved her daughter from her foster mother through burglary. The reporter says Farias gave up the girl through a voluntary agreement. Often this kind of agreement is imposed on the mother by child protectors through coercion or deception. But in the current instance foster parents Terry and Kimberly Finch strengthened their custody with an court order in December.
Birth mother allegedly kidnapped child from home of new family
Monique Farias gave up her 2 1/2-year-old daughter in December, agreeing to let another family have temporary guardianship and custody of the child.
But she changed her mind.
Deputies said Farias and her boyfriend abducted the girl Monday afternoon from her new home in Oildale. The child was recovered -- and Farias and her boyfriend arrested -- early Tuesday in downtown Bakersfield.
Farias, 33, and her boyfriend, Ricardo Arredondo, 37, are being held on $525,000 bail on suspicion of kidnapping, burglary and conspiracy.
Deputies said Farias had been unable to care for her daughter and left her with her mother for an extended period of time. The mother then asked Kimberly Finch and her husband, Terry Finch, to care for the child beginning in July.
Kimberly Finch said in a Tuesday morning interview she knows Farias' mother because they attend the same church.
Kimberly and Terry Finch filed for and obtained guardianship of the child in December after Farias voluntarily released custody of her daughter, deputies said.
Farias and Arredondo contacted the Finches and asked to visit the girl Sunday evening. Kimberly Finch said the two visited with the child for a couple hours, and everything went well -- with one exception.
In the course of their conversation, Finch said Arredondo told her a daughter he'd fathered had been taken away from him, and it made him think about kidnapping her to get her back. Finch said that comment made her uneasy.
Farias asked to visit with the girl again Monday. Finch said she was home alone with the child, but everything had gone well the night before so she decided to let Farias and Arredondo in her house in the 500 block of Twinleaf Drive.
She refused, however, to let them take the girl to lunch at McDonald's, even though Arredondo claimed her husband had given them permission. Finch called her husband, who denied giving permission, and said he was on his way home to confront Arredondo.
Soon after Terry Finch arrived, he, his wife and Arredondo talked in the living room while Farias took her daughter to a back bedroom. Terry Finch was seated in a chair facing the street. He had a perfect view a short time later of Farias running from the house with her daughter in her arms.
Kimberly Finch called 911. Arredondo walked out of the house and followed Farias and the girl.
Finch said she and her husband didn't chase Farias because they don't have weapons or cellphones, plus their two young boys were home.
"I was very angry she tried something like that," Kimberly Finch said.
During the 12-hour investigation, deputies served three search warrants, a probation search and conducted several other searches on properties in the Bakersfield area.
Deputies found Farias, Arredondo and the child about 2:40 a.m. at a residence in the 700 block of L Street. The girl was unharmed.
Source: Bakersfield Californian
Je Suis Charlie
January 10, 2015 permalink
France, and the world, were shocked by the assassination of ten employees of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7. A policeman and a maintenance worker were also killed. The two attackers were brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi.
The press is telling of the connection of the two to Islam, and anti-immigrant political movements are expecting a big increase in their support. Fixcas is mentioning this story to point out a fact downplayed by the rest of the press. The two brothers were raised in foster care.
Paris attacks: What do we know about the Kouachi brothers?
It seems that the deadly Paris attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a family affair. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)
It seems that the deadly Paris attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a family affair with the suspected perpetrators named by French police as Said Kouachi, his brother Cherif Kouachi and Hamyd Mourad, Cherif’s brother in law.
Cherif Kouachi is also known as Abou Issen, according to French daily Le Monde.
Cherif, who was born on November 28, 1982 in Paris not far from where the attack took place, is well known by the anti-terror police in France, the newspaper reported.
In 2008, Cherif was convicted to three years in prison, with 18 months suspended, for his association with a group sending extremist fighters to Iraq.
Describing Cherif, his lawyer of the time, Vincent Ollivier, told Le Parisien: “A loser, a delivery boy in a cap who smokes hashish and delivers pizzas to buy his drugs.
“A clueless kid who did not know what to do with his life and then overnight met people who gave him the impression he was important.”
Following his release, Cherif, who holds the French nationality, worked as a fish vendor in French supermarket Leclerc in north-central France.
In 2010, Cherif was arrested again when his name was associated to an attempted prison escape of Islamist Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, a former member of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) that carried out a spate of bombings and a plane hijacking in France in the 1990s.
Belkacem was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002 for a bombing at France’s Musee D’Orsay rail station in October 1995 that left 30 people wounded.
In 2005, images of Cherif were broadcasted on French television as part of a program called “Piece a conviction” which was focusing on terrorism.
Cherif is also suspected of being linked to Djamel Beghal, a French jihadist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for planning terror attacks, Le Parisien reported.
Cherif’s brother Said was born on September 7, 1980, also in Paris.
The Kouachi brothers were reportedly abandoned by their Algerian parents at a very early age, Le Parisien stated.
They were placed in foster care in the eastern city of Rennes before moving back to Paris.
The Third suspect, Hamyd Mourad, was born in 1996 and turned himself in at Charleville-Mézières, some 230 kilometers northeast of Paris near the Belgium border, an official at the prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press. BFM TV, citing unidentified sources, said the 18-year-old had decided to go to the police after seeing his name on social media.
Source: Al Arabiya Network
New Jersey Tolerates Maternal Cannabis
January 9, 2015 permalink
Here is a rare case of a court rejecting one of the reasons for taking a child. A New Jersey court has ruled that a child cannot be removed from her mother solely for use of cannabis (marijuana).
New Jersey Appeals Court Rules Cannabis Use Alone Not Reason to Remove Child
Two days before Christmas, an appellate court in New Jersey gave one Garden state mother the best possible gift; a panel headed by Honorable Carmen Alvarez ruled that not only were verbal admissions about possible cannabis use insufficient evidence for an emergency removal order of an infant child but that the state failed to provide any evidence that simply using cannabis constituted child abuse or neglect. While at first glance, this simply appears to be a case of the courts using common sense, in reality it is a major departure from the common practices of the family court system that have existed for decades.
The unnamed 18-year-old mother (R.W.), who became the defendant in this case, was arrested for a violation of her parole in March of 2011. Shortly thereafter, she and her daughter were placed in the state’s Capable Adolescent Mothers (CAM) Program. R.W. naively believed that speaking honestly with the CAM worker was the best way to handle the situation, and she allegedly admitted to cannabis use while caring for her daughter. This was passed along the chain of command, and an emergency order for R.W.’s daughter’s removal was issued.
That story is one that plays out regularly across the nation. Because there are no national reporting requirements for child welfare agencies, it is impossible to know exactly how many children are removed from parental custody solely for cannabis, but anecdotal information indicates that they represent a not insignificant percentage of children removed from their homes. Thankfully, in this case, R.W. decided she was going to fight for her daughter. Even more thankfully, her appeal landed in front of a reasonable panel.
Judge Alvarez and the appellate panel decided, after reviewing the case, that a CAM worker’s verbal testimony to a superior about R.W.’s alleged cannabis confession should not have been admissible, as the original judge would not be able to assess the trustworthiness of this statement as anything other than hearsay. Moreover, they ruled that simply violating parole, an act which could leave R.W.’s daughter without parental care if R.W. was incarcerated, was not an act of abuse or neglect.
Most importantly, the review panel also ruled that using cannabis while caring for a child does not inherently create a situation where the child is in imminent danger and needs to be removed from parental custody. They indicated that the state failed to provide any documentation that cannabis use by parents has a deleterious effect on children in their custody.
While this is only one specific case and will not impact the broader practice of enforcing cannabis prohibition at the criminal and family court levels, it certainly sets a positive precedent for otherwise excellent and loving parents caught up in the legal system over their cannabis use. Hopefully, this decision will impact how lower courts in New Jersey process custody issues involving cannabis, and hopefully that rational policy will influence judges and lawmakers in other states as well.
Source: Ladybud Magazine
Guatemalan Child Theft/Adoption
January 9, 2015 permalink
A journalist has assembled all of the pieces of the fraudulent adoption of a Guatemalan girl by a Missouri family. In January 2005 Dayner Orlando Hernández and his wife Loyda Rodríguez gave birth to a daughter they named Anyelí. In November 2006 she was kidnapped and within Guatemala's corrupt adoption system given the false identity of Karen Abigail Lopéz García and a false mother, Felicita Antonia López. When dna of the child did not match the purported mother, the adoption was stalled, but not for long. A Guatemalan court declared the child abandoned and the adoption by Missouri parents Timothy James Monahan and Jennifer Lyn Vanhorn Monahan was completed.
The birth parents pursued a diligent search for their lost daughter and eventually, given access to their country's adoption records, found her, but only four months after she had departed for the United States. Many Guatemalans involved in the fraudulent adoption have been convicted for their crimes or are awaiting trial. The adopters have used American law to fight all efforts by the real parents to connect with their daughter. Anyelí/Karen will soon be old enough to find her own story with Google, learning that the adults she thought of as loving parents were the ones who financed the entire fiasco with their adoption fees. When she reaches the age of majority, the US may refuse to treat her as a citizen because of the fraudulent documents used to obtain her initial US passport. She will have the choice of living in Guatemala, where she does not know the language and customs, or continuing as an illegal immigrant in the US.
To keep all of this story in one place, the investigative report has been added as an addendum to an earlier story Stolen Baby Found.
Mandatory Flu Shots
January 9, 2015 permalink
To be a foster parent in Washington you will have to get an annual flu shot.
Foster mom says she's willing to lose infant over flu shot mandate
TACOMA, Wash. -- Foster families are under a new mandate that everyone in their house needs a flu shot if they have foster kids under two years of age.
If they don't comply, the children will be taken from them. At least one foster mom is going to fight that.
Foster parent Jamie Smith of Tacoma has a new addition to her foster home.
"He was born on Christmas. He's our little Christmas baby," Smith said.
Seven other babies have come through her home, including Bonnie, who is now 4-years old and adopted by the Smith family.
But the little 2-week-old may get taken away by the state unless Smith and all the members of her house get a flu shot. That includes the older foster kids in her care. She's not going to comply.
"I've done a lot of research on it and I don't like some of the side effects that it has," she said.
Smith says she's worried about mercury in the vaccine and its effects on the brain. She doesn't want her or her five children exposed to that even if it means losing the little one.
"I've thought about that a lot," said Smith. "Unfortunately, I have to think about our kids who are in the house first and to me they're more important, their safety, than trying to fight to keep this little guy."
She isn't getting the shot, but her electrician husband did. He works for MultiCare and they require all employees to get a shot. Nurses at Multicare's Tacoma General and Good Samaritan Hospitals are suing the company over its insistence they get flu shots or face termination.
"It is serious," said Heather Stephens-Selby of the Washington State Nurses Association.
Now the foster families who handle young foster children are under the same gun. They hope by speaking out the state will ease up and keep the foster families together.
"I'm hoping that we can raise enough of a voice that the state will at least give waivers or do something so the children won't be taken out of their homes," Smith said.
The Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees foster care, issued this statement: "Our rules are designed to protect the safety and well-being of children, which is the sole focus of DSHS Children's Administration. We selected this age group because these are the children who are most vulnerable to illness. We are examining issues being brought to our attention now and have made no decisions regarding changes."
The deadline for getting flu shots is the end of February.
Adoption Disclosure Punished
January 8, 2015 permalink
Lawyers can represent and advocate for the worst-of-the-worst, rapists, terrorists, murderers, and it's all a legitimate part of the job. But a lawyer can be censured for revealing the truth. North Carolina lawyer Leslie Oliver Wickham Jr is in the legal doghouse for telling a mother and former foster mother the name of the family that adopted their child.
Durham attorney censured for revealing identity of a child's adoptive parents
Durham attorney Leslie Oliver Wickham Jr. was censured by the the N.C. State Bar after he revealed the names of a child's adoptive parents to the child's biological mother and the child's former foster mother, according to the order signed by John M. Silverstein, chairman of the Bar's Grievance Committee.
When contacted by phone, Wickham declined any further comment.
The release of this specific information constitutes a misdemeanor that "reflects on your trustworthiness as an attorney," according to the order. "You failed in your response to this grievance to recognize the real or potential harm of your conduct on the child and his adoptive family."
In the legal world, a censure is a more severe punishment than a reprimand, though not as serious as a disbarment.
"The Grievance Committee trusts that you will ponder this censure, recognize the error that you have made, and that you will never again allow yourself to depart from adherence to the high ethical standards of the legal profession," according to the order. "This censure should serve as a strong reminder and inducement for you to weigh carefully in the future your responsibility to the public, your clients, your fellow attorneys and the courts, to the end that you demean yourself as a respected member of the legal profession whose conduct may be relied upon without question."
Wickham, 62, holds a degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and works primarily as a personal injury attorney in the area of workers' compensation. According to the profile on his law office website, he has tried worker's compensation cases in 25 counties in North Carolina, deposed more than 100 doctors in North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and Virginia, and has served as chairman of the Workers' Compensation Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and of the Workers' Compensation Section of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Source: Triangle Business Journal
January 8, 2015 permalink
In an article in Teal Star, Erin Paterson reveals some inner workings of children's aid in Ontario. Erin formerly worked for Blue Hills Child and Family Centre, where she assisted clients of children's aid. She says children were auctioned off for adoption. Wealthy clients could place orders for the kind of child they wanted. When CAS found matching children, they were taken from the parents, who never saw them again. Erin was an adoptive parent herself, and her adopted children were in and out of CAS care. There is one incident never reported by anyone else: She was offered her children back provided she reunited with her ex-husband.
When I met Erin Paterson via Facebook mid-summer of 2012, I had no idea this petite blonde woman:
- Had so much in common, both in life history and passion, as me...
- Would become one of my most trusted "inner circle" friends
- Would entrust me with the beautiful privilege of sharing her truly incredible story with the world in it's entirety for the first time...ever.
To say that I am quite nervous as to whether my "word-smith" skills will do her story justice is an understatement, but alas, this story is not about me. This is a story as incredible as that of Bilbo Baggins, the tiny Hobbit, venturing through treacherous terrain to save all of Middle Earth —but this time our "unlikely hero" is venturing to save something far more precious, and this intangible "ring to rule them all" is literally the hearts, souls and very lives of children —both Erin's and those of the currently unregulated region of Ontario. "Sauron", in this particular tale, is played by none other than the Children's Aid Society of Ontario — an organization touted as "more powerful than God" in a heart-wrenching documentary than can be viewed HERE.
Our interview for this piece began mid-October 2014, and was wonderful yet frustrating at the same time because Erin skillfully dodged questions about her story, as she was not yet ready to reveal her secret pain...a pain that has fueled her passion to help others and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge as she attempts to understand trauma and it's effect on humanity around the world...a quest that has earned her numerous credentials such as: Good Will Ambassador for Canada representing Alliance for Medics PTSD, Independent researcher for: the Global Unification International, the boarding schools of Kanata and Neuroscience as it relates to PTSD, Freelance journalist for International Peace, Activist with focus on political prisoners and reform of the categorization of PTSD in the DSM-5, CEO and Founder of Warriors Landing for men, women and children, Founder of the PTSD Support and Global Awareness Campaign, Equestrian Instructor with International Coach Training, Founder of Harnessing Horse Power Healing Program, NLP Master Practitioner, NLP Coach and NLP Master Coach Practitioner specializing in Mindfulness, Resolving PTSD, NLP Hypnotherapy, releasing PTSD with NLP, Time Line Coach, Eye Movement Integration Practioner and many, many others.
When asked about her formal education, Erin responds by saying, "I do not pride myself on my formal education. Though I grew up in a family line with strong academics, I had to say no to the endless degrees — regardless of family rejection. I do take courses in fields of study that can benefit my research and ability to help others. Einstein wrote a quote and it is one I know to be true...'You cannot fix problems with the same thinking used to create them.'"
Without further delay, here is part one of one of the most incredible interviews you'll ever read:
#1 What is your story?
Previously, I was very involved with the Children's Aid Society of Ontario, Canada. I worked in a joint program with Ontario mental Health called Blue Hills. So, I was a parent therapist and specialized foster parent. This role was different as there were few of us and I took the lead role on a clinical team of specialists. I don't believe Bluehills knew the full extent of what was going on, but they were concerned also. I loved my job and went above and beyond my job description consistently because I just loved helping these families who needed a hand-up in getting their lives back together to ensure they could raise their beautiful children. During my time there, I found out about auctions that were going on with these children. It is something that seems impossible to believe in a country like Canada, but after doing some digging, I found out that not only was child trafficking an issue in the form of these auctions, CAS was actually taking "orders" from wealthy people for the kind of child they wanted. At that point in time, every birth in Ontario had to be reported, and if a child matched an order, sure enough, a reason would be found to take the child away and the parents would never see them again.
I'd arranged for a meeting to sort of "put out fires" during the initial phase of my finding out about this information. I still couldn't believe it on some levels, but time and time again, I saw healthy, beautiful babies that were clearly not neglected being taken from loving families who just needed help to get through a rough patch. I didn't realize how much my life would change because of opening my mouth and trying to help.
I was in the process of finalizing the adoption of my children — whom I'd had since their birth, for the most part — we were literally waiting on the judge's stamps for these adoptions to be finalized when I came home the morning of October 1, 2008 to my home being raided. I can't even describe the scene adequately because it was so horrific...my children with their arms up in the air screaming, "Mommy! Help me!" And I could do nothing.
I immediately secured a lawyer and was able to get 2 of my children, both boys, back in 16 days. They returned to me traumatize and deeply scarred emotionally — I would spend nights roaming room to room, sleeping on the floor beside them — soothing them from nightmares and ensuring they didn't hurt themselves.
My youngest child I never saw again because I'd discovered my child had been sold to a buyer. One of my son's who was returned to me was given a "cash offer" from CAS when he turned 19 to stay quiet and never interact with me again. I know about the offer because I was inadvertently included in the email exchange back and forth — I know why he took the offer, but my heart still aches at losing my son. During this time I was married. My now ex-husband was always a little narcissistic — like you would expect a "jock" to be, but the power that was given to him by CAS to keep my quiet turned him into a monster. The entire time I was fighting to get my children back, he would withhold food from me, have women come around the house wearing my clothing, throw away one of the shoes to pairs of my shoes and even rape me repeatedly. When I would call the police, my then husband would call my mother, who is a pediatric nurse, to come over. She would tell the police who she was and what she did for a living before telling the police I was schizophrenic or crazy in some way or another, and the police would leave after hearing and believing what she said. I mean, after all, she is a pediatric nurse, right? She must know what she is talking about.
Finally, in 2012,1 escaped with my 3 small children from the horror and tyranny of my now ex-husband. I was finally heard and believed. We were given a miracle...a fresh start in the form of a home and freedom from the abuse and sexual assault of my ex. I'd been told before this that "one day I might escape and experience freedom, but it wouldn't be for long."
About the time my children and I were settling into our new-found freedom, my ex-colleagues came into the picture saying I was making false allegations. My ex ended up being charged with only 4 counts of sexual assault, but the judge who was presiding over the case was promoted and the case was stayed.
Then on February 25, 2014, I was asked to come into a meeting late on a Friday night. I'd had my girlfriend who lived near where the meeting was to watch the children for me. While I was at this meeting, listening to lie after lie being told about me — lies that I can prove are not true, but have yet to be given the chance — my girlfriend's house was raided and my children were taken. Not only were they taken, they were put back into full time custody of my ex — even with the documentation of the charges of 4 counts of sexual assault and abuse against me. I've only been able to speak to one of my children once — my daughter who reached out and told me they are scared to death.
I am preparing to face my first Christmas without my children — that I am prevented from speaking to or seeing. Even the picture collages I put together for them, to be able to look at and know that their Mommy loves them and is still fighting to get them back, were ripped up and never given to them.
On December 8, 2014, I attended another meeting — a meeting that wasn't even scheduled with the court clerk where I had to fight to not go into a room with my ex. During this meeting I was told, "Your children have been made aware that you have PTSD, and they do not ever want to see you again. If you try to open this up in court again, we will strongly advocate for your never being allowed near children again because of your PTSD, and your children will be placed in foster care. However, if you make the decision to go back to your husband and leave with him tonight, you will be able to have your children back tonight."
#2 How have you been able to continue helping others even through this complete hell you have been experiencing?
For me this is not just about getting my children back — this is about doing whatever it takes to get regulation in Ontario so that no other family has to be ripped apart and experience what I'm experiencing. I'm not going to say it has been easy — I spent 2 days after the most recent meeting basically in a fetal position on the floor, but I have learned that it is very true — that you rise by helping others. So, I was able to wipe the tears from my eyes and the dust from my clothes — head over to the computer and do some research or help someone else that is hurting somewhere in the world.
#3 Why are you so dedicated and so passionate about what you do?
The answer to this is simple. I made a promise to myself that as long as I survived I would do whatever it took to ensure no one I could reach would ever feel what I have felt. That they would know they are not alone — that I would stay true to myself and live knowing, regardless of the adversity, that life is beautiful — and sometimes you have to wait for what is beautiful...that means you may fall, but you must climb back up, know that you are not dying — no matter how badly it hurts and how much it feels like you are dying — make a healing adventure and live like you were flying. The faster we turn our wounds into wisdom, the more knowledge we seek...the closer we all will come to healing and authentic global peace.
#4 You said earlier that you "do not pride yourself on formal education" — can you expand on that?
In my experience, any prior education I had in respect to mental health was irrelevant and completely inaccurate. When it comes to this injury — it is an injury and not a mental illness. Nothing taught was even close to reality. Independent research, networking with doctors, other researchers, etc., but most significantly, listening to and caring about others and their loved ones who has experienced a markedly abnormal traumatic life event, powerful enough to cause this injury and most of a establishing an International family of advocate who were on the same path is ultimately why I am able to understand and see this injury for what it is...it is not a disorder. It is an injury.
Left untreated, the side effects very often mirror those of mental illness. I mean, who feels sane without sleep? Who feels sane who is experiencing extreme pain? The medications used to "treat" this injury also cause these "insane" feelings because these medications were not intended for injuries. For PTSD, the FDA approved drugs are not even maintenance. Knowing this offers amazing hope for the future because when properly identified and treated, injuries heal. Regulating the nervous system via holistic modalities
One of the main problems with PTSD is the lack of 1st response care.
People back away rather than surround the injured person with love and support.
It's so important to remember this is not the end...this is an opportunity to grow and become. It is an exciting and positive thought process.
To be continued month's issue...
Source: Teal Star December 2014 pages 22-26
The article may not be verified to the standards customary in professional journalism. But fixcas has encountered some of the cited abuses from reliable sources. The news series by WLKY in Louisville Kentucky reports that children were snatched to order.
Politically-Incorrect Teaching Investigated
January 7, 2015 permalink
The newest reason for calling child protectors: Showing an anti-abortion movie to children. A mother in the UK got a visit after admitting showing the offending film to her two children.
Woman reported for sharing pro-life film with her own children
A woman was dismissed from a Christian school in the U.K. for recommending a Christian documentary on abortion, and then contacted by Child Protective Services for showing the film to her own children.
At a Church of England primary school fair, the woman provided tracts with a note encouraging children to watch 180, the highly popular Christian documentary on abortion. She was suspended, and told later that Child Protective Services had been notified since she admitted showing the film to her own two children.
Ray Comfort, the producer of 180 and founder of Living Waters, is horrified to hear of such strong opposition to a woman sharing the pro-life film.
“I found through my Facebook page that if there's anything that stirs up demons, it's the issue of abortion,” he tells OneNewsNow. “It's not about choice. It's about the killing of children, and it's a horror beyond words. For this to happen in England is horrific, and I think it will come to the states if we don't stand up as Christians and proclaim the gospel and see this nation reached for Jesus Christ.”
Comfort was surprised that it was a Christian school that became the woman's adversary.
“When you read Scripture, it's the religious people who tried to kill Jesus,” he says. “I don't know if you realize it, but they tried to kill him ten times before he got to the cross. Jesus warned that the time will come when people will kill Christians thinking they're doing God a service. And that really is the case with this. It's religious people, people who have a form of godliness, who have come against this poor woman, and she's just a sweetheart.”
Since the incident, Christians have risen in support of the woman. Comfort continues to work on his next film, Audacity, which deals with the subject of homosexuality.
Source: One News Now
Ontario Courthouse Security
January 5, 2015 permalink
Ontario has eliminated public trials. Not by a law, but by imposition of court security. All persons entering a courthouse have to state their business to building security. It is unlikely that the words of a traditional spectator such as: "I am just looking around for interesting cases" will get you in.
Why the security? Courts have moved beyond locking up muggers and bank robbers and advanced to separating parents and children. The love of a parent for a child is greater than the love of a thief for his money, so breaking up a family is more dangerous to the court staff.
Family court lawyer urges colleagues to speak out against new courthouse security
New security legislation affecting access to Ontario courthouses is an overreaction by the provincial government and “vulnerable” to a Constitutional challenge, a leading Ottawa family court lawyer said Friday.
Pam MacEachern, part of a family law community that handles more than half of Ottawa court business, is urging more lawyers to speak out about changes to the Police Services Act.
“My hope is that enough people would speak out against limiting public access to the judicial process and raise issues about how this is a step in the wrong direction,” MacEachern told the Citizen.
The Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa has described the new measures as “draconian.”
The Ottawa courthouse has had three open access entrances since it opened in 1986 but when a $1-million-plus security re-construction project is finished next spring, members of the public will have to line up at the Elgin Street entrance to be security-screened and pass through metal detectors.
What irks lawyers most are new measures already in place where police and security guards are asking members of the public to state their business at the courthouse and respond to any other related questions.
Ottawa court officials planned to introduce the enhanced security as a package with the metal detectors and searches but fast tracked the “question and answer” screening portion after October’s shooting at the nearby National War Memorial.
Police and security staff can also search people if they choose to do so and, in extreme cases, arrest them.
“I’m not thrilled about metal detectors,” said MacEachern, “but they are installed in many other courthouses. We just escaped it in Ottawa for a while. “
But questioning and possibly searching people is an overreaction, she said.
“In the name of security we are attacking a fundamental underpinning of our democratic process,” she said. “There is no basis for doing it. More people get shot in fast food outlets than in courthouses.”
While many of the complaints about the new security measures are common to all lawyers, people arriving to resolve family issues such as custody and financial support are especially vulnerable and likely to be intimidated at the courthouse door, added MacEachern.
“You’ve got people from marginalized groups who have an urgent need for the justice system to assist them,” she said. “To put up barriers to (those) people is concerning.’
Defence Counsel Association president Trevor Brown, who has vowed to challenge the new measures at a stakeholder meeting at the courthouse later this month, has called them fundamentally flawed.
“While there is always a need to make sure the courts are secure,” he said, “these are draconian measures, and are susceptible to arbitrary use and abuse.
“One should not be required to submit to an interrogation and a search as the price to be paid for accessing what are supposed to be public courts,” he added. “The courts are where we go for protection and enforcement of our most fundamental rights and freedoms. It’s not supposed to be the place we go to have them abused.”
The traditional system of placing portable metal detectors outside courtrooms where high-profile cases are being heard has worked well, said Brown.
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi says that police in each jurisdiction are best-placed to decide on security levels at courthouses.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Foster Death Leaves Questions
January 5, 2015 permalink
The first death in care for 2015 is ten-year-old Xavier Brothers-Bartholomew in Cleveland Ohio. He suffered a cardiac arrest two years after removal from his parents following the death of his brother Isaac. Both Isaac and Xavier were born with a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental impairments. Xavier's parents and grandmother pleaded guilty to child endangering and are in prison.
Like many foster stories, this one leaves lots of unanswered questions. Were the parents falsely accused or truly neglectful? If so, why did Xavier die the same way as his brother? What about the foster parents? Karen Balconi Ghezzi of the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services said Xavier had been living with foster parents trained to care for the boy's medical needs. In the case of Samamtha Martin, specialized foster care turned out to be neglectful care at a premium price.
With Xavier, the list of children dying under state protection has reached 1,848 names.
Brother of Malnourished NE Ohio Toddler Dies in Foster Care
The 10-year-old brother of a toddler whose death was attributed to malnourishment has died while in a Cleveland foster home.
Authorities say Xavier Brothers-Bartholomew was found in full cardiac arrest Sunday and was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. The cause and circumstances surrounding his death are being investigated by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner and Cleveland police, which is normal procedure when a child dies.
Xavier and his five siblings became the focus of attention in November 2012 when their 18-month-old brother, Isaac, was found dead in his crib in the family's home in Vermilion, west of Cleveland. Authorities ruled that Isaac had died of malnourishment and that his siblings had been neglected by their parents, James Brothers and Adrienne Bartholomew, and their grandmother and paid caregiver, Deborah Nelson.
The parents and grandmother pleaded guilty last year to child endangering charges and are in state prison.
Isaac, Xavier and three other siblings were born with a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental impairments. A lawsuit filed in November 2014 on behalf of Isaac's estate and the guardian for his siblings said the eldest child, a boy who is not disabled, often was left to care for the younger children. The lawsuit was filed against the parents and grandmother, officials in Erie County whose agencies were responsible for overseeing the children's well-being and doctors who had treated the children.
The attorney who filed the lawsuit said the disabled children had begun to thrive in foster care and had doubled their weight.
The director of the Erie County Department of Job and Family Services issued a statement Monday that said there was no indication that the boy's death "involved any concerns of abuse or neglect."
The statement from Karen Balconi Ghezzi said Xavier, since November 2012, had been living with foster parents trained to care for the boy's medical needs. Social workers and medical professionals made weekly visits to the home, the statement said.
The statement called Xavier's death "a very sad case."
Source: ABC News/WEWS-TV Cleveland
Addendum: In another list, that of children who died without a name, the first of the year is a twelve-year-old girl in Milwaukee who died of influenza.
12-year-old Milwaukee girl dies from influenza
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed a child in the City of Milwaukee died from complications related to influenza. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office tells CBS 58 the deceased is a 12-year-old girl who was admitted to Children's Hospital on Christmas Day, and died on New Year's Day. The medical examiner's office has confirmed the child was a part of Milwaukee's foster care system.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department says this is the first child death involving the flu for the 2014-2015 flu season. "We are deeply saddened to learn that a child has died of complications related to the seasonal flu, and our thoughts remain with the child's family,” said Commissioner of Health Bevan K. Baker.
The health department reports an increase in flu-related hospitalizations in the City of Milwaukee. More than 360 flu hospitalizations have been reported in the city with the majority of them involving people over the age of 50.
State Health Officer Karen McKeown said, "Seasonal influenza is not life-threatening for most people; however, this is a serious disease that can be especially dangerous for children, older adults, individuals with compromised immune systems and those with chronic health issues."
McKeown says the public to get flu shots to help reduce the severity of flu symptoms among the population who catch the flu.
Flu deaths in Wisconsin are only reportable if they involve patients under the age of 18.
Source: WDJT Milwaukee
Tattle on Terrorist Tots
January 5, 2015 permalink
Warning! This item is not a spoof. Under pending rules in the UK, professionals caring for children will be required to report potential terrorists as young as toddlers.
Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers 'is heavy-handed’
Nursery staff and childminders are given 'duty' to report toddlers they suspect of being at risk of becoming terrorists under new Home Office measures
Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.
The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.
Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.
The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.
The consultation paper adds: “Senior management and governors should make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimise terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.
“They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help.”
But concern was raised over the practicalities of making it a legal requirement for staff to inform on toddlers.
David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said: “It is hard to see how this can be implemented. It is unworkable. I have to say I cannot understand what they [nursery staff] are expected to do.
“Are they supposed to report some toddler who comes in praising a preacher deemed to be extreme? I don’t think so.
“It is heavy-handed.”
Mr Davis also accused the Home Office of pushing the legislation too quickly.
Isabella Sankey, the policy director at human rights body Liberty, said: “Turning our teachers and childminders into an army of involuntary spies will not stop the terrorist threat.
“Far from bringing those at the margins back into mainstream society, it will sow seeds of mistrust, division and alienation from an early age.
“The Government should focus on projects to support vulnerable young people – instead they’re playing straight into terrorists’ hands by rushing through a Bill that undermines our democratic principles and turns us into a nation of suspects.”
Headteachers’ union NAHT, said it was “uneasy” with the new guidance. General secretary Russell Hobby, said: “It’s really important that nurseries are able to establish a strong relationship of trust with families, as they are often the first experience the families will have of the education system.
“Any suspicions that they are evaluating families for ideology could be quite counterproductive.
“Nursery settings should focus on the foundations of literacy and socialising with other children – those are the real 'protections’.”
Schools and nurseries, he said, should not be required to act as a police service.
A Home office spokesman last night said: “We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life, but we do expect them to take action when they observe behaviour of concern.
He added: “It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way. For children in the early years, this will be about learning right from wrong and in practitioners challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes.
“We would expect staff to have the training they need to identify children at risk of radicalisation and know where and how to refer them for further help if necessary.”
It is understood ministers will expect nursery staff to report for example, anti-Semitic comments made in front of them by toddlers.
“We would not expect this behaviour to be ignored,” said a source. Other examples of children at risk of radicalisation include instances where a Muslim child might tell a teacher that he has been taught at a religious school, or madrassah, that all non-Muslims “are wicked”.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Report to Your Doctor Or Else!
January 3, 2015 permalink
This simple post by an expectant mother ten weeks into her pregnancy vividly shows the duress exerted on parents. She made five appointments with her doctor, but missed the sixth. The doctor sicced the authorities on her.
Morgan Nicole Oldershaw I have to rant right now. So my doctors office is absolutely crazy! I missed my doctors appointment so in result they have called FACS on me because they are concerned I'm not taking care of myself yet I've been to the 5 other appointments they have made me go to so far and the ultrasounds and blood work and have always been on time! And I'm only 10 weeks pregnant! Am I the only one who finds this completely stupid?! What am I supposed to do here, I seriously don't need this stress also just so you all know I'm 21 this month so I'm not a teenager anymore.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Best Interest of the Police State
January 2, 2015 permalink
Chinese authorities are separating a child from her parents as a means of suppressing dissent in Hong Kong. The prior dissent in Beijing's Tiananmen square in 1989 was broken up with tanks, leaving China with a scarred reputation that has not healed. The new method comes from successful police states such as East Germany that separated parents and children to stifle embryonic dissent. The Chinese are even claiming that the separation is in "the best interest of the subject child".
Hong Kong Police Try to Take 14-Year-Old Protester Away From Parents
A teenage girl in Hong Kong who was arrested after drawing chalk flowers on a wall during recent pro-democracy protests could be removed from her father’s care.
The girl, 14, was arrested on Dec. 23 at a staircase leading to the Central Government Offices in the city’s Admiralty district, an area which pro-democracy protesters had occupied for more than two months until mid-December.
The wall had been covered with Post-its carrying notes from well-wishers during the protests, and was named the “Lennon Wall.” It became one of the most iconic landmarks of the protests.
A judge ruled Monday that the girl be sent to a children’s home for three weeks while the court considers an application by Hong Kong police that she be removed from the care of her father, prompting anger from activists. Patricia Ho, a legal representative for the girl, said that the police had said they believe the father can’t exercise proper care for his daughter.
“I still don’t understand why [the police] are not charging the kid if they wish to deter them from the actual action. They’re going sideways and looking at whether the family can take care of them, almost implying that if any parent allows their child to take part in this movement then they are neglecting their child,” said Ms. Ho.
In a statement released Tuesday evening, Hong Kong police said the application is in “the best interest of the subject child” and has no “political consideration.”
Numerous teenagers who participated in the protests were arrested on various charges. Some teenagers who took part in the protests and weren’t arrested also say they have been refused entry to mainland China and Macau.
According to Ms. Ho, the girl had a previous run-in with the police involving a bullying incident in school where she was the victim. The girl’s father also has a serious hearing disability. Ms. Ho said the family wasn’t currently available for comment.
“It’s premature and disproportionate,” said Ms. Ho. “It wasn’t an application by the Social Welfare Department as it usually would be. Police threw in a bunch of facts they obtained about the family in a very superficial manner.”
Since the clearance of the Admiralty site, protesters have returned to the wall to stick Post-it notes on it again. Since the arrest of the girl, there has been a police presence guarding the wall. A small protest camp on the sidewalk outside of the Legislative Council building remains, where protesters have pitched dozens of tents.
Police have also applied for a 14-year-old boy to be removed from his parents after he was arrested during the clearance of another protest site in Mong Kok in late October. Ms. Ho is also representing the boy.
Lawyers representing the girl filed an application for a re-hearing on bail conditions for the girl on Tuesday. According to a court order, the girl is now allowed to go home, so long as she stays with her father at his residence and attends school. She is also under curfew from the hours of 10pm to 6am, and when going outside must be in the company of her father, sister or a social worker.
The girl will also attend a court hearing on Jan. 19, when a judge will decide on the police application.
Source: Wall Street Journal
CAS Lawyers Can't See Parents as Good for Kids
January 2, 2015 permalink
Lawyer Gillian Hayes, an associate of Gene Colman, comments that when a judge orders a child returned to the parents at the first court hearing, the CAS counsel thinks of it as a defeat. CAS counsel should be telling their clients that they need to find the best route to maintain the integrity of the family unit - not to split it up. CAS lawyers need to realize that working cooperatively with parents' counsel should be the proper path.
C.A.S. Attitude: Win child welfare cases at all costs
It should not be a matter of "win" or "lose" when it comes to Ontario child welfare law. Ontario's Child and Family Services Act tells us that the paramount purpose is to "promote the best interests, protection and well being of children." One might note the glaring lack of any reference to family. In fact, there is a paucity of references to family throughout the entire CFSA even though many judges recognize the importance of maintaining family whenever possible.
I had a recent experience with CAS counsel at court when representing a family unjustly caught up in the system. Our office had prepared a very persuasive and comprehensive response to the Society's Application. We attended at the mandated five day hearing that follows apprehensions from parental care. The CAS certainly had not expected such forcefulness; normally parents are so overwhelmed at this early stage that they are unable to mount an effective defence. Generally, the court will rubber stamp the CAS requests. We did not agree to just stand idly by at the first appearance and CAS counsel was surprised by our aggressive (yet fair) approach.
Our written material seemed to have persuaded the judge. He instructed the lawyers to prepare a consent endorsement along the lines that we were seeking (which of course included an immediate return of the children to parental care). As we were returning to the courtroom after preparing the consent, the experienced and respected CAS counsel turned to me and my clients and remarked: "This is the third time your lawyer has beaten me."
The CAS counsel's comment was made innocently enough and indeed was intended to be complimentary. But still I was shocked (but probably should not have been). Why was I so shocked? -
The three times I had opposed this particular lawyer included one that took place over five years ago; I was only a summer student assisting a lawyer in a child welfare proceeding. I couldn't believe this lawyer remembered that first of the three times she and I had been on a case together, particularly given that I wasn't even lead counsel at the time. This reminded me that many parents and their lawyers are not challenging the CAS at the first return date, particularly where there has been an apprehension. That is why this counsel recalled me so well. I suggest, that as parents' counsel, we have an obligation to mount as an aggressive and fulsome a defence as possible to the Society's Application at the first appearance which takes place five days after the children have been apprehended.
Further, the lawyer's comment concerned me because it seemed that she saw this as a "win or lose" situation. She highlighted to my clients that I had "beat her" three times. I don't see these situations as "win" or "lose". The removal of the child from his/her family in and of itself is a loss for the family whether or not the CAS was justified to apprehend. CAS counsel should be telling their clients that they need to find the best route to maintain the integrity of the family unit - not to split it up. CAS lawyers need to realize that working cooperatively with parents' counsel should be the proper path. (It follows that Legal Aid needs to assist parents even before an apprehension takes place.)
The recent series in the Toronto Star has highlighted a number of issues raging in the child welfare system. Families, and in particular visible minorities, are struggling to battle child protection authorities throughout this province, and disproportionately these families are split up. The Societies seem to focus on getting children into care and then trying to fix the families that have been broken up.
Child protection agency attitudes need a paradigm shift. Families need to be maintained with supports in place as opposed to removing children and then trying to repair. When a lawyer succeeds in keeping a family together, that is a "win" for both the parents and the CAS. The CAS mindsight of seeing this as a "loss" is indeed discouraging and disconcerting.
Source: Gene C Colman Family Law Centre