Month: October 2007

britney spears, child custody, cps, law
Judge Rules For K-Fed In Custody Dispute With Britney Spears

BRITNEY SPEARS V. KEVIN FEDERLINE
(Superior Ct. of Calif., County of Los Angeles, Oct. 1, 2007) – L.A. Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon ruled that Britney Spears is to surrender physical custody of her children to ex-husband Kevin ‘K-Fed’ Federline. According to the judge, Federline will “retain physical custody of the minor children on Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. until further order of the court.” Read more…

Related Resources
Britney v. K-Fed Divorce Case
Mark Kaplan, Federline’s Co-Counsel
James Simon, Federline’s Co-Counsel
Sorrell Trope, Spears’ Lawyer
Child Custody Lawyers
Child Custody and Your Rights

child support, children, education, family, financial, money
Handbook on Child Support Enforcement

(source)

Department of Health and Human Services

Administration for Children and Families

Office of Child Support Enforcement

Handbook on Child Support Enforcement

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program is a Federal/state/local partnership to collect child support: We want to send the strongest possible message that parents cannot walk away from their children. Our goals are to ensure that children have the financial support of both their parents, to foster responsible behavior towards children, to emphasize that children need to have both parents involved in their lives, and to reduce welfare costs.

The Federal CSE Program was established in 1975 as Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. It functions in all states and territories, through the state/county Social Services Department, Attorney General’s Office, or Department of Revenue. Most states work with prosecuting attorneys, other law enforcement agencies, and officials of family or domestic relations courts to carry out the program at the local level. Native American Tribes, too, can operate child support programs in the context of their cultures and traditions with Federal funding.

State Child Support Programs locate noncustodial parents, establish paternity, establish and enforce support orders, modify orders when appropriate, and collect and distribute child support payments. While programs vary from state to state, their services are available to all parents who need them.

The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It helps states develop, manage, and operate their programs effectively and according to Federal law. OCSE pays the major share of state program operating costs, provides location services, policy guidance and technical help to enforcement agencies, conducts audits and educational programs, supports research, and shares ideas for program improvement.

We believe that child support enforcement provides hope as well as support to America’s children. We dedicate this Handbook to the millions of parents who put their children first by responsibly providing for their emotional and financial support.

(more…)

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care
How Is The Texas Foster Care System?
Home Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller  

News Release Header

News Release Header

News Release Header

 
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Contact: Mark Sanders 512-463-4070

Comptroller Strayhorn Laments “Forgotten Children”

In State’s Foster Care System, Outlines Massive Overhaul

Replace State Caseworkers with Enforcement Staff, Yank Licenses of Poor Caregivers, Bring Care Standards to Humane Levels

(Austin)–Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn today called for a massive overhaul of the state’s foster care system in a special report, “Forgotten Children,” which details a widespread crisis in Texas’ foster care system.

Photos available Outdoor Urinal at Therapeutic Camp (1MB pdf) Children’s Shoes (1MB pdf) Open Fire Pit and Sleeping Quarters (1MB pdf)

“They are everybody’s children and nobody’s children,” Strayhorn said. “They are the forgotten children in the foster care system. Some of them find homes with caring foster parents, or in treatment centers with experienced and caring providers, and some do not. Some children have been moved among 30, 40, or even more all-too-temporary ‘homes.’ Some have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused while in the system; some have run away and joined the ranks of the missing. A few have even died at the hands of those entrusted with their care.

“This report gives these children something they need — a voice,” she said. “This investigation turned this One Tough Grandma into One Heartbroken Grandma.”

“The truth is that some of these children are no better off in the care of the state than they were in the hands of abusive and negligent parents,” Strayhorn said.

Among the dozens of recommendations are:

  • Eliminate the inefficient dual system of foster care — one that is run by the state — creating a conflict of interest in which the agency regulates itself.
  • Direct and redirect $193.9 million in savings to better care for children by replacing state caseworkers with independent oversight enforcement staff.
  • Move, immediately, children out of all therapeutic camps that do not meet licensing standards for Permanent Therapeutic Camps.
  • Raise standards across the board to humane levels.
  • Revoke the licenses of facilities that have ongoing problems affecting the health, safety and well being of children.
  • Educate foster care children about free higher education tuition eligibility.
  • Develop a Foster Grandma and Foster Grandpa program to mentor and support the children.

“I am appalled at the conditions too many of our foster children must endure,” Strayhorn said. “I challenge any defender of the current system’s status quo to put their child or their grandchild in some of the places I’ve seen for one day, much less for a lifetime.”

 

Responsibility for the broken foster care system rests with state government and the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS), now called the Department of Family and Protective Services.

In fiscal 2003 alone, 26,133 children were in foster care. The state pays from $20 per day per child all the way up to $277 per day for a child with complex needs.

“The agency tolerates vast disparities in the quality of the services it purchases,” Strayhorn said. “It uses taxpayer dollars inefficiently and fails to take advantage of federal funding. It offers caregivers a perverse financial incentive to keep children in expensive, restrictive placements.

“I saw children on alarming amounts of psychotropic medications and children who have not seen their caseworker in months,” she said.

“We must end the current system that has the fox guarding the hen house,” Strayhorn said. “We cannot tolerate a system where regulators regulate themselves.”

Problems in DPRS include inefficient use of taxpayer dollars, inadequate licensing and contracting standards, ineffective investigations, heavy caseloads and high employee turnover, which prevent the agency from closely watching over the children in their care.

“I saw filthy living conditions, make-shift outhouses, unsanitary food storage, in so-called outdoor camps where children must sleep in sleeping bags – no walls, no fans, no heat – for months and months, and in many cases, year after year. That’s not care. That’s cruelty. That’s not educating. That’s endangering,” Strayhorn said.

Strayhorn’s report uncovers the harsh realities of the current foster care system and makes key recommendations aimed at improving the entire system. She recommends that the state raise the bar on quality, make the foster care system more accountable, ensure the health and safety of all foster care children, and provide a brighter future for foster children.

Strayhorn said she did find facilities that did treat children well.

“In each and every instance where children were getting the best care, the care givers are working closely and openly with the community,” Strayhorn said. “Each facility needs that close relationship, operating in the sunshine, and support from the communities they serve. Without that relationship, the children suffer.”

“It has been said that any society can be judged by how it treats its weakest members. My investigation shows that Texas can and must be judged harshly,” Strayhorn said. “Foster care in this state has been studied time and time again; reports are issued, promises are made, and the children continue to suffer. That’s unacceptable.”

Strayhorn said she planned to monitor changes made, or not made, as a result of this special report and “for the sake of our forgotten children, I will report back to the people of Texas, in six weeks and six months and as long as it takes to fix this broken system and save all of our children.”

–30–


SOURCE: Susan Combs Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Window on State Government
child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, family, foster care, government, system failure
transcript of audio visit – CPS ABUSE

The following visit took place December 2004 at a Texas CPS Children’s Advocacy Center between an 8 year old child and his mother.

This child’s case was ruled out for physical abuse at his natural home, but the same cannot be said for his foster home. Nevertheless he had been removed and placed in foster care where he was…actually… abused…

The day before this visit, the mother arrived on Tuesday, her normally scheduled visitation day. The mother was left waiting in the lobby for over an hour before the CPS worker came out to inform her that the visit would not be taking place because the foster family “forgot to bring the child.”

The caseworker apologized and stated it would be another two weeks before a visit would take place due to the holidays (it was 3 days before Christmas). This was unacceptable to the mother. The mother refused to leave the facility without answers, knowing that her child would not have let the foster parents forget to take him to see her. Finally, the CPS worker reluctantly agreed to a special visit the next morning., at which time the mother brought a tape recorder.

The child arrived covered in blood with a black eye, heavily medicated and carrying a realistic looking capgun in his pocket. The gun was realistic enough that if a parent carried it into the facility, that parent would be arrested. If it had been carried into an airport, flights would be shut down. Still this child had it in his pocket, given to him by the foster family.

Upon questioning throughout this visit, the mother learns that the child had been told by the foster family that he didn’t go to the visit the day before because the mother did not show up. That simply was not true. The foster family “forgetting to bring him” wasn’t true either.

Were they trying to cover up his injuries…..?

The child was, after this visit, removed from that home, and placed in kinship care, however, the mother only saw her child one more time after this visit….

Ruled out for physical abuse at home, taken and placed in state’s care to be abused… and then his injuries attempted to be covered up…. child protective services …? protecting who?

Its been nearly 5 years since this incident occured.

The case has been closed for some time now, but nobody was ever held accountable for the abuse against this child, nor to the family for the suffering it caused. The mother has not seen the child in over 4 years, and remember – no abuse had occurred at home. The mother was ruled out  for abuse – the mother ‘s administrative review sustained a finding that the mother had a history of a drug use and was uncooperative with a non-conforming attitude towards the system; but no injuries to the child.

In fact, the caseworker herself states that the mother interacts appropriately with the child, that the case is not so much a case of child abuse, but rather an ongoing custody battle, and in the child’s interview with the social worker the child specifically states that he is not abused, unhappy, harmed, afraid, or otherwise feels in danger with his mom.

4 years since she’s seen him.

Now its time for the truth.

Click here to listen to the audio recording as you read the transcripts below.

TRANSCRIPTS

mother: hey you…hi baby

child: i bought it

mother: you bought it?

mother: <gasp> what happened to your eye??

child: something really horrible

mother: what happened baby?

child: i was throwing rocks into the creek and my foster brothers hit me in the eye with the rocks

mother: when did this happen?

child: a few days ago

mother: did you go to the doctor?

child: my foster father was in the army and he knew what to gave me a butterfly bandaid on it and put stuff on it

mother: can you see ok?

child: yeah, except this eye’s still a little blurry

mother: look up ..no look up with your eye not with your whole head

mother: was it an accident?

child: nuh uh (indicating a negative response:ie.no) they were throwing rocks straight at me

mother: who?

child: my foster brothers

mother: it looks like you had a bloody nose

child: i didn’t

mother: no you have blood in your nose

child: i do?

mother (to cps worker): he has blood in his nose

child: i do?

cps worker: I didnt see

mother: come here

child: probably because of the…its so cold outside

cps worker: mine are a little dry too

child: i have in my pocket there’s this really cool capgun i got

child: i have it in my pocket …you know whats really cool about it, it sounds like a real gun its really loud

mother: there’s blood on your shirt

child: this is water

mother: no this is blood

child: it is?

mother: water is not that color

child: i didn’t know my nose was bleeding

mother (to cps worker): are they gonna do something about removing him from these kids if they’re throwing rocks at him?

cps worker: i have no idea

child: Pam said that i need to get along with them

mother: no, not if he’s got a black eye from rocks

cps worker: I have… i’m not… i don’t know anything ..my only time is transporting so..i don’t know…

child: its a fake gun

mother: but you know i don’t let you play with guns

child: its fake

mother: i don’t care…here…eat your food

mother: Merry christmas baby, i know you’re…I love you …I love you

adoption, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, domestic violence, families, family, foster care, german shepherd, love, safety, texas
Editing the layout

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll probably notice the changes as I am playing around with the layouts available.  I would love some input on what you like best?  What information you might be looking for but can’t find.  I would like to do what I can to enhance your visit to my blog as the topics I present here are rather dismal and difficult…. though necessary.

0093-adobe-id-220aspqb101-401.jpg

Thank you for your feedback!

child, children, families, family, healing, love, medical, medication, safety
Government Advisers: Don’t Use Cold Medicines in Children Under 6

FDA Says Over-the-Counter Med Need Further Study

Cold medicine

Concentrated Tylenol Infants’ Drops Plus Cold & Cough, right, and Pedia Care Infant Drops Long-Acting Cough, left, is shown in a medicine cabinet of the home of Carol Uyeno in Palo Alto, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. Cold Drug makers voluntarily pulled cold medicines targeted for babies and toddlers off the market Thursday, leaving parents to find alternatives for hacking coughs and runny little noses just as fall sniffles get in full swing. The move represented a pre-emptive strike by over-the-counter drug manufacturers – a week before government advisers were to debate the medicines’ fate. But it doesn’t end concern about the safety of these remedies for youngsters.  (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

WASHINGTON – Cold and cough medicines don’t work in children and shouldn’t be used in those younger than 6, federal health advisers recommended Friday.

Video

No More Kids Cold Medicine

The over-the-counter medicines should be studied further, even after decades in which children have received billions of doses a year, the outside experts told the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA isn’t required to follow the advice of its panels of outside experts but does so most of the time.

“The data that we have now is they don’t seem to work,” said Sean Hennessy, a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist, one of the FDA experts gathered to examine the medicines sold to treat common cold symptoms. The recommendation applies to medicines containing one or more of the following ingredients: decongestants, expectorants, antihistamines and antitussives.

The nonbinding recommendation is likely to lead to a shake up in how the medicines – which have long escaped much scrutiny – are labeled, marketed and used. Just how and how quickly wasn’t immediately clear.

In two separate votes, the panelists said the medicines shouldn’t be used in children younger than 2 or in those younger than 6. A third vote, to recommend against use in children 6 to 11, failed.

Earlier, the panelists voted unanimously to recommend the medicines be studied in children to determine whether they work. That recommendation would require the FDA to undertake a rule-making process to reclassify the medicines, since the ingredients they include are now generally recognized as safe and effective, which doesn’t require testing. The process could take years, even before any studies themselves get under way.

Simply relabeling the medicines to state they shouldn’t be used in some age groups could be accomplished more quickly, FDA officials said.

Indeed, the drug industry could further revise the labels on the medicines to caution against such use. The Thursday-Friday meeting came just a week after the industry pre-emptively moved to eliminate sales of the nonprescription drugs targeted at children under 2.

Government Advisers: Don’t Use Cold Medicines in Children Under 6

adoption, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, families, family, foster care, government, healing, love, medicaid fraud, psychiatry, psychotropic medications, safety, system failure, texas
Child agency touts progress

Foster kid adoption rate has improved in S.A. region, but much wor

Web Posted: 10/03/2007 12:00 AM CDT

Nancy Martinez
Express-News Child Protective Services has in the past 21/2 years seen a higher turnover among caseworkers, taken on more cases, removed more children that it can place and seen a large gap in the number of black children in the system versus those in the community. Still, the state agency charged with keeping children safe sees itself as an improved department in the throes of heeding reforms required by the Legislature in 2005. That’s what about 75 child advocates who gathered Tuesday at a semi-annual child advocate meeting heard from CPS officials.

“We’re making a lot of progress. We’re a different agency than we were before the reforms,” Sherry Gomez, the San Antonio region CPS director, told the audience of foster care workers, community organizations, law enforcement officials and political leaders. “But it’s going to take awhile to transition.”

But Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who publicly criticized CPS this year for not following new state laws aimed at protecting young children by requiring that a specialist review their cases, reached a different conclusion.

“I don’t see the kind of improvement we need in the agency,” Uresti said during a phone interview Tuesday. “Status quo is not enough.”

At the meeting, held at the University of the Incarnate Word with the theme “The Dawn of a New Day,” CPS officials spoke about what the department is doing right and characterized its weaknesses — turnover is the worst it’s ever been and there are more cases than ever — as “growing pains.”

“CPS is a constant challenge. The system is overburdened, and we always need more reserves,” said Arabia Vargas, chairwoman of the Bexar County Child Welfare Board.

Still, there were marked improvements since the passage of Senate Bill 6, which required expansive reforms in virtually every aspect of policy, practice and performance for the beleaguered agency.

CPS touted its high foster child adoption rate: In fiscal 2007, 974 children in the San Antonio region were adopted, mostly by relatives. Last year, the region led the state with 651 adoptions, a vast improvement from the 316 in fiscal year 2004 and up from 625 in 2005.

Also discussed were the “taking it to the streets” efforts, in which caseworkers became decentralized, working across the city, and CPS’ “family team meeting” efforts, in which extended family members work with CPS to craft a safety plan for children.

Local CPS developments are reflective of what is happening across the state.

On Sept. 1, in its fourth 180-day progress report, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the umbrella agency over CPS, reported to lawmakers that the department is becoming more accountable and working on its shortcomings.

According to CPS, caseloads are also down for most caseworkers — from 27 average cases per day last year for San Antonio region caseworkers to 21 per day in fiscal year 2007, which ended Aug. 31. Statewide, the caseload decreased from 26 per day last year to 20 per day in 2007, according to CPS.

But one of the department’s biggest challenges this past year has been placing foster children.

Since April, 44 children in the San Antonio region have slept in CPS offices because there was nowhere else for them to stay.

CPS officials say finding placements is a daily struggle because the rate at which children are being removed is greatly outpacing the rate at which foster parents will take them.

CPS officials said the department is also striving to fix a problem of disproportional removals. Across the state and in San Antonio, more black children are taken from their parents. In the San Antonio region, 6 percent of children are black, but 15 percent of those in foster care are black, CPS reported.

Training new staff has become a significant challenge, especially because caseworker turnover is getting worse.

Despite the reforms, children are still dying of child abuse and neglect at an unprecedented rate.

In fiscal year 2006, CPS identified 14 children who died of child abuse and neglect, the second-highest number since the department began keeping track.

Death numbers for fiscal year 2007 are not yet available.

“The report reflects the status quo,” Uresti said. “We need to continue to monitor this on a monthly basis and not let up on our primary goal of protecting our children.”


nmartinez@express-news.net

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, foster homes, government, law, psychotropic medications, system failure
Survey: Too many children stuck in temporary foster care

 

Overloaded courts, insufficient services part of problem

By Susan Shepard

 

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn tells reporters that action must be taken immediately to reform the Texas foster-care system. On Friday Strayhorn held a press conference to answer questions about her recently released report,

Media Credit: Mark Mulligan

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn tells reporters that action must be taken immediately to reform the Texas foster-care system. On Friday Strayhorn held a press conference to answer questions about her recently released report, “Forgotten Children.”

Children are languishing in temporary foster care due to overloaded family courts and a lack of services, according to a national survey of judges who hear child abuse and neglect cases.

Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn on Friday called for sweeping reform of Texas’ foster-care system, and Gov. Rick Perry has called for an investigation into the state’s Child Protective Services department.

The survey was administered this spring by Fostering Results, a foster-care public education project of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in partnership with the National Center for State Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

In Texas, only half of the 125 judges who responded to the survey said they received training in child welfare before hearing cases. Scott McCown, a retired state district judge and executive director of the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, said training is critical.

“It’s not so much figuring out whether there’s been abuse or neglect,” McCown said. “What’s different in these cases is figuring out how you help and how you structure services so that you can get children back to families, where they can live safely.”

The study found that the time available to judges to hear child welfare cases is inadequate. Fifty percent of the Texas judges who have more than a quarter of their docket composed of child welfare cases said their dockets were overcrowded. McCown said lack of time was a problem when he was a judge.

“I wished I had more time per case. I think that’s a serious problem in our urban areas. We’re making decisions in minutes that we should be making in hours,” he said.

One positive aspect of Texas’ court systems, McCown said, are cluster courts – child welfare courts that cover rural counties. In a cluster court, judges are responsible for hearing all child welfare cases in their circuits.

Continued…

General, writing
If you haven’t read it – Go Read It – This Poetry Moves…

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The Day He Came

Running
Jumping
Playing
Safe

Giggles
Laughter
Fun
Loved

He came

Screaming
Shouting
Swearing
Fear

Tears
Cruelty
Pain
Hate

Desperation

No escape

Desperation.

The day he came

Childhood
Freedom
Joy
Life

Taken away

Where did our childhood go
Has it been kept safe somewhere unknown?
And one day together
We can finish those wonderful years
Where we had been given so much love

Secure
Care free

Allowed to be
Children

Until
The day he came

Christopher Wellbelove
30 September 2007