Category: abuse

abuse, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death
When CPS workers accept lies, children can die
By ROBERT T. GARRETT
Austin Bureau
rtgarrett@dallasnews.com
Published: 14 December 2013 11:13 PM
Updated: 14 December 2013 11:41 PM

(source: Dallas Morning News)

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson died from injuries that included a fractured skull after workers were lied to about her case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandria Hill, 2, died of head injuries last July. Her foster mother has been charged with her murder.
Orien Hamilton, an 11-month-old, died in October from fatal head injuries in a suburban Austin home.
Foster mother Sherill Small, 54, faces trial on a capital murder charge in a toddler’s death
Gregory Guajardo has been charged in the death of his son

 

 

AUSTIN — When Child Protective Services workers accept lies at face value and stop pressing for the truth, children can die.

Being gullible about relationships, living situations or even abuse can be fatal, as illustrated by the recent beating deaths of at least four young Texas children — Orien Hamilton, Alexandria Hill, Giovanni Guajardo and Emma Thompson.

In each instance, adults who had something to hide or who needed to be strong-willed protectors misled CPS workers. Had the workers known the truth, they might have removed the children from harm’s way.

State protective services chief John Specia said he wants to better train his people to ferret out deception.

“We’ve got to be able to connect dots,” said Specia, a veteran San Antonio family court judge. Gov. Rick Perry selected him last year to run CPS’ parent agency, the Department of Family and Protective Services. “It’s really a matter of being able to have … that little red light go off that somebody isn’t telling you the whole story.”

While Specia has ordered some policy changes in response to two recent deaths, The Dallas Morning News found gaps and loopholes in the department’s current rules and procedures.

The newspaper found, for instance, that CPS workers aren’t necessarily required to interview neighbors when they investigate tips about birth parents’ being abusive. Nor do CPS workers or employees of the state’s foster-care contractors have to knock on neighbors’ doors when they examine people stepping up to care for the children.

Such a check is done only if the people agreeing to tend to the youngster submit neighbors as references, said department spokesman Patrick Crimmins.

And state rules don’t require prospective foster parents to supply any references at all.

Several large contractors who perform such checks ask for references in applications, and industry veterans say it’s standard practice. But, Crimmins said, there’s an anomaly in the rules: Relatives who volunteer to take in children must supply names of people who can vouch for their character, but total strangers serving as foster parents do not.

“We can find no current … or prior standard that requires references,” he said Friday. Asked if the department would move to require them, Crimmins said: “We’re looking at everything” after a rash of child deaths.

It’s another crisis for an agency that has been through several rounds of legislative overhauls over the last decade. And in trying to improve investigations, it faces familiar problems: employee turnover fueled by low pay, too-heavy caseloads, inexperienced workers and supervisors who are almost as green as their subordinates.

In late October, 11-month-old Orien Hamilton suffered fatal head injuries in a suburban Austin home. A month earlier, CPS whiffed in checking out a tip from her birth father. He’d warned that a man with violent tendencies was helping to care for her.

Although CPS had seen the man in the home in April and knew he’d been involved in a domestic-violence episode there the following month, its worker who checked out the tip bought a step-aunt’s lie that he’d moved to Colorado.

That revelation rocked the department, reviving painful memories of a 2009 Houston case. CPS left 4-year-old Emma Thompson, who’d contracted herpes, in her mother’s care. A CPS worker accepted the mother’s misleading claims.

Fifteen days later, the mother’s live-in boyfriend sexually abused and killed Emma.

“Women who are abused are really good liars. I’ve dealt with that as a judge,” said Specia, who said CPS workers need more training on domestic-violence victims’ tendency to protect abusers.

Earlier this year, lawmakers heeded Specia’s plea and gave him money to hire 800 more front-line workers, supervisors and clerical staff. But Texas CPS still faces significant morale problems.

Each year, more than one third of the lowest-seniority caseworkers quit. A recent CPS salary study said the reasons remain unchanged — stress, safety concerns, poor supervision, low pay. Investigators still juggle more than 20 cases each. As of last week, seven urban counties — none in North Texas — had more than one-third of their newly referred investigations still waiting for a boots-on-the-ground look-see after two months.

Experts consider that a bad practice. They also don’t recommend having “conservatorship workers,” who visit foster children and youngsters handed off to relatives, responsible for 32 cases apiece. But Texas tolerates that, several child welfare experts said in interviews.

The experts warned that any drive to detect more deception will crash against two stubborn facts: Most CPS workers are overworked and most are young, recent college graduates who have not reared a family and are in their first job.

Expecting them to cut through deceptions as well as someone in her 40s might is foolish, said former McKinney police Sgt. Ida Wei Cover. She spent seven years as a CPS worker and then switched to law enforcement.

“They just don’t have the life experiences,” Cover said. Given their age and caseloads, no one should be surprised when tragedies occur, she added. “Realistically, it is unmanageable to have a good finger on the pulse on all of their cases.”

Susan Etheridge, who was a CPS program administrator in Dallas County until 2004, said her old employer competes for college graduates with companies and school systems that pay more. When CPS fails to give rookies top-notch training and place them under the wing of savvy, experienced supervisors, it invites disaster, she said.

“Come on, you can’t run McDonald’s with the kind of turnover they’ve got,” said Etheridge, who now runs Court Appointed Special Advocates of Collin County, which recruits volunteers to guide and help abused children as they’re taken from birth families. “The really good [CPS workers] will say to you as they’re leaving, ‘It is unethical because I can’t meet all of these requirements. And I can’t stand it anymore.’”

Recent child deaths

Etheridge and other longtime leaders of child-welfare organizations suggested possible improvements after reviewing the clues that CPS missed and the opportunities for more rigorous investigation it didn’t seize in several child deaths:

Emma Thompson: In June 2009, doctors at a Houston hospital confirmed the 4-year-old had herpes and unusual bruises around her waist. Interviewed at the hospital, Emma denied she’d been touched inappropriately.

According to the Houston Chronicle, birth mother Abigail Young told a CPS worker that no other adults were living in her household. Young said Emma might have come into contact with someone with herpes at a local YMCA. While in rare cases herpes can be transmitted in a nonsexual way, Young also had the disease.

She also lied about her live-in boyfriend, Lucas Coe, who served as a part-time baby-sitter. He had a lengthy criminal record. CPS had investigated him three times on accusations he abused a former girlfriend’s young boy.

Had CPS known Coe was there, it probably would have removed Emma and her two sisters. Instead, she stayed with Young, a nurse. Fifteen days later, Emma died from injuries that included a fractured skull, severed pancreas, vaginal tearing and more than 80 bruises. Coe is serving a sentence of life without parole in connection with her death. Young received a prison term of 20 years for failing to protect the child.

The case triggered a policy change — CPS has to interview neighbors if a child has a sexually transmitted disease. The Legislature also passed a law tightening such investigations so that the presumption is the disease-ridden child will be removed.

Alexandria Hill: The 2-year-old died of head injuries last July at a Temple hospital. In January, Texas Mentor, a for-profit foster-care contractor, had placed her in a newly licensed foster home in Rockdale, an hour northeast of Austin. Just over a year ago, CPS removed Alex from her birth parents in Austin, citing concerns about their parenting skills and drug use.

Foster mother Sherill Small, 54, faces trial on a capital murder charge in the toddler’s death. Small told police she was swinging Alex by the legs through the air when she accidentally lost her grip, smashing the child’s head against the floor. Milam County authorities recently announced they’re seeking a sentence of life without parole.

Experts say CPS and Texas Mentor overlooked too many warning signs about Small and her husband, including her own history as an abused foster child and his past drug addiction and scrapes with the law, and baby-sitting relief she later was learned to have received from one of her adult daughters. In 2002, the daughter had been convicted of robbery and kidnapping.

Specia was apparently upset that neither CPS nor Texas Mentor properly vetted the adult daughter. He has ordered that in the future, all grown offspring of foster parents will be interviewed before any placements occur.

Orien Hamilton: The 11-month-old, born in San Antonio with methamphetamines in her body, died in October from fatal head injuries. They occurred in the suburban Austin home of a step-aunt, Heather Hamilton. Only days earlier, Lutheran Social Services, the state’s largest private child placing agency, had licensed the aunt as a foster parent.

Officials have acknowledged that CPS and Lutheran conducted such inadequate checks that they didn’t know Jacob Salas was Heather Hamilton’s live-in boyfriend and eight-year partner. Salas, 32, was well-known to police for violence. In May, he flew into a rage and put his fist through a car’s tail light, according to police and CPS reports. He’d also listed Heather Hamilton’s previous address on a 2004 driver’s license application and her current Cedar Park address on several more recent public records.

Giovanni Guajardo: The 6-month-old, born in Dallas in September 2012 with amphetamines in his system, suffered fatal head injuries in a Balch Springs home last March.

Giovanni’s parents, Shawnna Gonzalez and Gregory Guajardo, also have two daughters. The oldest, now 3, tested positive at birth for cocaine, according to CPS records. After Giovanni’s birth, “both parents admitted to illegal drug use,” said a terse child fatality report by CPS.

CPS farmed out Giovanni to one relative and the girls to another.

Dallas Juvenile Court Judge William Mazur put those relative caregivers under strict orders not to allow unsupervised visits by the birth parents, records show. But for several days in March, all three youngsters were left in the care of their birth parents and grandmother.

The grandmother “also was aware that they were not supposed to have unsupervised visits with the parents,” said CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales. “She knew that it was happening.”

Gregory Guajardo, 31, who has a lengthy criminal record, has been charged with capital murder in connection with Giovanni’s death. CPS says it never got an explanation of what happened.

“The autopsy photographs on that child were horrible,” Balch Springs Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Haber recounted.

Trusting intuition

Mike Foster of Austin, who has 40 years of experience running a residential treatment center and a family services agency for abused children, said that in child safety investigations, if adults are uncooperative, CPS or private companies should escalate their aggressiveness.

They should randomly interview neighbors and demand to look into closets — say, to see if a man’s clothes are present, indicating he lives in the home.

“You should always take it to the next step,” Foster said. “You almost always regret not trusting your intuition. If you feel like something’s up, you better chase that down.”

Crimmins, the CPS spokesman, said workers may ask to look into closets. But if rebuffed, they are encouraged to confer with a supervisor, he said. The agency then can consider further action “to compel a complete inspection,” he said.

Retired child-placing agency executive Irene Clements of Austin, now president of the National Foster Parent Association, said assessments of adults who fill in for birth parents are too sketchy.

“You can learn a lot by asking for more information,” she said. Clements said long ago, the state required prospective foster parents to write autobiographies and essays on their marriages and child-rearing techniques.

“You could compare his answer to hers, and you can catch stuff,” Clements said.

Cover, the former McKinney police child-abuse investigator, said CPS should pair all rookie workers with a veteran worker in a mentorship. Ideally, it should include opportunities to work cases alongside police detectives.

Having CPS workers take certain law enforcement courses about interrogation techniques would also help, she said.

“Attempt to build an alliance with that individual, saying, ‘I’m helping you to get this placement. I’m helping you to keep your granddaughter in your home,’” she said. “Make the agency the bad guy. … Build the trust.”

Specia has said he wants to “beef up” training about domestic-violence victims for CPS’ 1,400 conservatorship workers, though he has offered no details.

Crimmins said the training has yet to be enhanced. But a three-month, basic-training course gives CPS rookies two reading assignments about domestic violence and covers the subject in about three hours over three separate days of classroom instruction and in a simulation of mock cases.

A special unit in San Antonio is trying to come up with new guidelines for handling households afflicted by domestic violence.

Cover said fewer CPS recruits had college majors, such as social work and psychology, than in years past. That helped them for the drug- and violence-wracked households they’re about to enter.

“These workers absolutely need additional training in the dynamics of family violence and spouse abuse and how it impacts the children, as well as alcoholism and drug abuse,” she said.

Follow Robert T. Garrett on Twitter at @RobertTGarrett.

AT A GLANCE:

Vetting caregivers

Is Texas’ checklist for vetting adult caregivers of abused children adequate? Before children may be placed in a foster home or with a relative, Child Protective Services requires the following information or checks:

• Addresses for the past 10 years

• Basic information on all members of the household

• Family income

• Criminal history background check

• A check of any past investigations by CPS

CPS requires these questions about domestic violence:

• For foster parents, screeners must check for any domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement in the past 12 months.

• For relative caregivers, screeners simply must inquire about family violence.

Possible holes in vetting by CPS and its contractors:

• Workers for CPS or private child-placing agencies don’t have to demand references from prospective foster parents. However, some agencies do, and the state requires five from relatives who’ve volunteered to take in abused kids.

• Workers don’t have to randomly interview neighbors, even during initial investigations of suspected child maltreatment.

• Workers don’t have to examine closets of single adults who want to be caregivers, to see if they’ve omitted mention of an adult partner spending significant time in the home.

• For foster parents, CPS requires interviews of all members of the household and adult children living elsewhere. However, for relative caregivers, guidelines don’t specifically say all household members must be interviewed. Guidelines do call for contacting adult children.

SOURCES: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services; Texas Administrative Code; child-placing agencies’ websites; Dallas Morning News research

abuse, accountability, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death, family, foster care, foster child, foster home, foster parent, social services, system failure, system failure children
MURDERED TWO YEAR OLD WAS BEING “PROTECTED” BY CPS FROM HER POT-SMOKING (“Midnight Toking”) DAD

… Another baby protected to death while in the governments’ care…
image

A loving father lost custody of his little girl last November in Austin, Tx, after he admitted to.smoking marijuana at night after he put his child down for bedtime.

The precious little girl was not ill, or harmed by her fathers nightcap, nor was she exposed to the marijuana he smoked, yet this loving parent had his two year old baby girl taken by CPS and placed in foster care last fall.

At visits, the father noticed bruises on his daughter, and voiced his concerns for the welfare of his little girl at the foster home she’d been placed in. Those concerns went ignored by CPS.

Now this beautiful baby girl was MURDERED in foster care by an abusive foster mom who was in it for the money! Below is an article where the woman admits, after changing her story a few times, that she slammed the little two year old girl down on her head at least two times before losing her grip the third time, dropping the girl on her head. Causing her death.

The foster mother was angry at the little girl for waking up hungry and getting herself something to eat and some water to drink out of the kitchen. So she killed her.

This child was removed from her natural home because of a father’s recreational marijuana use. The same natural herb that is rapidly being decriminalized in many other U.S. states!! Really.

As an advocate for the foster children and families torn apart wrongly by the system, I have stated before, my stance, on the issue of drug use and CPS. I strongly believe that absent evidence of abuse or neglect, and absent injury or harm to the child,there should be no reason for the removal of that child from their natural home solely because of a parents’ drug use and/or drug addiction particularly if there is no reason to believe that the drug was never used in the presence of the child. If the use of the marijuana was kept outside the child’s awareness, smoked after bedtime, I do not agree with the removal of that child solely due to that recreational marijuana use if it truly had no deleterious effect on the child, and where there is no other sign of abuse or neglect, and no injury to the child!

If the social worker truly believes a parent has a drug problem.. there are plenty of outpatient rehabilitation programs available for the parent to receive help that the CPS worker could refer the parent to, while keeping the family unit in-tact.

Had an approach such a that been utilized in this situation, this baby girl would not have suffered abuse by the FOSTER PARENT and would not have been brutally and senselessly murdered! I also question the worker monitoring the visits who failed to investigate the signs of abuse that the father pointed out with obvious concern. What happened there?
What this is .. is a child welfare system failure at its worst!

I hope this case grinds deep into the minds of every cps worker. I hope this reminds them to rethink when they begin to needlessly remove a child from an abuse-free/neglect-free home where other in-home services are available.

CHILDREN ARE NOT A SOURCE OF INCOME …. THIS WOMAN, when convicted (seems inevitable since she’s already confessed though, technically, she is still innocent til proven guilty in the court of law) (supposedly) SHE DESERVES  DEATH…(and in my opinion,a slow painful death)

It should be recorded and televised for foster parents to-be to watch in training class. Then maybe the “monsters to-be” who are getting into foster parenting to “earn an income” like this monster did.. will reconsider fostering and go get a JOB away from our children if they saw something REAL AND JUST being done about those who abuse and kill foster children!

God be with this baby girls’ family in this time of grief.

I hope this tragic loss changes something in the system, for change is so drastically needed.

image
May this little girls death not be in vain.

ROCKDALE POLICE: FOSTER MOTHER ADMITS SHE SLAMMED TWO YEAR OLD FOSTER CHILD ON HER HEAD

by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist ERIN COKER Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

ROCKDALE, Texas — Tucked away behind the trees in Rockdale, Texas is a normally quiet neighborhood, but the peace has been shattered.

“It shocked me. It really did,” said Lois Rash, who lives in Rockdale.

“It’s a shame. Never should have happened,” added neighbor Larry McAdams.

Their neighbor, 54-year-old Sherill Small is now charged with the murder of her foster daughter Alexandria Hill, better known as Alex.

Monday night, police, fire and EMS crews were called out to the Small home. Small, who was the only person home at the time, called and said the two-year-old wasn’t breathing.

Alex was taken to the hospital, then airlifted to the children’s hospital in Temple. Alex’s biological parents rushed to her side.

“When I got there, it was about 1:00 in the morning and I found out that Alex was in a coma,” said her father Joshua Hill.

Wednesday night Hill and Alex’s mother decided to take her off life support.

“There’s not words to describe trying to make that decision,” said Hill.

Back in Rockdale, police say Small’s story about what happened kept changing.

“Originally, Mrs. Small reported that the child was running backwards and had fallen and this is how she had received the injuries. Later, it changed to kind of we were playing ring-around-the-rosy and I was swinging her and she fell,” said Rockdale Police Chief Thomas Harris. “And at some point somebody had gotten information that she was supposed to have been riding a bicycle and fallen off.”

Chief Harris said things just didn’t add up.

“I mean a two year old child doesn’t run backwards and fall hard enough to get this type of an injury,” explained Harris.

Doctors say Alex had hemorrhaging in her brain and eyes. An autopsy shows she had blunt force trauma to the head.

Harris says Thursday morning, Small finally told them the truth.

“She had evidently been frustrated with the child all day long. She had… the child… had evidently gotten up before the Small’s did and she had went and got into some food and some water,” said Harris. “That is what Mrs. Small was initially upset with her about…. had made her stand in a dark room, according to our reports, for at least three-to-four hours, wouldn’t let her sit or anything.”

Then around 7:00 that night, the young child, so full of life, was knocked unconscious.

“She actually admitted that she had slung the child down on the floor,” said Harris.

Small told investigators she raised the toddler over her head and slung her down toward the floor twice.

“On the third time down she said she lost her grip and dropped the child. Slammed the child down on the floor,” explained Harris.

Harris says Small’s husband, who wasn’t home when the incident happened, became emotional and even cried when talking to police. But not Small.

“I did not see a whole lot of remorse. I think it’s more like a lot of times these people’s, they’re sorry that they’re in trouble. This is the sense that I get. It’s still about them, it’s not really remorse about the child. I never got that feeling,” added Harris.

The Small’s had another foster child who is eight-months-old. That child has been removed.

Police say neither Small or her husband had jobs, but were instead planning to foster between five and six children as a source of income.

Small is in the Milam County Jail. Her bond has been set at $100,000.

abuse, awareness, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death, families, foster care, foster homes, foster parent, healing, suicide
TODAY, 6 Children Will Commit Suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents world wide. TODAY 6 children will commit suicide due to child abuse.

In Los Angeles, a 9 year old foster child hung himself while taking psychotropic medications that were not FDA approved for children . His mother that lost him to foster care had allegations of abuse that were never substantiated. She did, however, get a jail term on a marijuana case.

When the pain exceeds the ability to cope..

Researchers explain that suicides are caused by social and emotional conditions rather than a mentaldisease . Furthermore it is often associated with hundreds of suicides & suicide attempts .

” Researchers discovered attention problems & aggressive or delinquent behavior in 40 per cent of children aged five to 17 who were in home-based foster care,up to eight times more than in the general school -age population ” (Gough 2007 ).

Though the statistics vary extensively, it is generally believed that some 18% of patients with psychological problems finally do kill themselves, & illnesses may be associated with approximately 50 percent of all suicides (Youth Suicide Fact Sheet 2009 ).

Browne (2002) states that children in single family foster homes are more apt to commit suicides because of emotional & financial reasons.

Abrupt emotional trauma or upset doesn’t always cause suicidal ideals, there is believed to be an inherited factor involved in the kind of major depression that leads to suicide.

If a person has such a chemical makeup, the ordinary hurtful life events that make many of us mildly depressed can perhaps touch off a major clinical psychological distress.

” Severely depressed teenagers who attempted suicide while they investigate participants in one study of psychological distress excreted radically increased
amounts of this hormone in their urine just before they tried to kill themselves” (Browne 2002, p. 22).

Then, half of another group of depressed teens in the study — all with suicidal signs — researchers found to have high levels in the amounts of hormone found in their blood; more important, three patients who succeeded in killing themselves, and two who nearly did so, had high levels of the hormone prior to suicide or attempted suicide .

Single family foster homes are dangerous to these teenagers because they feel alone & insecure in those “families”. That can lead to social isolation, withdrawal from others, & suicidal thoughts &feelings .then they keep to themselves, & brew on dying.deep inside…& instead of reaching out for help or talking to someone they trust, they trust no one.
They tell no one. .. until they write their note ..thats when its apparent how desperate they felt, but its too late by that time to save them. Ironically their goal in committing suicide was to end their suffering & pain, but by ending their life, they are not alive to feel their pain cease. So the only feeling they will realize is their desperation & suffering that’s causing them to be suicidal. The relief does not come…

Their relief is only possible if there is someone who notices the signs of suicide beforehand who will get them help…

Those who work with foster kids about to “age out” should take particular notice to possible suicidal signs in teens. The “aging out” of foster care happens at the age of 18 for approximately 20,000 youth annually … suicide is rampant among these teens.

The number of those “aging out” of foster care was increasing and studies were consistently showing that these “aged out” children had serious adjustment problems transitioning to adulthood:
38% had emotional problems,50% used drugs, 48% did not have a high school education, & 25% had prior involvement with legal system.

They are the most likely candidates for homelessness, unemployment, and.incarceration.

It is estimated that 60% or more of the prison populations were abused as children and/or were ex-foster children and up to 60% of teens who “aged out” have experienced homelessness.

70% to 75% end up in prostitution, on drugs or dealing drugs.

With a future not so bright, many of them just kill themselves.

They don’t know what else to do.
They are scared.
They feel alone.
The same people ..the same system who intrusively took them from their homes, kept them, controlled them, changed them, damaged them, now abandon them at age 18.

They don’t stick around like families do to turn to in hard times. The system forgets about them once they “age out” and their families no longer exist, thanks to the system.

They are alone.

While suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth, suicide deaths are often preventable. Preventing suicidal behavior in youth involves a diverse range of interventions including effective treatment of those with mental illness and substance abuse, early detection of and support for youth in crisis, promotion of mental health, training in life skills, and reduction of access to the means of suicide.

Many youth in foster care experience trauma and risk factors such as mental illness, substance abuse, and family discord. They are more likely than other youth to think about, attempt, and die by suicide, so it is important to learn about prevention.

Losing a youth to suicide affects a community greatly. Aside from the devastating loss of a young person’s future and potential contributions to society, the bereaved families and friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.

In 2009, 4,630 youth aged 10 to 24 died by suicide.

Studies have found that youth involved in child welfare or juvenile justice were 3 to 5 times more likely to die by suicide than youth in the general population (Farand, 2004; Thompson, 1995).

A large-scale study in Sweden found more than twice the relative risk for suicide among alumni of long-term foster care compared to peers after adjusting for risk factors (Hjern et al., 2004).

One of the strongest predictors for suicide deaths is a suicide attempt. Among high school students 6.3 percent reported having attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Attempts point to a youth who in unbearable distress. As a result, foster parents and caregivers of youth who attempt suicide need to pay attention and follow up with them. Adolescents who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than other youth (Pilowsky & Wu, 2006).

Experiencing childhood abuse or trauma increased the risk of attempted suicide 2- to 5-fold (Dube et al., 2001).
Adverse childhood experiences play a major role in suicide attempts. One study found that approximately two thirds of suicide attempts may be attributable to abusive or traumatic childhood experiences (Dube et al., 2001).

Thoughts about taking one’s life range from passing thoughts to constant thoughts, from passive wishes to be dead to active planning for making a suicide attempt.

Among high school students 13.8 percent reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Youth considering attempting suicide have significant mental health needs. Families of and caregivers for youth in foster care can help to reduce some risk factors, and support and advocate for services to build protective factors.
Other factors can’t be changed, but are important to address.

RISK FACTORS
Mental illness including substance abuse
Prior suicide attempt
Self injury
Abuse and neglect
Trauma
Parental mental illness and substance abuse
Family conflict and dysfunction
Family history of suicidal behavior
Poor coping skills
Social/interpersonal isolation/alienation Exposure to suicides and attempts
Suicide means availability/firearm in household
Violence and victimization
Being bullied, bullying

PROTECTIVE FACTORS
Psychological or emotional well-being Family connectedness
Safe school,school connectedness
Caring adult
Self esteem
Academic achievement
Connectedness, support, communication with parents
Coping skills
Frequent, vigorous physical activity, sports Reduced access to alcohol, firearms, medications

For foster parents:
Contact your state suicide prevention coalition to find suicide prevention training, resources, and conferences.

To find your state suicide prevention coalition see http://www.sprc.org/states .

Being depressed is not a normal part of adolescence. If a youth seems especially sad or stops his or her usual activities, get help. For most youth in foster care, trauma-focused therapy is critical. The foster family may need to help their youth through stress reactions and to manage triggers.

Find our more at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at http://www.nctsn.org/

You CAN help prevent suicide.

abuse, awareness, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death, families, foster care, foster homes, foster parent, healing, suicide
TODAY, 6 Children Will Commit Suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents world wide. TODAY 6 children will commit suicide due to child abuse.

In Los Angeles, a 9 year old foster child hung himself while taking psychotropic medications that were not FDA approved for children . His mother that lost him to foster care had allegations of abuse that were never substantiated. She did, however, get a jail term on a marijuana case.

When the pain exceeds the ability to cope..

Researchers explain that suicides are caused by social and emotional conditions rather than a mentaldisease . Furthermore it is often associated with hundreds of suicides & suicide attempts .

” Researchers discovered attention problems & aggressive or delinquent behavior in 40 per cent of children aged five to 17 who were in home-based foster care,up to eight times more than in the general school -age population ” (Gough 2007 ).

Though the statistics vary extensively, it is generally believed that some 18% of patients with psychological problems finally do kill themselves, & illnesses may be associated with approximately 50 percent of all suicides (Youth Suicide Fact Sheet 2009 ).

Browne (2002) states that children in single family foster homes are more apt to commit suicides because of emotional & financial reasons.

Abrupt emotional trauma or upset doesn’t always cause suicidal ideals, there is believed to be an inherited factor involved in the kind of major depression that leads to suicide.

If a person has such a chemical makeup, the ordinary hurtful life events that make many of us mildly depressed can perhaps touch off a major clinical psychological distress.

” Severely depressed teenagers who attempted suicide while they investigate participants in one study of psychological distress excreted radically increased
amounts of this hormone in their urine just before they tried to kill themselves” (Browne 2002, p. 22).

Then, half of another group of depressed teens in the study — all with suicidal signs — researchers found to have high levels in the amounts of hormone found in their blood; more important, three patients who succeeded in killing themselves, and two who nearly did so, had high levels of the hormone prior to suicide or attempted suicide .

Single family foster homes are dangerous to these teenagers because they feel alone & insecure in those “families”. That can lead to social isolation, withdrawal from others, & suicidal thoughts &feelings .then they keep to themselves, & brew on dying.deep inside…& instead of reaching out for help or talking to someone they trust, they trust no one.
They tell no one. .. until they write their note ..thats when its apparent how desperate they felt, but its too late by that time to save them. Ironically their goal in committing suicide was to end their suffering & pain, but by ending their life, they are not alive to feel their pain cease. So the only feeling they will realize is their desperation & suffering that’s causing them to be suicidal. The relief does not come…

Their relief is only possible if there is someone who notices the signs of suicide beforehand who will get them help…

Those who work with foster kids about to “age out” should take particular notice to possible suicidal signs in teens. The “aging out” of foster care happens at the age of 18 for approximately 20,000 youth annually … suicide is rampant among these teens.

The number of those “aging out” of foster care was increasing and studies were consistently showing that these “aged out” children had serious adjustment problems transitioning to adulthood:
38% had emotional problems,50% used drugs, 48% did not have a high school education, & 25% had prior involvement with legal system.

They are the most likely candidates for homelessness, unemployment, and.incarceration.

It is estimated that 60% or more of the prison populations were abused as children and/or were ex-foster children and up to 60% of teens who “aged out” have experienced homelessness.

70% to 75% end up in prostitution, on drugs or dealing drugs.

With a future not so bright, many of them just kill themselves.

They don’t know what else to do.
They are scared.
They feel alone.
The same people ..the same system who intrusively took them from their homes, kept them, controlled them, changed them, damaged them, now abandon them at age 18.

They don’t stick around like families do to turn to in hard times. The system forgets about them once they “age out” and their families no longer exist, thanks to the system.

They are alone.

While suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth, suicide deaths are often preventable. Preventing suicidal behavior in youth involves a diverse range of interventions including effective treatment of those with mental illness and substance abuse, early detection of and support for youth in crisis, promotion of mental health, training in life skills, and reduction of access to the means of suicide.

Many youth in foster care experience trauma and risk factors such as mental illness, substance abuse, and family discord. They are more likely than other youth to think about, attempt, and die by suicide, so it is important to learn about prevention.

Losing a youth to suicide affects a community greatly. Aside from the devastating loss of a young person’s future and potential contributions to society, the bereaved families and friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.

In 2009, 4,630 youth aged 10 to 24 died by suicide.

Studies have found that youth involved in child welfare or juvenile justice were 3 to 5 times more likely to die by suicide than youth in the general population (Farand, 2004; Thompson, 1995).

A large-scale study in Sweden found more than twice the relative risk for suicide among alumni of long-term foster care compared to peers after adjusting for risk factors (Hjern et al., 2004).

One of the strongest predictors for suicide deaths is a suicide attempt. Among high school students 6.3 percent reported having attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Attempts point to a youth who in unbearable distress. As a result, foster parents and caregivers of youth who attempt suicide need to pay attention and follow up with them. Adolescents who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than other youth (Pilowsky & Wu, 2006).

Experiencing childhood abuse or trauma increased the risk of attempted suicide 2- to 5-fold (Dube et al., 2001).
Adverse childhood experiences play a major role in suicide attempts. One study found that approximately two thirds of suicide attempts may be attributable to abusive or traumatic childhood experiences (Dube et al., 2001).

Thoughts about taking one’s life range from passing thoughts to constant thoughts, from passive wishes to be dead to active planning for making a suicide attempt.

Among high school students 13.8 percent reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).

Youth considering attempting suicide have significant mental health needs. Families of and caregivers for youth in foster care can help to reduce some risk factors, and support and advocate for services to build protective factors.
Other factors can’t be changed, but are important to address.

RISK FACTORS
Mental illness including substance abuse
Prior suicide attempt
Self injury
Abuse and neglect
Trauma
Parental mental illness and substance abuse
Family conflict and dysfunction
Family history of suicidal behavior
Poor coping skills
Social/interpersonal isolation/alienation Exposure to suicides and attempts
Suicide means availability/firearm in household
Violence and victimization
Being bullied, bullying

PROTECTIVE FACTORS
Psychological or emotional well-being Family connectedness
Safe school,school connectedness
Caring adult
Self esteem
Academic achievement
Connectedness, support, communication with parents
Coping skills
Frequent, vigorous physical activity, sports Reduced access to alcohol, firearms, medications

For foster parents:
Contact your state suicide prevention coalition to find suicide prevention training, resources, and conferences.

To find your state suicide prevention coalition see http://www.sprc.org/states .

Being depressed is not a normal part of adolescence. If a youth seems especially sad or stops his or her usual activities, get help. For most youth in foster care, trauma-focused therapy is critical. The foster family may need to help their youth through stress reactions and to manage triggers.

Find our more at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at http://www.nctsn.org/

You CAN help prevent suicide.

abuse, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, crime, death, families, family, foster care, foster child
East Texas Toddler Death Update:What CPS’s Latest Action

(source: KETK News)
Aug 27, 2012 6:48 p.m.
  
We continue our coverage of the 2-year-old, Jacob Kimbley’s death. Investigation is still underway, as of now… autopsy results are still pending.

Justice of the Peace, Mitch Shamburger, tells KETK autopsy results will be in soon and that lab work is being done.

KETK follows up with Child Protective Services, Shari Pulliam, tells KETK that the five children have been separated in foster homes. Pulliam says, the children are talking and are healthy and have accepted what they have been told by Child Protective Services.

KETK asked Pulliam what the children’s physical condition was at the time of removal.

“They were quite dirty when we removed them from the home, the home conditions did concern us, so that’s why we did take them into foster care, so we can continue our investigation alongside law enforcement about what really happened out there that day when the 2-year- old child died, said Shari Pulliam.”

The condition of the home and kids were enough to remove them from the home.

CPS is working with law enforcement to determine whether the children will be released to the parents, but that action depends on the outcome of investigation.

Pulliam says, visits with the Kimbley children and their parents are set for a later date, and that visited will be supervised by the CPS office.

We will update as this case develops and when autopsy results are in.

abuse, awareness, cps, families, family, foster parent, home, judicial system, kids, social services, social worker, social workers
10 Things To Remember If A Social Worker Comes To Your Home

1. Ask for the social workers business card. Have your attorney contact the worker on your behalf if the situation is hostile.

2. Find out the allegations before allowing the social worker access to your home or child.

3. Do not waive your rights to be protected from illegal search and seizures by allowing anyone in your home without a court order or warrant.
These rights are guaranteed under the 4th amendment of the US CONSTITUTION.

4. Insist on being present when your child is interviewed
by the social worker.

5. Tell the social worker you will call them after consulting an attorney. Then call an attorney.

6. Ignore intimidations. Social workers are trained bluffers.

7. Offer supportive evidence-
~A dr.’s statement after exam of child.
~References from individuals vouching for your good parenting.~Photos or home videos exhibiting happy healthy children.

8. Bring a tape recorder or credible witnesses to all meetings. Limit discussions to allegations and try not to tell past family events beyond what they already know.

What you say can and will be used against you.

9. Avoid potential situations likely to lead to cps investigations-
do not
~spank in public
~do not leave children home alone
~do not spank other people’s children.

10. Pray and elicit prayers and support of local church members.

“The Government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse but protecting childrens’ interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.” Calabretta v. Floyd 189 F.3d (9th cir 1999)

abuse, Gov Rick Perry, government, system failure
Perry Downplayed Allegations at Centers for Disabled

Perry Downplayed Allegations at Centers for Disabled

  • by Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune
    • 10/24/2011
  • Part two of two.

    Yesterday: Two years after Texas leaders signed a federal agreement to improve care at the state’s institutions, not even a quarter of its terms have been met, and mistreatment is still commonplace.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign hinges on one overarching message: that states perform best when left to their own devices and federal regulators should butt out. Yet during his decade-long tenure in the governor’s office, Perry and his staff repeatedly downplayed the severity of abuse and neglect allegations at Texas’ state-run institutions for the disabled — until conditions became so dire that the U.S. attorney general was forced to intervene.

    “They haven’t taken it seriously,” said Joe Tate, a policy specialist with Community Now!, an organization that supports the closure of Texas’ institutions for the disabled. “We hear all the time from lawmakers that there’s not the political will to make changes. That political will — the knowledge that we have deadly, dangerous institutions — could come from the governor’s office.”

    Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said the governor’s office has taken reports of abuse and neglect in Texas’ state-supported living centers seriously from the very beginning. Early in his first term, he signed legislation and issued an executive order designed to improve conditions and give disabled residents more options to move out of the institutions.

    In 2005, when he learned problems in the state-supported living centers had not abated, his office said he made sure the Department of Aging and Disability Services, which oversees Texas’ 13 institutions, had the resources to fund reform.

    “Gov. Perry is committed to ensuring the safety of the residents in these facilities, and we take each of these claims very seriously,” Nashed said. “We continue to monitor the progress they are making toward meeting the terms of the agreement.”

    But a look back at the timeline of abuse reports — and the response of the governor’s office to them — paints a far more nuanced picture.

    After the U.S. Department of Justice released a report critical of conditions at the Lubbock State School in 2006 — saying there had been more than 17 deaths there in 18 months — the governor’s office suggested the problems had already been solved.

    “Some would like to ramp up another emotional issue,” Perry spokesman Robert Black said at the time, referring to a recent abuse and neglect scandal in Texas’ juvenile justice system, the Texas Youth Commission (TYC).

    When a 2007 Dallas Morning News investigation found hundreds of mentally and physically disabled residents of the state-supported living centers had suffered serious abuse at the hands of those paid to watch over them, Perry’s office cautioned against any assumptions that the system was flawed and said despite reports of physical and sexual assault, the centers shouldn’t be compared to the abuse-ridden TYC.

    “It’s important not to sensationalize these incidents,” then-spokeswoman Krista Moody said. “They should not be portrayed as though they happened yesterday and no action has been taken.”

    And in August 2008, when the Justice Department announced it was going to investigate conditions inside all of Texas’ institutions for the disabled — not just in Lubbock — Perry’s office was unfazed.

    “We expected that [the Department of Justice] would expand their investigation to all state schools as they have done in other states,” spokeswoman Allison Castle said. She added that the governor is “always interested in ways to improve state government.”

    Four months later — and two years after the original Justice Department report — the U.S. attorney general’s office sent Perry a 60-page letter threatening legal action if Texas didn’t resolve the problems, including residents dying of preventable conditions and hundreds of employees being fired for abuse and neglect.

    Only when faced with legal action and monetary damages did Perry’s tone shift: In February 2009 he declared protecting the residents of Texas’ institutions for the disabled a legislative emergency. In May 2009, the state reached an agreement with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to spend $112 million over five years to improve care and enhance staffing at the institutions.

    Asked at the time why it had taken so long to pass needed legislation, Perry said that health and human services agencies have “always been difficult to address” and that Texas was a big state with lots of needs. “My focus has always been, when an issue bubbles up to the top, to bring in the best people you can find,” he said.

    Halfway through the five-year settlement agreement, Texas’ federally appointed watchdog group says the state has met just 20 percent of the standards required to comply. To this, too, the governor’s office is taking a glass-half-full approach.

    “The governor expects DADS to continue to work toward full compliance of the settlement agreement,” Nashed said. “While there is still work to be done, each facility and their staff continue to make significant progress toward substantial compliance, including better reporting, investigation, prosecution and firing of individuals who commit these crimes.

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    This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/aging-and-disability-services/perry-downplayed-abuse-institutions-disabled/.