Category: child death

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, divorce, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, government, healing, missing child, system failure
FLORIDA Child Protection Agency spokesman faces child-porn charges

Article published Feb 5, 2008
DCF to review personnel records
Agency spokesman faces child-porn charges
The head of the Department of Children and Families, “horrified and shocked” by the arrest of his agency spokesman on child-pornography charges, Monday ordered a review of personnel records for all DCF employees.

DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey briefed reporters at DCF headquarters about the arrest of Al Zimmerman on eight counts of soliciting two boys for sexual purposes.

Butterworth, who fired Zimmerman last Friday, said he sent a message to all department employees — urging them to “work with your heads held high” — and said the incident does not reflect on DCF’s work in protecting children in foster care, the elderly and other needy Floridians.

“There are certain things you can’t prepare for. I guarantee you, this is one thing I never expected to occur,” he said. “It is one person who committed, I believe, a horrific act — a horrific act — and therefore not only victimized his victims, but victimized this department, the media and the 13,500 people who work here.”

Butterworth and Bailey said one of the two teenage boys in the Zimmerman case had been in DCF care. Bailey said “there were indications” that Zimmerman might have met a boy through agency services, but both men declined to go into details for fear of giving any information that might identify one of the victims even by inference.

Butterworth said Zimmerman had no access to DCF computer systems.

Bailey, representing Attorney General Bill McCollum at the briefing, said the FBI has seized Zimmerman’s office and home computers, to see if he distributed any child pornography. Bailey said “there are indications that at least one victim was met through his job” but that Zimmerman’s access to DCF records “was limited.”

“I know of two victims at this point. There may be others,” said Bailey. “That’s what the continuing investigation will confirm or deny.”

He credited the Tampa Police Department, FBI and McCollum’s office for working with FDLE in the case. Bailey also said DCF gave “complete and open cooperation.”

Butterworth said the DCF personnel staff will first check records of all employees hired under the new policy to make sure required background checks and fingerprints are on file. Then they will check everyone else.

“After we do all those after 2006, November, we will go backwards and hand-go-through each and every file of the 13,500 employees to make sure that everything there is also there as required by policy,” he said. “I want to make sure that our policies are being followed in all cases. I want to make sure the background check is there in the file.”

Butterworth said DCF policies before November of 2006 did not require fingerprinting of employees. Zimmerman, a former TV newsman in the Tampa Bay area, was hired in 2005 and Butterworth said that although he had “glowing endorsements” from two references — public-information aides for a police agency and a fire department — none of his former employers was contacted.

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, family, system failure
Mother Kills Kids – Marshall Serving Eviction Finds 4 Bodies

I wonder if this could’ve been stopped sooner with the right kind of help in a system that’s overrun by false allegations and unsubstantiated abuse reports … 

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The deaths of four children whose bodies were discovered Wednesday in a Washington home are being treated as suspected homicides, but the remains are so badly decomposed, investigators can’t determine how the victims died, authorities said.

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Authorities remove a body from a Washington house where four were found dead Wednesday.

“Scientific tests will have to do the verification” of the victims’ identities and causes of death, said Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty.

The medical examiner is expected to provide some of those answers in 24 to 48 hours, Fenty said.

Police are questioning a woman in connection with the gruesome discovery, according to Metropolitan Police.

The victims appear to be between 5 and 18 years old, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a news conference in front of the two-story town home in southeast Washington where the bodies were found.

Because of their advanced state of decomposition, it’s “difficult to see if there were any signs of trauma,” Lanier said.

U.S. marshals found the bodies just after 10 a.m. when they went to the town home to serve an eviction notice, she said. The woman whom police are questioning answered the door when the marshals arrived, Lanier said.

It appears the bodies were at the home for two weeks, Fenty said. There were no signs of forced entry at the house, he added. Video Watch the mayor talk about the case »

The relationship of the victims was not clear. It was also unclear whether the woman being questioned is related to the victims.

Councilman Marion Barry, the former Washington mayor who represents the ward where the bodies were found, said he feels “somebody should have known that these young people were not in school or someplace.”

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, General, government, system failure
Forgotten Children

My apologies for being stagnant as of late.  Life has been happening, and it hasn’t always been easy..

Anyhow, this article is a few years old but the problems aren’t – they continue today.

I hail Comptroller Strayhorn for the work she did in “Forgotten Children” and if you have not read the report and update, I urge you to do so.

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.”


awareness, child custody, child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, family, foster care, foster child, government, healing, law, legal, love, parental alienation syndrome, system failure
Hostile? Leave the kids out of it…

It is the responsibility of the parents to not alienates the child from the noncustodial parent. Those around the child can make or break a child.

It is the family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, school & court officials, social workers, doctors, etc., who recognize the signs of this type of abuse and take the appropriate action that protects the child and victim parent.

Those people surrounding the child may save a life…

The effects of this abuse can be more than a little bit harmful, but extremely detrimental, and even deadly.

If you haven’t read my story, you can find it here –Its Almost Tuesday, The True Story.

Children deserve their childhoods to be free of abuse…

The effects are devastating and may not be immediately noticeable, but long-term and lasting…

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What is implacable hostility?? (Source: Wikipedia):

After separation or divorce implacable hostility denotes the attitude shown by one parent to another in denying access to, or contact with, their child(ren).What differentiates implacable hostility from the typical hostility that may arise after separation/divorce is that the deep-rooted nature of the hostility cannot be justified on rational grounds and measures taken by third parties including mediators and the family courts are to no avail.

Cases of implacable hostility are increasingly being seen as domestic violence and as a human rights abuse if not recognized by agencies involved, although it is important not to classify hostility as implacable if it is itself justified by domestic violence perpetrated by the other parent.

 

Implacable hostility is akin to Parental Alienation Syndrome; but is not the same condition.

The typical outcome of situations of implacable hostility is that the parent to whom implacable hostility is directed becomes excluded from the life of their child(ren). There are two ways in which this exclusion arises.

Firstly, the excluded parent, having exhausted all the avenues available for resolving the situation, finally gives up the effort. This may be done in the belief that the option of withdrawal is best interests of the child(ren) given the stress that inevitably arises from repeated applications for access/contact.

Secondly, the child(ren) may become parentally alienated — they deny that they want to see the excluded parent. Once a child has become alienated from the excluded parent, the originating implacable hostility becomes subsidiary. From this point, the formerly implacably hostile parent often claims that they are supportive of access/contact but they have to respect the wishes of the child.

Family courts are usually unwilling to force children to see one of their parents against their expressed wishes – and often fail to examine the cause of such statements.

Most often the child is who is harmed.


(more…)

child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, education, family, foster care, foster parent, government, law, legal, missing child, murder, system failure
Caseworkers changed, destroyed records in starvation case

 

Documents: Counties changed, destroyed records in starvation case

(AP)

Caseworkers from two neighboring counties and a state agency doctored or destroyed records pertaining to a 4-year-old girl whose starved body was found stuffed into a picnic cooler, according to a newspaper’s review of court documents.

One caseworker testified in a pretrial deposition that her supervisor ordered her to burn records pertaining to the girl, Kristen Tatar.

“And make sure that you sit down with a glass of wine and a box of Kleenex when you burn Kristen’s” records, Penn State Cooperative Extension worker Pam Walmsley testified in a deposition detailing her supervisor’s instructions. “And get it out of your system and move on.”

Tatar’s 11 1/2-pound body was found stuffed into the cooler that had been set on a curb for trash pickup behind her Armstrong County home in August 2003. Her parents, James Tatar and Janet Crawford, are serving life sentences for starving her to death.

Criminal investigators determined the couple grossly underfed the girl, who was often tied to a chair with a pacifier in her mouth and rarely bathed or nurtured.

The horrific details of Tatar’s life and death are scheduled to receive a second, more detailed airing in April when a federal judge in Pittsburgh hears a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the girl’s aunt, Cathy Fondrk. Fondrk, of Hyde Park, has adopted Kristen’s surviving brother and sued her parents and various child welfare agencies on behalf of the boy.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday reported that documents filed in the case reveal that Armstrong County officials admitted that they added details to Kristen’s case file after police found her body.

But Armstrong County officials are convinced that Westmoreland County officials also doctored records. Armstrong County has hired a chemist who will testify that dates and signatures on various forms don’t match, based on his analysis of the ink used.

A key issue in the case is whether Westmoreland officials should have warned Armstrong County that the girl was at “high” risk for abuse, not “moderate” or “low” as various Westmoreland records reflected.

Fondrk sued caseworkers and officials in Armstrong County, where the girl died; the Westmoreland Children’s Bureau and some of its caseworkers who supervised Kristen case before her parents moved to Armstrong County in 2001; and the Penn State Cooperative Extension, whose employees helped Westmoreland County supervise the Tatar case.

Westmoreland County officials got a judge to declare the girl dependent and in county custody due to neglect, and twice placed her in foster care in 1999 and 2000.

Generally, the Armstrong County defendants contend Westmoreland County never relinquished jurisdiction in the case, even after Kristen’s parents moved with her to Armstrong County. Westmoreland defendants have argued in court papers that they did the best they could to supervise the girl, but were not ultimately responsible for her death in another county because Armstrong County caseworkers had begun supervising the case by then.

The state Department of Welfare in 2003 found that Westmoreland caseworkers failed to monitor whether Kristen was getting adequate medical attention and that “lax supervision” and “infrequency” of caseworker visits led to the girl’s death.

___

Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com

child death, cps, domestic violence, family, foster care
Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Filed After 2-Year-Old’s Death
A photo of Whitney Williams, who was only 2-years-old when she died after being physically abused.
A photo of Whitney Williams, who was only 2-years-old when she died after being physically abused.
09/27/2005
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (AP)– The Somerset County Department of Social Services on Monday settled a suit brought by the father of a fatally abused child for $50,000.
The father, Clark Bell, sued Somerset County Social Services for $1 million, claiming the agency ignored reports that his daughter, 2-year-old Whitney Williams, was being abused at her mother’s home.
Whitney died in October 2002. Her mother, Carole Anne Quillen, was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to a five-year prison term. Quillen’s boyfriend, Christopher Allen, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for child abuse resulting in death.
Bell will receive $48,000. Another $2,000 was granted to the Williams estate, which in effect grants $1,000 each to Bell and Quillen. (Source: Somerset County, MD)
child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, General, government, healing, missing child, system failure
Register Your Case Against the Department of Social and Health Services
A lawsuit has been filed and is seeking class action status against the department alleging violations of constitutional rights. Nine Latina child care workers claim the state came into their homes and seized personal records in search of ‘phantom children’. The lawsuit also alleges discrimination against child care workers on the basis of ethnicity and language.

Register your Department of Social and Health Services Case

If you feel you qualify for damages or remedies that might be awarded in a possible class action or lawsuit, please click the link below to submit your complaint. By submitting this form, you are asking lawyers to contact you. You are under no obligation to accept their services. Lawyers are usually paid out of the proceeds of the settlement or verdict rendered.

Please click here for a free evaluation of your case
Columbia Legal Services – Joe Morrison
(Source: LawyersandSettlements.com)

“Its ALmost Tuesday” and its blogowner  is merely providing you with a link to register your Department of Social and Health Services case; we make no promises, form no opinions as to how your case may be evaluated; and we are not lawyers nor giving legal advice.
child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, family, foster care, government, missing child, system failure
Failure to Protect – A look at CPS and the System

I’ve added a new page,

Failure to Protect – Caseworker Files.

Go check it out and the source:

PBS’s Frontline series about CPS and our families/system.

The information and stories are indescribable
and full of information everyone needs to know.
I’d love your comments on it, and if you’ve been
affected by CPS and the system, please tell us your story.
Everyone deserves to be heard.
“We see them in special education.
We see them in the justice system.
We see them in the prison system.
We see them as parents,
where now we’re asking them about taking away their children.
So at some point, this country has got to come to grips,
where the rhetoric about our children
and the resources to carry out that rhetoric have
got to be matched. And there is not so far demonstrated
in this country that the political will is there to do that.”
“The whole system is a way of dealing with poverty,
especially with poor minority families. And maybe if
we admit it, we would be more willing to take those
billions and billions and billions of dollars spent
on keeping children away from their families,
on providing support for children and families to
begin with, so that they wouldn’t have to end up
in a system like this.”
child death, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, domestic violence, education, family, foster care, government, system failure
Laws on notification of child abuse/neglect – and false notifications/allegations

What are the laws on notification of child abuse/neglect? What about falsely accusing someone of child abuse?

Child abuse is very serious, and false allegations or allegations made in bad faith ruin not just the target’s life, but the child’s….

Stricter enforcement of policies regarding the false allegations made by so many should be paramount.

Reporting Penalties

To better understand this issue and to view it across States, see the Reporting Penalties (PDF – 605 KB) publication.

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FAILURE TO REPORT – Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.109 (West 1996)
A person commits an offense if the person has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse or neglect and knowingly fails to report in accordance with the reporting laws. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

FALSE REPORTING – Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.107 (West Supp. 1999)
A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes a report under the reporting laws that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. An offense under this law is a Class A misdemeanor unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has previously been convicted for the same offense, in which case the offense is a State jail felony.

A finding by a court in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship that a report made under the reporting laws before or during the suit was false or lacking factual foundation may be grounds for the court to modify an order providing for possession of or access to the child who was the subject of the report by restricting further access to the child by the person who made
the report.

The appropriate county prosecuting attorney shall be responsible for the prosecution of an offense under this section.