Category: cps

General, murder, news
CPS placed 18 month old child in his aunt’s care – now he’s dead

Two separate investigations will review Child Protective Services’ handling of a Dallas toddler’s case after the child was found dead Thursday in a landfill, a day after his aunt and caregiver reported him missing.

Police believe they found 18-month-old Cedrick Jackson’s remains Thursday morning in a landfill on the Garland-Rowlett line. The Dallas County medical examiner had yet to positively identify the remains or determine a cause of death as of Friday.

Authorities charged Sedrick Johnson, the 27-year-old boyfriend of the child’s aunt, with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury.

Johnson faces additional charges pending the medical examiner’s findings. The toddler had been living in a Lake Highlands apartment with Johnson and his aunt, Crystal Jackson, after CPS placed him in her care.

Johnson told police he had swaddled Cedrick in blankets — something he had been doing since May after the child “made a mess” with ketchup packets, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Johnson told police he unwrapped Cedrick after he heard the child making noises in his sleep. He said the toddler then vomited and became unresponsive. Johnson told police he left the child’s body in a dumpster in northeast Dallas after his CPR attempts failed.

Internal and independent reviews will likely examine why Cedrick was placed in the home of Johnson, who has a criminal history in Dallas County.

The child’s mother, Dishundra Thomas, had allowed Cedrick to stay with Jackson. The arrangement by CPS was not against her will, Thomas said.

However, CPS would not knowingly place a child in a home with an adult who has a criminal history, said Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Johnson was charged with child abandonment in 2010 after police said he left his infant daughter alone in an apartment while he propositioned an undercover officer who he believed was a prostitute, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to four years of probation. Johnson later violated that probation and was sentenced to eight months in state jail in 2016.

Under normal circumstances, CPS officials conduct a criminal background check on each adult in a home being considered for child placement, Gonzales said. She didn’t provide details on Cedrick’s case Friday, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.

The Department of Family and Protective Service’s Office of Child Safety will conduct an independent review of CPS’ handling of Cedrick’s case, Gonzales said. It’s not clear when either investigation will complete.

The Office of Child Safety will issue a report detailing its findings when the investigation is complete, but Gonzales said the office would need the approval of the Dallas County district attorney’s office and law enforcement before releasing the report publicly.

Johnson was still in the Dallas County jail as of Friday evening, with bail set at $503,000.

Vigil in boy’s honor

Friday evening, mourners gathered under a pavilion at Lake Highlands Recreation Center for a community vigil in Cedrick’s memory, where Dishundra Thomas, the boy’s mother, briefly addressed the crowd of about 100 before breaking down, inconsolable. Another read a prepared statement that was barely comprehensible through her tears.

“Baby C.J. was the sweetest little baby in the world,” his mother said. “He meant everything to us. He didn’t deserve anything that happened to him.”

Eventually family members had to escort her away, as she sobbed and screamed, “I want him back!”

The gathering included several families with small children, carrying blue and white balloons, one in the shape of a giant C. Some wore blue T-shirts with an image of Cedrick’s face and the words, “Rest in Heaven.” One woman carried a handmade poster reading “Our Beloved CJ” with photos of the boy.

Linus Walton of Wylie, an acquaintance of the boy’s uncle, spoke as well, saying “He brought people, as we see right now, together. C.J. was loved. His life was not in vain.”

Finally, as the sun began to set, the crowd moved to an open grassy area, where Cedrick’s grand-aunt, Benita Arterberry of Mesquite, said the gesture was symbolic of a soul being commended to God.

“Father, we know that into each life a little rain must fall, and today is a storm,” she said, as the crowd sent their balloons skyward. “We are so grateful to have had him for the time that we did.”

cps
Parents whose rights were terminated can now petition courts: Champion/Moran bill restores parental rights

Every state should follow this lead.

This is an awesome step forward in the fight for child welfare system reform.

Good job Minnesota!!!

Walz-Moran
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed into law legislation allowing the reestablishment of the parent/child relationship. At left, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Sen. Bobby Champion, at right, Rep. Rena Moran and Sen. Jeff Hayden. Andrew VonBank

Gov. Tim Walz signed into law HF 554, a bill authored by Rep. Rena Moran (DFL – St. Paul), that allows parents who had previously had their parental rights terminated for non-egregious harm to directly seek reestablishment of these rights from the courts.

Currently, only a county attorney can make this petition.

“Whenever we’re able to, we should keep families together and our children deserve to be protected, loved, and nurtured. When they can stay in their community with their parents, this gives them the best outlook in life,” Moran said. “We know all too well that our child welfare system doesn’t seem to always have the best interest of the child in mind, and that’s why it’s important for us to keep working to improve it. Every child deserves a strong future and I thank Governor Walz for signing this important bill into law.”

The House approved the measure by a vote of 130-0 on April 4, and the Senate followed on April 29 with a vote of 66-0 and the governor signed it into law May 6.

Under the bill, petitions for reinstatement of parental rights would only be allowed in cases in which the rights were terminated for non-egregious harm, such as chemical dependency or mental illness, and not for physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.

Studies have shown when children, especially African-American children, remain in the foster system, they face poorer life outcomes than those who remain with their biological families. These include lower lifetime employment rates, a greater chance of experience with the criminal justice system, and higher rates of mental illness and addiction.

The legislation requires the parent to clearly demonstrate the steps they’ve taken to address the underlying issue which led to the termination of rights in the first place, and a judge would make the final decision.

cps
Dozens of CPS caseworkers caught lying, falsifying documents
This series of investigative journalism about Texas CPS, originally published January 13, 2015, in the Austin-American Statesman is an awesome read.

I highly recommend taking the time to explore all the articles and links below.

Kudos to Andrea Ball and Eric Dexheimgg for such great work.

Child Protective Services has struggled with high turnover as caseworkers face danger and extreme stress, insome cases lying or falsifying records in an attempt to keep up with overwhelming workloads. But agency officials are optimistic about a new overhaul plan and efforts to identify high-risk cases early.

Agency has been fighting an uphill battle.

Misconduct cases, while rare, indicative of intense workloads and pressure to close cases

  • CPS officials say such violations are rare, but they have no way to track them.
  • Wrongdoing can stem from intense pressure to close cases quickly.
  • CPS discipline for misconduct can be inconsistent.

By Andrea Ball and Eric Dexheimer / Published January 13, 2015

Houston CPS worker Michelle Robinson testifies during her trial at the Harris County Courthouse in October. Robinson was convicted of falsifying records, sentenced to a year probation and ordered to pay a $300 fines

When Child Protective Services received a complaint that a Harris County father had choked his teenage daughter, caseworker Michelle Robinson said she hurried to the house, conducted a thorough investigation, determined there was no merit to the allegations and closed the case.

Except she didn’t. In October, a Harris County jury convicted Robinson for falsifying CPS records, concluding that she’d lied when she said she’d interviewed key sources in the case and that she left the young girl in danger. Robinson was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

It wasn’t an isolated case. Since 2009, at least 50 CPS workers have been caught lying to prosecutors, ignoring court orders, falsifying state records or obstructing law enforcement investigations, according to an American-Statesman review of state and court documents.

At least four former CPS employees are currently facing criminal charges for their alleged misconduct.

State officials insist those cases are rare. The employees accused of misconduct found by the Statesman represent a fraction of the 3,400 investigators and foster care workers in the agency.

But the agency cannot definitively say how often it happens since it does not comprehensively track the number of people who were fired for such offenses. It also doesn’t count the number of CPS employees who were punished, but not fired, for such misconduct, because that information is stored only in employees’ personnel files, said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Officials do have some sense of the scope of the problem because they receive reports of violations that have been confirmed by the Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General, the commission’s in-house watchdog. But those numbers don’t include misconduct that CPS handles internally.
Through a series of open records requests, the American-Statesman identified numerous employees accused of wrongdoing by CPS or the inspector general who were referred to local law enforcement agencies.

The majority of those referrals were for lying on government documents to cover up sloppy casework, with caseworkers often saying they had visited children they had not. In other cases, employees failed to cooperate with law enforcement, lied on their travel reimbursement forms or refused to comply with a judge’s orders.

I think I’ve been very clear. In cases where you falsify documents, that’s a firing offense .-John Specia, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services

State officials say they take swift action when they find such misconduct.

John Specia, commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services, said lying by caseworkers is never acceptable.

Yet consequences doled out by CPS are inconsistent. Some employees have been fired, but others were not punished at all, the paper’s analysis showed.

Additionally, some supervisors who meted out discipline to troubled workers were later accused of their own misconduct, which some child welfare advocates said contributes to poor morale on the front lines.

Former CPS investigator Dimple Patel, now a research associate at advocacy group TexProtects, says she saw caseworkers falsify documents “a great deal” during her time at the agency.

“Once, a supervisor actually changed a worker’s documentation to state that the worker interviewed the children when they actually did not,” she said. “That supervisor was caught as the printed documents did not match up with the things changed in our computer database. … They both still work for the agency.”

When Specia arrived in 2012, the commissioner made it very clear that he has a zero tolerance policy for such behavior, and indeed it seemed to happen less frequently, Patel said. But records show it still happens.

Pressure to close cases

While each case is different, one clear theme emerges in the personnel and investigation records: An unmanageable workload and intense pressure to close cases compels workers to cut corners

In 2009, Texas’ Legislature ordered Child Protective Services to publicly record every abuse- and neglect-related death in the state – but those reports have not been thoroughly analyzed to help identify patterns to prevent future deaths until now.

Caseworkers obviously don’t enter the profession with the intent to lie about the safety of children, said Randy Burton with Justice for Children. But pressure to close investigations “come hell or high water” has plagued caseworkers for years and can lead to wrongdoing, he said.

I think that pressure has also directly resulted in sloppy casework and finding any excuse by caseworkers to close cases,” said Burton, whose Houston-based nonprofit advocates for child safety. “Once falsification of records begins, it tends to become a pattern. The only way to cover up a lie is with another lie.
The consequences can be devastating. In April 2013, a Corsicana infant was seriously injured by his parents after a CPS investigator failed to check out a neglect allegation against the family but said that she had.

When CPS investigators don’t investigate those cases and lie about it in their reports, not only are they breaking the law but they are putting the children they are supposed to protect in danger,” said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Adam Muldrow, who prosecuted Robinson

Neither Robinson nor her attorney could be reached for comment

Investigating investigators

Allegations of wrongdoing come to the agency in a number of ways. Officials can receive complaints from prosecutors, defense attorneys, teachers or parents.

CPS supervisors also have discovered misdeeds through mistakes in travel reimbursement forms, which raised questions about whether caseworkers actually saw the children.
From there, the agency scrutinizes the allegations. It also sends complaints to the Office of Inspector General, which launches its own investigation.

If evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing is discovered, the case is referred to the local district attorney’s office.

Some regional offices have been accused of misdeeds multiple times. In Smith County, which includes Tyler, prosecutor Tiffani Wickel has reported at least six employees for wrongdoing in the past two years.

In one case, three workers were accused of forging a signature on a removal affidavit to the court because the investigator said she was out of the office when it was due. The investigator quit, and two other employees were disciplined.

Wickel did not respond to questions about whether the women were charged and prosecuted for their alleged misconduct.

Police detectives leave Abilene’s CPS office during an investigation into mishandling of a severe neglect case. Police said the investigation was difficult because of the department’s relationship with CPS.

In another case, three Abilene-area CPS workers were accused of obstructing a criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Tamryn Klapheke, who starved to death days after a CPS caseworker closed the case without visiting the child.
In that situation, former CPS regional director Bit Whitaker signed off on disciplinary action against a supervisor accused of subpar work involving the child. Whitaker, however, was later accused of wrongdoing in the same case.

She was put on paid leave and allowed to retire while the Abilene Police Department investigated allegations that she concealed documents and medical records involving Tamryn and her sisters.
In July, a Taylor County grand jury indicted Whitaker on charges of tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony. Sgt. Lynn Beard with the Abilene Police Department says more indictments could come against other CPS employees.

It was very difficult,” Beard said. “We had to investigate people we know

In 2013, three CPS workers in Greenville — Laura Ard, Natalie Ausbie-Reynolds and Rebekah ThonginhRoss — were criminally charged with tampering with evidence in the death of teenager Alicia Moore, who police say was murdered by her uncle after CPS had been warned the girl was in danger. Prosecutors say the three workers falsified documents to justify closing the case without conducting a thorough investigation.
Thonginh-Ross told officials she did it because she was under pressure to close cases and that she was only following Ard’s orders, according to a report by an Office of Inspector General investigator. Ard then blamed her supervisor for issuing an edict to reduce the office’s backlog of investigations, the document states.
Ard said that the ‘state office’ was aware of the manner in which CPS was working,” the inspector general report states. “Ard also said that as long as CPS employees are paid at their current levels that this is the standard of work that could be expected from them,”
cps
5 Times Child Protective Services Separated Kids from Parents for No Good Reason – Reason.com

“The number of children separated from their parents at the border since April is almost equal to the number taken by CPS every three days.”

Even if President Trump’s new order keeps immigrant families at the border from being torn asunder, we will still live in a country where the government can seize children from perfectly loving, competent parents. It happens all the time, and not just to immigrant families—American citizens deal with these injustices as well, thanks to the actions of child protective services.

In a single year, 2016, the number of children placed in foster care was 273,539.

As the National Coalition for Child Protection put it, “the number of children separated from their parents at the border since April is almost equal to the number taken by U.S. child protective services (CPS) every three days.”

In many of those cases, CPS intervention is justified in order to protect children, or provide them care they aren’t getting at home. But not always.

Take the case of “Cassie.” Cassie was mom to Hannah, a one-year-old, and Maya, an 8-year-old. When Cassie noticed Hannah not putting weight on her left leg, she called her pediatrician, who said to give the girl Tylenol and bring her in the next day.

Too anxious to wait, Cassie took the girl to the emergency room at Central DuPage Hospital in suburban Chicago, where an X-Ray revealed a fractured tibia and fibula. The Family Defense Center, which took the case, reports:

Because Cassie couldn’t say for sure how Hannah got the fracture, the hospital staff called the DCFS. Only later did the family learn from two pediatric orthopedics and medical literature that the sort of injury Hannah had is considered to have “low” suspicion for abuse and it is hardly uncommon for parents to witness the incident that caused the fracture(s) to occur.

Unfortunately the x-ray findings, which naturally concerned the parents, marked just the beginning of the family’s nightmare. Without even interviewing [Cassie’s husband] Nate, or talking to the hospital’s own child abuse pediatrician, and without Hannah being seen by a single orthopedist (for whom injuries like Hannah’s are fairly routine), DCFS decided to take both children into State protective custody.

They did this by going to the family’s home, waking Maya, and taking her and her sister to the home of a relative who would serve as foster parent. It was the first time either child had slept away from their parents:

The next day — still without talking to the hospital’s child abuse pediatrician, the family pediatrician, other the family members or friends, or Maya’s teachers — DCFS filed a petition to take custody of both children.

After a three-month legal battle, the parents regained custody of their kids, and the state admitted it had had no case. That alone seems to indicate how easily even a simple visit to the doctor can turn into a child removal case—as it did for the Minnesota mom with the coughing child I wrote about last week.

When she took the child home before she was officially dismissed by the doctor, it was considered “neglect.”

Parents are also being thrown in jail—the ultimate in tearing families apart—on the sketchiest medical charges.

Watch The Syndrome, a devastating documentary on Shaken Baby Syndrome, to see how hundreds of moms and dad ended up in prison thanks to the “indisputable” evidence that they shook their babies—a conclusion that relied upon junk science.

And then there are the cases of “neglect” that are utterly baffling.

A Florida couple I interviewed a few years back had their sons taken away after someone called CPS to report that their son, 11, was playing basketball by himself in the backyard. Normally one of the parents would have been home, but both had been delayed that day. Also, normally one doesn’t think of playing in the backyard for 90 minutes as something akin to torture.

But the cops swung by, anyway. They found the boy was technically without food, shelter, water, or a bathroom—because he didn’t have a key to the house—and child protective services packed him and his younger brother, age 4, off to foster care.

It wasn’t until a month later, in court, when the 11-year-old begged the judge to let him and his brother go back to their parents that the court returned the boys home.

This story was so hard to fathom that some readers thought I made it up, until I provided Reason editors with the court papers to review.

Worst of all are the cases where a mom who has been beaten by her partner has her child taken away because the kid was exposed to violence. That practice was rampant in New York City until the federal court put a stop to it in the landmark case of Nicholson v. Scoppetta.

But even that didn’t stop states like Illinois from taking Rochelle Vermeulen‘s twins away. Rochelle was beaten and choked by the twins’ dad, and so she fled with the kids. But when the dad’s relative called the child protection authorities, Rochelle was told her kids must either stay with a relative of the abuser or go to foster care, even though Rochelle offered to go to a domestic violence shelter with them. For seven weeks, Rochelle was not allowed to see her twins except in supervised visits. Dad, on the other hand, was allowed unlimited contact.

Family defenders like Diane Redleaf, whose book, They Took the Kids Last Night: How Child Protective Services Puts Families At Risk, comes out in October, say that children are routinely taken from their parents, even when there’s no evidence of abuse. In one of the stories in Redleaf’s book, for example, a toddler who fell out of his crib was taken from his parents even though the CPS investigator reported he was healthy and happy at home.

And what about the dad in Michigan whose 7-year-old was taken away when he accidentally bought the boy a Mike’s Hard Cider at a Detroit Tigers game?

Research by Professors Vivek Sankaran and Christopher Church has shown that even children quickly returned to parents can suffer long-term harm from the separation.

As the border separations continue to grip our attention, we should also reconsider policies that allow child protective services to take children from their parents without compelling evidence of neglect or abuse

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cps, foster care, law, money, parental alienation syndrome
To Find the Law, Follow the Money: How CPS is Funded

Funding state child welfare services involves a complicated web of funding streams, including federal, state and local money.

The largest source of funding dedicated to child welfare comes from the federal government via formula grants or as federal reimbursement for eligible programs like foster care.

The largest sources are Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.

Title IV-B includes the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program.

Title IV-E includes Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance and the John H. Chaffee Foster Care Independence programs.

While all states may receive these funds to use for their designated purposes, some states have been granted Title IV-E Waivers, which allow for flexible use of Title IV-E funds to operate innovative demonstration projects to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children in out-of-home care, and in some instances work to prevent the need for foster care altogether.

In addition to Title IV-B and Title IV-E funds, which are dedicated to child welfare services, states also tap other federal funding streams, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and Medicaid. These sources are considered nondedicated, meaning they are not required to be used for child welfare services but may be used for those purposes if the state chooses.

Below is a description of each of these funding streams. For a more detailed look at the issue see the Congressional Research Service’s Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding report from January, 2015, the Child Trends, Federal, State and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglectreport from 2014 and the Child Trends report, Child Welfare Financing SFY 2014: a survey of federal, state and local expenditures, from 2016.

Check out a new brief from Child Trends, An Introduction to Child Welfare Funding and How States Use It, released in January 2016!

Title IV-E

Title IV-E constitutes the largest pool of federal funds used by states, totaling just over $6 billion dollars in FY 2012 and nearly $7 billion in FY 2014. States, tribes and territories with approved Title IV-E plans may be reimbursed for the cost of foster care, adoption assistance, or kinship guardianship assistance, in addition to services for older youth who have aged out or emancipated from foster care.

Title IV-E Foster Care Maintenance

The Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments program allows states to be reimbursed by the federal government for maintenance payments made to provide shelter, food and clothing for eligible children.

In addition, it covers administrative costs, training of child welfare staff and foster parents, recruitment of foster parents and data collection. A child is eligible for these payments if he or she entered foster care through a voluntary placement or judicial determination, was considered “needy” according to the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program standards before removal, and currently resides in licensed or approved foster care.

The AFDC program was a federal entitlement program to low-income, primarily single-parent households, that was replaced by the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 1996. Traditionally these payments would cease upon the child’s 18th birthday.

In 23 states and the District of Columbia, however, payments may be continued until the child reaches 21.

This extension was authorized by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act).

In FY 2013, fewer than 159,000 of the 400,000 children in foster care were receiving foster care maintenance payments.

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance funds must be used to place children with adoptive families in a timely manner, provide for financial and medical assistance, reimburse states for associated administrative costs, and train employees and adoptive parents. Children are eligible for adoption assistance funds if they meet one of five criteria:

  • They are considered needy, according to the former AFDC.
  • They remained in the pre-removal situation.
  • They are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • They are the children of minor parents who are receiving Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments.
  • They were eligible for adoption assistance previously but their adoptive parents died or had their parental rights terminated.

The Fostering Connections Act increased the overall amount of federal spending on adoption assistance payments to adoptive families by phasing out the income eligibility requirements for those payments over time (delinking eligibility from income). As federal spending on adoption assistance payments was expected to increase and state spending was expected to decline, Congress required states to reinvest any state savings from this change in child welfare programs. However, according to the SFY 2012 Child Trends survey, federal expenditures from the Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Program actually declined for the first time, probably because of a decrease in the number of eligible children, and states no longer receive enhanced reimbursed rates through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a federal law that provided temporary assistance to states during the last economic downturn.

Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance

Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance is similar to adoption assistance and foster care maintenance in that it also covers the training of child welfare staff and guardians in addition to administrative expenses.

However, the primary purpose of guardianship assistance is to provide federal reimbursement to kinship guardians, or relatives, who serve as legal guardians and have previously served as foster parents for the child. For the child to be eligible for these payments, he or she must be leaving foster care in exchange for a legal guardianship with relatives and meet four additional criteria:

  • The child must be eligible for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments while residing in a prospective kinship placement for six consecutive months.
  • The state must determine that returning home and adoption are not appropriate permanency goals for the child.
  • It must be demonstrated that there is a strong attachment between the child and the prospective relative guardian and that the guardian is committed to the guardianship.
  • Children age 14 or older must be consulted about the potential placement.

The Fostering Connections Act provides states the option to use federal Title IV-E funds for reimbursement for kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of eligible grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianships of children.

As of FY2014, 32 states and five tribes have incorporated kinship guardianship assistance into their Title IV-E plan.

STATES WITH KINSHIP GUARDIAN ASSISTANCE

The following states offer assistance to family under the Kinship Guardiam Assistance program:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin

Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects

Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects allow states to apply for more flexibility in the use of Title IV-E federal reimbursement. These demonstration projects must aim to increase permanency for all children in foster care and/or help children make a successful transition out of care when they reach 18, or in some states, 21; improve child welfare outcomes by focusing on safety and well-being; and prevent child abuse and neglect through early intervention, while also reducing the instances of re-entry into foster care by reducing instances of maltreatment.

Note that the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects will end in 2019 and have not been authorized to continue.

Currently, 28 states, D.C. and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state are operating Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects. The states are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

John E. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

The Title IV-E John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) funds are designed to help older youth in foster care achieve independence and self-sufficiency. The program targets children who are expected to be in care when they turn 18, those who are 16 or older and are placed in kinship care or adoptive placements, and youth ages 18-21 who have aged out of foster care.

Assistance with education, employment, financial management, housing, emotional support and assured connections to caring adults are just a few of the services to which these funds are dedicated.

In addition to helping foster youth achieve self-sufficiency, CFCIP funds are also used to provide Educational and Training Vouchers to foster youth, up to age 21.

These vouchers may be used for the cost of attendance at an institution of higher education, up to $5000 a year.

Further, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 amended the Social Security Act to add that CFCIP funds should be used to “ensure that children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age have regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age or developmentally- appropriate activities.”

The act also raised the mandatory funding authority of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Programs to $143 million starting in 2020.

Title IV-B

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services

Title IV-B, Subpart 1 of the Social Security Act, titled the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services, offers states flexibility in creating or expanding child and family services, in partnership with community-based agencies, to ensure that kids can stay safely at home.

This funding may be used for child protective services, including investigations of child abuse and neglect, caseworker activities, counseling, emergency assistance and arranging alternative living arrangements, in addition to family preservation services, time-limited family reunification services, and family support or prevention services.

Family Connection Grants

Family Connection Grants, first established as part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, support services that help kids in foster care, or those at risk of entering care, to stay connected with their families.

These services are:

  • Kinship navigator programs.
  • Family finding.
  • Family group decision making.
  • Residential family treatment.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 appropriated $15 million for FY 2014.

Promoting Safe and Stable Families

Title IV-B, Subpart 2 of the Social Security Act, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, encourages family support and preservation, time-limited family reunification services, and services to support adoption.

This flexible-use funding allows states to develop, establish or expand community-based programs to support family preservation.

Other Federal Funding

Other federal funding for state child welfare services includes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and Medicaid.

CAPTA State Grants

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State Grants, first enacted 40 years ago, and re-enacted most recently in 2010, seeks to improve child protective systems with an emphasis on collaboration between child protective services, health, mental health, juvenile justice, education, and other public and private agencies.

CAPTA funds are authorized to help states make improvements to child protective services, such as intake, assessment, screening and investigation of reports of child abuse and neglect; develop, improve, and implement risk and safety assessment tools and protocols; and case management and monitoring processes.

Finally, the statutory authority for the Children’s Justice Act is housed in CAPTA. These grants administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are available to states and territories to improve the assessment, investigation, and/or prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases.

According to the HHS Report to Congress, states reported their intention to use their CAPTA grant funds to:

  • Improve the intake, assessment, screening, and investigation of reports of child abuse or neglect (85%).
  • Use the funds develop, improve, and implement risk and safety assessment tools and protocols, including use of differential response (73%).
  • Improve case management, ongoing case monitoring, and delivery of services and treatment provided to families (65%).

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, provides federal block grants to states.

This flexible funding stream can be used for any purpose, so long as it furthers one of the four main goals of TANF, including providing assistance to families so children can be safely cared for in their own homes. These funds may also be used for foster care or adoption assistance for children who are not Title IV-E eligible.

In addition, up to 10 percent of TANF funds may be transferred to the Social Services Block Grant. The use of these funds is limited to assisting families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

Social Services Block Grants (SSBG)

The Social Services Block Grants (SSBG) allow states to implement locally appropriate social services to increase self-sufficiency and independence, reducing dependence on social services.

SSBG funds can be used for more than child welfare services. With five policy goals, one being the reduction and prevention of child abuse, and 28 service categories, states are allowed to tailor services to meet the needs of their residents.

Categories include foster care, substance abuse, case management, adoptive services, counseling, protective services, housing, employment services and more.

See the SSBG 2014 Annual Report for more on how states use this funding source.

Medicaid

Medicaid is an important source of funding for health services—which can include medically necessary health care and mental health— for children and youth in foster care.

It is an open-ended entitlement. States must provide a match based on their population. Key services include Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) and optional targeted case management (limited), rehabilitation services,

Medicaid-funded therapeutic foster care and certain administrative costs. All children eligible for Title IV-E are eligible for Medicaid, and states may extend Medicaid to adopted children or former foster youth ages 18-21 who are not eligible for Title IV-E.

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid coverage for former foster youth up to age 26. Medicaid is an open-ended entitlement equal to each state’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate, between 50-82 percent depending on per capita income.

Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments

Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments were established in 1997 as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act. They are designed to encourage states to increase the number of children who were adopted from foster care, adoptions of older children, age 9 or older, and adoptions of children with “special needs” under the age of 9.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 extended funding for the incentive payments through 2016 and revised the instances in which a state may receive Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments to include improvements in the rate of children who:

  • Are adopted at any age.
  • Leave foster care for legal guardianships at any age.
  • Are pre-adolescents, defined as between 9 and 13 years of age, and leave foster care for adoption or legal guardianship.
  • Are older, defined as 14 years of age or older, and leave foster care for adoption or legal guardianship.

State and Local Funds

State and local funds are typically used to match federal funds or to draw down federal dollars.

The use of state and local funds for child welfare services varies depending on the state and whether it operates a state- or county-run child welfare system.

View the original source of this article at This NCSL Project by clicking here.

The Denver-based child welfare project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience.

Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or childwelfare@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child welfare issues before Congress and the Administration.

Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

Additional Resources

Its Almost Tuesday is not affiliated with The NCSL Project.

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Heartbroken Parents of Alienated Children Never Stop Trying To Reach Out To Their Children

source:

Alienated parents share unanswered texts to their kids and it’s crushing

by:Alexandra Carlton

Being prevented from seeing or communicating with your child is a special kind of hell – but a parent’s love never dies.

Imagine if you were unable to see or speak to your own young child.

You may know where they live. You may have a phone number or email address or social media handle for them.

But because they live with a hostile parent who controls their contact – your efforts to communicate disappear into a black hole of despair.

Alienated parents, also known as ‘targeted parents’ are distinct from estranged parents, who have a rift in their relationship with a child for a legitimate reason such as abuse, neglect or infidelity.

Alienated children have been caught in high-conflict separations where they have been forced to choose a side, and are aligned, both physically and emotionally, with one parent, rejecting the other.

Reaching out to an alienated child: ‘Never give up’

For loving parents, yearning for child who is alive but cut off from them is a special kind of agony – a pain some have described as “a living death”.

Almost all targeted parents continue to reach out to their children by whatever means available, as a way to let their children know that they haven’t given up. Amanda Sillars, who runs alienated support group The Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Foundation, calls these communication attempts “breadcrumbs of love”.

I asked a dozen alienated parents to share some of these “breadcrumbs of love” – messages of unbreakable love that went unanswered.

The responses are beyond heartbreaking:

This mum sent thousands of unanswered messages to her sons over the years before discovering their phone had been cut off. Source: Alex Carlton

Parents never give up – no matter what. Source: Alex Carlton

What does parental alienation look like?

Never assume that a parent who doesn’t see their child has done something wrong.

In some cases there may be court orders that mandate that the child must see both parents, but the alienating parent defies them with impunity.

Sometimes there may be no court orders but the alienating parent has successfully ‘turned’ a child against their mother or father, resulting in the child taking one parents’ side in an effort to reduce the conflict between the parents.

In almost all cases, the alienated child had a loving, normal and secure relationship with the parent they no longer see before the alienation happened – even if their demeanour towards the targeted parent has become hostile.

What does the research say?

There is little Australian data available about parental alienation but according to a study from published in the Children and Youth Services Review, at least 22 million American parents may be a victim of this terrible form of abuse.

It’s thought to affect both mothers and father equally. It can be a difficult concept to understand, even for professionals. Research about it is minimal and there is little consensus about appropriate remedies.

It is recognised in courts in the US, Canada and the UK – and increasingly in Australia – but more research is needed to find out why it happens, what the effects are on children and parents and the what the legal and therapeutic communities can do to help those it affects. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has some information here.

If you are a parent who is alienated from their child or a child who is alienated from a parent, The Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Foundation has some excellent resources that may help.

Most of all, stay strong. And never give up.

How to reach out to your alienated child

Amanda Sillars urges targeted parents to keep trying to contact their children, even if they receive no response, as they may one day be the ‘breadcrumbs’ that their children can follow to reconnect and reunite with the parent they love and terribly miss.

“Often the children read the messages but they don’t want to be caught responding,” she explains. “You might not see the positive outcomes for months or years – but your kids may one day have an opportunity, away from the house or on holidays, to try and reach out. Don’t give up.”

She offers some excellent tips for parents trying to communicate with their alienated child here.

Tips for reaching out to an alienated child

  • Speak with love and kindness
  • Always stay calm and never react
  • Focus forward
  • Don’t bombard them with communications even though you may be excited to get a break through
  • Expect crumbs in communication – anything more is a bonus
  • No response is not always a bad thing
  • Be the best version of you
  • Avoid dark and heavy conversations
  • Show your children that you are interested in them
  • Ask them about school, activities or hobbies they may be involved in, friendships they have and so on
  • Avoid talking about the situation
  • Remember: actions speak louder than words
  • Don’t make promises you cannot fulfil
cps
Homeschooling kids in California: Courts say NO!

When it comes to education, kids who are taught at home are far less likely to be brainwashed and harder to dumb down.

Besides that insofar as California goes- its a “sanctuary state” and California now allows illegal aliens- or undocumented non- citizens- to vote- and to run for and be elected to the California Board of Education since their kids attend school here.  If you don’t like the idea of sending your kids to public school run by people who aren’t even citizens then send them to expensive private schools.  no more homeschooling as an option. Let this all sink in.

Here’s the article.


When the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) received word that all of its member families in the San Benito High School District (SBHSD) received a letter from state authorities declaring that they were illegally educating their children, attorneys from the nonprofit group were perplexed.

It was HDLDA’s understanding that the right to homeschool had already been firmly established in the state of California, but the letter parents received from the school district located east of scenic Monterrey, California, contradicted what was believed to be resolved years ago.

However, school officials insisted that parents within the district were acting illegally by homeschooling their children.

“[U]nder California Law, a home school is not a private school, nor is it a lawful alternative to public school …” the letter sent from SBHSD officials to homeschool parents read, according to HSLDA.

Making little sense

For decades, it has been established that homeschooling one’s children is a protected right of parents.

HSLDA President Mike Smith argues that home schools are every bit as legal as any private school throughout the state of California.

“The private school exemption has been used by California homeschoolers since the revival of the movement in the late ’70s,” Smith pointed out.

Even though homeschooling has been frequently contested by state officials in the Golden State, their attacks on the time-honored educational practice were consistently put to rest.

“Many school districts and the California Department of Education took the same position that the San Benito High School is now taking,” Smith continued. “But despite years of official opposition in numerous places in a variety of ways, HSLDA successfully advocated for many families whose homeschooling was challenged by school districts and other public agencies.”

Righting a wrong

However, less than a decade ago, the relentless attack on homeschooling prevailed in one California court — which delivered a ruling that was undetected by most.

Smith notes that the decision was unsettling — at best.

“Then in February 2008, in a confidential juvenile court case (subsequently known as Jonathan L.) that initially we were not made aware of, the Court of Appeals ruled that homeschooling in California is not legal,” the legal expert informed. “Because HSLDA was not involved in the underlying case, the appellate court was not properly briefed about the many ways the legislature had made provision for parents to teach their own children under the private-school option.”

Once HSLDA got word of the problematic ruling and the reasoning behind it, the Christian group of attorneys quickly sought to rectify the matter.

“When the court published its opinion, HSLDA led a large coalition asking the appellate court to reconsider,” Smith recounted. “In August 2008, the same three judges who had said back in February (before we were involved) that homeschooling was illegal now reversed course.”

All three judges soon issued the following declaration:

“California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education,” they stated, officially reestablishing homeschooling as a legitimate and legal form of alternative education to conventional schooling in the state.

Big mistake

Smith and his staff of attorneys are still amazed at how such a blatant error could be made by a school district without thoroughly looking into the matter — especially one that was resolved nearly a decade ago.

“We cannot understand or explain how a school district today, so many years after the decision in the Jonathan L. case, could still be sending official correspondence that is so clearly wrong,” Smith expressed.

His team of lawyers made sure that the misunderstanding was quickly cleared up — to the relief of many homeschool families in San Benito County.

“When we learned of San Benito’s letter, we quickly responded on behalf of our member families, explaining that homeschooling is indeed a legal exemption to public school attendance pursuant to the private-school exemption,” Smith recounted.

He maintains that even though HSLDA chalked up another victory in California, more challenges in the future are expected.

“This episode demonstrates the continued opposition to homeschooling by some in California,” Smith warned, encouraging parents to be wary of future attacks and gain an understanding of their legal rights as home educators in their state.