Category: death

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

arrests, child death, cps, death, judicial system, social worker, texas
Accountability in Greenville, Tx with the Arrest of Three CPS Workers

Well this is an event that we do not see very often.  There is so much media coverage, I’ve decided to copy and paste the articles below for Tuesday’s readers to sift through.

There is accountability in Greenville, Texas with three CPS workers arrested on charges that they falsified documents, and mishandled a sexual abuse case, including illegally conducting a  search and seizure – knowingly.

Nobody is above the law, yet this happens in many cases. Rarely, if ever, do we see charges of oppression brought against the social workers – Its Almost Tuesday has never seen this before in Texas. We have seen many cases where charges like this should have been pressed, but never were. We have seen many cases where charges like this should have been pressed but were covered up deliberately.  Take heed, CPS, perhaps times are a changing – we can only hope.

It is our hope that justice will be served and this will serve as a precedence set for future cases involving CPS and families under investigation. It is only through transparency and public scrutiny that government agencies like CPS will be held accountable to not only the minimum standards set by law, but much deserved justice given to the forgotten children of the foster care system.

It is also important to remember, during this time, that media coverage respect that these are real people involved in a very horrific situation. They are grieving the loss of a child, and dealing with emotions of unimaginable proportions. There is no doubt a tremendous difficulty in a daily  struggle to handle such an ordeal that to add to it an onslaught of media coverage must double, triple, or quadruple the degree of pain and heartache they must feel.  While it is vital that the general public be made aware of truths within our child welfare system, Its Almost Tuesday is hopeful that the media will not unfairly sway opinions, or turn this case into a ‘circus’ that may impede such truth and that justice will prevail, whatever that may be.  It is an unfortunate shame (to understate it at the very least) that a child had to die in order for accountability to be sought.  We applaud the prosecutors for seeking such accountability, and for standing against the very essence of a damaged system by arresting those involved in wrongdoings.

Our hearts go out to those affected by the Alicia Moore case, and to those grieving the loss of this child, perhaps there is a tiny bit of solace offered in these arrests, and may truth and justice prevail; so that Alicia’s death can leave a legacy for future CPS caseworkers to remember.. and a lesson learned.

Its certainly not much to offer  our words of support in comparison to the hardships the Moore family faces, so again, our hearts go out to you, and may peace find you well.

Godspeed.

3 CPS Employees Charged in Connection to Alicia Moore Case

By Randy McIIwain
|  Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013  |  Updated 11:08 PM CDT

no description

Three Child Protective Services employees from Greenville have been charged for their handling of sexual abuse allegations in slain teenager Alicia Moore’s file.

Investigators say three women were indicted by a Hunt County grand jury. The indictments have been sealed, but arrest warrants were issued on Tuesday.

CPS retiree, Laura Ard faces a single count of tampering with evidence, Natalie Reynolds, is charged with three counts of official oppression and one count of tampering with evidence, and Rebekah Ross is charged with three counts of official oppression and two counts of tampering with evidence.

The women were taken into custody. As of Tuesday night, Ard was the only person to post bail.

NBC 5 spoke to Ard after she bonded out of jail. She said she had been with CPS for 30 years and had never been in trouble.

Sources tell NBC 5 that only the charges of tampering with evidence apply to the Moore case and that tampering could include, altering, destroying or fabricating information in Moore’s investigative file.

CPS had an open file on Moore who was a victim of sexual abuse in the months before her disappearance on Nov. 2, 2012.

Moore was last seen about a block away from her home getting off a school bus. The teenager’s body was found days later stuffed into a furniture trunk, dumped along a rural road in Van Zandt County.

Moore’s great uncle, Michael Moore, has been charged with capital murder in her death.

During the Moore murder investigation, investigators with the State Inspector General’s office began looking into accusations that Moore’s CPS case was being mishandled. Officers with the IG’s office spent month’s looking into Moore’s CPS file and turned over findings in a report to the Hunt County District Attorney’s office last month. Hunt County examined the report and presented it to a grand jury, which returned the multi-count indictments.

It is not known at this time if anything in Moore’s investigative CPS file could have been used to possibly prevent her murder or aid in the murder investigation that dragged on until Michael Moore’s arrest in May 2013.

Indictments in CPS case unsealed

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff
September 25, 2013

GREENVILLE — Indictments filed against three current or former employees with the Child Protective Services (CPS) office in Greenville were unsealed Wednesday morning.

The charges allege all three acted together to use a false document in the investigation of the mother of slain Greenville teenager Alicia Moore and that two of the defendants conducted unlawful searches and/or seizures against multiple targets of CPS investigations.

One of those charged, Laura Marsh Ard, is the former program director for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services office in Rockwall.

Ard, 60, of Rockwall, received one indictment for tampering with physical evidence. Natalie Ausbie Reynolds 33, of Fate, received three indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with physical evidence. Rebekah Thonginh Ross, 34 of Greenville, received four indictments for official oppression and one indictment for tampering with physical evidence.

The tampering with physical evidence indictments allege all three defendants acted together on or about Nov. 6, 2012 “to use a record and/or document to wit: the risk asssessment involving Aretha Moore … with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to affect the course or outcome of the investigation.”

In three of the official oppression indictments, Reynolds and Ross were alleged to have acted together as CPS investigators to have subjected three separate individuals who were under CPS investigations “to search and seizure that the defendant knew as unlawful” on or about Dec. 16, 2011, March 28, 2012 and June 14, 2012.

Ross was also alleged to have subjected a fourth individual under CPS investigation to an unlawful search and/or seizure on June 27, 2012.

The tampering with physical evidence charges are third degree felonies, punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of from two to 10 years in prison and an optional fine of up to $10,000.

The official oppression charges are Class A misdemeanor counts, which fall under the jurisdiction of a state district court, in this case the 354th District Court.

Dates for arraignment hearings — at which time the defendants will have a chance to enter formal pleas to the charges — had not been scheduled as of Wednesday morning.

Attorney for individual indicted in CPS case issues statement

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff
September 26, 2013

GREENVILLE — Attorney Peter Schulte, who represents Rebekah Thonginh Ross, one of three people indicted in connection with an investigation of the local Child Protective Services (CPS) office, issued a statement this morning on Ross’ behalf:

“Rebekah, who has dedicated the last several years of her life protecting the children of this State, is not guilty of these charges. The truth will be revealed in Court and we ask that the public withhold judgment until all the facts are known.  It’s disappointing that certain law enforcement officials in Hunt County and/or Austin are releasing alleged “facts” about these cases to the media that are simply not true. We have no intention of trying these cases in the news media and hope that the Government decides to follow their legal obligation to not make statements about these cases to the media outside the Courtroom.”

Source: The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Related Stories

OTHER ARRESTS OF CPS WORKERS:

Thumbnail In August 2012, two social workers were arrested at the Columbus Georgia CPS by the GBI and the Inspector General for making fraudulent child abuse reports to get federal funding and pushing others to lie with them.

ThumbnailMIAMI — The teenage foster kids called their rendezvous with men who paid for their affections “dates.” Sometimes they had several scheduled each day.
child welfare reform, foster care abuse, children, cps, custody, death, law, lawsuits, legal, texas
Lawsuit Accusing Texas of “Poorly Supervising Foster Children” Moves Forward

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children”

Julie Wilson
Infowars.com
August 29, 2013

A class-action lawsuit filed in 2011
on behalf of nine Texas children
has been given the go ahead by a
federal judge on Thursday. The
lawsuit accuses Texas of “poorly
supervising foster children,”
reported AP.

The New York-based Children’s
Rights group is behind the push for
justice for more than 12,000 abused
and neglected Texas children that
were permanently removed from
their natural homes.

Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry
said the child rights group has sued
more than 15 states for “mistreatment of foster children” and lost just two of those cases.

“Children are being harmed. And
the state knows it and is basically
disregarding the harm to children,”
she said.

Last month Infowars reported on
two-year old Alexandria Hill who
was killed while under the care of
Texas Child Protective Services
(CPS).

Alexandria was taken from
her home because her parents
allegedly smoked pot after their
daughter went to sleep. Foster mom
Sherri Small is facing capital
murder charges for brutally
slamming Alexandria’s head,
causing her to die from blunt force
trauma.

Texas mentor, the agency
responsible for placing Alexandria
with foster mom Small, is the third
largest foster care contractor in the
state.

State records show that Texas
Mentor’s Arlington office was placed
on a six-month evaluation after
they were cited for 114 violations in
56 foster homes over a two year
span, reported the Dallas News.

State funding for CPS has been
increased twice over the past eight
years, but the agency continues to
fail majorly, endangering thousands
of children.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge
Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi
said Children’s Rights has provided
substantial “preliminary evidence”
proving CPS caseworkers to be
“overworked.”

The judge also noted a “high turnover among CPS conservatorship workers,” whom are responsible for protecting the
young foster children.

“A caseworker that is so overburdened that she cannot visit the children she is responsible for…cannot fulfill this function,” wrote Judge Jack.

The ruling is based on a three-day
hearing in January and is expected
to proceed hopefully exposing the
corruption and failures inside the
CPS system.

This article was posted: Thursday,
August 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm

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, 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.

Collin County, Texas, cps, custody, death, families, family, law, murder, suicide
Mother Kills Child Before Turning Gun on Herself

Police say apparent murder-suicide occurred after judge awarded custody to father

By Frank Heinz
|  Saturday, Oct 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:32 PM CDT

Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News

Police say the apparent murder-suicide occurred shortly after a judge awarded custody to the boy’s father.

A woman shot and killed her 7-year-old son before turning the gun on herself late Friday morning in Sachse, police said.

Officers forced their way into the home after hearing gunshots and found 43-year-old Karen Hayslett-McCall and 7-year-old Eryk Hayslett-McCall in an upstairs bedroom at about 10:30 a.m.

Sachse police were at the home in the 7100 block of Longmeadow Drive as a precaution when her estranged husband, Rodney McCall, arrived to pick up his son.

McCall had received sole custody of the child in a court hearing at 10 a.m.

“The father knocked on the front door,” Sachse police Chief Dennis Veach said. “We were simply standing by and at both front and rear of the house when we heard three shots from within the house.”

Veach said police had been to the home on several locations but there were not allegations of serious violence.

Police said Hayslett-McCall and her husband were in the midst of bitter divorce proceedings. Veach said police did not know why the father had been given sole custody of their son.

Hayslett-McCall had accused her husband of molesting their son last fall.  A grand jury later found no evidence of a crime, and McCall was cleared.

But McCall had lost his job as a high school teacher.

McCall’s attorney told the Wylie school board in November that the case was “an allegation brought by a woman who is about to lose custody of her children,” the Wylie News reported.

He also told the board that Hayslett-McCall, a former police officer who has a doctorate in criminal justice and a master’s degree in psychology, knew how to manipulate the justice system, the newspaper reported.

The couple had been battling over custody of Eryk for more than a year.

They filed for divorce in Collin County in March 2010, and temporary custody orders were in place in April 2010. By November, an attorney was appointed for the child.

The judge ordered psychological evaluations in January 2011. Jurors were sworn in on Monday for opening statements, and McCall won custody of his son Friday.

Lt. Marty Cassidy said the officers were visibly shaken but did the best they could in a really bad situation.

“It’s a terribly, terribly sad, tragic event, you know, when one person makes a life decision for another who doesn’t have a vote in that decision,” Veach said.

Police said although other family members were at the residence, they were outside greeting police when the shooting happened.

Officials will work with the Collin County medical examiner to confirm the cause of death, but it appears the woman shot the child and then herself.

Hayslett-McCall was a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. UT Dallas released the following statement:

“The UT Dallas community is deeply saddened to learn of this tragic news. Our thoughts and concerns are with the family. Karen Hayslett-McCall left the university faculty in June 2011 and has had no official position with the university since then.”

NBC 5’s Kevin Cokely and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.

Tuesday’s thoughts:

Was this custody battle worth it?

children, cps, crime, death, domestic violence, haiti, social workers, tampa florida
Florida Mom Slain With Her 5 Children Endured Abuse

ist1_2685442-domestic-violence

September 21, 2009    Filed at 11:09 p.m. ET TAMPA,Fla. (AP)

A Florida woman slain along with her five children endured regular abuse from her husband but seemed overwhelmed by trying to raise the kids herself and wanted him around as a father figure, Department of Children and Families records show. Police in Haiti on Monday detained Mesac Damas, wanted for questioning in the slayings of his wife, Guerline Damas, and the couple’s three boys and two girls in their Naples, Fla., apartment. A relative said detectives told them their throats had been slit. Collier County Sheriff’s deputies have called Mesac Damas a person of interest in the slayings. The 33-year-old boarded a flight to Haiti from Miami International Airport on Friday, a day before police found the bodies. Mesac Damas told The Associated Press at the police station where he was being held in Port-au-Prince that he had planned to surrender and that he returned to his native Caribbean nation ”to say goodbye to my family.”

”I was going to turn myself in. You see I’ve got my suit on and everything,” Demas said as police led him from a backroom where he was interrogated to a jail cell.

He did not respond when asked if he killed his wife. Just days before he left the country, a Department of Children and Families caseworker assigned to the family had made an unannounced visit to the apartment and noted in a report that the children, ages 11 months to 9 years, seemed healthy and safe. Mesac Damas was home and dinner was cooked. The toddler was wearing a sundress and playing with her doll while the older daughter, dressed in pink, asked the caseworker if she had brought her a pink book bag, because she was going to school next year. The boys were in T-shirts and shorts and the worker didn’t see any bruises or marks.

Mesac Damas was due to finish a court-ordered battery intervention course in November. ”There is no safety concern,” the file reads. ”Children are doing fine.” But relatives of Guerline Damas, 32, said her husband was a ”loose cannon” who would take away his wife’s cell phone and be rude to her family. ”You’d never know what he’d do,” said her younger brother, Mackindy Dieu, 23, who lived with the couple several years ago. Dieu said his sister wasn’t open about the details of her personal life and her family didn’t know she was being abused until January, when Mesac Damas was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery after he hit his wife as she held their baby daughter in her arms. According to DCF records, he choked her and ripped her shirt off.

”As this is occurring, the child slipped out of the mother’s hand and fell to the floor,” the report states. It was one of a handful of times that sheriff’s deputies had been called about domestic disputes between the couple.

But this one was different: Mesac Damas was taken into custody and a restraining order filed. The other children had been outside playing and were terrified by what had happened, a caseworker noted. In interviews, two of the older boys described seeing their parents fight regularly. The oldest, 9-year-old Michzach, told the caseworker that he would try to take all the children in a bedroom when the abuse happened. ”If he tries to call 911, dad hits him on the hand or in the head,” the file noted. When it was especially bad, Guerline Damas would sleep in her car. She hadn’t had an easy life — she immigrated to Florida from Haiti as a teenager after her father was murdered in their home. She went to high school and later found work in a Publix supermarket.

”What are you doing with this guy?” Dieu said the family told her when they learned about the abuse.

”You need to leave.”

The couple separated — for two months. Guerline Damas began counseling at a shelter for abused women. A caseworker noted she seemed overwhelmed at the thought of raising five children by herself. She started pushing for the restraining order to be lifted.

”She believes that a father should be with his children and she has faith in him, that he will not repeat domestic violence against his wife,” records from a visit in late March state.

Mesac Damas pleaded no contest to the battery charge and was given 12 months probation and ordered to take parenting classes and enroll in a battery intervention program. Around April, he moved back in. The family seemed to make progress. Mesac Damas said he was learning to control his anger and talk with the children more. The children said they had missed their father. The caseworker described observing a ”loving relationship” between the father and children.

”This clinician believes that this family will be a solid family unit once again,” the file states. —- Associated Press writer Jonathan M. Katz reported from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, death, family, foster care, government, suicide, system failure
Abuse changes brains of suicide victims

Source:By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
Tue May 6, 9:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Suicide victims who were abused as children have clear genetic changes in their brains, Canadian researchers reported on Tuesday in a finding they said shows neglect can cause biological effects.

The findings offer potential ways to find people at high risk of suicide, and perhaps to treat them and prevent future suicides.

And, the researchers said, they also offer insights into how neglect and abuse can perpetuate unhealthy behavior through the generations.

Moshe Szyf of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues studied the brains of 18 men who committed suicide and who were also abused or neglected as children, and compared them to 12 men who also died suddenly but from other causes, and who were not abused, although some had various psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorders.

They found changes in the genetic material of all 18 suicide victims. The changes were not in the genes themselves, but in the ribosomal RNA, which is the genetic material that makes proteins that in turn make cells function.

These changes involved a chemical process called methylation, a so-called epigenetic change involving the processes of turning genes on and off, they reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, available at http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002085 .

“The big remaining questions are whether scientists could detect similar changes in blood DNA — which could lead to diagnostic tests — and whether we could design interventions to erase these differences in epigenetic markings,” Szyf said in a statement.

Dr. Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas said both drugs and psychotherapy may act to reverse some of these changes.

CHANGING THE BRAIN

“Ultimately we believe that a person who gets better from psychotherapy is inducing changes in the brain,” Nestler told reporters at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington where similar research was discussed.

Szyf’s colleague, Michael Meaney, has shown in animals that parental abuse and neglect can affect the brains and behavior of offspring.

He has studied the brains of rats, for whom parental care can be demonstrated in how much the mother grooms her pups.

“You can put two rats on a table and tell which one is raised by a low-licking mother. The one reared by a low-licking mother is more nervous, and fatter,” Meaney said in an interview at the Psychiatric Association meeting.

Images of the brain cells of the rats show the brain cells of low-licking mothers have fewer dendrites. These are the strands that help one neuron communicate with another.

Meaney, who also worked on the suicide study, said the research, taken together, demonstrates how early experiences can cause physical changes in the brain.

He said female rats reared by low-licking mothers reached puberty earlier, meaning they had more offspring.

Similar findings are true of humans, who often have children at younger ages when times are stressful. The best way to pass along genes in uncertain times is to have more children, he said.

(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Sandra Maler)