Category: families

arrest, awareness, child custody, child welfare reform, foster care abuse, cps, crime, domestic violence, false allegations, families
CPS Used My Decision to Home School I Was Charged with Truancy

One of the reasons my child was taken into foster care4 was an allegation against me of neglecting my son’s education, and not sending him to school.  This is how they managed to pull it off.

Early on in the new semester after winter break, I received a call from the school that my ex husband was calling the district trying to find out what school my son was going to.  This was a problem because my ex was under a domestic violence protective order requiring no contact with the child.  However, it did not tell the school not to disclose the name of the child’s school he was attending; and did not specify anything else on release of records.  If he came to the school and requested a copy of the file, they would have to give it to him, and/or telling my ex the name of the school might risk my child’s safety.

I decided to home school after having heard my ex threaten to “kidnap” my son, and fearing the worst I wanted to take no chances.  I kept my son home.

I used the Abeka Books Curriculum which is a very good program that had been used at my son’s private school in Florida, based on Christian teachings.  The curriculum is highly recommended, and is more than  competent to meet standards of home schooling in Texas.

Looking back

My first mistake was not withdrawing my son from school before removing him from attendance. That created the opportunity to be counted absent, and not for medical reasons.  Although the school had been made aware, especially since they first contacted me, that there was a problem, the custody issues involved in my situation came forth when my ex had begun to dispute the legal papers I had given the school. So the school decided to hold off on allowing me to withdraw my son until the “legal team” could review my legal papers at the district level.

We went back and forth for a period of time, my son missing  several weeks of school, technically, during all of this.  Although I was teaching my son at home the school district never sent a truancy officer to visit, and they never asked for documentation.  I did inform them in writing, and kept the copies of the correspondence in my files though.

After a couple of weeks, one week being spring break, there was much confusion as to my custody status and whether I was allowed to withdraw my son, since the separate custody battle had begun with a temporary restraining order placed on me, customary when suit is filed, so that the parent doesn’t remove the child from school.  The timing had just perfectly overlapped and caused enough confusion such that the school disallowed the withdrawal until they figured it all out.

Unfortunately in my case, I had unseen forces at work, being two other parties, the child’s father and grandmother, working together, to fool the outsiders, into removing my child from my care under the guise of I was not a good mother.  This opportunity came about when I removed him from school (out of fear he would be kidnapped) that they could say I didn’t care about his education and didn’t get him to school.  Of course if you compare it to her allegation that he lived with her at the same time (for the six months prior) you start to see the holes in the story, but with so many cases in the family courts who has time to truly look at the big picture when the immediate case can be stamped and moved along.

Another mishap that I didn’t realise had occured was when the school then sent a notice by certified mail to me  that they would be filing charges against me if I did not blah blah blah since I never got the letter, I don’t exactly know what it said.  The address they had on file had been my child’s grandmother’s address & not mine.   BIG MISTAKE.

I had recently moved to Texas on what was possibly meant to be a temporary basis, and was not sure where my son and I would stay for any length of time, so initially, in order to get my son back in school expeditiously, we used her address when I moved out of my brother’s house where we had been staying.

I forgot to change it or clarify anything regarding the address in the midst of the chaos at the time that caused me to fear sending my son to school in the first place; I should have done that immediately when I moved.

Again, in hindsight, that turned into another problem that played a huge role in my nightmare.  The other huge mistake of mine was relying on the deal I had worked out with the child’s grandmother, that he was picked up in the afternoons by her from school.  Normally, a grandmother picking up a child to keep until Mom or Dad get home seems perfectly acceptable; except when the grandmother has malicious intent. Although my son was brought to me once I returned home from work in the early evenings, it opened up for another opportunity for nefarious behavior on the grandmother’s part in order to secure her standing against me in court.

Since my son carpooled to school with his cousin, usually driven by my sister-in-law, I was rarely seen at the school on either morning dropoff or afternoon pickup.  This ultimately hurt my standing in court when it had been alleged that my son lived with the grandmother for six months prior to the filing of the case (a requirement by law before bringing suit against me in court for custody) in order to prove he lived with her, she could then used the schools’ familiarity with her being there with my son as proof, or evidence via witnesses and the teachers and school staff were easily fooled because they saw her with my son in the afternoons and not me.  This created ample collateral witnesses, and since CPS loves to use the public school as a place to interview and take children, it was very convenient for them as well in building a case.  I was working at a flower shop in the afternoons but my son was living with me even though the school thought he didn’t (unbeknownst to me).  I didn’t realise at the time that there was any such misunderstanding.  That’s the way they wanted it to be.

I was charged with four counts of Failure to Abide By Compulsory Attendance Laws which pretty much means pay a fine and get your child’s butt to school.

That’s when the worst doesn’t happen. In my case, it did.

So having sent my notice to the wrong address it allowed for the opportunity for the child’s grandmother to then sign for it but not tell me about it. Thus, i didn’t find out until too late, and I was charged after I missed the deadline to do whatever the letter  said – I believe it was to return my son to school in full attendance or face charges.  I missed the deadline, unknowingly, as my arch enemy and my exhusband both chuckled quietly at the sinister mail follies in their diabolical plan that was coming together beautifully.

According to school files, they had a signed certified letter  that I received notice from the school notifying me of the deadline to act in compliance or else.  It appeared that I ignored the notice after receiving it and signing for it, and thus, did not care about my child’s education.  Perfect for CPS to grab hold and run.

Prior to being adjudicated in court on the charges CPS used the fact that I had been CHARGED with truancy related accusations (not convicted when they did this, mind you…)  in order to justify removing my child from my home.

I wrote many letters to the school during this entire process.  Although my charges were ultimately dropped, the fact remained my son was taken away from me and the mere allegations allowed them one of several doors to walk through when coming up with ways to justify the removal of my son.

Remember – neglectful supervision is very elastic of a term, and almost anything can fit it.  If CPS wants a child, they can use neglectful supervision to take that child, then, if the facts don’t match the theory, change the fact.

Several years later, looking at the records online, I found the name of the charges they filed against me actually are listed as something else – Parent Contributing to Nonattendance.  Sounds a little more derogatory in my opinion.  How they can just change what the person is charged with years later on record is beyond my comprehension, but disposition states Dismissed due to bad identification.  Anyone know what that means? Email me and let me know.

So I hope this serves to at least warn you to be careful with your decision to home school and make sure you document all contact and dealings, follow the law and all procedures, and document it all.  That was if you do find yourself in a nightmare situation, you may be able to overturn it, or hopefully avoid it all together.

Good luck!

accountability, awareness, child, children, cps, education, families, family, foster care, government, home, law, legal, social workers
CPS v. Home Schoolers… FAQ on Dealing With School District

HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS v. CPS

Truancy laws are very often used by CPS so its a good idea to be familiar with what could happen.

If you are homeschooling in Texas, it might be a good idea to be familiar with what you could be up against when it comes to CPS and your child’s education.  Many home schoolers find themselves being accused of truancy when they are being schooled at home.

So before you find yourself being charged with Parental Failure to Abide by the Compulsory Attendance Laws, followed by Neglectful Supervision, here’s a FAQ sheet on DEALING WITH THE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

0008-0802-2310-5708

This article is reprinted from the Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers published by the Texas Home School Coalition Association and may be copied only in its entirety, including this paragraph of credit and information. The Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers is a manual for home educators in Texas that includes information about where to find curricula; the laws in Texas; the how-to’s of home schooling; graduation; national, state, regional, and local organizations; and samples of letters referenced in this article. It can be purchased from the Texas Home School Coalition Association at PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493, for $20 (includes tax and shipping). For more information, contact the THSC Association at (806) 744-4441, staff@thsc.org, or www.thsc.org.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS when dealing with the school district.

  • I have decided to home school. What do I need to do? My child is enrolled in public school.

The first thing you need to do is obtain a curriculum. It is wise to find a local support group to help you set up your school.

Although you are not legally required to contact the school district, chances are very high that you will receive a visit from an attendance officer if you simply remove your child. Therefore, once you have a curriculum in hand, write the principal of the school your child attends and tell him that you are withdrawing your child to teach him at home. If the school contacts you and says that you must do more (come to the central office, fill out a form, or something else along those lines), do not go to the school. Your reply should be that if they will provide their request to you in writing, you will be glad to respond. If you receive a request of any kind, you are only required to give them a simple letter of assurance.

  • How many days per year must we have school?

The Texas Education Code requires that public schools meet 180 days per year; public school students must attend 170 days/year. This applies to public schools only. Home schools in Texas are private schools and the state of Texas does not regulate the number of days per year that private schools must be in session or the number of days a student must attend.

  • How many hours a day must we conduct school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and are not regulated by the state. No minimum hours are required. You will probably find that your student can accomplish more work in the same period of time than public school child if for no other reason than because of not having to stand in line, wait for roll call, and the like.

  • May someone else homeschool my child?

Yes. Home schools in Texas have been determined by the Texas Supreme Court to be private schools. Private schools are not regulated by the state of Texas. There are no requirements such as teacher certification or curriculum approval. The ruling of the Leeper case states that a parent “or one standing in parental authority” may educate a child. However, if a person is teaching more than three students outside her family, she may encounter problems with local zoning ordinances, and the state may require that she be licensed for childcare.

  • May my child participate in classes at the public school?

That is a local school decision. It is possible for a public school to allow this, but it is not likely at this time. The rules are somewhat different for special needs students; check with your local district.

  • May my child participate in extracurricular activities at the public school?

At this time, a local public school could allow your child to play in the band or other such activities; however, he would not be able to take part in events sponsored by the University Interscholastic League (UIL) such as athletic competitions or band and choir contests.

  • What is the compulsory school age requirement?

A child who is age six as of September 1 of the current school year must be enrolled in school until his eighteenth birthday, unless he has graduated. 16. What about testing my child? Although the state of Texas does not require testing of private school students, many home school parents do give their children annual tests using nationally-normed achievement tests.

  • May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone questions him about why he is not in school?

Home schools in Texas are private schools. Home school parents are law-abiding citizens and should not feel the need to hide their children during the day. If someone asks you or your child why he is not in school, you should respond that you home educate and that you have already accomplished your work for the day or that you are on a school field trip. You should be aware that if your children are seen during public school hours you will generate questions. If your child is in public without you and your city has a daytime curfew, you could encounter difficulties.

  • What happens if my child wants to enter or re-enter public school?

School districts set the requirements for enrollment in their schools. This is a local decision–not one made by the state of Texas. You should check with the local school district concerning its policy regarding accepting unaccredited private school students.

  • What is required for graduation?

Home schools in Texas are private schools and not regulated by the state; therefore, just as with other private schools, home schools set their own graduation standards. There is no minimum age requirement for graduation.

  • How can my child receive a diploma?

When a student meets the requirements set by his school for graduation (see question #19), he may receive a diploma. Diplomas may be ordered from the Texas Home School Coalition Association and other sources.

  • What if I work?

Remember that home schools are private schools and there is no requirement for hours or the time when education must take place. The only requirement is that a written curriculum covering the basic areas (see question #3) must be pursued in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. Consequently, one could work and teach his child as well. While this would be difficult and take some discipline, it is certainly possible and legal.

  • Is there a recurring theme here?

The answer is “yes”! Home schools in Texas are private schools. Private schools in Texas are not regulated. Therefore, home schools in Texas are not regulated. Keep this thought central in your mind when dealing with those who want to regulate or restrict your freedom to teach your children.

gse_multipart59170

cps, families, family, foster care, government, law, legal
New Revisions to CPS Handbook 2007 – Texas

This revision of the Child Protective Services Handbook was published on November 1, 2007. Summaries of new revised items are posted below, followed by the edited versions with significant changes noted in red. Not displayed are minor copy editing and formatting changes.

Baby Moses Cases

The items listed below are revised to include:

  ·  the recent change in the law allowing CPS to file for termination of parental rights as a part of the original petition;

  ·  the presumption that the person who delivers the child to the designated emergency infant care provider is the biological parent, and intends to relinquish parental rights; and

  ·  criteria for determining whether or not a child born and left at a hospital constitutes a Baby Moses case.

Changes made for style and clarification are not displayed in revision mode. See:

2360 Baby Moses Cases

2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case

2361.1 A Harmed Infant

2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Provider

2362.3 When Someone Claims to Be a Parent or Relative of the Infant

Correction

Item 7244 is deleted to correct an oversight made during a revision in September 2006, when the information in Item 7244 was incorporated into 7460 Intermittent Alternate Care, Baby-Sitting, Overnight Care, and Respite Care.

2360 Baby Moses Cases

CPS October 2006 November 2007

A Baby Moses case is a specific type of abandonment case in which an infant has been delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider and other statutory criteria are met. The purpose of this law is to encourage parents who might otherwise abandon a newborn in a dumpster or other unsafe place to deliver an infant safely to an appropriate facility. To encourage use of DEIC providers and to promote safety, parents who comply with this law are protected from child abandonment allegations or criminal penalties. Some infants that are delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider are a special subset within the abandoned child definition and are often referred to as cases under the Baby Moses law.

Texas Family Code §§262.302; 262.303; 262.308; 262.309; and 263.407

2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case

CPS October 2006 November 2007

An abandoned infant meets the criteria for a Baby Moses case if the infant:

  ·  is known to be or appears to be 60 days old or younger;

  ·  has not been harmed. See 2361.1 A Harmed Infant;

  ·  has been voluntarily delivered to a DEIC provider. See 2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Provider; and

  ·  is delivered to a DEIC provider by a person (presumed to be a parent) who does not express intent to return for the infant.

When Statutory Criteria Are Not Met

If the criteria for a Baby Moses case are not met (that is, the infant is more than 60 days old, was harmed, or was delivered to a location other than a DEIC provider by someone other than a parent) DFPS must handle the case as it would any other abandonment case. A thorough investigation must be completed, including diligent search efforts to locate parents and relatives of the child. See 2224.1 Thorough Investigations.

When a Child Is Abandoned After Birth in a Medical Facility

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility, gives birth, and leaves the medical facility without the baby, the case would be considered a Baby Moses case if:

  ·  the case meets the general criteria listed in this section;

  ·  the mother indicates in some direct manner that she is unwilling to parent the baby; and

  ·  there is no presumed father.

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility, gives birth, and leaves the medical facility without the baby but does not indicate a deliberate intent not to parent, the worker handles the case as an abandonment case regardless of whether or not there is a presumed father.

When Application of Statutory Criteria Is Unclear

If it is unclear whether a case should be handled as Baby Moses case, the worker consults with supervisory staff, and the DFPS regional attorney. In some instances, the court may close the courtroom and maintain confidentiality as in a Baby Moses case, even though DFPS has determined there is not sufficient basis to terminate parental rights under the Baby Moses statute.

2361.1 A Harmed Infant

CPS October 2006 November 2007

If a “harmed infant” is delivered to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider, the situation is not a Baby Moses case.

The definition of a harmed infant includes, but is not limited to, an infant who:

  ·  appears to have been abused;

  ·  appears to have been neglected; or

  ·  has a positive toxicology screen and other factors (such as the condition of the child) indicate that harm resulted from exposure to alcohol, drugs, poisons, or other substances.

Exposure to Risk of Harm

If an infant is abandoned at a DEIC provider in a manner that causes harm to the infant or exposes the infant to a risk of harm, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case. For example, if an infant is left in a remote location in or near a DEIC, where no one is likely to find the child or an infant is left where the child is exposed to severe temperatures or similar dangers, the case is not appropriate for handling as a Baby Moses case. 

2361.2 A Designated Emergency Infant Care (DEIC) Provider

CPS October 2006 November 2007

According to the Baby Moses statutes, the following entities are DEIC providers:

  ·  an emergency medical services provider;

  ·  a hospital; and

  ·  a child-placing agency licensed by DFPS that:

  ·  agrees to act as a DEIC provider, and

  ·  has a licensed registered nurse or licensed emergency services provider on staff.

Texas Family Code §262.301

The following entities are not DEIC providers:

  ·  a DFPS office;

  ·  a police station; or

  ·  any other location that is not noted above as a DEIC provider.

If a parent delivers an infant to an entity that is not a DEIC provider, or delivers an infant in a manner that is not safe, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case.

If a woman is admitted to a medical facility and gives birth, then leaves the medical facility without the child, the case does not qualify as a Baby Moses case.

2362 Investigating Cases Under the Baby Moses Law

CPS October 2006 November 2007

After making sure that the infant is safe, the investigator must should immediately determine whether this case meets all of the criteria for a Baby Moses case. See 2361 Criteria for a Baby Moses Case.

In addition to performing the standard tasks for an investigation, the caseworker must take the following actions in every potential Baby Moses investigation:

  ·  Determine the facts surrounding the delivery of the infant to the facility: 

  ·  Know the specific location where the infant was found. If the location is outside the DEIC or in an out of the way location, take a photo of the location.

  ·  Obtain any available description of the person who left the baby, and any written or verbal information the person left.

  ·  Assess the health, age, and general well-being of the infant. This information may be necessary to determine whether the case should be handled as a Baby Moses case. 

  ·  Interview any persons at the designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider who have information regarding the infant and obtain any form for voluntary disclosure of medical facts and history that was offered to and completed by the parent.

  ·  Notify the state office program specialist responsible for Baby Moses cases within 24 hours of initiating a Baby Moses investigation (excluding weekends and holidays).

  ·  Notify local law enforcement during the investigation and before the court renders an order to terminate parental rights that an infant has been abandoned under the Baby Moses law.

      Ask that law enforcement complete local and state law enforcement checks as well as National Crime Information Center (NCIC) checks to ensure that the abandoned infant has not been previously reported as a missing child. An NCIC check can generally be completed by a local law enforcement agency.

      If the local law enforcement agency cannot complete the NCIC check, fax a letter requesting the check to:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Fax: (512) 424-2885

      In the letter, the worker describes the infant, the city in which the infant was abandoned, and the known circumstances surrounding the abandonment. Include the worker’s name, address, phone number, and fax number.

      DPS will conduct an NCIC check to confirm that the infant has not been reported as a missing child.

Texas Family Code §263.407(c)

  ·  Search the paternity registry no earlier than the 30th day after the infant’s estimated date of birth, but as soon as possible after that date. This must be completed before the court enters an order to terminate parental rights. See 5390 Bureau of Vital Statistics Reporting Requirements.

Texas Family Code §263.407(c)

2362.1 Legal Provisions

CPS October 2006 November 2007

There are several differences between a regular CPS investigation and an investigation conducted under the Baby Moses law.

For Baby Moses cases it is presumed that the person who delivers an infant to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider:

  ·  is the infant’s biological parent;

  ·  intends to relinquish parental rights and consents to the termination of parental rights with regard to the infant; and

  ·  intends to waive the right to notice of the suit terminating the parent-child relationship.

Unless a court order requires it, DFPS does not attempt to identify or locate the parent of an infant left under the Baby Moses law, in order to protect the confidentiality of the parent.

Texas Family Code §263.407(a)

Similarly, DFPS does not conduct a search for the relatives of the infant, as this would violate the confidentiality protection provided to the parent.

Texas Family Code §262.309

When DFPS files a petition for a Baby Moses case, DFPS requests a closed hearing. Unless the court finds that the interests of the child or the public would be better served by opening the hearing to the public, the court orders the hearing to be closed. .

Texas Family Code §262.308(c)

Any pleading or other document filed with the court is confidential, is not a public record, and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem.

Texas Family Code §262.308(b) and (d)

All identifying information about a person who delivers the infant to the DEIC provider is confidential and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem. This section does not prevent DFPS from serving notice, when required, to a parent in a suit to terminate parental rights.

Texas Family Code §262.308(a)

Parents cannot be criminally prosecuted for abandoning an infant under the Baby Moses law.

Texas Penal Code §22.041(h)

2362.2 Disposition of a Baby Moses Case

CPS October 2006 November 2007

The intent of the Baby Moses law is to prevent parents from abandoning infants in unsafe locations.

Although delivering an unharmed infant to a designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider could otherwise meet the statutory definition of abandonment, the parent has abandoned the infant in a location that is legally designated as a safe haven.

If a case meets all of the necessary criteria for a Baby Moses case because the infant was not left in a situation in which he or she would be exposed to harm, the case is not investigated as abandonment and the disposition of the case is Ruled Out.

2362.3 When the Identity or Location of the Parent is Known

CPS October 2006

To avoid the risk of a termination decree being invalidated, it is as important to serve a parent with notice of a suit to terminate parental rights, as it is in any other case when DFPS knows a parent’s identity or location.

Due process in such cases requires DFPS to serve the parent, unless the parent waives service.

The notice may be served in person, or DFPS must make diligent efforts to locate the parent, and if unsuccessful the notice may be made by publication. See 5261 Diligent Search for Missing Parents.

When serving notice to a parent in this situation, every effort should be made to keep the parent’s identity anonymous to the extent possible.

Any questions about service should be referred to the regional attorney or the county or district attorney representing DFPS in the case.

2362.3 2362.4 When Someone Claims to Be a Parent or Relative of the Infant

CPS October 2006 November 2007

Parent of the Infant

If someone claims to be the parent of the infant before the court renders a final order terminating parental rights, DFPS must notify the court.

The court is required by statute to order genetic testing to determine parentage, unless parentage has previously been established.

Texas Family Code §263.407(b)

Relative of the Infant

If someone comes forward claiming to be a relative of the infant before the court renders a final order terminating parental rights, DFPS does not share any information with the individual except the cause number of the court case. DFPS informs the person that if he or she wants to be involved in the case, he or she must intervene in the court case.

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

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

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

Thank you for your feedback!

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

FDA Says Over-the-Counter Med Need Further Study

Cold medicine

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

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

Video

No More Kids Cold Medicine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death numbers for fiscal year 2007 are not yet available.

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


nmartinez@express-news.net