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cps
New Years Day- The Nostalgia of Life

I remember, before CPS came into my life, how we spent the holidays with my son. I didn’t lose him until he was 8 years old, so as the years progressed from his birth until then, I wanted the holidays to become bigger than life the older he got.

The last year I had him, for example, Santa Claus delivered all his toys as he slept, in an all sports-related theme.

In our living room, my son woke to huge Nerf football goal posts on each end of our living room. Between the goal posts, Santa also left him an air hockey table made for kids, and a full size basketball free throw arcade game.

As my son awoke from his slumber his eyes went from half lidded to bright and wide as he found the magically fantastic wonderment that made the holidays what they were.

The night before Christmas, we had lined our yard with paper bags with lights, and sprinkled the grass wish oatmeal and glitter – reindeer food. My son knew the more oatmeal he spread would glisten and lure Dasher, Dancer and the rest of Rudolph’s crew to our house.

It worked.

We baked cookies and left them out with milk and a note on the table for Santa.

My satisfaction as his Mama was the moments i cherished watching his sleepy eyes saw the goodies that was left in appreciation for how well he behaved all year.

In the week that ensued, Christmas became new years, with resolutions for self empowerment, self discipline and the hope for something better than the year before.

Of course, for my son, it was the excitement of getting to stay up late to drink apple juice as we drank champagne and did the traditional toast and kisses at midnight and the magical ball dropped in New York- which we always watched on TV.

The phone calls would then follow, calling all our family in our home state of Texas that we had leftt many years before. For an hour, out phone was our heartline to wish them a happy New Years… with the exuberant aspirations that believing in the mainstream world brings to the all-American middle class folx of times past.

Before CPS.

So once the excitement died down, my son would innocently sleep soundly until the noise of the televised new year’s day parade would wake him.

Our home was filled with the scent of black eyed peas slow cooking in the kitchen and the sounds of men watching football as the women cooked and drank wine. All in the name of expecting good luck for the year to come.

Traditions.

Bigger than life.

That was my goal.

To make the magic of the holidays last forever in my son’s memories of his childhood.

Was I successful?

Only my son can say.

Our relationship was interrupted. Our traditions, severed, and the life as we knew it, deferred.

I remember the first time I spent new year’s alone – after CPS came into my life. No apple juice or champagne, no phone calls from family, for they failed to support me or be there for me once I lost my son, I had no more kisses for I was utterly alone, and no reason to celebrate, or cook,, or expect good luck.

My resolutions for the year to come had become a quest to merely survive myself.

Who was I?

I had become she.

It is now 15 years post-CPS. my life has come back to me.

I’m settled now in a marriage to a man who never knew me before the loss of my son. He only knows the stories I tell him over and over again in my post traumatic afterlife. it still hurts like it did the day he was taken,I won’t lie .

My kids are now two dogs that I spoil rotten, and new year’s eve consists of cuddling with them until midnight, watching the replay of the ball drop since I’m three time zones away now in California, talking about the crowd and how fearful we would be to ever consider going to such a celebration in this day and age.

we kiss goodnight.

Normally my daughter would call me but this year she’s suspended her family traditions due to the flu. She and her husband now understand the life as a family trying to create memories for her children.

Traditions.

My son and I did finally reunite… but as is sadly common in ambiguous losses – the reunification has been difficult, and hard for us both. Well I assume for us both, but I suppose I can only speak for myself. Its highlighted in my healing from the grief how many spaces there are between us – spaces that didn’t exist before CPS came into our lives.

Still, I relive our beautiful years together in many stories I tell my husband over and over again. I tell him about the apple juice and hope had back then, and he always listens even though allot of it he’s heard before. He sits with me, in those moments of mine, quietly reflecting, as I now pray that my son is safe tonight.

On the east coast, it’s the witching hour- 3am – when the year turns on the clock for me . Allot can happen n in the three hours past the ball dropping over New York City for a young man in his 20s now. A huge country away from me.

I kiss my husband goodnight here in Cali.

I will always hurt somewhere in my soul.

The morning of parades is gone for me, erased by the loss when CPS came into my life, though, as if they were yesterday, I still remember how it sounded. How it felt.

the hope is now that where ever he is, he is safe, and living a simple life, feeling content, and that this year will be better for him than the last.

As the saying goes – someone shot nostalgia in the back. Some one shot our innocence – in the shadow of a smile.

I hope my daughter recovers swiftly from The big that had invaded her holidays this year and her family succeeds and finds a prosperous life this year in everything they do.

I watch my husband vacuum, feed my dogs, and remind myself to pick up a can of black eyed peas before dinner, as we need all the luck we can get, in this day and age .

Oh the nostalgia of life.

It’s Almost Tuesday wishes all a happy and safe New Year in 2020.

In this divided society, I remind you to please be diligent, and be kind to each other. it may be the only thing to save us in this day and age.

If my children are reading this, know I love you more than all the stars above .

arrests, news
Plano podiatrist arrested on possession of child pornography charge | wfaa.com

Click here to view original article.148c6f41-c58e-4a2c-bb8c-0a9cc72bb303_360x203Photo Credit:

CollinC CountyJail Roster

The warrant lays out an investigation that started after an incident at his home this summer. There is no mention of any allegations at his workplace

A Plano podiatrist has been arrested on a charge of possession of child pornography, police records show.

Steven Berkey, 66, was arrested on the felony charge Nov. 4 by Collin County deputies.

Plano police started investigating Berkey after a juvenile reported in June an incident at Berkey’s house.

Officers responded to a report that a juvenile visitor was being secretly recorded inside a bathroom at Berkey’s home, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

While officers interviewed people at the house, they noticed a Nest camera hidden on a bookshelf in a bedroom pointing toward the bathroom where the victim had been. There was tape covering a light on the camera “to make it more inconspicuous,” the warrant says.

Berkey denied knowing the camera was there, records show.

The girl who visited the house told investigators she had seen Berkey looking at pornography on his laptop. She said the images appeared to be of teenage girls, the warrant says.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for devices used by Berkey, including phones, tablets and computers. The affidavit said “evidence of child exploitation material” was found during the search of the devices.

Police records describe three images found in Berkey’s possession, including pornographic photos of children under the age of 12.

A search warrant was also executed at the medical office. Plano police said there is no evidence that any crime occurred at Berkey’s medical offices or that any patients were victims.

An employee at the podiatrist office where Berkey once worked said the business is under new ownership and that Berkey no longer works there.

WFAA has reached out to Berkey for comment but has not been able to contact him.

Jail records show Berkey was released on bond Nov. 5.

cps, parental alienation syndrome
Parental Alienation- An Unforgivable Act of Child Abuse With Permanent Consequences

Intentional alienation of a child against one parent is absolutely wrong and virtually unforgivable.

note: This article describes the relationships between conflicting parents and the children – but it’s vitally important to remember that the targeted parent and child whose affections are alienated can also be the victims of others they are in a high conflict relationship with- such as a grandparent who has, for whatever reason, decided to destroy the parent/child bond with these tactics.

In many cases, others may witness this alienation as it occurs but, despite knowing that it is wrong, or feeling sad for the harm being done, they do not interfere or attempt to stop the alienation. Maybe they think it’s none of their business, or maybe they feel they have no standing, or maybe they, too, are intimidated by the abuser.

Standing idly by without a word can be potentially catastrophic with irreparable consequences for both the child and the targeted parent.

While any application which flows from a suspicion of alienation will be costly and worsen the conflict between the parents, it is urgent that the alienation be stopped immediately if its long-term impact is to be avoided”

The Difference Between an Estranged Cold and an Alienated Child

An estranged child is not the same thing as an alienated child. Parental alienation is AN INTENTIONAL ACT OF CHILD ABUSE, often with permanent lifelong negative effects.

The difference between an estranged child and an alienated child is that an estranged child has grown apart from the parent for reasons that are, to be blunt, reasonable and realistic.

An alienated child, however, is the victim of one parent‘s efforts to destroy the child‘s relationship with the other parent.

An estranged child is either absolutely ambivalent about the other parent or enraged by the other parent. These feelings are, however, justified by the child‘s experience of the separation or by the child‘s experience of that parent.

These children are usually estranged as a result of:

  • witnessing violence committed by that parent against the other parent,
  • being the victim of abuse from that parent,
  • the parent‘s persistently immature and self-centered behaviour,
  • the parent‘s unduly rigid and restrictive parenting style, and/or
  • the parent‘s own psychological or psychiatric issues.

The point here is that the feelings of estranged children are based on the child‘s lived experiences. In cases of estrangement, the child‘s rejection of a parent is reasonable, and is an adaptive and protective response to the parent‘s behaviour.

The feelings of alienated children, however, are neither reasonable nor the result of the rejected parent‘s conduct

Alienated children usually reject a parent without guilt or sadness and without an objectively reasonable cause.

The children’s views of the alienated parent are usually grossly distorted and exaggerated.

Alienation is most easily defined as the complete breakdown of a child‘s relationship with a parent as a result of the other parent‘s efforts to turn a child against that parent.

Typically, alienation begins to show itself as a problem when the parents are involved in extremely bitter and heated litigation. Not every case of high conflict litigation involves alienation, but alienation can and does happen.

A 1991 study by the American Bar Association found indications of alienation in the majority of 700 high conflict divorce cases studied over 12 years..

In some circumstances, alienation can amount to child abuse.

As J.M. Bone and M.R. Walsh put it in their article “Parental Alienation Syndrome: How to detect it and what to do about it,” published in 1999 in the Florida Bar Journal, 73(3): 44–48 I, usually because of an interim order or some other sort of temporary arrangement.

The sorts of behaviours that suggest an intention to alienate a child from the other parent include, among other things:

  • making negative comments about the other parent to the child,
  • stating or implying that the child is in danger when with the other parent,
  • grilling the child about their activities, meals, and living conditions when with the other parent,
  • stating or implying that the activities, meals, and living conditions offered by the other parent are deficient or problematic,
  • setting up activities that the child will enjoy during times when the child is with the other parent,
  • telling the child that it’s up to them to decide whether to visit the other parent, and/or
  • stating or implying that the child is being abused or maltreated by the other parent.

The consequences of parental alienation or attempted alienation can be quite profound.

Alienation at its best is a form of psychological programming; at worst, it’s brainwashing.

Alienation may result in the permanent destruction of a child‘s relationship with a parent and in long-lasting psychological problems for the alienated child.

In their article, Bone and Walsh conclude that when alienation has been identified, the solution is to deal with it immediately:

When attempted [parental alienation syndrome] has been identified, successful or not, it must be dealt with swiftly by the court. If it is not, it will contaminate and quietly control all other parenting issues and then lead only to unhappiness, frustration, and, lastly, parental estrangement. …

The study by Johnston and Campbell described children with strong alignments as “forfeiting their childhood” because of the adult role they are forced to play when they become the alienating parent‘s nurturer, ally, and support system.

Dr. Rand notes that:

Divorce almost inevitably burdens children with greater responsibilities and makes them feel less cared for. Children of chronically troubled parents bear a greater burden. … The needs of the troubled parent override the developmental needs of the child, with the result that the child becomes psychologically depleted and their own emotional and social progress is crippled.”

While the process of alienation is underway, children are subject to a tremendous conflict of loyalties, which compounds the burden of nurturing an emotionally troubled parent, particularly when the alienation is intentional.

When the parents were together, their children loved them both, and children naturally desire for this to continue even when their parents aren’t together. Alienating conduct essentially asks children to pick sides, to chose one parent permanently and irrevocably over the other parent.

In G.F. Cartwright’s article “Expanding the Parameters of Parental Alienation Syndrome,” published in the American Journal of Family Therapy in 1993, a number of long-term psychological problems were found in children in alienation situations, including:

  • depression, anxiety, and/or stress,
  • delayed emotional maturity,
  • psychosomatic illnesses, and
  • long-term feelings of guilt and loss.

In A. Lampel’s article “Children’s Alignment with Parents in Highly Conflicted Custody Cases,” published in the Family and Conciliation Courts Review in 1996, these psychological problems were found to include:

  • being angrier than non-alienated children,
  • being less well-adjusted, and
  • being less able to conceptualize complex situations.

Finally, when the process of alienation is complete, the child will have chosen sides.

The child‘s relationship with the other parent may be permanently impaired. While many children afflicted by alienation will recover in their mid- to late-teens and reach out to the other parent, some never do, and their relationship with the other parent is permanently destroyed.

-an unforgivable intentional act of malice –

child abuse in a most destructive form….

To quote from the judge in a 2005 Ontario case, Cooper v. Cooper, 2004 CanLII 47783 (ON SC):

“I find that [the mother’s] sabotaging actions have been knowing, wilful and deliberate. As a result of [her] behaviour, the children have little or no relationship with the father who loves them, who has tried to be a good father, and who has been a good provider throughout their lives.”

While evidence of alienation is necessary before a court can make a determination that it has occurred or make orders to ameliorate it, the impact of that behaviour or the allegation that it has occurred can give rise to situations where children become actively involved in the court action.

Parents often find themselves feeling closer to their children following separation than they did during the relationship. Dr. Rand says that fathers in particular find a greater reward in parenting as a result of the loss, loneliness, and feelings of failure that can follow from the breakdown of the relationship.

Accordingly, the impact of parental alienation is particularly traumatic to the targeted parent.

D.S. Huntington, in an article published in 1986 in Divorce and Fatherhood, noted that some parents can be driven off by a child‘s apparent rejection and refusal to visit.

J.W. Jacobs, in a different article in the same book, says that targeted parents may also voluntarily withdraw from the child‘s life where, in their view, the child would suffer if the custody issues were pursued, or if the child would be exposed to additional conflict between the parents.
Contributing to the problem

Johnston has described ways that a targeted parent can inadvertently contribute to the child‘s alienation by displaying the sorts of behaviours that the alienating parent has taught the child to expect. These sorts of behaviours include: being cold and emotionally distant; being rigid and controlling; being insensitive to the child‘s needs; and, not being empathetic.

These sorts of behaviours may reinforce the alienating parent‘s position and make the environment provided by the alienating parent compare favourably to that of the targted parent.

In cases that are profoundly high conflict, false claims may be made, usually by the alienating parent, that the other parent has sexually or physically abused the child. Sometimes this is the fruit of the paranoia with which the alienating parent views the other parent, when a diaper rash turns into sexual assault and a bruise from falling off a jungle gym turns into proof of a beating.

Sometimes, however, false claims are a part of the campaign to alienate the other parent when the alienation is intentional.

For the targeted parent, claims of this nature are devastating because they are so very difficult to disprove and they attack the moral fitness of the parent in a fundamental and humiliating way.

While the claim is being defended, however, the parent may spend months without seeing their child. Even if the claim can be disproven, the parent may find that so much time has been lost that their relationship with the child is damaged. (Note that even unproven claims may result in arrest and possible criminal charges. Even where there are no criminal charges, a parent who has been arrested is invariably released following arrest on a promise not to contact the other parent or the child.)

Interestingly, K.L. Ross and G.J. Blush, in an article published in 1990 in Issues in Child Abuse Allegations, observed that falsely accused parents typically displayed passive behaviour in contrast to the accuser’s excitable and hysterical behaviour.

An American attorney Dr. Rand mentions says that the falsely accused parents she represents in parental alienation cases are typically emotionally and financially stable people, who were often the child‘s primary parent before separation.

So how do you deal with an alienated child??

When a child is becoming estranged or alienated, or when parental alienation is suspected, the situation must be dealt with as soon as possible.

In most cases, these sorts of problems occur in the context of ongoing litigation, and the problem can usually be dealt with in the context of that litigation.

Section 211 of the Family Law Act allows a court to order that a Needs of the Child Assessment, formerly called a Custody and Access Report, be prepared. If the other parent will not agree to the preparation of a Needs of the Child Assessment, you must apply for an order that the report be prepared.

Proper Needs of the Child Assessments are prepared by a psychologist or a psychiatrist, or another mental health professional, who interviews each of the parents separately, and then interviews the child twice, once in the presence of each parent. The assessor may also give the children and the parents certain common psychological tests, such as personality evaluations and parenting inventories.

Most often it’s only the parents who are tested. The assessor will then prepare a report that sets out their observations and recommendations.

In making an order that a Needs of the Child Assessment be prepared, the court can simply say “a report will be prepared” or it can be more detailed and discuss which person will prepare the report, when it will be finished, and who will pay for it. Most importantly, the order can identify particular issues that the assessor is to address in the report.

Where a report is sought because of suspected parental alienation, the order should expressly state that the assessor is to see whether alienation is or is not happening.

Can you fix the problem?

Frankly, it may be impossible to fix a child‘s alienation from one of their parents even when alienation has been identified by a psychiatrist.

In a 1988 article by N.R. Palmer published in the American Journal of Family Therapy, Palmer quotes a Florida judge who dealt with an alienation case:

“The Court has no doubt that the cause of the blind, brainwashed, bigoted belligerence of the children toward the father grew from the soil nurtured, watered and tilled by the mother.

The Court is thoroughly convinced that the mother breached every duty she owed as the custodial parent to the noncustodial parent of instilling love, respect and feeling in the children for their father. Worse, she slowly dripped poison into the minds of these children, maybe even beyond the power of this Court to find the antidote.”

Dr. Gardner’s solution was to remove the child from the care of the alienating parent. This is, in most cases, a drastic solution which forces the child to live full-time with the parent they have been taught to dislike and distrust.

It may still be appropriate in the right circumstances.

This is what the Supreme Court did in the 2009 case of A.A. v. S.N.A., 2009 BCSC 303 when it found that the mother had “continued to undermine the relationship between [the child] and her father” and “acted in ways that are detrimental to [the child‘s] psychological healing.”

The court ordered that the child have no contact with her mother at all for one year. This kind of solution remains the exception rather than the rule.

In most cases, however, the best that can be done to cure the problem is to obtain an order requiring that the child, the alienated parent, or both the child and the parent see a family counsellor skilled in dealing with the psychological effects of separation. The court can specify who the counsellor will be, how frequent the sessions will be, and who will pay for them.

There is no guarantee that counselling will fix the problem since the source of the problem lies in the conduct of the alienating parent, but counselling is a less drastic step and will be easier to obtain than an order changing the children’s home.

In a small number of cases, it may prove impossible to ameliorate an alienated child‘s views about the targeted parent. These cases are tragic and a legal solution may not be available.

When the alienation becomes deeply entrenched, the issue about which parent bears the blame for the children’s views is irrelevant.

You can lay blame, but that won’t change the fact of how the children feel. In situations like this, the targeted parent may have no choice but to wait until the children become mature and independent enough to seek out the parent and talk about their childhood.

The Fall 2008 edition of AFCC News, an organ of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, discusses a ground-breaking program for alienated and estranged children called Breaking Barriers Camp. The program involved all family members in intensive therapy in an overnight camp setting at a facility called Common Ground Center in Starksboro, Vermont, with enormous amounts of support available to encourage reunification between parents and their children.

The program, by the article’s account, was a stunning success, with four of five families leaving with mutually agreed plans to continue working on the re-established parent-child relationship.

Links

Custody Cases

foster care, news
California Governor Has Given Children in Foster Care the Right to have internet Access- and More

California’s Governor Newsom signed over 1000 bills this week  including one bill regarding the rights of children in foster care .

Of the many rights afforded to foster children, they shall now include the right to have internet access. He also changed the minimum age that a child can choose to be involved in their permanency planning at the age of 10 now, rather than the age 12.

I have copied a full text here if the bill for readers to take a look themselves at the laws and changes to come for Foster Children’s rights in the State of California.


AB-175 Foster care: rights.(2019-2020)

Published: 10/02/2019 09:00 PM

BILL START

Assembly Bill No. 175
CHAPTER 416

An act to amend Section 1530.91 of the Health and Safety Code, and to amend Section 16164 of, and to repeal and add Section 16001.9 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to foster care.

[ Approved by Governor  October 02, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  October 02, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 175, Gipson. Foster care: rights.
Existing law provides for the out-of-home placement, including foster care placement, of children who are unable to remain in the custody and care of their parents, and imposes various requirements on the county child welfare agency in regard to arranging and overseeing the foster care placement. Existing law provides that it is the policy of the state that all minors and nonminors in foster care have specified rights, including, among others, the right to receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health services, the right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in their court or child welfare records, the right to review their own case plan and plan for permanent placement if the child is 12 years of age or older and in a permanent placement, and the right to attend Independent Living Program classes and activities if the child meets applicable age requirements.
This bill would instead require all children and nonminor dependents in foster care to have these rights and would revise various rights, including providing the right to review their own case plan and plan for permanent placement to children 10 years of age or older regardless of whether they are in a permanent placement and the right to not be prevented from attending Independent Living Program classes by the caregiver as a punishment. The bill would include additional rights, including, among others, the right to be referred to by the child’s preferred name and gender pronoun, the right to maintain the privacy of the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, except as provided, and the right to have reasonable access to computer technology and the internet. To the extent that the bill would impose additional duties on counties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing law establishes the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson within the State Department of Social Services and sets forth the duties of the office, including disseminating information on the services provided by the office and rights of children and youth in foster care, developing standardized information explaining those rights, and compiling and making available to the Legislature all data collected by the office, including specified data regarding complaints made to the office and investigations conducted by the office.
This bill would additionally require the office to provide training and technical assistance to foster youth, social workers, and child welfare organizations, among others, on the rights of children and youth in foster care, reasonable and prudent parent standards, and services provided by the office. The bill would require the office to review amendments to laws applicable to foster youth at the end of every two-year legislative session and determine whether updates to the foster care rights should be recommended in the compilation of data prepared by the office and made available to the Legislature.
Existing law, the California Community Care Facilities Act, provides for the licensing and regulation of community care facilities, including foster family homes and group homes, by the State Department of Social Services. Existing law requires certain community care facilities that provide care to foster children to either provide each schooolage child and the child’s authorized representative with an orientation that includes an explanation of the rights of the child or post a listing of the above-described rights.
This bill would require the department to ensure that those facilities accord children and nonminor dependents in foster care with their personal rights, including the above-described rights. The bill would require the department to adopt regulations to implement these provisions, and would authorize the department to implement these provisions by written directives until regulations are adopted.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
DIGEST KEY
Vote: majority   Appropriation: no   Fiscal Committee: yes   Local Program: yes
BILL TEXT
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Section 1530.91 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
1530.91. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a care provider that provides foster care for children pursuant to this chapter shall provide each schoolage child and the child’s authorized representative, as defined in regulations adopted by the department, who is placed in foster care, with an age and developmentally appropriate orientation that includes an explanation of the rights of the child, as specified in Section 16001.9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, and addresses the child’s questions and concerns.
(b) Any facility licensed to provide foster care for six or more children pursuant to this chapter shall post a listing of a foster child’s rights specified in Section 16001.9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as developed by the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson pursuant to Section 16164 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. The Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson shall provide the posters it has designed pursuant to Section 16164 of the Welfare and Institutions Code to each facility subject to this subdivision. The posters shall include the telephone number of the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson.
(c) The department shall ensure that a facility licensed, and a home certified or approved by a foster family agency to provide foster care, pursuant to this chapter shall accord children and nonminor dependents in foster care their personal rights, including, but not limited to, the rights specified in Section 16001.9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as applicable. The department shall adopt regulations to implement and enforce this subdivision. Notwithstanding the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the department may implement and enforce this subdivision by written directives until regulations are adopted.
SEC. 2. Section 16001.9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is repealed.
SEC. 3. Section 16001.9 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:
16001.9. (a) All children placed in foster care, either voluntarily or after being adjudged a ward or dependent of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 300, 601, or 602, shall have the rights specified in this section. These rights also apply to nonminor dependents in foster care, except when they conflict with nonminor dependents’ retention of all their legal decisionmaking authority as an adult. The rights are as follows:
(1) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where they are treated with respect. If the child is an Indian child, to live in a home that upholds the prevailing social and cultural standards of the child’s Indian community, including, but not limited to, family, social, and political ties.
(2) To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse, corporal punishment, and exploitation.
(3) To receive adequate and healthy food, adequate clothing, grooming and hygiene products, and an age-appropriate allowance. Clothing and grooming and hygiene products shall respect the child’s culture, ethnicity, and gender identity and expression.
(4) To be placed in the least restrictive setting possible, regardless of age, physical health, mental health, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, juvenile court record, or status as a pregnant or parenting youth, unless a court orders otherwise.
(5) To be placed with a relative or nonrelative extended family member if an appropriate and willing individual is available.
(6) To not be locked in any portion of their foster care placement, unless placed in a community treatment facility.
(7) To have a placement that utilizes trauma-informed and evidence-based deescalation and intervention techniques, to have law enforcement intervention requested only when there is an imminent threat to the life or safety of a child or another person or as a last resort after other diversion and deescalation techniques have been utilized, and to not have law enforcement intervention used as a threat or in retaliation against the child.
(8) To not be detained in a juvenile detention facility based on their status as a dependent of the juvenile court or the child welfare services department’s inability to provide a foster care placement. If they are detained, to have all the rights afforded under the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and all applicable state and federal laws.
(9) To have storage space for private use.
(10) To be free from unreasonable searches of personal belongings.
(11) To be provided the names and contact information for social workers, probation officers, attorneys, service providers, foster youth advocates and supporters, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and education rights holder if other than the parent or parents, and when applicable, representatives designated by the child’s Indian tribe to participate in the juvenile court proceeding, and to communicate with these individuals privately.
(12) To visit and contact siblings, family members, and relatives privately, unless prohibited by court order, and to ask the court for visitation with the child’s siblings.
(13) To make, send, and receive confidential telephone calls and other electronic communications, and to send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.
(14) To have social contacts with people outside of the foster care system, including, but not limited to, teachers, coaches, religious or spiritual community members, mentors, and friends. If the child is an Indian child, to have the right to have contact with tribal members and members of their Indian community consistent with the prevailing social and cultural conditions and way of life of the Indian child’s tribe.
(15) To attend religious services, activities, and ceremonies of the child’s choice, including, but not limited to, engaging in traditional Native American religious practices.
(16) To participate in extracurricular, cultural, racial, ethnic, personal enrichment, and social activities, including, but not limited to, access to computer technology and the internet, consistent with the child’s age, maturity, developmental level, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.
(17) To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.
(18) To have caregivers, child welfare and probation personnel, and legal counsel who have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and best practices for providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender children in out-of-home care.
(19) To be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in their court, child welfare, medical, or vital records, to be referred to by the child’s preferred name and gender pronoun, and to maintain privacy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, unless the child permits the information to be disclosed, or disclosure is required to protect their health and safety, or disclosure is compelled by law or a court order.
(20) To have child welfare and probation personnel and legal counsel who have received instruction on the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.) and on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to Indian children in out-of-home care.
(21) To have recognition of the child’s political affiliation with an Indian tribe or Alaskan village, including a determination of the child’s membership or citizenship in an Indian tribe or Alaskan village; to receive assistance in becoming a member of an Indian tribe or Alaskan village in which the child is eligible for membership or citizenship; to receive all benefits and privileges that flow from membership or citizenship in an Indian tribe or Alaskan village; and to be free from discrimination based on the child’s political affiliation with an Indian tribe or Alaskan village.
(22) (A) To access and receive medical, dental, vision, mental health, and substance use disorder services, and reproductive and sexual health care, with reasonable promptness that meets the needs of the child, to have diagnoses and services explained in an understandable manner, and to participate in decisions regarding health care treatment and services. This right includes covered gender affirming health care and gender affirming mental health care, and is subject to existing laws governing consent to health care for minors and nonminors and does not limit, add, or otherwise affect applicable laws governing consent to health care.
(B) To view and receive a copy of their medical records to the extent they have the right to consent to the treatment provided in the medical record and at no cost to the child until they are 26 years of age.
(23) Except in an emergency, to be free of the administration of medication or chemical substances, and to be free of all psychotropic medications unless prescribed by a physician, and in the case of children, authorized by a judge, without consequences or retaliation. The child has the right to consult with and be represented by counsel in opposing a request for the administration of psychotropic medication and to provide input to the court about the request to authorize medication. The child also has the right to report to the court the positive and adverse effects of the medication and to request that the court reconsider, revoke, or modify the authorization at any time.
(24) (A) To have access to age-appropriate, medically accurate information about reproductive health care, the prevention of unplanned pregnancy, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.
(B) At any age, to consent to or decline services regarding contraception, pregnancy care, and perinatal care, including, but not limited to, abortion services and health care services for sexual assault without the knowledge or consent of any adult.
(C) At 12 years of age or older, to consent to or decline health care services to prevent, test for, or treat sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and mental health services, without the consent or knowledge of any adult.
(25) At 12 years of age or older, to choose, whenever feasible and in accordance with applicable law, their own health care provider for medical, dental, vision, mental health, substance use disorder services, and sexual and reproductive health care, if payment for the service is authorized under applicable federal Medicaid law or other approved insurance, and to communicate with that health care provider regarding any treatment concerns or needs and to request a second opinion before being required to undergo invasive medical, dental, or psychiatric treatment.
(26) To confidentiality of medical and mental health records, including, but not limited to, HIV status, substance use disorder history and treatment, and sexual and reproductive health care, consistent with existing law.
(27) To attend school, to remain in the child’s school of origin, to immediate enrollment upon a change of school, to partial credits for any coursework completed, and to priority enrollment in preschool, afterschool programs, a California State University, and each community college district, and to receive all other necessary educational supports and benefits, as described in the Education Code.
(28) To have access to existing information regarding the educational options available, including, but not limited to, the coursework necessary for career, technical, and postsecondary educational programs, and information regarding financial aid for postsecondary education, and specialized programs for current and former foster children available at the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges.
(29) To attend Independent Living Program classes and activities, if the child meets the age requirements, and to not be prevented by caregivers from attending as a consequence or punishment.
(30) To maintain a bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child’s age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan.
(31) To work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level, consistent with state law.
(32) For children 14 to 17 years of age, inclusive, to receive a consumer credit report provided to the child by the social worker or probation officer on an annual basis from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and to receive assistance with interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies.
(33) To be represented by an attorney in juvenile court; to have an attorney appointed to advise the court of the child’s wishes, to advocate for the child’s protection, safety, and well-being, and to investigate and report to the court on legal interests beyond the scope of the juvenile proceeding; to speak to the attorney confidentially; and to request a hearing if the child feels their appointed counsel is not acting in their best interest or adequately representing their legal interests.
(34) To receive a notice of court hearings, to attend court hearings, to speak to the judge, to view and receive a copy of the court file, subject to existing federal and state confidentiality laws, and to object to or request the presence of interested persons during court hearings. If the child is an Indian child, to have a representative designated by the child’s Indian tribe be in attendance during hearings.
(35) To the confidentiality of all juvenile court records consistent with existing law.
(36) To view and receive a copy of their child welfare records, juvenile court records, and educational records at no cost to the child until the child is 26 years of age, subject to existing federal and state confidentiality laws.
(37) To be involved in the development of their own case plan, including placement decisions, and plan for permanency. This involvement includes, but is not limited to, the development of case plan elements related to placement and gender affirming health care, with consideration of the child’s gender identity. If the child is an Indian child, the case plan shall include protecting the essential tribal relations and best interests of the Indian child by assisting the child in establishing, developing, and maintaining political, cultural, and social relationships with the child’s Indian tribe and Indian community.
(38) To review the child’s own case plan and plan for permanent placement if the child is 10 years of age or older, and to receive information about their out-of-home placement and case plan, including being told of changes to the plan.
(39) To request and participate in a child and family team meeting, as follows:
(A) Within 60 days of entering foster care, and every 6 months thereafter.
(B) If placed in a short-term residential therapeutic program, or receiving intensive home-based services or intensive case coordination, or receiving therapeutic foster care services, to have a child and family team meeting at least every 90 days.
(C) To request additional child and family team meetings to address concerns, including, but not limited to, placement disruption, change in service needs, addressing barriers to sibling or family visits, and addressing difficulties in coordinating services.
(D) To have both informal and formal support people participate, consistent with state law.
(40) To be informed of these rights in an age and developmentally appropriate manner by the social worker or probation officer and to be provided a copy of the rights in this section at the time of placement, any placement change, and at least once every six months or at the time of a regularly scheduled contact with the social worker or probation officer.
(41) To be provided with contact information for the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services, the tribal authority approving a tribally approved home, and the State Foster Care Ombudsperson, at the time of each placement, and to contact any or all of these offices immediately upon request regarding violations of rights, to speak to representatives of these offices confidentially, and to be free from threats or punishment for making complaints.
(b) The rights described in this section are broad expressions of the rights of children in foster care and are not exhaustive of all rights set forth in the United States Constitution and the California Constitution, federal and California statutes, and case law.
(c) This section does not require, and shall not be interpreted to require, a foster care provider to take any action that would impair the health and safety of children in out-of-home placement.
(d) The State Department of Social Services and each county welfare department are encouraged to work with the Student Aid Commission, the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges to receive information pursuant to paragraph (28) of subdivision (a).
SEC. 4. Section 16164 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:
16164. (a) The Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson shall do all of the following:
(1) (A) Disseminate information and provide training and technical assistance to foster youth, social workers, probation officers, tribes’ child welfare agencies, child welfare organizations, children’s advocacy groups, consumer and service provider organizations, and other interested parties on the rights of children and youth in foster care, reasonable and prudent parent standards, and the services provided by the office. The rights of children and youth in foster care are listed in Section 16001.9. The information shall include methods of contacting the office and notification that conversations with the office may be disclosed to other persons, as necessary to adequately investigate and resolve a complaint.
(B) At the end of every two-year legislative session, review amendments to the laws applicable to foster youth and determine whether updates to the rights listed in Section 16001.9 should be recommended in the compilation prepared pursuant to paragraph (8). The office shall update the standardized information prepared pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (e), and any training materials prepared pursuant to subparagraph (A), in accordance with the legislative review.
(2) Investigate and attempt to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of children placed in foster care, related to their care, placement, or services.
(3) Decide, in its discretion, whether to investigate a complaint, or refer complaints to another agency for investigation.
(4) Upon rendering a decision to investigate a complaint from a complainant, notify the complainant of the intention to investigate. If the office declines to investigate a complaint or continue an investigation, the office shall notify the complainant of the reason for the action of the office.
(5) Update the complainant on the progress of the investigation and notify the complainant of the final outcome.
(6) Document the number, source, origin, location, and nature of complaints.
(7) Receive data from the State Department of Education regarding complaints about foster youth education rights made through the uniform complaint process.
(8) (A) Compile and make available to the Legislature all data collected over the course of the year, including, but not limited to, the number of contacts to the office, the number of complaints made, including the type and source of those complaints, the number of investigations performed by the office, the trends and issues that arose in the course of investigating complaints, the number of referrals made, the number of pending complaints, and a summary of the data received from the State Department of Education pursuant to paragraph (7). The office shall include recommendations consistent with this data for improving the child welfare system.
(B) Present this compiled data, on an annual basis, at appropriate child welfare conferences, forums, and other events, as determined by the department, that may include presentations to, but are not limited to, representatives of the Legislature, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, Chief Probation Officers of California, Indian tribes, child welfare agencies, child welfare organizations, children’s advocacy groups, consumer and service provider organizations, and other interested parties.
(C) It is the intent of the Legislature that representatives of the organizations described in subparagraph (B) consider this data in the development of any recommendations offered toward improving the child welfare system.
(D) The compiled data shall be posted so that it is available to the public on the existing internet website of the office.
(E) Nothing shall preclude the office from issuing data, findings, or reports other than the annual compilation of data described in this paragraph.
(9) Have access to copies of any record of a state or local agency, and contractors with state and local agencies, that is necessary to carry out their responsibilities, and may meet or communicate with any foster child in their placement or elsewhere.
(b) The office may establish, in consultation with a committee of interested individuals, regional or local foster care ombudsperson offices for the purposes of expediting investigations and resolving complaints, subject to appropriations in the annual Budget Act.
(c) Information obtained by the office from a complaint, regardless of whether it is investigated by the office, referred to another entity for investigation, or determined not to be the proper subject of an investigation, shall remain confidential under relevant state and federal confidentiality laws. Disclosure of information shall occur only as necessary to carry out the mission of the office and as permitted by law.
(d) The office shall provide administrative and technical assistance to county, regional, or local foster care ombudsperson’s offices, including, but not limited to, assistance in developing policies and procedures consistent with the policies and procedures used by the office.
(e) (1) The office, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association of California, Chief Probation Officers of California, Indian tribes located in the state, foster youth advocate and support groups, groups representing children, families, foster parents, children’s facilities, and other interested parties, shall develop standardized information explaining the rights specified in Section 16001.9. The information shall be developed in an age-appropriate manner, and shall reflect any relevant licensing requirements with respect to foster care providers’ responsibilities to adequately supervise children in care.
(2) The office, counties, foster care providers, and others shall use the information developed in paragraph (1) in carrying out their responsibilities to inform foster children and youth of their rights pursuant to Section 1530.91 of the Health and Safety Code, Sections 27 and 16501.1, and this section.
(3) The office shall measure the distribution of the standardized materials for purposes of evaluating and improving the degree to which foster youth are adequately informed of their rights. This data shall be included in the compilation prepared pursuant to paragraph (8) of subdivision (a).
SEC. 5. To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state or otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

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It’s Almost Tuesday : Please Donate

As the owner and writer at It’s Almost Tuesday I hae shared many stories and articles and truths about a system that is filled with atrocities against children and families.

Spending my spare time delving into these issues is never a role someone would choose to take on. I’ve done it since 2007, three years after I lost my own child to a crooked system, parental kidnapping, and kinship care that alienated my child from me.

Although 12 years has gone by it seems like yesterday. I may have reunited with my son, or at least an adult version of him, but the damage done to both of us will never heal. Nothing can give us back the time lost and relationship we had.

Life is hard for everyone at times. The struggle is real. I cannot express that enough.

I left Texas, after all that happened there, and embarked on a trip out west. I heard that my son, had moved here. I saw him once. Then he left.

Nevertheless, here I am, in the over-taxed, relentlessly expensive state of California, and the struggle has become extreme.

That being said, I want to continue to contribute my knowledge to my readers, even though my battle with the child welfare system ended years ago. However,doing so requires expenses that i have always accepted and incurred alone. Still, with today’s economy it is growing more and more difficult and so I have created a way to accept any pledges and donations from my readers who value and support what I do.

If you find it in your heart to give, please click here or on the donation jar and donate to my difficult cause.

The amount doesn’t matter, the support does. It is much needed and will show me that I’ve not given in vain all my time and knowledge to others.

Thank you and Godspeed.

Please note we are a personal site not a nonprofit organization so any donations are not tax deductible. Thank you.

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Child Development and The Effects of Trauma

Brain research indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child’s development. Children learn in many different ways.Each child has his own way of learning—some learn visually, others through touch, taste, and sound.Watch a group of children and you’ll understand at once what this means. One child will sit and listen patiently, another cannot wait to move and count beads. Another wants you to show her the answer over and over.Children also learn in different ways depending on their developmental stage. One thing we know is all children love to learn new things by exploring and discovering. Children love to solve problems during play and in daily activities.

In the first eighteen months after birth, an infant makes miraculous progress. In this relatively short time span, an infant sees her world through her senses. Babies gather information through touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.To help infants mature and learn, the caregiver should stimulate but not overwhelm them. The overall goal is not to “teach” your baby but to interact and explore her world with her.Older infants are on the move. They take great pleasure in discovering what they can do with their voice, hands, feet, and toes. Soon they practice rolling skills, crawling, walking, and other great physical adventures.Here is what you might expect during the first eighteen months and beyond.

One Month

At one month of age the child can’t support its own head and is awake about one hour in every ten. The child is wholly dependent on its caregiver.

Three Months

By three months of age the child’s hands and feet are fascinating. The child will laugh and coo at them. The child will remain alert for 15 minutes, maybe longer, at a time.

Five Months

At five months the child may be able to roll over and sit with support. He or she can hold toys. At this age the child will babble and is alert for two hours at a time. By this time, the child will eat most baby food. If toys are just out of reach the child will try to reach them.

9 months

The child at nine months will become very busy! He or she will explore everything! By this time, the child should be able to crawl, sit, pull on furniture, grasp objects, and understand simple commands.They begin to be able to enjoy time with other babies and react to their happiness and sadness.

One year old

At the end of their first year, the child may be able to pull myself up and sidestep around furniture. They may begin walking. They make lots of sounds and say “Mama” and “Dada.”

At one year of age they are curious about flowers, ants, grass, stones, bugs, and dirt. They like to get messy, ’cause that’s how they learn. They have fingers want to touch everything. They like to play near others close to my age but not always with them. If walking, please walk at their pace.

12-18 Months

Between the age of twelve to eighteen months, the child will like to eat with a spoon, even if it spills. He or she will explore everything high and low. The child may have temper tantrums because they will have no other way of expressing my feelings or frustrations.They may be fearful and clingy. It is during this time that evening routines become important: music, story, and bath time.The child will like balls, blocks, pull toys, push toys, take apart toys, put together toys, and cuddles. They will say “No” and mean it.

18 months

By eighteen months a child can walk well but still falls allot. They may jump. They say a lot of words, especially the word “mine”—because everything is “mine” to the child.

During the next stage of life, your child is beginning to define himself. The child needs activities that spur his imagination and vocabulary. During the toddler years, children get into everything.

The terrible terrific two’s

At age 2 the child is loving, and quite affectionate, and responsive to others. They will feel sorry or sad when others my age are upset. They may try hard to please you. They don’t need you so close for protection, but please don’t go too far away. The 2 year old may do the exact opposite of what you want and may be rigid, not willing to wait or give in.A 2 year old may even be bossy. “Me” is one of my favorite words. There are fears a two year old has, especially of sounds, separation, moving household objects, or that big dog.

3-5 Years

Three through five years are the preschool years, when the child will be incredibly busy. Cutting, pasting, painting, and singing are all daily activities.The child starts kindergarten around age five, and will begin learning numbers, letters, and simple directions.

A three year old is charged with physical energy. The three year old child will do things on my own terms. With a mind like a sponge, reading and socializing are essential and gets them ready for school.The three year old likes to play pretend a lot and enjoys scribbling on everything. I am full of questions, many of which are “Why?”The child has become fairly reliable about using the potty by this age. Playing and trying new things out are how children of this age learn . He or she will begin to listen more and begins to understand how to solve problems.

4 years old

Four years old is an active stage, running, hopping, jumping, and climbing. The four year old loves to question everything “Why?” and “How?” . He or she is interested in numbers and the world in general.They enjoy playing with my friends and like to be creative with drawings, and recognizes their own pictures to be different from everyone else’s. The four year old is proud that he or she is so BIG now!

Age 5

That brings us to age 5. Finally the child seems to be slowing a little in growth. With good motor control, but still small muscles aren’t as developed a the larger muscles are for activities such as jumping. This age comes with activity levels which are very high and play time has direction. The child will like writing his or her name, drawing pictures, making projects, and going to the library. Much more interested now in doing group activities, and sharing things and expressing feelings.They may prefer quiet time away from the other kids from time to time and be anxious to begin kindergarten.

6 to 8

Six through eight years of age have busy days filled with recess, homework, and tear-jerking fights with their friends. They begin to think and plan ahead. They have a thousand questions. This age group has good and bad days just like adults. Get ready, because it’s only the beginning!A six year old is affectionate and excited over school, willing to go eagerly most of the time. The 6 year old is self-centered and can be quite demanding. He or she thinks he is a big kid now and can be impatient, wanting demands to be met NOW. At this age the child begins to want to be around older children more than with younger ones. They will often have one close friend, and sometimes will exclude a third child.

7 Years Old

When the child reaches age 7, he is more quiet and sensitive to others than at six. Sometimes at this age, he or she tends to be mean to others of the same age and younger. which might include acting out to hurt their feelings to a 7 year old tends to be more polite and agreeable to adult suggestions and I conscious of his or her schoolwork and is beginning to compare his work with others wanting his schoolwork to look “right.”

When he or she makes mistakes, the 7 year old can easily become frustrated.

8 Years

An 8 year olds curiosity and eagerness to explore new things continues to grow. Friends are more important and at this age, the child enjoys playing and being with peers. Recess may be a favorite “subject” in school. The 8 year old may follow you around the house just to find out how you feel and think, especially about him.

The 8 year old child is developing an awareness of adults as individuals and am curious about what they do at work. Around the house or at child care, 8 year olds can be quite helpful.

9 to 11

Children from nine to eleven are like the socks they buy, with a great range of stretch. Some are still “little kids” and others are quite mature. Some are already entering puberty, with body, emotions, and attitude changes during this stage.

Parents need to take these changes into account when they are choosing child care for this age group. These children begin to think logically and like to work on real tasks, such as mowing lawns or baking. They have a lot of natural curiosity about living things and enjoy having pets.

They have lots of energy, and physical activities are important such as sports and group activities. The child will begin to find his taste in clothes, music, and friends. He will want individuality if his choosing, or, a hair cut a certain way. Priorities like school are not as important now as a social life

At this age, girls are often taller and heavier than the boys. Some girls may be beginning to show signs of puberty, and we may be self-conscious about that. They can feel powerful and independent, as they know what to do and how to do it. They want to think independently and want to be independent and will be eager to become an adult.

The pre-teen adolescent years

As children enter adolescence, they to want their independence. Yet they still want to be children and need your guidance.

As your child grows, it’s easier to leave him at home for longer periods of time and also ask him to care for younger children. Trust your instincts and watch your child to make sure you are not placing too much responsibility on him at one time. Talk to him. Keep the door open.

Eleven – Fourteen

Your child is changing so fast—in body, mind, and emotions—that you hardly know him or her anymore. One day they are as responsible and cooperative as an adult; the next day they act more like a six-year-old.

Planning beyond today’s baseball game or slumber party is hard. One minute it’s sunny and the child is enthusiastic. The next minute it’s gloomy and your child is silent. Keep cool. These children are in the midst of a delicate process; they are becoming more self-sufficient.It’s Independence Day for them, as they are more independent than they used to be, but still quite self-conscious. They may think more like an adult, but there’s no simple answer to any thing.

They like to talk about issues in the adult world and think for themselves, and though they may often feel confused, their opinions are very important to them, and they want others to respect them. They seem to be moving away from my family as friends are more important than ever. To make sure they got on and are liked by their friends, so they sometimes act in ways that adults disapprove of.

They still need reasonable rules set by adults. However, they need the adults to be more understanding and cooperative. They want nothing to do with babysitters—in fact, they believe they are mature enough and can often be left alone or even to watch others.

Trauma and the Brain

“The human brain is designed to sense, process, store, perceive, and act on information from the external and the internal environment. All of these complex systems and activities work together for one overarching purpose—survival” (Goldstein, 1995 cited in Perry, et al., 1995).

Neurons are the building blocks of the brain. During development, neurons create networks that link to create systems. These systems are how the brain regulates all functions. Brain functions are organized from the most simple to the most complex. The development of these functions is sequential, meaning prior events impact future development.

A key fact that child welfare professionals, judges, and others who work with child welfare-involved families should know is that there are critical developmental times when neural pathways are being formed that can be significantly altered by traumatic events (Perry, 1995, 2009).

Exposure to chronic, prolonged traumatic experiences has the potential to alter children’s brains, which may cause longer-term effects in areas such as:

  • Attachment: Trouble with relationships, boundaries, empathy, and social isolation
  • Physical Health: Impaired sensorimotor development, coordination problems, increased medical problems, and somatic symptoms
  • Emotional Regulation: Difficulty identifying or labeling feelings and communicating needs
  • Dissociation: Altered states of consciousness, amnesia, impaired memory
  • Cognitive Ability: Problems with focus, learning, processing new information, language development, planning and orientation to time and space
  • Self-Concept: Lack of consistent sense of self, body image issues, low self-esteem,shame and guilt
  • Behavioral Control: Difficulty controlling impulses, oppositional behavior, aggression, disrupted sleep and eating patterns, trauma re-enactment

Source: Cook, et al, 2005

The Brain Development in Infancy

Brain development in infancy and early childhood lays the foundation for all future development. Neural pathways form at great speed and depend on the repetition of experiences.

Experiences teach the brain what to expect and how to respond.

When experiences are traumatic, the pathways getting the most use are those in response to the trauma; this reduces the formation of other pathways needed for adaptive behavior.

Trauma in early childhood can result in disrupted attachment, cognitive delays, and impaired emotional regulation.Also, the overdevelopment of certain pathways and the underdevelopment of others can lead to impairment later in life (Perry, 1995).

By age three, the brain is almost 80% of its adult size;

By age five it is 90%.Although this creates a sense of urgency regarding intervention, it is also important to know that the brain has the most plasticity in infancy and early childhood, meaning there is the most opportunity for change.This is both the reason that prolonged trauma in early childhood can be so devastating, but also a window of opportunity for interventions that can alter the brain in positive ways (CWIG, 2011).

Children and Teens

Brain development continues in the school-age years, but more slowly.During this stage neural pathways are pruned or eliminated to increase efficiency. In addition, the brain coats neural pathways to protect and strengthen them (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).This process allows the school-age child to master more complex skills, including impulse control, managing emotions, and sustaining attention.

Trauma during this (school age to adolescence) stage of development can have significant impact on learning, social relationships, and school success (NCTSN, 2008).

The impact of trauma at this age also depends on the onset. If trauma continues into the school-age years from early childhood, the impact is greater on overall functioning.There is some evidence that trauma that begins during the school-age years will have a different impact than trauma that begins in early childhood.

Specifically, school-age onset seems to result in more externalizing behaviors (acting out) whereas early childhood onset results in more internalizing behaviors (withdrawal, depression, self-blame) (Manly, 2001; Kaplow, 2007).

In adolescence the brain goes through another period of accelerated development.

The pruning of unused pathways increases, similar to early childhood. This process makes the brain more efficient, especially the part of the brain that supports attention, concentration, reasoning, and advanced thinking.Trauma during adolescence disrupts both the development of this part of the brain and the strengthening of the systems that allow this part of the brain to effectively communicate with other systems. This can lead to increased risk taking, impulsivity, substance abuse, and criminal activity (NCTSN, 2008; Chamberlin, 2009; Wilson, 2011; CWIG, 2009).

Sense of Security

Survivors of childhood trauma need to feel safe and find a sense of security. Children need to feel physically and psychologically safe.

To feel psychologically safe, children need consistency and predictability.

It is important that caregivers provide predictable and consistent rules, environments including routines, clear expectations, consistent feedback, and positive reinforcement.

Caregivers should learn to truly listen to the child. Pay attention to possible triggers, which may be people, places, or things that make the child feel threatened.Increase the caregiver’s awareness of behaviors that are reactions to triggers. It may not always be clear to an outsider what the threat is, but the threat is real to the child who has experienced trauma.

Most importantly, reassure the child that everyone in her life is working to keep her safe. That reassurance, backed with the consistent actions by the caregivers, will, in time, create the trust and sense of security, essential in to the healing process.

Special thanks to the following sources of wonderful information-

How trauma effects brain development

Ages and stages of child development

(more…)

General
The Do’s and Don’ts of talking to your child about her period.

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. The kids are playing in the yard. Your husband is bbqing and you are enjoying your new couch with your girlfriend who’s visiting for the weekend. Sounds great.

Until your 11 year old daughter tells you “Mom, I have blood in my pants”.

Do you know how you’ll react? Will you stop breathing for a moment before calling your own mom for advice?

What should you say to your daughter on that fateful day? Have you thought about it much?

You can’t stop it, puberty is a part of life. We all go through it at one point or another and as parents it’s your job to help make the transition as smooth and painless as possible.

So here’s some do’s and don’ts of explaining puberty to your daughter, and preparing her for her monthly visitor.

First, what is it? It’s a cycle a woman’s body goes through shedding the lining of her uterus when she is not pregnant. This happens about once a month to then prepare the woman’s uterus for a baby. If a baby doesn’t come, it sheds it again in a month. Once a girls’ monthly happens, she can become pregnant. She can even become pregnant right before her first period if she has sex.

DO talk about it.

This is nothing to shy away from. It’s not anything to feel embarrassed about, or ashamed of. It’s a milestone in a girls life when she becomes a woman. She shouldn’t be afraid of it. She should be taught to embrace the changes and learn her body so she can feel comfortable during it’s changes. Most of all, so she respects her body, and herself, and expects others to respect her as well.

DON’T avoid the subject. DON’T just expect her to learn on her own.

So, when do you talk to her about it?

That’s really up to you and your daughter’s personality. Each girl is different, and your relationship with her will hopefully tell you the right time If you remain open to it . If she shows interest by bringing it up, dont steer her away, embrace the conversation. Be honest with her. It’s nature after all. If she doesn’t bring it up, you may want to take the lead when you know she’s around that age when it begins.

DO respect her privacy. It’s not an event that you will want to announce to her friends and family members. This is not a birth announcement or gender reveal. This is a very intense part of a girls life. You don’t want her to be embarrassed or feel humiliated.

DO teach her what to do to maintain her health and cleanliness. Teach her the difference in the products available for use during her period. There are health risks involved with the use of tampons for example, like toxic shock syndrome. It’s important for her to know the proper way to use them.

DON’T force her to use pads over tampons or vice versa. Let her decide.

DO teach her what is normal and what is not normal. She should know that cramping is normal during the days prior to her period starting each month, but they should subside. Her flow should be heavier at first then lighten up over the week. She should learn her body to be able to tell if something doesn’t feel right.

DO let her know that she can come to you if she feels like something isn’t right with her body. You want to make sure the lives of communication are open in case she needs medical attention. She will experience mood fluctuations due to hormones during this time and during her monthly visitor. She should be ready to feel those changes. Let her know that it could feel overwhelming at times and to come to you. Many teenagers experience depression and anxiety that can seem extreme, if this occurs, be sure you’re child knows you are there to listen to her without judgment. Teenagers can sometimes overreact, and in extreme cars, can lead to suicidal and even homicidal ideations. You don’t want you’re child to feel alone if she had those thoughts. Keep an open live off communication so she knows she can come to you. No matter what the issue is. She should not fear your reaction to her innermost conflicts if she chooses to express them. Hello her to find alternative ways of dealing with her emotions that are healthy

And finally, DO explain to her that if she chooses to become sexually active, she will be able to become pregnant. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away. A teenager who is sexually active needs to know how to be safe to prevent STDs and an unplanned pregnancy. Having a child as a teenager is a life changing decision, and one that is usually made under duress. It can affect the rest of her life. It’s important to discuss abstinence and birth control methods.

It’s your job as a parent to raise your child into adulthood as best you can to give her a good foundation to start her adult life. This is all part of the process. It’s also one of the most important things you can do to take your little girl and make her into a healthy and well adjusted woman.

Remember, love respect, and good open communication goes a long way. She will remember this time in her life and how you prepared her. She will also thank you one day.

cps, General
What exactly IS the definition of child abuse and neglect?

If you are accused of child abuse, what does that mean? When I was a child, it was common practice to get a spanking, or whopping. It was called discipline.

Now days, spanking your child can get your child taken away from you and suddenly you are labeled an abuser for trying to teach your child tight from wrong. Where do we draw the line? Do parents have to live in fear of disciplining their own child?

What about neglect? CPS often uses the term “neglectful supervision” to justify their reason for involvement in a family’s life. That’s a very elastic term, what does it mean? How do you tell the difference between neglect and simply poverty?

If a family cannot afford to get the child school supplies or new clothes are they really being neglectful?

Let’s take a look at what the experts and the law says is child abuse and neglect.

What exactly IS child abuse?

In defining child maltreatment, experts have focused on both broad parameters and specific types or subgroups of child abuse and neglect.

C. Henry Kempe and colleagues’ “battered child syndrome” identified physical injuries perpetrated on the child by caregivers.

Vincent Fontana’s “maltreatment syndrome” included neglect in the definition of child abuse.

The American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Standards Project defined child abuse as a non-accidental injury that “causes or creates a substantial risk of causing disfigurement, impairment of bodily functioning, or other serious physical injury.”

A group of professionals in child welfare defined “emotional neglect” as the “parent’s refusal to recognize and take action to ameliorate a child’s identified emotional disturbance.”

Another definition of child abuse includes sexual abuse as “the sexual misuse of a child for an adult’s own gratification without proper concern for the child’s psychosexual development.”

The federal government’s legal definition of child abuse and neglect comes under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Public Law 100-294).

This included child physical and mental abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, and neglect by a person responsible for the child’s health and welfare.

The Child Abuse Amendments of 1984 (Public Law 98-457) expanded the definition of child abuse and neglect to include “the withholding of medical treatment to an infant with a life threatening health condition or complication.”

The National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators’ definition of child abuse and neglect further defined child maltreatment in a broad level as “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death or serious physical, sexual, or emotional harm or presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a person under age 18.”

Critics of the sometimes confusing, inconsistent, plethora of definitions of child abuse and neglect point out such problems as some are too narrow, others too inclusive, and the cross-cultural differences with respect to perceptions of child maltreatment and reporting of such.

The lack of uniformity in definitions and the resulting inconsistencies in their application reflect “the manifold perspectives on these acts, and the inchoate state of conceptualization.

Legislative history

The law was completely rewritten in the Child Abuse Prevention, Adoption and Family Services Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-294).

It was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-126 and the Drug Free School Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226).

The Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Grants was a program that was originally authorized by Sections 402 to 409 of the Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1985 (Public Law 98-473).

The Child Abuse Prevention Challenge Grants Reauthorization Act of 1989 (Public Law 101-126) transferred the program to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended.

A new Title III, Certain Preventive Services Regarding Children of Homeless Families or Families at Risk of Homelessness, was added to the Child Abuse and Neglect and Treatment Act by the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act Amendments of 1990 (Public Law 101-645).

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was amended and reauthorized by the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence Adoption and Family Services Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-295), and amended by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Amendmentsof 1992 (Public Law 102-586).

The Act was amended by the Older American Act Technical Amendments of 1993 (Public Law 103-171, 12/2/93) and the Human Services Amendments of 1994 (Public Law 103-252, 5/19/94).

CAPTA was further amended by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996 (P.L. 104-235, 10/3/96), which amended Title I, replaced the Title II Community-Based Family Resource Centers program with a new Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program, and repealed Title III.

CAPTA was most recently amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36, 6/25/03), which amended Title I and replaced Title II, Community-Based Family Resource and Support Program with Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

CAPTA was reauthorized in 2010, as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011 (Public Law 111-320)

This factsheet available for download by clicking here, is intended to help you better understand the Federal
definition of child abuse and neglect; learn about the different types of abuse and neglect, including human
trafficking; and recognize their signs and symptoms.

It also includes additional resources with information on how to effectively identify and report maltreatment and refer children who have been maltreated.

Federal legislation lays the groundwork for State laws
and Neglect and on child maltreatment by identifying a minimum set of systemwide laws, policies, and statutes that define actions or behaviors as child abuse and neglect.

Federal Law defines child abuse and neglect as, at a minimum,

any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or victims, fatalities, exploitation (including sexual abuse as determined under section 111), or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm” (42 U.S.C. 5101 note, § 3)

Additionally, it stipulates that “a child shall be considered a victim of ‘child abuse and neglect’ and of ‘sexual abuse’ if the child is identified, by a State or local agency employee of the State or locality involved, as being a victim of sex trafficking.

Most Federal and State child protection laws primarily refer to cases of harm to a child caused by parents or other caregivers; they generally do not include harm caused by other people, such as acquaintances or strangers.

Some State laws also include a child’s witnessing of domestic violence as a form of abuse or neglect.

For more information on State-specific laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect, see Child Welfare Information Gateway’s State Statutes Search page .

General
Child Abuse and Neglect in the Armed Services

Relatively little research has been done on child maltreatment in the armed services: the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. However, some data does indicate that child abuse and neglect is a serious problem in the military just as in civilian life.

According to NCANDS data, there were 16,673 reports of alleged child maltreatment in the military in 1996.

In 48 percent of the investigations, there were dispositions of substantiated maltreatment of children.

A breakdown of the type of child maltreatment victims found in the armed services follows:

* Forty-two percent were victims of neglect.
* Thirty-six percent were physical abuse victims.
* Fourteen percent were sexual abuse victims.
* Seventeen percent were victims of emotional maltreatment.

Child maltreatment in the armed services has been associated with military life itself and circumstances within, including substance abuse, disciplinary infractions, reassignment, field training, payroll problems, living abroad, foreign spouses, and intra-cultural problems.

John Miller reported that the most vulnerable population in the military for child maltreatment are young enlisted families who have been in the service for less than 3 years.

Within this group are “high-risk families, as in civilian life, characterized by “inexperience, immaturity, lack of social skills, and inability to cope with life’s stresses and problems.”

In a study of the types of child maltreatment in the armed services conducted at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, it was found that 7 percent of the cases were “disciplinary abuse.”

The term was first used in a study classifying types of child maltreatment among the civilian population, and descriptive of the typical pattern of the “military syndrome.”

The abusive parents were described as “rigid and unfeeling… the homes were spotless… abuse was centered upon any child who broke the rules and straps and sticks were used in place of hands.”

Although Family Advocacy Programs personnel in the armed services are required to report cases of child abuse and neglect to the child abuse registry in the state in which the victim lives, much like civilians, most child maltreatment in the military is believed to go unreported and, thus, remains a hidden tragedy