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World headlines relating to children, youth and families.
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MONDAY 30 APRIL

Georgia Officials call for action to save career center
Representatives from various local organizations took part in a meeting Tuesday organized by The Partnership for Families, Children and Youth to come up with a course of action following the announcement earlier this month that the Georgia Department of Labor will close its career center in Monroe. From Faith In Serving Humanity Director Cindy Little to Walton County Chairman Kevin Little, everyone said pieces need to be put in place to offset the loss. “We all know how important the GDOL is to all of us. We wanted to discuss future possibilities of how to keep a location here in Monroe,” The Partnership Coordinator Dena Huff said. “Our job is bringing everyone together so we can do something.” Many possibilities were discussed, including the use of F.I.S.H headquarters in Monroe as a place to host computers for education and the use of possible space within Athens Technical College, though all plans are still in the discussion phase. “The reasoning behind the closing of our facility is due to the proximity to other career centers such as Athens and Covington. We are the smallest in our area,” career center Manager Lori Chafin said.
http://waltontribune.com/news/article_5485e256-908d-11e1-95f2-0019bb2963f4.html

Australia: Age of criminal consent: 16 or 8
THE age at which children should be held responsible for a crime should be raised from 10 to as high as 16, the state's chief advocate for young people has suggested to a government inquiry into juvenile laws. Australia already has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world — drawing frequent criticism from the United Nations — though ages vary from six in some parts of the United States to 18 in Luxembourg and Colombia. But at least one NSW mayor, whose constituents are fed up with youth crime, has told the same government review that eight-year-olds and even younger children should be made criminally responsible. However, the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People, Megan Mitchell, said the age needed to be ''initially [lifted] to the age of 12 and with a later decision to raise it further to a point between 14 and 16''. She said studies had shown children as young as 10 often knew right from wrong, but might lack the ability to act accordingly because of peer pressure, immaturity or their developing brains.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/age-of-criminal-consent-16-or-8-20120428-1xrh0.html

Manitoba: Proposal To Open Up School Facilities
New provincial legislation could open the doors for more community and family use of school facilities. Education Minister Nancy Allan has proposed the Community Use of Schools Act. "This proposed legislation will improve recreational opportunities for children, youth and families by giving them better access to our schools and quality recreation facilities," said Allan. "Providing access to recreational facilities in schools will increase the number of children and youth being active." The Manitoba government has been working with school divisions and local municipalities to develop the policy for community-use agreements. Allan says "These policies will help increase the shared use of community and school facilities by minimizing user fees, while allowing for flexibility based on local needs. " The legislation will be discussed over the next few weeks and could be in place by the end of June.
http://www.portageonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26745&Itemid=33

Barbados: Child Care Board to tackle unlicensed day care facilities
MINISTER of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley says there are 163 private day care centres known to the Child Care Board, of which 96 are licensed. Speaking to the media during a recently held press conference where he outlined a number of programmes being carried out by the Board and some of the challenges which it continues to face. According to the Minister, “The Child Care Board continues to seek to manage this but again, I would like to indicate that it is absolutely important for persons who wish to provide private day care services in Barbados to ensure that their operations are licensed by the Board. “It is certainly in the interest not only of persons who manage the centres but more importantly for our children, to ensure that they come under the scrutiny of the Board. I have asked the Child Care Board to adopt a zero tolerance of ensuring that we can monitor and ensure that this is an issue that does not get out of hand,” he said. With well over 3 000 children on the waiting list to enter Government Day Care Centres, he told the media that private day care facilities are indeed welcomed by the Board. “We are still challenged to facilitate those places and it creates a facility for private operators to come on board, but we want them to do so within full accordance of the law,” he exhorted.
http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=local&NewsID=24347

St Johns: Government rolls out child care, foster care changes
Tuesday’s budget included a pair of major strategies that will shape how the government handles children’s issues for the next decade. Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson rolled out a 10-year strategy for child care in the province, and a new plan to reorganize the province’s foster care program. “This is really completely revamping our foster care system in the province,” Johnson said. The 640 foster care homes and 400 child welfare homes will be assessed, and classed in different “levels” and funding will be changed. Johnson said the new system will be more focused on the children involved, and it will be less about the money. She called it, “results-based versus receipts-based.” Similarly, Johnson said the government will spend millions more on child care. In the next 10 years the government plans to more than double spending on child care to $56 million. Johnson said the government is hoping to increase child care spaces in the province by 70 per cent Moreover, she said the government hopes to change the certification system to create a one-year program for people wanting to work in a child care centre.
http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2012-04-25/article-2964171/Government-rolls-out-child-care-foster-care-changes/1

US: Labor Department withdraws youth rule that some have called ridiculous
The idea that children could not assist on the family farm if the U.S. Department of Labor had its way had been a thorn in the side of many farm families since October 2011. However, the U.S. Department of Labor has changed directions and has withdrawn a proposed rule dealing with children who work in agricultural vocations. The rule, as designed, could have restricted what children can do on a farm and, in some instances, prevented them from doing some farm chores. If the rule had been passed, it would have required all tractors operated by 14- and 15-year-old student-learners be equipped with proper rollover protection structures and seatbelts and that the student-learners use the seat belts. It would have also expanded the current prohibitions against working with animals. The rule would have also prohibited the use of most electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven machinery, including automobiles, tractors, farm implements and woodworking machines. Youth would have been banned from working in tobacco production, as well.
http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/labor-department-withdraws-youth-rule-that-some-have-called-ridiculous/36856.html

Rate of child poverty in B.C. slammed
“We need to raise awareness of the shameful rates of child poverty in this rich province and this rich country,” Adrienne Montani told representatives of community organizations at the recent Child Poverty Forum in Vernon. Montani, provincial advisor, First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Association, and Sharon Gregson, of Child Care Advocates of BC, talked about the negative effects of child poverty and what could be done to change things and benefit the entire community while saving public money. First Call, with 90 partner organizations, promotes children’s rights and well being through public policy advocacy. Montani said about 16 per cent of B.C. children live in poverty, a rate that has remained unchanged for the past three decades. “This is a systemic issue that shows the impact of public policy. It doesn’t change no matter what the economy is doing. It seems that the government thinks that it is never the right time to invest in our children,” she said.
http://www.vernonmorningstar.com/news/149144295.html

UK: Young care leavers’ home gets approval
A HOME for young people leaving care to be based in Bedgrove has been approved by Aylesbury Vale District Council despite concerns raised by the local member and residents. The site, which has operated for the last 12 years as a bed and breakfast without appropriate planning permission, would accommodate up to six 16 to 18-year-olds leaving either foster care or a children’s home for anything between three months and two years. The property in Wendover Road will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by two members of staff at a time, who will provide guidance and help those staying there learn independent living skills before they move out. Many are likely to be vulnerable due to their backgrounds and a high level of support will be provided, including equipping one bedroom for use by a disabled young person.
http://www.thametoday.co.uk/news/local/young-care-leavers-home-gets-approval-1-3784932

Arizona: Foster children have grim prospects
The prospects for kids who age out of foster care are grim. Studies show that half won't graduate from high school, one-quarter will be homeless for a while, and more than half will be unemployed within a year or two of leaving the child-welfare system. More than 600 Arizona teens turned 18 and left foster care completely in the past year. State policy requires teens who are 16 and likely to remain in foster care until they become adults to participate in a program to help them live on their own. Services include counseling, training in life skills such as budgeting and grocery shopping, and help finding affordable housing, work and school opportunities. Soon after they turn 18 or graduate from high school, they must move out on their own.
http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/2012/04/28/20120428arizona-cps-foster-system-grim.html

Canada: Niagara foster family shortage looms
FACS executive director Chris Steven said the organization is looking for new volunteers to help bolster its ranks. The process is not as intimidating as people assume, he said. “There are children in Niagara who need dependable, safe care,” he said. “It’s important that we as an organization remember it’s about the needs of children in our community.”
Currently, 555 children in the region need foster care. Some of them have to be sent to foster homes outside of Niagara because there simply aren’t enough homes to place them in locally, Steven said.
“We don’t want it to erode any further before we actively try to recruit some new homes.” Steven said the high unemployment rate in the region has contributed to the increase in the need for FACS’s services. But the agency doesn’t judge anyone who needs its help; the goal is always to help a family weather a rough patch and return the child to its home, he said. “I have never met a parent who didn’t love their child,” he said. “It’s an important thing we honour as an organization.”
http://www.niagaraadvance.ca/2012/04/26/foster-family-shortage-looms

 

 FRIDAY 27 APRIL

Injuries greatest cause of youth deaths
Experts say adolescent health has lagged behind other age groups which have been prioritised, including young children and the elderly Car crashes and suicides are the top two causes of death for young Australians, while road accidents are the main causes of adolescent deaths worldwide, researchers say. An international study of adolescent health, published in the British journal The Lancet, showed injuries accounted for 40 per cent of deaths in 10 to 24-year-olds worldwide. This included injuries from car accidents and intentional harm caused by suicide and violence, with vehicle crashes the leading single cause of death. Australian authors Susan Sawyer and George Patton from Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute said this showed the majority of deaths were preventable. "Irrespective of region, most adolescent deaths are preventable and thus strongly justify worldwide action to enhance adolescent health," the authors said.
http://www.educationreview.com.au/pages/section/article.php?s=Breaking+News&idArticle=23618

US: 2.3 Million Children Are Victims of Foreclosure
Homeowners aren't the only ones who undergo challenges and struggles as a result of foreclosure. Their children are also likely to suffer due to the loss of the family home. Of the 2.3 million children who have lost their homes to foreclosure, one out of every 10 have been negatively affected, according to a report released by Julia B. Isaacs, Brookings Institution. The report also includes statistics citing an additional 3 million children of families who are at risk of foreclosure, as well as 3 million who are relocated due to rental evictions. While foreclosure and relocation can impact children in many different ways, Isaacs specifically addresses the top four:
1. Frequent moves impact a child's grades and school success
2. A diminished parent-child relationship due to financial stress
3. A correlation between increased doctor and emergency room visits and foreclosure rates
4. There is increased crime in areas with foreclosed homes, and a loss of community and social services due to declining tax dollars.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-cuevas/23-million-children-are-v_b_1447223.html

Youth Obesity 'Substantially Decreases' for Massachusetts Children
Has the U.S. begun to turn the tide against its childhood-obesity epidemic? The childhood-obesity rate in Massachusetts "substantially decreased among both boys and girls" younger than 6 between 2004 and 2008, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers at the Boston-based Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute used data from the "Collecting Electronic Nutrition Trajectory Data Using e-Records of Youth Study" to investigate medical records of 36,827 children from birth to age 5 between 1999 and 2008. From 1999 to 2003, the researchers discovered that the risk of obesity stayed relatively stable for both boys and girls younger than 6. Roughly 10.5 percent of boys and between 7.7 percent and 8.2 percent of girls were considered obese during this time period. However, in the next five-year period, they observed substantial decreases in the risk of obesity among both boys and girls. Boys dropped from a 10.5 percent obesity rate in 2003 to 8.9 percent in 2008, while girls plummeted from 9.0 percent in 2004 to 6.4 percent in 2008.
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/schooled_in_sports/2012/04/youth_obesity_substantially_decreases_for_massachusetts_children.html

UK: All-Party Parliamentary Groups begin inquiry into children who run away from care
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults and the APPG for Looked after Children and Care Leavers has been taking oral evidence from witnesses as part of its inquiry into the care and support provided for the thousands of children who go missing from care every year. The Children's Society says that its research reveals that a quarter of the 100,000 children who run away from care or home each year have been the victims of significant harm or abuse. Ann Coffey MP, said: 'Child victims of trafficking and exploitation often do not receive the level of care and protection they need to ensure their safety and well-being. This is a critical factor which traffickers exploit. A report is set to be published in the summer.
http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed97369

PEI: Social worker cuts concern foster parents
Last week's provincial budget announcement that 15 contract government social worker positions will be axed concerns the P.E.I. Federation of Foster Parents. Foster parents are willing to do whatever it takes to limit the impact on foster children, said federation president, Wayne MacFarlane. "My initial reaction was one of disappointment," MacFarlane said. "It may mean, from our perspective, that we as caregivers may have to provide a little bit more. The big thing is … that there will be no impact whatsoever on the children in care. Like, you know, we'll be the buffer for that. We'll be the umbrella. So, it may mean that we may need to become more involved in transporting to visits, more transporting for doctor's visits or visits to the school. Whatever we have to do, we'll do it." The federation knows the province is in a financial bind and understands the need to make cuts, said MacFarlane.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/04/25/pei-foster-parents-social-worker-cuts-584.html

Ohio: Children Services OKs privatizing all foster care
Foster parents licensed by Franklin County Children Services must find a private agency to work for if they want to continue caring for children in their homes. The agency’s trustees voted 6-1 yesterday to disband the internal foster-care system at Children Services, a move that effectively privatizes all foster care. About 75 percent of foster-care services have been bought from provider agencies for some time, officials said. Yesterday’s decision affects about 260 foster parents who had remained licensed through the agency. Executive Director Chip Spinning said the change allows the agency to shift more staff members and resources to work with birth parents and with other relatives who are known as kinship caregivers. Growing numbers of children are being placed with extended family members rather than in foster homes, and the agency needs to do more to help with stability and safety, Spinning said. Of the 21 staff members who now work with foster parents, none focuses exclusively on linking family caregivers to resources.
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/04/26/childrens-services-oks-privatizing-foster-care.html

NHS reforms 'a risk to vulnerable children'
There is "deep unease" over the way vulnerable children will be looked after in England under a new NHS system, health leaders say. The NHS Confederation said a confused and fragmented service which might fail needy children was being created. It highlighted arrangements for youngsters in care and custody as well as those with mental health problems. But the confederation also said those with complex health needs and disabilities could be affected too.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17830799

Candaa: Scholarship fund established for those in foster care
Children who grew up in foster care or are currently in foster care now have a way to continue with their education. The Yellowknife Community Foundation is accepting applications for the Helping Children Soar Scholarship Fund, which is being administered by the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT. The coalition's executive director, Tammy Krivda, said they're leaving the application process as open as possible to people who want to apply. "People do not put money away or save money for education, beyond grade twelve, for kids in care, “ said Krivda. “They don't have someone putting RESPs away for them or planning for their future." Krivda also said the Yellowknife Foster Family Association had a big hand in getting the fund going.
http://hqyellowknife.com/news/local/news/Local/12/04/25/Scholarship-fund-established-for-those-in-foster-care/

UK: Concern over rise of children in care
A rise in the number of children in care in Somerset is "concerning and puts a strain on resources", according to a county councillor. The figure has risen from 370 to 500 in four years. Councillor John Osman, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "This rise puts a strain on our resources but we have a duty to protect these children and we are committed to giving them a safe and stable place to stay." Figures published by the court advisory service, Cafcass, reveal that more than 10,000 children are in care across England – a 50 per cent rise in three years. Mr Hall said: "About 50 new foster carers are needed in the next year to keep up with the rising number of children coming into care and to replace those that retire each year.
http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Concern-rise-children-care/story-15922645-detail/story.html

Nanaimo school part of province's new literacy initiative for children
Bayview Elementary School in Nanaimo has a new program in its arsenal to help children struggling to read. The elementary school has been chosen by the province for a new $200,000 literacy program, aimed at improving the reading skills and academic success of Aboriginal students. The initiative, led by Vancouver Island University, pairs 11 schools across B.C. with literacy experts to share ideas about boosting learning among young students. Bayview Elementary is the only school in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith district to join the program and principal Diane McGonigle said they're excited to get started. School staff members are constantly brainstorming new ways of hooking vulnerable students on education and other administrators in B.C. could hold the answer.
http://www.canada.com/Nanaimo+school+part+province+literacy+initiative+children/6521002/story.html

UK: Job loss fears as Croydon children's homes face the axe
Croydon Council is set to close children's homes in a move which could see up to 34 staff affected. At a cabinet meeting on Monday, April 23, councillors approved the decision to close Alverston Gardens and Mickleham Way children’s homes, which at capacity house 13 young people, typically from broken homes. The children currently living in the homes are to be relocated to live in independent residential care or with foster carers. Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet meber for children young people and learners, said: "The young people concerned are older and during the consultation, by and large, seemed unconcerned about whether the homes will stay." http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/news/localnews/9669013.Job_fears_as_children_s_homes_face_the_axe/

 

WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL

UK: Thornbury town leaders condemn youth provision cuts proposals
TOWN leaders have blasted the local authority's plans to "take away" frontline youth services from Thornbury. Major cuts to provision for young people in the region have meant that South Gloucestershire Council will stop funding the Sure Start and youth centres in Thornbury and instead invite bids from private organisations to run them. Town councillors have expressed their outrage at the move, which they said could see both facilities scrapped if no company or association comes forward and takes charge of them. "We have decided to reject their proposal to effectively withdraw the Sure Start Centre and youth centre from Thornbury," he said. Their formal condemnation follows a swell of opposition in the town from worried parents and teenagers, who fear they will be left in the lurch if both facilities shut their doors. http://www.gazetteseries.co.uk/news/9664722.Town_leaders_condemn_youth_provision_cuts_proposals/?ref=nt

Ban Ki-moon : Increasing Need for Reproductive Health for Youth
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to provide reproductive health care for youth, as well as provide them with education to protect themselves from sexual abuse and violence. Speaking to the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, Ban stated that “We cannot ignore the facts. Many young people are sexually active, and because of this, they may face risks to their health, including sexual violence.” In his remarks to the Commission, whose theme this year is ‘adolescents and youth,’ Mr. Ban emphasized that youth are not only a growing demographic sector, but also hold huge potential as a force for change and progress in the world. e therefore stated the importance of combating HIV/AIDS among youth, lowering the rates of teenage pregnancies, and protecting children from early marriage.
http://www.soschildrensvillages.ca/News/News/child-charity-news/Pages/Increasing-Need-for-Reproductive-Health-for-Youth-856.aspx

New Zealand: Judge calls for help to stop violence
One of New Zealand's leading judges yesterday called for greater Government and public help in stopping serious child and youth crime, which he says is committed by only a small sample of young people who come to police attention. The call was made by Judge Andrew Becroft, the Principal Judge of the Youth Court, delivering the Napier Pilot City Trust's Unity Week Robson Lecture to a spellbound audience of about 140 in the city's council chambers. Judge Becroft said that rates of offending and apprehension among those aged under 17 were generally stable or decreasing, but with a major concern with increased serious violent offending, including that by girls. He said those involved could be identified at a young age. "Not only do we know the names but we also know the characteristics," he said, listing backgrounds including children being born to young mums, without natural fathers on the scene, transient households and early use of alcohol and drugs. The judge said the wider statistics of lesser offending and apprehensions indicated New Zealand's 23 years of innovative youth justice legislation was working.
http://www.hawkesbaytoday.co.nz/news/judge-calls-for-help-to-stop-violence/1355402/

Canada: Peel Children's Aid Society turns 100
The Peel Children's Aid Society hosted a party last night in Mississauga to celebrate its milestone 100th birthday. About 200 people turned out for a special reception to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first meeting of the organization's board of directors, held on April 23, 1912 in a Brampton church. A century later, the many individuals and volunteers who continue to ensure children in Peel get the help and support they need during the toughest of times came together at the Glenerin Inn on The Collegeway to celebrate a century of success and look towards a positive future. What began in 1891 as local journalist John Joseph Kelso's tireless efforts to bring to light the plight of abused and neglected children has grown into an organization that serves more than 8,000 families annually in the region.
http://www.mississauga.com/community/article/1341470--peel-children-s-aid-society-turns-100

UK: Children exposed to significant risk, Ofsted report says
Vulnerable children in Wiltshire have been exposed to a significant risk of harm by Wiltshire Council's failed child protection team, inspectors have said.  Leader of the council Jane Scott admitted that findings by Ofsted inspectors were "not good enough". Police and health authorities also came under fire in the report which said 17 cases out of 92 inspected left inspectors concerned. The council has pumped an emergency £500,000 from its reserves into the children's services department in a bid to turn around its fortunes. Inspectors found 'significant failings' in child protection work. There were oversights by managers who were tasked with minimising risks to children, while child protection plans were not issued when they should have been. Cllr Scott said: "Inspections are difficult but necessary. We don't hide away from them and we fully accept it wasn't good enough."
http://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/9665633.Children_exposed_to_significant_risk__Ofsted_report_says/

New child welfare audit says Oregon can do more to reunite parents
and kids in foster care

While Oregon child welfare caseworkers do better than the national average in seeing that children taken into state foster care are returned to their parents, a new audit also finds caseworkers often do not include parents in critical discussions concerning their families and have little time to ensure meaningful visits between parents and kids. Overall, the 28-page report portrays a system under stress. Overworked child welfare staff do not get much help from the central office in prioritizing their work. Parents were unable to get addiction treatment, mental health care or other services they needed before they could bring their kids back home. "We read a lot of stories about what's happening with caseworkers and children and we thought it was important for us to go out and see what areas we might be able to help improve," said Gary Blackmer, director of the secretary of state's audits division.
http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/04/post_65.html

US: May is Foster Care Month
May is National Foster Care Month - a month to celebrate foster families and to remember that hundreds of thousands of children nationwide still need safe, loving homes. Two foster families within the Newark Valley School District are already making a difference. Darlene and Lyle Weber of Newark Valley remember several years ago, after their adult children had moved out, when they first considered foster parenting. They were enjoying a beautiful day on their porch when they thought it would be nice to have a child playing in their yard again. Their teenage daughter, Elora, agreed that fostering would be a rewarding task. The Weber's had room in their hearts and home, so they contacted the Tioga County Department of Social Service to pursue their foster home license. After satisfying a background check and completing a 30-hour training course, the Weber's were ready to help. The Weber's have been certified foster parents for four and a half. They have cared for more than 15 children and are currently fostering two brothers, ages three and four.
http://thedailyreview.com/news/may-is-foster-care-month-1.1303881

 

MONDAY 23 APRIL

New initiative to help East Tennessee homeless children
Officials have launched a three-year project that aims to help homeless children in East Tennessee.
The Tri-Cities area of Tennessee is one of nine communities across the nation to participate in the program offered by the National Association for Education of Homeless Children and Youth. The organization's legal director, Patricia Julianelle, told the Johnson City Press that the area was selected because it has a large number of homeless students attending public schools and a high number of calls to the National Runaway Switchboard. Julianelle says the goal of the project to improve services for unaccompanied homeless children and youths so that they meet education and employment goals.
http://www.wbir.com/news/article/217274/2/New-initiative-to-help-East-Tennessee-homeless-children

Canada: 2nd rally to save Thistletown facility held
Supporters of the Thistletown Regional Centre held a second rally Friday to save the Etobicoke children's mental health facility, which is slated to close within two years. “The centre was already having a fundraiser, so members of Families and Friends Against the Closing of Thistletown showed up in our T-shirts,” organizer Bruce McIntosh told CityNews.ca on Friday. “It’s absurd to close this place down.” Thistletown, a provincially-funded facility, serves more than 400 children and youths with mental health, behavioural and developmental disabilities. There are about 15 people who live at the facility. Minister of Children and Youth Services Eric Hoskins announced on March 19 that the Ontario government will close the centre over the next two years, and patients will be transferred to community agencies.
http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/201808--2nd-rally-to-save-thistletown-facility-held

Scotland: Focus must be on future
DECIDING when is the right time to take a child into care is the subject of a long-running debate which is renewed every time there is a tragic death involving neglect or abuse. The balance between trying to protect youngsters from harm yet keep families together is a fine line to negotiate and mistakes will inevitably occur. With the number of children in care in Scotland now at its highest level since the early 1980s, the state is increasingly stepping in to care for vulnerable youngsters. It is difficult to judge whether that is a positive move which will protect more children or whether authorities are now being too quick to act. But what is clear is that just removing youngsters from a harmful situation is not enough. Looked after children are more likely to have poor life prospects and experience difficulties as adults, including homelessness, prison and mental health problems. Much of this could arguably be attributable to traumatic experiences before the child is taken into care. But issues such as being moved around numerous different foster homes cannot help. Yet adults with bleak prospects are not an inevitable product of the system. With the right support, many can go on to lead successful lives. Rather than debate the rights and wrongs of taking children into care, there should be more focus and discussion on how to improve the long-term outcomes for youngsters who find themselves in the system.
http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/herald-view/focus-must-be-on-future.17374507

Nicaragua Assesses Social Program for Children
The Ministries of Education, Health and Family in Nicaragua assesses on Friday the results of the children care social program Amor para los mas chiquitos, in order to enrich its content, aimed at promoting the development of children from the womb. The head of the Ministry of Family, Youth and Children, Marcia Ramirez, stated that from the assessments they will form the work plan for the next quarter and also take advantage of the meeting this Friday to train participants in neuroscience. A Brazilian pediatrician specialist in this area will offer a conference that will address the importance of early stimulation on brain development of children and therefore their capabilities, she said.
http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2012/april/21/centralamerica120042102.htm

New Zealand: East coast police deal with child offenders
Police have caught a seven-year-old child who was allegedly part of a gang of youths that broke into a vacant Hawke's Bay house. It comes just days after Napier's 11-year-old prolific burglar was sent to a secure facility. Sergeant Allan Potter said though it was unusual for an 11-year-old to have committed 24 offences in the past 18 months, Napier Police Youth Services were dealing with similar child offenders every week. Another 11-year-old led a group of youths, the youngest just seven, into a Housing New Zealand House and kicked holes in the wall last week. All of children will be referred to the Youth Services team. Youth Services dealt with 248 children aged 13 and under in the last 12 months. The youngest was a seven-year-old who stole a chocolate bar.
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/east-coast-police-deal-child-offenders-4843861

Rhode Island: Girl in DCYF care injured after jumping out of window
at group home

A 14-year-old girl in state care remains hospitalized after she jumped from a second-story window of her group home in Newport. The incident occurred at about 6:45 p.m. Friday at the Girard House, at 120 Girard Ave., Newport, police said. She was taken by ambulance to Newport Hospital. The girl was transferred to Hasbro Children's Hospital, where she is recovering from surgery to repair broken vertebrae, said Stephanie Terry, associate director of child welfare at the state Department of Children, Youth and Families. It remains unclear, Terry said, whether the girl jumped out of the window in an attempt to flee or to harm herself.
http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/04/girl-in-dcyf-ca.html

Nebraska: Child Services Director Starts Work
The new head of Nebraska's child and family services agency says the state needs to remove fewer children from their homes and do a better job coaching parents before family problems escalate into abuse and neglect. Thomas Pristow is assuming his new role at a time of upheaval for the Nebraska Division of Child and Family Services. The former Marine with a master's degree in social work says he wants to restore public confidence in a system plagued by financial problems, high staff turnover and a failure to place many children in permanent homes. Lawmakers approved a series of child welfare reforms this year. But family advocates say the state still needs to reduce the number of children who are taken from their homes and kept in foster care.
http://www.chadrad.com/newsstory.cfm?story=24404

U.S. children exposed to hours of background TV daily
American children are being exposed to background TV for nearly four hours every day, new research finds. For the study, researchers surveyed over 1,400 English-speaking households with children ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years old. After taking other variables into consideration, such as the children's gender, ethnicity, race, age and family income, the researchers also found black children and younger children had the highest rate of exposure to background TV. Prior research has suggested that too much background TV may have negative consequences for children's learning and development, including reading ability, according to the study authors. The new findings are slated to be presented at the International Communication Association's annual meeting, held May 24 to 28 in Phoenix. "Considering the accumulating evidence regarding the impact that background television exposure has on young children, we were rather floored about the sheer scale of children's exposure with just under four hours of exposure each day," Matthew Lapierre, of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, said in an association news release.
http://www.wfmj.com/story/17598007/us-children-exposed-to-hours-of-background-tv-daily

Awards ceremony tribute to caring West Dorset volunteers
VOLUNTEERS supporting families in West Dorset have been recognised for their efforts. The team at Home Start West Dorset were recognised as the volunteer group of the year at an awards ceremony run by Volunteer Centre Dorset. Senior organiser for the charity Helen Horsley said it was just reward for the commitment and compassion shown by her team of volunteers. She said: “I put forward the group of volunteers for the work that they have done supporting families in West Dorset. They do a great job and the families we support say wonderful things about the volunteers, they say they can get through the week as they know their volunteer is coming. “One said if they didn’t have their Home Start volunteer their children would be in care. http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/9661373.Awards_ceremony_tribute_to_caring_West_Dorset_volunteers/

UK: Grandparents willing to adopt
Grandparents are issuing a plea of “use us” to social workers as a way of solving crisis levels of children being taken into the care of local authorities.
Extended family members say they are too often overlooked by social service teams when they decide to remove children from their natural parents and place them in foster homes or for adoption. They say in many cases social workers are prejudiced and guilty of ageist stereotyping. In one case, one man in his early 50s was told he would not be able to care for his grandson because he would have difficulty playing football with him when he was older. Lynn Chesterman, the chief executive of the Grandparents’ Association, said: “Would that mean a man in a wheelchair isn’t capable of caring for children, just because he couldn’t play football? The attitudes are sometimes disgraceful.” Figures announced this month reveal Britain’s childcare system is reaching crisis point.
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/315833/-Let-granny-adopt-plea

 

FRIDAY 20 APRIL

Canada: Kids get less physical activity than parents believe
Children aren't getting enough physical activity and move even less than their parents believe, a new report released today suggests. Statistics Canada researchers measured the physical activity levels of children and recorded the times and days of the week the youngsters were sedentary. The agency, which surveyed 878 children aged six to 11 and their families between 2007 and 2009, found that children spent more than 7½ hours a day being inactive. As well, there was a big gap between how much and how intensely the children moved compared to what their parents believed. On average, parents reported that their children engaged in nearly 105 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity such as running each day, but in fact, they were only participating in 63 minutes daily.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/04/18/physical-activity.html

Utah Youth Village Seeking Foster Parents for Salt Lake City, Utah and Surrounding Areas
Utah Youth Village is looking for married couples who are interested in helping children and providing positive change in our community. Being a treatment foster parent can be a very rewarding experience. The couple will be licensed as State Foster Parents and provide care for 1-3 youth in their home; the youth are in custody of the Division of Child and Family Services. The couple will be trained and supported 24 hours a day by a certified Consultant. They will teach social skills to the youth and will use a token economy system to reinforce positive behaviors in the home. The couple will provide nurturing care for the youth and will enforce the Utah Youth Village program rules and structure. The foster parents will be taught how to reinforce positive behavior, correct negative behavior, and how to teach social skills to the youth.
http://www.pr.com/press-release/405946

Illinois: After more than century of service, The Youth Campus to close residential complex in Park Ridge
Since the late 1800’s, The Youth Campus and its predecessor organizations have helped care for children in need. Initially, that meant giving orphans a place to live, as well as an education. More recently, abused and neglected girls between 12 and 18 were placed at a sprawling property in northwest suburban Park Ridge, where they received housing, counseling and a chance at a future. The Youth Campus was in the process of converting the 11-acre site to a “Foster Care Village” that paired professional foster parents with younger children. The ultimate goal was to reunify these children with their families. However, despite the generosity of donors and support from the community, the board reluctantly voted to close the Park Ridge site, effective at the end of the school year. “It was an agonizing decision, but it was the right decision,” said Kevin Buggy, co-chairman of The Youth Campus board. “The tough economic times made it difficult to fulfill our mission and realize our dream of a Foster Care Village. We thank the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for working with us until this point.”
http://triblocal.com/park-ridge/community/stories/2012/04/after-more-than-century-of-service-the-youth-campus-to-close-residential-complex-in-park-ridge/

Florida counties challenge costs of juvenile detention
Two Florida counties are challenging the way the Department of Juvenile Justice is carrying out a law that requires counties to pay detention costs before court "disposition" of juveniles' cases. An administrative law judge Monday will hear arguments in part of a wide-ranging dispute about whether the state is forcing counties to pick up too much of the cost of juvenile detention. The challenge to Department of Juvenile Justice rules is part of a string of related legal disputes involving at least 10 counties --- and deals with issues that the Florida Association of Counties says have long been a priority for its members. Gregory Stewart, an attorney for Okaloosa and Nassau counties, said the primary problem is that the "system is rigged to pass costs to the counties." But the Department of Juvenile Justice said in legal documents that the rules are a valid way to determine how detention costs will be shared by the state and counties.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/19/2756306/florida-counties-challenge-costs.html

Massachusetts: Activists see homeless teens as a growing problem
State officials and those who advocate for the homeless say there is an alarmingly large population of so-called unaccompanied homeless young people, ages 14 to 22, living on the streets and in shelters across Massachusetts. The figure is growing, and too big to get a grasp of because homeless teenagers often hide their plight, and go uncounted, advocates say. Massachusetts was one of the first states to include a question about homelessness in the student risk behavioral study school districts conduct for the federal government every two years, according to homeless advocates. In the 2009 YRBS survey - the most recent data available - 4.3 percent of Massachusetts public high school students identified themselves as homeless. Extrapolated to the entire high school population, it would equal roughly 12,500 students, according to a spokesman for DESE. The survey does not ask whether they are homeless with family members. But the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless estimates 6,000 teenagers are unaccompanied homeless, taking into account those who self-identify and predicting the number who keep it secret and those who drop out of school.
http://www.salemnews.com/nationworld/x2086601010/Activists-see-homeless-teens-as-a-growing-problem

German mother tells Irish state they can ‘keep’ her abandoned baby
The mother of the newborn baby abandoned in a Dublin hostel has told the Irish state they can keep her son. The German national is now back home in Frankfurt and has ‘no intention’ of returning to Ireland according to sources. The Irish Sun newspaper also reports that the woman’s parents have reneged on a promise to fly to Dublin and take care of the baby. Instead, the child will now be placed in foster care as Irish authorities try to unravel the mystery. The mother, who left the baby in the hotel room as she departed for Dublin airport and a flight home, also claims she gave birth in a different hostel two days earlier.
http://www.irishcentral.com/news/German-mother-tells-Irish-state-they-can-keep-her-abandoned-baby-147893925.html

Event looks at 'Alternatives to Incarcerating Children"
Bart Lubow will speak on "Alternatives To Incarcerating Children" at a luncheon meeting of the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club at noon Friday. As director of the program for high-risk youth at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Lubow is responsible for designing and managing juvenile justice reform initiatives and other community justice and safety efforts. The foundation is a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States.
http://www.pnj.com/article/20120419/NEWS01/204190317/Event-looks-Alternatives-Incarcerating-Children-

India: Govt to crack down on illegal orphanages
The Social Welfare Department (SWD) is set to initiate a drive against unauthorized orphanages across the state. It will be based on the state government directive to register orphanages under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), 2006 to prevent child abuse. Social welfare minister M K Muneer told TOI that orphanages across the state should register under the JJ Act. It will ensure transparency and help streamline the functioning of these institutions, he said. SWD additional director Orphanage Control Board member secretary K K Mony said the department will see to it that orphanages are registered under JJ Act to ensure proper administration and child care. After registration under JJ Act, the children below six years will be placed in fondling homes, above 6 years in children's home, in foster care or adoption homes according to the interventional support required, he said.
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-18/thiruvananthapuram/31360769_1_orphanages-child-abuse-child-care

Missouri may slash children's services
Heroin addiction among parents and a poor economy are pushing more children into Missouri's foster care system at a time when lawmakers want to cut nearly $13.6 million from the state foster care budget and eliminate dozens of child protection jobs. And those aren't the only cuts proposed for children in the Missouri Legislature's scramble to plug budget holes for next year. A legislative committee last week proposed cutting $16 million in child-care subsidies for low-income families and an additional $13 million to encourage private day care and preschool expansion. "We've got to make some very hard decisions and find the money," said Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/missouri-may-slash-children-s-services/article_a79e543a-bbf1-58f6-a8c5-ad319be8444a.html

 

WEDNESDAY 18 APRIL

One Irish child in five goes to bed hungry — survey
ONE IN five Irish children has reported having gone to school or bed hungry in 2010 because there was not enough food at home, according to the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey, up 4 per cent on the 2006 findings. When asked how often they went to school or to bed hungry because there was not enough food at home, 21 per cent said they had, compared to 17 per cent of children in the survey published six years ago. Younger children and children from lower social class groups were significantly more likely to have gone hungry than older children and those from other social class groups. There was little change in the number of children who reported exercising four or more times a week, with 51 per cent reporting they did so in 2010, compared with 53 per cent in 2006. The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey 2010 is a cross-sectional study conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe carried out every four years, with 43 countries and regions participating in 2010.)
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0417/1224314822826.html

UK: Forum to discuss youth issues
Professionals and volunteers working with children and young people at grassroots level will be meeting tomorrow to plan a year-long programme of support meetings in Keighley. The Keighley Youth Practitioners Forum brings workers together to share knowledge, information, expertise, good practice, resources and equipment. The meeting at Parkwood Children’s Centre is the first in a six-weekly programme that will help them to address emerging issues and is being supported by the area coordinator’s office. Community development worker Jo Horrox said: “We benefit from sharing our experiences of what does and does not work and our discussions help other agencies with planning their services.”
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/local/keighleynews/9650006.Forum_to_discuss_youth_issues/

Chicago: Park Ridge Youth Campus To Close
Less than a year after announcing a plan to change The Youth Campus of Park Ridge from a residential program to a foster care environment, the board of directors decided to close the facility entirely. The campus has housed wards of the state for roughly 30 years. However, the number of children in the system has diminished greatly over the years and the types of children sent to the campus have also changed. Most recently, abused and neglected girls between 12 and 18 have lived at the site. However, on Monday, the board announced instead that it will close the campus due to economic reasons. The Youth Campus is not closing as an organization. It will continue to serve at- risk children through foster care and adoptive services at its Chicago office.
http://www.journal-topics.com/news/article_cb1b891c-8803-11e1-9de2-001a4bcf6878.html

Ireland Stormont to debate kinship carers
ON the day of an important debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Fostering Network is calling on the Government to launch a public awareness campaign to ensure kinship carers get the essential advice and support they need. At a point of crisis when a child can no longer live with its birth parents, their families do not always have access to important information about the range of options available. This means they and the child could miss out on vital help and support they are entitled to receive. Getting access to the right support is essential as many of these children will have emotional and behavioural difficulties, special educational needs or a physical disability. And the family members who may look after them are more likely to be older or living in poverty. Often the best option that could be available is formal kinship care, where the child could qualify for services that all children in care receive. The relative looking after the child could also access the finances, practical support and training on offer to foster carers. Around 30 per cent of the 2,500 children and young people in care in Northern Ireland now live with family relatives in a formal kinship care arrangement, a 53 per cent increase since 2009.
http://www.dromoreleader.co.uk/news/local/stormont-to-debate-kinship-carers-1-3738553

US: Troubled Homes May Fuel Obesity in Girls
Little girls from troubled homes are more likely to be obese at age 5 than girls from happier ones, new research shows. However, researchers did not find that same association between boys’ weight and difficult family situations. In the study, researchers looked at data on more than 1,600 preschoolers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which tracks the health and well-being of children born to mostly low-income, single-mother families. About half were black, 27 percent were Hispanic and 22 percent were white. When their children were aged 1 and 3 years, mothers were asked about six stressors: domestic violence, depression, drug abuse, housing insecurity, food insecurity (meaning that their household didn’t always have enough nutritious food to eat) and whether the child’s father was in prison. Children’s height , weight were measured at age 5.
http://news.health.com/2012/04/16/troubled-homes-may-fuel-obesity-in-girls/

Missouri: Proposal could cut millions of dollars from foster care system
Can Missouri afford to slash children's services? Proposed state cuts could take millions from foster care and subsidized child care programs, affecting thousands of children. It's something Heartland families call alarming. "I just want to know what their plan is to take care of the children when that money goes away," said Dr. Paul Caruso, a foster father. He and his wife have six children. Three are adopted, and three adoptions are pending. "Those children are still going to need care."
http://www.kait8.com/story/17466202/proposal-could-cut-millions-of-dollars-from-foster-care-system

Azerbaijan prepared a mechanism to evaluate foster families
The international organization of custodial protection of parental care-deprived children is to present in Baku on 18 April the best international practices of custodial care and will support the execution of the project of custodial care and family support services in Azerbaijan. The organization reports that modern methods in the provision of custodial care will be presented by the consultants of the organization. For already three years the project has been implemented in Azerbaijan with participation of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education by the Austrian international society Hilfsverk and organization "Reliable Future with the purpose to assist the cooperation between the civil society and the Program of Deinstituonalization & Alternative Care in Azerbaijan. Within the project it is planned to create foster families, a group of small houses and the center of family education and counseling. The project participants developed a mechanism of custodial care, the assessment system for foster families and children and a package of training for foster families.
http://abc.az/eng/news_16_04_2012_64037.html

UK: Figures show rise of children in care across Somerset
THE number of children in care across Somerset has risen from 370 to 500 in four years, new figures have revealed. Cllr John Osman, cabinet member for children and young people at Somerset County Council, said: “This rise is concerning and puts a strain on our resources but we have a duty to protect these children and we are committed to giving them a safe and stable place to stay. \“Around 50 new foster carers are needed in the next year to keep up with the rising number of children coming into care and to replace the foster carers that retire each year. "We are working hard to recruit more foster carers and we have had a huge response to our campaign, enquiries have doubled in the first few months of 2012."
http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/9647569.Figures_show_rise_of_children_in_care_across_Somerset/

 

MONDAY 16 APRIL

Labrador: Final transition announced
Minister of Child Youth and Family Services, Charlene Johnson was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Mar. 30 to announce the final transition of the Child Youth and Family Services staff and programs as a Provincial government department from the LGH and Regional Health Authority. Divisions that will now fall under the NL Child Youth and Family Services Department include: Protective Intervention, Youth Corrections, Adoptions, Child-Care and Family Resource Centres. In 2006, a Clinical Services Review was conducted across the province; evaluating the social work and management practices within Child Youth and family services programming. The review found a number of ‘systemic weaknesses’ within the Child and Youth protection system in the province calling for immediate improvement in the area. Included in the review were recommendations for a revamp in the policies and standards and risk management, revision of legislation to provide a child –centered approach, and improvements in professional training and in the area of retention and caseloads. “Bringing staff under one umbrella provincially is a key cornerstone in our government's broader plan to improve service delivery and to revitalize the entire Child Youth and Family Services system in Newfoundland and Labrador,” the Minister said during the announcement.
http://www.thelabradorian.ca/News/2012-04-13/article-2953897/Final-transition-announced/1

Canada: Gibsons youth receives achievement award
The Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC) has announced its national achievement award winners, and a Gibsons youth is among this year’s recipients. Twenty-year-old Christopher Tait was presented with the RBC Youth Achievement Award at a winners’ reception in Ottawa on March 22. The Ministry of Children and Family Development, Vancouver Coastal Region, nominated Tait for the award. Tait’s bio for the award described him as a young man who has taken a set of difficult life experiences and turned them into powerful teaching tools and motivation for B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCDF) staff, service providers and youth across the province.
http://www.coastreporter.net/article/20120413/SECHELT0604/304139990/-1/sechelt/gibsons-youth-receives-achievement-award

UK: Minister announces youth initiative
A scheme which uses cash from the proceeds of crime to fund personal development programmes for disadvantaged teenagers has been launched by the Justice Secretary. Kenny MacAskill introduced the Personal Development Partnership, funded by the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities programme, at Motherwell FC's Fir Park stadium. The scheme helps young people "on the cusp of offending" or involved in anti-social behaviour to develop skills that enable them to gain employment, or enter further education or training. The £1.6 million initiative for 14-19 year olds targets young offenders, looked-after children, school leavers and young people already involved in drug or alcohol abuse.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hssv8qNAViKNUPOEQjARsiwWh-Lg?docId=N0226541334101094140A

Alberta: Ten children died in foster care last year
For the first time, the Alberta government has released the full number of children who died while in provincial care, and the number is much higher than previously reported. Ten children died in the year that ended March 31, and 13 children died the year earlier, including those who died from illness. “That’s unbelievable. I had no idea there were that many,” said Bernadette Iahtail, whose group Creating Hope Society holds a candlelight vigil every time they hear of such a death. “There’s a lot that don’t even hit the news. That’s just shocking,” she said. In the past, Alberta Human Services only reported deaths they confirmed happened because of a serious accident or homicide. Under that system, the department would have only confirmed two deaths last year, and six deaths the year before. There are about 8,700 children in care in Alberta at any one time.
http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/children+died+foster+care+last+year+province/6460084/story.html

UK: Figures show rise of children in care across Somerset
THE number of children in care across Somerset has risen from 370 to 500 in four years, figures published by Cafcass revealed. Cllr John Osman, cabinet member for children and young people at Somerset County Council, said: “This rise is concerning and puts a strain on our resources but we have a duty to protect these children and we are committed to giving them a safe and stable place to stay. “Around 50 new foster carers are needed in the next year to keep up with the rising number of children coming into care and to replace the foster carers that retire each year. "We are working hard to recruit more foster carers and we have had a huge response to our campaign, enquiries have doubled in the first few months of 2012." http://www.bridgwatermercury.co.uk/news/bridgwater_news/9647588.Figures_show_rise_of_children_in_care_across_Somerset/

Iowa: Senate votes to give foster parents in-home assistance
for disabled children

The Iowa Senate has voted to give foster parents the same state-paid in-home assistance that biological parents get for temporary care of disabled children. It’s called “respite care” and the state now pays to send trained staff into a home so the parent of a disabled child gets a chance to leave for a couple of hours. But Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from Lake View, says under current law, foster parents have to take a disabled child in their care somewhere else to get this kind of state-paid help. “Having children be parceled out to differing locations, perhaps splitting the children up,” Kettering says. Kettering argues it makes more sense to allow respite care workers to go into a foster home instead. “Foster families can burn out quickly because of the intensity of the needs,” Kettering says. “Respite allows those families the mental and physical break to allow for a much happier family — parents and children.”
http://www.radioiowa.com/2012/04/13/senate-votes-to-give-foster-parents-in-home-assistance-for-disabled-children/

UK: Councillors reminded of duty to children in care
Following the recent publication of new guidelines for children's services chiefs in England, the Fostering Network is reminding all local authority councillors of their duties as corporate parents for children in care. New guidelines published earlier this month by the Department for Education state that all local authorities must appoint a director of children's services and a councillor to be lead member for children's services. However, while these two posts have overall responsibility, all councillors have a legal duty to ensure all children in the care of the local authority have their needs met. Vicki Swain, campaigns manager at the Fostering Network, said: "While directors and lead members are responsible for delivering services such as foster care, children in care often need support from services throughout a local authority."
http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed97053

Gains for Atlanta foster kids have cost rest of Georgia
Under court order to improve conditions for foster kids in Fulton and DeKalb counties, Georgia officials have poached resources from the rest of the state, an analysis of state data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. It's a shift of money and manpower that has created a two-tiered system, with children in Fulton and DeKalb guaranteed more benefits and attention than in the other 157 counties. The state's top social services official, Department of Human Services Commissioner Clyde Reese, acknowledged some inequity. “I think the short answer to that -- when you look at a finite number of dollars and people -- is yes,” Reese told the AJC when asked if the Division of Family and Children Services had pulled resources from elsewhere in the state.
http://www.ajc.com/news/gains-for-atlanta-foster-1415660.html

 

FRIDAY 13 APRIL

Ontario: CHEO launches new autism services
The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has announced a new program that will provide children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - and their families - with a broader range of services. The program uses an approach to learning that reinforces positive behaviours and helps children and youth become more independent and develops stronger communication, social and daily living skills. The program also offers education opportunities for parents and caregivers. It is appropriate for all children and youth with ASD. The program will be delivered to families living in Ottawa-Carleton, Renfrew, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and Prescott-Russell.
http://www.emckanata.ca/20120412/news/CHEO+launches+new+autism+services

New Zealand: Child burglar back in custody after assault
An 11-year-old recidivist burglar has assaulted his Child Youth and Family caregiver after just one night in their care. The boy was placed with a CYFs carer yesterday after being arrested for breaking into four Napier homes with his 12-year-old brother and two other youths on Tuesday afternoon. Napier Law Enforcement Team Detective Sergeant Heath Jones said the boy, who had been involved in at least six burglaries, was ''out of control''. He was back in police custody this morning after he assaulted the CYFs caregiver who was looking after him.
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/child-burglar-back-in-custody-after-assault-4831454

Sault College community event
Sault College’s third-year students of the Child and Youth Worker Program will host the 12th annual We All Love Kids WALK on Saturday, April 14. Proceeds from this year’s WALK will support HARP’s (HIV/AIDS Resource Program) LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) youth support group. The community is invited to participate in this event with registration beginning at 10 a.m. in the front lobby at Sault College. This year’s WALK will be an adventure around the world from Canada to Japan and many stops along the way. There will be many family-friendly activities including flight simulation (ages 12 and up), passport making, martial arts, refreshments and more. Efforts of the CYW WALK throughout the years have raised over $50,000 for children and families in Sault Ste. Marie. Free parking is available in the A-North Parking Lot located across the street from the college’s main entrance.
http://www.saultthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3530467

North Carolina: Number of children in custody unprecedented
The Iredell County Department of Social Services is experiencing an unprecedented number of children coming into its care due to abuse or neglect. The Statesville Record & Landmark reported that DSS added 31 children to the number it places in foster care since March 1, placing the total amount of children under the DSS umbrella at 208. “This is the highest number of children we’ve had come into care in one month in the 25 years since I’ve worked here,” said DSS Program Administrator Lisa York. “It’s just been a daily thing. We have not had time to catch our breath before we go from one bad situation to another.” The 31 children since March 1 come from 12 families. Two children among the families, ages 2 and 4, have died. Members of five of the families are facing criminal charges related to abuse or neglect and members of another two of the families have charges pending against them. DSS has never previously experienced two child deaths in one month, York said.
http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2012/apr/12/iredell-dss-number-children-custody-unprecedented-ar-2154453/

Canada: Changes to detention facility
Young female offenders will still be imprisoned in Burnaby for the course of their sentences, reaffirming the closure of the detention facility in Prince George, though if their sentences are less than a week, they will be able to serve their time in custody in the city. The changes were made in response to youth custody concerns the ministry stated in an e-mail response. “We believe the decision to centralize female youth custody will be an overall improvement for girls and their families in a number of ways – and that we have put the right checks and balances in place. We have listened to the concerns raised by the Representative for Children and Youth and other groups regarding the centralization of female youth in custody and have put additional measures in place to address them. We delayed moving the girls to Burnaby so we could give due consideration to the concerns raised.
http://www.ominecaexpress.com/news/146817055.html

UK: Magistrate attacks care system saying it 'criminalises children'
by prosecuting for trivial matters

Children's homes are ‘criminalising’ youngsters in their care over minor offences, a leading magistrate has warned. In an unusual move, Janis Cauthery condemned the care system for being too quick to resort to prosecution for behaviour such as pushing, shoving and breaking crockery.
Youngsters being brought up by their families would simply be disciplined by their parents for these acts, without police involvement, argued the experienced youth court magistrate, who sits in Warwickshire. She warned that those in care who face criminal proceedings risk being drawn into a ‘vicious circle’ of crime and joblessness which can go on to affect their own children. Writing in The Magistrate magazine, Mrs Cauthery said: ‘Many of the young people we see coming to court have never been in trouble before going into care.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2128497/Magistrate-attacks-care-saying-criminalises-children-prosecuting-trivial-matters.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Bill Would Make Foster Homes Smoke Free
Smoking would be banned in all foster homes in Minnesota under proposed legislation. St. Louis, Lake and Beltrami are among counties that already require foster homes to be smoke free. A pending bill would make Minnesota the 18th state to have a ban on smoking in homes that foster children. A sponsor of the legislation, DFL Rep. Tom Huntley, of Duluth, says there's still a chance the bill could be passed this year as an amendment to another piece of legislation. The Duluth News Tribune reports the Minnesota Foster Care Association says the majority of foster parents most likely would be on board with the ban.
http://ksax.com/article/stories/S2578490.shtml?cat=10230

Louisiana: Truancy center opening set
A center to help boost public school attendance and reduce juvenile crime in East Baton Rouge Parish is set to open its doors this fall, officials said at a Tuesday news conference in the Metro Council Chambers. The project recently cleared its final hurdle when Gov. Bobby Jindal signed off on a three-year, no-cost lease that will allow the new Family and Youth Service Center to be housed at the former Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired on Government Street. “The Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired property is a great location for our partners to use to fight truancy and ensure local resources are leveraged together to prevent unexcused absences from school and reduce juvenile delinquency,” Jindal said in a news release. “We look forward to the official opening of the truancy prevention center later this year.” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore said at Tuesday’s news conference that he hopes the center will be open in August for the beginning of the school year and that it will provide “in one location all the resources needed to address the many underlying problems faced by our school youth and their families.”
http://theadvocate.com/home/2538591-81/truancy-center-opening-set

Scotland: Minister announces youth initiative
A scheme which uses cash from the proceeds of crime to fund personal development programmes for disadvantaged teenagers has been launched by the Justice Secretary. Kenny MacAskill introduced the Personal Development Partnership, funded by the Scottish Government's CashBack for Communities programme, at Motherwell FC's Fir Park stadium. The scheme helps young people "on the cusp of offending" or involved in anti-social behaviour to develop skills that enable them to gain employment, or enter further education or training. The £1.6 million initiative for 14-19 year olds targets young offenders, looked-after children, school leavers and young people already involved in drug or alcohol abuse. Young people will be given tailored development programmes such as vocational training in the car industry, retail, the restaurant trade, sport and youth work, working in the community or outdoor activities. The programmes are run by Prince's Trust Scotland, Venture Scotland and Venture Trust. Mr MacAskill said: "Organised crime brings misery to individuals and communities. It is only right that cash confiscated from criminals is put to use improving lives, increasing opportunities for youngsters and keeping them out of trouble.
http://www.acadvertiser.co.uk/lanarkshire-news/scottish-news/2012/04/11/minister-announces-youth-initiative-65864-30738279/

Nebraska governor signs child welfare reforms
Gov. Dave Heineman has signed five Nebraska child welfare bills into law, calling the measures an important step forward in the state's effort to improve services. The governor signed three measures Wednesday that would increase payments for foster care providers, create a state children's commission, and establish a plan for a web-based child welfare information system. He signed two other measures last week that would lower caseloads for child service providers and require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a plan to better serve children. Heineman praised Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood and Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell for their work with the Department of Health and Human Services. Campbell heads the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee.
http://www.chadrad.com/newsstory.cfm?story=24290

UK: Sunderland named among the best for looking after youngsters in care
CARE for the Sunderland’s most vulnerable children has been praised. An Ofsted inspection has placed the city’s services for children and young people in care among the top 25 per cent in the country. Inspectors looked at how effectively services work together to safeguard youngsters in care and to promote positive outcomes for them when they leave care. During their visit, inspectors talked to a range of people including children, parents, carers, council staff and representatives from partner agencies. They rated the council’s safeguarding services as good overall with a good capacity to improve. The report said: “Effective action is taken to ensure that children and young people are safe and feel safe. Relevant safeguarding performance indicators show an improving picture.”
http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/education/sunderland-named-among-the-best-for-looking-after-youngsters-in-care-1-4440118

 

WEDNESDAY 11 APRIL

Ireland: Children in secure care overseas cost State €2.5m
THE STATE estimates that last year it spent between €2.2 million and €2.5 million on secure accommodation overseas for a small number of children in care. The Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed the spend as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, said there were currently seven children being cared for at secure accommodation overseas, all located in the UK. The HSE said: “Placements in special care, whether in Ireland or abroad, only occur in extreme circumstances and under the jurisdiction of the High Court.” According to Ms Fitzgerald, there are four young people detained in secure accommodation in Scotland, two in a mental health facility in England and one in secure accommodation in England. In a written response to a Dáil question by Sinn Féin deputy Jonathan O’Brien, the Minister said the small number of children were placed in treatment facilities outside of the State “to allow for access to an individually tailored mix of psychiatric treatment, care and therapeutic services not available in this country”. A HSE spokeswoman said: “In 2009 the cost of care placements abroad was approximately €2.2 million and in 2010 the cost of care placements abroad was approximately €2.5 million.
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2012/0410/1224314561156.html

Missouri lawmaker backs college visits for foster kids
A Missouri House member wants to get older children in the state's foster system thinking about going to college. A bill by Republican Charlie Denison, of Springfield, would require all foster children older than 15 to visit a state university, community college or technical college before they're adopted or leave the foster system. The teens would receive information about admissions, financial aid and possible career options. Denison says taking older foster children to visit a college could encourage them to further their education. The visits could be waived in some circumstances. Denison's bill has passed the House and is now in the Senate. State officials estimate nearly 2,800 children older than 15 were in Missouri's foster care system at the end of last year.
http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=740156

Maltreatment or Witnessing Family Violence Can Lower a Child's IQ
Children exposed early in life to interpersonal trauma (maltreatment or witnessing partner violence against their mothers) have lower IQ-related scores at 2, 5 and 8 years of age, find researchers at Boston Children's Hospital and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. This deficit was highly significant after controlling for other strong predictors like socioeconomic status, the mother's IQ, birth weight, birth complications and the amount of cognitive stimulation received at home. On average, children with such trauma exposure had cognitive scores that were about half a standard deviation lower than those not exposed – the equivalent of 7 IQ points. This effect is at least as great if not greater than the effects noted for lead exposure, says study leader Michelle Bosquet Enlow, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children's Hospital.
http://www.mdnews.com/news/2012_04/maltreatment-or-witnessing-family-violence

UK: Paying the price of child sex trafficking
Girls and boys are still being sexually exploited in North-East towns and cities. Organised gangs are grooming children as young as ten, before luring them into a world of drugs, violence and sex for money or gifts. Many victims never recover from their experiences and go on to lead desperate lives, with adult prostitution, crime, substance abuse and selfharm common problems. For some, the horror only stops with their premature death. Wendy Shepherd, Barnardo’s children’s service manager, who runs the Secos (Sexual Exploitation of Children On the Streets) Project, in Middlesbrough, said: “The sadness for me is that this problem has been going on for such a long time, but we are still in a situation where children are able to be bought and sold, and passed around like pieces of meat.”
http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/news/9639096.Paying_the_price_of_child_sex_trafficking/

Scientists at UC Davis link obesity in pregnant moms to autistic children in new study published today
Is obesity in pregnant mothers the trigger for autism in children? A new UC Davis pregnancy study published today correlates pregnant mothers obesity to autism in children. The University of California, Davis in the Sacramento regional area has found in a new pregnancy study published today, April 9, 2012 in the journal Pediatrics that there's a high correlation between obese mothers and autism in their children. Is it only obesity that's the link to autism? Or could it be metabolic syndrome -- obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure together in pregnant moms that become part of the environmental causes of autism--the environment inside the womb, that is? Nearly 60 percent of women in the nation of childbearing age are overweight, and one-third are obese. And almost 9 percent have diabetes, according to statistics noted by the researchers in this new study. Check out the April 9, 2012 Sacramento Bee article by Grace Rubenstein, "UC Davis study suggests link between obesity and autism." at http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/09/4399969/uc-davis-study-suggests-link-between.html

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/11896947-scientists-at-uc-davis-link-obesity-in-pregnant-moms-to-autistic-children-in-new-study-published-today

Australia: Early action on autism at Liverpool
A SPECIALIST support centre in Liverpool is making a world of difference to children with autism. The Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre in Liverpool is one of six centres around Australia to help children and families affected by the condition. It is part of the Helping Children with Autism package, a $200 million federal government initiative providing up to $12,000 for families to access early intervention services and therapies for young children. And with World Autism Awareness Day held last Monday, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers Jan McLucas took the opportunity to visit the centre on Thursday. She was joined by Werriwa federal Labor MP Laurie Ferguson and Fowler federal Labor MP Chris Hayes. “Families can access the support of a team of autism trained staff at the centre, including early childhood teachers, a pediatrician, occupational therapists and speech pathologists,” Mr Hayes said. “They are achieving great results, ensuring local children get the best possible start to life and are prepared for school.”
http://liverpool-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/early-action-on-autism/

 

MONDAY 9 APRIL

US: Lawsuit against Erie child-welfare workers heads to trial
A lawsuit charging that Erie County child-welfare workers placed a sexually violent teen in a foster home with no warning about his past is headed to trial. U.S. District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin pared down the civil-rights complaint filed by Paul and Bonnie Bryan to a single claim against three Erie County Office of Children and Youth workers. McLaughlin said the Bryans had presented enough evidence to proceed with their claim that the workers violated the Bryans' 9-year-old son's right to due process when they placed in the Bryans' home a troubled 14-year-old boy, who then raped the 9-year-old repeatedly. The judge said a jury could conclude from the evidence that the placement of the 14-year-old in the Bryan's home was akin to throwing a dangerous snake into the home without warning.
http://www.goerie.com/article/20120407/NEWS02/304069886/Lawsuit-against-Erie-child-welfare-workers-heads-to-trial

Texas: 1 in 4 kids now living in poverty
One in four children in Bexar County lives in poverty, an 8 percent increase since 2000, according to a new study assessing the health and well-being of family and youth in Texas. One in seven children in Bexar County lacks health insurance, which is higher than the national average but better than all but 14 other counties in the state, according to the study by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin research and advocacy group that focuses on the needs of low-income Texans. “Still, the ranking (of 15th) says something about the system and the state when you can be in the top 20 and still have 17 percent of children without health insurance,” said Frances Deviney, who discussed the center's study, “Choices: The State of Texas Children in 2012” on Thursday. Deviney spoke before more than 300 policymakers, nonprofit officials and service providers in San Antonio, releasing a flood of data that compares the progress — or lack thereof — in the status of families and children in Texas over the past decade.
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/1-in-4-kids-now-living-in-poverty-3461771.php

Ireland: 104 staff at care units racked up 14,000 sick days
More than 100 staff at the country’s three special care units for troubled teens have racked up a combined 14,000 sick leave days over the past three years, figures obtained by the Irish Examiner show. The figures for the 104 people represent an average of almost 45 days’ sick leave per staff member each year. Although the HSE has promised that reforms are under way in the units, many staff members are constantly on sick leave at a significant cost. The figures show that 20 staff in the three units, which together provide about 17 places for troubled teens, were on leave at the end of Dec 2011 — nine in Ballydowd, Dublin; eight in Gleann Álainn, Cork; and four in Coovagh, Limerick. Last year, agency staff used at the three centres cost just short of €3m. The bulk of the costs were in relation to Ballydowd, which employed 70 last year.
http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/104-staff-at-care-units-racked-up-14000-sick-days-189766.html

Study: 8,700 children still live in the placement centers in Romania
Some 8,700 children still live in the placement centers audited by Romanian NGO Homes and Hope for Children (HHC), and, although the majority of children in care are with families or in family style environments, there are big differences between regions. In Braila, Giurgiu and Teleorman counties all the old style placement centers have closed, while in Iasi county, 12 centers are still operating. HHC has published a revealing study on the provision of care and protection of children in Romania. The detailed report looked at eight regions of Romania and comes with recommendations for government, including an appeal to end housing children under state care in large placement centers and instead place children in a family or a family like environment. According to HHC “Most of the children in State care already live in environments resembling family life: 19,004 children are in foster care, 7,029 children live in small family homes and apartments, and 21,033 children are placed in the care of relatives and other members of the family.” HHC, however, would like to see all children under state care in a family environment and hopes the study will provide a basis for a strategy to prevent the separation of children from families and improve the lives of children in Romania’s care system. HHC Romania is an internationally recognized NGO, which fights to reform the social child protection system, through national programs. The NGO’s mission is to eradicate all old style institutions in the field of child protection in Romania by 2020.
http://www.romania-insider.com/study-8700-children-still-live-in-the-placement-centers-in-romania/54916/

Wales: Adoption time target will be 'problematic'
COUNCILS face a tough ask to make permanent adoption arrangements for looked-after children within six months, Swansea leaders have said. Authors of a proposed overhaul of the family justice system in the UK have recommended a six-month time limit for care and adoption cases in the courts, although there could be extensions for complex cases. The matter was raised at a Cabinet meeting during a discussion about a key priority objective for the authority: ensuring vulnerable children are safeguarded by continuing improvements to child and family services. The council was responsible for 580 looked-after children in March 11. Just under 80 per cent of initial assessments for vulnerable children were completed within seven working days. Councillor Nick Tregoning, cabinet member for social services, said: "The family justice report is looking to say permanent adoption arrangements should be included within six months." Council leader Chris Holley said: "That is one field that's likely to be very problematic in the next two years."
http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Adoption-time-target-problematic/story-15746238-detail/story.html

UK: Reading children's services just ‘adequate’
Services to protect and care for children in Reading are only reaching minimum standards, according to Government inspectors. And some parts of the health provision for children are failing. A report by Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission into safeguarding and looked-after children services published this month ranked the borough’s performance as ‘adequate’. Reading Borough Council has seen a seven per cent increase in the number of children using the service over the past 18 months, against two per cent nationally. The Ofsted report said: “Children and young people at immediate risk of significant harm are identified and responded to in a timely way to ensure they are protected and partner agencies collaborate well operationally to safeguard children and young people. “The council meets its statutory requirements for the management and delivery of safeguarding services.”
http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/s/2111318_reading_childrens_services_just_adequate

Homelessness Becomes A Crime In Hungary
Hungary's new anti-vagrancy laws - the toughest in Europe - now mean that homeless people sleeping on the street can face police fines or even the possibility of jail time. Advocacy and human-rights groups are alarmed by the new efforts to crack down on and effectively criminalize homelessness, where the ranks of the needy have increased during the country's dire financial crisis. Debt, joblessness and poverty are on the rise. The country's bonds have been downgraded to "junk" status, and the nation's currency, the forint, has dropped sharply against the euro. Hungary's homeless problem is on full display at the Danko street shelter, one of Budapest's largest, where 200 or more sleep every night. Advocates for the poor here estimate there are more than 10,000 homeless on the streets and in the shelters in the capital alone and some 20,000 more across the rest of Hungary. In the shelter's cramped, barracks-like sleeping area, called "the heated street," homeless men and women spread out on thin mattresses on metal bunk beds. Others talk or play cards. A young man approaches. He wants to show me his pencil drawings.
http://app1.kuhf.org/articles/npr1333741477-Homelessness-Becomes-A-Crime-In-Hungary.html

Arizona: Foster care rates cut in half?
State officials say the rates paid to foster and adoptive parents, currently starting at about $22 a day, will be cut by 60 percent unless lawmakers find $17 million to fund the growing adoption program. Rates were reduced 20 percent in 2009. Under federal law, a cut in the adoption subsidy would require an equivalent cut in the rates paid to foster families. Kris Jacober of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents sent an e-mail blast Wednesday, "Now is the time that lawmakers need to hear from you about how a 60% cut in the foster care reimbursement rate would affect your family and the children in your care," Jacober wrote.  More than 11,500 children are in foster care. Families who adopt children from DES receive a daily stipend until the child turns 18.
http://www.azcentral.com/members/Blog/PoliticalInsider/158987

RI's minority youth living in concentrated poverty
Rhode Island's growing numbers of young minorities are disproportionately living in poverty, and the vast majority resides in cities with child impoverishment rates well above the state average. U.S. Census data show that 36 percent of Hispanic and 34 percent of black children in the state between 2008 and 2010 came from families in poverty. And in 2010, two-thirds of the state's minority children were from Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket, according to Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a child advocacy organization. The child poverty rate in Central Falls and Providence is 36. It is 35 percent in Woonsocket and 27 percent in Pawtucket. Poor children are more likely to have behavioral, health and other problems. Living in so-called "concentrated" poverty exacerbates the ill effects of being poor.
http://www2.wjtv.com/news/2012/apr/08/ris-minority-youth-living-in-concentrated-poverty-ar-3567638/

 

FRIDAY 6 APRIL

Ireland: Agency to be tougher on parents of children 'at risk'
PARENTS of youngsters at risk of being taken into care will get personal letters telling them they must change their ways, the head of a new child support agency warned. Gordon Jeyes, who will chair the Children and Family Support Agency when it is set up next year, said these parents will also be told that social workers will call unexpectedly and inspect every room in the house. "There will be some parents that we need to be a wee bit tougher with, more assertive with," he said. He said these parents needed to be told: "Certain of your behaviours as a parent have got to change in order that you can continue to set the right boundaries for your children." He added: "We need to visit every room in the house, we need to make sure we do not get carried away with parental concerns. "Not that they're not important, but our job is to make sure the children are safe and nurtured satisfactorily by their parents." Mr Jeyes was speaking as he visited the Barnardos Centre in Mulhuddart in Dublin yesterday to launch a new guide aimed at childcare workers which tells them how to identify and help families in crisis.
http://www.independent.ie/national-news/agency-to-be-tougher-on-parents-of-children-at-risk-3070147.html

Group Calls For Reforms In Oklahoma Foster Care, DHS System
A child advocacy group is calling for bold reforms in the state's foster care and DHS system. Dubbed the Serenity Project, Serenity Deal's grandmother and aunt were at the Capitol Tuesday to talk about the reforms. Deal was found dead in her biological father's Northeast Oklahoma City apartment in June. Her father, Sean Brooks pled guilty to killing the 5-year-old little girl in December. Four DHS workers testified that Deal would be safe in her father's home. Serenity died shortly after Brooks was granted custody. "If they would have just listened and done their job it wouldn't have happened," Serenity's grandmother Annett said Tuesday. Annett and Serenity's aunt Mandy Wilson were at the capitol Tuesday as the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy laid out a number of reforms, dubbed the Serenity project, aimed at changing the state's child welfare system. "This session we believe there is a moral imperative to be bold in our changes," OICA's executive director said.
http://www.news9.com/story/17322824/group-calls-for-reforms-in-oklahoma-foster-care-dhs-system

New Zealand: Nurses and specially trained youth workers promised for low-decile schools
Prime Minister John Key says a $62 million positive behaviour school programme will be rolled out across all secondary schools. Nurses and youth workers will be placed in the low-decile schools to help identify students with mental health problems and get them appropriate care. In return, Mr Key says schools will be asked to take more responsibility for the well-being of their students. He says the Education Review Office will start measuring how schools are doing with student well- being and he says the Government expects to see improvements in areas like bullying.  The package also aims to modernise the way the Government reaches mentally ill young people particularly through the increased use of social media. However, the Labour Party says the Government's initiative does not address the real problem. Labour's associate health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says the glaring omission from the announcement is any effort to prevent youth mental illness. He says one of the key drivers of mental illness in children is growing up in poverty, and if the prime minister was serious about addressing the problems, that is where he would start.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/102550/nurses-and-youth-workers-promised-for-low-decile-schools

New Report Highlights Need for Action on Child Soldiers
A report by the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, based on field interviews with war-affected children, provides information on child soldier recruitment in Colombia. Progress on the protection of children in armed conflict in Colombia—specifically, the prevention of child soldier recruitment—is the subject of a report released Tuesday by the coalition of nongovernmental organizations known as Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. Watchlist is an initiative of the Women’s Refugee Commission, which forms part of the International Rescue Committee, thought the two are financially independent from one another. The report, No One to Trust: Children and Armed Conflict in Colombia, states that greater efforts are needed to protect children from violent conflict, particularly in the country's remote regions. It calls on the US, European Union and United Nations decision-makers to take measures protecting Colombian children. "Levels of violence are incredibly high. Children are threatened on all sides and have nowhere to turn for help," Yvonne Kemper, who researched the report.
http://www.soschildrensvillages.ca/News/News/child-protection-news/child-soldier-news/Pages/New-Report-Child-Soldiers-212.aspx

There is a global learning crisis: US expert
Monitoring And Evaluation Consultant Brookings Institution, Centre for Universal Education USA, Kate Anderson has said that there is currently a global learning crisis which is hitting the poorest, most marginalised children and youth particularly very hard. She was talking to Business Recorder on Thursday. Kate said "Learning For All" should be the new goal for driving the global education agenda. The most recent data on education particularly in low income countries, show that quality and equity are the major challenges. Kate said that education plays a crucial role in today's world. It provides people with more economic opportunities, empowers them to make informed decisions which has impact on their families and equips them with the skills to live secure and healthy lives. "Focus on equity is needed to achieve learning for all.
http://www.brecorder.com/general-news/172/1173388/

UK: Cornwall's Fostering Services Praised
Support for Cornish carers and children in care gets the thumbs up. Ofsted have rated the council's fostering service as good with outstanding features. Inspectors said young people are "kept safe and feel safe". The report's been welcomed by Neil Burden, the Council's portfolio holder for children's services: "As corporate parents we are very reassured that this inspection has highlighted the quality of Cornwall's fostering service" "Our foster carers make an enormous contribution and commitment in caring for children in Cornwall. The incredible work they do and the difference they make to the lives of the children they care for lasts a lifetime" "I would like to extend huge congratulations to our carers and the Council's fostering team, with special thanks to our children and young people who have acknowledged the very special support they receive" Trevor Doughty, the Council's Director of Children, Schools and Families said: "This is a very encouraging result, which reflects the excellent partnership working between social workers and other social care workers, carers, carers' own children and other professionals"
http://www.piratefm.co.uk/news/latest-news/652096/cornwalls-fostering-services-praised/

DCS Out-Of-State Contract Irks Indiana Agencies
The Indiana Department of Child Services has signed a $2,686,400 contract with a Tennessee-based company, angering Indiana agencies who said they could have performed that same services had they been given an opportunity to bid on the project.  DCS chose Youth Villages, a Memphis-based agency, to provide services for 160 at-risk Hoosier children and their families in five regions of southern Indiana while keeping them out of residential care.
Under Gov. Mitch Daniels' 2005 Buy Indiana initiative, state agencies have to give special consideration to Indiana companies, but DCS claims Youth Villages is the "sole source" that can provide the services. Sue Fisher, executive director of Pathways Youth Shelter and Family Services in Madison said she felt like her organization had been overlooked. "It seems like we've been forgotten," Fisher said. "It's just very frustrating that community organizations are being overlooked. We're here, ready and willing to do what it takes to support our children. That's the biggest frustration." The Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies said it oversees 103 state agencies that provide foster care, home-based and residential services to abused, neglected and delinquent children. IARCC Executive Director Cathy Graham said the agency provides similar services as the ones contracted from the Memphis-based company. "We have agencies all over Indiana that either have provided similar services or are still providing the same services,” Graham said.
http://www.theindychannel.com/news/30835355/detail.html

US deported 47,000 parents of US-born kids in 1st half of 2011,
including 1,500 from LA

In the past two years, the number of undocumented immigrants deported from the U.S. has hit a record high. Many of those sent back to their countries of origin are parents of U.S.-born kids, as a recent internal report by immigration enforcement reveals. This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement finally made the data public. In the report, director John Morton acknowledged that the agency deported around 47,000 parents of U.S. born children in the first half of 2011 — 1,500 alone from the Los Angeles area. "We can't continue to claim to value families while deporting parents in the tens of thousands," responded Roybal-Allard in a statement.
http://www.scpr.org/news/2012/04/05/31914/report-us-deported-47000-parents-us-born-kids-1st-/

WEDNESDAY 4 APRIL

Alberta's child advocate marks independence
For Del Graff, Sunday was independence day - the first day Alberta's child and youth advocate became a fully independent officer of the legislature, instead of reporting to a cabinet minister. "I'm excited, and it's a special day for our office because this change is very important to us," said Graff, appointed the province's child and youth advocate last June for a five-year term.
Legislation that gives the office the power to act independently from outside political interference and broadens its responsibilities took effect April 1. "It will do a couple of things," Graff said. "It will increase the profile of the child youth advocate in terms of the work that we do with vulnerable, young people.
"It will ensure that we provide reports to the full legislative assembly, as opposed to just a minister."
http://www.calgaryherald.com/Alberta+child+advocate+marks+independence/6395906/story.html

Florida: Plans emerge for kids' teletreatment
The Naples Children & Education Foundation, founder of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, has provided $225,000 to expand telepsychiatry services for children. David Lawrence is partnering with Youth Haven, a Naples organization that runs a shelter for foster children and works with families, and Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, formerly known as Collier Health Services. One goal of the partnership is to streamline the path to mental health, making it easier for parents and increasing the likelihood children receive services. The earlier a child receives treatment, the better the outcome. The aim is to have the program running in about a month, said Bill Kuzbyt, Healthcare Network’s director of professional services. “The key to this whole thing is breaking those traditional barriers among organizations,” he said. Stan Appelbaum, an advocate for foster children and people with mental illnesses, would prefer every child receiving drugs be seen in-person. “But, if it works and saves the family from trying to figure out how to get there, of course, it’s better that we do that than nothing,” he said.
http://www.news-press.com/article/20120403/HEALTH/304030003/Plans-emerge-kids-teletreatment

Youth suicide rates rising among Canadian girls
The number of girls committing suicide in Canada has risen in the past 30 years, a troubling trend that’s prompting some experts to question the role played by social media. In a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers from the Public Health Agency of Canada report that on a whole, youth suicide rates have declined since 1980. But closer inspection reveals the decline is evident only in males, while female suicide rates rose from 1980 to 2008. Another concerning shift is the way young people are killing themselves. Researchers noted a decrease in suicide from poisoning or firearms. Suffocation, which includes hanging and strangling, is now the predominant method of suicide among children and adolescents.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/health-news/youth-suicide-rates-rising-among-canadian-girls/article2389777/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=Life&utm_content=2389777

Czech orphanages ‘sedating’ problem children
Czech orphanages frequently give sedatives to children with behavioral problems rather than providing them with psychiatric treatment, while routine inspections do not dig deep enough to identify such practices — regardless, higher authorities are reluctant to act, the daily Mláda front Dnes reports. “I did not want to take the sedatives nor go to a psychiatric institution, but I had no one to complain to,” Tomáš, a 22-year-old who grew up in a children’s home, told the newspaper, which said he had been administered such drugs for nine years and hospitalized several times. In theory, Tomáš could have consulted a social worker, but in reality he says it was virtually impossible. “They gave me chocolate and then asked me in front of the director is something was bothering me,” he said. “I did not want to make trouble, so instead I lied and praised the home.” Mláda front Dnes said it had learned of numerous children like Tomáš who felt helpless to resist but did not need medication. Dr Jan Pfeiffer, a Czech psychiatrist and member of the Council of Europe who has long advocated reform of the mental health care sector, said there are so many gaps in the system that children are sometimes virtually abondoned while in care.
http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/politics-policy/czech-orphanages-%E2%80%98sedating%E2%80%99-problem-children

R.I.'s child population declines, poverty rises
The number of children in Rhode Island decreased by 10 percent between 2000 and 2010 from 247,822 to 223,956, respectively, according to the 18th annual Factbook released Monday by Rhode Island Kids Count. Rhode Island was one of only three states to lose at least 10 percent of its child population during this time period. Only the communities of Central Falls, North Smithfield and West Greenwich recorded slight increases, according to the 2012 Factbook. The 171-page report, which charts improvements and decline in the well-being of children and youth in each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, provides a comprehensive compilation of the latest available statistics on 67 different aspects of children’s lives, from birth through adolescence. More than 500 people attended the breakfast release event, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Crossings, including Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, the entire Rhode Island congressional delegation and many policy makers and community advocates.
http://www.pbn.com/RIs-child-population-declines-poverty-rises,66523

Tennessee: State budget cuts threaten child abuse prevention program
Healthy Families East Tennessee, a child abuse prevention program, will lose its funding if state lawmakers approve proposed cuts. The Tennessee General Assembly is currently discussing a proposed Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget that would cut the $3.1 million in funding for the program, which is a service of the Helen Ross McNabb Center (HRMC). “HRMC understands firsthand the importance of prevention services,” said Mona Blanton-Kitts, vice president of Children and Youth Services for Helen Ross McNabb. “(Healthy Families East Tennessee) is highly successful in breaking cycles of abuse and neglect in our state. Without the program, we are placing our families at risk.” The center’s Healthy Families East Tennessee program serves Blount, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon and Sevier counties. The East Tennessee program has served about 4,500 families through its 16 years of service. Of those families, 99 percent of the at-risk children enrolled in the program remain abuse-free and stay in their homes, according to HRMC.
http://www.thedailytimes.com/Local_News/story/State-budget-cuts-threaten-child-abuse-prevention-program-id-022291

Philippines: Cases of Youth Offenders Down
The number of cases of youth offenders or Children in Conflict with Law (CICL) in Caloocan City has declined as the local government launched a campaign that cares for “street-dwelling children.’’ Local authorities said that from 80 registered in 2011, the number of CICL’s taken under the care of the "Yakap Bata Holding Center” has declined to 36. The program was launched by Mayor Enrico Echiverri to look for the welfare of the troubled minors. Youths whose ages ranges from 17 years old and below cannot be held criminally liable under Republic Act No. 9344 so that CICL’s are taken to the "Yakap Bata Holding Center" for rehabilitation instead of sending them in jail. While there they undergo activities that break down the reason behind their involvement in crime as well as their attitudes that caused them to commit crimes. The city government also launched a campaign that involves caring for "street-dwelling kids" who may have already been abandoned by their parents as part of the program.
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/356199/cases-of-youth-offenders-down

 

 

MONDAY 2 APRIL

Louisiana: New agency provides wraparound services for at-risk youth
Louisiana Choices, a nonprofit agency designed to meet the needs of the area's most at-risk youth, opened an office Friday in Mansfield to serve northwest Louisiana's Region 8. The agency incorporates a number of services under its umbrella meant to provide a "wraparound" for the child and his or her family. The goal is to pull in the necessary individuals or services to keep the family intact, thus preventing a child's removal. "It's never been approached like this in Louisiana," Director James Wagley said. Choices was established in 1997 in Indianapolis, and about 5,000 youth and families are served annually. Data indicate youth enrolled in the program are 78 percent less likely to return to the welfare, juvenile justice, mental health or special education systems.
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20120331/NEWS01/203310331/New-agency-provides-wraparound-services-risk-youth?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cs

NY: Program to Keep Low-Risk Youth 'Close to Home' Is Endorsed
With the passage on March 30 of the 2012-13 state budget, New York City is poised to take over from the state the care and supervision of lower-risk juvenile delinquents. The budget launched Governor Andrew Cuomo's Close to Home Initiative (Part G of A9057/S625) under which the city will use state dollars allocated in the bill to create a juvenile justice system that will provide services ranging from community-based programming to limited secure residential care. As far as the city is concerned, the realignment will replace a system operated by the state Office of Children and Family Services that has been widely criticized as a breeding ground for crime that ignores the mental health and educational needs of its charges. Among other things, advocates say that city youth will benefit from the attention of certified city teachers and the support of their families and communities.
http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/PubArticleNY.jsp?id=1202547544556&Program_to_Keep_LowRisk_Youth_Close_to_Home_Is_Endorsed&slreturn=1

UK: Youth services will continue
YOUTH services in Pill will continue despite council cuts thanks to the work of a new community group. Pill Children and Young People’s Partnership has made agreements with two youth service providers for them to begin work in the village in April, when North Somerset Council-funded youth work will stop. The partnership was set up in January to unite all groups and organisations working with youngsters in Pill and Easton-in-Gordano and to ensure such schemes continue to run in the area. The partnership has made agreements with Inspire, an organisation created by former council play rangers, to continue children’s activities in the village, such as at the play pod or multi-use games area at Watchhouse Hill, as well as the youth drop-in at the resource centre in Baltic Place.
http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/youth_services_will_continue_1_1332859

USA: Media Ratings on Children and Adolescents add Little to the Forbidden Fruit Theory
Controversy has swept the media over the forthcoming film "Bully," a documentary about bullying among American youth. Many fear that adolescents who would benefit from the film will miss out due to the R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, while others question the criteria that gave "Bully" an R rating in the first place (the film, meanwhile, will be released on Friday without a rating). How do these various rating possibilities impact the film's would-be young viewers? In the recent Journal of Communication article "Effects of Media Ratings on Children and Adolescents: A Litmus Test of the Forbidden Fruit Effect," researchers Jordy Gosselt, Menno De Jong and Joris Van Hoof investigate this very question. In the study, the authors investigate whether media ratings alerting would-be young viewers about violence, language, or age-appropriateness actually make it appear more desirable, through what is known as the "forbidden fruit effect." The study, which observed both elementary and high school students, found that age and content warning pictograms did not make media products more appealing to young participants. These findings starkly contrast with prior research, which has always found the forbidden fruit effect to play a role in media's appeal to youth.
http://www.zawya.com/story/ZAWYA20120330014953/

UK: Bradford youngsters rewarded for voluntary efforts
Some of the district’s most talented young people have picked up awards at a special ceremony. Bradford Council Youth Service’s B-talented programme has been celebrating the success of 14 of its graduates who have given 30 hours a week over the past 40 weeks to gain skills and support others through volunteering. Everyone who took part wanting to develop a career with children or in social work got a qualification at or above NVQ level 2. Volunteers devoted their time to a wide range of activities, which included working in youth clubs, district-wide work with young people with disabilities, and supporting Children’s Centres, the Looked After Children’s Team and the Youth Offending Team. http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/9624463.Bradford_youngsters_rewarded_for_voluntary_efforts/

Child welfare officials say maltreatment numbers improving in Milwaukee
When 13 month old Christopher Thomas was beaten to death in 2008, child welfare officials vowed to make things better. The numbers were saddening at the time. 36 children in foster care had been maltreated in 2007. A report released Friday suggests things are better. Only 7 were reported to be maltreated last year. The Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare is still working to reach compliance on several of its goals. Although the goal is to reunify 71 percent of children with their parents or care givers within a year, that number is 68 percent. It’s also a goal for 90 percent of children in the program experience no more than three placements. The bureau reported 82 percent of its wards meet that expectation.
http://wtaq.com/news/articles/2012/mar/31/child-welfare-officials-say-maltreatment-numbers-improving-in-milwaukee/

Oklahoma asking for more foster parents
Oklahoma's Pinnacle Plan to improve DHS points out the need for 500 new foster families by the end of June 2013. The process isn't easy though and everyone from the OSBI to the FBI is involved in making sure children are placed with the right family. "It is a bit complicated, but the safety of children depend upon the processes that we go through to make sure they have safe places to go," DHS spokesperson Sheree Powell said. Powell said there are background checks, a home study and a lot of training. Foster parent, Lisa Feist, says she spent 27 hours in training. "For five Saturdays, we went and took foster care parent training classes," Feist said. However, she said the longest process was the home study, which ranges anywhere from four to six months, depending on DHS staffing.
http://www.kfor.com/news/local/kfor-okla-asking-for-more-foster-parents-20120330,0,3771224.story

New Mexico: More American Indian foster parents needed
Only two foster homes in San Juan County belong to American Indian families, but more than half of the 85 children in foster care now are American Indian. That means about 40 American Indian youths in the local foster system are living with non-native families. The Children, Youth and Families Department, charged with placing children in alternate homes if their own families are deemed unsafe for reasons of abuse or neglect, is having a hard time finding enough native families for the number of native children in the system. The department does everything it can to match a child with a family of a similar background.
That doesn't work when fewer homes than children are in the system, which means native children more often than not end up in non-native families. This is contrary to federal policy, which directs the department to make every effort to place children of American Indian descent in homes that nourish their cultural identity.
http://www.daily-times.com/ci_20283121/editorial-more-american-indian-foster-parents-needed

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