FRIDAY 31 AUGUST
New Zealand: Users unaware of
dangers of huffing — Doctor
The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee says people do not seem to be aware just how dangerous it is to inhale volatile gases such as butane, LPG and propane in a practice known as huffing. The Chief Coroner says a review of deaths resulting from inhaling gas is producing alarming results: there have been at least 50 in the past 10 years. Judge Neil MacLean ordered an urgent review of the practice in July, after two teenagers in Mosgiel were critically injured when an LPG cylinder exploded while they were 'huffing'. A boy aged 12, died in Christchurch in May. On Saturday evening, a teenage girl died in Christchurch after inhaling butane. Dr Nick Baker from the review committee says poisoning is the second most common cause of youth death by injury and many of those poisonings are caused by huffing.
Washington: DC family services
agency to disband program that helps move children from foster care
The District Child and Family Services Agency is disbanding a program that helps move children from foster care to adoption, guardianship or reunification with their families. The Washington Post reports that it obtained a memo from agency officials to employees and service providers that says two positions will be eliminated. The duties of the Out-of-Home and Permanence Administration will fall to other caseworkers in the agency. Mindy Good, a spokeswoman for the agency, says caseworkers are able to handle the paperwork needed to move children out of foster care.
Minnesota: Staff recommends
keeping juvenile detention center where it is
Keep the Many Rivers Juvenile Detention Center in its current location, but update the facility — that’s the recommendation that Olmsted County Corrections staff gave to the county board on Tuesday. The corrections staff, as well as the leaders of the Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Community Corrections System, said keeping Many Rivers where it is, at 2118 Campus Drive S.E. in Rochester, makes the most sense because the facility is set up especially for juveniles. At a cost of about $419,000 to improve its security control systems, backup power and cell doors, that option is the least expensive of the three the county directed Klein McCarthy Architects, of St. Louis Park, to study. The other two options are to retrofit a portion of the county's Adult Detention Center, 104 Fourth St. S.E., at a cost of about $733,000 or to retrofit an unused part of the Government Center annex, 101 Fourth St. S.E., at a cost of about $1.6 million.
UK: Preston charity makes plea
for foster families
A charity in Preston has called for more foster families to come forward to help children in need of a home. Caritas Care, which is based on Tulketh Brow in the city, said there was a demand for 1,200 foster carers in the North West with more than 60,000 children in need of homes across the country. Chief executive Jim Cullen said he hoped National Family Week, which comes to an end on Friday, would encourage people to come forward to find out more about caring. He said: “With a child spending an average of two and a half years in care before they are adopted it has never been more important to raise awareness of the need to find new families.”
US: Report Reveals States Where
Child Care Is Most and Least Affordable
A recent report by Child Care Aware of America confirmed what many parents already know -– child care is expensive. So much so that families in the majority of states across America spent more to leave their babies in daycare last year than it would have cost them to send a child to college. According to the report, appropriately named “Parents and The High Cost Of Childcare,”, in 2011, “the average annual cost of full-time child care for an infant in a center ranged from about $4,600 in Mississippi to nearly $15,000 in Massachusetts.” In nineteen states and D.C., the average cost of infant care was higher than $10,000. With almost eleven million kids under the age of 5 enrolled in some type of child care those statistics become highly distressing. Some states came out looking better than others. Mississippi, where the average cost of care per year is $3,911 (22% of the average single mom’s income and 6% of a two-parent family’s) was ranked the most affordable state for child care. Louisiana and South Carolina followed closely behind.
New Jersey: Juveniles entitled to
hearing before being moved
to state prison, court panel rules
Unruly juveniles housed at any of the state's facilities for young offenders are entitled to a hearing before they're transferred to a state prison, a state appeals court panel ruled today. Teens under the jurisdiction of the state Juvenile Justice Commission need more than same-day notice of the transfer, the court said. "The transfer of a juvenile to an adult prison significantly changes the focus of the incarceration away from rehabilitation and toward security and punishment. For those reasons, we conclude that there must be a sufficient level of procedural due process to protect the juvenile's interests," Judge Alexander Waugh Jr. wrote for the three-member panel.
Australia: Experts say more
divorcing parents are relying
on their own parents to care for children
PARENTS in the throes of a bitter divorce are turning to their own parents to take over full-time care of their offspring, experts say. Grandparents for Grandchildren executive manager Denise Langton says while issues such as drug and alcohol abuse were traditionally the most common reasons grandparents started caring for a grandchild permanently, the failure to resolve divorce custody disputes had "taken off" as a reason in recent years. "It's incredibly sad, but we're seeing more grandparents coming to us asking for help because of a divorce where the mum and dad can't work out who will have the children and they end up with the grandparents," Mrs Langton said. Tindall Gask Bentley partner and family law specialist Jane Miller has also seen a rise in the number of grandparents who are taking on full-time care of grandchildren as divorce proceedings get under way. Most arrangements were settled informally and out of court.
California: Bill That Would Allow
Third Parent To Care
for Child Advances in Legislature
The California Assembly on Monday passed legislation that authorizes judges to stop children from being placed in foster care when another "parent" might exist. While most children have two parents, some have relationships with more than two adults who meet the legal definition of a parent under California law, according to a news release by Senate Bill 1476 author Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). His bill gives courts the ability to recognize when a child may have more than two legal parents if doing so is required to protect the child’s best interests.
UK: Somerset adoptions double
ADOPTIONS in the county have doubled in the last year. In 2011/12 there were 38 adoptions, 19 more than the previous year, a huge increase compared to the 6% rise nationally, as reported by the Office of National Statistics. The rise in adoptions is believed has been attributed to the Adoption Team and Somerset County Council’s successful campaign to attract more people to adopt children. Cllr Frances Nicholson, cabinet member for children and families, said: “I am so glad we have been able to find adoptive parents for more children in care in Somerset so that they can have a stable home and a loving family. “However, there is much more to do, and we must not slacken in our effort to find more potential adopters in the county, especially for children over five, sibling groups, and children with disabilities.”
WEDNESDAY 29 AUGUST
US: Day-care provider accused of
putting girl, 4, in closet, tying her hands
A Woodbridge day-care provider who allegedly tied a 4-year-old girl’s hands behind her back and placed the girl in an unlit utility closet as punishment is facing criminal charges, Prince William County police said Monday. Valerie Caye Hjort, 56, of the 1900 block of Brooke FarmCourt allegedly bound the girl Aug. 22 and put her in the closet for 10 minutes, police said. Hjort runs a licensed day-care program at her home. Other children were in day care with Hjort at the time of the alleged offense, but no other abuse was reported, police said. Police arrested Hjort after they presented a warrant and searched her home. Hjort is charged with abduction and abuse and neglect of children, police said. She is being held without bond.
Helping Foster Kids Even After
Say "adoption" and many Americans think "babies." The U.S. system was largely organized around placing infants, both from this country and abroad. It turns out that, by far, the largest number of adoptions in the U.S. is through the foster care system. That means toddlers, young children, even teens. Yet many in the field say the system does little to help families cope with the special issues a number of these children will face, even years after adoption. Foster adoptions have nearly doubled since 1997, when a policy change gave states financial incentive to place children with permanent families. The federal government has also waged an aggressive and charming ad campaign, with TV spots reassuring people that they "don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent."
Canada: Children's Hospital
Foundation of Saskatchewan announces
new Champion Child
The new international ambassador for children's health care in Saskatchewan has been announced. Elly Bains will be the face of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan as the group’s new Champion Child. The role will see the 13-year-old travel within Canada and internationally to champion the importance of raising funds to improve children's health care. Bains succeeds 2011 Saskatchewan Champion Child Ethan Cook.
Idaho: Budget constraints could
force local juvenile detention center
Nez Perce County Commissioners held a special meeting Monday morning with the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections to discuss the prospect of the Region 2 Detention Center. Further discussion was then carried over in a special session with Lewis, Clearwater, Latah and Idaho County commissioners and the local juvenile detention advisory board. Nez Perce County Commissioner Mike Grow said at this point no decision has been made but there's a possibility the local detention center will be shut down and juveniles will be transported to Martin Hall Juvenile Detention Facility in Medical Lake, outside of Spokane. "We're just trying to figure out what's fair and if we can make it work and you know, how much are we willing to lose," said Grow. "That's what we're trying to figure out right now with the budget going on and everything."
India: Observation home crackle
attracts some children
Meet Mahesh, one of the many street children in the observation home here, is a habitual vagabond. The 11-year-old Meet's case was the topic of discussion at a three-day seminar on Children's Rights under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which ended here on Saturday. The poor boy would not remain at home and kept coming to the observation home as if he was searching for his lost childhood. "Meet Maheshbhai is a resident of Palanpur. However, he does not like to stay at home. When he leaves his home, one can be sure where to find him - the observation home," his grandmother Kiniben (65) said.
UNICEF appeals for funds to help
Syrian refugee children in Jordan
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on Monday that it is urgently appealing for additional funds to meet the health and protection needs of an increasing number of Syrian refugee children and their families who have fled to Jordan to escape the ongoing conflict in their home country. The agency is appealing for $54 million to cover the emergency needs of Syrian refugees sheltering in the Za’atari camp and surrounding communities. According to UNICEF, some 17,000 people – half of them children – are sheltered at the Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan, but numbers are increasing daily with hundreds of new arrivals from Syria. The neighboring country has been wracked by violence, with more than 17,000 people, mostly civilians, killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 18 months ago.
California: State Senate Passes
Bill That Will Provide Safe
and Informed Foster Homes For LGBT Youth
Big news for California's LGBT youth in the foster care system! Assembly Bill 1856, which was designed to make foster care safer and more supportive for LGBT youth has been approved by the California state Senate! The bill passed with a vote of 23-12. It was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and sponsored by Equality California and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. According to LGBT Weekly, the bill "will require existing training programs for foster youth caregivers to include best practices for serving LGBT youth, including LGBT competency and sensitivity training." Bill 1856 is now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk after what's being described as "a routine concurrence vote" in the Assembly. LGBT youth face many different dangers in the foster care system from harassment and bullying to basic misunderstanding of their unique needs.
India: Employing kids below 14
will earn 3 years in jail
Employing a child below 14 years in any kind of occupation is set to become a cognizable offence, punishable with a maximum three years imprisonment or fine upto a maximum of Rs. 50,000. The Union cabinet is likely to approve the Child & Adolescent Labour (Prohibition) Act, 1986 today which will allow employing children only between 14-18 years in non- hazardous industries like forest gathering, child care etc. Children between 14-18 years have been defined as "adolescents" in the amended Act. The existing Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, while prohibiting employment of children in hazardous industries allows children below 14 years of age to work in industries not considered to be hazardous.
US: Visa offers path for
immigrant youth in state care
Maria Boudet has no memory of Mexico or how she came to the United States. What she does remember is the year she turned 16 and found out she was living in the country illegally. A powerful reminder of all she lost and gained is printed on the top right corner of her green card: "SL6." That's the code for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS), the little-known program that allows Boudet and hundreds like her each year to live and work in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident. The program has quietly helped 10,000 young illegal immigrants become legal permanent residents since 1997. More recently, much attention has been focused on President Barack Obama's deferred action policy that allows some young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation by obtaining temporary work permits. Thousands flocked to apply for that program on the first day alone. Advocates say that the new Obama administration policy won't directly change the juvenile visa program, but it may make young illegal immigrants more comfortable coming forward for help staying in the U.S. That could lead to more people applying for the visa.
Australia: Insurance shadow over our foster carers
Larissa Woonton and her husband have two children of their own, though the generous pair also share their Yarralumla home with five foster children. Yet if one of their charges seriously harms them or their property, they have no guarantee they will be compensated. A mood of fear - and anger - has overcome Canberra's foster carers, many of whom learned recently they lack insurance for ''malicious acts''. Their anxiety worsened earlier this month when ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe advised them they were not covered by work health laws. His office had previously told the carers they were. The concerns were sparked when a foster child with behavioural problems burned down his carer's caravan. The ACT's insurer would not cover the damage because it was caused by an act of malice.
MONDAY 27 AUGUT
Concerns raised over Welsh
children taken into care sent
to live miles from their homes
Hundreds of children taken into care in Wales are being sent to live miles away from their homes, with campaigners warning the arrangements may leave them more vulnerable to abuse. A total of 1,465 placements were made by Welsh councils in 2011-12, a figure which had grown from 1,331 in 2010-11 and 1,362 in 2009-10. While those figures include children re-homed elsewhere in Wales, many were sent as far away as Kent, Surrey, Leeds, Newcastle and parts of London. A parliamentary report into children who go missing from care, published in June, raised serious concerns about the practice – which also sees hundreds of children sent to Wales by other local authorities – saying such children should be classed as especially vulnerable. Des Mannion, NSPCC national head of service for Wales said: “Placing children outside of their local area makes supporting the child more difficult, and can result in difficulties with their care.
Group chides Massachusetts system
on foster care
A children’s advocacy group has issued a series of scathing reports on the Massachusetts foster care system, contending that nearly 1 in 5 children in state custody for at least two years have suffered abuse or neglect. The group, called Children’s Rights, released the reports Thursday as part of a federal class-action lawsuit it brought against the state’s child welfare system in 2010. It asserts that children are mistreated at a high rate under state care, that they often bounce from one foster home to the next, and that they sometimes stay in the foster system for years. Approximately 1 in 6 who are reunited with their families return to foster care after further abuse or neglect, the group says. In several reports submitted by child welfare specialists, the group said the state’s Department of Children and Families is plagued by dysfunction, low staffing, and lax oversight. “Far too many children in Massachusetts remain at risk of maltreatment even after they enter the protection of the state’s child welfare system,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights. “These new reports further underscore the critical need to overhaul DCF as it fails to meet its moral and legal duty to keep kids in foster care safe from further harm.”
UK: Leading foster care role
A SWANSEA man has secured a top role as regional manager at the UK's leading independent fostering agency Foster Care Associates (FCA) Cymru. In his new role, Victor Thomas, aged 56, of St Thomas, will lead a team of 38 across Wales, ensuring the smooth running of children's services delivered by FCA for vulnerable young people and local families. Based at the FCA Swansea office on the Enterprise Park, he has had a career in the social work sector spanning over 25 years. He said: "I am confident that I have both the skills and expertise required to drive the development of FCA Wales, ensuring carers provide high standards for young people and local authorities are provided with high quality services."
No youth corrections experience
needed for top Texas job
Texas' juvenile corrections agency, struggling for months to curb violent youths and gang activity at its six state lockups, moved Thursday to hire a new agency head its fifth new chief in as many years. While no public vote was taken, officials said the Texas Juvenile Justice Department's governing board interviewed three finalists — two with experience in the juvenile justice field. The American-Statesman obtained a copy of an internal agency memo listing the three finalists: Mike Griffiths, director of Dallas County's juvenile corrections; retired Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, a former Pepsico and Sam's Club executive who is now CEO of a company that sells automobiles to U.S. military members stationed overseas; and Clint Carpenter, who served as education superintendent for the Texas Youth Commission. None of the three, reportedly selected from well over a dozen applicants, could be reached for comment Thursday. While Griffiths and Carpenter appear to be the only two applicants with youth-corrections experience, a job description posted online shows none is required. The only listed requirements: "Master's degree in business, public administration, criminal justice, social work, counseling, law, psychology, sociology or a related field and ten (10) years of increasingly responsible administrative experience directing the operations of a large program."
Australia: Million kids in care
'shows system works'
A RECORD number of children -- 992,520 -- were in approved childcare in the September quarter last year, an increase of 9 per cent over the year. The figures, to be released by the government today to blunt opposition attacks the system has become unaffordable, show 27.6 per cent of children aged up to 12 attend the nation's 14,523 childcare services, which have increased by 3.2 per cent. Figures for the whole are understood to show that the number of children in childcare has passed one million. Long daycare took by far the greatest proportion of children, 61.2 per cent, followed by outside-school-hours care, 29.5 per cent, family daycare and in-home care, 11.7 per cent, and occasional care 0.8 per cent. Childcare Minister Kate Ellis said the new figures showed an 8 per cent increase in the number of families using childcare.
UK: Council charter for care
leavers to be launched later this year
Children & Young People Now reports that draft will be produced within a month. Children & Young People Now report that a care leavers' charter will be launch this year in an effort to improve the support provided by local authorities in their capacity as corporate parents. CYPN says that the Department for Education and the Care Leavers Foundation have launched a consultation concerning the proposed charter, which they hope to make available to local authorities during National Care Leavers Week (24 to 31 Oct). A draft charter will be produced by 17 September, signed off by the DfE by 15 October and officially launched on 24 October.
California: Texting Helps Bay
Area Homeless Teens
A new texting program will aim to help homeless teens find shelter in the greater San Francisco area. An estimated 1.37 million or 39% of the total homeless population are children under the age of 18. Claudia Asprer, founder and president of the Movin’ On Up program in the Bay Area, and Lauri Burns, President of The Teen Project, have joined forces to reach teens through technology. By texting the words SHELTER and the ZIP code to 99000, teens can receive the listing of a local shelter in the greater San Francisco area within 40 seconds. The Teen Project has done the research to show that even homeless youth obtain Internet access through free library access, or own cell phones even when they are homeless. The site currently has 17,000 shelter listings. The goal is 100,000 by the end of the year. Burns has not only been serving as a foster parent to troubled teens for the past 13 years but was a homeless teen herself. As an abused child, she entered the foster system at the age of 13 but when she aged out of the system at 18, she had nowhere to go.
State says youth prison guards
still working at empty facility
It’s been seven weeks since the last prisoner left the state’s juvenile prison in Murphysboro, but that doesn’t mean the place is empty. Even though there are no youth left to guard, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice reported Friday that more than 50 workers continue to show up at the facility every day. An agency spokeswoman said the employees aren’t just loafing around. “The remaining 53 report to Murphysboro each day to do necessary work to prepare the facility for closure — tasks such as inventory, cleaning and records management,” Jennifer Florent said in an email Friday. The situation at Murphysboro soon could be mirrored at other state facilities targeted by Gov. Pat Quinn for closure. Even though the General Assembly allocated enough money in the current budget to keep the facilities open, Quinn wants to close two adult prisons, two youth prisons, inmate transition centers in Decatur and Carbondale and a handful of other state facilities. The closures are on hold for now as part of an agreement stemming from a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union seeking to block the governor’s move.
Rutgers Project Offers Mentoring
to Teens in Foster Care
You’re a teenage girl, and life hasn’t been particularly kind. You’ve lived in foster care for too many years, with too few positive role models. You feel isolated and alone. A program offered cooperatively through Rutgers’ Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) and the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) is reaching out to this population. Now entering its second year, Project GROW links high school students in foster care with Rutgers undergraduates in a one-on-one mentoring relationship. “Who talks with these girls about their plans for the future? Who encourages them to strive, to aim for bigger and better things? That’s where the mentoring piece comes in – to show them what’s possible for them, and help guide them on how to achieve it,” says Robin Lang, director of GSAPP's Foster Care Counseling Project. Project GROW – Girls Realizing Opportunities in the World – is an outgrowth of an ongoing group therapy program GSAPP runs for adolescent girls in resource care, including foster, relative and adoptive families.
Former foster kids get help as
Sacramento State students
Sacramento State students who used to live in foster care and group homes were given a boost Friday when they were presented with free laptops to help them toward their college degrees. "We won't have to fight for a computer in the library anymore," said Jessica Nguyen, a senior studying social work. "It takes away a lot of the stress." A total of 12 Acer laptops were reserved for students, but five couldn't come to Friday's giveaway. The laptops were donated by M Corp, a Sacramento consulting firm that is a sponsor of the university's Guardian Scholars Program. The program helps former foster youths transition successfully from high school to college. Joy Salvetti, the program's director, said there are 62 students enrolled, and the program has helped roughly 100 people since its launch six years ago.
FRIDAY 24 AUGUST
Canada: Abused and At-Risk First
Nations Children Suffering from Cuts
Recent cuts to Ontario’s Ministry of Child and Youth Services may cause terrible damage to First Nations children in the communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory. The Northern Ontario communities may face the closure of two receiving homes that provide temporary accommodations to at-risk youth who are not safe at home because of abuse or neglect. The homes provide the children with a transition in a safe place. Payukotayno: James and Hudson Bay Family Services faces a budget shortfall of $2 million this year. This shortfall means that they will have to layoff up to 30 staff members and the two receiving homes will close as of August 31. A representative of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says that the cuts may prevent the organization from fulfilling their mandate of protecting children and youth.
Looked after children in Wales
are lagging behind in school — report
THE success ofchildren in care is low in Welsh schools, a report warns today. The Wales Audit Office found that although attainment of children in the care of authorities was improving slowly, there was too much variation, inconsistent support and a lack of outcomes to measure progress. Figures for 2011 showed 5,415 children and young people were looked after in Wales, a rise of 20% over the last five years. Matthew Hunt, assistant director Barnardo’s Cymru, said: “In other European countries children looked after by the state do as well at school as other children – there is no reason why this should not also be the case in Wales.” Since 1999, the Welsh Government has introduced initiatives, guidance and funding to support the education of looked after children, the auditor general’s report said.
Texas Foster care agency defends
record, despite pulled state contract
The state's recent decision to pull a private group's tentative contract to revamp foster-care services for 2,300 children in South Texas has put the state at odds with one of the largest social service providers in Texas. The Department of Family and Protective Services knew months ago about the Austin-based nonprofit's problems at some of its foster homes, said Lutheran Social Services of the South President Betsy Guthrie. It knew what the agency was doing to correct those issues, heard about the progress it had made and awarded the group a tentative contract anyway, she said. "We don't want to throw the department under the bus, but I don't understand it," Guthrie said. Earlier this month, Family and Protective Services — which oversees foster care for about 28,000 youths across the state — said it was pulling its offer to let Lutheran Social Services coordinate foster-care services for South Texas youth in areas including Corpus Christi, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. State officials also said they were taking disciplinary action against the agency because of a two-year history of problems at its Laredo, Richardson and Garland offices, which coordinate services for foster youth and families in their areas.
UK: Adoptions up
The number of adoptions in England and Wales rose by six per cent in 2011, figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed earlier this month. There were 4,734 adoptions entered into the Adopted Children Register (ACR) following court orders made last year, compared to 4,481 in 2010. Adoption groups said they were pleased to see the increase, emphasising that adoption can mean a positive result for both children from the care system and their new families. They pointed out that the ONS figures include children adopted from care but also those adopted by relatives and step-parents, something which government figures do not cover. According to the NSPCC and the government, there are about 90,000 children in the care of local authorities in Britain at any one time. Children described as ‘looked after’ are those who are looked after by the state – those children subject to care orders and those looked after on a voluntary basis at the request of their parents. The majority of looked after children (73 per cent) are in foster care, the Department of Education says, while ten per cent are in children’s homes.
Australia: The cost of youths in
adult jails is too high
QUEENSLAND may be creating a social and financial time bomb by keeping youths in adult prisons. The ultimate guardian of the more than 8000 kids in state care, Commissioner for Children and Young People Elizabeth Fraser, says creating another generation of prison inmates is no solution to the question of juvenile justice. "We are talking about the potential of young people," she told the Child Protection Inquiry yesterday. "I think the expense of the alternatives is pretty high." Ms Fraser has revealed in the inquiry details of her long-running campaign with the previous Labor government to keep 17-year-olds out of jail. The battle, which lasted until the March state election, was lost on the grounds of cost, but she wasn't naming names. The inquiry has heard children in state care have a far higher rate than the general population of becoming serial prisoners in their adult years. Ms Fraser said she knew it was far more expensive to maintain a person in a juvenile detention system than in an adult prison. "But we should be, as a community, putting as much effort as we can in changing those trajectories (towards adult jail)," she said.
Florida: Federal health care
overhaul threatens to end
home visitation programs
Advocates say the opposition of Florida leaders to the federal health care overhaul threatens to end home visitation programs for 500 at-risk families and lead to 80 employees losing their jobs statewide. That’s because the federal funding would have come to Florida as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – often called “Obamacare” by opponents – which opened the door to more money for home visits for young, at-risk parents.
Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Health notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state was rejecting $4.9 million for such programs as Healthy Start, Healthy Families and the Nurse-Family Partnership, which combat child abuse, substance abuse, infant mortality and unemployment via in-home parent education. “Having this money tied to the Affordable Care Act didn’t help,” said Carol Brady, executive director of Northeast Florida Healthy Start, one of the affected programs.
More Than Eight-in-Ten Parents
That Pay for Child Care
are Overwhelmed with the Cost
As working parents become the norm, and the number of families with both parents working on the rise according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, child care services are a necessity. Nearly one-in-five (18 percent) parents with children ages 3-17 living at home pay for some type of day care/child care on a regular basis. Parents ages 18-34 were significantly more likely (34 percent) than their older counterparts (8 percent of parents aged 35-54) to indicate this. This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin from August 8th – 10th, 2012, among 2,252 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The cost to provide child care can be a significant household expense for many parents. Of parents surveyed who pay for child care on a regular basis, 12 percent said they pay more than $1,100 per month overall. Seventeen percent said they pay between $501 and $1,100, while 53 percent said they pay $1 - $500. Pair the high costs of child care with rising food prices and a challenging economy, and it can lead to cash-strapped families. Of parents surveyed who pay for child care on a regular basis, 86 percent are at least somewhat overwhelmed with the cost, with 16 percent of them very overwhelmed with the cost.
Wyoming: Riverton’s Council
approved change in Residential 'A' zoning
to allow child care centers, but then denied two applications
Jennifer Persons won the war but lost the battle following two votes of the Riverton City Council Tuesday night. It was Persons’ day care center application that resulted in a months long controversy over allowing child care centers in Residential A zoning. After her application was received and went through all of the city’s permitting processes, it was discovered at the last minute that child care was not an acceptable business in the A zone. Over the last three months, the city council has struggled what to do about the issue, since child care centers were historically allowed, at least 19 different times, in the A zone, and two currently operate there. Tuesday night, the city council, on a 4-3 vote, approved amending the Residential A zoning regulations to allow Family Child Home Care Centers not to exceed 10 children. Mayor Ron Warpness and councilors Diana Mahoney, Eric Heiser and Lars Baker voted in favor, Richard Gard, Todd Smith and Mary Ellen Christensen voted no. However, when Persons’ application came up for consideration immediately thereafter, due to a number of complaints filed with the city from her immediate neighborhood, Baker changed his vote and her application, and one filed by Sarah Hutchins, were both denied on a 3-4 vote.
Canada: Children in foster care
get moved up to 30 times
A researcher has told a conference on aboriginal health that it's unethical for a child in foster care to be moved up to 30 times. Caroline Tait is a medical anthropologist at the University of Saskatchewan and was speaking at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations health conference in Saskatoon on Tuesday. She told the audience that children experience abuse and neglect within the system because of policies that are in place. Tait and her team of researchers have interviewed dozens of people who have been apprehended by social services and moved around. She says their data shows that children are more likely to come in contact with an abusive foster parent when they are consistently uprooted.
WEDNESDAY 22 AUGUST
Improvements to child protection
measures in York praised
MEASURES for keeping children in York safe have been praised in the wake of two high-profile neglect investigations. An Ofsted inspection into safeguarding services in the city has given them a ranking of “good” and picked out the City of York Safeguarding Children Board (CYSCB) as “outstanding”, a year after the watchdog released a critical report into York’s arrangements. The CYSCB reviewed child neglect and how youngsters can be protected following two cases. In one, Ofsted branded the serious case review relating to three children suffering gross dental neglect and serious general neglect “inadequate”. The children were removed from their parents in 2009 and placed in foster care, but analysis of the case said an earlier opportunity to intervene and protect them had been missed.
South Dakota: Child advocates
stress recruiting of foster parents
South Dakota’s child protection program is planning an advertising campaign to recruit more foster parents for children with particular needs. The Department of Social Services has requested that companies submit proposals to develop a campaign that would feature first lady Linda Daugaard as its spokeswoman. The state would spend up to $150,000 on ads targeted at recruiting foster parents to care for Native American children, teens, siblings or those with medical problems. The ads would be targeted at Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Eagle Butte and Mission, identified as areas that need foster parents. Virgena Wieseler, director of the state Division of Child Protection, said South Dakota has about 700 foster homes for about 1,000 children in foster care at any one time. She said it’s difficult to find foster families in general, but tougher to find those who can care for a child with medical problems or other special needs.
UK: Volunteers needed to support
children in care
VOLUNTEERS are needed to visit, support and listen to young people who are living in care. Wiltshire Independent Visitor Scheme is looking for volunteers aged over 21 in the Salisbury area who communicate well with young people, understand their issues and interests and have some regular time to spare. Independent visitors help support youngsters in care who have little or no contact with their parents or family. Sheila Lupton, Wiltshire’s independent visitor manager, said: “The scheme is great for both volunteers and young people. We match young people with volunteers according to their interests, personalities and preferences, this means they usually get on really well together and young people can build up a strong trusting relationship with their volunteer visitor.” http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/9884573.Volunteers_needed_to_support_children_in_care/
Wales: 90-day look at future of
SWANSEA Council is to launch a consultation on the future of a children's home which costs almost £3,500 per week per child to run. The outcomes for youngsters who have stayed at Nant y Felin, in Blaenymaes, have been "unacceptably varied," according to a hard-hitting council report, which also notes there has been a disproportionate rate of offending behaviour from those at the unit. Now the council's cabinet has approved the launch of a 90-day consultation on the future of the home, and what alternatives may replace it. Labour councillor Mark Child, cabinet member for wellbeing, said the needs of the most vulnerable young people were at the top of its agenda. "What's clear is that a lot of hard work has been done at Nant y Felin to support some of the most troubled teenagers in our communities," he said. "Some young people have clearly benefited from their experiences there while others have continued to experience difficulties in their lives. "The priority must be getting the best outcome for looked-after children.
Southwest Florida children's
mental health care 'lacking'
There is not enough mental health care for the children in Southwest Florida. The nearest children’s psychiatric institution, a locked program that handles the most troubled kids, is about 90 miles from Fort Myers. There are no therapists with specialized adoption training in the five-county area, according to a Department of Children and Families list. There’s a shortage of providers and therapeutic group homes. “There are so many families that have run-of-the-mill family problems that just need basic counseling and guidance and that’s not easy to come by,” said Dr. Omar Rieche, a Fort Myers child and family psychiatrist who has been working in Southwest Florida for more than a decade. “The system that can provide is already overburdened and they’re limited in the ability to service the whole community ... It’s really, really lacking.”
Canada: Residents oppose zoning
change for former Children’s Home
Residents near the former Children’s Home in Hamilton are concerned with a proposed zoning change request that would allow the owners to use the facilities for different uses. Neighbors fear a noble idea for the former orphanage called The Father’s House is fraught with many potential unintended consequences. New Oaks Community is seeking to redevelop the 2.5-acre lot at 425 S. D St. in the Rossville-Main Street District to change the former orphanage into a place to house families to help them foster and/or adopt children. Daryl Gunnarson, executive director for the The Father’s House, said “this is breathing life into an old orphanage” and the zoning change is appropriate for the reuse of the property. He said the project would use a “wrap-around concept” to work with local churches and other organizations as an adoption resource center. Scott Phillips, Gunnarson’s attorney, said “it’s very important to look at how this land will be used. It’s not an orphanage. It’s not a group home and it’s not for institutional use…. This is a residential use.”
NJ youth prison inmate dies after
Prosecutors say the death of an inmate at a New Jersey prison is a homicide. Joshua Jones died two days after he was assaulted at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Clinton Township. The 23-year-old from Englewood was convicted of possession of a handgun and distributing drugs in a school zone. He would have been eligible for parole in January. The Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office says Jones was discovered in a dorm where several inmates reside. Authorities say they are aggressively investigating the case.
USA: Delinquent by Reason of
With the publication of Michelle Alexander’s provocative book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, our attention has been drawn to the troubling reality that the majority of young African-American men living in our cities are either incarcerated or on probation or parole. As a result of the ill-conceived “War on Drugs,” our communities of color have been decimated, and a vast population has been left unemployable and disenfranchised. Professor Alexander powerfully demonstrates that America’s racial caste system did not end with the outlawing of state-sanctioned segregation but merely reconstituted itself. With the demise of Jim Crow, the criminal justice system now functions as our society’s system of racial control.
MONDAY 20 AUGUST
Australia: Increasing numbers of
children are staying in care for longer
THE number of children taken from their parents and placed in out-of-home care has surpassed the adult prison population, as the child-protection crisis grows. There were 37,648 children in out-of-home care in the latest national figures -- an increase of 12,194 in five years _ while there were 29,106 prisoners in custody at June 30 last year. The trend has accelerated since the number of child "wards of the state" overtook adult prisoners in 2007, and the number of foster children has jumped by a third. Queensland Child Protection Commissioner Tim Carmody has questioned if child safety workers are increasingly likely to remove children due to a "by the book" culture of risk-aversion. "Every time there's a horror story in the media everyone gets more defensive," he told a state inquiry into child protection.
Florida: More kids being adopted
from state foster care
More than 3,000 children were adopted from Florida foster care last year. That's an 8 percent increase from the previous year. The Department of Children and Families announced Friday that there are about 750 foster kids available for adoption. That number is down from 850 about 18 months ago. The state has significantly increased the number of children adopted from foster care in recent years by focusing on hard to place kids. Those groups include teens, sibling groups and children with special needs. More than 17,000 kids have been adopted from Florida foster care in the past five years.
Less adult justice for juveniles
Rulings point to a national shift away from harsher prison sentences. A California Supreme Court ruling calling a 16-year-old's 115-year prison sentence unconstitutional is the latest in the nation's turnaround on lengthy prison terms for children. Thursday's decision follows more than two decades of tough-on-crime laws that have changed the face of juvenile justice and sent a number of Monterey County teenagers to prison for life. The high court's ruling in the case of Los Angeles teenager Rodrigo Caballero, convicted of attempted murder after he shot at rival gang members, still leaves open the question of what exactly constitutes a "de facto" sentence of life without parole for juveniles. But in its ruling, the court made clear that Caballero's 115-year term was essentially the same as life without the possibility of parole.
Scotland: Call to mark graves of
care home children
SURVIVORS of child abuse are demanding that headstones are placed on the unmarked graves of children who died in a care home which was run by Catholic nuns. The graves of up to 158 children who died while living at Smyllum Park in Lanark lie in mounds at St Mary’s churchyard in the town. Members of campaign group Incas – In Care Abuse Survivors – said those who had suffered physical beatings and psychological abuse at the hands of the nuns wanted justice for the children and added that they could not get “closure” until they had performed this last task. They are being supported by relatives of some of the children who died from disease and accidents at the home over 117 years, from 1864-1981
Foster parents make difference in
Rebecca Turner of Wiggins is heading to the University of Northern Colorado to study nursing -- in hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner -- and the contributions of foster parents Tanya Langon and Dixie Quick, as well as caseworker Oneida Petrino of the Morgan County Department of Human Services and guardian ad litem Melissa Rye, made all the difference, she said. "It got me on the right track," Turner said. She did not get along with her mother, and her father was not really in her life much, she said. When she started foster care at 15 years old, she was "a scared little girl," Turner admitted, but the support of foster care helped her to slow down and do what she needed to do to get out of the hole she had dug. She had a chance to think about where she wanted to go in her life, and learned to stay in school and actually do homework. She became involved in after-school activities such as serving as a basketball manager and doing work in journalism -- not just hanging out. Turner said she had taken a wrong turn, and needed some help getting back on track.
Australia: Toddler critical after
assault in state care
A 20-month-old girl is in a critical condition in a Western Australian hospital after being assaulted while in state care. The toddler was living with relatives when she suffered the attack but was under the care of the department for child protection, ABC reports. The baby was admitted to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital on Thursday before she was transferred to Perth's Margaret Hospital. Police have not revealed the nature of the attack or her injuries. A police investigation is ongoing while the state opposition leader, Sue Ellery, has expressed "grave concern".
Vermont: Less time for foster
parents with Casey Family Services
Foster parents connected to Casey Family Services have less time to figure out what's next. In June, the foster care agency announced it would close its doors in December. Now parents are hearing they need to transfer services even earlier by November. The organization says specific cases may get exceptions and receive services for a longer period of time. 25 foster families will be put into the hands of the Department of Children and Families as they search for an alternative foster care program.
Kids Behind Bars: Illinois
Rethinks Juvenile Justice
Elias Roman, 17, has been through Illinois' juvenile justice system twice. But the second time around, he was paired with a mentor, and he's looking at things differently. His story of trips through the justice system is familiar in Illinois — one of a number of states rethinking how it pursues juvenile justice to make sure kids who've committed a crime once don't end up in a juvenile facility again. A damning report [PDF] from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission called the state youth prison system an expensive failure. Its study showed that "well over 50 percent of youth" leaving the state's facilities will go back to juvenile facilities — and others will head to adult corrections system.
UK: N.I.C.E. consults on new
social care quality standard for looked-after children
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has launched a consultation on a new quality standard for the health and wellbeing of looked-after children and young people. The Health and Social Care Act (2012) set out a new responsibility for NICE to develop quality standards and other guidance for social care in England. NICE has been asked by the Department for Education and the Department of Health to pilot the development of a quality standard for social care on the health and wellbeing of looked after children and young people for use in England.
Dr Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE said: "As part of our preparation for taking on our new role in social care in April 2013, we are currently running a pilot programme for developing social care quality standards. "Although NICE has been producing quality standards for health care since 2010, these will be the first standards for social care."
FRIDAY 17 AUGUST
Ireland: 10,000 with disabilities
living in care facilities with no inspections
MORE THAN 10,000 adults and children with disabilities are living in publicly funded residential facilities that are not subject to State inspections or care regulations, new figures show. This is despite evidence which shows that children with learning disabilities face a much higher risk of abuse or mistreatment than the general population. The abuse of people with disabilities in residential care made headlines last week following a damning report into events at Winterbourne View, a private hospital near Bristol. Eleven former staff members have pleaded guilty to ill-treating adults with autism and learning disabilities at the centre, which is owned by Irish investors. Of the 10,000 people with disabilities living in residential or respite care in Ireland, about 500 are children, according to the latest available figures. The residential centres are mostly funded by the State and run by voluntary or religious groups. In addition, a number of private operators have recently started providing this form of care.
Minnesota: Cost of day care
Placing an infant in a child care center in Minnesota costs more than a year of state college tuition -- and can consume half the annual income of a typical single mother -- according to a national report released Thursday. Minnesota was the nation's second costliest state for center-based child care last year, relative to the state's median income, according to the report by Child Care Aware of America, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. One year of infant care in a center cost $13,579 in Minnesota, while one year for a preschooler cost $10,470. In 17 states, a year of infant care cost less than $8,000. While state experts said the analysis makes Minnesota seem more out of step with the nation than it really is, they acknowledged that the high cost of care is becoming a burden for low- and middle-income families.
Louisiana juvenile justice agency
has lost 285 workers in past five years
The office that oversees the rehabilitation and imprisonment of juvenile offenders has seen its budget cut $41.1 million and has lost 285 workers in the past five years, according to a report issued Tuesday. The data, presented to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission, showed that between the 2008-09 fiscal year and the fiscal year that started in July, the office has gone from 1,275 employees to 990. House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, who takes over as chairman of the panel Wednesday, said the budget cannot continue to shrink at the current rate if the state wants to successfully rehabilitate young offenders. "I have no reason to believe those (budget) numbers will climb unless revenues improve," Leger added. The office's budget got slashed from $162.2 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year to $121.1 million in the budget year that started in July.
Help for Florida foster youth
after they leave system
State child welfare officials are overhauling a program that helps teens as they age out of foster care. Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins on Wednesday appointed 12 people to the newly reassembled Independent Living Services Advisory Council. The state gives foster kids a stipend when they leave foster care to help them transition into adulthood. Those expenditures have grown by more than 70 percent since 2007, but positive outcomes have not increased dramatically. About 6,000 youths are receiving services including case management, budgeting and employment assistance. DCF is also seeking legislative changes to require mentors for these youth, increase their job opportunities and provide more accountability for the program's spending. DCF recently surveyed more than 1,800 former foster youth. Only 4 percent had a full-time job.
Australia: Children of addicts at
high risk of abuse
ONE in five children whose parents are drug addicts or alcoholics is physically or sexually abused, an inquiry has been told. Queensland's child protection inquiry on Thursday delved into a 1980 study of 200 families where the parents had alcohol or drug addictions. The research found children in one in five of the families were being physically or sexually abused. Department of Communities executive director Brad Swan said recent research showed the statistics were still valid. "The pattern of abuse and parental risk factors haven't changed," Mr Swan said. Of about 5900 cases in 2010/11, 370 children were being sexually abused, about 1290 were physically harmed, 2300 were emotionally harmed and 1900 were neglected, he said. Children who are in state care for two years or more often grew up to be dysfunctional adults who required ongoing support, he added. Mr Swan said four per cent of Queensland's 8063 children in state care had extreme mental and emotional needs. However, more than 70 per cent had a better to moderate chance of leaving the system and were capable of functioning on their own. The inquiry continues.
UK: Children's Home gets High
The level of care at a children’s home has received high praise after an Ofsted report found it ‘outstanding’ last month. Sunflower House, run by Bedford Borough Council, was inspected by Ofsted in July this year who assessed the quality of the homes provision. The home provides short breaks for five children with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and sensory impairment. In both the Safeguarding Children and Young People, and Leadership and Management categories, Ofsted found the children’s home to be Outstanding. Ofsted’s report also highlighted that the home’s Overall Effectiveness is Good. This rating was similarly given in the Children and Young People and Quality of Care categories.
Illinois: Program aims to curb
Metro East youth from repeating crimes
A pilot program aimed at reducing the number of underage offenders sent back to juvenile detention is headed to the Metro East. Children's Home and Aid, a child and family services organization with a regional office in Granite City, received more than $400,000 from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission to provide reintegration services to youth after they are released from detention. Madison and St. Clair counties as well as Chicago's West Side have some of the highest youth incarceration rates in the state. Mark Smith, Children's Home and Aid delinquency supervisor, said the goal of the three-year program is to help about 75 youths and reduce the number of those adolescents who return to the Department of Juvenile Justice by 25 percent. More than 50 percent of underage offenders who are released juvenile detention center end up coming back. Crimes among Madison County's youth run the gamut, from retail theft to residential burglary. "The majority of [youth offenders] are coming from families that have generational dysfunction," Smith said. "Even if they change in the Department of Juvenile Justice, when they come out they go back into that same environment and same family patterns and it's easy for them to get wrapped back up into that same mind set. If there's no support or resources for those kids, especially educational or employment counseling, it's a good recipe for them to go back."
WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST
UK: Children with psychosis
should be offered family interventions
Families of children and young people with psychosis or schizophrenia should be offered “at least” 10 sessions of family intervention work, draft guidelines released by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) state. Health and social care professionals should also “consider arts therapies”, including dance, drama, music or art therapy, for all children and young people diagnosed with the mental health conditions, the guidelines recommend. Family intervention should include the child or young person and be “carried out for between three months and one year” including at least 10 planned sessions, the guidance states. But it warns that in cases of first episode psychosis, young people and their parents or carers should be informed that "there is little evidence" that psychological interventions alone are "effective without antipsychotic medication." A time limit of one month or less should be agreed for reviewing treatment options, including introducing antipsychotic medication.
Nebraska: Childcare provider
A northwest Lincoln day care provider has lost her license. On March 2, Lincoln police cited Sonja Merrick for misdemeanor child abuse. The Lancaster County attorney’s office later declined to prosecute the case, citing lack of evidence. However, Merrick failed to notify the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services of the citation, as required, according to the notice of revocation issued by the department. The revocation notice says police became involved after a doctor reported bruising on a child’s hips and stomach that was inconsistent with Merrick’s explanation of how the bruises got there. Merrick, who was licensed to watch as many as 10 children in her home at 5268 W. Redberry Lane, told the parents she put the child in a highchair for time-out and the bruising happened when the child struggled in the chair, according to the revocation notice.
Tracking success — Government of
Canada works with Toronto youth
to end violence against women and girls
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, today shared the successful results of Government of Canada support for a project that addresses violence against women and girls in Toronto. "It is only by working together, enhancing our knowledge and understanding of this issue, that we will end all forms of violence against women and girls," said Minister Ambrose. "By targeting youth between the ages of 12 and 18, we are empowering them to work together, raise awareness and contribute to preventing acts of violence in their communities." In March 2011, Victim Services Toronto received $168,000 in Government of Canada funding for a project to develop and adapt approaches to engage youth in violence prevention through youth-led workshops with a particular focus on a gender-based analysis framework. This project takes place in schools, with workshops tailored for youth with disabilities, newcomers and cultural groups on the issue of violence against women. The project will be completed in the spring of 2013.
Australia: Child Safety Inquiry
hears at-risk children in Queensland Indigenous communities has no easy
THE problem of poor parenting in Queensland Indigenous communities is rapidly getting worse, with four in ten kids removed from home coming from Indigenous households. The Child Safety Inquiry heard this morning the problem of at-risk children in Queensland Indigenous communities had no easy solutions. Commissioner Tim Carmody said 40 per cent of out-of-home care was needed by Indigenous kids who were staying there longer and "at significant cost to government." Mr Carmody said Queenslanders had a right to ask what was happening to the millions of dollars in funding designed to remedy the problem. "People who pay taxes have expectations, not unreasonably, that their money is well spent,'' Mr Carmody said.
Texas: After violations, state
rejects Austin-based nonprofit's bid to expand foster care
Austin-based nonprofit Lutheran Social Services of the South has lost its bid to privatize foster care in South Texas, state officials say, because of a history of problems at its Laredo, Garland and Richardson operations. On Monday, the Department of Family and Protective Services suspended all new placements of children through the nonprofit's Laredo, Garland and Richardson offices. Those three branches supervise 71 homes with 216 children, department spokesman Patrick Crimmins said. Children currently in those homes will stay there. Lutheran President Betsy Guthrie did not immediately return calls for comment late Monday afternoon. The organization has the right to appeal the findings, Crimmins said. Family and Protective Services — which oversees all foster care operations in Texas — sent Lutheran a letter Wednesday saying it needs to correct serious problems at its offices in those three cities. Staffers, among other things, have routinely failed to properly oversee foster homes, conduct background checks on families and protect youth from abuse and neglect, the letter said.
Australia: Child Safety Inquiry
hears child safety workers face death threats at work
A VIOLENT, petrol sniffing 13-year-old who regularly uses marijuana, suffers drug induced psychosis and is not yet properly toilet trained is just one example of the challenges facing Queensland child safety workers. The Child Safety Inquiry was told on Tuesday up to 900 frontline workers handling some of the 8000 kids in state care have one of the tougher jobs in the state. Executive director of Child Safety in the Department of Communities Brad Swan said child safety workers could be assaulted, stalked and subject to death threats. "It is a difficult job,'' he said. Mr Swan told the inquiry of one petrol sniffing 13-year-old who frequently defecated in public and suffered severe mental health issues after being physically, emotionally and sexually abused in the family home. The child had shown improvement in behaviour after child safety workers helped him with educational and behavioural programs, he said.
UK: Are adoptions on the decline?
“The number of kids in care in the UK has increased by 4,510 – a rise of almost eight per cent – since 2006, when there were 59,890. Yet there were 500 fewer adoptions last year, down from 3,700.” The release of adoption data from the Office for National Statistics at the beginning of August has arguably been to the media as a recently unscrewed honey jar would be to a group of flies. Commentating on the popularity of adopting children from oversees, an Independent blog joined the swarm this morning, comparing the increasing number of children in care with the drop in adoptions. Full Fact’s previous brush with adoption statistics showed that figures on the number of children in care being adopted and the overall number of adoptions were easily confused by news outlets. We also found that this data is separate from the number of “placements” in a year, which refers to the period of time children spend with their adoptive families prior to an application for an adoption order (the court order which severs a child’s legal ties to their birth parents and rebinds them with adoptive parents).
South Africa: Children’s home
owed R1 million
A children’s home on the South Coast is surviving on donations because, the owners allege, it is owed more than R1 million by the provincial government. And now the Mother of Peace, Illovo, Building Families, Building a Nation – home to about 75 abandoned, abused and orphaned children deemed to be in need of institutional care by the courts – has been forced to go to court in an attempt to get the “place of safety” fees it is owed, some for as long as eight years. The home has brought the application against the MEC for social welfare and has also cited the premier, whose office placed four of the children and two local child welfare societies as interested parties. While it had been set down to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court next week, the MEC has filed a notice of opposition and it will have to be adjourned to give time for further filing of affidavits. In the meantime, home director Gavin Gradwell said that as at the end of February this year, the home was owed just more than R1 million – and the bill was rising every month. “It is extremely desperate. Salaries have not been paid,” Gradwell said. “And we have had to stop some upgrade projects just to buy food for the kids. We are looking at possibly retrenching staff,” he said.
Vancouver youth can find drugs
A study called "surprising" by one of its lead researchers has found hard drugs are just ten minutes away for Vancouver's young users. The study conducted by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS found that despite decades of efforts to combat drugs, heroin, crack, cocaine, crystal meth and marijuana can be obtained within minutes, particularly by young drug users. Dr. Evan Wood, an internal medicine physician and senior author of the study, noted the U.S. declared the war on drugs 40 years ago, but that hasn't helped at-risk youth avoid falling into drug use. "Their reality in terms of the free and easy availability of drugs is, I think, discordant from your average Canadian's understanding of just how . . . available drugs are on the streets of Canadian cities," said Wood. The study, to be released today, surveyed two groups of people in 2007; one between 14 and 26 years of age who had used an illicit drug other or in addition to marijuana at least 30 days before joining the study. The other consisted of adult drug users over 16 years old who injected drugs at least a month before the survey. Both studies asked "How difficult would it be for you to get drugs right now in the area you typically obtain your drugs?"
Canada: Teen centre's care badly
"I have grave concerns over the recent announcement to dismantle a truly vital service to a most vulnerable population within Windsor-Essex County. For years, as a physician, a psychiatrist and a parent, I have been able to rely on the Teen Health Centre (THC) to provide professional and holistic care in a unique nonstigmatized setting. Far from being redundant, there is nowhere else in the community where adolescents can find these services. Young people need and deserve to have their own practitioners, without fear of breaching confidentiality, provided by staff who have expertise and a high comfort level with youth." -- Dr Tamson Doey. "Probably the most important reason for adolescent services is the mounting evidence that, without treatment, the issues which bring them to the THC will become more symptomatic and more difficult and expensive to treat, with greater damage to them and to the rest of us."
Maryland: Collins Urges DJS to
Youth Detention Center Options
Charles County Commissioner Vice President Reuben Collins urged the Department of Juvenile Services to consider other options for the Southern Region Children’s Center, current planned for Waldorf. Dring a press conference on Monday afternoon Collins suggested options in St. Mary’s County or Charlotte Hall would be more appropriate. “On July 31st, I voted, along with three of my fellow Charles County Commissioners, to set forth a resolution opposing the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ selection of the Acton Lane Industrial Park site in Waldorf for a planned regional juvenile detention center,” Collins said. “I remain steadfast in my opposition on this matter. I am here today to speak out for the residents in District 3, in particular those living in northern Waldorf, who would be affected most greatly by the construction of a juvenile detention facility in Waldorf.” Collins said the Waldorf location did not meet the criteria set by the Maryland State Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) because of its proximity to several Waldorf neighborhoods and two schools, the cost to build the detention center and because the location does not have sustainable water and sewage. Collins suggested a location at the existing Southern Maryland Pre-Release Center would be more central to all the locations it would serve and came with a considerably lower price tag, calling it “fiscally irresponsible” to build the detention center in Waldorf. Collins also said there was a site off MD-235 in St. Mary’s County that would also meet the criteria.
MONDAY 13 AUGUST
Indiana: Legislative committee to
look at DCS issues
On Aug. 22, the General Assembly's interim study committee on the Indiana Department of Child Services will convene the first in a series of meetings to discuss the state agency's policies and procedures. DCS has faced heavy criticism from legislators and child advocates throughout the state over the deaths of several Indiana children whose families had prior contact with DCS. They also have challenged the operation of DCS' centralized abuse and neglect hotline. "Our primary goal is to share with legislators and the public what we do, how we're striving to provide better outcomes and the promising results we're getting," John Ryan, DCS chief of staff, said in a written statement. "We also are eager to hear concerns in a fair and constructive manner that leads to solutions that really do help children and families." The legislative committee is charged with studying 14 topics, including best practices concerning child welfare, child mental health and delinquent children; the child abuse and neglect hotline; the long-range needs of DCS; crucial problems in DCS; and the availability and quality of services provided to families in need of services.
Feds: Mississippi county runs
Officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, have operated "a school-to-prison pipeline" that violates the constitutional rights of juveniles by incarcerating them for alleged school disciplinary infractions, some as minor as defiance, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday. "Students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities," the Justice Department said. The federal agency's civil rights division seeks "meaningful negotiations" in 60 days to end the constitutional violations or else a federal lawsuit would be filed against state, county and local officials in Meridian, according to a Justice Department letter dated Friday to those officials. "The systematic disregard for children's basic constitutional rights by agencies with a duty to protect and serve these children betrays the public trust," Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general, said in a statement. "We hope to resolve the concerns outlined in our findings in a collaborative fashion, but we will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action if necessary."
UK: Failure to improve child care
in Telford & Wrekin
Telford & Wrekin Council has failed to improve the way it looks after vulnerable children and young people over the last four years and is still rated just ‘adequate’, a report revealed today. The authority has defended its performance, however, arguing the bar has been raised over the years when it comes to judging standards. The latest grading, awarded by Ofsted following an inspection last month. Safeguarding services are those provided by a council and its partners with the aim of keeping vulnerable children safe, protecting them and providing support to them and their families. ‘Adequate’ is the lowest of three possible above the bottom rating of ‘inadequate’. ‘Outstanding’ is the top ranking available, followed by ‘good’, ‘adequate’ and ‘inadequate’. Telford & Wrekin was found to be ‘good’ in six service areas, ‘adequate’ in 12 and ‘inadequate’ in two. The findings gave the authority an overall rating of ‘adequate’.
Florida state agency is moving
aggressively to protect foster children
Regarding the recent letter “Our foster kids need better protection,” we agree that the state and society have a special responsibility to foster children. We appreciate University of North Florida department head Matthew Corrigan’s comment that some private agencies providing services to foster children have performed “remarkably well.” We also agree with him that more work is needed. The Florida Department of Children and Families actively oversees the agencies that it contracts with to handle foster care and adoptions. After DCF leadership in Jacksonville heard about incidents at a group foster home in Miami, we reviewed all of our group home policies in Northeast Florida. We checked every teenage female in our group homes to ensure that they were properly supervised.
South Africa: Children's homes
Cash-strapped children's homes in KwaZulu-Natal might be closed if the provincial department of social development does not speed up its registration processes. Three homes - Clouds of Hope, in Underberg, White Cross, in Ashburton, and Isimphiwe, in Richmond - have been struggling for years to get funding from the department and have had to dig deep to feed the children in their care. Without registration, the homes cannot access government funding.
White Cross director Stuart Knight and his wife Jacqui had to "scrape around and ask friends and donors" to contribute to the R47000 it takes to run the home each month. He said he had been trying since January to get the department to register the home. It takes care of 20 disabled children.
Washington State: Agencies
reacted the right way to sex offender audit
For years now the state has maintained a registry of sex offenders and where they live. But apparently no one thought to match that registry against the addresses of those who provide child care or foster care. That was an unfortunate oversight, because a new state audit reveals that sometimes those addresses do overlap. The audit, which began about 18 months ago, found 28 instances of registered sex offenders living in child care or foster care settings since 2002. In 24 of the cases, the care provider had concealed the offender’s presence from social service oversight. The audit also looked at whether all school employees were being checked against lists of sex offenders as required by law and found that they weren’t: Since 2005, only teachers and other classified school employees such as counselors and nurses were being vetted. Another important finding is that the Washington State Patrol was not providing the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction with all necessary background information, including names of sex offenders convicted outside the state of Washington.
New Zealand: Foster parents
'treated girl like slave'
A former husband and wife who treated a girl they fostered like a slave - beating and starving her - have been found guilty of ill-treatment and neglect. It took a Wellington District Court just over three hours to find Russell Guy Kenneth Kennedy, 63, and Leonie Kennedy, 59, both of Wairarapa guilty of cruelly ill-treating and wilfully neglecting a girl under the age of 16 between September 16, 1983 and July 6, 1987 in Greytown. They had pleaded not guilty. They have been remanded in custody for sentencing in September with Wellington District Court judge Denys Barry saying imprisonment was a virtually inevitability. The Crown had alleged the girl was beaten with hockey sticks, spoons and jug cords, made to watch while the family ate, denied adequate clothing, and held under water until she thought she would drown.
New website for tips on problems
at Georgia's youth detention centers
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has announced the creation of a website -- http://www.djj.state.ga.us -- where people can report suspicious activities at the state’s youth detention centers and court-services offices. Anonymous tips are accepted, but the agency promises that the names of sources will be kept confidential. "This new online TIP Form is available to all DJJ employees and to the public," said Juvenile Justice Commissioner L. Gale Buckner. "Now, if they see something, they can also say something to help safeguard this workplace, while protecting their identity, too." Buckner shook up the office organizational structure last month and is making surprise inspections of facilities and court-services offices. She’s also revising policies.
FRIDAY 10 AUGUST
UK: Forced Adoption: The
demonization of parents in care proceedings
The Children and Families Bill expected to be introduced in 2012/2013 sets out plans to speed up adoption and care proceedings. The Bill will create a six-month time limit for care proceedings in England and Wales. The Government are committed to tackling delays in the system and ensuring that more children than ever are adopted. These ill thought out reforms fail to recognise children’s and parent’s rights to remain together wherever possible. It is a myth that children who are adopted are not wanted by their families. The vast majority of adopted children are very much loved by their parents. Care proceedings take an average of 52 weeks before a final order is reached because parents refuse to stop fighting for their children. There is a lack in understanding of the complex problems that many parents in care proceedings suffer with. Often families are from the most impoverished households: 90% live below the poverty line, 60% have been abused as a child, 45% experience mental health problems, and 30% have been through the care system themselves when they were children. Many of their problems are not properly assessed, diagnosed or treated until they are subject to care proceedings based on allegations of neglect of their children. By the time their problems are assessed it is too late to provide them with the support they require and their children are adopted.
Australia: Damaged kids put on
Carmody Commission of Inquiry agenda
EMOTIONALLY damaged children, some as young as as nine, are being housed in round-the-clock care costing Queensland taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Hundreds of children aged nine to 18 years, who have been removed from abusive and violent families and who are so troubled they need full-time monitoring, are now in care around the state. With Queensland moving away from institutionalised care in recent decades, more than 70 private companies provide residential care for children, costing more than $150 million last year alone. Destruction of homes by children with serious mental health issues can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. But 24-hour monitoring of the most damaged children is expected to come under scrutiny when the Child Safety inquiry starts taking evidence on Monday. Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis said residential care arrangements increased under the previous government. "Under Labor, we saw growing numbers of children and young people placed in residential care," she said.
Washington: Former foster child
helping others like him
Chris Patterson works with kids at Breakthrough, a behavioral rehabilitation service (BRS). "We take very extreme kids. They could be dual diagnosed (like) bi-polar, autistic, Down syndrome. (They have) very high needs, a very high IQ, are very manipulative and can be very behavioral at times," said Patterson. Breakthrough runs six group homes, five in Spokane and one in Kennewick. They can treat up to 30 teenagers at a time. "Every kid who walks through has a different on what they have to do to survive. It's always on a survival mode," said Patterson. Patterson knows a thing our two about survival, as he grew up in the system. He went into foster care when he was 2 and was adopted by a local family at age 4. After some family issues when he was 12 years old, he went back into foster care. He then went to a group home, a receiving foster home and then lived with a foster family until adulthood.
Northwest Michigan: Child and
Family Services celebrating 75 years
Child and Family Services has worked for the past 75 years to match children who can no longer be raised by their birth families with temporary homes in foster care and permanent homes through adoption. Staff and friends of Child and Family Services have been celebrating the organization’s anniversary with various events throughout the year, Aranki said. “One highlight is the 23rd annual Brown Bag Campaign, which aims to remind people of the needs of children in foster care, as well as the need for foster and adoptive families to love and care for them,” Aranki said. The campaign is a fundraising program that has appeared in various local newspapers this summer, and is included in the Leader this wehttp://www.morningstarpublishing.com/articles/2012/08/08/leader_and_kalkaskian/news/doc5022ace54da84193836961.txtek.
New Zealand: Tonga NGO calls for
parents to take better care of their children
Radio Tonga reports the Centre’s Fuiva Kavaliku made the call following the sentencing of a man for sexually abusing a 9 year old girl. The Supreme Court this week sentenced Sosefo Malu Kolo of Ma’ufanga to 12 years jail for the sexual abuse which occurred during 2010 and 2011. The court was told the 65 year old often picked the girl up from school and took her to a remote area where the offence occurred. Mrs Kavaliku says it’s very important that parents and guardians take note of any change in the behaviour of their children. And they should maintain closer links with their children’s teachers.
UK: Lloyd Park Children's Centre
in Walthamstow has been rated outstanding by Ofsted
The facility, which is located in its namesake park, was rated 'outstanding' by the education watchdog in a report following an inspection in June. The centre, which provides daycare, a pre-school, after-school clubs and other family support, was praised for its excellent care and "highly effective" outreach work in the community. Its chief executive Pauline Thomas said: "this achievement is due to the dedication and commitment of the team - the staff, volunteers, parents and partners that work hard to ensure that the centre provides services that the local community want."
Illinois: Foster mother becomes
advocate for homeless children
Listening to Lauri Burns' story, it's hard to believe the technology manager at a defense firm in California and foster mother to 31 children was once herself a troubled teen. Raised in an abusive environment and saying she felt like her "dad's punching bag," Burns was a ward of the state, growing up in group homes, detention centers and mental institutions. "The girls in the group homes when I was growing up were 90 percent gay girls. I'm just more comfortable with them," said Burns.Foster children age out of the system at the age of 18, at the rate of 25,000 per year. Sixty-five percent of youth leaving foster care are in need of housing, according to the Children's Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego Law School. "I was a foster mom to 18 kids before I realized kids were leaving the foster system to homelessness. I had no clue, because my kids just stay my kids forever," said Burns. "I had no idea that there were other foster parents who were just saying, 'OK, 18 is here. You gotta go.' And the reason is, obviously, because the check stops." Burns takes on foster children who have been turned out of other foster homes and/or have experienced intense trauma and abuse. Five girls live in Burns's home now, and only one is still in foster care. Those who age out, stay with Burns and go to college. "I feel like these kids are my family. I grew up with these kids," said Burns. "They feel like family to me. I don't feel like I'm doing anything special."
TV star Challis joins campaign
calling for children's home to be moved
A BURGLARY at the home of TV star John Challis has led to a children's care home being told to leave the area. A public meeting at Adforton Church voted unanimously for Keys Childcare to look for an alternative location for the Mill Cottage home after hearing how the Only Fools and Horses star was burgled earlier this year. Mr Challis, who lives at Wigmore Abbey, told the meeting two boys from the home based in Paytoe, near Leintwardine , broke into his house when he was on holiday. “To be told by the company, after this latest incident when two of the boys got out and broke into the house on two separate occasions, that the home did not feel their staff had been negligent, I find unbelievable,” said Mr Challis. "II understand the need to look after unfortunate young people. It is a very difficult job but this is totally in the wrong place.”
UK: Teenager left homeless due to
council's Children Act failings
A teenager was left homeless for several months due to a council's failure to meet its duty to accommodate him under the Children Act 1989, the Local Government Ombudsman has said. Kent Council's failings as the relevant children's services authority were compounded by those of housing authority Dover Council, which repeatedly failed to accept the young man as homeless. As a result the teenager, known as J, was left homeless from January to October 2009, sleeping on friends' sofas or in a tent, sometimes in the snow, and as a result his physical and mental health deteriorated. Ombudsman Anne Seex said the failings were "inexcusable" and called on the councils to pay the man £10,100 in compensation, reflecting the value of the housing he went without for 38 weeks, distress caused and the scale of failure. Both have agreed. J was known to Kent children’s social services as he had been accommodated under the Children Act from February 2005-March 2007, aged 12-14, before returning to his mother. He went on to receive social work support until early 2008 relating to offending and drug use, and during this time spent long periods away from home, living with known sex offenders. His mother told him to leave home in December 2008 after he objected to her relationship with a drug user.
Runaway Texas Boy Was Locked in
A 9-year-old Texas runaway discovered by police is now in foster care, and his parents are under investigation after he said they made him live in a 6-foot by 8-foot box in their home. The boy, whose name is being withheld by police, was reported missing from the Galveston home where he lived with his father and stepmother. He was found hours later, but police were prompted to investigate the boy's living situation when he told officers he ran away because he no longer wanted to be locked in his room. That room, the father told officers who came to the home, was a 6-foot by 8-foot particle-board box. Authorities said they found a small blanket, socks and a book inside the "room," which had two locking mechanisms attached to the outside, according to the affidavit provided to ABC News. "According to the family this was his room -- a 6-foot by 8-foot structure," Lt. Michael Grey of the Galveston police department said. The boy was removed from the home and is now in foster care.
WEDNESDAY 8 AUGUST
Wales 'has framework in place to
help its most vulnerable children'
Wales now has a framework in place to help its most vulnerable children, Deputy Minister for Social Services and Children Gwenda Thomas says. In a speech on child neglect at the Vale of Glamorgan National Eisteddfod as a guest of charity group Action for Children, Ms Thomas said: “The main reason for children being taken into care in Wales is neglect and the Welsh Government is taking action to mitigate the incidence of neglect and to ensure that there is a framework of services to support parents and families. “We have a number of early intervention programmes such as Flying Start, Families First and Integrated Family Support Services which can make a direct impact on child poverty, help reduce the incidence of neglect and play a key preventative role in supporting families and reducing the numbers of children who enter care. "I also greatly value the role that foster carers play in caring for looked-after children in Wales. "They are vital in enhancing and supporting the well-being of some of our most vulnerable young people in Wales and I’m committed to supporting them and the valuable service they provide.”
Setting parents up to fail:
punishing hopeless parents is integral
to care proceedings
It has become increasingly apparent that public law care proceedings are undergoing significant change. One aspect of this refiguring of care proceedings involves the emergence of punitive attitudes and varying kinds of punishment imposed on parents and their children in such proceedings. Punishing parents and child result in a cycle of inter-generational problems and further care proceedings. An article in Family Law argues that punishment imposed on parents in care proceedings stigmatises and marginalises them and serves to reinforce class based processes of social, familial and economic regulation. The second part argues that the reforms outlined in the family justice review: a system with children and families at heart, serve to uphold a presumption of adoption at first instance at the expense of children's welfare needs and parent's rights to family life.
UK: Care home bosses refute
claims of villagers
Residents of Adforton, near Leintwardine, say Mill House Care Home, on Paytoe Lane, which shelters vulnerable children should be shut or moved. They claim its youngsters have made village life a misery for a decade. They say the children abscond regularly, forcing police to search the village for them. However Keys Group, which took over Mill House last year, said there are only three children in the home, there ‘through no fault of their own’. Keys representatives spoke at a public meeting on the issue last Thursday evening in Adforton where they heard from residents about problems caused by some of the children who have stayed at Mill House. Wendy Chambers, chief operating officer from Keys, said today: “Setting this issue into context, there are only three children in the home and their behaviour is similar to other teenagers.
A growing number of children in
THE number of children taken into the care of Swindon Council rose in the past financial year – and officials are stumped as to the reason why. Official figures show the number of children taken from their parents or guardians rose 7.6 per cent, or 18 more children, from 235 in 2010/11 to 253 in 2011/12. The year 2010/11 had seen a four per cent decrease in Swindon compared to figures for 2009/10. The main group where there has been an increase of children coming into care has been among young females aged 16-plus from a white British background. There has also been a significant increase in the number of five to nine-year-olds coming into care on interim care orders.
Penny Lane Centers Partners with
Today, Penny Lane Centers signed on as a “Community Partner” in Los Angeles County of RaiseAChild.US, a non-profit organization that encourages LGBT people to build their families through fostering and adoption. Its campaigns recruit and support prospective LGBT parents while putting images of LGBT families into public spaces through PSAs, print media and outdoor advertising. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families, over 107,000 children in the foster care system are available and waiting to be adopted. Beyond that number, there are 300,000 more children in need of immediate foster placement. Certified families are in short supply. Over the past 18 months, RaiseAChild.US has run three campaigns in Los Angeles, engaging over 500 prospective parents, with 400 attending recruitment events. Penny Lane Centers is now training and certifying some of these recruits and will continue recruiting in the upcoming RaiseAChild campaign in November, National Adoption Awareness Month.
Tasmania: Foster children fears
TASMANIA'S Commissioner for Children fears foster kids are being silenced by the State Government, with the future of a key support program hanging in the balance. Aileen Ashford is stumped that she can no longer run a children's visitors program that was set up by her predecessor almost three years ago. The program matches independent volunteers with foster children, providing kids with an independent avenue to voice concerns or opinions about out-of-home-care. The State Government's Children and Youth Services director Mark Bryne said the program was not part of the commissioner's "primary role and function". However, Ms Ashford was concerned at suggestions the program would be operated by a non-government organisation. "I've only recently been advised that my powers do not extend to operating the program, even though it commenced under my predecessor nearly three years ago," she said.
Northern Ireland: Two children
'abducted by mother'
Two young children in state care in Northern Ireland are believed to have been abducted by their mother, police have said. The girl and boy, Pinar, six, and Fernando Boyle, three, were last seen with their mother Elizabeth, 35, at a play centre near Newry. The children were not returned to the care of social workers and it is assumed they remain with their mother. A police spokeswoman said: "This is being treated as a parental abduction." The children were last seen at Cheeky Monkeys play centre at Sheepbridge on Thursday with their mother.
Canada: Child-care modernization
plan panned by critics
The provincial government wants to modernize Ontario’s child care system, but some are questioning whether the plans outlined in a recent discussion paper go far enough. Early learning in Ontario is undergoing a huge transformation, starting with the introduction of full-day kindergarten, says the 16-page paper, which was posted on the Ministry of Education’s website at the end of June. While the vision behind full-day kindergarten was to give children a stronger start in school, the current focus on child care recognizes the key role it plays in promoting healthy development during the most critical years of a child’s life.
Northern Ireland: Care Home
Strike Enters Second Month
Staff at one of Northern Ireland's main children's care homes are striking for a second month over a new shift pattern. 13 night shift supervisors at Lakewood Regional Secure Centre in Bangor said the new rota requires staff to work fewer hours per shift and come in on an extra 36 days per year. They also said they would have to work more weekends, but their main concern was that the 30 vulnerable young people living in the home would have less continuity. The South Eastern Health Trust said it had put forward a compromise which had been rejected by the union NIPSA. The Voice of Young People in Care represents the children at the centre. Its chief executive Vivian McConvey called for an end to the dispute. She said: "My priority is the health and well-being of the children and young people being cared for away from home and in the care of the trust.
Swansea children's home at risk
of closure as costs rise
A SWANSEA children's home which costs the council more than £3,000 per week per child may close. The outcomes of children who have stayed at Nant y Felin, in Blaenymaes, have been "unacceptably varied," said a hard-hitting council report. Nant y Felin comprises two separate buildings capable of accommodating a total of eight young people aged 12 to 17. Nant y Felin comprises two separate buildings capable of accommodating a total of eight young people aged 12 to 17. Costs of looking after children there have risen considerably and council chiefs believe vulnerable young people may be better served by being cared for elsewhere. This week council bosses will be asked to approve a consultation on the possible closure of Nant y Felin and whether the authority should be a "direct supplier" of residential care. Nant y Felin was opened five years ago, replacing a residential care home in West Cross. A Cabinet report said the facility was needed, given the shortage at the time of foster carers and absence of alternative residential homes.
MONDAY 6 AUGUST
US: Landrieu Introduces Bill to
Improve Education Outcomes
for Foster Youth
U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., introduced the Uninterrupted Scholars Act (USA) to improve educational outcomes for foster youth. The current law—the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)—has hindered child welfare agencies’ efforts to raise education outcomes and experiences for foster youth. The legislation introduced today by Sen. Landrieu makes simple changes to fix FERPA and increase the educational success of children and youth in the child welfare system. Children and youth in foster care are traditionally among the most educationally at risk of all student populations. “This problem was identified not by me or my staff, but it was actually identified by foster youth who came to Washington, D.C., this summer to intern.
UK: Care for vulnerable children
in Harrow 'requires improvement',
Harrow’s ability to safeguard children and look after those in care has been rated as “adequate” by inspectors – the minimum requirement. Ofsted investigators who inspected the council in May found that 13 areas of the service were adequate, eight good, and one – health services for children in care – rated inadequate. Although the report said there was much “working well” in the borough, it said services to protect the most vulnerable children in the borough “require improvement”, with social workers changing too often and children on protection plans “for too long without evidence that their circumstances are improving”. It singled out healthcare for the borough’s 156 children in care as needing urgent improvement, adding “health visitors and school nurses have not received training on how to undertake assessments beyond how to complete the documentation”. It also said NHS Harrow has taken years to appoint a designated doctor and nurse to direct care for looked-after children despite being told to, leaving “no effective” leadership in making sure children were healthy. http://www.harrowtimes.co.uk/news/9854503.Care_for_vulnerable_children_in_Harrow__requires_improvement___says_Ofsted/
Mental Health Care Scarce for
Kids in Child-Welfare System
If young children living in a family suspected of maltreatment are to thrive, it is imperative that they receive needed services for their problems, researchers maintain. Young children who are the subject of investigations by child-welfare agencies because of allegations of maltreatment have a higher prevalence of mental health problems than their peers, and very few receive treatment for those problems. And that situation is a services system and social policy failure. Sarah McCue Horwitz, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Centers for Health Policy and Primary Care and Outcomes Research at Stanford University, and colleagues made that pronouncement after evaluating data from the second National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II), a longitudinal study of 5,872 children from infancy to age 17.5 referred to child-welfare agencies for an investigation of potential maltreatment. The investigations were completed during the sampling period, February 2008 to April 2009. They reported their results in the June Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
New York: Child care shortage
remains in Herkimer, Oneida, Madison counties
Officials have been working tirelessly for years to create more child care options in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties. But programs continue to shut down as quickly as they spring up. The Folts Home Child Care program in Herkimer, for example, is closing its doors at the end of the month. It was one of only two large day care centers in Herkimer County. "People attribute the closing of the child care centers to lack of funds," Child Care Council of Cornell Cooperative Extension Resource and Referral Coordinator Ellen Olson said. She says the reason there are only half as many day care slots as there are kids in Herkimer County is partly because even the right staff for a full center is too expensive. "We have specific regulations about how much education teachers should have in order to be with children in child care rooms," she explained. Those costs are often transferred to the parents.
Washington: Offenders find homes
where they shouldn't
A new state audit found that 28 sex offenders lived in places where state-regulated or subsidized child care or foster care was provided between 2002 and 2012, and one sex offender worked as a high school janitor undetected for nine years. The performance review found that all those problems could have been prevented if everyone strictly followed state laws. It also recommended several ways the state can do a better job protecting children from sex offenders in such facilities. Mindy Chambers, a spokeswoman for the state Auditor’s Office, on Friday commended state agencies for taking quick action to improve their procedures when they learned of the problems. “The most important thing is that children are protected,” Chambers said. “I think everybody knows that.”
Foster Children At An All-Time
High In Arizona
A report released this week by the Arizona Department of Economic Security reveals that the number of children in foster care is at an all-time high. Arizona. According to DES data, nearly 13,000 Arizona children were in foster care at the end of March of this year. Officials say that's an increase from last year of about 400 each moth, more than 10 a day going into foster care. The statistics come after Governor Jan Brewer formed a Child Safety Task Force last December to make recommendations on how to enhance child safety and reform agency protocol. However, the number of children being absorbed into the "system" has continued to spike. Officials attribute this to a number of things, including an increase in domestic violence and drug cases, as well as job loss and poverty. DES also reports a backlog of cases due to staffing shortages and the effects of millions of dollars in budget cuts to social services. Officials also estimate that more than 100,000 children are being raised by grandparents in Arizona, which is slightly more than the national average.
Two young children in state care
in Northern Ireland abducted
by their mother
The girl and boy, Pinar, six, and Fernando Boyle, three, were last seen with their mother Elizabeth, 35, at a play centre near Newry. The children were not returned to the care of social workers and it is assumed they remain with their mother. A police spokeswoman said: "This is being treated as a parental abduction." The children were last seen at Cheeky Monkeys play centre at Sheepbridge on Thursday with their mother. Police and the Southern Health Social Care Trust are concerned for the safety and well being of the children and appealed for their mother or anybody who knows their whereabouts to contact them immediately.
UK: Birmingham children's homes
closure consultation starts
A consultation period has begun over plans by Birmingham City Council to shut five children's homes. The GMB union said 170 jobs were under threat from the closures, which will save the council more than £3m. The council said it wanted to reduce the number of children in residential care while increasing its rates of fostering and adoption. It said homes identified for closure were based on performance and Ofsted inspection ratings. The homes that will shut are Chamberlain Road in Billesley, Fountain Road in Harborne, Kings Lodge in Oscott and South Acre and Viscount House, which are both in Dudley.
Florida: Lake juvenile work program becoming a
model for other communities
A Lake County program in which young offenders work on community projects as an alternative to having arrest records is becoming a model for other counties. A statewide conference in Bonita Springs for school-resource officers, or school-based law enforcement, featured a presentation about the county's "work in lieu of arrest" program, Lake Teen Court coordinator Stephanie Glass said. "It is quite an honor because we just started it this year," she said. Some 38 young people have completed 760 hours of community service through the program, which started with school-resource officers at Lake schools, she said. First-time nonviolent offenders can receive a civil citation, essentially a ticket, rather than being saddled with a criminal arrest record for minor offenses. Typical cases involve marijuana possession or battery charges for fights at the school, she said.
FRIDAY 3 AUGUST
New Zealand: Agency calls for
urgent action to prevent child sex abuse
ECAPT Child ALERT once again is drawing attention to what has become a tragic recurring pattern of New Zealand children being sexually abused. National Director Alan Bell says “Once again we have to read of children in their formative years being taken advantage of by people in places of responsibility. Earlier this week a case of a middle aged man abusing children in his care was reported and now we have an 18 year old using his position of trust to sexually exploit young boys.” Although the offender pleaded guilty to the charges, when interviewed by police, the man implied the 13-year-old had instigated the sexual contact. However he further admitted that on other occasions he exposed himself to boys and offered them money to show him their genitals. “This crime against vulnerable children must be prevented," says ECPAT. “Parents should be able to have complete trust in those to whom they entrust their children for care. They need to check out that the school, club, church or care-giver has been thoroughly screened and also that the responsible organisation has a child protection policy that is strictly adhered to.
West Virginia: scrapping child
Wednesday marked a major milestone for women and children across West Virginia. That day marked the beginning of a series of new benefits for women and children as part of the Affordable Care Act. Now for the first time insurance companies will have to begin covering women's preventative care without extra charges. West Virginia FREE Executive Director Margaret Chapman Pomponio says a lot more benefits will now be covered without having to pay a co payment . "This is going to mean a huge pocketbook savings for a lot of West Virginia woman and families," says Pomponio.
UK: Brereton children’s care home
shut down by council
A CHILDREN’S care home in Brereton has shut down – a month after it opened – following a spate of criminal incidents. Cheshire East Council’s decision to close the Dinan Chase centre in Illidge Green due to ‘difficulties with the company commissioned to provide the service’ comes after Cheshire police had to respond to 30 crime reports linked to the home. Officers responded to reports of youths ripping up flowers from gardens, pouring a tin of baked beans on to a parked car and pulling out fence posts in one night alone. A number of the calls to police were from the care home staff who were reporting that children had absconded from the centre. The rural bungalow was bought by the authority for £410,000 earlier this year– with adaptations costing £36,835 – as part of ‘a wider strategy to provide care for our most vulnerable children, aged up to 17’.
North Jersey: Child special
advocate training being offered in Essex County
Essex County CASA — Court Appointed Special Advocates — will be conducting two training classes this fall for volunteers interested in becoming child advocates for children in foster care in Essex County. The 33-hour training course will be offered in September from Sept. 11 through Oct. 9, and in November from Nov. 13 through Dec. 10. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers appointed by the Family Court to gather information about a child's needs while in foster care and to represent a "child's voice in court." For the almost 2,500 foster children in Essex County, their time in out-of-home placement can often be lessened and their chances for trauma recovery greater through the presence of trained CASA Child Advocates. In order to be considered for the volunteer training, interested applicants need to complete an application, an interview and background check.
UK: New scheme hopes to save
Gloucester's children at risk
VULNERABLE children in Gloucester will be offered new help when a groundbreaking support service rolls out this autumn. A new family drug and alcohol court (FDAC) will become only the second of its kind in the UK, following the success of a similar programme in London. It is hoped the new measures will help protect vulnerable children in the county. It is five years since the Baby P case shocked the nation and placed Haringey social services under scrutiny after the toddler's death. The FDAC aims to shorten the time taken for care proceedings to fully resolve and for children to be found a safe, permanent home. Backed by the county council, NHS Gloucestershire and courts, it is part of a service that will target children under five experiencing neglect. Under the programme, professional health workers will offer support to parents to help them tackle drug, alcohol and mental health issues.
UK: Agency launches urgent foster
carer recruitment drive
A CAMPAIGN has been launched to urgently recruit more foster carers in the region. Foster Care Associates (FCA) currently has 60 carers registered in the city, who look after 53 children. Yvonne Burton, fostering service manager at FCA's Hessle office, ran an open day at the centre to recruit new carers yesterday. She said: "We are always on the lookout to recruit new foster carers, especially in Hull. "It is hard to say how many carers we need. The need is always there – that's why we hold events such as these. "What we want to avoid is vulnerable children and young people having to go into residential care homes because there are not enough carers to provide the family lifestyle they need.
North Dakota: Taylor lays out
plan for boosting child care
Child-care services would get up to $45.6 million in direct state assistance in a proposal released Wednesday by Democratic governor candidate Ryan Taylor. Taylor held a news conference in Minot to announce his plan if elected to recommend $30.6 million in child-care facility and equipment grants, $15 million in workforce development grants and tax credits and incentives to help communities sustain child-care services in the 2013-15 biennium. "There's a gaping hole in the child-care sector and I believe the amount of revenue we are taking in, it makes it the state's responsibility to help fill that hole," Taylor said.
New Zealand: Walsall Council
Apologizes for Negligence in Care
An inquest held last month into the care provided to children by Walsall Council has been forced to declare the same as insufficient and ineffective, according to a recent report. The inspection that went almost for two weeks has been claiming that where services are inadequate and substandard at one end. The room for improvement on the other hand was also difficult to be seen. The investigating team said that almost amongst a total of 22 areas, only two could be called as good going. Since, 12 were only satisfactory and the rest eight were not complying with the set standards and were failing to meet even the minimum needs of patients. Tim Oliver, who is the Labour leader Councillor, has been affirming that the authority urgently needs to ensure children's protection. They certainly deserve the same and should be carefree regarding quality of the care being provided.
WEDNESDAY 1 AUGUST
U.S. foster care numbers drop
The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence. But that number has risen in 2012 in Oklahoma, where 9,131 children were in foster care as of June 30, according to figures from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. The drop nationwide results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.
UK: Walsall Council’s child
services are condemned
Ofsted inspectors have produced a damning report following a rigorous two-week inspection last month. They condemned the overall effectiveness of the authority’s safeguarding services and its capacity for improvement. The council’s work will now be overseen by an independent children’s improvement board, with the chairman expected to report to children’s minister Tim Loughton. Eight out of 22 specific areas assessed in the inspection failed to meet minimum requirements, while 12 were judged as adequate and only two as good. Education boss Councillor Rachel Andrew today apologised, saying: “Our children and young people deserve better and residents can be assured that the council – and its partners who are involved in safeguarding in Walsall – are conducting a root and branch review of our policies, processes and services.
Canada: More complications shown
for children in academic hospitals
New research shows children have a higher rate of complications in teaching hospitals than in community-based hospitals. The national study looked at everything from medication errors to surgical complications to misdiagnosis. Dr. Roger Galbraith led the Calgary part of the study. He says three per cent of kids seen at community hospitals — such as Peter Lougheed Centre — have problems compared to 11 per cent of children in academic hospitals — such as Alberta Children's Hospital — experiencing complications. “Those are the places that do most of the surgeries,” he said. Some provinces they would do all of the surgeries. There wouldn't be any surgeries done on kids in community hospitals. That's where the intensive care units are. That's where the neonatal intensive care units are, so not a big surprise that there's more that happens in academic centres than in community centres.”
Ireland: Boy gets warning over
absconding from HSE care
A 16-YEAR-OLD boy with a litany of assault convictions and awaiting sentence for carrying a knife in Dublin city-centre has been warned he will be locked up if he keeps absconding from HSE care. The teenager, who had been described as having “anger issues”, had pleaded guilty last week at the Dublin Children's Court to carrying the knife as a weapon but claimed he “did not have it to harm anyone”. Garda Ian Gillespie had told the court that on June 13 last reports had been received “that a male was in possession of a knife at the Irish Life Mall”. At Marlborough Street, the boy, who is in care, discarded a pocket-knife, which was exhibited in court last week. When the garda was showing the blades on the knife last week, the boy had said “you have to take the small one out first”. The teenager, who had then claimed the knife was blunt, had already been dealt with by the courts for 11 prior offences.
Arkansas Fares Better on Adoption
Than Foster Care
Arkansas routes more kids into the foster care system than the national average, according to federal ranking, but when it comes to getting kids adopted in a more timely manner, the state is doing better than the national average. That was part of the report the state's Division of Children and Family Services had for state lawmakers Tuesday afternoon. Director Cecile Blucker says just over five in 1,000 Arkansas children end up in foster care. The national average is 3.3. To reduce those numbers, Blucker said the department is rolling new training for social workers to better analyze when it's best to remove children from their parents or leave them in their home. Blucker said she believes this is because 68 percent of children adopted in Arkansas are adopted by their foster parents.
Canada: Mother calling for
changes to reserve foster care
The mother of a baby killed in a foster home last year wants her reserve's child welfare agency shut down after she says officials failed to protect the child. Avalene Parenteau told CBC News that Onion Lake Cree Nation's child welfare officials didn't do their job when selecting a home for her baby boy. Genesis Parenteau-Dillon was killed last November, two months after being removed from Parenteau's custody. The 13-month-old suffered severe brain damage and died, after his foster mother asked her live-in boyfriend to babysit him. Allen Charles Davidson has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter.
US: Report: Kids without a Stable
Home Life Often Sicker
A new report shows that children without a stable home life are often sicker. That's according to data collected in the Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) Emergency Department over the last decade. A sample of 5,000 families who sought care at the Emergency Department at Arkansas Children's Hospital revealed that about 51 percent of them lacked reliable housing. Children in these homes were 34 percent more likely to be underweight - one indication of malnutrition - and they were also found to be at risk for poorer health outcomes and developmental delays. The data were compiled in partnership with the non-partisan pediatric research center Children's HealthWatch as part of a national study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH). "Every day we see children in the ACH Emergency Department who could thrive if only they had the advantage of a safe and healthy place to call home," said Patrick Casey, MD, director of the Medical Home Clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital and an author of the AJPH manuscript. "Many of their parents are trying so hard to change their situations, but it's not something that happens overnight. The high cost of housing and the poor availability of affordable housing in the current economic times make it very challenging for many families to locate adequate housing."
Organization that helps former
foster kids debuts new ‘home base’
Roots & Wings, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping former foster kids, hosted an open house earlier this month to debut its new home base, A Center for Former Foster Children, 75 Bloomfield Ave. in downtown Denville. More than 40 Roots & Wings supporters attended the event at the new center that will provide a much needed learning center for clients, and office and meeting space for Roots & Wings staff, volunteers and mentors. "Our new home base, will provide our young adults exiting the foster care system a place to receive the advocacy, educational support, life skills training and counseling they need to help put them on a path to become independent, contributing members of our community," said Nancy Bigelsen, president of the Roots & Wings Board of Trustees. "Our new home base is a work in progress, but you can see our vision for this space: a fun, warm, inviting place for our young people to learn, and get-together to celebrate milestones and achievements with each other."
Australia: Create a future for
Maitland children growing up in foster, residential or kinship care can move houses and schools up to 50 times. About 35 per cent will be homeless within their first year of leaving care; 46 per cent of boys end up in trouble with the law; only 35 per cent finish schools and 29 per cent are unemployed. The Create Foundation wants to improve prospects for young people in care across the Hunter region with a Create Your Future program. The program provides essential life skills training to equip young people for successful transition out of care. This includes job readiness skills, managing money and problem-solving skills.
PA budget extends support to
youth aging out of foster care
Robert Jones, a 17-year-old Parkland High School graduate, feels as if a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. The North Whitehall Township teen who is in foster care no longer worries that his family will lose support needed to take care of him once he turns 18. Young adults aging out of the foster-care system will gain more support under Gov. Tom Corbett's 2012-13 budget, which extended adoption and guardian subsidies for three years and expanded the eligibility criteria for young adults who can remain in care until they are 21. State law had limited which foster youths could get financial support once they turned 18. Under the previous program, foster parents could get support until a foster youth turned 21 only if the youth was in school or in a medical treatment program. Financial assistance, which averages $30 a day, was not available to providers who chose to adopt or act as legal guardians of foster children or for those whose foster children opted to work. Jones said the new law should come as a relief to any young adult in foster care who isn't in college but still needs a home.