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Archive for Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foster care numbers rising

July 31, 2012

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High-profile child abuse and neglect cases catch the spotlight and capture public attention.

One of those occurred in June, when a concerned resident spotted two children blindfolded, with their hands bound, in the parking lot of a Lawrence Walmart, sparking the immediate removal of five children from their parents’ custody.

Another was the case in which a Lawrence woman was charged with manslaughter, after her 5-year-old child died after ingesting opiates in April.

However, there are many other cases of abuse and neglect coming through the court system on a regular basis that highlight the failure of parents, for a variety of reasons, to provide basic care for their children, said Douglas County District Judge Peggy Kittel, who handles some of the county’s child in need of care cases.

“They’re very sad,” Kittel said. “It’s the kids coming to your door for water or food.”

Cases of children being removed from parental custody are on the rise in Douglas County, swelling the number of local children in foster care, according to numbers from the Kansas Department of Children and Families.

In just 11 months of the state’s current fiscal year, 67 children in Douglas County were removed from their homes. That’s about double the number, 34, removed in all of 2008. In addition, the number of children currently in foster care in the county, 82, compares to just 52 in 2009.

“We’ve just had so many kids coming into custody in the past six months,” said Diana Frederick, director of Douglas County CASA.

Frederick said the surge in cases has created a 60-child waiting list for her agency’s services, which matches children in foster care with trained advocates.

While it’s clear the numbers have increased, the reasons for that increase are more fuzzy.

Kittel said it’s difficult to point to one cause, but, anecdotally, she said she’s seeing more cases of drug-addicted parents who are unable to care for their children. Data provided by the DCF confirm that, in the past 11 months, drug abuse by parents is the No. 1 reason for a child being removed from his or her home in Douglas County, accounting for more than 20 percent of removals.

“If you can’t manage yourself, how are you going to take care of your kids?” said Kittel, adding that by the time a family gets to her courtroom, they’re dealing with serious abuse and neglect. “They’re very sad. Usually it’s a crisis mode when they come in.”

In an effort to stem the tide of removals from custody in Kansas — which number about 3,500 annually — DCF gained legislation approval last session for $1 million to fund a program to reach out to families before it is necessarily to remove children.

Twenty new DCF workers are in the process of being hired and spread throughout the state to help struggling families access services, said Gina Meier-Hummel, DCF director of prevention and protective services.

“So families don’t have to get to a crisis situation,” she said.

The program, termed “differential response,” will provide a more partnership-based relationship with families, as opposed to the potentially adversarial process that occurs when DCF investigates abuse cases, said Dona Booe, director of the Kansas Children’s Service League.

It’s aimed at families who are stretched thin and need help.

“How can families really rise up?” said Booe.

The program’s a start, but more is needed, Booe said.

“I think there’s a much greater opportunity in Kansas,” she said. But, “it’s a matter of funding.”

Frederick called on Douglas County residents to consider how they can help the growing need, such as providing foster care or volunteering as a CASA advocate.

“As a community, we really need to band together,” she said.

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Foster care

The number of kids in foster care, as well as the number of children removed from their parents, has risen in Douglas County during the past few years. Numbers provided by the Kansas Department of Children and Families and reflects a July to June fiscal year.

Comments

Alceste 2 years, 4 months ago

This press clipping is beyond amusing.

Firstly, we have a "judge" who has already stated publically she's "...out to get...." these families.....most whose only crime is that of being poverty stricken (It's a crime to be poor in the USA today). The "judge" noted in the article: "However, there are many other cases of abuse and neglect coming through the court system on a regular basis that highlight the failure of parents, for a variety of reasons, to provide basic care for their children, said Douglas County District Judge Peggy Kittel, who handles some of the county’s child in need of care cases." Pay close attention to that term "variety of reasons"; it's court speak for being poor.

Next, the article cites CASA: “We’ve just had so many kids coming into custody in the past six months,” said Diana Frederick, director of Douglas County CASA.

"Frederick said the surge in cases has created a 60-child waiting list for her agency’s services, which matches children in foster care with trained advocates."

But what is CASA? CASA is PART of the problem!!! Throughout the country, local CASA chapters continue to state or imply that they are “a child’s voice” in court. They are not. A CASA advocates for whatever the CASA thinks is best for the child. So if the child desperately wants to go home, but the CASA thinks that’s a bad idea, the CASA pushes as hard as she can against what the child wants; the child effectively is silenced. (While it is much less likely to happen, if a child wants to stay in foster care and the CASA wants the child to return home, again, the child is silenced – and that is equally wrong.)

Children do need a voice in court – a real one. From the age a child is old enough to express a rational preference she or he should get a lawyer to fight for that preference. That doesn’t mean children always should get what they want. But the best way to find out what truly is best for a child is if everyone has an articulate advocate making his or her case. Deciding what is best is what we pay judges for. It’s time we stopped ceding that role to amateurs.

CASA is one of the larger fronts as it is a GIANT aspect of the problem with respect to the distorted "Court" system, families, children, removals, foster care, etc. CASA ain't no panacea and has been allowed to grow and mutate to the point of obscenity. LOTS of Jim Jones like Kool-Aid being drunk around these here parts. Read the truth about CASA and what a joke of an operation it is here: http://nccpr.info/the-case-against-casa/ (if you dare, download and read the complete report here: http://www.nccpr.org/reports/casa.pdf , bearing in mind this report is one that was ordained by CASA itself and then BURIED because CASA didn't like what was found.... )

Here are some basic "bullet points" to wet your whistle: an evaluation commissioned by the National CASA Association itself. As Youth Today noted, the report “delivers some surprisingly damning numbers.” (Continued)

Alceste 2 years, 4 months ago

Continued The study found that CASA’s only real accomplishments were to prolong the time children languished in foster care and reduce the chance that the child will be placed with relatives.

The study found no evidence that having a CASA on the case does anything to improve child safety – so all that extra foster care is for nothing. (The study specifically controlled for CASA’s all purpose excuse for this – the claim that CASAs handle the most difficult cases.)

The study also found that when a CASA is assigned to a child who is Black, the CASA spends, on average, significantly less time on the case. (The study also found that CASAs don’t spend as much time on cases in general as the organization’s p.r. might lead one to believe. CASA volunteers reported spending an average of only 4.3 hours per month on cases involving white children, and only 2.67 hours per month on cases involving Black children).

Rather than respond to the findings of its own study by cleaning up its act, CASA tried first to spin the results and then to bury them. Youth Today concluded that CASA’s spin “can border on duplicity.”

In short, CASA is one more thumb tilting the scales of justice against families.

Heck yes the program is very much needed due to incredible failures of Diana Frederick, executive director of the Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates and the program.

The article next speaks about one Donna Booe: "The program, termed “differential response,” will provide a more partnership-based relationship with families, as opposed to the potentially adversarial process that occurs when DCF investigates abuse cases, said Dona Booe, director of the Kansas Children’s Service League."

However, the article fails to note that Booe was TERMINATED from her Unclassifed slot as "head" of the Topeka Service Center for SRS back in 2007 for unknown reasons. She, being a member of the "club" ended up at KCSL doing just as poor a job there as she did for SRS.

Whatever are we to do when we are surronded by such dullards?

elyseted 2 years, 4 months ago

Many of the children referred to foster care programs have experienced some type of emotional, physical and/or psychological trauma. KidsPeace Foster Care recognizes this and therefore implements a practice model known as Together Facing the Challenge. http://www.kidspeace.org/services.aspx?id=3840

Alceste 2 years, 4 months ago

Did_I_say_that:

Try reading the reports why don'tcha? Alceste has had no negative experiences on a familial basis with "the system", but understands said system from the inside out. It's yet another proverbial "sacred cow".....the little children suffer.....

Alceste has a TON more DATA...hard, cold facts to document the failure of "the system" across the USA (not simply CASA).....not just Kansas.....but's let try to stay focused on Kansas, if just for a nano-second. The LJWorld.com web site limits the amount of info one can get across in a singular posting. It's too complicated to post all the data, even by multiple posts, particularly when nobody really gives a shi**.

Most "professionals" won't take a jab at this sacred cow because it bleeds first and foremost money.....which they all take home to the bank. If they're not taking it home to the bank, they're on the front lines and AFRAID of losing their jobs.

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