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2016-2017 Updates, Progress, and Headlines

The following includes updates, progress, and headlines related to teen liberty and institutional abuse.  News reports regarding individual programs are now shared primarily on the background information/staff list pages of our website unless the program referenced was closed prior to creation of a staff/background information page or is located outside of the USA .  To search our news page using a PC (not a Mac), hit "CTRL+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter key" or "return key".  If using a Mac (not a PC),  hit "Command+F" and enter the name of the program then hit "enter".  The Command key on a Mac is also known as the Apple Key or Clover Key.

Four employees suspended at facility after teens escape Aaron Mesmer reports By: Aaron Mesmer, FOX 13 News Posted:Feb 02 2016 06:52PM EST Updated:Feb 02 2016 06:52PM EST 2 Reactions TAMPA (FOX13) - Four staff members at the juvenile detention facility in Tampa where two teenagers escaped were suspended Monday.2 Investigators have said Anthony Bays, 18, and Anthony Cook, 17, ran away from the Falkenburg Academy off Columbus Drive by climbing through a hole that was cut in a chainlink fence. The teenagers remained on the run more than 48 hours later; authorities have not said whether there are any leads.      SG4S Youth Services, a private company contracted by the Department of Juvenile Justice to oversee security, confirmed to FOX 13 that three youth care workers and one supervisor were suspended and an internal review is underway. Top fox13news.com Searches Apps Baby Snow Sex Calendar Cast Chipotle Clo Four employees suspended at facility after teens escape Local News Four employees suspended at facility after teens escape Four staff members at the juvenile detention facility in Tampa where two teenagers escaped were suspended Monday. In a statement, G4S spokesperson Monica Lewman-Garcia wrote: "Our initial investigation raises questions whether proper procedures were followed. Accordingly, four staff members (three youth care workers and one supervisor) have been suspended from duty... "Although rare, incidents can happen when working with at-risk and troubled youth. When they do, we work quickly to ensure that any necessary changes are fully implemented to help prevent a re-occurrence." The DJJ initially indicated law enforcement was immediately contacted about the escape. But, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the teens got away at about 9:15 a.m. and deputies weren't notified until 10:12 a.m., forcing them to begin a search nearly an hour later. A DJJ spokesperson said the department is investigating why there was a time lapse. G4S and the DJJ said they are also working on a "corrective action plan" to fix the mistakes that were made. Related Stories Pinellas burglaries caught by surveillance cameras Gov. Scott discusses Zika readiness in Florida Skimmer found on Sarasota gas pump WATCH: Gator tussle caught on camera in Clearwater Bays is from Georgetown, Georgia, while Anthony Cook, 17, is from St. Petersburg. Both were charged with grand theft auto. Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information that leads to the location and arrest of the two escaped juveniles.  Anyone with any information regarding this case and who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at www.crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile application, which is a free download for iPhones and Droids.  Crime Stoppers must be contacted first in order to be eligible for a cash reward.   Source: http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/84041734-story
Grace House to close its doors after 20 years Maddy Hayden, Carlsbad Current-Argus 4:59 p.m. MST February 1, 2016 The Carlsbad Current-Argus(Photo: File Photo) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 4 COMMENTEMAILMORE CARLSBAD — After 20 years of opening its doors to troubled, adolescent boys, Grace House is preparing to permanently close them. The group home was established in 1996 to treat boys ages 13 to 18 with educational, emotional, behavioral and social issues, according to their website. Melissa Roberts has been Grace House's executive director since it opened. She said the government's 10 percent cut to their daily costs that came eight years ago with the creation of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative began a pattern of losing money that they have been unable to stem. "There's a lot of demand for services and not a lot of money," Roberts said, adding that group homes have gone out of favor as a preferred method of treatment in recent years. Roberts also said "the mindset has been that they prefer to keep kids at home." For some of the children that live at Grace House, though, home may not be the best place for them. They may have friends or family that are detrimental to their treatment progress or abusive. "I think they're (group homes) important because not every home is safe," Roberts said. Some of the children have substance abuse issues or are involved with gangs, something the home serves to remove them from physically. Roberts said generally children are sent to residential treatment centers outside of their hometowns. Currently, Roberts said they are working on placing clients in group homes in Artesia and Hobbs, or possibly living back at home and receiving outpatient services. Once they are all placed, the Grace House will close. "I'm heartbroken," Roberts said. "I had really hoped that a group of people would grant us an endowment. We were never able to put that together." Roberts said there is a gap in funding. While there are plenty of grants out there for "brick and mortar" (new buildings or additions) and for the children, the money to actually sustain an operation are hard to come by. "Cars, insurance, food, clothes, washers, dryers, beds, computers, furniture, therapists, maintenance," she said. "It was costing us more than we had money for." Roberts said she felt honored to work at the Grace House and said it has been a pleasure to work with the community and Grace House staff. "I wish everybody who we've touched and have touched us all the best," she said. Maddy Hayden can be reached at 575-628-5512.   Source: http://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2016/02/01/grace-house-close-its-doors-after-20-years/79659442/
Boys home employee charged with sexual misconduct with teen at facility Matt Elofson Crime and courts reporter | Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016 4:01 pm Shon Christopher Holton Shon Christopher Holton Dothan police recently arrested an employee at a local boys home facility and charged him with multiple counts of inappropriate sexual contact with a teenage boy at the home. Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover said police investigators arrested Shon Christopher Holton, 43, of Gordon, and charged him with 10 felony counts of custodial sexual misconduct. Glover said Holton worked for the Alabama Department of Youth Services as an employee for a local boys group home. “While he was working there he conducted inappropriate acts with a juvenile,” Glover said. Glover said the victim was a teenage boy, who was inappropriately contacted on multiple occasions between February and June of 2015. Glover said some of the offenses occurred at the facility where the suspect worked, which was not identified, and some of the other offenses occurred at a local residence while some others occurred at other local Department of Youth Services facilities. Glover said the criminal charge of prohibited act (custodial sexual misconduct) is not commonly used. “This is the first time I’ve actually seen this type of charge, Glover said. Holton was taken into custody after his arrest and later booked into the Houston County Jail.  Source: http://www.dothaneagle.com/news/crime_court/boys-home-employee-charged-with-sexual-misconduct-with-teen-at/article_55a41480-c92f-11e5-b0ef-6faf13fe08fc.html?mode=print
Foster care scandal: Bill requiring public reports on abuse clears Senate panel Print Email Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive By Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian Email the author | Follow on Twitter on February 03, 2016 at 5:08 PM, updated February 03, 2016 at 5:53 PM comments SALEM — Oregon's foster care officials would have to produce public reports listing confirmed findings of abuse and neglect every three months under proposed legislation that emerged from a Senate panel Wednesday. Senate Bill 1515, shepherded by Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, cleared the Senate's human services committee in a unanimous vote that came with praise and promises of urgency — offering a flash of bipartisanship in a legislative session that's otherwise been off to a tense start. Gelser spent months drafting the bill amid outcry over the Department of Human Services' handling of a provider named Give Us This Day. The provider closed last year amid accusations that it misspent more than $2 million in state money and tolerated more than a decade of child abuse. Beyond compelling officials to produce quarterly reports on abuse findings, the bill would add licensing inspectors for child-care facilities, give officials more power to shut down or take over troubled agencies, and treat the failure to pull children from unlicensed facilities as a crime. Oregon has nearly 8,000 children in foster care on any given day, many of them already victims of abuse or facing behavioral and emotional issues before coming into state care. "Could we hold off? We could," said Rep. Duane Stark, R-Grants Pass, one of three House members who testified in support of the bill. He noted the difficulty in vetting such complicated legislation in a 35-day session, a major concern for Republicans this month in light of other that would increase the minimum wage and make changes to housing policy. "But the problem is children need that attention right now," he said. "I really hope we move that bill right now, so we get the positions in place right now, to get the licensing we need right now, to protect children right now. So they're not waiting." Gelser's bill joins an outside investigation of the Department of Human Services' child welfare system, ordered by Gov. Kate Brown. The review could take up to six months. Brown's policy adviser for human services, Dani Ledezma, joined Brown's interim human services director, Clyde Saiki, to show support for the bill. "Our caseworkers have some of the toughest jobs in the state," Saiki said. "We also have many caring and competent providers. But that being said, we still have the responsibility to provide the safest environment we can for our foster children, and we have to do better." After Saiki took over in November, department officials released thousands of pages of internal documents detailing abuse concerns at other providers and showing that top officials had known about Give Us This Day's problems since 2009. A 2014 log that tracked abuse reports at Give Us This Day since 2001, also released under Saiki's watch, revealed that several serious accusations, including sexual abuse, were repeatedly closed without full investigations. Gelser's bill, because it seeks money for two licensing inspectors, heads next to the Legislature's budget-writing committee. Oregon currently has just three inspectors who track some 200 licensed child-care facilities. The first quarterly compilation of abuse reports could come out as soon as this fall, Gelser said. The rest of the bill's provisions would take effect July 1. "This is meaningful, real and concrete change," Gelser said in an interview. "I'm so grateful for how hard people worked." — Denis C. Theriault dtheriault@oregonian.com 503-221-8430; @TheriaultPDX   Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/foster_care_scandal_bill_requi.html
Congresswoman Katherine Clark: Sheriff Babeu stonewalled abuse case while running boarding school Dave Biscobing, Shawn Martin 6:31 PM, Feb 4, 2016 10:45 AM, Feb 5, 2016 investigations | babeu Vigilante crime-fighter helps nab crooks In an exclusive interview with ABC15, Rep. Clark said the case involving the DeSisto School is the most horrendous case she ever worked while representing the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services for the Attorney General’s Office. KNXV Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. In an exclusive interview with ABC15, Rep. Clark said the case involving the DeSisto School is the most horrendous case she ever worked while representing the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services for the Attorney General’s Office. KNXV Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu obstructed and stonewalled a state child abuse investigation at a Massachusetts boarding school he used to run, according to a lead attorney on the case. In a stunning coincidence -- as Babeu runs for Congress -- the state attorney who handled the case is Congresswoman Katherine Clark. In an exclusive interview with ABC15, Rep. Clark said the case involving the DeSisto School is the most horrendous case she ever worked while representing the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services for the Attorney General’s Office. “It was really just a cesspool of really horrendous practices towards children,” Rep. Clark said. “I think it’s rather appalling to think that he is overseeing people with badges and guns, and that he thinks he is fit to run for Congress."  Clark continued, “The things that went on at that school still really haunt me, and I think they should haunt him.” SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: ABUSING THE TRUTH Before moving to Arizona and being elected sheriff, Babeu worked at the DeSisto School from April 1999 to August 2001, records show. During that time, child care investigators opened a case to stop abusive and inhumane practices and force the school to obtain a license. ABC15 first exposed Babeu’s ties to DeSisto and the horrific abuse at the school in 2012. At the time, he threatened to file a lawsuit. His attorneys claimed he had no ‘knowledge’ and wasn’t ‘aware’ of any mistreatment of students. But Clark said she needed to speak out after ABC15 obtained a damning home video recorded in 1999 that shows Babeu discussing abusive punishments in detail. “As the video shows, the Sheriff knew exactly what was going on and decided to condone it instead of speaking up for very vulnerable children,” said Clark, who also said she was disturbed by Babeu’s repeated denials.  “There was absolutely no way you could be involved with that school and not have known what was going on.” DeSisto was a therapeutic boarding school for teens. Many of the students had a wide range of special needs, including eating disorders, depression, paranoid schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, self-harm and suicide attempts, learning disabilities, and substance abuse issues. In the home video, Babeu praises the school’s extreme disciplinary methods used on the children. He called one of the most punitive practices “amazing.” He tells family members that the students “need to feel hopeless and feel depression.” The goal is to make them “bottom out.” Despite the video evidence, Babeu continues to minimize his role at the school. In response to this story, he issued a written statement. It begins, “I do not recall ever meeting with this attorney nor was I a principal in any state investigation that occurred during or after my two-year employment at the school. As headmaster, I oversaw administrative issues with the school and had no involvement in discipline or student affairs.” (READ MORE OF BABEU’S STATEMENT BELOW) Rep. Clark said she remembers meeting Babeu. However, she said he quit working at the school before state investigators could depose him. State child care officials launched a civil licensure case to curb DeSisto’s dangerous practices in May 2000 – directly in the middle of Babeu’s tenure. But Babeu left the school August 2001, one month before the state ruled it needed to obtain a license and stop its dangerous practices or be shut down, records show. During that time, Clark said Babeu was “definitely part” of trying to keep state investigators away. “He had a high role there,” Clark said. “When he was there, he really stonewalled our investigations at every turn, as did the school.” During Babeu’s time as DeSisto’s administrative head, the school violated court discovery orders, repeatedly withheld records, obstructed, and was sanctioned, according to an order written by a superior court justice. In his statement, Sheriff Babeu did not respond to Clark’s statements about him stonewalling the state’s case or what state documents show on the matter. The rest of his written statement said, “But what this does show is the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has a target on me and they will sink to baseless personal attacks and spare no expense to keep this seat from falling into Republican hands. I reject this politics of personal destruction.” Rep. Clark is a Democrat representing a district surrounding Boston. She pushed back the claim that her comments are political. “This case wasn’t about who’s a Democrat or Republican. It’s about the welfare of children,” she said. “It was ritualistic child abuse - a sort of lord of the flies situation, where some of the children were groomed into positions of discipling other children, including some really egregious things like students strip searching other student when they arrived at the school,” Clark said. “That was the type of allegation we were trying to investigate when the Sheriff was in charge of the school, and we were met with a complete stonewall.” Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.   Source: http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/investigations/congresswoman-katherine-clark-sheriff-babeu-stonewalled-abuse-case-while-running-boarding-school
Retired St. Paul cop repeatedly punched juvenile in group home, charges say The suspect, Clemmie H. Tucker, Sr., previously pleaded guilty in federal court on drug charges.  By Chao Xiong Star Tribune February 5, 2016 — 11:18pm Tom Sweeney, Star TribuneFormer St Paul police officer Clemmie Tucker, in the white hat, in 2006. Text size share0 tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase:Order Reprint A retired St. Paul police officer working as a counselor in a group home punched a juvenile “too many times to count,” according to charges filed Friday. Clemmie H. Tucker Sr., 64, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with one count of malicious punishment of a child for the Jan. 30 incident that left the 14-year-old boy’s face bruised and swollen. Tucker, who retired from the department as a sergeant in the 1990s after 23 years, has a troubled past. In 2006, he pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing about 22 pounds of cocaine and 8 pounds of methamphetamine estimated to be worth $4 million. “People who know me best know I am not a criminal,” Tucker told the judge when he was sentenced to five years in prison. “I made a mistake.” In his most recent run-in with the law, he allegedly assaulted a teenager, talked over the boy while police were questioning the boy and then left the scene despite orders from police to stay put. According to the complaint: Police responded to a group home about 7:40 p.m. for an assault. Tucker told police the boy assaulted another juvenile. The boy, who was in tears, told police that Tucker assaulted him “for no reason.” The boy said that he had argued with another teenager over video games and that he had punched the other teenager. Tucker called police and confronted the boy. The boy said he stood up in front of Tucker because the other kids picked on him and he didn’t want to look weak. Tucker pushed the boy to the ground. “[The boy] said he tried to get up and Tucker punched him in the face and head, ‘too many times to count,’ ” the complaint said. The account was corroborated by a witness and surveillance video, which showed the boy did not swing at Tucker. Another juvenile in the home told police that he witnessed the first altercation between the two boys, and then Tucker’s reaction. He told police that Tucker told the boy, “ ‘I wish you would hit me like that, I’d [expletive] you up.’ ” The juvenile said that was when the boy stood up in front of Tucker and was assaulted. “The juvenile male stated that once [the boy] was on the ground, Tucker continued to punch him multiple times,” the complaint said. “Tucker was hitting [the boy] with both hands and [the boy] was trying to hide under the table.” Tucker was breathless after the assault, the witness said. Tucker drove away from the scene and was later fired from the group home. He was a Golden Gloves boxing champion in his teens, according to the complaint.   Twitter: @ChaoStrib   Source: http://www.startribune.com/retired-st-paul-cop-repeatedly-punched-juvenile-in-group-home-charges-say/367869821/
Martial arts hold used on teen before detention center death by Curtis Figueroa on 06/02/2016 "The staff performed an Aikido restraint hold to safely conduct a pat-down search and remove the youth's hoodie", wrote a spokesperson from Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in an email. After the physical encounter, it is reported that the guards didn't check on McMillen overnight, and once they found her unresponsive, they waited 11 minutes to administer CPR. According to a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, McMillen refused to remove her sweatshirt for a booking photo and patdown, leading one staffer to use the hold on her. The detention officers used what is referred to as an Aikido restraint, which could be a number of restraints considering Aikido, like most martial arts, includes various techniques. McMillen was placed in the cell on January 10 and detention center workers allegedly didn't check on her again until she failed to respond to a breakfast call the next morning. Eventually, shortly following the Aikido restraint, McMillen was brought to her cell, and spent the night there, failing to react in any way when personnel tried to bring her food at 6:30 a.m. and then at 8:17 a.m. and 8:53 a.m. The troubled teenager also remained silent and passive when her mother tried to contact her later that morning. Recordings released Saturday also reveal responders started CPR on Gynnya 11 minutes after she was found dead. At about 9:55 a.m., a deputy arrived at about to take Gynnya to her court appearance. It took nine minutes for the staff to call 911 at 10:04 a.m. When the 911 operator asked the nurse at the detention center (about 90 seconds into the call) if CPR was in progress, the nurse said, "No it's not". Indeed, given the fact that McMillen was kept in isolation throughout the night, her condition should've been monitored every 15 minutes, if internal regulations at Lincoln Village had been followed. A day before authorities confirmed the martial arts maneuver was used on the teen, Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center employee Reginald Windham was placed on administrative leave. Juveniles alone in cells are under constant surveillance at the Kentucky facility. "As far as I'm concerned that is a completely inappropriate use of a restraint", Deitch added. "This goes back to not being so punitive with kids". "We're not exactly sure what happened but I can tell you this". Officials have said it appears that McMillen died in her sleep. That footage has been turned over to investigators.  Source: http://cinemablaze.com/2016/02/06/martial-arts-hold-used-on-teen-before-detention-center-death.html
Man arrested in rape was foster parent, youth leader Rebecca Butts and Cameron Knight, cknight@enquirer.com 4:29 p.m. EST February 5, 2016 Joseph Niemeyer(Photo: Provided/Kenton County Detention Center) A church youth leader arrested Tuesday in connection with the rape of a minor girl was also a licensed foster parent, officials confirmed Friday. Joseph Niemeyer, 54, worked with youth at the New Banklick Baptist Church in Walton. He was also a resource for Benchmark Family Services, a foster care service, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. A statement from the agency said it was fully cooperating with the investigation. "We did all required criminal background checks as well as the required child abuse and neglect checks for the foster home," the statement said. "Our agency has completed all requirements associated with the foster home's initial certification and annual re-certification. We are deeply saddened by this tragic news." Benchmark Family Service and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have not disclosed whether Niemeyer was taking care of any foster children at the time of his arrest. Niemeyer turned himself in to the Independence Police Department, where he was arrested Monday. He is facing first-degree sexual abuse, rape and sodomy charges, all against a girl younger than 12, police said. Capt. Mike Thatcher could not confirm whether there are multiple victims, and said the investigation into the abuse is ongoing. He said several other possible witnesses and possible victims need to be interviewed. Niemeyer and his wife, Becky, are listed as youth ministers on the church's website, but pastor Tim Cochran said Becky Niemeyer actually leads the youth program. Joseph Niemeyer will not be allowed to continue leading youth services at the church if he is released from jail, Cochran said. Cochran has known Joseph Niemeyer for five years and considered him a friend. The two traveled to church retreats and conferences together. He was sickened at the news of Niemeyer's arrest. "Our church, we are all just sick about what has happened," Cochran said. "He was a good friend of mine. Never in a million years would I have thought he would do anything like this." Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders said investigators would be checking on any children Niemeyer had contact with. Sanders went on to explain "education and reporting methods have improved." Programs, including those in schools, are teaching kids about what is proper contact and what isn't. This has resulted in more cases involving sexual abuse, he said. "I see cases like this every week in my office," Sanders said. Niemeyer is being held at the Kenton County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.  Source: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2016/02/04/nky-church-youth-leader-accused-rape/79808012/
Juvenile centers make hundreds of 911 calls Kendra Conlon, WTSP 11:18 p.m. EST February 10, 2016 There are 10 state-funded facilities in the Bay area, and there have been fights, riots and escapes from the facilities.(Photo: WTSP) CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE Three riots at local juvenile detention centers, two teens recently escaped, 10News WTSP is now learning just how many 911 calls to these facilities are costing you -- the taxpayer. Bay area juvenile detention facilities are supposed to be putting troubled teens on the right path.  10News has uncovered problems on the inside prompting hundreds of 911 calls. There are 10 of these state-funded facilities in the Bay area, all privately run by the company G4S, and taxpayers are on the hook to help fix problems.  In the past, we’ve seen the aftermath from riots, fights and escapes caught on camera, staff arrested and accused of sex acts with the teens inside the detention centers. Leaders have been calling for change.  “The way juvenile justice is done in the state of Florida needs to undergo radical change,” says Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill. Recently, two teens escaped from the Tampa Residential Facility through a hole in the fence, only to be captured days later. Two workers got fired, two others are being punished and retrained. It's the latest in the long list of problems for company G4S. 10News wanted to know just how many times Tampa police and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been called out to the facilities. Here's what we found at the Columbus Drive complex:  From 2012 through Jan. 21, 2016, there have been 291 calls.  Seventy percent of the cries for help turned out to be founded.  There have been founded reports of child abuse, assault, and sexual battery. Columbus Drive Juvenile Justice Complex: 2012 22 calls 16 founded 2013 96 calls 63 founded 2014 52 calls 42 founded 2015 99 calls 67 founded 2016 (through Jan 21) 22 calls 16 founded At Les Peters Academy on West Martin Luther King Boulevard, from 2013 to 2015, Tampa police handled another 71 calls. 2013: 20 calls 2014: 21 calls 2015: 30 calls “I'm sure they're going to take a look at what you're questioning, to make sure we're not missing something, because that the dedication the secretary has,” says Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-District 69. Peters and the Department of Juvenile Justice tell 10News with offenders having unlimited access to the Department of Children and Families Abuse Hotline, they expect every time there's an accusation of child abuse, it will be investigated, and say staff should err on the side of caution when deciding to call law enforcement. “We want to ensure that every child has an opportunity to make sure they're protected. Is it perfect? No, but it's significantly better than it was,” says Peters. G4S tells 10News that it has a plan to make sure an escape doesn't happen again.  We requested a copy of the corrective action plan from the Department of Juvenile Justice and were told it’s still being finalized. Gov. Rick Scott has requested an additional $12.8 million in this year's state budget for DJJ to repair buildings, increase staffing and improve prevention and intervention programs. Prior problems have prompted changes at some of the G4S facilities.  Source: http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/2016/02/10/juvenile-centers-make-hundreds-911-calls/80213702/
Youth treatment center counselor arrested Comment 0  1 By Joe Goldeen Record Staff Writer recordnet.com By Joe Goldeen Record Staff Writer Posted Feb. 9, 2016 at 4:52 PM By Joe Goldeen Record Staff Writer Posted Feb. 9, 2016 at 4:52 PM »  Social News By Joe Goldeen Record Staff Writer Posted Feb. 9, 2016 at 4:52 PM TRACY — A 25-year-old Stockton woman who worked as a counselor at a youth treatment center has been arrested and charged with suspicion of having sex with a minor and committing lewd acts with a child younger than 14. Tracy police arrested Ariana Gonzalez Salas on Thursday. Salas faces two felony counts: unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than 3-years younger; and lewd or lascivious acts with a child younger than 14. She is being held at San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp in lieu of $1.55 million bail. At the time of the reported incident on Jan. 15, Salas had worked for Manteca-based Valley Oak Residential for almost four years. Its website describes the 27-year-old residential treatment facility as a 24-hour, 36-bed program that provides specialized treatment for emotionally disturbed and behavior disordered children between 10 and 17 years old. It operates a six-bed home in Tracy as well as homes in Stockton, Manteca, Ripon and Modesto. “We just became aware that there were some boundary issues and we just turned it over to the (Tracy) Police Department," said Greg Potts, Valley Oak’s founder and executive director. "We’re sick to our stomachs.” Potts said Tuesday he had no further information about the criminal case against Salas, who had been a long-term employee before being terminated. He said she typically worked an eight-hour swing shift alongside other counselors in the Tracy home. Valley Oak operates with a staff of 75. Potts said he had considered Salas a good employee. “There were no red flags; this caught us off guard. She had been working with the children for four years,” he said. Sgt. Steve Beukelman, a spokesman for the Tracy Police Department, said the department declined comment because of the sensitive nature of the case. Court documents referred to the victim as John N.M. Doe and indicate he would have been at least 16 years old in January. The prosecutor assigned to the case could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon to explain the discrepancy between the second charge and the age of the victim. A protection order has been issued restricting Salas to no direct or third-party contact with the victim, including by electronic means. She also must stay more than 100 yards away. In addition to unspecified jail time, court documents indicated that if Salas is convicted, she will have to register as a sex offender. Salas’ first hearing was held Monday in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court. It was continued to 8:30 a.m. Feb. 19. — Contact reporter Joe Goldeen at (209) 546-8278 or jgoldeen@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/goldeenblog and on Twitter @JoeGoldeen.  Source: http://www.recordnet.com/article/20160209/NEWS/160209722
A Louisiana foster care worker faces criminal charges that she faked documents to cover up her failure to visit foster children THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: 2/15/16 3:18 pm EST - Updated: 2/15/16 3:18 pm EST AAA BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A Louisiana foster care worker faces criminal charges that she faked documents to cover up her failure to visit foster children. The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1QhPTgP ) reports that Kimberly Deann Lee, a 49-year-old Calhoun resident, faces 20 counts of filing false public records and one count malfeasance in office, , according to an arrest warrant filed by the Office of Inspector General in the 19th Judicial District Court on Feb. 10. Inspector General Stephen Street said Lee is expected to surrender this week at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. He said the misconduct isn't linked to child abuse, but says the case is significant because there is a potential for abuse or other problems when children are not properly supervised. The warrant says Lee was hired in December 2012 and required to make monthly in-home visits in the Ruston area. At least 20 times between July 31, 2013 and August 15, 2014, Lee used the state computer system to log fake reports, the warrant says. Foster parents in four foster homes confirmed that Lee did not conduct the visits, according to the document. The investigation started with a complaint from DCFS on Dec. 5, 2014, the warrant says. Attempts to reach Lee were unsuccessful Monday. Spokespeople for the Department of Family and Children' Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. In an interview with OIG investigators held in Monroe in June, Lee explained her actions by saying she was committed "to getting things done no matter what." She said her supervisors gave her a heavy workload and pressured her to use "buzz words" in her reports, according to the warrant. "This is the sort of behavior that cannot be tolerated. Matters of child welfare are of the utmost importance and we will seek to hold people criminally accountable whenever we uncover this kind of misconduct," Street said Monday. Street said he does not expect more arrests in the immediate future linked to this case.  Source: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/5153c479041c411e82e09b9c552e3994/LA--Foster-Care-Charges
Teen Treatment Center Won't Allow Disability Rights Iowa To Investigate By Sarah Boden • Feb 15, 2016 ShareTwitter Facebook Google+ Email  A residential treatment center for teen boys is being sued for refusing to allow a federally-mandated agency to inspect the facility and its records. Disability Rights Iowa says a minor with the initials P.F., who stayed at the Rabiner Treatment Center in Ft. Dodge last year alleges a staff member slammed him against a wall. P.F. also claims an center employee provided boys at the treatment center with alcohol, tobacco, and other controlled substances. Rabiner’s services include substance abuse treatment. DRI wants access to the facility to investigate and review the original documents. Rabiner has denied the request, though correspondence shows it did turn over copies of the P.F.'s records. DRI says it also wants access to the facility, staff, residents, photographs, video/audio records, and other documentation on Rabiner's buildings, professional performance, procedure and safety standards. The treatment center says while a social worker did determine P.F. has a mental illness, this was not a formal diagnosis. Rabiner also says it doesn't have to comply because it does not provide mental illness treatment.  Rabiner's attorney, Eric Eide, says he does not yet know how the treatment center will respond since he has yet to meet with the board.  Source: http://iowapublicradio.org/post/teen-treatment-center-wont-allow-disability-rights-iowa-investigate#stream/0
State investigation leads to changes at girls' inmate facility By Cory Pippin (WPEC) Wednesday, February 17th 2016 Share Video Share MARTIN COUNTY — A brawl at the Martin Girl's Academy prompts the state to make some changes. The fight broke out almost a year ago but investigators with the Department of Juvenile Justice just finished their investigation of the youth inmate facility. The 21 page report goes into specific detail about violations committed by the administrator of the facility as well as a security officer. It began after a juvenile inmate was jumped and attacked by five other inmates on May 3rd of 2015. Investigators say an anonymous tip alleged the facility administrator Anne Posey canceled a 9-11 call made by the victim and security officer Alonzo Watkins physically harmed an inmate involved. According to documents released by the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Martin County sheriff's office responded and "Posey acknowledged she informed law enforcement that the matter would be handled internally and their services were not needed." The paperwork continued: "There is sufficient evidence to support the allegation that Facility Administrator Posey failed to allow youths timely access to the abuse hotline." Investigators say that action was a failure of policy. Also according to the state, "surveillance video shows Watkins tackled (an inmate) to the floor. Accordingly, the allegation of Excessive Use of Force against Watkins is sustained." The Department of Juvenile Justice acted immediately upon concluding the investigation. Watkins was fired and authorities arrested the five suspects involved. They also forced the Girls Academy to install a direct access abuse hotline which allows youth to make abuse calls without restrictions or limitations. Still, records show the incident isn't rare. According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, deputies have been called to the Martin Girls' Academy 53 times since the attack for incidents that include youth assault, a sexual assault, fights and regular police service calls. State investigators say the Department of Children and Families is also involved and they're currently reviewing policies to see if other improvements can be made.  Source: http://cbs12.com/news/local/state-investigation-leads-to-changes-at-girls-inmate-facility
Death of Boys Town teen under investigation By 10/11 News |  Posted: Tue 11:26 AM, Feb 23, 2016  |  Updated: Tue 5:13 PM, Feb 23, 2016 OMAHA, Neb. - The recent death of an 18-year-old Boys Town resident is under investigation by Douglas County authorities. The Sheriff's Office said Tuesday that the body of Larry McBryde, of Erwin, North Carolina, was found on the floor of his room around 7:15 a.m. Monday morning. He had last been seen around 10:45 p.m. Sunday. Investigators have found no signs of injury, struggle or other disruption in the room, the Sheriff's Office says. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. Boys Town is an Omaha orphanage that was founded in 1917. It is situated in western Omaha, serving as a residential center for troubled youth. Boys Town Spokeswoman Lauren Laferla says counselors and grief support will be available for youths and staffers on campus.  Source: http://www.1011now.com/content/news/Authorities-investigating-death-of-Boys-Town-teen-369822531.html
More boarding schools unregulated by DHS Lee Rood, lrood@dmreg.com 9:42 a.m. CST February 24, 2016 In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, a Uhaul is parked outside Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa. Federal, state and county law enforcement officials have returned to the southeast Iowa boarding school for troubled teens following abuse allegations. The Keokuk Daily Gate reports officials with the FBI and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation returned to Midwest Academy on Thursday to execute a search warrant for records following an initial search of the academy on Jan. 28 and 29.(Photo: Cindy Iutzi/Daily Gate City via AP) At least three other boarding schools in Iowa have no oversight by Iowa’s Department of Human Services in addition to the shuttered southeast Iowa facility where accusations of sex abuse and other crimes are being investigated. Cono Christian School, a tiny boarding school north of Walker for struggling seventh- to 12th-graders, has never been licensed as a foster care facility in Iowa, state officials say. Like Midwest Academy in Keokuk, the 65-year-old school costing more than $36,000 a year also has no accreditation and is not considered a school by the state. Likewise, the Maharishi School’s boarding program, for almost 60 international high school students in Fairfield, and Scattergood Friends, a college prep program for 35 students in West Branch, have no oversight by DHS. However, both of those private-pay schools, which cost roughly $28,000 a year, are independently accredited with oversight by the Department of Education. MORE: Legislators to investigate Midwest Academy after abuse reports Any private boarding school in Iowa — including Midwest Academy should it reopen after this year's criminal probe concludes — could be greatly affected by Senate Study Bill 3154, introduced this month by Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames. The bill would require any facility of its kind housing seven or more youth to be licensed by DHS, and overseen by the departments of education and inspections and appeals. Such legislation would not only necessitate licensing visits and far more reporting, but also require that such facilities abide by state and federal laws affecting safety, staffing, where youth sleep, what they eat and when or if they can be restrained. Amy Lorentzen McCoy, a spokeswoman for DHS, said a mix of state agency officials are reviewing the legislation. The state is also mulling other action, such as a possible certification process, that might be considered less onerous for owners of private boarding schools. “I think there is a desire by some groups that, if they are not receiving any government funding, to not have the same requirements,” she said. DES MOINES REGISTER Editorial: Youth homes need state oversight The new bill came after a 17-year-old one-time student at Midwest Academy claimed she was sexually abused by owner-director Ben Trane. Court records also show criminal investigators are looking into allegations of fraudulent practices and a pattern of child endangerment in the school's use of isolation rooms. Celeste Siemsen, administrative director at the Maharishi School, said officials there were unaware of the proposed legislation. However, she said, “Certainly, we fall in the category of very much being for school choice.” The Maharishi boarding school differs from public schools because of its interdisciplinary curriculum and incorporation of transcendental meditation twice a day into classes. Students stay with host families, who are vetted by the school, she said. “We ask for regular progress reports (of students) and check in with families on a regular basis,” she said. Iowa’s DHS has always had the authority to conduct child abuse probes at any school or facility. But the bill would send state workers to the schools more often during licensing visits and other times. PREVIOUSLY: 80 sheriff calls in 3 years to school Sheriff says academy needs oversight DHS: Midwest Academy used outdated methods Quirmbach, chairman of the Senate's Education Committee, said he believes whether a boarding school receives public funding or not, it needs to be regulated if it bills itself as therapeutic. "Look, I think we have a responsibility for these kids," he said. Quirmbach said a draft version of the bill passed out of the Education Committee last week. "But I committed to having broad input before any floor action would take place," he said. "It's still a work in progress." Midwest Academy was in the process of applying for foster care facility licenses for its Keokuk and Montrose locations when the criminal probe was launched. But not all the necessary documentation was submitted, and no site visits had been made, Lorentzen McCoy said. The DIA was overseeing the application process and eventually was expected to give DHS a recommendation on whether to approve the application and license.  Source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2016/02/23/more-boarding-schools-unregulated-dhs/80820862/  (HEAL Note: 26 States fail to provide any oversight or regulation of private schools (including residential schools).  An additional 12 States require private schools register but provide no regulation or oversight.  And, even where approval or licensing is required, often the State exempts faith-based schools from any regulation leaving children in harm's way.)
Norfolk foster parent accused of soliciting sex from boy he adopted BY World-Herald News Service/Paul Hammel | February 25, 2016 HomeNews LINCOLN — A longtime foster parent in Norfolk, Nebraska, has been ordered to stand trial for soliciting sex from a foster child he adopted. The 59-year-old man is accused of offering $100 and other favors in exchange for being allowed to sexually fondle a boy, then 17, he had adopted after serving as the boy’s foster parent. The man — whose name is not being published to protect the identity of the teen — has pleaded not guilty to soliciting prostitution from a person under age 18. If convicted on the felony charge, he could face up to two years in prison and 12 months post-release supervision, or a $10,000 fine, or all. A trial has been scheduled for March 8 in Madison County District Court. According to court records, the Norfolk man has been a foster parent to at least 13 boys since the 1990s. A court document from 2008 indicated that he was employed by Boys and Girls Home of Nebraska. Madison County Attorney Joe Smith said the case points to a need for more vigorous review of people who are allowed to foster children. The teen was placed under temporary custody of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services after telling police that he had been assaulted in April 2015. Now 18, he lives independently, Smith said. Ron Temple, a Norfolk attorney defending the accused man, did not respond to calls seeking comment. Russ Reno, a spokesman for Health and Human Services, confirmed that the man’s home was licensed by the state for foster care. He said that when the department hears of a serious criminal charge, it will put a hold on placements at such locations pending the resolution of the allegations. Reno said prospective foster parents are put through a “battery” of background checks, including checks of criminal history and sex-offender registries.  Source: http://kutt995.com/state-news/norfolk-foster-parent-accused-of-soliciting-sex-from-boy-he-adopted/
Fmr. Mountain View employee says she's witnessed inmate abuse By Heather Burian  |  Posted: Thu 11:53 PM, Feb 25, 2016  |  Updated: Fri 12:18 AM, Feb 26, 2016 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Sex between inmates and staff, physical abuse, even inmates escaping are all headlines involving Mountain View Youth Development Center in Dandridge. It's run by the Department of Children's Services and houses the most serious youth offenders. A former employee said she's aware of staff physically abusing inmates and despite her attempts to bring attention to it, nothing is being done. In fact, Dmayla Holliday, a youth service worker, was let go Thursday. DCS said it was poor performance. Holliday tells us it's because she took a stand. Holliday said she's had a number of inmates come up to her accusing staff of physically assaulting them while they're in handcuffs, in confinement, and when they're being transported. According to Holliday, she couldn't let the accusations go by without investigating. Then she started seeing it first-hand. Holliday said she's tried to report the it, but the people the kids accuse of physical abuse are her superiors. One example Holliday gave was when she was helping to restrain an aggressive inmate. "He does end up assaulting guards. That does happen. But once we got the situation under control -- we were able to get the handcuffs, we were able to place him into confinement -- there was a guard who had his hand around (the inmate's) throat. I actually grabbed the guard's arm and I moved it and I told him get your hand off of his throat, he's already contained," Holliday said, adding she found another inmate last week covered in blood, his face swollen, his lip busted. Holliday said she doesn't care that she lost her job, what's most important is making sure these inmates are protected. While these children are violent offenders, Holliday said she sees signs that make her believe they are telling the truth. For example, when inmates are scared to go up to the floor where they eat, because that's where the main office is. "If your son or your daughter was to accuse somebody of abuse, would you instinctively think of all the bad things they've done in their past? Or would you say, 'Hey, where is this coming from?' Would you dig deeper to try to figure out what's going on." As for whether there are cameras in the facility, Holliday says there are, but access is limited. They're not in certain meeting areas, bedrooms nor in confinement, which is where a lot of the abuse happens, according to Holliday. DCS has investigated some recent sexual abuse cases at Mountain View.  Source: http://www.local8now.com/content/news/Fmr-Mountain-View-employee-says-shes-witnessed-inmate-abuse-370221721.html
Criminologists: Boot out boot camps By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, February 28 2016 Criminologist and founder of the Caribbean Ant-Violence Institute Renee Cummings has debunked the myth that boot camps are a sure way to rehabilitate delinquent youths. “Boot camps are popular not because they work but because they make good reality television. Through popular American television talk shows, boot camps garnered attractive public appeal. Politicians and citizens like the military style which is naturally seen as being tough on crime,”she said in a Sunday Newsday interview. Cummings said, however, that in contrast to public perception, research has shown that boot camps are not very effective in rehabilitating juveniles. “There’s little evidence that the attitude-change lasts beyond the length of the programme which is usually three to six months,” she said. Cummings was responding to Government’s plan to consider establishing boot camps as a way to curb delinquency among the nation’s youth. The issue came to the fore, following recent reports of violence and serious indiscipline at Chaguanas North Secondary School. According to Cummings: “Current studies in adolescent brain research, juvenile delinquency best practices and youth development suggest that teenagers do not respond to a short term physical programme that includes punishment, threats and humiliation.” She added that the hostile environment of the boot camp worked against rehabilitation. “Over three decades of research in the United States, showed that the boot camp is a flawed model. Once perceived as a promising solution, it is now viewed as a failed experiment,” Cummings said. Given the nature of the initiative, Cummings argued, participants in boot camps were constantly at risk of injury and death “which goes beyond the concept of pair punishment.” She said the intense nature of the staff-participant relationship also created a high risk for abuse of participants. “The lack of a proper screening mechanism for physical and mental health has made the boot camp a deadly experience for some young people,” Cummings added. Cummings, who is also a criminal psychologist and profiler, further argued that on the issue of reducing recidivism, boot camps do not seem to have any lingering effect on participants once their resident stay ended. “Actually, re-offending is usually higher for boot camp participants,” she said. Cummings said young people need an opportunity to change their lives and re-invent themselves in a caring and supportive environment. “Weighing in on the possible move to implement boot camps to curb juvenile delinquency, criminologist Ian Ramdhanie noted that while the idea was being touted, no clear plan has been put forward. “To date there have not been any clear proposal of what this boot camp aims to accomplish, how it should operate, who will be executing it, how it will be monitored to see if it worked. It has always been talk, talk and more talk.,” he told Sunday Newsday. “We are yet to see any policy paper on this proposition. We had some versions of this in the recent past. For some people, the MILAT and MYPART may be seen as some type of boot camp.” Ramdhanie said there also has not been talk about where the boot camps will be located, its costs and whether there will be qualified persons to deliver the Government’s mandate Noting there were many types of boot camps around the world, the criminologist said some were academic- based while others were treatment-oriented and punishment-driven. “What model will Trinidad and Tobago follow is unknown,” he said. “There had not been any national discussion with the critical stakeholders on how it should be patterned. These stakeholders include the parents/ guardians, teachers, police, corrections, judiciary.” Ramdhanie said to criminologists and other professionals, the perennial talk about sending delinquent youths to boot camps comes across as a diversion tactic from the real issues rather than trying to reduce the delinquency problem itself. “Two weeks from now, no one will be talking about boot camps since no technical discussion has been held on what types of delinquent problems will qualify for a term at a boot camp. For example, is it that for fighting in school, drugs in school, cursing, disrespect to teachers. We don’t have a clue,” he said.  Source: http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,224630.html
Our opinion: Iowa must regulate youth facilities Story Comments ShareShare Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size where we stand Iowa lawmakers must take steps to ensure that facilities like Midwest Academy aren't allowed to operate without some government oversight. Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 6:10 am, Sun Feb 28, 2016. Our opinion: Iowa must regulate youth facilities BY THE TH MEDIA EDITORIAL BOARD Telegraph Herald One month ago, news broke about a raid at an Iowa facility for troubled youth. Allegations of sexual abuse by staff members prompted law enforcement to swoop in and shut down Midwest Academy in Keokuk. For many Iowans, that was likely the first time they heard mention of the place. It's the kind of place you don't hear about or find -- unless you really need it. Desperate parents seeking help for troubled teens sought refuge there. Midwest Academy is the kind of place parents find online when they are at the end of their rope. Its website offered counseling, academic support and therapy in a safe and secure environment. Programs like this can cost thousands of dollars, but that probably seemed like a small price to pay if it could get these struggling youth back on track. So parents bought in to the school, and sent their children off into the care of the facility's employees. Maybe parents didn't want to ask too many questions. Finding support for a teenager on the edge can be daunting. But this home for troubled youths wasn't a school. And it wasn't a mental health facility. Therefore, it was not beholden to any state rules that regulate those kinds of institutions. Midwest Academy quite literally made its own rules. In the month since the raid, the FBI continues to investigate, children have returned home, the doors have shuttered and the website has closed. Officials are looking into possible charges of sexual abuse, child pornography and child endangerment, among other claims. But so far, no charges have been filed. Because it was not governed by state regulations, filing charges might be complicated. Whether there was criminal behavior on the part of Midwest Academy employees is a matter best left to law enforcement to sort out. The Iowa Legislature, however, can and should take action. This past week, lawmakers announced that a bipartisan committee would be assembled to launch an investigation on behalf of the state. Because the facility had no burden of regulation, there's no obvious state department to turn to for oversight. The Legislature is right to step in. Further, lawmakers have an opportunity to remedy the circumstance that led to this rogue facility luring in vulnerable minors. The Legislature can and should put a stop to facilities operating in this capacity without transparency or oversight. Senate Study Bill 3154 would require places offering services like this to more than six youth be licensed by the state. With that oversight would come audits, inspections and transparency in programming. Lawmakers must get behind this measure. For parents seeking help for an out-of-control teen, the promise of a "wilderness camp" or "boarding school" that can "straighten out" at-risk kids is likely incredibly tempting. They exist all over the country. But many of these programs fly under the radar of state and federal regulation. Parents have no guarantee that these programs are even safe for their children, much less that they can truly help children. Parents must look at programming like this with great scrutiny and a degree of skepticism. It's troubling to hear allegations of abuse about a place billed as a refuge for struggling teens. We must be more vigilant about ensuring that these facilities aren't allowed to operate within our state's borders without government oversight. Editorials reflect the consensus of the TH Media Editorial Board.  Source: http://www.thonline.com/news/opinion/article_24cef152-ecc8-5f91-922c-61a06276c339.html
Denver County Human Services to close center for foster teens More than 60 Family Crisis Center employees learned Monday they would lose their jobs By Jennifer Brown The Denver Post Posted:   03/01/2016 12:01:00 AM MST9 Comments Updated:   03/01/2016 08:08:12 AM MST The Denver Family Crisis Center (Andy Cross, The Denver Post file) A Denver County home for troubled teenagers in foster care will close in July, and 64 workers with the Human Services Department will lose their jobs. Family Crisis Center is home to 29 teens, most placed by court order, who will move to foster homes or privately run residential treatment centers by July 1. Employees of the county-run center, who are caseworkers, therapists, kitchen staff members and others, were notified Monday that their jobs end in three months, said department communications director Julie Smith. Closure of the center, which costs nearly $6 million annually, comes as residential treatment centers across Colorado downsize while the state works to meet federal goals in housing more foster kids with families and fewer kids in so-called "congregate" care. Family Crisis Center has the capacity to house 60 teenagers ages 12-17, but Denver County Human Services cut that number to 30 in recent years as caseworkers aimed to send more kids to families and group homes. Denver County is the only county in the state that runs its own residential treatment center. In recent years, the county was increasingly competing with the private sector as fewer children needed care at the Family Crisis Center, Smith said. Also, running the center conflicted with the county's goals of reducing the number of children in residential treatment centers. Advertisement By July, human services will pay private centers to house the teens and will use the cost savings on prevention of child abuse and neglect as well as mental health services, Smith said. Since 2008, the state has focused on reducing "out-of-home" care and increased spending on prevention and mental health. The county has scheduled two job fairs and two workshops to help the 64 employees find new positions in the Denver area. "We recognize this is not an easy thing," Smith said. Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, jenbrown@denverpost.com or @jbrowndpost   Source: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29578534/denver-county-human-services-close-center-foster-teens
Treynor man arrested for alleged group home sexual abuse - The Daily Nonpareil - Council Bluffs, Iowa: Local News Treynor man arrested for alleged group home sexual abuse  Treynor man arrested for alleged group home sexual abuse Michael Krauth Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 9:25 am, Tue Mar 1, 2016. Treynor man arrested for alleged group home sexual abuse By Tim Johnson tjohnson@nonpareilonline.com nonpareilonline.com | 0 comments A Treynor man employed by REM Iowa Community Services is facing charges for sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. Michael E. Krauth, 54, was arrested on warrant at 11 a.m. Friday at REM Iowa’s Council Bluffs office at 25 Main Place. Krauth is accused of victimizing a 30-year-old male resident of a group home in August 2015 and September 2015, according to Sgt. Chad Meyers of the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division. Krauth is being charged at the level of an aggravated misdemeanor. Kelly Flanagan, area director for REM Iowa Community Services, said Monday morning, “I can’t make any comment at this time.” Sarah Magazine, a spokeswoman for REM, said that Krauth was not an employee at the time the allegations occurred. She said he was hired last fall after passing a background check. REM Iowa’s Council Bluffs operation offers services to children and adults with disabilities, including residential services and dual diagnosis services, and also offers supported living services to adults with neurological disorders and brain or spinal cord injuries. Krauth was being held in the Pottawattamie County Jail on Monday on $10,000 bond. He has requested a public defender, and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 10. Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly identified the group home where the alleged incident took place as being operated by REM Iowa.  Source: http://www.nonpareilonline.com/news/local/treynor-man-arrested-for-alleged-group-home-sexual-abuse/article_6547e42d-edbc-5354-9db7-8f6822a0df0e.html
Sex Abuse, Drugs, Lack of Food Pose 'Immediate Risk' to Kids at State-Funded Group Homes | NBC Bay Area Sex Abuse, Drugs, Lack of Food Pose 'Immediate Risk' to Kids at State-Funded Group Homes A three-month NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals serious health and safety violations at facilities that house over 3,700 abused and neglected children in California. By Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott and Jeremy Carroll View Comments (3) | Email | Print UP NEXT X Sex Abuse, Drugs, Lack of Food Pose... Link Embed Email Copy Close Link to this video Copy Close Embed this video Replay More videos (1 of 9) «» An NBC Bay Area investigation reveals dreadful violations at some of California’s group homes, which are 24-hour child care facilities that house abused and neglected children throughout the state. California is in the midst of overhauling its child welfare system, but the reform could take years. In the meantime, the Investigative Unit found evidence of 815 violations at Bay Area group homes that posed an "immediate risk" to children and teens over the past five years. Bigad Shaban reports in a video that first aired on March 1, 2016. (Published Tuesday, March 1, 2016) Some of the most vulnerable children in California have been forced into living conditions that threaten their health and safety. An NBC Bay Area investigation reveals dreadful violations at some of California’s group homes, which are 24-hour child care facilities that house abused and neglected children throughout the state. California is in the midst of overhauling its child welfare system, but the reform could take years. In the meantime, the Investigative Unit found evidence of 815 violations at Bay Area group homes that posed an "immediate risk" to children and teens over the past five years. Those violations included physical and sexual abuse of children, drug use among group home staff, and other serious violations such as a lack of food. Lawmakers in California have acknowledged that outcomes for children in group homes are substantially worse compared to outcomes for children placed with relatives or foster families. As a result, the state is now undertaking one of the largest overhauls of the child welfare system in recent history. The effort, which has been dubbed the "continuum of care reform," aims to eliminate group homes by 2021, which currently house roughly 3,725 children and teens across California. The reform would require counties to do a significantly better job in recruiting foster families and relative caregivers for foster youth. "When you look at the suicide rates, drug abuse rates, when you look at all the negative outcomes for the foster care population – the lack of the number of kids going into higher education, just the absolute lack of success – that’s the danger that the system puts these kids into," said Assemblymember Mark Stone, who authored AB 403, the legislation behind the continuum of care reform effort. Stone says group homes were originally intended to be short term placements for foster youth, while social workers connected children with foster families or relatives. Counties, however, simply have not been able to recruit enough foster families or relative caregivers, which has transformed group homes into long term placements for many children. Stone says his legislation would address these shortfalls by increasing resources for the recruitment and retention of foster families and relative caregivers. The group homes that continue to exist after the transition will become short-term facilities, which would aim to place children in longer-term homes within 6 months. "We want to reduce the amount of suicides, we want to reduce the amount of drug abuse, we want to reduce the amount of failure that kids suffer coming out of the foster care system," Stone said. "And it’s not because they’re bad kids. It’s not because they’re not capable. It’s because they haven’t had a chance." There are currently 166 group homes across the Bay Area that can house anywhere from four to more than 100 children. To find out what foster kids were enduring at Bay Area group homes, NBC Bay Area obtained hundreds of pages of inspection reports from the Department of Social Services. The reports contained troubling allegations that government inspectors determined to be true. They include: A group home employee "sexually abused a child" Staff did drugs with a child An employee brought a "loaded gun" into a group home Several violations over a lack of food for children Failing to provide medical attention to a child "after a seizure" Not reporting an injury to a child that resulted in two broken bones An employee caught on tape "physically abusing" a child by cracking an object like a "whip" Using "behavior modifying drugs as punishment." After acting out, one child was given "Benadryl on at least 30 documented occasions," which can cause drowsiness Despite the seriousness of these violations, the group homes where these violations occurred all remain open, although some are on probation, meaning their license can be revoked if they don’t show improvement in the quality of care provided to children. NBC Bay Area requested an interview with Department of Social Services director Will Lightborne to discuss whether the state was doing enough to ensure the safety of children housed in group homes, however, the agency said their spokesperson Michael Weston was the only person available. Weston agreed that group homes are not appropriate long-term placement options, which is why he said the Department of Social Services is supporting and implementing the continuum of care reform. "These group homes were designed to deal with children who needed therapeutic services," Weston said. "What they’ve become for some kids, particularly at the lower level, is a permanent placement option and that is what a lot of the reform is trying to undo." While Bay Area group homes have been cited 815 times over the past 5 years for putting the health, safety, and personal rights of children at "immediate risk," Weston said the department is doing enough to keep children in group homes safe. "We have a system for dealing with facilities that are out of compliance and part of that is a progressive discipline process," Weston said. "And where we have facilities where children’s needs aren’t being met, we’re being very active. There’s a process that we go through." Weston said that process includes meeting with group homes to discuss improvements, putting them on probation, or even shutting them down. Inspectors with the department’s Community Care Licensing division are required by law to conduct unannounced inspections at every group home at least once every five years. Weston says the department aims to investigate complaints against group homes within 90 days. Weston, however, said shutting down a problematic group home can be a long process. "The administrative process does not give the authority to the department to close a facility without doing a lot of legwork," Weston said. "[There’s] a lot of legal work in order to do that. It’s a very long process in order to investigate and close a facility from start to finish." Records provided by the Department of Social Services show 19 group homes in California have had their licenses revoked between 2011 and 2015. Mariah Corder, 16, spent much of her childhood in group homes after her biological father went to prison for murder. She was removed from her parents’ home as a toddler. Corder has cycled between multiple group homes and foster homes since then, and says the state should be doing more to protect children and teens. "The purpose of a high level group home is to help a youth deal with any trauma they’ve had before," Corder said. "But I really believe that pretty much all of the group homes I was in gave me more trauma that I had to deal with." Corder said she experienced physical abuse by staff members, and at one group home, was even given daily doses of psychotropic drugs to unnecessarily subdue her. NBC Bay Area confirmed that once she was transferred to a different group home, the staff there took her completely off the medication, saying she didn’t need it. "I never should have been abused," Corder said. "I never should have had to fight or defend myself in a government home and never should have had to be so behind in school. I never should have had to be in a group home at all really. If there were more foster homes, I wouldn’t have." Corder did spend some time in foster homes as a child, which she says made her realize how poor the conditions were at group home facilities. "It took a few foster homes in between group homes to realize how different things were and a couple of really good foster homes to explain to me that the stuff that was happening to me wasn’t right," she said. Corder says she supports the continuum of care reform, but does have some reservations about whether counties will be able to recruit enough foster parents and relative caregivers to phase out group homes as long-term placement options for foster youth. In the meantime, Corder is fighting to change the system alongside other teens at California Youth Connection, a non-profit group that’s been advocating for child welfare reform for the past two decades. "I think just knowing the horrible things that I went through and never wanting any other youth to have to go through that, that’s what gets me going every day," Corder said. "[It’s what] keeps me motivated to advocate for youth." Source: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Bay-Area-Group-Homes-for-Children-and-Teens-369305871.html
Request sent to DHHS for formal investigation of faith-based foster care agenciesPosted: Thursday, March 3, 2016 12:17 pm | Updated: 3:01 pm, Thu Mar 3, 2016. Request sent to DHHS for formal investigation of faith-based foster care agencies By HEATHER RIGGLEMAN Hub Staff Writer Kearney Hub LINCOLN — After the Feb. 17 Judiciary Committee hearing on LB975, state Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to request a formal investigation of faith-based foster care agencies, including Compass of Kearney. “According to recent news reports and testimony at the public hearing on LB975, several organizations contracting with your department have admitted to engaging in discrimination on the basis of religion,” he wrote.  The letter listed Bethany Christian Services of Lincoln, Christian Heritage of Omaha and Compass as agencies discriminating against children or families on the basis of religion. Kathie Osterman, communications and legislative services administrator with DHHS, said the agency hasn’t launched any formal investigations. "We are reviewing the transcripts of the hearing to verify the comments," she said. heather.riggleman@kearneyhub.com  Source: http://www.kearneyhub.com/news/local/request-sent-to-dhhs-for-formal-investigation-of-faith-based/article_beeb9639-ab00-5cd7-86ab-61f55c535a5e.html
Top Texas CPS Official Stepping Down AP FILE PHOTO: J. Michael Short by Lana Shadwick6 Mar 20169 6 Mar, 2016 7 Mar, 2016 The top official for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has announced that he is stepping-down effective May 31, 2016. Judge John Specia Jr. announced on Friday that he intends to retire after 30 years of public service. Specia became DFPS Commissioner on December 1, 2012. Commissioner Specia is a former family law judge with a distinguished legal history, especially in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. He has extensive expertise in the foster care system, and has broad civil law experience. “It has been an honor every day working with the dedicated public servants at DFPS,” Commissioner Specia said in a prepared statement. “I never cease to be amazed at the way our team fights for our kids and vulnerable adults, no matter the circumstances. I know they will continue to put at-risk Texans first as the HHS system transforms itself in the coming months and years.” “Judge Specia is a dynamic leader and has proven himself a true public servant for three decades,” Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Chris Traylor said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “His career will always be defined by his commitment to children, preventing child abuse and making Texas a safer place.” The former judge was a founding member and jurist in residence for the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission. He also established the Bexar County Children’s Court which provides specialized services for children. He created the Family Drug Treatment Court in that county and it became a model for the Lone Star State. He was vice-chair of the Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families, and chair of the Supreme Court Task Force on Foster Care. Commissioner Specia served as District Judge of the 225th District Court in San Antonio for 18 years (1988-2006) and was the administrative judge for Bexar County district courts for four of those years. He also served as Master of the 289th Family and Juvenile District Court (1985-1988). Commissioner Specia was one of the state’s first child welfare attorneys, serving as a regional attorney for the former Texas Department of Human Services (1980-1985), and he was a family law attorney in private practice before becoming a district judge. After retiring from the bench in 2006, Specia served as partner in a law firm where he practiced mediation and arbitration. He also served as a visiting judge. Judge Specia has been an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s School of Law since 1995, teaching trial advocacy, advanced trial advocacy, and international arbitration. Specia was honored with the 2012 Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award and received the 2011 Lone Star Award for his work in substance abuse prevention and treatment. He was a recipient of the Dale Wood Award for outstanding protection of children by the judiciary and was named “Judge of the Year” by Texas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Specia has a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Texas and a doctor of jurisprudence from St. Mary’s University of Law. The Department of Family and Protective Services is the agency in Texas that works to protect both children and the elderly from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Its most commonly known subdivision is CPS. It also has an Adult Protection Services Division (APS). The agency also licenses facilities and works to protect the health and safety of children in day care and foster care. The agency is not, and has not been, without its critics. Breitbart Texas has reported about the abuses, problems, and overreach in the agency, particularly among CPS caseworkers and in foster care. In 2014, the department approved new agency rules aimed at preventing deaths of children in CPS foster care, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The Council’s action came after the deaths of two year old Alexandria Hill and eleven month old Orien Hamilton.  Both died of blunt-force head injuries suffered in foster and kinship homes. The homes were approved by child-placing agencies (CPAs) which were licensed by TDFPS. The Department licenses the 220 foster child-placing agencies that recruit, investigate, and train potential foster and kinship parents and monitor the placements once they become caregivers. In March 2015, Breitbart Texas reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott directed the DFPS to implement comprehensive reforms after three children died under the supervision of the department. The reforms were aimed at protecting future and current children under the agency’s care. Nine children died under DFPS’ watch during 2014. In September, a CPS worker was found guilty of official oppression, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The CPS worker, Rebekah Ross Thonginh, is one of three individuals who were charged in connection with a CPS investigation of a case involving a special needs teenager who was murdered in 2012. Thonginh, Natalie Ausbie Reynolds, and Laura Ard were arrested in September of 2013 and were charged with official oppression and tampering with evidence. Critics say that more caseworkers should be investigated for their constitutional overreaches with parents, custodians, and guardians. In 2014, a Texas judge ordered the removal of a YouTube video, which after highlighted in an article by Breitbart Texas, went viral with hundreds of thousands of views and shares. As reported by Breitbart Texas, Judge Keith Dean ordered the removal of a YouTube video produced by a 13-year-old boy that exposed the sexual and physical abuse that he and his brother and family say they endured while in CPS foster care. The video, obtained from someone outside of the family, also discusses the 377-day nightmare suffered by him and his six siblings after they were ripped from their family and placed in four different foster care facilities out of their home county. The mother told Breitbart Texas at the time “they are trying to rake this abuse under the rug.” A Children’s Advocacy group brought a class action lawsuit against CPS in December of 2014, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The class-action lawsuit was filed by a New York advocacy group called Children’s Rights. About 12,000 children were included in the class-action suit. These children were in long-term care in Texas. The group successfully sought and received an order from U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack to have the State of Texas enact reforms for its children’s services. The judge ruled that the long-term foster care system is improperly run and is a place “where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication and instability are the norm,” as reported by the Dallas Morning News in December 2015. The judge noted that the DFPS and Judge Specia have “the best intentions” but the system is underfunded. She called the long-term foster care system in the state “broken.” Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2   Source: http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/03/06/top-texas-cps-official-stepping-down/
Oklahoma Man Gets 40 Years in Prison in Kenya Orphans' Abuse By tim talley, associated press OKLAHOMA CITY — Mar 7, 2016, 3:37 PM ET 147 Shares Email Star 147 Shares Email A former missionary from Oklahoma convicted of sexually abusing children at an orphanage in Kenya was sentenced Monday to 40 years in a federal prison. U.S. District Judge David L. Russell handed down the sentence to Matthew Lane Durham, 21, who had faced up to 30 years on each of four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. He also ordered Durham, of Edmond, to pay restitution of $15,863. "These were heinous crimes committed on the most vulnerable victims. He was their worst nightmare come true," Russell said. Durham, wearing an orange prison-issued jumpsuit, read a statement before sentencing in which he asked the court for mercy but did not express remorse for the offenses he was convicted of. Durham showed no emotion when the sentence was issued. Prosecutors alleged Durham targeted orphans while volunteering at the Upendo Children's Home in Nairobi between April and June 2014. Durham had served as a volunteer since 2012 at the orphanage, which specializes in caring for neglected children. "All I wanted was to follow God's plan for me," Durham told the judge. He said he will try to commit himself to serving others while he serves his prison sentence. Although Durham claims he is innocent of the charges, he said he was sorry that the accusations against him had damaged the orphanage and those it cares for. "The Upendo kids do not deserve this," Durham said. In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said Durham's actions have had a chilling effect on the lives of dozens of foreign volunteers in Kenya and elsewhere "who must now live under the cloud of suspicion, distrust and apprehension when they volunteer their time, talent and resources for the betterment of children in East Africa and beyond." "There is a real perception among Upendo's local Kenyan community that more pedophiles lurk among the volunteers, especially the young male volunteers," prosecutors said. A jury convicted Durham in June on seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, but Russell acquitted Durham on three of the charges in January. The same jury cleared Durham of accusations he planned to abuse the children before leaving the United States. Defense attorney Stephen Jones has said Durham plans to appeal his convictions. The orphanage's founder, Eunice Menja, read a statement in court Monday in which she said the sexual abuse was "not only a betrayal of the Upendo mission but of the trust Upendo placed in him." "Matthew Durham defiled the children," Menja said as she fought back tears. "Matthew has no remorse. After he got caught, he still denied." Menja told reporters after the hearing that she hopes Durham's 40-year sentence is long enough to prevent him from being a threat to anyone else. "We're hoping that when he comes out he will be a changed man," she said. Federal prosecutors had asked in their sentencing memo that Russell to sentence Durham to 120 years in prison — the maximum punishment he faced. Jones had sought a sentence of just eight years, followed by probation. Evidence produced by prosecutors included handwritten, signed confessions that Durham gave orphanage officials after he was accused of inappropriate behavior. Jones has argued that the statements were coerced by orphanage officials who isolated Durham, took his passport and created the allegations to obtain $17,000 from the U.S. government for security cameras. Jones has described Durham, who was 19 when he was charged in 2014, as "an emotionally vulnerable teenager" who was struggling with "sexual identity and development" while also being a devout Christian.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/sentencing-set-oklahoma-man-convicted-abusing-orphans-37453769
Lawsuit: State could’ve saved children raped by foster dad Attorneys for girls say DSHS failed to act on misconduct report 2 years before Granite Falls man raped children BY LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF Published 2:51 pm, Sunday, March 6, 2016 Image 1of/3 Caption Close Image 1 of 3 Attorneys for two Washington children raped by their state-paid foster father, John Henry Phillips, pictured above, have sued the claiming child services workers failed to act on a warning of sexual abuse in the Snohomish County foster home. less Attorneys for two Washington children raped by their state-paid foster father, John Henry Phillips, pictured above, have sued the claiming child services workers failed to act on a warning of sexual abuse in ... more Image 2 of 3 John Henry Phillips, pictured in a Department of Corrections photo. John Henry Phillips, pictured in a Department of Corrections photo. Image 3 of 3 Attorneys for two Washington children raped by their state-paid foster father have sued the claiming child services workers failed to act on a warning of sexual abuse in the Snohomish County foster home. Attorneys for two Washington children raped by their state-paid foster father have sued the claiming child services workers failed to act on a warning of sexual abuse in the Snohomish County foster home. Photo: Rachel La Corte, ASSOCIATED PRESS Lawsuit: State could’ve saved children raped by foster dad 1 / 3 Back to Gallery Two children sexually assaulted by a state-paid foster parent now say child services workers ignored an earlier report of abuse in the Snohomish County home. Attorneys for the girls claim Department of Social and Health Services workers failed to act on a 2012 report of sexual behavior in foster father John Phillips’ home. Months later, Phillips began raping two foster daughters and a third child. Phillips, now 45, was found out in 2014 and is currently serving a 25-year prison term. "Sadly, once again we see two innocent young children horrifically abused in our state's foster care system,” attorney Michael Pfau said Friday. “This lawsuit is hopefully the beginning of a long journey toward healing for them. "Our state meanwhile must address the problems in its foster care system now so tragic cases like this are a rare occurrence not something we continually read about in the news media." Pfau, a Seattle attorney with the firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, filed a lawsuit on the girls’ behalf earlier in March. They are seeking compensation for harm they claim was caused by state negligence. A Department of Social and Health Services spokesperson declined to comment on the claims, citing a DSHS policy against speaking about pending lawsuits. The Washington girls, then 9 and 14, were placed in Phillips’ Granite Falls home after being physically and sexually abused elsewhere. Phillips, aware of what the girls had already endured, won their trust and then sexually exploited them. Two years before that, though, child services workers received a report that a 4-year-old who had been placed at Phillips home reported sexual activity there, attorneys for the girls said in the lawsuit. The child told her foster mother an individual in the home had exposed himself to “exercise … on someone’s butt.” The girls’ attorneys claim the state didn’t properly investigate the strange report and instead allowed three children to be raped by Phillips. Investigators would ultimately learn that Phillips had been raping the girls regularly at the home he shared with his wife and biological children. The abuse continued throughout the girls’ time at Phillips’ home. The abuse came to light in August 2014, when the younger foster daughter when to Phillips’ wife and said she had “done something bad.” The girl went on to say Phillips had touched her sexually. Phillips’ wife called the other foster daughter and a third girl into the room and asked them if Phillips had abused them. They said he had. Phillips walked in a moment later. Confronted, he admitted to abusing the girls, though he would later make nonsensical claims that the children enticed him into raping them. “Although he readily admits to his actions he refuses to take actual responsibility for choosing to do what he did,” a Snohomish County community corrections officer who interviewed Phillips said in court papers. Phillip turned himself in after his wife said she was going to report the abuse. He later said he didn’t know what he would’ve done had his wife not threatened to turn him in. Authorities arrested Phillips and removed the foster children from his former home. He ultimately pleaded guilty to four child rape and child molestation counts, and is currently imprisoned at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. In court papers filed in Phillips criminal case, a social worker assisting the girls after their ordeal with Phillips said both have struggled because of the betrayal. “They both trusted John and (his wife) to be their adoptive parents,” the social worker said in the June memo. “It’s been hard trying to build that trust again.” Attorneys for the state have not yet responded to the girls’ lawsuit, which is filed in King County Superior Court.  Source: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/crime/article/Lawsuit-State-could-ve-saved-children-raped-by-6873013.php
Youth home closed after sex acts, meth Records show porn exposure, broken bones at brawl By Greg Moran | 7 a.m. March 8, 2016 The former home of the Phoenix House Academy in Decanso. [Union-Tribune file] Nancee E. Lewis The former home of the Phoenix House Academy in Decanso. [Union-Tribune file] A group home in Descanso that treated youths with drug and alcohol problems under a contract with San Diego County abruptly closed last fall, following a series of incidents involving staff and residents that led child welfare officials to stop sending children there for treatment. Records show that Phoenix House Academy, a group home located on about 90 acres of what was once a ranch in bucolic East County backcountry, was told a year ago that county officials had become concerned for “the safety and welfare of dependent and probation youth” placed in the home. In a February 2015 memo, the county demanded a plan to correct 11 areas, including supervision and training, “appropriate staff-to-youth ratio” and improving the “timeliness and accuracy” of reports that are required to be submitted to the county when someone is hurt, property damaged or some other incident occurs. W Phoenix House submitted a 60-page plan to correct the flaws in March. But by September, the group informed the county it was closing down, citing a change in funding and regulations, as well as an increase in the severity of the case referrals of adolescents. That decision came after a series of incidents dating from October 2013 detailed in the records, which included incident reports and complaint investigations. They included: In April 2014 a female staff counselor was found to have engaged in sex acts with a male resident on at least two occasions, and providing the youth with methamphetamines. A male staff member in October 2013 gave pornography to residents, purchasing a magazine on the way to work and leaving it in a place male residents would find it, according to a redacted report of the incident. The report indicated the staff member had been disciplined once before and “had issues with inappropriate boundaries with residents at Phoenix House.” On Jan. 31, 2015, five male residents got into a brawl in one of the residential cabins on the site, leaving one with a broken hand. One of the fighters threatened to stab another, and was found with utensils that had been fashioned into weapons. On Aug. 30 last year, about a week before the announcement to close, two female youths walked away from an outing at the Mission Valley mall and were missing for hours. They were found that night in Poway and later tested positive for drugs. The program’s closure was not announced at the time. The San Diego Union-Tribune came across the situation as part of an unrelated request for public records. Ann Bray, executive director of the organization that operates 120 programs in California and nine other states, declined to comment on the specific incidents detailed in the reports. She said in an interview that the string of incidents did not factor into the decision to close the Descanso facility, which the organization had operated for more than 25 years. The rural location and expense of maintaining the home led to the decision to no longer accept youth under the contract, which was set to expire in 2017, Bray said. Phoenix House still provides rehabilitation services for county youth — but they are sent on a case-by-case basis to a facility in Lake View Terrace in Los Angeles County. “We made the decision it was better to deliver care in a more contemporary health care setting rather in a facility in a remote location, that was built in the 1940s,” she said of the Descanso campus. The referrals to Los Angeles are done under an amended annual contract that could pay Phoenix House up to $600,000 per year for treating youths, said Dale Fleming of the county’s Health and Humans Services Agency. She said the county continues to contract with the organization because it is one of the few that offers the kind of specialized care that some youth need. Until it closed, Phoenix House in Descanso was the only place such youth could go to within the county, Fleming said. She said the county stepped in when it became aware of the problems there last year. “We worked closely with Phoenix House Academy to take appropriate steps to prevent these types of situations from recurring,” Fleming said in a written response to questions about the facility. She said the county stopped referrals there from Feb. 18 to March 13 last year. In all, the county has paid $2.8 million to Phoenix House since 2014 under two separate contracts. Candi Mayes, the executive director of the Dependency Legal Group which represents children in child welfare cases, said she was unaware of the problems detailed in the county reports. The relatively small number of clients placed out there had concerns other than reports of misconduct by staff there. “They didn’t feel like it was helping them, or the group counseling was consistent,” she said. “They were raising concerns with their attorneys that they were in the inpatient programs, and they didn’t feel they were getting the intensive services that they needed. For us, the issue was it was more about it wasn’t a good fit.” Bray said that the organization now plans to convert the Descanso site from a licensed treatment program for youths, to a post-treatment recovery retreat type facility for families. The new program would require county development approvals, but there is no plan to take county referrals. That may not sit well with residents of the area, some of whom have long complained about problems with the facility, which is not a locked or secured camp. There have been problems with youth trespassing on private property, thefts and traffic hazards from vehicles traveling down the winding road to the camp, said Maggie Leavitt, a resident and former chairwoman of an association of property owners in the area. One resident committed suicide there in 2010, according to the medical examiner, which said the youth had a history of depression and making suicidal threats. “Ever since they opened the doors it’s had problems,” Leavitt said, “Kid-created problems, staff-created problems.” She said placing any kind of rehab facility in the area is “highly inappropriate in our rural, residential community.” The county said that since 2014 it had placed some 107 youths at the Phoenix House campus, 84 in 2014-15, and 23 from July 2015 until it closed down. Since the closure, the county has placed 10 children in the Los Angeles Phoenix House facility. Also see County-contracted charity accused of improper billing Fleming said county officials visited the facility in January and were “comfortable with what we observed.” She said the county did not know of any problems at that location.  Source: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/mar/08/phoenix-house/   
Paddles, Stun Guns and Chemical Sprays: How US Schools Discipline Students Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00 By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | News Analysis font size decrease font size increase font size Print (Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout)"Brian was a regular kid," longtime communications professional Kathy Parrent says, "a boy who liked to make everyone in our third grade classroom laugh. One day he said something smart-alecky, and our teacher grabbed him by the collar, lifted him up, opened up the coat closet, threw him in and locked the door. The rest of us sat in stunned horror, terrified. Brian immediately began banging and screaming, 'please, please, let me out,' but the teacher kept him in there for what felt like an eternity." As Parrent speaks, her voice breaks and it is clear that Brian is still vivid in her mind's eye. "I remember that he was wearing a white shirt and when the teacher finally opened the door, he was covered in blood. My first thought was that he must have cut himself, but no. He'd had a nosebleed, something that happened to him all the time. It was awful. He might have deserved to be reprimanded; I don't know. What I do know is that more than 50 years later, I can still see the blood." Despite the lasting impact of this incident on Parrent -- we can only guess how it affected Brian as he continued his schooling and came of age -- it's tempting to assume that this type of discipline is a thing of the past. After all, the encounter took place in 1963. Security officers routinely use mace, pepper spray, stun guns and Tasers to break up fights and suppress "unruly" behavior. But not only are students still being locked in "isolation rooms" and physically restrained, but 19 states also continue to employ corporal punishment against "disobedient" pupils. What's more, in the wake of Columbine, Sandy Hook and other school shootings, security officers -- often employees of the local sheriff's department or area police force -- routinely use mace, pepper spray, stun guns and Tasers to break up fights and suppress "unruly" behavior. First, let's look at corporal punishment. Since there are no federal policies regarding the paddling or physical punishment of students, a patchwork of state regulations govern how students can be disciplined. This means that although 31 states prohibit public school teachers, paraprofessionals and principals from striking students -- only two states, Iowa and New Jersey, ban private schools from doing the same. The practice remains pervasive, particularly in the South. To wit: Available statistics show Texas leading the nation, with 49,197 students being paddled at least once during the 2008-09 academic year; Mississippi came in second, with 38,131 cases; then there's Alabama, with 33,716; Arkansas, with 22,314; Georgia, with 18,249; Tennessee with 14,868; and Oklahoma with 14,828. Children with disabilities are between two and five times more likely to be hit than other students. For those unfamiliar with this type of chastisement, it is worth noting that the paddle is typically made of wood and is used on the thighs and buttocks for infractions such as bullying, "defiance," fighting, using profanity, refusing to put a cell phone away, smoking on school grounds, tardiness or violating a school dress code. Equally noteworthy, boys of color receive the stick far more frequently than white males or females, regardless of race. Indeed, more than a third of those paddled during that school year -- 35.6 percent -- were Black boys. The 12 to 15 percent of public school students living with disabilities also experience disproportionate corporal punishment, regardless of race and regardless of whether they have learning disorders, are autistic or have illnesses ranging from cerebral palsy to asthma. According to the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center, children with disabilities are between two and five times more likely to be hit than other students. And paddling, of course, is only one of the tools used to control them. Isolation or Seclusion for Students With Disabilities Historically, time-outs, also known as seclusion or isolation, have been used to give students a means of stepping away from stimuli. "People typically couch removal from class in therapeutic language, but there is no research to back up the use of isolation as helpful," said Gail Stewart, an attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who has represented numerous children with disabilities in lawsuits against punishment-happy school systems. "What isolation teaches is trauma." New Mexico, she adds, like most other states, does not require parents to be notified when their children are put in seclusion or are restrained, and since many of those placed in involuntary isolation are nonverbal, family members are often unaware of what's happening in the classroom. "Many kids become highly distressed when sequestered," Stewart told Truthout. "You can see blood and snot, and smell urine, in these holding rooms. " "No one has solid numbers on the number of officers with Tasers or sprays, how much is spent by school districts, or exactly where they are used." She described a typical scenario, illustrating the type of provocation that can send a student into seclusion. "A kid who does not want to transition from one activity to another may throw a book or push a desk," she said. "The teacher then calls security. In some cases, the room will be cleared of other students, leaving three or four adults to surround the kid who is considered 'noncompliant.' If the kid ends up on the floor, it can escalate into head-banging or thrashing, and may result in injuries." In addition, says Matthew Bernstein, staff attorney at Albuquerque's Pegasus Legal Services for Children, "zero-tolerance" policies in some schools complicate things further by prohibiting teachers from using discretion when handling disruptive behaviors. "I was a high school teacher before I went to law school," he said. "I know it's hard to be a teacher and individualize what each student needs, but it's time to dial back the punishments and find alternatives." This is especially true when punishment includes being tased, zapped with a stun gun or sprayed with chemicals. That said, no one knows how often, or even where, these methods are used. "There is not a federal mandatory school crime [sic] incident reporting system for Pre-K though 12 grade school crime," Ken S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, wrote in response to an email from Truthout requesting hard data. "No one has solid numbers on the number of officers with Tasers or sprays, how much is spent by school districts, or exactly where they are used," he wrote. Instead, we have anecdotes. Although Trump calls Tasers "an additional intervention tool that falls between the ultimate use of deadly force and other less-than-lethal interventions," he is emphatic that they should be used exclusively by "sworn, certified and trained police officers," not educators. Many Ask Why Police Are in Schools at All Many, however, believe law enforcement is missing the mark and argue that neither police nor weaponry belong in schools; others, however, take a middle position, advocating that law enforcement should be a last resort, utilized only when other types of mediation have failed since chemicals and stun guns have the potential to cause permanent physical and psychological problems. Ebony Howard, an attorney at the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), represented eight students in a lawsuit against a Birmingham school district over its use of mace. "One of them was KB, a pregnant African-American 16-year-old," Howard told Truthout. "She was going from one class to another when a boy walked up to her and started calling her foul names like bitch and whore. She tried to get away from him but he and a group of his friends followed her." Things got loud and a security officer showed up. According to Howard, "he told KB that if she did not calm down, he'd arrest her. He then sprayed her with mace." "In schools where the students are poor and mostly of color, police departments are criminalizing adolescent conflict." Fortunately, KB recovered and her fetus was unharmed, but a SPLC lawsuit challenged the officer's handling of the altercation. A judge ultimately found that the officer's use of mace constituted excessive force and while the ruling did not impose an outright ban on the use of chemical compounds in academic settings, Howard believes that the decision "sends a signal to other school districts" about calling police at the first sign of discord. "Here in Alabama and across the country, in schools where the students are poor and mostly of color, police departments are criminalizing adolescent conflict," Howard told Truthout. "Bias against children of color is woven into the fabric of the US. They are devalued." This has become known as the school-to-prison pipeline and Howard is clear that it represents a gross violation of students' rights to test boundaries and resolve conflicts on their own. Still, Howard notes that if law enforcement personnel are going to be stationed in schools, they should be trained to work with young people. "They do not need to use a hammer to settle a conflict. They need to learn to negotiate and work things out without arresting anyone." Rukiya Dillahunt, a former teacher and school administrator from Raleigh, North Carolina who now works with the Education Justice Alliance, favors peace circles facilitated by mediators. "I remember doing this with two girls who'd gotten into a brawl over a boy. A social worker and peer mediator met with them to talk it out. There were rules. For example, they couldn't call each other names and had to either talk directly to one another or to one of the other people in the room. From what I saw, the method worked. It gave the parties involved a way to process the issue. By the time they walked out, things between them were fine. Furthermore, they learned a strategy to settle disputes, and I hope, developed into adults capable of handling conflict and tension." This would not have happened had one or both been arrested, Dillahunt said. Suspension would have been similarly disruptive. "When kids are kept out of school they become demoralized and angry," she told Truthout. "We have a block schedule, with 90-minute classes. If you miss one day, it's like you've missed two. Not everyone can catch up, especially if they've been kept out for five or 10 days. Some kids feel like they'll never pass, so rather than fail, they drop out." While some may re-enroll later, excessive discipline is associated with other negative consequences including increased aggression, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. These conditions, in turn, can lead to physical ailments, including liver and heart disease. All of this, said Victor Vieth, director and founder of the Center for Effective Discipline at the National Child Protection Training Center, is completely avoidable if school personnel look at the underlying issues -- including poverty, hunger, domestic abuse and homelessness -- that typically cause students to act out. "If we simply respond with corporal or violent punishment we're treating the smoke while ignoring the fire that underlies it," he said. This, of course, hurts students and their allies and can turn school from a place of excitement and wonder into a site of angst and upheaval. Eleanor J. Bader  Source: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35173-paddles-stun-guns-and-chemical-sprays-how-us-schools-discipline-students
Dangerous use of restraints plummets at Minnesota homes for people with disabilities By Chris Serres Star Tribune March 9, 2016 — 9:08pm Text size comment2 share113 tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase:Order Reprint Minnesota has turned the corner in a prolonged battle against the use of dangerous restraints and isolation rooms at facilities for people with developmental disabilities. Eight years after reports first surfaced of metal handcuffs and leg shackles being used as punishment in state facilities, officials are reporting a 40 percent drop in the use of restrictive procedures at group homes and programs for people with disabilities. Advertisement: Replay Ad Ads by ZINC Incidents of restraint, seclusion and other restrictive measures dropped from 8,602 two years ago to 5,124 in the most recent fiscal year, according to a report state officials filed last week in federal court. The sharp drop results from changes in state law and a massive effort by state and county officials to stamp out the use of punitive techniques that are widely seen as inhumane and unnecessary. The issue was also the subject of a Star Tribune series last year that found Minnesota had fallen behind other states in integrating people with disabilities in mainstream life, and often isolated them in group homes far from families and friends. Though the use of restraints persists, the recent reduction marks a major shift for a state that has long relied on punitive techniques as a way to control behavior at small group homes and other state-licensed facilities. As far back as 1949, Gov. Luther Youngdahl lit a giant bonfire of straitjackets, cuffs and leather straps on the grounds of the state mental hospital in Anoka, while condemning the “barbarous devices and the approach which those devices symbolized.” “This is a paradigm shift, and something that we have wanted to see for a very, very long time,” said Roberta Opheim, of the state Ombudsman Office for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. In 2008, Opheim’s office reported that scores of residents at a state-operated facility in Cambridge, Minn., were being routinely handcuffed, placed in leg irons or isolated in seclusion rooms as punishment. One resident of the facility, known as the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options (METO), was restrained 299 times in a single year. In some cases, residents were restrained for behavior as minor as touching a pizza box, bumping into someone or threatening to run away. The findings led to a federal class-action lawsuit by METO residents and their families, and a major legal settlement that forced the state to modernize its rules. At the time, Minnesota had fallen behind other states and generally accepted standards in social services, which held that restraints have little or no therapeutic value and can be extremely dangerous. After Minnesota changed state law in 2014 to prohibit a long list of restrictive procedures, from leg shackles and handcuffs to prone restraints, the state Department of Human Services launched an unprecedented outreach and training effort across the state. The agency created a special team to train staff at facilities for people with disabilities on identifying the individual needs of their clients, and to de-escalate situations without resorting to restraints. And, for the first time, the state required providers to report all incidents of restraint and seclusion and began issuing licensing violations against providers that didn’t comply with the law. Tighter enforcement, combined with increased awareness from the METO lawsuit, led to a “change in thinking,” said Alex Bartolic, disability services director at DHS. “We drew a very hard line in the sand,” she said. “We decided that we no longer wanted to do things that caused people pain and humiliation.” The impact was immediate. Within months after the new state law took effect, the use of restrictive procedures plunged by more than a third, from 746 incidents a month to fewer than 500. The most dramatic drop, say state officials, has been in the use of forced isolation. Until recently, many providers still thought it was acceptable to use “time out,” or seclusion rooms, to correct unwanted behaviors. But regulators have also moved to stamp out more subtle forms of punitive restraints, including a category the state refers to as “penalty consequences.” In these cases, residents are punished with the loss of certain rights or privileges, such as visits from family and participation in group activities, if they fail to correct certain behaviors. “We said, ‘You should never take away something that is a basic right,’ ” Bartolic said. ‘Karen H’ Despite the improvements, disability advocates remain concerned that state enforcement hasn’t kept pace with the changes in state law. In late 2014, a federal court monitor raised alarm that documented incidents of restraint were not properly investigated, after highlighting the case of a 33-year-old woman strapped to a metal-framed chair in a group home in Crystal for up to nine hours a day. The woman, identified as “Karen H.” in state documents, was deprived of food and bathroom breaks while in the chair and urinated on herself, investigators found. In a case last year, federal inspectors found that a patient at Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center was placed intermittently in a wheelchair restraint, without being evaluated for the restraint and without proper documentation. The initial gains will be difficult to sustain if Minnesota does not address other issues, such as the statewide shortage of people trained to care for people with developmental disabilities, Bartolic warned. Some providers may resort to punitive methods because they lack staff trained in more positive approaches. “We saw a big drop,” Bartolic said, “but it’s going to take a lot of diligence to keep seeing gains.” Opheim, the state ombudsman, said she worries that the new rules have not been in place long enough to determine whether all providers are actually reporting all incidents as required under state law. “I am cautiously optimistic that we’re on the right track,” she said, “but we still have a long ways to go.”  Source: http://www.startribune.com/dangerous-use-of-restraints-plummets-at-homes-for-people-with-disabilities/371606151/
Girl in city-contracted foster care molested, suit alleges - NY Daily News EXCLUSIVE: Girl in city-contracted foster home was repeatedly molested, then blamed for 'acting out,' new lawsuit alleges  BY Victoria Bekiempis NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 6:56 PM A A A facebook 124 Tweet email Share this URL Frances Twitty/Getty Images A woman who claims she was repeatedly molested while under the care of city-contracted foster home is seeking $18 million in damages. A girl under the care of a city-contracted foster home provider was repeatedly molested in her household — and then blamed for "acting out" when she complained about sexual abuse, a new Manhattan federal lawsuit alleges. The victim, who is now 20 and whose name is not listed in the civil complaint, was removed from her birth home when she was 2-years-old. Abbott House, a foster care organization that receives some $50 million in public funds, was charged with taking care of her, the lawsuit claims. When she was 8 years old, the woman complained to her school about her foster mom's alleged physical abuse. An Administration for Children's Services staffer investigated but didn't permanently remove the girl from the home, the lawsuit charges. She was sent to therapy at Arista Center for Psychotherapy, Inc., and the foster mom whom she alleged assaulted her attended the sessions. Her foster mom's teenage son started molesting her around age 9, and the abuse came to include years of "oral sex and penetration," the suit states. Several years after the abuse began, she was sent back to the same therapist, who blamed her for the molestation, claiming she was "acting out." Arista staffers wrongly described her behavior as "giving oral sex to an older boy" and "treated her for shame instead of seeking to treat here and protect her from the sexual abuse traumatization," the suit says. Arista had a legal obligation to tell an independent entity about the girl's allegations, but only "cooperated with Abbott House and treated the minor 10-year-old child for years for her guilt instead of investigating the causes and making sure there was a safe foster home setting." The lawsuit also alleges that Abbott House has a history of providing abusive foster homes — but that the organization and city turn a blind eye to them. Bruce Young, the woman's lawyer, said the case reveals the need for more oversight in foster homes. "We trust and presume they're helping troubled children," Young said. "But that presumption — that they're safe — needs greater scrutiny." The woman is seeking $18 million in damages. A Law Department spokesman said "We will review the complaint." Neither Abbott House nor Arista returned calls for comment.  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/girl-city-contracted-foster-care-molested-suit-alleges-article-1.2559041
City shuts down illegal group home By Vanessa Murphy | vmurphy@8newsnow.com, Neb Solomon Published 03/10 2016 10:57PM Updated 03/10 2016 11:22PM LAS VEGAS An alleged scam is disturbing part of a valley neighborhood. Some say it highlights the problems of homelessness and a lack of resources. A house near Maryland Parkway and Charleston Boulevard appears to be set up for business, but that's not what was happening. Police say it was being used as an illegal group home. “It's just been people coming and going,” said nearby resident Eileen Lanahan. She says she saw someone with a clipboard leading a group of people from the nearby Huntridge Circle Park to the house. “We've got a problem,” Lanahan said. She says she has lived in the neighborhood all her life. The park where these individuals came from is known to be frequented by the homeless. Metro Police say the tenant renting the house was renting it to others. It was operating as an unlicensed group home, and police were called there 14 times over two and a half months, mainly for disturbances. A spokesman for the City of Las Vegas says code enforcement took action in mid-February. The place was cleaned out, and people living there had to leave. Now, they're back on the streets. “We've got to do something about the homeless,” Lanahan said. Merideth Spriggs connects the homeless with resources through her organization Caridad. She agrees this may be a sign of a bigger problem. “We have a need, and we're not really addressing it,” she said. According to a survey from 2015, there are more than 7,500 homeless people in southern Nevada. 28 percent of them reported suffering from mental illness. Spriggs says there are not enough places they can go in southern Nevada for long-term treatment they may need. “We desperately need mental health beds in Clark County. There's a shortage,” she said. “It seems like they're always full and in dealing with the homeless, it can sometimes be hours waiting to get someone into mental health services, even if they do have insurance.” Spriggs says she's waited up to twelve hours with some clients to get them a bed in a mental health facility. She says police and jails have become the mental health services in Clark County. The owner of the house is a Texas-based corporation. 8 News NOW reached out to the attorney, but received no response. According to the city, the owner had to evict the person who was renting the place out to others.   Source: http://www.lasvegasnow.com/news/city-shuts-down-illegal-group-home
Legality of group home being investigated following Taylor fire that injured three men Published: Thursday, March 10, 2016 0 Comments More Photos Click thumbnails to enlarge A fire from a discarded cigarette destroyed this house in Taylor Wednesday afternoon, believed by authorities to be a group home, despite not being licensed with the state. Photo courtesy of Allen Park Fire Department Facebook By Jessica Strachan jstrachan@heritage.com Click to enlarge A fire from a discarded cigarette destroyed this house on John Daly street in Taylor Wednesday afternoon, believed by authorities to be a group home, despite not being licensed with the state. Photo by Jessica Strachan A fire destroyed what is believed to have been an unlicensed group home in Taylor on Wednesday afternoon, sending a resident and two firefighters to the hospital for treatment. All three men have reportedly been released and are recovering, but the blaze has sparked an investigation into the legitimacy of the facility. The fire started just before 3 p.m. in the 6100 block of John Daly Road, near Van Born and Beech Daly roads. Taylor firefighters arrived to find several residents and a reported caretaker outside, Fire Chief Steve Portis said. One man, described as being in his mid-to late- 60s, was still inside and had to be rescued. As a result of battling the fire, one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation and another received medical attention after a portion of the roof collapsed on top of him, according to Taylor Fire Marshal John Hager, who said Allen Park and Dearborn Heights fire departments assisted on scene. The fire started after a man who lives in the home attempted to toss a cigarette butt on the ground, but instead set fire to two mattresses that were stacked outside on the deck, Hager said. City tax records show the house is owned by Habib Capital, LLC, a Farmington Hills-based company, registered since 2012. It is listed as a 1,600-square foot, three bedroom house with two bathrooms. Hager said he spoke with a man employed by Habib Capital, LLC on scene and that the home had six adult residents, five of whom were there when the fire broke out. Smoking is not allowed inside the home, per management rules, Hager said. The fire completely destroyed the house and residents were reportedly transferred to other group homes outside the city, but owned by Habib Capital, Hager said. Group homes are licensed by the state, based on criteria like services provided and mental status, but are not always registered with the cities they are a part of. Those with fewer than seven residents are not required to seek rezoning permits from the city, according to state officials. “We do have several group homes in the city, but I was not aware that this one,” Hager said. “Maybe it’s something we’re going to have to look at as a city and figure out if we need an ordinance (to keep track of group homes).” Continued... 1 2 See Full Story “Especially with the (residents’) mental status, it was challenging trying to talk to them and determined what happened,” he added. State law says an operation must be licensed if it is providing personal care, supervision and protection, in addition to room and board for unrelated people “who are aged, mentally ill, developmentally disabled or physically disabled” for five or more days a week, two or more consecutive weeks — for compensation. Nineteen adult foster care facilities in Taylor are registered with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The John Daly property is not licensed, according to state records. A State of Michigan representative investigating the damaged house Thursday afternoon confirmed that a complaint had been received and that they will be making contact with the owner to determine if the operation was legal.  Source: http://thenewsherald.com/articles/2016/03/10/news/doc56e1e7e4908db050408240.txt?viewmode=fullstory
Decades in prison for Tucson couple who imprisoned children Decades in prison for Tucson couple who imprisoned children By Curt Prendergast Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star 23 hours ago  •  By Curt Prendergast Curt Prendergast cprendergast@tucson.com Trial begins for Tucson couple accused of imprisoning children The trial of a Tucson couple accused of imprisoning children began Friday.  Read more Girls not mistreated, mom in Tucson confinement trial says Sophia Richter took the witness stand as the trial against her and her husband, Fernando Richter. Read more Tucson home captivity case goes to jury Authorities: 3 sisters malnourished, trapped inside house for months on end. Read more Unique program prepares children to testify in Tucson court Prosecutors say program puts children at ease by showing them what a trial is like. Read more The husband and wife convicted of keeping their three daughters imprisoned in their house were sentenced to 58 years and 20 years, respectively, in prison on Thursday. Fernando and Sophia Richter were found guilty in December of three counts each of kidnapping and child abuse. Fernando Richter, stepfather to the three girls, was also convicted of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The girls testified to having been physically abused, taken out of school and held captive for several months before the two younger girls escaped through a window in November 2013. Police rescued the oldest girl, who was held in a different room. They were 12, 13 and 17 at the time. The Richters were sentenced by Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang after a morning of hearing statements from the couple’s daughters and relatives. “This was a tragedy to us all,” Tang said as he announced the sentences. The daughters survived physical and mental abuse, yet “found grace and forgiveness,” which Tang called “a testament to the human spirit.” Sophia Richter held tissues to her face as her daughters spoke, while Fernando Richter faced away from the gallery. “I rescued myself from a condition that no child should go through,” said the 16-year-old daughter, who was 13 when she escaped. “I know she could have left if she really, really wanted to. She let this man torture us,” she said of her mother. But she said she does not hate her mother, who was abused in a prior relationship. She said she forgave Fernando because she “can’t live with the hatred.” Her younger sister also spoke to the judge, saying she was consumed by fear of people around her after she was rescued and for a time wanted to go back to be with her mother and stepfather. “I guess because I was so used to it,” she said, adding Fernando “took everything away from me.” “Even after everything she has done, I find it in me to love her,” she said of her mother. The oldest daughter, 19, said the rules of the trial unfairly restricted her mother from testifying that she also was a victim. Fernando is a “really evil person” who manipulated her mother, she said. Tang said the court was bound by law from allowing such testimony. A 20-year sentence for Sophia Richter would be “too long,” she said. “The court is ignoring our need for our mother.” “I want her to get help and be our mother again,” she said. As for Fernando, he “truly deserves to rot in prison.” Robert Richter, stepfather of Fernando Richter, read a statement saying Fernando cannot read or write properly and has suffered from mental illness since he was a boy. Fernando Richter previously raised the issue of mental illness, but after an evaluation Tang ruled he was competent to be sentenced. Defense attorney Paul Skitzki said Fernando was “not a monster.” Records of Fernando’s mental illness go back to early childhood and were “not something put together for the defense.” The daughters testified that Fernando put cameras in their rooms and locked the windows, he said. Fernando did that to protect them out of fear of outside influences. “In Fernando’s mind, that’s true,” he said. Paula Kammon, mother of Sophia Richter, said her daughter became “withdrawn” after meeting Fernando Richter and “kind of slipped away.” Fernando Richter was given 58 years in prison and credited with 835 days of time served in jail awaiting trial; Sophia Richter, who was also sentenced to three years’ probation in addition to her 20-year sentence, was credited with 835 days of time served. Sophia Richter’s defense attorney Leo Plowman said he would appeal. “We were not allowed to present a defense,” he said, citing the fact that Sophia Richter could not testify that she was under duress.  Source: http://tucson.com/news/local/crime/decades-in-prison-for-tucson-couple-who-imprisoned-children/article_2d1cdcc7-2888-5c1d-a6b2-b0b0cd3008ae.html
Man Gets 20-Year Term for Starving, Beating Foster Children By The Associated Press SAN ANTONIO — Mar 11, 2016, 8:10 PM ET 33 Shares Email Star 33 Shares Email A third former operator of a San Antonio day care center was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for forcing his three adopted children to sleep in a shower, bite each other and pour bleach on wounds. Tim Archuleta agreed to the 20-year sentence in a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to injury to a child with serious bodily injury by omission. His sentencing comes a week after his wife, Iliana Archuleta, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and his brother, Rogelio Archuleta, received a 35-year sentence. Both pleaded no contest to injury to a child and other charges. Prosecutor Stephanie Boyd told state District Judge Ron Rangel that the three adopted the children, who had been born drug-addicted, to collect the state support of more than $90,000. "They got $90,000 tax-free and blew it all on themselves," Boyd said. Nevertheless, defense attorney James Tocci appealed for probation for his client. "Should he have done more? Yeah, OK, I'll give you that. But did he intend to starve those kids out? No," Tocci said. Rangel told Archuleta that he "buried his head in the sand" while the children were abused and starved. The children, 8 to 10 years old at the time, had been taken from an abusive home before being placed with the couple, who operated a day care. They slept in a shower, forced to sit with their knees pulled tight against their chests, Bexar County sheriff's investigator Tony Kobryn said. The shower drain and a bucket served as toilets, and boxes were stacked against the glass door to prevent the children from opening it. They ate mostly bread and butter, with some broth and the occasional half sandwich, he said, and weren't allowed to eat with the Archuletas or their two biological children. The mistreatment was discovered when one child was taken to a hospital for seizures and staff found him malnourished and bruised. The case had highlighted long-standing questions about the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which a federal judge last year ruled was unconstitutionally broken. The judge said many kids often leave state custody in worse shape than before. The system has nearly 30,000 children and is one of the largest child protection agencies in the U.S. Caseworkers face massive workloads and struggle to provide necessary oversight, with only about 100 residential Child Care Licensing investigators to ensure that the state's roughly 10,000 foster homes are providing adequate care, according to Dimple Patel, senior policy analyst with The Texas Association for the Protection of Children.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/man-20-year-term-starving-beating-foster-children-37592535
Mother: 'My son was murdered and I want to know the reason' Katie Nelson, kenelson@argusleader.com 6:46 p.m. CST March 11, 2016 Buy Photo Courtroom file photo(Photo: Argus Leader Media)Buy Photo 148 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDIN 6 COMMENTEMAILMORE A mother wants answers after her 2-year-old son's death while in foster care was ruled a homicide. "My son was murdered and I want to know the reason behind it," the boy's birth mother, Nina Stead, said in a Facebook message to Argus Leader Media. "I cannot begin to tell you what I feel inside. My family and I are suffering a great loss." The Sioux Falls boy was taken off life support Jan. 6 after suffering from a traumatic head injury. His foster mother, Mary Beth Jennewein, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death. "I grew up in the system and I know that there are people who foster children and mistreat them," Stead said. "I began to cry just at the thought of how he was treated behind closed doors." Public records do not indicate why the boy was in foster care. A background check for his birth mother, Stead, revealed arrests for disorderly conduct and several traffic violations, as well as an arrest for child abuse in Brule County in 2009. That charge was dismissed by the prosecutor. ARGUS LEADER Foster mother charged in child's death The South Dakota Department of Social Services, which licenses foster parents, would not make anyone available for a phone interview. Spokeswoman Tia Kafka said in an email that abuse by foster parents is rare and that the department deals with fewer than three cases per year. "South Dakota has a rigorous process for licensing of foster parents that is set out in administrative rule," Kafka wrote. Potential foster parents are required to pass a criminal background check conducted by the FBI and the Department of Criminal Investigation, Kafka said. They must also not be on the state's sex offender registry or the South Dakota Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect. Foster homes are inspected weekly for the first month after a child comes to live there and monthly after that, Kafka said. Jennewein was licensed to become a foster parent on Jan. 23, 2015, and has fostered five children. The department followed the correct process when licensing Jennewein, Kafka said, and no complaints had been made against her. A statewide criminal background check on Jennewein showed only three minor charges, all traffic-related, between 2004 and 2014. Kafka described the licensing process as "rigorous," but said the department was reviewing its procedures following Jennewein's arrest. "DSS reviews processes in an effort to identify opportunities to make improvements, and will do so in this situation as well," Kafka wrote. Stead said she is thankful her son is no longer being mistreated and that she prays the truth will be made known. "An innocent child was taken and he lived a short life," she said. "My son will not be forgotten." Follow Katie Nelson on Twitter @KatieNJourno  Source: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2016/03/11/mother-my-son-murdered-and-want-know-reason/81575764/
Midwest Academy highlights child welfare worries Lee Rood, lrood@dmreg.com 8:27 a.m. CDT March 13, 2016 In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, a Uhaul is parked outside Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa. Federal, state and county law enforcement officials have returned to the southeast Iowa boarding school for troubled teens following abuse allegations. The Keokuk Daily Gate reports officials with the FBI and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation returned to Midwest Academy on Thursday to execute a search warrant for records following an initial search of the academy on Jan. 28 and 29.(Photo: Cindy Iutzi/Daily Gate City via AP) Story Highlights Coming Monday: Could Omaha's Boys Town be a model for Iowa group home reforms? First of two parts Last April, 11 students at a southeast Iowa boarding school near Keokuk stampeded through the facility’s kitchen and across an open field on the 70-acre property. All but one of the runaways was rounded up within a few hours. The other was found the next evening. Afterward, Midwest Academy owner Ben Trane emailed parents scattered around the country, recounting the incident and urging them not to be frightened into picking up their children. “Please re-enforce with all your children that emotional terrorism is not tolerated anymore,” he wrote in the email, obtained by The Des Moines Register. What happened next, according to one of five former students whose families have hired a nationally known children's rights lawyer for possible litigation against the company, underscores why child welfare advocates have been warning for years about the risks associated with residential foster care facilities for troubled youths. MORE: Midwest Academy-inspired bill held up in House | Prosecutor: Sex abuse allegation may not stick against academy owner The boys were put into concrete isolation rooms, sometimes two at a time. That isolation lasted at least three weeks for each one, said David Ferlerger, the Pennsylvania children’s rights lawyer representing a student who recounted the incident. “No matter what one thinks of therapeutic boarding schools, putting a child in a segregation room for three weeks is unacceptable,” Ferlerger told the Register. Trane has not responded to several requests for interviews regarding allegations at the facility. As state and federal authorities continue to investigate allegations of child sex abuse and other mistreatment of children at Midwest Academy, some Iowa lawmakers have been moving swiftly to require oversight of private-pay facilities that foster struggling youths. State officials concede that they don’t know how many youths are being housed in Iowa's private-pay foster care facilities, because no state agency licenses or regulates them. But in May, Hillcrest Family Services in Dubuque, which has been providing government funded residential care for years, is expected to open one more. Awakenings Academy will be a private-pay, six-bedroom program with a more holistic approach for behaviorally challenged boys ages 12 to 17. “Parents whose kids do not qualify for state or federal subsidies still have needs,” said John Bellini, a vice president for Hillcrest. A bill passed by the Iowa Senate would at least mandate certification of those homes — requiring that they meet basic health and safety needs, protect children from abuse and neglect, conduct background checks, and limit the use of seclusion and restraint. House members have said it's too late to pass their own bill, but they are weighing whether to add the language into a human service appropriations bill. Nationally, though, residential group homes for troubled youths that receive taxpayer money are coming under increased scrutiny. In states such as California and Illinois, scandals have erupted over widespread reports of sexual abuse, excessive use of restraints and lack of supervision at group homes. RELATED: Despite complaints, agency couldn't regulate boarding school | Search warrant info remains confidential in Midwest Academy case The number of children in any kind of foster care, including residential and group homes, has dropped by almost one-third since the late 1990s. Still, about 57,000 — or 14 percent — of the nation’s foster youths live in group care, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has been pushing Congress for legislative changes. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Iowa's Chuck Grassley, co-chair of the Senate’s caucus on foster youths, has been looking to shift funding away from group care that isn't deemed clinically necessary in favor of options that keep more children home or with relatives. Major national providers of residential and community-based programs generally agree with that goal. At a congressional hearing that Grassley chaired in 2014, Jeremy Kohomban, CEO of Children’s Village in New York City, said group care is “simply the wrong intervention for most youth, including teens.” Kohomban said reforms are needed to address “perverse incentives” that steer most federal child-welfare dollars into foster care, including group settings. But if you talk to parents who took their children to Midwest Academy, they will tell you almost uniformly that they could no longer handle their sons or daughters at home. And few places would take them. “I didn’t sleep at night until I put him in there,” said Jeff Rolczynski, who brought his 16-year-old to Midwest Academy from Illinois. “He was either going to be dead or in jail.” Rolczynski said he traveled the country in 2011 looking for a place to put his son, who had problems with drugs and alcohol, as well as acting out. “My son’s psychologist said I basically had two choices: either I need to come home every day and handcuff him to a bedpost, or find a boarding school of some sort,” Rolczynski said. EDITORIAL:Youth homes need state oversight In return for tuition ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 a year, Midwest Academy marketed a “merit model” of behavioral modification that some former students and parents likened to brainwashing. Boys and girls reported being stripped of their possessions and shoes, cut off from communication with family, and prohibited from speaking to their peers until they earned privileges through “good behavior, academics, and leadership.” Rolczynski said his son, now 20, changed his behavior in just five months. “It didn’t fix him. But it did give him a base as to how he could get back on track,” he said. While some parents loved the rigid atmosphere at the boarding school, others complained that it was a traumatizing, one-size-fits-all program that had no basis in child psychology. Laura Gillings, who lives in Minnesota, said her son spent a majority of his three months at the school in 2006 in isolation. Afterward, she said, she learned that he was on the autism spectrum, “which explains why he couldn't understand how to get out of isolation.” Gillings said her son, now 23, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder  after attending the academy and Tranquility Bay, a similar school in Jamaica recommended by the staff. That school was shuttered in 2009 after reports of alleged child abuse, unsanitary living conditions, unqualified staff and denial of medical care. “I am still in debt … paying for the schools that ruined our family,” Gillings said.  Source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/investigations/readers-watchdog/2016/03/12/midwest-academy-highlights-what-worries-child-welfare-experts-group-care/81501780/
Centers to Treat Eating Disorders Are Growing, and Raising Concerns By ERICA GOODEMARCH 14, 2016 Inside Photo ­Ashley Bilkie, 29, at home in Northville, Mich. She enrolled in four inpatient programs for treatment of anorexia, for which her father said he paid at least $350,000 in unreimbursed costs, before making progress at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Credit Laura McDermott for The New York Times Advertisement Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Share This Page Email Share Tweet Save more Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Their websites show peaceful scenes — young women relaxing by the ocean or caring for horses in emerald pastures — and boast of their chefs and other amenities. From Our Advertisers One center sends out invitations to a reception with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Another offers doctors and therapists all-expense-paid trips to visit and experience their offerings, including yoga classes. Several employ staff who call mental health professionals, saying they would love to have lunch. The marketing efforts by these for-profit residential care centers are aimed at patients with eating disorders and the clinicians who treat them. The programs have proliferated in recent years, with some companies expanding across the country. Continue reading the main story Related Coverage What to Look For in an Eating Disorder Treatment CenterMARCH 14, 2016 Anorexia May Be Habit, Not Willpower, Study FindsOCT. 12, 2015 Ruling Offers Hope to Eating Disorder SufferersOCT. 13, 2011 Patient Money: Treating Eating Disorders and Paying for ItDEC. 3, 2010 The rapid growth of the industry — there are more than 75 centers, compared with 22 a decade ago, according to one count — has been propelled by the Affordable Care Act and other changes in health insurance laws that have increased coverage for mental disorders, as well as by investments from private equity firms. The residential programs, their directors say, fill a dire need, serving patients from areas where no adequate treatment is available. “Only 15 to 30 percent of people have access to specialized care for eating disorders, which means there are a lot of people out there who have zippo,” said Doug Bunnell, the chief clinical officer for Monte Nido, a program that began in Malibu, Calif., and now operates centers in five states. But the advertising and the profusion of centers, which typically cost $1,000 a day but can run much higher, is raising concerns among some eating disorders experts, who worry that some programs may be taking advantage of vulnerable patients and their families. In the companies’ rush to expand, they argue, quality of treatment may be sacrificed for profit. And they question whether the spalike atmosphere of some programs is so comfortable that it fosters dependency. “For the most part, the people who are running and working in these programs believe they’re doing the right thing,” said Dr. Angela Guarda, the director of the eating disorders program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “But it’s a slippery slope,” she said. “Money can cloud your view.” Many eating disorders specialists agree that some patients require the supervision of residential programs and benefit from the treatment. But studies showing the programs’ effectiveness are scant, Dr. Guarda and other experts said. The methods of the handful of studies that exist have been criticized. The quality and form of treatment varies widely across centers, and in some cases includes approaches — equine therapy, for example, or “faith-based” treatment — with little or no scientific evidence behind them. Some programs have full-time psychiatrists and medical doctors on staff, but others lack the expertise to handle emergencies or treat patients with coexisting medical or psychiatric problems. The perks offered to outside clinicians who might refer patients, the experts say, include free trips, restaurant meals, educational seminars and small gifts like pens and key chains dispensed at professional meetings. Critics liken them to pharmaceutical industry tactics that led to laws and policies requiring financial disclosure, though on a smaller scale. Studies had shown that even small gifts from drug companies, like free medication samples, affected doctors’ prescription practices. Continue reading the main story What to Look For in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center Choosing a residential treatment program for eating disorders can be challenging. Click here for advice from specialists who treat eating disorders about what you should look for. Advertisement Continue reading the main story In an article to be published Monday in the journal Psychiatric Services, Dr. Evelyn Attia, a professor of psychiatry and director of the eating disorders program at Columbia University Medical Center, and four colleagues called for more transparency about the financial relationships between residential centers and the professionals who send them patients, and urged clinicians to be mindful of efforts to influence their recommended treatment. “The effect of these clinician inducements, which are aimed at building a program’s patient referral base, may not be fully recognized by the professionals they target,” wrote Dr. Attia and her colleagues, who included Dr. Guarda. Several industry representatives said that while they had not seen the journal article, they agreed that more data on patient outcomes and stricter standards were needed. But, they said, the trips and seminars offered to clinicians were primarily educational. “I don’t think anyone in the eating disorders world is giving out swimming pools and trips to Europe and things like that,” Dr. Bunnell said. Jillian Lampert, president of the Residential Eating Disorders Consortium, a group that represents about 85 percent of the centers, said, “Health care’s always been a business,” adding that quality and profit were not mutually exclusive. If there are concerns, she said, “we are incredibly open to having those conversations.” A Deadly Mental Illness Eating disorders are among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat. Anorexia, in particular, has stymied many of psychiatry’s best treatment efforts. The illness has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, with patients dying from the medical complications of starvation or from suicide. And patients often resist treatments that make them feel uncomfortable. The most severely ill patients — the prognosis is grimmer the longer someone has anorexia, studies suggest — require hospital treatment just to stay alive. But even after being stabilized, many patients need continual supervision for a time to regain weight and learn new behavior. The length of stay in residential centers ranges from two weeks to a year. A 2006 study found that the average stay was 83 days. In the past, health insurance companies placed strict limits on coverage for eating disorders, treating them differently from other medical illnesses. Few insurers were willing to pay for 24-hour care after a patient was out of immediate danger. But the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 and the Affordable Care Act two years later mandated equal treatment. Lawsuits brought by the families of patients who were denied coverage added to the pressure on insurers. In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that health plans must cover residential treatment for anorexia under California’s parity law. The higher reimbursement rates offered some relief to families, who had often mortgaged their houses or drained their savings to pay for critically needed care. Advertisement Continue reading the main story They also attracted the attention of Wall Street investors, who saw profits in providing treatment for so-called behavioral health problems like eating disorders, alcoholism and drug abuse. “The number of covered lives is growing faster than the availability of services to treat them, creating compelling investment opportunities,” the accounting and consulting firm BDO noted last year in an article on its website, referring to the effects of the legal changes. Advertisement Continue reading the main story As the industry has expanded, larger centers have acquired smaller ones and some programs, flush with private equity investments, have expanded across the country. For example, Monte Nido, a treatment program founded by Carolyn Costin, a former teacher who recovered from an eating disorder, began with a center in Malibu. But in 2012, with financing from Centre Partners, a middle-market equity firm, Monte Nido began opening new residential centers and day-treatment programs. The company now has centers in Oregon, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York, including one in a renovated mansion in Westchester County. Continue reading the main story Sign Up for the Science Times Newsletter Every week, we'll bring you stories that capture the wonders of the human body, nature and the cosmos. Last year, noting that the investment had “tripled the company’s facility footprint during our ownership period,” Centre Partners sold Monte Nido to another investment firm, Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, for an undisclosed sum. “I believe that the Monte Nido’s [sic] approach to eating disorder treatment is what you and others like you have been waiting for,” Ms. Costin wrote in a letter to potential patients on the company’s website, which includes images of beaches, mountains and the Boston skyline on its home page. With a need to fill more beds, marketers for some centers make cold calls to psychiatrists, psychotherapists, medical doctors and others who treat eating disorders, offering to inform them about a program’s advantages and inviting them to visit. The Denver-based Eating Recovery Center has a call center and employs 20 “professional relations liaisons” who contact clinicians across the country. The author and motivational speaker Jenni Schaefer, who recovered from an eating disorder, recently joined the program’s outreach team. On its website, the company, which began with a single center, bills itself as “the only national health care system devoted to serious eating disorders at all levels of care.” Craig Johnson, a well-known eating disorders specialist, joined the company in 2010 and has seen it through its expansion to 24 treatment programs in seven states, including three residential centers. He said when therapists visit, the focus is education, not entertainment. “We’re delivering lectures,” Dr. Johnson said. Some therapists see the offer of free trips as a chance to view the facilities that they might recommend to patients. Ann Jacob Smith, a family therapist in Chevy Chase, Md., said that last year, she accepted an invitation to visit the Oliver-Pyatt eating disorders center in Miami. (The center is now part of Monte Nido). “It was absolutely promotional,” she said, “But it was actually really educational. They took us in depth into what they did.” Advertisement Continue reading the main story Her later referrals were not influenced by the visit, she added. “I’m not impressed by being romanced.” But Adrian Brown, a psychiatrist in Virginia, said that therapists who had not gone through the “battle phase” with drug companies might not even realize they were being swayed by financial interests. Dr. Brown recalled being offered a “V.I.P.” trip to a treatment center, with the representative telling her, “We will pay your way, put you up in a really nice hotel, all expenses paid, yoga and whatever.” Dr. Brown responded, “No, that’s not ethical.” The representative replied, “What do you mean?” Another invitation arrived the next year. Photo Jillian Lampert heads a group representing eating disorder centers that is seeking to establish standards for accreditation. Below, some centers’ promotional images. Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times Mixed Results Prospective patients or family members searching for a treatment program sometimes turn to edtreatmentreview.com, where former patients describe their experiences at different centers, evaluating the staff, critiquing the food and noting whether cellphones are allowed. Many reviewers have spent time in more than one residential center and the opinions on any particular program vary widely, a range reflected in interviews with former patients over the last several months. Tina Klaus, a 51-year-old artist who has struggled with bulimia since she was 10, said residential care was initially useful. “Residential treatment is vital when you are at your ultimate rock bottom” she said. But once home, her illness worsened because “you’re going back into your life, you’re going back into all the emotions you used your eating disorder to hide from.” Melissa R., 28, who asked that her last name not be used for reasons of privacy, said after several hospitalizations for anorexia, beginning when she was 21, she found a residential center in the Southwest on the Internet and spent six weeks there. The center, which she described as “more like a resort,” was “somewhat helpful,” she said, but not worth the time and money. “People were nice, and the food was really good,” she said. “I had fun, I enjoyed rock climbing and stuff, but that’s not why I was there. I’m paying a lot of money to get well, not to rock climb.” Last year, she spent two months at Eating Recovery Center in Denver, moving from residential care to day treatment, and began to gain control of her illness. “E.R.C. was the best place I’ve been,” she said about the center. “They were very individualized.” Ashley Bilkie, 29, had a different experience with E.R.C. When she returned home in February 2015 after about six months in the Denver program — her fourth stay in an inpatient program for treatment of anorexia and her second at E.R.C. — “I was getting sicker and sicker,” she said. She lost the weight she had gained back at the center. “I had to buy children’s clothing,” she said. She was evasive with her parents. At the recovery center, she said, “It was kind of like they set up a battle between myself and my parents.” For their part, Ms. Bilkie’s parents, who for years had watched their daughter’s health decline, grew frantic. Ms. Bilkie would disappear, her father, Robert Bilkie, said, and he would find her wandering the aisles at Kroger or Target. Driving through the neighborhood, he half-expected to see her hanging from a tree. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said. It was also expensive. Mr. Bilkie, a financial adviser in Michigan, calculated that over three years, he paid at least $350,000 for unreimbursed inpatient care for his daughter. The Eating Recovery Center, he said, sent him bills for $30,000 each month. Mr. Bilkie paid willingly — he was desperate to see Ashley get well, he said — but no program seemed to produce lasting results. “We spent an outrageous amount of money for what really amounted to ineffectual treatment,” Mr. Bilkie said. Last fall, Ms. Bilkie entered the eating disorder center at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, a university affiliated program. Photo Ms. Bilkie is studying to be a nurse. Credit Laura McDermott for The New York Times The staff there gradually weaned her off some drugs she had been taking taking at the center in Denver, including high doses of Xanax, a tranquilizer, and Adderall, an attention deficit drug and a stimulant. In group therapy, other patients put pressure on her to change her behavior. It was a switch, she said, from previous groups, where patients talked about their problems. With the program’s stress on weight restoration — studies show that it is the best predictor of how anorexic patients will do once they leave, rather than, say, elevated mood — her weight returned to normal. She was discharged in November and continues to do well. “I hated every single solitary second of it,” she said of the experience. “But that’s a good thing, because I was not comfortable, and it meant that something was working.” Dr. Ovidio Bermudez, the chief clinical officer of Eating Recovery Center, said that other patients have fared poorly at academic centers and then done well at E.R.C. Despite Ms. Bilkie’s perception, he said, therapists at the program did not try to divide patients from their families. (Ms. Bilkie gave Eating Recovery Center permission to discuss her case.) “We would have to filter this through 20/20 hindsight,” Dr. Bermudez said. “It’s really hard to know what somebody’s frame of mind is and the degree of fragility they bring to any treatment experience.” Dr. Anne Marie O’Melia, a psychiatrist at the recovery center, said Ms. Bilkie was on Xanax when she arrived and was fearful of reducing the drug’s dosage, though the center tried. She was switched to Adderall from another stimulant at E.R.C., Dr. O’Melia said, to treat “significant impulsivity.” Seeking Standards Ms. Bilkie’s history of ups and downs is not unusual for patients with eating disorders. “In many cases, you see one step forward, two steps back,” said Dr. Mark Friedlander, the chief medical officer for Aetna Behavioral Health. His company, Dr. Friedlander said, considers residential care essential for treatment of some patients. But, he said, a lack of outcome studies, an absence of industry standards and a patchwork licensing system across states make it difficult for Aetna or other insurers to evaluate care. “We would love to see greater consistency and higher standards,” he said. To that end, a group of eating disorder specialists from treatment centers, including Eating Recovery Center and Monte Nido, have developed a list of minimum requirements for accreditation of residential programs. The Joint Commission, an independent company that accredits health care facilities, has adopted the requirements, which go into effect July 1. Dr. Lampert, president of the consortium, said the centers in the organization were also collecting data on patient outcomes, lengths of stay and other variables, with each center collecting data on 15 consecutive admissions of adults and adolescents. In the meantime, many patients and families will continue to rely on word of mouth and any information they can find online. “These are black boxes,” Dr. Scott Hadland, an adolescent medicine specialist at Harvard Medical School, said of the residential centers. “People get the idea that these are places that can heal just based on what they see on a website or in the photos.”  Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/health/eating-disorders-anorexia-bulimia-treatment-centers.html?_r=0
Police investigating allegations of unreported abuse at boys ranch Print Font [+] [-] Leave a comment » By Pat Reavy, Deseret News Published: Wednesday, March 16 2016 2:10 p.m. MDT Updated: yesterday Share6 Share3 Tweet2 Share0 Share0 The Sanpete County Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations of sexual abuse and obstruction of justice at a southern Utah residential treatment center, a newly unsealed search warrant reveals. Shuttterstock Enlarge photo» Summary The Sanpete County Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations of sexual abuse and obstruction of justice at a southern Utah residential treatment center, a newly unsealed search warrant reveals. MT. PLEASANT, Sanpete County — The Sanpete County Sheriff's Office is investigating allegations of sexual abuse and obstruction of justice at a southern Utah residential treatment center, a newly unsealed search warrant reveals. Sheriff's deputies went to the Mount Pleasant Academy, 70 W. 1100 South in Mt. Pleasant, and seized multiple computer hard drives and at least one computer tower, according to a search warrant affidavit that was executed on Feb. 23. The warrant was unsealed in 6th District Court Tuesday. Investigators were looking for documents, data, emails, photographs, filings and other evidence of multiple sex crimes as well as evidence of attempts to conceal the crimes, the affidavit states. The investigation began in January when the Division of Child and Family Services received information "that juveniles at a youth group home (Mt. Pleasant Academy) were engaged in unlawful sexual activity and that the staff members of the home were aware of the activity and not reporting to the proper authorities," according to the warrant. A staff member from the academy who wished to remain anonymous filed the complaint, the warrant states. "The intake report also stated that staff members do not supervise the children appropriately to prevent sexual incidences between the children. In the intake report, the complainant also makes allegations that the director of the youth home is sharing video surveillance with other staff members," the affidavit states. Six days after the division contacted the sheriff's office, interviews were conducted with three boys at the ranch. "Interviews indicated that there had been sexual activity between some of the boys in the home and that the staff was aware of the sexual activity," according to the warrant. Sanpete County Sheriff Brian Nielson confirmed Tuesday there is an active investigation, but he said it will likely take some time to complete. Until then, he said he was unable to comment. On its website, the Mount Pleasant Academy advertises itself as "a small, 16-bed, residential treatment center for boys ages 12-18 struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors, sensitive sexual issues, pornography addiction, and/or digital addictions." The director of the academy on Wednesday referred all calls to the executive director. A call left at the executive director's St. George office was not returned Wednesday.  Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865650199/Police-investigating-allegations-of-unreported-abuse-at-boys-ranch.html?pg=all
Investigation underway in Winter Park foster care agency Updated: Mar 16, 2016 - 5:20 PM 1 Tweet this to your followers! From To Compose your message 114 Thanks for sharing with your followers! Investigation underway in Winter Park foster care agency - http://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/investigation-underway-in-winter-park-foster-care-agency/165156176http://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/investigation-underway-in-winter-park-foster-care-agency/165156176 WINTER PARK, Fla. — Eyewitness News uncovered one of the largest foster care agencies in Florida is denying allegations of Medicaid fraud. Officials said the Children’s Home Society of Florida admitted to 9 Investigates they made billing errors totaling $82,000. Eyewitness News was first tipped off early Wednesday that a whistleblower complaint sparked the investigation at the state’s oldest and largest statewide organization. The facility based in Winter Park has a stellar reputation, providing care for 50,000 families throughout Florida. According to the most recent tax returns available, the agency received $7 million in Medicaid and/or Medicare payments from the state and federal government to provide care for those families. Now, an investigation is underway to find out if the agency over-billed the government for those claims. A spokesperson later sent Eyewitness News a statement, admitting the agency uncovered billing claim errors, totaling $82,000. In a statement, the agency said: “In July 2014, Children's Home Society of Florida implemented a new electronic health records and billing system. During this transition, we experienced some implementation challenges related to billing errors which resulted in allegations of fraud. Once management was made aware of the allegations we took several actions: We immediately reported the allegations to the Inspector General's Office for the Agency for Healthcare Administration. We engaged outside counsel and an auditing firm to independently investigate the allegations. The investigation concluded there was no fraud committed. CHS assigned a team comprised of senior management to perform a claim-by-claim review of every transaction dating back to July 2014 when the new billing system was first implemented. As of today, this review has identified claim errors totaling $82,876. We have repaid $66,821 to date and the remaining $16,055 is in the repayment process. All claims submitted were for services that were actually provided. Because there were no findings of fraud, no CHS employees have been disciplined in connection with any part of this investigation. Specifically, Bob Wydra, our former Chief Financial Officer, did not leave CHS as a result of this investigation. We continue to encourage our employees to raise any concerns through an independent whistleblower hotline, which reinforces our commitment to transparency. Going forward, CHS has engaged outside consultants to resolve any outstanding issues with our billing implementation system. We are also providing increased and enhanced training for staff on how to use the new billing system. CHS has a strong history of caring for children and families across Florida. Our services depend on our strong and committed workforce. We will continue to review our billing implementation systems while maintaining the same high level of quality services to children and families that we've provided for more than 100 years.” Eyewitness News was told the agency implemented a new electronic health records and billing system in 2014. During that process, a spokesperson said there were challenges related to billing errors, but allegations of fraud were unfounded.               Eyewitness News asked if their internal investigation was related to the recent departure of CFO Bob Wydra. A spokesperson said no employees with the Children's Home Society have been disciplined because there were no findings of fraud. A spokesperson told Eyewitness News Wydra did not leave as a result of the investigation. The state attorney general would not confirm or deny an ongoing investigation on that level. They did confirm they have received five complaints against the agency since January of 2015, but wouldn't say what they are related to. Click here to read about other cases investigated by the state.  Source: http://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/investigation-underway-in-winter-park-foster-care-agency/165156176
Controversial youth program director seeks House seat By Dan Boyd / Capitol Bureau Chief Friday, March 18th, 2016 at 12:01am .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... SANTA FE – The owner of a southwestern New Mexico ranch whose youth program has come under fire and been the subject of several lawsuits – at least one of which is still pending – is running for an open seat in the state House. CHANDLER: Says he’s conservative, independent Scott Chandler, the owner of Tierra Blanca Ranch, said this week that he doesn’t think the high-profile abuse allegations will be a distraction during his campaign this year. “I don’t think so. I don’t want it to be (a distraction),” Chandler said in an interview, pointing out that no one affiliated with the ranch’s youth program has faced criminal charges. “If anything, I think it shows I’ve been vetted.” Chandler, a Deming Republican, is one of four candidates – two Republicans and two Democrats – vying for the House District 32 seat currently held by Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming. Irwin, who was first elected to the seat in 1998, is not seeking re-election this year. The race could play a role in determining which political party ends up controlling the House. Republicans currently hold a 37-33 edge and are seeking to retain control after a historic takeover of the chamber in 2014. Chandler likely has the most statewide name recognition of any of the four candidates, though much of the attention the former college football player has received has come because of his ranch. Tierra Blanca is a 30,000-acre working cattle operation in New Mexico’s Black Range. The ranch’s High Country Youth Program is intended to “teach responsibility, self-discipline and the existence of consequences” to troubled teens, according to its website. While some former ranch residents have praised Chandler and the youth program’s positive impact, other participants have claimed they were beaten, shackled and fed starvation rations. New Mexico State Police agents and social workers, responding to abuse allegations, showed up at the ranch in October 2013 to try to take custody of the children staying there. That led the Chandlers to file a lawsuit against the Children, Youth and Families Department in 2013, claiming the agency had overstepped its authority. The lawsuit was settled in 2014. Meanwhile, three lawsuits have been filed by families alleging their children were abused at the ranch. Two of those lawsuits have been dismissed, state court records show, and one is still pending. In addition, Chandler and his wife have a separate lawsuit pending against the State Police and the state Department of Public Safety, among other parties. The lawsuit alleges that Chandler was defamed by Gov. Susana Martinez’s security detail when he was asked to leave a GOP event in Luna County that the governor was attending. Chandler said this week that his family is “very proud of how we’ve helped people.” He described himself as “very conservative” on most issues, but said that, if elected, he’d be politically independent and willing to work with Democratic lawmakers on regional job creation efforts. The other candidates running for the open seat are Democrats Candie Sweetser and Frederick Sherman, and Republican Vicki Chavez. All four are Deming residents, according to campaign filings.  Source: http://www.abqjournal.com/742340/news/controversial-youth-program-director-seeks-house-seat.html
Foster care scandal: Human services director fires top child welfare officials 1 / 6 foster care feb. 3, 2016 Oregon's then-interim human services director Clyde Saiki, left, and Dani Ledezma, a policy adviser for Gov. Kate Brown, prepare to testify to lawmakers in support of foster care reform legislation. Saiki is among those sued Thursday over treatment of two vulnerable preschoolers. Denis C. Theriault/staff Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive Print Email By Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian Email the author | Follow on Twitter on March 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM, updated March 18, 2016 at 2:32 PM Kate Brown  Answering a foster care abuse scandal that's rocked the Department of Human Services for months, Gov. Kate Brown's newly appointed human services director, Clyde Saiki, has fired two of the agency's most senior child welfare officials. Ousted are Jerry Waybrant, the agency's chief operating officer over child welfare programs, and Lois Day, the agency's current child welfare director. Saiki announced the dismissals Friday, days after Brown made his position atop the agency permanent. "When the governor asked me to serve as the director of DHS," Saiki said in a statement, "she made it very clear that one of my top priorities was the safety of children entrusted to our care. She had serious concerns about some of the incidents that came to light over the past year, and I share those concerns, too. "I need to have leaders who can help DHS move in the direction we need to go. I am making changes today, and in the coming months I will make additional personnel changes, as needed," he continued. The decision also came as the agency learned of a $60 million lawsuit that accuses officials of allowing two small children under its watch ito endure severe starvation. In a note to lawmakers Thursday morning, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive, Saiki said he acted "after reviewing the case and based on my assessment of our child welfare program." Jerry WaybrantDenis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive  Waybrant briefly served as the agency's acting director last year, until he was replaced by Saiki. Brown demoted him amid reports he was among a group of senior officials, including former director Erinn Kelley-Siel, who'd continued placing children with a Northeast Portland provider despite repeated red flags over abuse complaints and financial problems. Day was also among that group. She had retained her job atop the child welfare program, even as lawmakers led by Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, held a series of hearings on foster care lapses and released hundreds of pages of documents showing concerns and indifference had stretched back years. Those hearings led to legislation, Senate Bill 1515, that requires quarterly reports on abuse, tightens licensing rules for providers and makes it a crime for officials to knowingly ignore neglect. Day, repeatedly called to testify in front of lawmakers, had called Gelser's proposals "very good." Earlier, in September, she had promised an internal review of the agency. Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive  "I feel responsible for helping see this through," she said in November, "to ensure this doesn't occur again." The records released by Gelser show officials had known about problems at provider Give Us This Day for more than a decade, adding to revelations that included allegations of $2 million in misspent money and children forced to deal with mold, hunger, inappropriate force and a lack of bedding. And a complaint log released among the documents raised serious questions about the way human services officials handle complaints of abuse and neglect. Many serious complaints against Give Us This Day and its employees never went beyond an initial screening. The words "no investigation" appeared next to reports on allegations including anal rape, sexual fondling, children accused of having sex after being found in the same bed, a lack of supervision from foster parents, bruises and death threats. Oregon's foster care system, in charge of thousands of kids on any given day, has long faced troubles — paying millions of dollars to settle abuse claims and struggling under budget cuts that sapped caseworker staffing and sent caseloads skyrocketing. In June, The Oregonian/OregonLive found the Human Services Department had struggled to report a basic means of keeping children safe: monthly visits from caseworkers. Federal audits have repeatedly dinged the department for falling behind benchmarks. Saiki has presided over a steady shakeup since being given interim control of the department in November. Under Saiki, department administrators now meet regularly to discuss abuse claims and licensing infractions. And Saiki has talked about opening his door directly to employees and others who worry mid-level managers aren't heeding their concerns.  Earlier, some foster care programs, despite racking up complaint after complaint, had continued receiving children despite lingering on a department watch list for years. Twice since November, the department has moved against the licenses of programs  who'd been on that list. One of those providers, Youth Villages in Lake Oswego, closed one of its programs as part of a settlement with the state. Saiki has also been asked to shepherd an outside review of the department's child welfare system, another effort launched by Brown.  "Our mission is to assist Oregonians in achieving safety, health and independence – and in some areas we have lost that focus," Saiki said in a statement Friday. "It is my job to make the decisions and changes, sometimes difficult ones, to restore that focus on safety. The governor expects it, and Oregonians deserve it." — Denis C. Theriault dtheriault@oregonian.com 503-221-8430; @TheriaultPDX  Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/03/foster_care_scandal_new_human.html
Long Island Foster Parent Accused Of Sexually Abusing Kids In His Care « CBS New York. Suffolk DA: Long Island Foster Parent Accused Of Sexually Abusing Boys, Dog March 18, 2016 5:20 PM Filed Under: Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu, Sex Abuse 2 RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Long Island man is accused of sexually abusing at least seven foster children in his care at a home prosecutors described as a “house of horrors.” Cesar Gonzalez-Mugaburu, 60, of Ridge, pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and sexual misconduct charges at his arraignment Friday in state Supreme Court in Riverhead. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said the victims, who were as young as 8, were forced to live under punishing conditions. “Physical contact, physical abuse, hitting them, denying them meals, making them stand out in the cold,” Spota said. Neighbors claimed they saw some of the children rummaging through garbage cans in search of food, Spota said. Mugaburu fostered 140 children over 19 years, earning as much as $18,000 a month, authorities said. The children were all boys with special needs. The floodgates opened when seven boys recently came forward, afraid until now to admit the heinous abuse, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported. The district attorney said Mugaburu also abused the family dog. The victims said he threatened and controlled them with physical beatings, cutting off cell phone contact, not allowing girlfriends, and giving them two meals a day. CBS2 asked neighbors if they had suspicions. “We’ve seen him always putzing out there with his cars and the kids doing yard work, tidying up the place,” neighbor Christine Stein told CBS2. “I’ve talked to them, played baseball with them, never complained. It’s insane. I never would have thought this,” neighbor Patrick Cawley said. Authorities said the children were placed in his care by New York City child welfare officials and SCO Family of Services, a non-profit group on Long Island. “SCO Family of Services is aware that the Suffolk County District Attorney has filed charges against a former SCO foster parent in connection with allegations of abuse and maltreatment,” the group said in a statement. “SCO considers the safety and wellbeing of children in our programs to be our absolute highest priority. We are cooperating with authorities as they continue their investigation. “ A spokeswoman for New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services didn’t immediately comment on the allegations. The defense attorney denies Muguaburu was ever abusive, calling him a doting and caring father who was never in trouble with the law. The district attorney wants to know if the nonprofit organization ever made house calls or checked up on Mugaburu in any way. Detectives said they expect there are dozens more victims. He is being held on $500,000 bail. He faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted. Source: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/03/18/long-island-foster-parent-sex-abuse/
Youth Services International history of problems dates to 1989 | www.mypalmbeachpost.com Detainees forced to pay for forks; shackled teen coughing up blood News By Pat Beall - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer 0  Posted: 7:32 p.m. Friday, March 18, 2016 Youth Services International is not the only for-profit juvenile detention company targeted for criticism. But, say critics, the company, its founder James Slattery and YSI’s predecessor companies have been under fire for far longer than other firms, in more states and for many of the same issues. 1989: Hoteliers James Slattery and Morris Horn’s stab at government-subsidized housing ends amid allegations of squalor — and roughly 600 code violations — at New York City’s infamous Brooklyn Arms welfare hotel. The hotel is closed. Undaunted, the two men found Esmor Correctional Services and strike a deal with the federal government to house immigrant detainees. 1995: One year after Esmor begins operating a New Jersey immigrant detention center for the federal government, immigrants riot. A federal investigation finds detainees were forced to pay for forks and spoons. Women were denied sanitary napkins. Clothing was dirty, and soap was withheld. Severe understaffing forced 16-hour shifts. And the facility administrator said corporate policy was to keep the government “in the dark.” The contract was canceled. Detainees sued. 1997: Esmor reorganizes as Correctional Services Corp. and moves to Florida, where it contracts with the state to run the 350-bed Pahokee Youth Development Center for teenage offenders. Eight months later, a Dade County Circuit judge reports “physical and psychological conditions bordered upon child abuse.” The state defends its contractor and Slattery denies reports of problems. The state contract is ended early, by “mutual agreement.” 2001: A teenager serving six months at a Texas boot camp run by CSC dies of pneumonia. According to a suit filed by his family, Bryan Alexander had been coughing up blood for days before he was shackled in leg irons and taken to a hospital. A suit was settled for more than $38 million. 2004: The U.S. Justice Department concluded teenagers at the YSI-run Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Maryland were in danger. Citing “a deeply disturbing” degree of violence by staff, federal investigators found excessive solitary confinement, female staffers romantically involved with teenagers as young as 14 and psychiatric drugs used to sedate teens. 2010:The Southern Poverty Law Center sued YSI over management of Broward County’s Thompson Academy. There wasn’t enough to eat, said teenagers, and weight loss of 10 pounds or more was common. Excessive force was being used, and some teenagers were promised rewards if they did not speak to their lawyers, according to the suit, which was settled and sealed. 2012: The Pembroke Pines Police Department filed misdemeanor battery charges against two Thompson staffers. According to police records, one abruptly put a teen in a choke hold. Witnesses said the teen stopped breathing, but the guard refused to release him. In a separate incident, a staffer grabbed a teenager by the neck and began choking him. 2013: The U.S. Justice Department found that of 41 teenagers at the YSI-run Palm Beach County Juvenile Correctional Facility who filled out a confidential survey, 16.2 percent reported sex abuse, more than triple the statewide average of 5.2 percent. All of the self-reported sex offenses involved staff, and about two-thirds of them involved force, the teens said. A Florida Department of Juvenile Justice review found no substantiated cases.  Source: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/detainees-forced-to-pay-for-forks-shackled-teen-co/nqn7b/
Santa Teresa youth facility faces state sanctions Diana Alba Soular, Las Cruces Sun-News 5:47 p.m. MDT March 19, 2016 Company says it's making improvements Pictured is the Peak Behavioral Health Services facility located at 5055 McNutt Road in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.(Photo: Robin Zielinski / Sun-News) 350 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE LAS CRUCES - A Santa Teresa mental-health and substance-abuse treatment facility for teens is under a six-month-long period of intense state scrutiny after findings that it routinely neglected residents' safety last year. A statewide advocacy group in late 2015 issued a highly critical report on the 119-bed facility, known as Peak Behavioral Health Services, or "The Peak" for short, and urged potential clients to consider other options for psychiatric treatment. Meanwhile, Peak Behavioral Health and its parent company, Strategic Behavioral Health, issued a statement, saying they're collaborating with the state to make improvements and have implemented "many" changes contained in a corrective plan. Report issued The 28-page report, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Disability Rights New Mexico, concluded that Peak Behavioral Health failed to protect its teen residents from attacks by other residents and used questionable physical restraints and chemical restraints — the use of medicine to subdue someone — during a 13-month period of monitoring by the group that ended in the fall of last year. Also, residents were found to have escaped from the center in 23 instances. In all, Disability Rights New Mexico — a state-designated disability rights watchdog group — found there were 80 incidents of "resident-on-resident violence or aggression" that resulted in "numerous injuries," including a broken nose, loss of teeth, bleeding and swollen lips, a cut that required stitches. Also, there were "eye, hand and ankle injuries requiring X-rays," the report states. Police were called to the facility's adolescent Residential Treatment Center on 21 occasions, according to the report. More than 50 suicide attempts and self-harming incidents were reported. Disability Rights New Mexico reviewed 316 incident reports submitted by Peak Behavioral Health — run by Strategic Behavioral Health — from the 13-month time frame and carried out interviews with residents at the center. The group concluded the company "provided an unsafe environment" that was the "result of a pattern and practice of neglect" in violation of state regulations, according to its report. "The frequency of resident-on-resident violence reported above, in conjunction with perpetual incidents of self-harm, elopement, and sexual allegations, clearly pinpoint the Peak's failure to provide a safe and humane psychological and physical environment," the report states. "To that end, DRNM is deeply concerned about the safety of residents on the RTC (Residential Treatment Center) units at the Peak under the care of Strategic Behavioral Health." Among incidents cited by Disability Rights New Mexico were a resident who was hit by another resident and was taken to a hospital ER for stitches; a resident who was "punched in the face" by another resident and suffered a broken nose; and a resident who was "straddled by a peer and kicked and punched in the face 4-5 times," while another resident was a "lookout" on the watch for staff. Some residents reported being in fear of other residents. In concluding the report, Disability Rights New Mexico stated it "encourages adolescent consumers and their guardians who are seeking residential treatment options to consider alternatives to the Peak," the report states. It also recommended that judges and court officials "seek alternatives to the Peak" when ordering teens to attend residential treatment facilities. Restraint use questioned In addition, the organization found that Peak Behavioral Health staff failed to fully fill out incident reports about the use of physical restraints, which is required by state regulation, and implemented "questionable use of restraint for incidents that did not meet the criteria of an emergency situation," according to the document. And there was "frequent" use of medication restraints after physical restraints, the document states. Nancy Koenigsberg, senior attorney with Disability Rights New Mexico, said restraints are a way to address a patient who's endangering himself, herself or other people. But restraints should be a last resort. They're not a form of treatment and shouldn't be used lightly, especially because teens can have backgrounds of physical or sexual abuse and find the restraints traumatic, she said. "Restraints are not therapy," she said. For instance, Koenigsberg said, a child failing to obey a directive is not appropriate justification to use restraints. But the frequent use of restraints, including medication-type restraints after instances of physical restraints, at Peak Behavioral Health during DRNM's monitoring period was a sign of a break-down in its treatment program, Koenigsberg said. That's because clients, including those with self-harming tendencies initially, should be making strides toward well-being during their stays at the facility. A high rate of restraint incidents isn't a positive sign, she said. Questionable uses of restraints identified in Disability Rights New Mexico's report include a resident who was "restrained for 37 minutes after throwing a tennis ball at a staff member," a resident who was restrained for "screaming at staff" and a resident who was restrained after "throwing yogurt at a wall," according to the document. Separate from DRNM's investigation, the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department was carrying out an investigation of its own last year that resulted in sanctions because of similar findings, said Henry Varela, spokesman for the agency. Jose R. Santos, chief executive officer for Peak Behavioral Health Services, said in a prepared statement that the company is "dedicated to providing excellent care to adolescents in our residential treatment program, which is focused on the underserved population of children with significant mental health issues." "We have been working collaboratively with the state's Children, Youth and Families Department to make improvements in our program that address concerns the agency raised in its report, and have taken those concerns very seriously," he wrote. The facility serves clients who are referred by a variety of agencies and organizations. That's after a treatment authorization by one of the insurance plans — also called Managed Care Organizations — in New Mexico, officials said. Clients can fall under either Medicaid or private insurance. State sanctions According to public records obtained by the Sun-News, the state department issued a "notice of contemplated action" against Peak Behavioral Health on Nov. 9 of last year, based on its findings. A Nov. 23 letter from the state to the center indicating the state planned to issue "formal sanctions," including directing corrective actions and implementing a compliance monitor team, according to the document. It also specified that facility, based on earlier negotiations, had voluntarily agreed to a freeze on new admissions, which would "remain in place for a minimum of 30 days after the Compliance Monitor begins." And after the freeze, Peak Behavioral Health would voluntarily cap the client population in the center. Varela said the existing clients at the facility at the time of the admissions freeze were transitioned out in several ways. Some were transferred to other centers. Others were at the normal end of their treatment stay or because their treatment needs required less-intensive care. A Nov. 24 memo from CYFD to the state to the company specified that an independent professional, Katie Cosper, had been appointed to serve as a compliance monitor for the residential center for six months, along with state staff that would work with her. Cosper was tasked with reviewing center records and policies to make sure proper policies were in place, making recommendations on how to correct violations and "improve overall programming," according to the document. Santos said Peak Behavioral Health Services has submitted an action plan to the state and has "already implemented many of the improvements it contains." "In fact, some of the changes were already underway before the state issued its report," he wrote. "Nationally recognized experts have been brought in to conduct training at our facility, and we have brought on new medical and administrative leadership. We have also revamped our assessment methods, and improved management of medication and medical issues." Continued Santos: "Perhaps, most importantly, we have put in place a new treatment model, which focuses on helping residents heal from the traumatic abuse that most of them have suffered." Santos noted the facility is "fully accredited" by The Joint Commission, the "leading agency in healthcare." He said it's been "recognized by The Joint Commission for the past three years as a top performer on key quality programs." There's been a change in CEOs at the facility since last year. Admissions re-launched In late February, CYFD sent a letter to Strategic Behavioral Health — Peak Behavioral Health's parent company — notifying it that the state had received the facility's revised policies and procedures regarding the use of restraints and seclusion practices. Daphne Rood-Hopkins, children's behavioral health director for CYFD, also said that the state was "ready to proceed with allowing admissions to the Peak" according to a verbal agreement made earlier. "We agreed that the Peak will admit 2 boys and 2 girls per week for the next 4 weeks for a total of 16 admissions," the letter states. Varela said the gradual addition of clients is a way to resume the needed service, while ensuring that children are receiving proper treatment. There are weekly visits by the monitoring team, he said. "It's a way to slowly bring them in," he said of the clients. Varela said the state's efforts are not only scrutinizing the center, but also meant to help it develop sound practices because there is a big need for mental health services. "We assist in any way we can to make sure they have the resources they need," he said. The six-month monitoring period by the state began in November, according to Varela. That means it will run through May. Diana Alba Soular may be reached at 575-541-5443, dalba@lcsun-news.com or @AlbaSoular on Twitter.  Source: http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/local/2016/03/19/santa-teresa-youth-facility-faces-state-sanctions/81874650/
City sent me to therapy with my abuser when I asked for help: suit By Kathianne Boniello March 20, 2016 | 1:02am Modal Trigger Photo: Shutterstock More On: lawsuits Instead of rescuing her from a hellish foster home, a Bronx woman says social workers and therapists hired by the city ignored her complaints and sent her to therapy with her abuser. Now 20 years old, the woman has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the Administration for Children’s Services workers, foster-care program and therapists who oversaw her case, claiming they never investigated her reports of abuse or reported it to authorities. Therapists at Arista Center for Psychotherapy forced her into counseling with the foster mom who assaulted her, the woman claims. –– ADVERTISEMENT –– The woman, whom the city took from her parents before she was 2, “learned that her cries for help . . . would be ignored or reported directly back to the perpetrator of harm, until she learned to no longer ask for help,” the lawsuit says. ACS and a Bronx foster-care program called Abbott House placed the woman, identified only as “E.L.A.,” in the foster home of Linda Smalls as a young child without properly investigating the home, who was living there or checking the sleeping arrangements, she claims in Manhattan federal court papers. In 2003, the girl told a teacher that Smalls abused her, but social workers and the therapists at Arista in Queens never talked to the educator, the girl alleges. Abbott House declined to comment. Arista did not return a message. Smalls could not be reached.  Source: http://nypost.com/2016/03/20/city-sent-me-to-therapy-with-my-abuser-when-i-asked-for-help-suit/
EXCLUSIVE: Accused Long Island pedophile foster parent kept terrified children locked in rooms BY Ross Keith, Joseph Stepansky, Larry Mcshane NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, March 20, 2016, 4:00 AM A A A facebook Tweet email Share this URL David Wexler/For New York Daily News Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu's foster home was a house of horrors for four children who spent two unsettling months with him in 2009. An accused pedophile foster parent who preyed upon boys tried to keep a 1-year-old in his Long Island house of horrors, while striving to evict his three older sisters, their mother told the Daily News. Creepy Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu, 59, left the girls in tears with his bizarre behavior during their time together and tried to arrange their transfer to another home, according to mom Sue O’Keefe. “He just wanted my son,” O’Keefe told The News in a Saturday interview at her Staten Island home. “He didn’t want my daughters. … It didn’t make sense to me. Why would you keep my son?” Gonzales-Mugaburu, of Ridge, L.I., was charged with sexually abusing seven children — and a pet dog — inside his home on a Suffolk County cul-de-sac. He was jailed on $1 million bond. Prosecutors say there were likely more victims among the 140 kids he took in over the past 20 years. L.I. FOSTER PARENT ABUSED CHILDREN FOR 20 YEARS: PROSECUTORS “You never got a good vibe from this guy,” said O’Keefe, who recognized a photo of Gonzales-Mugaburu from The News’ front page. Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office/Reuters Gonzales-Mugaburu kept foster children locked in their rooms, barred them from playing with other kids and once sliced all the cables to the television as punishment. Her children began recounting memories of abuse and bizarre antics after seeing the picture of their alleged tormentor, she said. O’Keefe said caseworkers told her at one point that her daughters were in good hands with the alleged predator. Their explanation, she said — he was gay. The four children spent two unsettling months with the suspect in 2009, their mother said. The kids shared the place with one of his adopted sons, who was a former foster child. According to the kids, their freaked-out foster dad kept them locked in their rooms, barred them from playing with other kids and once sliced all the cables to the television as punishment. The 1-year-old brother was permitted out of his room with Gonzales-Mugaburu while his sisters were often kept behind closed doors, the oldest of the three told The News. New York Daily News Gonzales-Mugaburu faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted on charges of sexual misconduct and child endangerment. The eldest girl, now 16, told The News that Gonzales-Mugaburu once called the police — and when they responded to the house, insisted that she had threatened to kill him. Another time, two of the girls had to free their terrified little brother when Gonzales-Mugaburu locked him alone inside a room and left the house for more than an hour. “When he got home, he was yelling, ‘Who did it? Who let him out?’” the oldest daughter recounted. “So then he grabbed a knife from downstairs and cut all the cables to the TV. I started crying. We all started crying.” Gonzales-Mugaburu punished the same girl by taking her phone and throwing it into the woods. He would push dressers in front of kids’ doors to block them from leaving their rooms. “He was very abusive toward us,” said the daughter. “When I got in trouble, he used to come into my room and scream in my face.” Susan Watts/New York Daily News "You never got a good vibe from" Gonzales-Mugaburu, said Sue O'Keefe, whose children were in his custody. Over the years, needy kids were sent to the serial foster parent by both the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the nonprofit St. Christopher Otillie, known as SCO. In an email to The News, SCO said the situation was “extremely troubling” and the organization was cooperating with authorities. Additional charges against Gonzales-Mugaburu were blocked in some cases by statutes of limitation, officials said. He was due back in court Monday, and faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted on charges of sexual misconduct and child endangerment. Authorities charged that Gonzales-Mugaburu had sexual relations with a female dog while a girl assigned to his care watched. LONDON COP SUING AFTER NYC ARREST, BABY PUT IN FOSTER CARE There were two cars parked Saturday in the driveway of Gonzales-Mugaburu’s home, but nobody answered the door. David Wexler/For New York Daily News At least two organizations sent needy kids to the serial foster parent who faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted. One of the suspect’s adopted sons drove up to the house behind the wheel of a white Lincoln Continental. “No comment,” he said, before zipping away. Prosecutors said another of Gonzales-Mugaburu’s adopted sons cooperated with the probe after two boys made allegations to a caseworker about mistreatment. Neighbors said Gonzales-Mugaburu, who pleaded not guilty Friday, was single with no family other than his adopted children. O’Keefe, 37, now has custody of all seven of her kids, although all were at one point in foster care. Over the last two decades, the suspect kept as many as eight children at a time in his two-story ranch home. The Administration for Children’s Services issued a Friday statement saying it removed all foster kids from the house upon learning of the allegations — although the agency didn’t specify when that was. With Barry Paddock jstepansky@nydailynews.com   Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/pervy-foster-parent-terrified-kids-locked-rooms-article-1.2570784
Yet Another Scandal Rocks Utah Home for Vulnerable Children Police raided the home after an employee reported sex among residents and misconduct by staff. by Joaquin Sapien ProPublica, March 21, 2016, 10:27 a.m. 0 Comments Print Print Spur Reform in 2016 Support ProPublica’s mission to expose abuses of power and corruption. Mount Pleasant Academy in Utah. (Kim Raff for ProPublica) In 2014, an employee at a group home for troubled children in Utah said they informed superiors that a staff member was having sex with one of the boys the home was charged with safeguarding. When nothing happened, the employee helped alert local child welfare officials, and the staff member was eventually charged and convicted of sexual battery. But Utah officials took no action against the home, Mount Pleasant Academy. It was allowed to continue housing as many as 16 boys, almost all of them sent to the home to be treated for a variety of sexual addictions or disorders. “We found no evidence of violation of our rules,” said Diane Moore, the licensing director for the Utah Department of Human Services, which oversees the operation of group homes in the state. Barely 18 months later, the same employee said they made another grim discovery: several boys, at least one as young as 13, were having sex with each other with the full knowledge of members of the home’s staff. Worse, the employee alleged, the home’s director shared video of the sexual activity with other employees. The employee made direct reports to state authorities, and last week the Sanpete County Sheriff’s office raided the home, taking computers, surveillance tapes and other possible evidence. A search warrant based on the employee’s claims lays out the suspected crimes: forced sexual abuse of a minor; unlawful sexual activity with a minor; abuse and neglect of a child with a disability. Still, Mount Pleasant Academy is open, with boys remaining in its care. “Yes, children are still placed there pending further fact finding,” said Moore, the state licensing director. “Even if violations are found, facilities may remain open while addressing corrective action plans and timelines as long as there is no perceived further risk to critical health and safety rules. These are the very things we will be assessing moving forward.” Mount Pleasant Academy’s program director, Matt Kiefer, told ProPublica he was “not going to be talking” about the latest developments. Kiefer is the man accused by the employee of sharing sex videos with his staff. Brian Pace, executive director of Red Rock Canyon, the parent organization of Mount Pleasant, said information ProPublica had obtained was “incorrect” but declined to elaborate. “We always work with our licensing agency and local law enforcement to get these matters resolved,” he said. “We also do our internal investigations and if disciplinary measures are necessary we take them.” In 2015, ProPublica examined the raft of problems plaguing group homes for vulnerable children in California. We discovered that California was so bereft of safe options for its troubled children that it had sent hundreds of them out of state, some 600 to Utah alone. And California was doing so knowing the risks: Utah had suffered a variety of scandals involving its own group homes, including one that led to a lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of children who said they had been abused at facilities in the state. Indeed, Red Rock Canyon, the parent facility located in St. George, Utah, had a sex scandal in 2014. A worker pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexually abusing three residents, one of whom was just 13. A state investigation found that the facility did not properly report the abuse to the Department of Human Services, which oversees group homes throughout the state. Again, no action was taken against Red Rock Canyon, and it now turns out that an almost identical crime took place in 2014 at Mount Pleasant. The employee who made the reports about Mount Pleasant in 2014 and again this year spoke to ProPublica and laid out what the employee said was a deeply disturbing series of events and failures to act. The employee has since quit and would not be identified for fear of reprisal. The employee said that in 2014 officials at the home became aware that a 20-year-old employee named Robert Quirt Ashworth had sex with a minor at the home over the course of several months. The sex would occur in locations at the facility that were not monitored by surveillance cameras. The employee said they were told their only responsibility had been met – to report it to their superiors. But when Ashworth went unpunished, the employee went to the authorities. The former employee said that Ashworth was spared discipline by the home’s management because he was related to senior officials there. Ashworth was charged with a misdemeanor count of sexual battery of a minor at the home in 2015. He pleaded guilty in Sanpete County District Court. Efforts to contact him were not successful. Moore, the director of licensing for Utah, tried to explain why the state authorities were limited in what they could do against the home. “As serious and abhorrent as this crime was, our statutory oversight is in regards to the licensee and their program.  We assess to ensure that no rule violations contributed to the incident. Our inquiries include but are not limited to verification of incident notification, staffing ratios, training, current staff background screenings, and overall administrative response by the program.” “Of course the action of the employee was a violation and a crime,” Moore added. “But we have to be able to tie that unfortunate event to specific rule violations by the licensee in order to take action against the licensee.” The latest set of incidents, the former employee said, had taken place over several weeks. That boys were having sex with each other was widely known, and even treated as an amusement. “So many staffers knew what was going on— too many to name— but no one reported it,” the former employee said. “We were told to go through our chain of command.” The employee said that at least one child connected to the activity had been arrested. Last December, Mount Pleasant was featured in a ProPublica article that examined the number of troubled California children sent out of state. That story focused on the journey of 15-year-old Deshaun Becton, a boy who lived in several California group homes before landing in Mount Pleasant in the summer of 2015. Out of Options, California Ships Hundreds of Troubled Children Out of State One 14-year-old boy’s search for care takes him to Utah as his home state struggles to safeguard its most challenging children. Read the story. The boy’s adoptive mother, Veronice Becton, was hesitant to have Deshaun live at the home. She only agreed to place him there because she was completely out of options. Deshaun’s often violent outbursts had exhausted the resources of several other group homes meant to provide intensive care to emotionally disturbed children. Deshaun’s parents eventually removed him from Mount Pleasant after he had been hurt in several encounters with the staff. When Veronice Becton arrived to pick him up, she found him filthy and disheveled. As a result, when she learned last week that officers with the Sanpete County Sherriff’s department had begun investigating allegations of sexual abuse, Veronice Becton was distressed, but not shocked. She said she intends to contact police in Utah to make Deshaun is available to be interviewed. “They were never very transparent,” she said of the leaders of Mount Pleasant. “I don’t know if it was just me, but I felt like they did not appreciate any kind of questions or inquiries at all. They were very hostile towards us.” The former employee remembered Deshaun fondly. The employee said the home had recognized it was not appropriate for Deshaun, but had taken him in because it wanted to keep its beds filled. “Please tell her, I can’t take ownership for what happened to him, but I am very, very sorry,” the employee said of Veronice. “I care deeply for their son.” Michael Weston, a spokesman for the California Department of Social Services said no children from the state’s foster care or juvenile justice systems were currently placed at Mount Pleasant. Help us investigate: If you have experience with or information about group homes or child welfare, email Joaquin.Sapien@propublica.org.  Source: https://www.propublica.org/article/yet-another-scandal-rocks-utah-home-for-vulnerable-children
Danger in the psych ward Safety issues plague a chain of mental-health hospitals in Texas and across the United States By Miles Moffeit | Staff Writer March 18, 2016 Universal Health Services, Inc., headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. (Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA) IIn Sherman, workers at a psychiatric ward dropped a suicidal patient off at a bus stop; a day later he was found dead after jumping from a Dallas bridge. In San Angelo, hospital employees created infection risks by leaving an observation room covered in vomit and a kitchen black with grease and dead bugs. And in Austin, male nurses stripped a teenage sex-abuse victim and shut her in solitary confinement, naked. Inspection data uncovered by The Dallas Morning News shows that serious safety problems have plagued dozens of mental-health hospitals owned by one giant chain: Universal Health Services Inc. Across Texas and around the country, government inspectors investigating patient complaints cited 44 of the company’s hospitals for dangerously poor care or unsafe conditions between 2012 and mid-2015, according to data from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. That’s more than a quarter of the 154 company hospitals that The News identified as receiving taxpayer money to treat the poor and elderly. Inspectors found safety breaches at 13 of the company’s 26 such facilities in Texas, the hospital company’s largest market. Universal Health is the nation’s biggest for-profit provider of mental-health services, including treatment for depression and addiction, and also owns some full-service hospitals. “The large number of investigations aimed at misconduct within this hospital system is appalling,’’ said Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York-based psychiatrist who has consulted for the National Institute of Mental Health and the commission that accredits hospitals. “It is especially frightening that these deviations are occurring in the largest network of psychiatric hospitals in the country.’’ Universal Health, which is valued by Wall Street at over $11 billion, says its overall safety record is excellent. It cites rising patient-satisfaction scores and above-average results on hospital-accreditation evaluations. The number of government safety citations simply reflects the chain’s size, according to the company, which is based in a suburb of Philadelphia. When problems have been brought to its attention, the company says, it has come up with plans to fix them. “We are mindful that over the course of treating approximately 2.5 million patients per year, irregular and unpredictable events occasionally occur,” the company said in a statement in response to questions from The News. However federal data suggests that Universal Health has a higher-than-average rate of problems, according to a News analysis of government reports on hospitals that receive funding from Medicaid and Medicare. For example, government inspectors investigating complaints found serious problems at 8.4 percent of Universal’s hospitals in 2014, the most recent full year for which data is available. Nationwide, that figure was 3 percent. Federal regulators usually focus only on incidents at individual hospitals, not across chains, so government data is fragmented and you can’t easily compare Universal Health to its peers. And the company operates hospitals under a variety of names that can make it difficult for patients and watchdogs to evaluate its overall care. But the government compiled an unusual systemwide report on the company last summer at the request of congressmen from Illinois and Massachusetts, where a report by the Boston Globe and another by the Chicago Tribune revealed problems at Universal Health hospitals.  Source: http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2016/danger-in-the-psych-ward/
Student’s death investigated decades later Phil Williams Jr. was a student at school for troubled teens in Poland when he died in 1982 NEXT STORY Maine police department's post about 'misplaced' marijuana goes viral Text Size: ASmall Text AMedium Text ALarge Text  POLAND, Maine —State police are investigating the death of a student more than three decades ago at a now-closed school for troubled teens. The cause of death for Phil Williams Jr. was listed as “probably a ruptured aneurysm” on his death certificate in 1982. He was 15 years old and living at Poland's Elan School for troubled teens. Pam Newall, his sister, said for 33 years she never thought to question his death. “I didn’t know that these stories were out there, but they’ve been out there for years,” Newall said. Newall was contacted by a former student working on a documentary who had names and phone numbers of witnesses. They told her Williams was accused by staff of faking headaches. They said in the hours before her brother’s death, he had been punished in what they described as a boxing ring. “Not a boxing ring, like a boxing ring. A ring of children where he proceeded to get beat,” Newall said. “Twenty minutes or so they called the ambulance. They took Phil and they never saw him again.” The Elan School closed in 2011 after being criticized for its controversial therapies – one of which was forced fighting. “I want people to take responsibility for what they did. I don’t care that they didn’t throw the punches. They were adults. Adults are supposed to take care of children,” Newall said. She said she hopes state police can uncover what really went on that day. “I thought it was a wonderful place. I thought they were helping my brother. I thought he was coming home. He came home all right … in a box,” Newall said.  Source: http://www.wmtw.com/news/students-death-investigated-decades-later/38641272
St. Paul Facility for Troubled Teens Forced to Suspend Referrals after 'Serious Concerns' Brett Hoffland Updated: 03/23/2016 8:58 AM Created: 03/22/2016 5:34 PM The future is uncertain for a St. Paul facility that houses troubled teens. Ramsey County judges have stopped sending children to the Boys Totem Town program because of what they're calling "serious events." Verena Nelson, a St. Paul resident who lives right across from the facility, says usually the neighborhood is pretty quiet, but she did have a run-in with some teens who decided to escape.  "One day I was sitting out on the porch and a couple of kids come running by and they said, 'We're running away from Totem Town,' and they climbed over my fence and away they went," Nelson said.  Nelson isn't alone. "I've seen it on several occasions," Geff Crowell, a St. Paul resident, said.  Last month, 29-year-old Karen Anne Meyer, a contract therapist, was charged, accused of helping two teens escape from custody.  "That really surprised me," Nelson said.  Judge Teresa Warner sent a letter to Ramsey County Community Corrections because "the lack of communication from probation to the judges regarding that incident is concerning." In a separate event, according to Warner, a young man "ran from Boys Totem Town, stole a neighbor's vehicle, and then tried to run over the neighbor." Since Feb. 19, there haven't been any new referrals to this facility and Judge Warner says there won't be any in the future until they see some changes. "We were very surprised, obviously, and very concerned about the situation," said John Klavins, the Ramsey County Community Corrections director.  Klavins says these are medium- to high-risk teens who he says committed mainly property crimes or low-level personal offenses. He says they're reviewing their communication protocols and updating security procedures to protect the boys and the community. "I certainly hope we can get the program back on track," Klavins said.  Seventeen teenagers are still at the facility. The county says the independent investigation should be finished in a couple weeks to determine whether Boys Totem Town can start accepting children again.  Source: http://kstp.com/news/ramsey-county-st-paul-facility-trouble-teens-totem-town/4082381/
Kansas lawmakers vote to overhaul juvenile justice system AP File Photo. Enlarge photo. In this March 6, 2014, file photo, Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, asks a question during a committee hearing in Topeka. Smith is chairman of the committee that sponsored a Senate bill to overhaul the juvenile justice system.  By Associated Press — Associated Press March 21, 2016 Advertisement Topeka — Kansas lawmakers have voted to overhaul the juvenile justice system by allowing more low-risk offenders to stay at home while participating in community-based programs like anger management. Juvenile offenders can currently be placed in juvenile detention centers or group homes for any level offense. Kansas has the sixth-highest rate of juvenile offenders placed in detention centers or group homes nationwide. The measure passed 117-6 in a final-approval House vote Monday, after it passed 38-2 in the Senate last month. Senators will review the changes before it is sent to the governor. The House version of the bill includes a provision to reserve up to 50 beds in group homes for juvenile offenders. The previous measure approved by the Senate says all group homes will close by July 2018.  Source: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2016/mar/21/kansas-lawmakers-vote-overhaul-juvenile-justice-sy/
Ex-EGF treatment center director accused of rape faces lesser charge By Becky Jacobs on Mar 23, 2016 at 7:04 p.m. News Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203 http://www.grandforksherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/86185T_2.jpg?itok=VayjTgJB Becky Jacobs Grand Forks Herald (701) 780-1123 customer support http://www.grandforksherald.com http://www.grandforksherald.com Ex-EGF treatment center director accused of rape faces lesser charge Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203 CROOKSTON—A former director of an East Grand Forks treatment center faces a new charge linked to allegations he sexually assaulted a female patient. Recommended for you Valley City State prof faces ID theft charges after police seize 200 credit cards Bruce Lee Biddlecome, who was the director at Douglas Place, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, was charged last May with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Polk County District Court, but a judge dismissed that felony charge in December. The 41-year-old appeared in court and pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a new charge: one count of criminal abuse, a gross misdemeanor, that applies when a caregiver or staff person in a facility engages in seuxal contact with a patient or client. While both charges are linked to the same alleged incidents from 2014, the difference stemmed from a disagreement over Biddlecome's role at the center involving the patient. A now-29-year-old female told investigators Biddlecome sexually assaulted her twice when he took her in his truck on two different trips to Wal-Mart and Gordmans in November and December while she was a patient at the center, according to a court document. Both times, Biddlecome demanded she have sex with him and threatened she would go back to where she came from—she understood him to mean jail—if she did not comply, a court document states. The woman told investigators Biddlecome assaulted her a third time on Christmas Eve when he went into her room at Douglas Place and said he had come "for an early Christmas present and that it was her," according to a court document. The woman turned over a napkin to a counselor at the center, which she said had Biddlecome's semen on it, and the napkin later tested positive for Biddlecome's DNA, according to court records. Last November, Biddlecome argued his felony charge should be dropped because the charge didn't apply to him. His initial charge accuses him of having sex with a patient to whom he was a counselor, but Biddlecome's attorney, Eric Gudmundson, argued Biddlecome wasn't a counselor to the woman at all. A Douglas Place employee told police Biddlecome was assigned as a counselor only to male residents. Biddlecome would have one-on-one sessions with female patients in his office, but he "never documented these incidents," a court document states. The prosecution argued that Biddlecome was a licensed drug and alcohol addiction counselor and the woman was a patient seeking treatment, resulting in his original charge, but the defense responded Biddlecome managed the center and oversaw other counselors, and there was no evidence Biddlecome was ever the woman's counselor. Biddlecome was charged with the wrong crime, Gudmundson argued, and said a gross misdemeanor in which it is illegal for any staffer at a residential addiction treatment center to have sex with a resident was more appropriate. That is what Biddlecome is charged with now. Biddlecome faces a far lesser sentence for his new charge. For the gross misdemeanor, he faces a maximum of one year in jail and $3,000 fine. For his original felony charge, he faced a maximum of 15 years in prison. The Polk County assistant attorney prosecuting Biddlecome's new case did not return a call by press time to discuss the difference between the charges. Typically, district court prosecutors are unable to comment on active cases. Biddlecome next appears in Polk County District Court on his new charge at 1 p.m. May 17.  Source: http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/crime-and-courts/3993665-ex-egf-treatment-center-director-accused-rape-faces-lesser-charge
Abuse in Foster Care: The Denial Runs Deep by Richard Wexler March 24, 2016 Here’s the latest foster care horror from Oregon, according to the Oregonian: Under the watch of the Oregon Department of Human Services, a lawsuit alleges, a young sister and brother were starved so severely by their foster parents and guardians that they weighed the same at ages 4 and 5 as they did at ages 1 and 2.  Those facts, largely supported by the state’s own examination of the case, are laid out in a complaint filed against the state Thursday. It says the children ended up resembling victims of a famine: their ribs visible, their bellies protruding and their brain development severely affected.  The suit says caseworkers and their supervisors and managers overlooked repeated specific complaints and glaring red flags… A caseworker saw the children less than a month before doctors at Randall Children’s Hospital determined they were suffering from chronic starvation, but the caseworker did nothing. That story comes on top of this one, and this one. That’s just Oregon. A federal judge in Texas found rampant abuse in foster care. And in just the past week, there was this from New York and this from Utah. Of course, there are plenty of horror stories about how children are treated by their own parents. In fact, the current child welfare system was largely built on such stories. When anecdotes collide, it’s time to look at the data. But not in the highly-selective way Marie Cohen chose to do so in a recent column published by The Chronicle of Social Change. She wrote that “State data compiled by the federal government show that the proportion of children in foster care who were the subject of substantiated maltreatment in foster care ranged from 0 to 1.34 percent.” But the figures she cites come from child welfare agencies’ own investigations of abuse in foster care. For reasons that should be obvious, in such cases agencies have a strong incentive to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil and write no evil in the case file. If the figures Cohen cites are to be believed, there are three states – Delaware, Vermont and New Hampshire – where absolutely no children at all were abused or neglected in foster care in 2014. New Hampshire has made that claim for five years in a row. Seriously? Texas claims that fewer than one-third of 1 percent of foster children were abused in foster care in 2014. In other words, if 300 former foster children were gathered in a room and asked, “How many of you were abused over the course of a year?” only one would raise his or her hand. That’s not what the judge found. And in Oregon, which claims that fewer than three-quarters of 1 percent of foster children were abused, state law apparently sets a higher standard for substantiating abuse if a foster parent or institution staff are accused than if the accused is a birth parent. In contrast, research has revealed alarming rates of abuse in foster care. One independent study after another has found abuse in one-quarter to one-third of foster homes, and the rate in group homes and institutions is even higher. And for reasons related to study methodology explained here, even those figures almost certainly are underestimates. In response, Cohen abandons the fiction of the official figures and simply tells us the homes from which the children were removed must be even worse because the children were removed from those homes. But just because a caseworker says a home was abusive or neglectful doesn’t make it so – particularly since poverty itself often is confused with “neglect.” Her argument also presupposes that no intervention other than foster care could prevent recurrence of abuse in the cases in which children were removed. But the real question is: How does the rate of abuse in foster care compare to what would happen if families simply got the help they needed? It’s not hard to answer, considering that even when families don’t necessarily get the help, foster care often is a worse option. There are two massive studies involving 15,000 typical cases in which the researcher made exactly the sort of comparison Cohen demands: What happens to children placed in foster care and left in their own homes, in the same types of cases? The children left in their own homes typically do better – and that’s even when the families did not necessarily get any help. None of this means no child ever should be taken from her or his parents. But foster care is an extremely toxic intervention that should be used sparingly and in small doses. Cohen wants to further increase the dose. I prefer less toxic options.  Source: https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/blogger-co-op/abuse-foster-care-denial-runs-deep/16834
LDS Church named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of Navajo children in foster program | fox13now.com LDS Church named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of Navajo children in foster program Posted 6:14 pm, March 24, 2016, by Mark Green and Lauren Steinbrecher, Updated at 11:09pm, March 24, 2016 Facebook Twitter Reddit Pinterest LinkedIn Email WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. -- Two members of the Navajo Nation have sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, alleging the church placed Native American children in Mormon foster homes where they were sexually abused and that LDS leaders did not take adequate steps to protect those children. The lawsuit, filed in Navajo Nation District Court on March 22, names The Corporation of the President of the LDS Church, The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, LDS Family Services and the LDS Church itself. The allegations stem from a foster care program formerly carried out by the LDS Church and its subsidiaries called the "Indian Placement Program" or the "Lamanite Placement Program" (LPP). The two plaintiffs, a brother and sister, state they and another sibling experienced abuse while in the program in Utah from 1976-1983. “It was kind of a series of ongoing sexual abuse situations of varying degrees while in this program,” said Craig Vernon, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. The brother, fictitiously named in the lawsuit as “RJ” to protect his privacy, reportedly suffered abuse that included fondling, sexual molestation and rape during his years in the program. According to the suit, RJ was placed in an LDS home in Oak City, Utah in 1978 at the age of 10, where he was allegedly sexually molested on several occasions by an older stepbrother. The boy was removed from the home after he disclosed the abuse, and the next year he was placed with another family in Utah--where the lawsuit states he was again molested by an older foster-brother. After the boy said he again reported the abuse to Church leaders, he was placed with another family in the LPP, where he was again allegedly abused and also witnessed the alleged abuse of a younger sister. He said he reported the abuse to the Church, but this time, the Church sent him back to live in that same home where the reported abuse occurred. The sister, fictitiously named "MM" in lawsuit documents, was placed in an LDS home in Utah in 1976. The girl was allegedly raped by a friend of her stepbrother, who was 40 years old at the time. A few years later in 1983, after being placed in a different foster home in Centerfield, Utah, MM said she was again allegedly abused sexually, this time by her foster-father. The lawsuit alleges the LDS Church did not take reasonable steps to protect the children--even after abuse was reported. “The problem is, when they reported this to LDS social services, we don’t believe that the police was ever contacted,” Vernon said. “First and foremost, that’s what needs to happen.” Other steps would have included removing children from the home where the abuse occurred, and setting up better policies to monitor children, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit further alleges that LDS Church policies are designed to protect the church and its leaders from culpability rather than ensure that abuse is reported to authorities and justice pursued. The lawsuit cites a policy that states, "'To avoid implicating the Church in legal matters to which it is not a party, Church leaders should avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases or other proceedings involving abuse.' (Handbook 1, Stake Presidents and Bishops 2010, section 17.3.2)." And another policy that encourages church leaders to contact an LDS Bishop about abuse first rather than the police. “We want clear policy changes… that the Church is not going to investigate its own sexual abuse, it’s going to report it immediately and direct its members and leaders to report it immediately to police,” Vernon said. The lawsuit also asks the Church to create a policy to remove any leader named in abuse allegations from contact with children. Plus, the attorneys request that the LDS Church change their policy about directing leaders not to testify in civil or criminal cases involving abuse. The lawsuit seeks damages for the injury caused to the plaintiffs, though no amount is specified. And, Vernon said, the plaintiffs want to see the LDS Church write a formal apology for harms caused and to restore Navajo culture, which they allege was damaged by years of efforts to assimilate native children into white, Mormon culture. The LDS Church released a statement Thursday in response to the lawsuit through spokeswoman Kristen Howey: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and works actively to prevent abuse. This lawsuit was filed earlier today [sic]. The Church will examine the allegations and respond appropriately." Another attorney on the case, William Keeler, said the Church has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. The LDS Lamanite Placement Program ran from about 1947 to the 1990s. Lamanite is a term used by the LDS Church to refer to Native Americans, who the LDS Church believes are descended from a group that fled Israel in 600 B.C. The lawsuit states Mormons believe Native Americans were "cursed" with dark skin for wickedness, and the lawsuit alleges Mormons felt a cultural and religious duty to convert Native American children and immerse them in white, Mormon culture as a way to redeem their prophetic destiny. As such, thousands of Navajo children like the plaintiffs were baptized into the LDS Church and relocated to live with white, Mormon families through the LPP.  Source: http://fox13now.com/2016/03/24/lds-church-named-in-lawsuit-alleging-sexual-abuse-of-navajo-children-in-foster-program/
Most drug, alcohol group homes in City of Prescott not state-licensed Photo by Les Stukenberg. Dayton Turberville sits on a bench outside Prescott House, one of the oldest recovery homes in the Prescott area. By Cindy Barks Originally Published: March 27, 2016 6:03 a.m. Cindy_Barks Editor’s note: This is the next in an ongoing series of articles concerning the sober-living group home issue in Prescott. PRESCOTT – Of the 160 or so drug-and-alcohol-treatment group homes identified in the City of Prescott, only about 40 are listed as having a license through the State of Arizona. The discrepancy occurs, in part, because state licensing requirements take in some of the group-home categories, but not others. For instance, the state requires licensing for: inpatient facilities with a specific number of beds (behavioral health facility-adult); outpatient treatment centers; and detox centers (behavioral health inpatient facilities-subacute). The Arizona Department of Health Services Division of Licensing Services’ website lists 26 licensed outpatient facilities in Prescott, along with six in Prescott Valley. In addition, the list includes two detox (behavioral health-subacute) centers in Prescott, and two in Prescott Valley. The number of inpatient (behavioral health-adult) facilities totals 10 for Prescott, and four in Prescott Valley, along with three counseling facilities in Prescott. (Some of the facilities double up on categories. For instance, the Chapter 5 Treatment Program in Prescott is licensed for two behavioral health-adult inpatient facilities, as well as a counseling facility, and an outpatient treatment center. Likewise, West Yavapai Guidance Clinic is listed as having licenses for five outpatient facilities – two in Prescott, three in Prescott Valley – and one behavioral health facility adult facility). Even as the state is licensing those categories, however, it does not require licensing or registration for sober-living or halfway homes. And, according to local experts, that is the category that has grown exponentially in Prescott in recent years. ‘IT HAS EXPLODED’ Officials at Prescott House (one of the licensed inpatient residential facilities), say the Prescott landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. Dayton Turberville, executive director of Prescott House, says the community had just a handful of treatment centers and halfway houses when he came on board at Prescott House 12 years ago. He and Jeff Martin, program manager for Prescott House, say things started changing about nine years ago, and then, “In the last five years, it has exploded,” Martin said. They say a main difference between the licensed and unlicensed facilities lies with the amount of supervision. Martin pointed out that Prescott House has supervisory staff members awake 24 hours, which allows for crisis management around-the-clock. “If we have a crisis here, there is someone to deal with it,” he said. Unlicensed facilities have no such requirement. “I think that’s a world of difference,” Martin added. Martin, Turberville and other local industry representatives say a number of the centers in Prescott use an arrangement known in the industry as the “Florida model” – a system in which residents of nearby sober-living homes travel to licensed outpatient centers for their treatment. Under that model, the state requirement for licensing of outpatient treatment facilities is covered, but the people who use the facilities for treatment live elsewhere – often in unlicensed homes. A description of the “Florida model” on the DrugTreatmentFinder.com website explains that the model flourished in south Florida over the past several decades because of the mild weather and beaches, which provided “an enticing recovery environment.” The website maintains that the Florida model has been effective – not only because of the favorable locale, but because “having so many rehabs in an area gave individuals a selection from which they could choose, finding the treatments that best addressed their needs.” In Prescott, the model reportedly has contributed to the community’s proliferation of “structured sober-living homes.” In several instances, the same operators that are licensed through the state for outpatient-treatment facilities also have a number of unlicensed sober-living homes. State records show, for instance, that A Sober Way Home has two state-licensed outpatient treatment centers on Plaza Drive and West Gurley Street. And City of Prescott registration records show that A Sober Way Home also has a half-dozen or so other homes in residential areas, which are not listed on the state’s licensure list. Sandra Tillman, owner of A Sober Way Home, said this past week that the organization would soon be closing all of those homes, however, and moving to a new location. The new building is currently under construction on the site that previously housed an East Gurley Street motel, she said. The move is being made, Tillman said, in order to get all of the treatment centralized in one licensed facility. “It will be a one-stop facility,” she said, adding that the center would likely house 60 to 70 clients. And Tillman expressed some dismay at the way the recovery industry is being portrayed in the community and the media. “So many people have come through the program and are successful,” she said. “It’s a sad thing to see how it’s being portrayed.” She added: “The problem is not the halfway houses; the problem is heroin.” LEGISLATION Many in the community have pointed to the dozens of sober-living homes in residential neighborhoods as a source of continuing problems, such as loud parties, drug use, smoking, unkempt yards, and declining neighborhood property values. That situation led Arizona Rep. Noel Campbell to introduce a bill in the State Legislature this year that aims to give cities and counties more authority in regulating the sober-living homes. Campbell’s original bill referred to mandatory registration, as well as training and education standards for house managers. A later amendment made the bill’s language less specific, but still would give cities, towns, and counties the right to craft more regulation for structured sober living homes (although it would not require the municipalities and counties to take on the new responsibilities). The amended bill, House Bill 2107, passed out of the Senate Rules Committee this past week, Campbell said on Friday, March 25, and could go to a vote of the full Senate sometime this week. If successful in the Senate, the bill would then have to go back to the House of Representatives for another vote on the amended version. Campbell has maintained that the structured sober-living homes have caused problems in residential neighborhoods, because they have little regulation, other than the zoning-oriented rules for which the city currently has the authority. But Tillman says the legislation would not solve Prescott’s issue, and would open the community up to a discrimination lawsuit. She also questions the city’s list, which identifies about 160 group homes within city limits. Although some in the community have speculated that the number is likely closer to 200, Tillman said, “There are not 200 here; you might find 60. They just come and go so fast.” SERVING LESS FORTUNATE Despite the lack of regulation, all of the local experts emphasize that some effectively run sober-living homes already exist in Prescott. Bill Orick of Triple Point Recovery Homes considers his homes among those well-run houses. He pointed out that Triple Point is contracted through Yavapai County Probation to take in clients who are one step away from incarceration. While most people on standard probation are allowed to live out in the community, Orick said, “If they screw up,” they could be eligible for Triple Point, as an alternative to jail. Clients are required to participate in a 12-step program, Orick said, and they are required to get up at 7 a.m., do chores, and then either go to work go to a meeting. They also are mentored in living a normal lifestyle. “Some of them are 50-year-old men who have never lived a structured life,” Orick said. He sees programs such as Triple Point as necessary because it serves “the less fortunate” – those men who have no insurance, cannot afford other treatment, and have little or no family support. Nearly all – 99 percent, said Orick – are battling heroin addiction. Noting that the well-run homes are often categorized by the community with less effective sober-living homes, Orick sees the need for more regulation. “I’m so frustrated with all of these programs that are opening up,” he said. City actions such as the recent approval of stricter code enforcement and the possible implementation of a business license would help to make the industry more accountable, he said.  Source:  http://dcourier.com/news/2016/mar/27/most-drug-alcohol-group-homes-city-prescott-not-st/
City of Prescott’s group homes list reveals web of owners, operators By Les Bowen Originally Published: March 27, 2016 6:02 a.m. NewsyLesBowen PRESCOTT – A list maintained by the City of Prescott shows there are some 164 homes city officials have determined or believe are group homes. The Daily Courier obtained the list through a public records request to the city. City officials redacted information about four entries on the list, explaining those are emergency shelters and, in the interest of protecting the privacy of people who own, operate or patronize the shelters, they are not subject to the newspaper’s records request. Of the remaining list, two homes are listed as adult care centers, three for people with developmental disabilities and one for gambling recovery. For six entries on the list, Prescott city officials did not indicate what type of support services the home provided. The city categorized the remaining 148 as either focused on drugs and alcohol addiction recovery, or having multiple focuses. An analysis of the complete list shows the variety of owners and operators running these homes. The Daily Courier compared the city’s records against Yavapai County’s property ownership records and the state’s database of corporations, compiling a database of every identifiable company or individual connected to the group homes industry. First, it should be noted the city’s list contains some outdated information. City officials have been developing the list for at least two years, and it contains at least 33 entries for homes that appear to have been sold since the city collected its information. In some cases, home ownership was transferred to a corporation with connections to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation industry. However, in other cases, it appears homes were sold and no longer owned or operated by the companies and people on the city’s list. City Planning Manager George Worley said the list is constantly changing and the city updates it as new information becomes available. He further explained that the list contains a fair amount of historical artifacts that may not reflect the ownership and operation of group homes currently in the city. One notable example is the home of Prescott City Attorney Jon Paladini, which he purchased in early 2014, about a year after taking his job with the city. Prior to his purchase of the home, city records indicate Decision Point operated a group home there. “The house sat vacant for about a year and a half ... the group home closed, before I bought it,” Paladini said, confirming that he lives in the house. The city has marked the entry for Paladini’s home as “discontinued” – the only such entry on the city’s list – but other entries on the list reflect a reality that the city has been unable to verify operators of some homes. In another example, homeowners sold two houses previously listed as operated by Embark Sober Living. The city indicates one home is now operated by Carleton Recovery Center, but there’s no new information for the other. What is clear from the information in the city’s records is that there are a handful of major players operating many group homes. Some takeaways from the list of prominent operator include: • The Solution House operates 24 group homes, according to the city’s list, some of which are owned by subsidiary companies including The Bridges Network and LNK Holdings. An address cross-check showed corporate agents for The Solution House share an address with a corporate agent listed for Paramount Recovery Services, which the city reports as operating two homes. • A Sober Way reportedly operates 20 homes. Two organizations with connections to A Sober Way – Clean Adventures of Sober Living and Oasis Addiction Counseling – apparently operate another six. • Carleton Recovery Center appears to have ties to Decision Point. The two companies operate 17 group homes, according to the city’s list, three of which are owned by yet another affiliate company, NTD Properties. All three companies share some or all of their corporate officers and have ties to company called DPC Behavioral Health. • The Next Step Transitional Living runs 10 homes, according to the city records. Most of the company’s homes appear to be leased from private owners with no obvious connections. • West Yavapai Guidance Clinic reportedly owns and operates seven group homes, and is operating an eighth under a lease from a private owner. Further analysis of the list also reveals connections between seemingly separate organizations. For example, two companies, Footprints Recovery Home and New Freedom Recovery House, share several corporate agents, as well as a common attorney who filed paperwork with the state. The companies operate five different group homes, according to the city’s list. A third company, Recovery in the Pines, operates a home whose owner’s address is the same as one of the corporate agents listed for Footprints Recovery Home and New Freedom Recovery House. There are a few other similar connections between owners and operators, but from outward appearances, most of the remaining group homes in Prescott are independently owned, and many operators run fewer than three homes. In the end, the city’s list shows the sheer size of the group homes industry: More than 300 individuals or companies are connected to the ownership and operation of group homes in Prescott.  Source: http://dcourier.com/news/2016/mar/27/city-prescotts-group-homes-list-reveals-web-owners/
Keep the foster kids safe, Bill  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Sunday, March 27, 2016, 4:10 AM A A A facebook 14 Tweet email Share this URL A Look Inside The Home Of A Pedophile Foster Parent Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu Inside the Long Island home where an accused pedophile foster parent preyed upon already-suffering boys is a shrine of sorts to films of every genre. NY Daily News A Look Inside The Home Of A Pedophile Foster Parent Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu Inside the Long Island home where an accused pedophile foster parent preyed upon already-suffering boys is a shrine of sorts to films of every genre. NY Daily News BACK Embed Privacy Policy   |   Terms of Use This video player must be at least 300x168 pixels in order to operate. A Look Inside The Home Of A Pedophile Foster Parent Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu Inside the Long Island home where an accused pedophile foster parent preyed upon already-suffering boys is a shrine of sorts to films of every genre. NY Daily News So many boys. So much hurt. And five alarms are sounded that the city’s child welfare agency appears to have put dozens of foster children into in the hands of a sexual predator. Prosecutors have charged serial foster father Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu with subjecting kids as young as 8 to sexual abuse in a Long Island house of horrors.  For two decades, New York City sent children who had lost their parents or been taken from them to live with Gonzales-Mugaburu, via the Administration for Children’s Services The commissioner of that agency, Gladys Carrion, has retreated into silence, deflecting explanation, let alone accountability, behind the confidentiality that protects children’s privacy. And that enables officials to hide the failures of their agencies. A LOOK INSIDE THE LONG ISLAND HOUSE OF ALLEGED PERVERT CHARGED WITH MOLESTING FOSTER BOYS Mayor de Blasio must take notice because the emerging facts strongly suggest that ACS allowed Gonzales-Mugaburu to operate a money-making orphanage that concealed entrenched abuse. Based on the horrific circumstances, the mayor would be well advised to order a Department of Investigation review of ACS foster care placements. All told, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota says, 140 boys, many with disabilities, came into the dad-for-pay’s clutches, half by way of SCO, a private agency hired by ACS and county agencies to find and oversee foster homes. Through ACS, New York City paid Gonzales-Mugaburu as much as $2,400 per month per boy, six to eight at a time. Prosecutors say that he has no employment record. If true, it’s likely Gonzales-Mugaburu has supported himself entirely through stipends meant to help foster parents meet the expenses of their charges. New York Daily News ACS regulations are designed to prevent adults from making a cottage industry out of taking in foster kids as a way to improve their own lifestyles. The more children, the more money. The more children, perhaps, the less care. ACCUSED L.I. PEDOPHILE FOSTER PARENT KEPT TERRIFIED KIDS LOCKED IN ROOMS Former wards, now aged 11 to 30, speak of beatings, weeks-long confinement, forced lock-outs in the cold and even witnessing Gonzales-Mugaburu having sex with the family dog. He has pled not guilty, and the district attorney bears the onus of carefully verifying each and every account of criminality. But that is hardly the end of the matter. Allegations of sexual and other abuses in city foster care permeate a lawsuit brought last year by Public Advocate Letitia James. De Blasio resisted the suit. As the government ultimately responsible for foster care, the state was also a defendant. Gov. Cuomo agreed hire a monitor to scrutinize ACS under a settlement that’s pending before a federal judge. ACS is responsible for 10,000 children living in foster care, the majority placed by private agencies into the homes of strangers. Those agencies struggle to find capable adults willing to invest time and energy to caring for needy and often troubled youngsters, perhaps for years on end. Against that backdrop, private and public agencies appear to have accepted at face value Gonzales-Mugaburu’s long readiness to take in children while lacking other evident means of support. De Blasio needs to know how and why that happened, most especially because of how horribly children were allegedly victimized for so long.  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/foster-kids-safe-bill-article-1.2578266
Lawyers for foster kids fighting to obtain ACS case files - NY Daily News Attorneys for foster kids claiming abuse fighting to obtain ACS case files needed for lawsuit BY Victoria Bekiempis NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Thursday, March 31, 2016, 9:46 PM A A A facebook Tweet email Share this URL Bonifacio, Mark Seen here is the Administration for Children's Service's office in New York City. The agency is battling lawyers trying to obtain case files for foster kids who are suing the city and state. Lawyers for 10 children alleging abuse while in foster care are fighting for access to the kids’ ACS case files, part of an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking reforms to the child welfare system. The children claimed in the lawsuit filed against the city and state in July that they’d been abused — some of them sexually. Their attorneys blame systemic failings by the city Administration for Children’s Services and the state Office of Children and Family Services. The lawyers are not seeking monetary damages, but are trying to prevent children from being placed with agencies that have excessive caseloads. They also argue that children have better outcomes when placed in foster situations permanently, rather than being shuffled from place to place. N.Y. SENATE GOP TOO BUSY TO FIX KID-RAPE LAW The plaintiffs have hit a wall, they argue, because the city is blocking access to the children’s case files that might shed light on their care. The city says the release of the case files would threaten the privacy of others, possibly the foster children’s siblings, foster parents or biological parents. While the state agreed in October to certain reforms, the city continues to fight the lawsuit. A Manhattan federal judge agreed in November that city and children’s lawyers could share certain confidential information with each other, such as case files. In a letter earlier this month, however, city lawyers asked the court to further consider the matter. Marcia Lowry, one of the lawyers representing these children, disagrees and said the city’s move just drags out the legal process. “The longer they’re withheld, the longer the case is going to be delayed,” she said. The city Law Department defended its position, saying, “There are confidentiality issues that have to be worked out regarding the people mentioned in the files who are not plaintiffs.”  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/lawyers-foster-kids-fighting-obtain-acs-case-files-article-1.2584724
Family says 'mysterious circumstances' in teen's death at Allendale Facebook 0 Twitter 200 Google+ LinkedIn 200 Email Print Comments 0 hello Article to: (required) Article from: (required) Add a message (optional) Success - Article sent! close 1 2 3 « »   Police are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy Wednesday night at the Allendale Association campus in Lake Villa. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer  Shaquan Allen, 16, died Wednesday at the Allendale Association campus in Lake Villa.   Attorney Cannon Lambert Sr., seated left, is joined by the family of Shaquan Allen at a Chicago news conference. Shaquan's mother, Willie Mae Allen, said she's seeking answers into her son's death. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer   Police are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy Wednesday night at the Allendale Association campus in Lake Villa. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer  Shaquan Allen, 16, died Wednesday at the Allendale Association campus in Lake Villa.   Christopher Placek     Family members of a 16-year-old Chicago boy found dead at the Allendale Association campus in Lake Villa said Friday they have more questions than answers about their loved one's death.  Their attorney, Cannon Lambert Sr., said at a Chicago news conference that Shaquan Allen was found dead in "very mysterious circumstances" and that the family has been given three versions of what happened Wednesday night at the private residential treatment center serving children and adolescents with moderate to profound emotional and behavioral disabilities. Lambert said he believes Allendale "is responsible for the occurrence." The attorney said authorities have told him there are two suspects in custody. Lambert declined to reveal additional details of the investigation at the request of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. Det. Christopher Covelli, a spokesman for the task force, confirmed two adults are in custody and are considered persons of interest. No charges have been filed yet. Shaquan Allen's mother, Willie Mae Allen, said an employee at Allendale who befriended her son advised her to seek an attorney. "I wanna know how could this happen to my baby, and nobody is telling me anything to let me know what's really going on," she said. "He was only 16 years old. I didn't send him there for that. I sent him to get help, because I didn't want to lose him to the streets." Allendale officials did not return messages seeking comment Friday. An Allendale official said Thursday the entire staff was "saddened beyond words" and was cooperating with the investigation. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is also investigating. "Any time we lose a child, under any circumstance, we are devastated. Right now DCFS is in its initial stages of an investigation," DCFS Director George H. Sheldon said. "We are gathering all the facts and are working with authorities and Allendale officials to get to the bottom of this incident." The state agency has staff on site to help the other children there deal with the trauma of Allen's death, spokeswoman Veronica Resa said. It has put a hold on Allendale accepting any new children for the time being, she added. Resa said "Allendale is not a problematic facility" and doesn't have a history of serious issues. Lake Villa police and rescue were called to the Allendale campus at 9:58 p.m. Wednesday for the report of an injury. The 16-year-old resident was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday by the Lake County coroner's office, but no findings have been released. The family plans to have an autopsy of its own done as well. Willie Mae Allen said her son had been receiving treatment at Allendale for three years. She believes his behavioral problems were due, in part, to the loss of his father, who died in 2007. Though he was a ward of the state, he came home from time to time, and his mother said she often went to Allendale to take part in family counseling sessions with her son. She said she last spoke with Shaquan two days before his death, and he talked about coming home for spring break. Allendale was founded in 1897. The youth and their families receive care and treatment through the residential treatment programs, day treatment special education schools or from community-based clinical programs and services, according to its website. The organization says more than 1,200 clients between the ages of 7 and 18 are served annually. The Lake Villa campus has residential services for 150 clients and a school with an enrollment of 200 students. It also has homes or community-based centers in Wisconsin, Highland Park and Waukegan. • Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Mike Riopell contributed to this report  Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160401/news/160409877/
Mentor-on-the-Lake man gets 9 1/2 years in prison for sex acts against four girls Duncan Scott – The News-HeraldDaniel Taeusch listens as one of his victims makes a statement March 31 in Lake County Common Pleas Court before being sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison by Judge Eugene A. Lucci. Taeusch previously pleaded guilty to one count of sexual battery and three counts of gross sexual imposition. At right is defense attorney Mary Catherine O’Neill. By Andrew Cass, The News-Herald Posted: 03/31/16, 5:33 PM EDT | Updated: 8 hrs ago 0 A Mentor-on-the-Lake man was sentenced March 31 to 9 1/2 years in prison on sexual battery and gross sexual imposition charges. Daniel Taeusch, 43, was indicted in October on two counts of rape and five counts of gross sexual imposition. On Feb. 25, Taeusch agreed to plead guilty in Lake County Common Pleas Court to a reduced charge of sexual battery and three of the gross sexual imposition counts. Taeusch, a driver for a courier service, was arrested at his Mentor workplace by police and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force several months after the incidents were reported. Assistant County Prosecutor Jenny Azouri previously said none of the girls were strangers to Taeusch and all were under the age of 16. Advertisement The 9 1/2 years was the maximum Taeusch could serve on those four counts. “The victims of the case, all four of them, are going to feel lasting effects beyond the maximum potential sentence in this case,” Azouri said. “It wasn’t their choice these offenses occurred. It was the defendant’s choice four separate times.” The first victim was molested at a Mentor-on-the-Lake home between Sept. 14, 2010, and Sept. 14, 2011, with the threat of psychological force, Azouri said. Between March 1 and May 31 of 2015, Taeusch then had sexual contact with two other victims while their abilities to resist were impaired. He was charged with a prior sex offense in the late 1990s, which led to him being dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Navy after a court-martial. Although Taeusch ended up pleading to a misdemeanor in that case, he spent 16 months in a military prison. One of Taeusch’s victims read a statement at the sentencing. “The situation has affected my life in many different aspects,” she said. “Some are more serious than others, but it changed my life and I’ll never be the same person again.” She said she has been emotionally affected and traumatized. She’s had signs of paranoia, depression, anxiety and constantly feels unsafe and has trouble trusting people. “I cry about what’s happened to me at random times,” she said. “Even when I’m having fun and happy one moment, the situation will cross my mind and I will cry.” She said her social life has been a “whole new world” and she’s been bullied and harassed. “People will say things like, ‘Stop lying, you’re ridiculous,’ and ‘I can’t believe you made that up,” she said in the statement. Taeusch’s attorney, Mary Catherine O’Neill, said that Taeusch takes full responsibility for what he did and has dealt with mental health issues and alcoholism. O’Neill said that his family would struggle if he was sentenced to prison and argued for him to avoid prison time. Judge Eugene A. Lucci, however, ultimately felt prison time was necessary. “The effects are irreversible, most of them can’t be helped and I have to live with them for the rest of my life,” the victim said in her statement.  Source: http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20160331/mentor-on-the-lake-man-gets-9-12-years-in-prison-for-sex-acts-against-four-girls
 Two Employees Charged After Boy Dies At Lake Villa Troubled Youth Facility April 2, 2016 9:58 AM By Mike Krauser Filed Under: Lake Villa, Mike Krauser UPDATED: 11:29 a.m. (CBS) –Two employees of a residential treatment center for troubled teens in Lake Villa are charged in the death of a 16-year-old resident following a struggle on Wednesday night. Detective Chris Covelli with the Lake County Major Crimes task Force says Shaquan Allen was having behavioral issues at the Allendale Association residential treatment center. Lake Villa Police Chief Craig Somerville says employees James Davis and Justin Serak were attempting to get him to his room. “Officers were told by Allendale staff that the juvenile became unconscious during an effort to restrain him following a brief struggle,” Somerville said.  Covelli said Davis had the teen by the throat and Serak was holding his legs and Covelli said both lied to investigators, saying all three slipped on water. “It was later determined the water was caused by the defendants pouring water on the victim to attempt to wake him,” Covelli said. He said there were 15 witnesses. The teen died of asphyxiation due to restraint. Covelli said, “ It’s a tragic time for the family and we can’t imagine the pain they’re going through right now. State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim asked for a million dollars bond for Davis, who’s charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction. “We have a dead 16 year old child, so I think a million dollars is appropriate.” Serak is charged with obstruction and had his bond set at $50,000. Nerheim said its troubling nobody called 911 for 15 minutes. “Anytime you have a case like this it’s a tragedy and that’s always compounded when you have a child,” he said. The victim’s family said they were told three different stories by Allendale staff. “I wanna know how could this happen to my baby and nobody is telling me anything to let me know what’s really going on,” said the victim’s mother, Willie Mae Allen. The boy was a ward of the state and his mother said she pressed for him to be admitted to the facility because she didn’t want to lose him to the streets.  Source: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/04/02/two-in-custody-for-boys-death-in-lake-villa/
Private Prison Companies See Dollar Signs in 'Treatment and Care' Facilities April 3rd 2016 By: Alex Mierjeski@amierjeski ShareTweetMailSMS In recent years, private prison companies have quietly been striking deals to handle correctional care beyond prisons and detention centers, adapting to changing opinions about mass incarceration. For decades, private prison companies have made billions in revenue, operating correctional and detention facilities on the behalf of overburdened states; last year, the combined revenue for CCA and GEO exceeded $3.5 billion. But nationwide efforts to scale back mass incarceration and cut down on harsh sentencing have posed problems to private corporations' revenue models. Corporations like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, whose businesses had been largely dependent on putting and keeping people behind bars, have diversified and now include the treatment and care of those within the criminal justice system — but not necessarily locked up in its cells. That means private contracts for out-of-jail services like "probation and parole services, halfway houses, day reporting centers, drug and alcohol treatment programs, home confinement, electronic monitoring, and various supportive services such as educational classes and job training," Arjun Sethi, who teaches law at Georgetown University, and Cate Graziani, a mental health campaign coordinator at a national non-profit that studies private prisons, wrote in Politico. Researchers who have studied the transition call it the "treatment industrial complex." Activists worry about the incentives of corrections companies "whose bottom line depends on the growth of supervised populations, rather than their rehabilitation and treatment," Sethi and Graziani wrote.  Flickr/Christian Senger "As state governments work to reduce prison populations by creating alternatives to incarceration, the private prison industry is rebranding itself and taking over treatment alternatives," Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said in a statement. Grassroots Leaderships released a report on private operation of mental health facilities back in March. As private prison companies move to adapt, researchers point to private corporations' sketchy record of handling the care and safety of inmates housed in their prisons to discredit claims that they are well-positioned to transition into treatment and care providers. There have already been lawsuits brought by prisoners against private care providers in New York, and calls for federal intervention after a gruesome Florida case involving a mentally ill man who died after allegedly being left in a scalding bathtub for hours. As Sethi and Graziani note in Politico, these are just some of the complaints "now proliferating regarding [private prison companies'] treatment and rehabilitation programs."  Source: http://www.attn.com/stories/7024/private-prison-turn-to-private-treatment-care
Why Are K-12 School Leaders Being Trained in Coercive Interrogation Techniques? Wednesday, 06 April 2016 00:00 By Kali Holloway, AlterNet | Op-Ed font size decrease font size increase font size Print One of America's great paradoxes (or perhaps hypocrisies) is its claim to be a global beacon of freedom, even as it jails more of its citizens -- by population percentage and in raw numbers -- than any other country in the world. This tendency toward suspicion, hyper-enforcement and punishment is so pervasive it even trickles down to our kids. CNN cites a National Center for Education Statistics report that finds 43 percent of US public schools have some form of security personnel patrolling their halls and grounds, a figure that rises to 63 and 64 percent, respectively, in public middle and high schools. In addition to the school resource officer, the over-policing of American society has now given rise to a new figure: the educator-interrogator. As the Guardian noted last year and the New Yorker discussed recently, school administrators are increasingly being trained as interrogators to extract confessions from students for so-called "crimes" -- most often, minor offenses from schoolyard scuffles to insubordination. Instruction in the interrogation arts is provided by John E. Reid and Associates, a global interrogation training firmthat contracts with police departments, armed services divisions and security companies around the country. According to the New Yorker, the company has taught its patented "Reid Technique" to hundreds of school administrators in eight states. That training may be leading to an increasing number of students 'fessing up, even when they have nothing to confess to. As the New Yorker notes, "like the adult version of the Reid Technique, the school version involves three basic parts: an investigative component, in which you gather evidence; a behavioral analysis, in which you interview a suspect to determine whether he or she is lying; and a nine-step interrogation, a nonviolent but psychologically rigorous process that is designed, according to Reid's workbook, 'to obtain an admission of guilt.'" Reid's methods are built on what Bloomberg writer Drake Bennett calls "the twin poles of interrogation styles: 'minimization' and 'maximization.'" Forms of coercion that correspond, roughly, to "good cop, bad cop." Minimization plays down the significance of the crime and offers potential excuses for it -- "you just meant to scare her" or "anyone in your situation would have done the same thing." Maximization plays it up, confrontationally presenting incriminating evidence and refusing to allow any response except a confession. The two are the most widely used tools in the American police interrogator toolkit. The New Yorker spoke with Jessica Schneider, an attorney at the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who attended one of Reid's educator-focused training sessions early last year. The instruction included a run-down of telltale body language signs indicating a student -- or as they were referred to in the session, suspect or subject -- is lying. Many of these purported indicators can be found in Reid's Criminal Interrogation and Confessions. The list includes "closed, retreated posture" ("crossed arms...reflect decreased confidence or lack of emotional involvement"), "constant forward lean" ("a controlling and defensive posture") and "frozen and static" ("the subject who is so intent on not incriminating themselves...may, essentially 'shut down' nonverbally"). Interrogators are cautioned to look for poker-like deception "tells" -- hand wringing, scratching, wiping sweat, knuckle popping. An anxious liar, according to the Reid Technique, is a squirmy liar. One of the many problems with this approach is that it's notoriously fallible. Typically nervous behaviors are not surefire indicators of guilt, mostly because there's no universal litmus test for lying. Bennett points to a 2003 study from the Universities of Virginia and Missouri-Columbia which found that many of the behaviors associated with lying don't necessarily tell us anything at all. "Behavioral cues that are discernible by human perceivers are associated with deceit only probabilistically," researchers wrote. "To establish definitively that someone is lying, further evidence is needed." In other words, there is no definitive liar's pose. TV police procedurals and cop movies get it wrong all the time, and when they expect similar results, so do real-life interrogators. Minimization and maximization interrogation methods, like those used by Reid and others, are good at yielding confessions. But an increasing number of experts suggest that in far too many cases, those confessions are false, resulting from a blend of fear and coercion. Psychologist Melissa Russano devised a study that found the Reid Technique often produces false admissions of wrongdoing in innocent subjects. "Guilty people are more likely to confess," Russano told Bennett. "The problem is, so are innocent people." That was certainly true in the case of Juan A. Rivera, who in 1993 was convicted to life in jail for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. After serving 20 years for a crime he didn't commit, Rivera sued a number of law enforcement agencies and other organizations for $20 million, a figure he was granted in an out-of-court settlement. John E. Reid and Associates paid $2 million of that sum. The false confessions of the Central Park Five, who were all teenagers at the time of their arrests, were also likely obtained using Reid-derived methods. It's no wonder the US Supreme Court has written that "mounting empirical evidence" proves that certain forms of interrogation "can induce a frighteningly high percentage of people to confess to crimes they never committed." Another glaring issue is that children and adolescents are often easily influenced and compliant toward authority figures. They're easy to intimidate and coerce, and often prioritize immediate rewards (having the interrogation end; getting to go home) over future penalties (suspension/expulsion/etc.) The Innocence Project, highlighting figures provided by the National Registry of Exonerations, notes that "in the last 25 years, 38 percent of exonerations for crimes allegedly committed by youth under 18 years of age involved false confessions, compared with 11 percent for adults." A University of Virginia review ofresearch on the subject found a study of exonerations between 1989 and 2004 discovered "42 percent of the cases of juvenile exonerees involved false confessions, compared with 13 percent of the cases of adult exonerees. Among the youngest of these juvenile exonerees (12- to 15-year-olds), 69 percent confessed to homicides and rapes that they did not commit." A 2013 American Prospect piece titled "Teacher, May I Plead the Fifth?" cites yet another example: In a 2012 study of interrogations of around 300 juveniles charged with felonies in Minnesota -- the largest such empirical study available -- University of Minnesota law professor Barry Feld found that, after suspects waived their Miranda rights, officers used maximization techniques in 69 percent of cases and minimization techniques in 15 percent. Seven percent of all the interrogations studied were performed in schools...In the Minnesota study, 93 percent of juveniles gave [their Miranda rights] up. Juveniles waive at such high rates either because they do not understand the warning, do not grasp the gravity of their situation, want to tell their side of the story, or are terrified, says Feld. After they start to talk, confessions almost always follow (88 percent of the time in the Minnesota study), making the state's case easy to put together and often leading to a quick plea bargain. These issues are particularly relevant in schools, where protocols such as reading kids their Miranda rights and securing authority for searches don't apply. There's also the highly important question of how transforming school administrators into interrogators informs their view of students. A 2009 study cited by the New Yorker suggests that among police, training in the Reid Technique skewed perceptions of juveniles, making them appear more adult and less trustworthy. University of Virginia psychologists reported that "Reid-trained police were less aware of the developmental differences between adolescents and adults than police who did not receive the training." The researchers also found that officers trained in the Reid Technique "tended to believe that adolescents were just as capable as adults of withstanding psychologically coercive questioning, including deceit." That's not a particularly surprising outcome to casting every student as a potential criminal. If even well-trained law enforcement personnel have their ideas about minors shifted in this way, imagine the likely impact interrogation training has on school administrators. If all this isn't enough to show how problematic interrogations in schools are, consider how the practice contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline, a cluster of education policies that combine to deliver students -- overwhelmingly poor, African American, Latino, or coping with physical and mental disabilities -- directly from schools to jails. Zero-tolerance policies, which criminalize and disenfranchise already vulnerable students, have resulted in an unprecedented rise in suspensions and expulsions. The Vera Institute of Justice finds that around the country, the number of high school students suspended or expelled each academic year increased "from one in 13 in 1972-'73 to one in nine in 2009-'10" -- a nearly 40 percent rise. From preschool throughout their years of schooling, black and Latino students are more likely to be punished in this way. Though schools have multiple options for disciplining students, under zero tolerance they often resort to the harshest available, despite evidence that interventions such as counseling yield better results for student health than criminalization. From the Vera report: A rigorous and detailed study of students in Texas published in 2011 by the Council of State Governments and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University shows how the culture of zero tolerance became so pervasive in that state that harsh punishments are meted out even when they are not strictly required. Twelve researchers tracked every student who entered seventh grade in 2000, 2001, and 2002 for six years. They found that more than half (60 percent) were suspended or expelled at some point in middle or high school. Moreover, the majority of those suspensions and expulsions appear to be for offenses that did not involve behaviors that fell within the parameters of the state of Texas zero-tolerance mandate; instead, they were simple violations of the school's code of conduct, such as using tobacco or acting out in ways that teachers find to be disruptive. In other words, school administrators chose to use harsh punishments even when they had the discretion to do otherwise. Considering that a 2012 study from Johns Hopkins found that a single suspension in ninth grade potentially doubles the chances a student will drop out, the stakes are incredibly high. In 2014, the Obama administration suggested teachers and schools abandon zero-tolerance policies and consider less extreme actions. Even at the highest levels, there's new recognition that turning schools into prisons simply isn't working, and neither is turning educators into interrogators. Instituting low-grade forms of school-sanctioned terror just creates a culture of mutual distrust and antipathy and ensures that the first lesson kids learn in school is one rooted in fear.  Kali Holloway Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.  Source: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35524-why-are-k-12-school-leaders-being-trained-in-coercive-interrogation-techniques
Employees Of Youth Care Charged in Teens Death Send to friend Comments (0) Add to Favorites Get National News Alerts 4 Apr 2016 12:29 PM EST CBS Chicago reports, two employees of a residential treatment center for troubled teens in Lake Villa are charged in the death of a 16-year-old resident. The charges follow a struggle that occurred on Wednesday night. Detective Chris Covelli with the Lake County Major Crimes task Force says Shaquan Allen was having behavioral issues at the Allendale Association residential treatment center. Lake Villa Police Chief Craig Somerville says employees James Davis and Justin Serak were attempting to get him to his room. Somerville said, "Officers were told by Allendale staff that the juvenile became unconscious during an effort to restrain him following a brief struggle." Covelli said Davis had the teen by the throat and Serak was holding his legs. Covelli said both lied to investigators, saying all three slipped on water. He added, "It was later determined the water was caused by the defendants pouring water on the victim to attempt to wake him." There were 15 witnesses. It was determined the teen died of asphyxiation due to restraint.  Source: http://www.allmediany.com/news/63571-employees-of-youth-care-charged-in-teens-death
Palm Beacher's documentary indicts Florida's foster care system | www.mypalmbeachpost.com Palm Beacher’s film indicts Florida’s foster care system Entertainment By Barbara Marshall - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer 0  Posted: 7:00 a.m. Thursday, April 7, 2016 Mari Frankel is an unlikely Michael Moore, in her comfortably casual house on Palm Beach’s north end full of kids’ sports equipment. She opens the door wearing the Palm Beach uniform of a cotton tunic and narrow pants, her tanned glow the result of tennis games and paddleboarding sessions on the Intracoastal. Yet, this 55-year-old mother of three, 15-year board member of Adopt-a-Family and a Guardian Ad Litem for Palm Beach County courts has become a crusading documentary filmmaker, who produced a powerful film portraying Florida’s foster child system as an inept failure when it comes to protecting the children in its care. Called “Foster Shock,” the film will be shown twice during the Palm Beach International Film Festival. “I don’t mind putting myself outside the box,” said Frankel, whose father was restaurateur Chuck Muer, who owned Charley’s Crab and Chuck and Harold’s restaurants in Palm Beach. He and Frankel’s mother and another couple disappeared without a trace aboard Muer’s 40-foot sailboat in a 1993 storm off the coast of Palm Beach County. + Richard Graulich Mari Frankel has written and produced a documentary about the abuse of foster kids, to be shown at the PB International ... read more Richard Graulich Mari Frankel has written and produced a documentary about the abuse of foster kids, to be shown at the PB International Film Festival which begins April 6. She is sitting in the backyard of her home in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post) Frankel readily admits she has no journalism or film background. “I really didn’t stop to figure it out, I just did it,” she said. “I just plowed into what was wrong with the system.” She was so horrified by what she saw after becoming a court-appointed advocate for children, that she felt compelled to make public what she says is a system geared more toward making a profit from abused and neglected children than caring for them. + The post for Foster Shock, a documentary about Florida’s child welfare system, premiering at the 2016 Palm Beach International Film Festival, ... read more The post for Foster Shock, a documentary about Florida’s child welfare system, premiering at the 2016 Palm Beach International Film Festival, April 6 - 13. “There’s unacceptable,” she says, “and then there’s reprehensible.” Frankel contends that Florida’s child welfare system went off the rails nearly 20 years ago when then-Gov. Jeb Bush privatized foster care. Virtually all responsibility for children in the state’s care went to local private, for-profit entities, whose executives often earn large salaries while warehousing children, she says. “They have a $2.9 billion dollar budget and these kids aren’t getting their basic needs met,” Frankel said. She recalled her first case about six years ago in which a mentally-challenged little boy had been sexually abused in a therapeutic foster home. “The second time I visited, I was with a therapist. The boy told the therapist what happened. The therapist turned to me and said, ‘These kids say these things all the time. I don’t believe it.’ They put another kid in there that night and he was also raped,” said Frankel. To help her tell the story, Frankel hired filmmaker Brian Bayerl of Wilton Manors, who immediately connected with Frankel’s outrage. “People don’t necessarily need the film experience to do a documentary,” he said, “because I know how to make a film. What I need is the passion of someone who is fighting injustice and wants to fix it. That’s what I liked about Mari.” The story is told by several former foster children, now adults, who tell their stories of sexual abuse and neglect, of not having enough to eat and of group home supervisors so poorly trained they relied on police to deal with the slightest rule infraction. “Most (group homes) have more than 200 police calls a year. A lot have 500 a year. Some had more than 800 per year, in group homes that usually have 9 to 12 kids,” Frankel said. Angel, now 24, grew up in more than 50 foster homes. Her dying mother was in hospice care, yet Angel’s caseworker didn’t notify her so she could say good-bye. In the film, Angel breaks down as she described being told of her mother’s death two days after it happened. “She was so lost in the system that her caseworker couldn’t find her,” said Frankel. Bayerl said they hired researchers to back up claims made in the film. “Everything has been fact-checked,” he said. Frankel said she’s sent copies of “Foster Shock” to officials at the Department of Children and Families in Tallahassee and to a few elected officials. She doesn’t yet know if any of them have watched it. IF YOU GO Foster Shock is scheduled to be shown at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. When, where: Saturday, April 9 at 11 a.m. at G-Star Studios, 2030 S. Congress Ave., West Palm Beach and Wednesday, April 13 at 8:25 p.m. at Muvico Parisian, Auditorium 17, 545 Hibiscus St., West Palm Beach. Admission $12.   Source: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/entertainment/palm-beachers-film-indicts-floridas-foster-care-sy/nqwXt/
Research suggests children require stability to ease trauma of long foster care stays By Hannah Frommelt CKN Contributor MISSOULA — Limiting the time a child is in foster care improves mental health outcomes, according to Casey Family Programs research investigator Peter Pecora. For youth in prolonged foster, there are strategies for resilience. Most children enter foster care due to neglect, but research shows extended stays in foster care can also be harmful. In 2014, 46 percent of youth were in foster care for 11 months or less, but 14 percent had been there for three years or more. Pecora’s study looked at the health of adults that had spent at least one year or more in foster care from the ages of 14 to 18. His research found that these adults had a significant increase in at least one mental health diagnosis in the past twelve months and over the course of their lifetime, as compared to youth that spent less time in foster care and the general population. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Episode competed for dominance as the most common symptoms self reported by the research participants, and the vast majority of suffers had symptoms of other mental disorders and physical illness as well. Pecora said the lack of stable support systems is potentially the main reason for these troubling outcomes. Children are often reassigned social workers, causing them to feel diminished and unable to feel a sense of stability. Pecora recalled the story a youth’s experience in the foster care system. “She called him only, ‘Worker Number 9,’ refusing to learn the names of any more social workers,” he said, illustrating the disheartening effect of trading hands between nine different caseworkers. Increasing stability through lowing the number of home placements, the rate of change between placements, and the length of time in foster care can improve the health outcomes of those in foster care. Having a school mentor; tutoring; group sports; and job placement with positive role models also improve the mental health of children in foster care. Pecora said, “Remember, the glass is half full.” Pecora said that slightly less than half of the individuals with prolonged placement in foster care showed no signs of a health care diagnosis in the last twelve months. Most had completed high school, volunteered in their community, and 21 percent had a household income at least three times the poverty level. Foster care improvements were also coming from an unlikely place, said Pecora. “Even in this dysfunctional Congress,” Pecora said, “legislation was passed to help children in foster care.” Among them was the Chafee Act that increased resources and training for preparing for independent living; the Fostering Connections Act, which enables youth in foster care to stay in care if in school or working until the age of 21; and a key phrase change in the FAFSA to make higher education more accessible to foster care individuals. Peter Pecora is a research investigator for the Casey Family Programs, which is the largest Operating foundation that promotes improvements in child welfare practice and policy in addition to providing direct services and support to youth and families. They work collaboratively with all fifty states, and a handful of tribal entities, including, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Pecora presented his research as part of the McNall Lecture Series for the Department of Sociology for the University of Montana on Wednesday, March 23.  Source: http://www.charkoosta.com/2016/2016_04_07/Foster_Care-HGF.html
37-year-old woman charged with sexual assault of a minor | 911 News | journalstar.com 37-year-old woman charged with sexual assault of a minor By the Lincoln Journal Star Updated 9 hrs ago (8) Bishop Courtesy photo A 37-year-old woman is accused of sexually assaulting a teenager in a group home in York and ending up pregnant. The 15-year-old told investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol that he was living at the Epworth Village group home in York when he and Jamie Bishop began having sex two to three times a week from January 2015 to July 2015, according to an affidavit for her arrest.  Bishop was a staff member of Epworth Village at the time of the alleged assaults and was suspended last summer and then terminated, officials at the group home said. All sexual relations allegedly took place in the victim's room at Epworth Village, or outside on the facilities grounds. A Bishop and the boy were seen together several times on surveillance video and her Internet history showed she searched for the definition of degrees of sexual assault in Nebraska, consequences of lying to police and the age of consent in Nebraska, documents say. DNA test results returned March 9 show the teenager fathered Bishop’s now 5-month-old son, documents say. In Nebraska, children younger than 16 cannot legally consent to sex. Bishop was arrested March 15 and charged with first-degree sexual assault of a minor Wednesday. York County Judge Linda Senff set her bail at $75,000.   Source: http://journalstar.com/news/local/911/year-old-woman-charged-with-sexual-assault-of-a-minor/article_64b397dc-7cc8-555c-ab86-f6f7162deac3.html
Judge orders state to fix Yakima mental-health facility Originally published April 11, 2016 at 12:17 pm A federal judge ordered the state of Washington to stop sending mentally ill defendants to a new treatment facility in Yakima after learning that the renovated jail poses a safety risk. Section Sponsor Share story By MARTHA BELLISLE Associated Press A federal judge in Seattle ordered the state to stop sending mentally ill defendants to a new treatment facility in Yakima after learning that the renovated jail poses a safety risk. Lawyers for the defendants had sought a restraining order to stop the Department of Social and Health Services from sending mentally ill defendants to the Yakima Residential Treatment Facility to have their competency restored. They argued that a former jail was not an appropriate setting for treating the mentally ill, and said the facility hadn’t been properly renovated to ensure that patients would not harm themselves or others. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman agreed in part and on Friday, she granted a modified restraining order against the state, saying the defendants were at risk of irreparable harm by staying at the newly opened center. “They are shut down until the risks are addressed,” said Emily Cooper, a lawyer with Disability Rights Washington. Pechman’s order focused on two critical issues, Cooper said. Pechman said the stairway poses a risk for jumping or hanging and needs to be fixed. She also said the state needs to modify the seclusion and restraint room before any new defendants are sent there, Cooper said. “It is unfortunate that the plaintiffs were forced again to seek judicial relief due to DSHS’ failure to protect class members,” Cooper told The Associated Press in an email. “We look forward to when DSHS will step up and exemplify the leadership necessary to implement a safe and effective solution to the delays in competency services.” The restraining order comes after a high-profile escape last week at the state’s largest mental hospital. On Saturday, department officials said security is being enhanced at state psychiatric hospitals after a man accused of torturing a 20-year-old woman to death escaped from the Western State Hospital with another patient. Both have been recaptured. The men were at the Lakewood hospital under court commitment after being found too mentally ill to understand their criminal charges. The state opened the Yakima center in March in an effort satisfy a previous order that requires it to provide competency treatment services within seven days of a judge’s order. Pechman made that order last year after finding that the state was violating the constitutional rights of mentally ill defendants who were forced to wait in jails for weeks or months before getting a competency evaluation or restoration treatment. Kathy Spears, a spokeswoman for the state agency and the private group running the center, Comprehensive Mental Health, said they have already begun to make changes to satisfy the judge’s concerns. “No patients will be served on the second tier until the court’s concerns about the stairwell are addressed,” Spears said. “The seclusion and restraint room will not be used until the concerns with a ventilation grate are addressed.” The state agency planned to meet with the court-appointed monitor on Monday to clarify any long-term solutions and address concerns so that the facility can again be used for competency services, she said.   Source: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/judge-orders-state-to-fix-yakima-mental-health-facility/
Two more leaders resign amid problems with CPS and foster care | www.statesman.com Two more leaders resign amid problems with CPS and foster care 10:48 a.m. Tuesday, April 12, 2016 | Filed in: News Comments 0  Story Highlights Colleen McCall, who oversees CPS field operations, to leave in May. Paul Morris, who runs licensing and investigations of homes for foster children, also resigned Resignations among a growing number of departures by top level employees in recent months. MyStatesman Get complete, in-depth analysis and more with our interactives Access to MyStatesman included for Statesman subscribers. Explore SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS Want more news? Sign up for free newsletters to get more of the Statesman delivered to your inbox. Two top leaders at the state’s child protection agency stepped down this week, the latest in a series of high-level resignations to hit the flailing agency as it is battered by high profile child deaths, profound foster care troubles, fleeing employees and intense media scrutiny. Director of Field Operations Colleen McCall — whose job is to ensure that ground-level Child Protective Services operations across the state are flowing smoothly — announced her resignation to employees in an email this morning. McCall’s operations have come under fire over the last few weeks because of high turnover in Dallas and a blundered child abuse case there in which a little girl was killed. Problems in Travis County are also coming under the microscope. The number of backlogged cases in Travis County has spiked 76 amid an environment former and current employees call toxic and abusive. “Delinquent” cases, as they are called, have been a factor in child deaths across the state In an email obtained by the American-Statesman, McCall said that she was proud of her career at CPS and that she felt “blessed” to have worked with CPS. “However, the work is never easy and the demands on our time are great,” she wrote. “My family is calling me and I owe them some quality time after so many years of putting my CPS duties first. The email says that her last day is May 19. Meanwhile, assistant commissioner of residential child care licensing, Paul Morris, added his resignation to the list. Morris’ division regulates, licenses, and investigates residential foster care operations. In an email on Monday, Morris wrote that he was leaving to take on a consulting role with an emphasis on emergency response and business continuity. “I also want you to know that it has been an honor and a privilege to work with such a dedicated team of professionals these last three years,” the email states. “You’ve taught me a great deal about Licensing and the critical role we have in reducing risk to children in care. The volume of work this team is able to accomplish with relatively small staff and resources is demonstrative of your unwavering dedication to our children.” That division was harshly criticized by U.S. District Judge Janis Jack, who ruled in December that CPS needed a massive overhaul to protect children from danger. In her ruling, Jack said that Morris’ division made mistakes regarding abuse or neglect in a majority of its decisions. “This is staggering, and it means that many abused children—for whom a preponderance of evidence indicated that they were physically abused, sexually abused, or neglected—go untreated and could be left in abusive placements,” Jack wrote. The departures are one of a number of resignations in recent months. Lisa Black, former assistant commissioner of CPS, resigned several months after the federal court ruling. Jackie Freeman, who ran the Dallas region CPS operations retired last week after a Dallas Morning News report exposed problems in those operations. On Sunday, the American-Statesman published a report detailing CPS problems across the state. The newspaper also reported systemic troubles at the agency last year in its extensive investigation called Missed Signed, Fatal Consquences. What we reported In early 2015, the American-Statesman published “Missed Signs, Fatal Consequences,” a three-day series of stories in which the paper reviewed 779 child death reports by Child Protective Services from September 2009 through March 2014 and found nearly 400 cases in which children who died of abuse or neglect were known by CPS to be in potential danger. Last week, the story won an Innovation in Investigative Journalism award from the national nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors.  Source: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/breaking-news/two-more-top-leaders-resign-amid-problems-at-child/nq4Lk/
Foster care failures Writer Posted Apr. 12, 2016 at 2:01 AM Posted Apr. 12, 2016 at 2:01 AM Posted Apr. 12, 2016 at 2:01 AM For some time, Rhode Island has faced significant problems with its foster-care program. But a new report, from the state’s Office of the Child Advocate, highlights particular deficiencies that may have contributed to two recent child deaths. According to the report, children in state care are living in more than 320 unlicensed foster homes. Of that number, more than 100 have gone unlicensed for more than six months, contravening state law. The head of the licensing unit at the Department of Children, Youth and Families was recently relieved of his duties. But that will not ensure that this problem is solved. Nationally, according to the OCA’s report, 25 percent of all placements of children outside the home are with relatives. In Rhode Island, the proportion is much higher, more than 60 percent. Frequently, children are taken to a relative on an emergency basis. Although even initially, the relative’s home must meet certain requirements, they are less stringent than those faced by non-relatives. The law forbids leaving a child in an unlicensed relative’s home for more than six months. Last December, Lillianna Burt, an infant under state care, died in a relative’s unlicensed home. An autopsy linked her death to unsafe sleeping conditions. Another infant, unnamed, died in October, also while living in an unlicensed relative’s home. The state child advocate, Regina M. Costa, convened a panel to look into these and two other child fatalities. Ms. Costa has reached the end of her five-year term, and is to be succeeded by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s pick, Jennifer A. Griffith, who was confirmed last week. Ms. Costa’s tenure has been marked by communications struggles with DCYF. Only recently has she embraced the view that her office should automatically investigate every death involving a child in state care. Under current law, such probes are optional. That puts Rhode Island at odds with most other states, as well as with common sense. It is time for the General Assembly to spell out firmer requirements in these cases, and clarify DCYF’s responsibility for providing information to the child advocate. The bigger picture, unfortunately, is more daunting. Among DCYF’s many challenges is that it places far too many children in group homes rather than with families. Governor Raimondo, who declared the agency dysfunctional shortly after she took office, has embarked on an ambitious restructuring, assigning a leadership role to Jamia McDonald. Unfortunately, Ms. McDonald lacks the credentials required to head a child welfare agency. The lack of a permanent director with appropriate experience could be holding the reform effort back. Recruiting more foster care providers is a key element of the state’s strategy. But, given the relatively low financial support offered, the results are apt to be modest.

Page 2 of 2 - The OCA report argues that the licensing process for relatives’ homes should be improved, to include greater supervision and more frequent visits by social workers. It urges that DCYF be more aggressive in disqualifying relatives, if necessary, after an emergency placement has been made. Yet while these are fine ideas, they raise staffing issues. Caseloads for DCYF workers remain quite high, and are a cause of frequent turnover. Improving the lot of children under the state’s care is clearly a tall order. In the near term, certainly, it is urgent to do a better job on the licensing front. While a better system for investigating child deaths is also needed, better licensing could lead to fewer deaths.  Source: http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20160412/OPINION/160419865/?Start=2
Drugging Our Kids: Foster care bill targets excessive prescribing of psychiatric drugs By Karen de Sá, kdesa@mercurynews.com Posted:   04/11/2016 01:18:44 PM PDT Updated:   04/12/2016 05:30:42 AM PDT Drugging Our Kids Read the Bay Area News Group investigation about psychiatric drugs in the California foster care system. SACRAMENTO -- The voices of foster youth and their advocates overcame the powerful physicians lobby in the Capitol on Monday, as a bill to identify and investigate California doctors who overprescribe psychiatric drugs to traumatized foster children won a key Senate vote. The unique legislation -- part of a series of bills inspired by this newspaper's investigative series "Drugging Our Kids" -- mirrors efforts to stop reckless prescribing of painkillers. Sen. Mike McGuire's Senate Bill 1174, which passed on an 8-0 vote from the committee overseeing the state's businesses and professions, would give the California Medical Board greater authority to crack down on doctors who engage in "repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing, furnishing or administering psychotropic medications to a minor" without medical justification. State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, testifies on Monday, April 11, 2016 at the California state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.,during a hearing on Senate Bill 1174, which would strengthen the power of the California Medical Board to identify and investigate high prescribers of psychotropic medications given to foster children. To his right is Kimberly Kirchmeyer, executive director of Medical Board of California, who also testified during the hearing. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) ( Dai Sugano ) California's foster care system has come to rely on powerful antipsychotic drugs to sedate troubled teens, the newspaper's investigation revealed. But while a series of bills passed last year instituted many new measures to curb the practice, the laws did nothing to target the source of the drugs: the doctors who prescribe them. "The vast majority of medical professionals are doing their job well, but as in any industry there are going to be outliers, and medical professionals are no different," said McGuire, D-Healdsburg, whose bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. "And if there is an outlier, it could cost someone their life, or cause permanent damage for a child." Advertisement Lobbyists for the California Medical Association, the California Psychiatric Association and the California Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry oppose McGuire's bill, unless it is watered down to include an "education-first" rather than an "enforcement-first" approach. They argue that the additional oversight will drive physicians from working with foster children and "add another bureaucratic layer to a process that is already highly regulated." Under McGuire's bill, the medical board would monitor physicians through quarterly reports of prescription claims that would not reveal patient names, but rather the prescribers' practices. Prescribing to very young children, high dosages of medications, and the use of multiple psychotropic medications at once could be grounds for investigation under the bill. While physicians have due process rights to defend themselves, ultimately the worst offenders could lose their licenses. The new scrutiny of psychotropic prescribing is similar in some ways to curbs on the overuse of pain medications, now tracked by the state Attorney General's Office. The California Medical Association's Stuart Thompson testified Monday that his group has no problem with the bill's data-sharing provisions between state health officials and the medical board. "But what we do have a problem with is, this is going to be a retroactive look at prescribing practices." Thompson proposed that instead of trained state investigators, an "ad hoc committee" should review physician care of foster children. However, Cal State East Bay student Tisha Ortiz, a 23-year-old former foster youth, said more serious review is urgently needed. Testifying before state senators, Ortiz said as a young teen she took as many as 12 pills a day in foster care, including a combination of an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, an anti-anxiety medication and a mood stabilizer. It left her listless, overweight and suffering from tics. The bill "will help identify doctors who are too quick to prescribe medications and who are overreliant on them," she said, and ensure that prescribers "distinguish between behavioral issues and mental illnesses." McGuire's bill expands on a series of laws passed last year to restrict the excessive use of psychotropic drugs in the foster care system, after the newspaper's investigation. The series found almost 1 in 4 foster teens on mind-altering medications, which have serious side effects. Under a second pending bill, authored by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, counties would be required to submit a local plan each year detailing mental health services available to children in foster care and the juvenile justice system. The plans would be reviewed by quality-control experts, and counties found lacking would be subject to sanctions, including the withholding of state and federal funds. Both bills are sponsored by the National Center for Youth Law, which was successful in passing a package of reform bills last year. Beall's Senate Bill 1291 passed a key Senate committee last week. With McGuire's bill now moving toward the Senate floor, the senator said he is hopeful that foster children will receive the same protection of other California patients. His office found that from 2014 to 2015, more than 8,000 medical board complaints were filed, but not a single one came from a parent or advocate for a foster child. "These kids don't have anyone standing up for them, and they don't have a voice, and they're suffering the consequences," he said. Contact Karen de Sá at 408-920-5781.  Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_29752732/drugging-our-kids-foster-care-bill-aims-at
Investigation Exposes Failings of Oversight in NYC Group Homes City investigators say oversight was so lax at homes for juvenile offenders that violent episodes were “all but inevitable.” by Joaquin Sapien ProPublica, April 13, 2016, 1:14 p.m. 1 Comment Print Print This is part of an ongoing investigation Level 14 How a home for troubled children came undone and what it means for California’s chance at reform. Spur Reform in 2016 Support ProPublica’s mission to expose abuses of power and corruption. The Boys Town home in Park Slope from which three teenagers escaped and allegedly robbed and raped a woman in Manhattan in in 2015. (David Sleight/ProPublica) Update, Apr. 13, 2016: This story has been updated to include a statement from an ACS spokeswoman. It was a disaster waiting to happen. That’s what the New York City Department of Investigation concluded in a 24-page report on a violent rape committed last year by three troubled youngsters who had run away from a group home in Brooklyn. For years, the Department of Investigation found, the city’s child welfare agency had failed to adequately monitor the Brooklyn home and others like it throughout the city. According to the report, the agency, known formally as the Administration for Children’s Services, lacks sufficient protocols to respond to escapes or violent incidents at the homes; its inspectors do not visit the group homes nearly enough to ensure safe conditions; its contracts with the nonprofit providers who run the homes do not even contain specific safety requirements; and ACS has not developed a way to effectively evaluate the performance of the homes. A spokeswoman for ACS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, but DOI notes that ACS officials agreed with the investigation department’s findings and have begun implementing corrective measures — hiring more staff, for instance, and increasing the frequency of inspections. The report said such fixes were urgently needed. Given the agency’s “systemic failure” to oversee the homes — small facilities meant to house juveniles who have committed low-level crimes — last year’s rape was “all but inevitable,” and “there can be no guarantee against further incidents,” the report said. The Department of Investigation also announced the arrests of three current or former group home workers, all of whom had worked for Boys Town, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that ran the home in Brooklyn. Drawing on hours of surveillance footage recorded by Boys Town, DOI investigators found that the workers failed to monitor youth in their care and falsified logbooks. In several instances, the workers said in logbooks that teenagers were safely asleep in their beds when the video showed the workers were asleep themselves. The report represents the latest blow for a program that New York policymakers had envisioned as the future of treatment for juvenile offenders. The program, known as Close to Home, was instituted in April 2012. Its central aim was to keep New York City youth who’d been convicted of crimes closer to their relatives and communities, in group homes that were meant to resemble a family-like atmosphere. The idea was that the homes would provide the teens a better chance at rehabilitation and reform than had the notoriously violent and scandal-ridden youth prisons upstate. The homes in the city were not locked, but the youngsters assigned to them were to be under 24-hour supervision. But as ProPublica reported in 2015, the implementation of the program was rushed and beset with problems from the beginning. The nonprofit organizations who contracted with the city complained that they were insufficiently prepared. Children ran away on hundreds of occasions, sometimes committing violent crimes. In 2014, there were 177 arrests made of children living in the homes. In June 2013, a 17 year old fled a Staten Island home and allegedly stabbed a man to death in Queens. The city had acted to curtail the number of runaways and subsequent arrests when, in June 2015, three boys ran away from the Boys Town home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. The boys, according to authorities, met a woman at an internet café in Chinatown, took her into the hallway of a nearby apartment building, then beat, robbed and raped her. Earlier this year, the boys pleaded guilty to rape, robbery, and burglary counts. In the summer of 2015, a ProPublica reporter interviewed one of the boys on Rikers Island, where he had been jailed. He said that he and his accomplices had frequently and easily run away from the group home. They rigged the alarm system so that it would not alert employees when they escaped out of a window, he said. They had also routinely smuggled cocaine, marijuana and ketamine into the home and used the drugs in their rooms, the boy said. New York City terminated Boys Town’s $6.4 million dollar contract to oversee troubled youth as part of the Close to Home program in June 2015, three weeks after the rape. It was the third such agency to lose its contract following problems with runaways. Even after the 2015 rape, the Department of Investigation found that the incident had only a marginal impact on the frequency with which Boys Town employees conducted bed checks. Over the 12 nights following the rape, employees only conducted 98 of 192 required bed checks, a rate of 51 percent. In the 25 nights before the rape, employees checked beds at a rate of 15 percent. Widespread Problems With Group Home Agency Prompt City to Cut Ties Boys Town becomes third agency to fail as New York City tries new model for juvenile offenders. Read the story. According to the most recent figures available, there are currently about 30 homes caring for more than 150 boys and girls each month. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Boys Town said “these allegations, if true, fail to meet the core values of Boys Town and our mission of caring for at risk children and families. We have taken clear, specific steps to ensure that they do not happen in the future. Our focus remains on our core mission: changing the way America cares for children, families and communities.” Update, April 13, 2016: In a statement, an ACS spokeswoman defended the Close to Home program and detailed improvements she said the agency was making to it: “Until recently, New York City's youth were shipped hundreds of miles from their homes and communities, which negatively impacted both the youth and the communities they returned to,” the spokeswoman said. “Close to Home is a massive transformation in the City's approach to juvenile justice and along with other juvenile justice reforms, has led to an all-time low youth crime rate.” She added that runaways had continued to decrease in recent years and that ACS was working with the New York Police Department to increase the safety of Close to Home facilities. She said that Mayor de Blasio had authorized a $4 million dollar budget increase, allowing for 35 new hires to assist in tightening oversight of the program. Correction, April 13, 2016: An earlier version of this article reported that four people had been arrested as a result of the Department of Investigation’s inquiry. DOI has amended its report to say only three people had been arrested. Help us investigate: If you have experience with or information about Close to Home, juvenile detention or child welfare email Joaquin.Sapien@propublica.org.  Source: https://www.propublica.org/article/investigation-exposes-failings-of-oversight-in-nyc-group-homes
Group Home Workers Are Charged With Falsifying Records By NIKITA STEWARTAPRIL 13, 2016 Continue reading the main story Share This Page Continue reading the main story Share Tweet Email More Save One current and two former employees of a nonprofit that ran group homes in Brooklyn were arraigned on Wednesday on charges of falsifying records, the New York City Investigation Department said. The homes were closed last year after three teenagers sneaked out during the night and raped a woman in Manhattan. The three employees, Andrew Best, 23, Soraya Delancey, 36, and Stanley Stephens, 23, worked overnight at two of the group homes in Brooklyn operated by Boys Town. They failed to monitor their charges through the night and falsified the records to make it look as if they had, the Investigation Department said. Mr. Best was on duty at the group home in Park Slope where the three teenagers slipped out, while Mr. Stephens and Ms. Delancey, who the investigative agency said still worked for Boys Town, were employed at another home in the neighborhood. The investigative agency said another former employee, Orville Morgan, 25, who worked at the same home as Mr. Stephens and Ms. Delancey, would also be charged. The arrests followed a monthslong investigation that found staffing shortages, pervasive deception by overnight employees and a severe lack of oversight by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services. The child welfare agency was aware that there was a problem with teenagers’ leaving group homes without permission but did not adequately develop policies to address it, making security lapses “all but inevitable,” the Investigation Department’s report said. If the child welfare agency does not take significant action to improve its oversight of group homes, the report said, “there can be no guarantee against further incidents.” Advertisement Continue reading the main story The arraignments of the workers further tainted the Close to Home program, which supervised the Boys Town group homes and was started four years ago through state legislation calling for a new approach to juvenile justice. The program aims to keep juveniles who are in legal trouble in their communities and close to their families. Currently, there are eight providers with 29 locations that house 235 youths. “It’s important to distinguish between the idea of a program, which is a great idea, and the execution of that idea,” Mark G. Peters, the Investigation Department’s commissioner, said in an interview on Wednesday. “At all levels, this program was poorly executed without appropriate regard to public safety.” In a statement on Wednesday, the child welfare agency called Close to Home “a massive transformation” in how the city approaches juvenile justice and credited the program with “an all-time-low youth crime rate.” The agency, which terminated its contract with Boys Town last year, is also working with the New York Police Department “to assess and further improve Close to Home safety and security, increasing staff training and monitoring instructions and allocating additional staff and resources to create more robust oversight of the program,” the statement said. In a review of 37 nights of video footage after the assault on June 1, 2015, investigators concluded that 10 out of 22 overnight workers at the homes run by Boys Town did not conduct required bed checks and falsified logbooks over multiple nights. Some employees even left the homes when they were on duty; one worker was gone for an hour and a half. Kara Neuverth, a spokeswoman for Boys Town, said in a statement that if the allegations were true, they “fail to meet the core values of Boys Town and our mission of caring for at-risk children and families.” “We have taken clear, specific steps to ensure that they do not happen in the future,” she said. “Our focus remains on our core mission: changing the way America cares for children, families and communities.” The arrests brought more unwanted attention to the Administration for Children’s Services, still grappling with the arrest last month of a longtime foster father on charges of sexually abusing five adopted sons and endangering the welfare of two foster children in a case in which prosecutors expect additional charges. Advertisement Continue reading the main story The Investigation Department report also cited widespread safety deficiencies. Over the four years of the Close to Home program, the child welfare agency warned six out of nine contractors, including Boys Town, to improve security. But the agency often deferred corrective action and monitoring to the providers. The report focused mostly on security lapses at the Boys Town homes. On June 1, 2015, three boys, who were 16 at the time, slipped through a bedroom window with a broken alarm in their home in Park Slope. They made their way to an Internet cafe in Chinatown in Manhattan, where they forced a woman into a nearby stairwell and robbed and raped her. The teenagers, Sanat Asliev, Emanuel Burrowes and Eric Pek, pleaded guilty to rape and robbery charges this month. Investigators learned that a supervisor at Boys Town knew the alarm was not working, but failed to tell the two overnight employees, so no one took precautions, such as moving the boys to rooms with functioning alarms. More troubling, however, was that no one was watching despite video surveillance and room-check requirements, Mr. Peters said. Ten days after the teenagers were arrested, Denzel Thompson, an employee, was charged with offering a false instrument and falsifying business records after he admitted he had not checked on the boys despite notes in a logbook that he had done so every 30 minutes of his shift. Mr. Thompson, who has pleaded not guilty, was not alone. Investigators found that overnight employees made required bed checks just 15 percent of the time in the 25 days before the attack, and that faking entries in logbooks — “all youth are asleep” and “all youth are in rooms” — was routine. Even after the woman was attacked, investigators found that overnight employees made bed checks only 50 percent of the time.  Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/nyregion/group-home-workers-are-charged-with-falsifying-records.html?_r=0
Attorneys: Seattle foster parents abused kids on state’s watch Foster children sexually assaulted, fed dog food BY LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF Published 9:01 pm, Wednesday, April 13, 2016 6 Five former residents of a now shuttered Seattle foster home say state officials failed to protect them from physical and sexual abuse. Placed as children in a Seattle foster home, the children endured physical and emotional torture for years without relief, according to their attorneys. They were forced to eat dog food, raped and molested by a man living in the home and beaten by their foster parents. Attorneys for the former foster children gave notice earlier this month that they are prepared to sue the state Department of Social and Health Services. They claim their clients are due as much as $30 million. Documents provided by attorneys Lawand Anderson, Lincoln Beauregard and Julie Kays show DSHS began receiving concerning reports about the couple within months of their licensing in December 1988. The couple maintained their license for 11 years. The children, now grown, were placed at the home between 1992 and 1999, the year child services workers staunched the flow of children into the couple’s home. A DSHS spokeswoman declined to comment on the allegations, citing a department policy against discussing potential litigation. “They want accountability, and they want the system to be a little bit better,” Beauregard said. “This place was just treated like a clearinghouse for hard-to-place foster children.” One August 1989 report authored by a child services worker showed a child nearly drowned at couple’s home. That child had also suffered burns to his chest and feet. In the years that followed, Seattle police investigated numerous instances of suspected abuse after welts, burns and bruises were found on children living in the South Seattle home. The foster father was investigated in 1992 after a report that he angrily fired a shotgun inside his home. Reports of abuse were usually followed by in-home reviews meant to teach the couple how to discipline the children they were being paid to care for. It appears the couple collected about $35,000 annually in foster care payments during several years. Attorneys for the former residents say the foster mother failed a background check in 1995. Nonetheless, children were placed with her and her husband for years afterward. “DSHS records reflect that the … residence was viewed as a clearing house for foster children and that (the couple) treated the home as a profit center,” the attorneys said in a statement Wednesday. Each of the young adults now preparing to sue the state claim to have been repeatedly raped and molested by a man living in the home. That man had been licensed by the state to care for children as well. According to documents provided by the attorneys, Seattle Police Detective Al Cruise told state regulators in 1998 that both foster parents had been convicted of crimes in other states. Those crimes were apparently missed in background checks conducted during the licensing process. The couple’s license was revoked in the following August after 11 years of operation. Attorneys for the former residents estimate that their clients are owed $25 million to $30 million. The tort claim filed April 7 given the state 60 days to reach a settlement before a lawsuit could be filed. Beauregard, whose practice has included several large lawsuits representing abuse survivors, said the Department of Social and Health Services has failed to take advantage of that settlement window in recent years. Instead, the attorney said, the state winds up paying the costs of protracted litigation once a settlement is reached. “DSHS never seems to take the opportunity to approach the clients seriously early in the process,” Beauregard said. “They just don’t do it. … I think it’s a complete waste.” The former foster children are represented Anderson of L.A. Law & Associates in Seattle as well as Beauregard and Kays of Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma. Seattlepi.com reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.  Source: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Attorneys-Seattle-foster-parents-abused-kids-on-7246649.php
Owner of 9 north Alabama mental health group homes decertified Print Email By The Associated Press The Associated Press on April 15, 2016 at 3:14 PM 3 shares The Alabama Department of Mental Health decertified the owner of nine group homes in northern Alabama. State officials delivered the notice Thursday to K&D Group Home executive director Katie M. Smith that the state was immediately revoking her license, the Decatur Daily reported. Smith was licensed to operate group homes in Decatur that serve patients with intellectual disabilities. "I find it necessary to immediately revoke your department certification because the deficiencies cited pose a serious threat to the safety and welfare of the consumers," Mental Health Commissioner James V. Perdue wrote in a letter dated Thursday to Smith. Perdue said the state made visits on March 1 and March 31. Smith had 15 working days in which to appeal the decision, according to Perdue's letter. The letter did detail the deficiencies, but Sabrina Gibson, who serves as facility director, said there were some issues with paperwork during the two visits. She said a disgruntled employee went to the state, but no issues were related to the "health and welfare" of clients. Smith could not be reached for comment. Some parents said they need more information, and opted to take their children home. "I think all the parents just want a little more information from the state," said Maletha Pointer, who moved her 26-year-old autistic son to another group home. "My son had some behavior problems, but since he's been with them (K&D), he has gotten a lot better." Decatur police and state officials converged at her group homes looking for the 16 patients in Smith's care. Department of Mental Health spokesman Terry Mitchell said patients in the group homes will be relocated, but the state declined to say where. There are 84 homes for people with intellectual disabilities in Decatur. The Department of Mental Health's website does not list the 2016 visits, but it references inspections of Smith's nine group homes on March 15, 2015. They all received scores of 84, which falls in the one-year certification category. State officials have said the need for group homes like this in the Decatur area increased significantly after the state closed Lurleen B. Wallace Developmental Center on U.S. 31 in 2003.  Source: http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2016/04/owner_of_9_north_alabama_menta.html
Coconut Creek Police officer accused of molesting boys denied bond Posted: Apr 14, 2016 6:28 PM PDT Updated: Apr 15, 2016 3:54 PM PDT Close X Embed Video Code Link to Video   Coconut Creek Police Officer Daniel Rush   Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A Coconut Creek Police officer will remain behind bars, days after, officials said, allegations surfaced that he had inappropriately touched two boys. According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, Coconut Creek Police Officer Daniel Rush was arrested at his police department, Thursday afternoon, at around 4 p.m. Rush, a five-year veteran with the department, was charged with one count of custodial sexual battery and two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Coconut Creek Police Chief Albert "Butch" Arenal spoke about the arrest with reporters at a news conference, Thursday night. "The allegations against the former officer are disturbing, to say the least," said Israel. Investigators said the accusations came to light on Sunday, when one of the alleged victims handed a note to a parishioner during a service at the United Church of Christ in Pompano Beach. "The victim threw the note in the garbage. The parishioner, who we're so grateful for his due diligence and attention to detail, retrieved the note from the garbage," said Israel. The note, officials said, included claims of sexual misconduct. The next day, the parishioner notified BSO's Pompano Beach district office. "He brought it to the attention of our police officers," said Israel. Detectives spoke with the alleged victim, and during an independent interview at a sexual assault treatment center, they learned the alleged incident occurred last year in Coconut Creek. Investigators said Rush, 26, attends the United Church of Christ. A second victim, another boy, was later identified. Investigators said he told them Rush had fondled him. "It's unsettling for anyone to violate the sanctity of a child," said Israel. Rush, the co-founder of the mentoring organization Men of Virtue and Ethics (MOVE), mentors troubled teens. Investigators said the victims were boys he was supposed to be mentoring. Officials said one of the boys was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual battery, and the other was 13. "If these allegations are true, this behavior is reprehensible," said Israel. "Our detectives will do everything within their power to fact-find and make sure justice is served." "We'll continue to work closely with Broward County Sheriff's Office investigators, and we are 100 percent committed to ensuring that justice is done in this case," said Arenal. Investigators said Rush admitted knowing the boys but indicated no inappropriate behavior took place. Rush's attorney confirmed his client insists he did not molest the boys. "[These are] serious allegations of sex offenses that he denies, yes, adamantly," said Johnny McCray. Rush was part of a Taser incident last February in which 39-year-old Calvin Reid died. The Broward County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. A grand jury will reportedly be convened to look into this case by the end of June Due to the group's affiliation with other churches, detectives are concerned there may be more victims. "For this reason, our agency is not only in a state of shock, but this has been a blow to everything we stand for," said Arenal. Rush has been placed on unpaid administrative leave until this investigation is complete. His bond was denied, Friday. McCray said he is currently preparing his defense. "He's been an upstanding officer, upstanding citizen, and we intend to fight these allegations," he said. United Church of Christ officials released a statement saying that they are deeply saddened by this devastating news. They went on to say that their thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families involved. If you have any information that could help investigators, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.  Source: http://www.wsvn.com/story/31730371/coconut-creek-police-officer-accused-of-molesting-boys-denied-bond
Sparring continues over Utah charter school linked to treatment center for troubled youths By BENJAMIN WOOD | The Salt Lake Tribune First Published Apr 15 2016 07:30PM    •    Last Updated Apr 15 2016 09:35 pm (Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maria Olsen and Josh Graham, attended West Ridge Academy, a youth residential treatment center based in West Jordan. Friday, February 12, 2016. (Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maria Olsen and Josh Graham, attended West Ridge Academy, a youth residential treatment center based in West Jordan. Friday, February 12, 2016. Education » State wants specifics on how a separation between Eagle Summit school and West Ridge Academy resources would be enforced. A new charter school linked to a residential treatment center for troubled youths generated more debate between Utah's top school boards on Friday. During a visit to the Utah Board of Education's monthly meeting, members of the state Charter School Board were pressed for specifics on how separation would be enforced between the Eagle Summit Academy charter school and West Jordan's West Ridge Academy. The state school board initially denied Eagle Summit's charter application in February to allow for an investigation into allegations of financial insolvency and child abuse at the private school currently operated by West Ridge Academy. Board members approved the charter in March after adding caveats that prohibited the blending of funds and personnel between Eagle Summit and West Ridge, and that a safety plan be developed to protect charter school students from the youth residents of the treatment center.  But Howard Headlee, chairman of the charter school board, said there was no need for the added provisions because they are already required by Utah law. "We see the concern and we agree with the concern," Headlee said. "We just plan on moving forward as required by state law and [school] board rule." Headlee told members of the state school board that identifying specific laws in agreements between Eagle Summit and the State Charter School Board could downplay the importance of other laws. "It creates ambiguity in the contract," he said. But board members Leslie Castle and Laura Belnap, who opposed Eagle Summit Academy in March, said an understanding that additional protections would be in place was a factor in the charter school securing a majority vote of board members. Belnap said the hybrid structure of Eagle Summit, which will enroll students from the West Ridge treatment center as well as trauma-sensitive youths from the area, creates unique and specific challenges within the state's public education system. "I believe that the safety plan is in board rule and in law," she said. "However, I don't believe the specificity of not commingling funds with a private and a charter entity are part of that." Eagle Summit is scheduled to open its doors next fall. It will replace the private school at West Ridge Academy and will be located on the West Ridge campus, with some buildings and spaces shared by the two entities. The charter school's board includes former members of the West Ridge advisory council, and the treatment center's academic director, Paul Keene, is slated to run the new charter school During debate over the charter school's application, the charter board and state school board heard testimony from former students who accused West Ridge staff of using violence as a disciplinary action against rule-breaking and misbehavior. And the Utah Office of Education's investigation into the treatment center identified several lawsuits against West Ridge that were settled out of court. Representatives of Eagle Summit were joined by Dan Griffiths, a former member of the state school board, when the charter made its case before the state school board in March. A records request by The Salt Lake Tribune also revealed that Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, who works privately as a charter school consultant, texted two school board members during a March meeting to encourage support for Eagle Summit. In the text messages, sent separately to Belnap and board member Jennifer Johnson, Fillmore requested that they call him about Eagle Summit Academy.  Source: http://www.sltrib.com/home/3782753-155/sparring-continues-over-utah-charter-school
Midwest founder helped create troubled-teens industry Lee Rood, lrood@dmreg.com 9:08 p.m. CDT April 16, 2016 Cindy Iutzi/Daily Gate City The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation conducted a search at Midwest Academy in Keokuk, above, and another site in January after a student reported being sexually assaulted. In this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, a Uhaul is parked outside Midwest Academy in Keokuk, Iowa. Federal, state and county law enforcement officials have returned to the southeast Iowa boarding school for troubled teens following abuse allegations. The Keokuk Daily Gate reports officials with the FBI and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation returned to Midwest Academy on Thursday to execute a search warrant for records following an initial search of the academy on Jan. 28 and 29.(Photo: Cindy Iutzi, Cindy Iutzi/Daily Gate City) Without the benefit of a college degree, Robert Browning Lichfield parlayed his work into a multi-million-dollar industry. Now 62, the former fundraiser for 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney worked in the 1970s at the Provo Canyon School, according to a 2003 profile published by the Los Angeles Times. Lichfield eventually came to run the Brightway Adolescent Hospital in St. George, Utah, south of Salt Lake City, in the Mojave desert near the Utah-Arizona border. Youths from that facility would eventually feed into Cross Creek Manor, the first in Lichfield's network of such schools that became the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, also known as WWASPS. According to a series of stories published by the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, the Independent Mail in Anderson, S.C., and other media, WWASPS referred families to other residential facilities owned or run by Lichfield’s founders, trustees and relatives. It also reaped payments for referrals, billing and marketing. MORE: From Utah to Iowa: Marketing a profitable fix for troubled teens Former Midwest Academy employee says student spent 47 days in isolation Fifteen years after opening the first facility, Lichfield had 10 other schools and several other related businesses based in St. George or nearby La Verkin. They included referral and marketing websites TroubledTeens.com, TeenHelp.com and Adolescent Services that directed parents and their children to the schools, according to Utah secretary of state records. In 2003, Lichfield bought the old Lee County Home near Keokuk for $500,000 to transform it into Midwest Academy. Though Midwest Academy owner Ben Trane denied any ties to Lichfield or WWASPS, he has said he got his start in the industry at Cross Creek Manor. Lichfield has been a principal, partner or trustee in about 40 other businesses in Utah — some serving the troubled-teen industry, including Adolescent Programs Consulting, Parent Teen Guide and Midwest Outsource Services. Efforts by The Des Moines Register to reach him over two weeks by telephone, email and mail for comment were unsuccessful.  Source: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2016/04/16/midwest-founder-helped-create-troubled-teens-industry/82992202/
Fate of school for troubled teens rests with Legislature Story Comments Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size 1 Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016 11:28 am | Updated: 11:48 am, Mon Apr 18, 2016. Fate of school for troubled teens rests with Legislature Associated Press | 0 comments COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A public residential school that seeks to transform the lives of South Carolina's troubled teens has lost its accreditation, leaving its fate to the Legislature. Lawmakers have long wanted to revamp John de la Howe School in rural McCormick County but couldn't agree how. The state education agency's decision this month to yank the school's accreditation effectively forces the school to close unless another plan is approved. A House proposal transfers the school's money to the Department of Juvenile Justice and requires a coalition of state agencies to recommend a less costly way to help at-risk youth. State officials say the school spends $92,000 annually per student. Senators are working on their plan. Sen. Wes Hayes says he thinks the 1,200-acre property needs "to get out of the education business."  Source: http://www.theeagle.com/news/nation/fate-of-school-for-troubled-teens-rests-with-legislature/article_8614f924-6c23-5e15-865e-0147b93062aa.html
Carbon County group home has license revoked Small Text Medium Text Large Text Carbon County group home has license revoked ALBRIGHTSVILLE, Pa. - A children's group home in Carbon County is in deep trouble. On April 14, The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services pulled the licenses of two Child First facilities called Williams House located in a building on Route 903 in Albrightsville. Investigators said teens at the group home are at the center of the sexual abuse and a beating, but according to a state violation report, a staff member knew about the beating that was videotaped and did nothing to stop it. Paperwork from the department cites "gross incompetence" along with "abuse" and "mistreatment." According to the state's violation report, between February and March of 2016 a teenager was sexually abused by two other teens. Then it states on April 2, several children beat the two teens accused of the sexual assault. In the report, it states a staff member was told by multiple children that an assault was going to happen and "staff member A" told the children quote "You know what needs to be done" and "you know what needs to happen." The report states one of the teens told the staff member to "go into your room" while the assault happened. It goes on to say the staff member went into an office and closed the door. The group home also has a violation for having an improper ratio of children to adults during the alleged violent incident. WFMZ knocked on the door of Williams House to get their response, but there was no answer. WFMZ also went to one of the Child First offices in Allentown, but no one wanted to make a comment. Child First has 10 days to appeal the revocations, and if they appeal they must submit a plan of correction.  Source:  http://www.wfmz.com/news/poconos-coal-region/carbon-county-group-home-has-license-revoked/39120986
Former Tenn. youth center guard arrested for having sex with inmate WATE 6 On Your Side Staff Published: April 22, 2016, 11:55 am  DANDRIDGE (WATE) – A former Jefferson County youth development center guard is facing charges for having sex with an inmate. Investigators say former Mountain View guard Breanna Garber was arrested Thursday for incidents which began in February. The Department of Children’s Services confirmed Garber worked at the facility from November 2015 and resigned February 14 of this year. The suspect faces charges for sexual misconduct, sexual battery and statutory rape. Investigators say Garber brought alcohol into the center. There is no new information at this time.  Source: http://wjhl.com/2016/04/22/former-tenn-youth-center-guard-arrested-for-having-sex-with-inmate/
How School Vouchers Promote Religious Schools And Hurt Education The recent debate about Harriet Tubman replacing Andrew Jackson on the front of a twenty-dollar bill revealed broad disagreements in the country about the value of lifting up the contributions to the nation made by women and people of color. It also revealed the importance of being properly educated in American history. We’re used to seeing history curriculum being altered by religious fundamentalists and conservatives to impart false ideas to schoolchildren. In Texas, state school board members recently issued geography, history, and U.S. government textbooks that pushed conservative Christian fallacies about U.S. history, including warped views of Biblical influence on the nation’s founders and the importance of slavery as the chief cause of the Civil War. Also in Colorado, school board members in a district outside of Denver made national news when they rejected a highly regarded history curriculum because it didn’t “sufficiently “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority, and respect for individual rights.” But at least those controversies took place in public, so opposing points-of-view could respond. The Texas textbooks caused such a storm a publisher of one of those books, McGraw-Hill, was forced to issue an apology about a caption in the book that referred to African slaves who were forcibly brought to the Americas as “workers.” The textbook controversy prompted California lawmakers to introduce a bill in the state legislature to prevent Texas-approved changes from seeping into textbooks in the Golden State. In Colorado, the actions of the conservative school board caused mass student walkouts in high schools across the district, and local parents organized a successful effort to kick the offending board members out of office. American history school curriculum has been a subject of heated debate forever, and indeed it should be as history stays alive by reflecting on and then reconsidering whose point-of-view the narrative comes from. But what if the debate, instead of taking place in the public, gets completely hidden from view? That’s the question members of Congress need to consider this week as they deliberate over a bill to renew funding for the school voucher program in Washington, D.C. The Fad Over School Vouchers As an article in The Washington Times explains, the voucher program gives low-income students in the district the opportunity to transfer from public schools to private schools at taxpayer expense. Conservative Republicans champion the program as a “promising new pathway” for children out of “failed” public schools. The Obama administration, which has declared it will not veto the bill should it pass the House, opposes the vouchers because they don’t produce any statistically significant results for the children who use them. As I reported for Salon in 2014, school vouchers – which are frequently disguised with euphemistic terms such as scholarships or tax credits – have long been dismissed by liberals, yet their presence has significantly increased in state and federal education policy. These programs are now prominent features in education policies in about a third of the states in the country, siphoning billions of dollars from public service budgets. Most recently a voucher program passed in Nevada, according to Education Week, would allow all parents of public school students to “use state funding earmarked for their child toward tuition or other expenses related to a nonpublic education.” The law is currently tied up in court, but according to a report in The Washington Post, prominent conservatives, such as former Florida Governor and failed presidential candidate Jeb Bush, are already trying to push the Nevada voucher program nationwide. “Lawmakers in Georgia, Iowa and Rhode Island considered similar legislation this year,” the Post reporter explains. Track Record On Vouchers Mostly Negative There is a long track record of failure for vouchers, particularly in Milwaukee, where a 26-year program has produced little gains for the students who’ve have taken advantage of more than $1.7 billion in taxpayer money to transfer to private schools. Even more significant, the voucher program has done nothing to lift up the entire system. An analysis last year of a long-running statewide voucher program in Louisiana found the program “harms students’ academic performance,” as reported by U.S. News & World Report. The D.C. voucher program has had more mixed results producing “no conclusive evidence” in overall achievement for the students who participated but significant improvement in high school graduation rates. Although it can be argued that the quality of education in the District has improved of recent, the D.C. schools as a whole continue to produce some of the most unequal results in achievement between white students and their non-white peers. Most of the war over voucher programs is fought over quantifiable data about the academic results these programs hardly ever seem to produce and the money they redirect from public schools to private pockets. But there is an important quality issue as well. How Vouchers Promote Religious Schools First, there is the issue of church and state separation. All research shows that most of the money voucher programs redirect from public schools to private institutions ends up going to religious schools. In D.C., 80 percent of voucher users attend religion-based private schools. North Carolina’s relatively new voucher program sends 93 percent of its money to “faith-based schools.” Due to voucher programs, in all their forms, “religious schools actually are receiving large amounts of government money,” David Berliner and Gene Glass explain in their book Myths & Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools. Berliner and Glass explain how, through various workarounds approved by ideologically driven courts, many states have reversed historical precedent to ensure the public is unwittingly funding religious-based instruction. In Arizona, a tuition tax credit program ensures that people and corporations who donate to a fund for private, mostly religious, schools can take that donation off their taxes, which decreases the amount of money the state has to spend on public services. In Ohio, government funds pay directly for parents’ tuition payments in private schools, most of which are religion-based. In New Jersey, the governor enjoys a special set-aside of $11 million for two religious schools in the state. In most of these cases, the majority of the students receiving voucher money were already previously enrolled in religious schools. So much for “opening promising new pathways” in the public school system. Voucher programs that redirect money to private religious schools are in clear violation of the federal Constitution’s establishment clause and state constitutions’ Blaine Amendment language, but the programs continue to proliferate and expand nevertheless. This Should Alarm Every American As Berliner and Glass explain, “Diversion of existing public schools resources to private schools results in taxpayer support for all kinds of religious instruction at all kinds of religious schools, with little or no oversight by states or the public.” That means public tax dollars are funding religion based curriculum that teach, for instance, a creationist view of science or a version of history that portrays slaves as happy servants to their masters. Curriculum materials that depict people of color in demeaning, stereotypical ways that have created such consternation in public schools can be readily adopted for private schools using vouchers. And how many schools getting voucher funding will choose a right-wing version of history that teaches the founders of the nation never intended the separation of church and state but sought instead to construct a Christian theocracy? Voucher proponents claim all of this is fine because parents have “made the choice.” But shouldn’t we have a choice about whether or not we fund this? Most Republicans running for president have come down firmly on the side of embracing more “choice” in education including vouchers. GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s education policy ideas are sill largely a mystery. But his perspectives on American history are pretty obvious. When questioned about the decision to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, Trump replied, according to the Wall Street Journal, he’d prefer to keep Jackson on the 20 and put Tubman on the $2 bill instead. But then again, Trump is also on record declaring, “I love the poorly educated.” Should the craze for school vouchers continue, Trump may get just the kind of electorate he prefers.  Source: http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/congress-needs-to-know-school-vouchers-promote-religious-schools-and-hurt-education/
St. George man allegedly defrauded group that helps disabled - SFGate St. George man allegedly defrauded group that helps disabled Published 3:14 pm, Saturday, April 30, 2016 ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A human resource officer is accused of defrauding a St. George company that provides group home services to people with autism and other disabilities. The Spectrum of St. George reports (http://bit.ly/24dsry6) that 27-year-old Jonathan Michael Heck has been arrested on eight felony counts of fraud, theft and forgery. According to charging documents, he allegedly made up false timesheets for four short-term Chrysalis employees and himself. He allegedly siphoned more than $15,000 in stolen funds between August 2015 and last January. The former workers whose names were used told police the dates on the timesheets were days they didn't work for the company. Most Popular 1 Giants provide health updates on Pagan, Panik 2 Sports Authority liquidating all stores nationwide, including... 3 One-third ponder leaving Bay Area amid costs, congestion Chrysalis CEO Marc Christensen says Heck was fired as soon as the defrauding was discovered. Heck is free on bond and is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.  Source: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/St-George-man-allegedly-defrauded-group-that-7385821.php
Teen, Interrupted By Alex Floyd May 2, 2016 Share on Facebook Tweet Share Share Pin Ryan Lewis had been exhibiting signs of clinical depression for months. Concerned about their son, his parents decided to send him to a residential treatment center to get him help. They consulted an educational expert, who referred them to the Alldredge Academy in West Virginia, a therapeutic wilderness program in the Appalachian wilderness that promised a combination of schooling and therapy to treat Ryan. The colorful brochures and promises of healing in the outdoors appealed to both Ryan and his parents, and with some hesitation coupled with mostly hope, they sent their son away. Less than a week later, he was found dead, having hanged himself on campus property. Tragically, Ryan’s story is one of many. More than a decade after Ryan’s death, residential teen treatment centers like Alldredge Academy (later rebranded as Alldredge Wilderness Journey) are still dangerously under-regulated and can be woefully under-equipped to handle the teenagers placed in their care. In a similarly horrific case, Diamond Ranch Academy, a treatment center notorious for its deplorable conditions, charged one girl’s family $60,000 for ten months of care, over the course of which she was exposed to beatings, unsanitary medical facilities, and a rigid environment where she was not even allowed to sit down without permission. Like many other facilities, Diamond Ranch also makes use of so-called “transport” groups, organizations that forcibly remove children from their homes and place them in these treatment facilities. Since this is done with parental approval, a child is often helplessly placed into a facility where her complaints or allegations of mistreatment are discounted and ignored. Ryan Lewis, for example, was accused of trying to manipulate his counselors into letting him leave the day he killed himself. But many parents who send their children to a dangerous facility often do so unknowingly, rather than out of a lack of concern for their child. This was the case for Ryan’s parents, who hired an independent educational consultant and thought long and hard about their decision before sending their son away. In fact, treatment academies like Alldredge and Diamond Ranch often prey on the parents of children suffering from severe depression, substance abuse, or other psychological ailments, luring them in with what many describe as a highly effective and occasionally manipulative marketing campaign that promises a variety of benefits for teens. But these benefits are often difficult to evaluate, especially since independent inspections are rare and usually not state-mandated. While many of these academies were created out of a genuine desire to provide mental rehabilitation for those who were dealing with serious psychological issues, the system in place for regulating and accrediting these centers remains nearly nonexistent and incapable of dealing with the onslaught of cases involving negligence and misconduct. Yet the abuse is far from unknown. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted over 1,500 cases of abuse across 34 states pertaining to facilities like Alldredge. The report also provided a disturbing reminder that while some of these facilities do close after reports of abuse or even deaths, many simply rebrand themselves without making any meaningful changes, like Alldredge did before ultimately closing in 2008. In terms of federal oversight, there are no specific regulations for these centers beyond general rules regarding child safety. States, theoretically, fill in this gap themselves, providing the appropriate regulation and protection for teens in residential treatment. But state laws are, to say the least, lacking. Riddled with loopholes and often vague, they do little to prevent abuse simply because hundreds of cases of mistreatment slip through the system. For example, a Texas law would allow a residential treatment center to rebrand itself as simply a “boarding school” to avoid having to obtain a license. And in some cases, the private accreditors of these centers do not notify the state if an accreditation is suspended or denied.The GAO report even noted that many state agencies simply remain unaware that these programs exist at all, with a full 45 states reporting that they did not have enough information about these facilities to confirm whether a teen under their care had died. In addition to the lack of oversight, limited funding often prevents state agencies from carrying out any meaningful enforcement, including conducting inspections. For instance, Utah undertook a massive overhaul of its laws regarding such centers in 2005 following numerous reports of abuse. Yet by 2012, reports of abuse were already cropping up again, involving programs that were specifically targeted by the regulatory reforms. The problem wasn’t that the rules weren’t stringent enough or that teens were crying wolf — the issue was funding. The state can only do so much with even the best rules if it doesn’t have the manpower or the resources to enforce them. In turn, many have called on the federal government to intervene and help regulate these centers effectively. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) originally held hearings on the state of residential teen treatment centers and their shortcomings in 2007, which produced the GAO report confirming deaths and abuse due to a combination of negligence, inadequate training, and, of course, a significant lack of government oversight. Following the revelations from the report, Congressman Miller introduced the the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008, but it failed to pass. The legislation contained many hopeful provisions, including prohibiting the abuse of minors in rehabilitation programs and punishment by withholding food and water. Congressman Miller has since reintroduced it in subsequent congressional sessions even after the Democrats lost their majority, most recently in 2013. Yet time after time, the bill is scuttled without so much as a vote, typically due to complaints by the industry that the bill unfairly targets them, in addition to a lack of Republican support. But even as Congressman Miller’s bill slowly moves through the legislature, there is still a pressing need for immediate action. Many students are still in programs like Alldredge Wilderness Journey or Diamond Ranch Academy, and even more parents are considering whether their troubled teen should be sent to one of these institutions. While many of these academies were created out of a genuine desire to provide mental rehabilitation for those who were dealing with serious psychological issues, the system in place for regulating and accrediting these centers remains nearly nonexistent and incapable of dealing with the onslaught of cases involving negligence and misconduct. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) main tactic to prevent abuse is encouraging parents to research individual institutions and judge their merits before they make a decision. But even this can be highly confusing, given the number of accreditation agencies that a family is supposed to consult just to find out if a school is properly licensed. The FTC also advises parents to ask about background checks, noting that if the organization in question does not perform them on their employees, parents should “consider it a red flag.” Yet background checks for employees are not required in every state, and there is no uniform standard for how thorough they must be. The core of the problem, however, may be just how lucrative treating teenagers has become. Residential treatment centers now comprise a billion dollar industry, and that figure is expected to grow, with institutions collectively adding around 10,000 to 20,000 teenagers each year. Thus, it seems inevitable that some facilities may become more careless by using less qualified counselors or doing minimal training and upkeep to save a few dollars. But for an industry focused on helping some of society’s most vulnerable members at an extravagant price, this is simply unacceptable. Parents need a means of oversight to protect their children, and teenagers dealing with what can be life-threatening mental health problems deserve legitimate care and better conditions. A manager for one treatment center, Deb Hatland, reportedly said, “We are not a perfect organization, and…we all make mistakes.” While Ms. Hatland is certainly right that everyone makes mistakes, the margin of error is simply too large when treating troubled teens for anything below the very best. Art by Alyssa Schulman   Source: http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2016/05/teen-interupted/
Weber County Sheriff's Office Youth counselor charged with child porn, marijuana possession By Pat Reavy   |  Posted May 5th, 2016 @ 12:39pm 61   Having trouble viewing the video? Try disabling any ad blocking extensions currently running on your browser. 10PM: Child porn found at home of youth counselor, police say OGDEN — A youth counselor in Ogden was charged Wednesday with possessing child pornography and growing marijuana. Skyler Eugene Hartsough, 26, of Ogden, was charged in two cases in 2nd District Court. In one case, he was charged with 20 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; and in the other he was charged with cultivation of marijuana, a third-degree felony; possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a third-degree felony; and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, class B misdemeanors. Hartsough worked at Youth Health Associates, a group home for adolescent boys in Clearfield, but was fired after his arrest. "Nothing happened here," said Brian Garlock, owner of Youth Health Associates. "It didn't involve our boys, our staff, our company. We obviously did everything that we could do as far as the protections, the background checks. There were no red flags." Advertise with us Report this ad Search warrants were served on Hartsough's house, 3210 Jefferson Ave., on Tuesday. Investigators found 10 marijuana plants growing in the basement, drug paraphernalia, a rifle and child pornography, according to charging documents. Hartsough told investigators he grew the marijuana for personal daily use, the charges state. Members of the Internet Crimes Against Children task force seized multiple electronic devices containing images and videos of child pornography, according to charging documents. "Hartsough stated during the course of the interview that he routinely and regularly views images of child pornography and that he obtained child pornographic images through a peer-to-peer network over the course of years," the charges state. Hartsough also worked for two months in 2015 as a temporary case worker in Ogden and was terminated for cause, according to the Utah Department of Child and Family Services. According to an online biography from a prior employer, Hartsough "specializes in helping children and families who have experienced trauma; especially sexual abuse, family violence, physical abuse and associated injuries come to terms with acceptance and life moving forward." He did his undergraduate internship course work with St. Anne’s Center catering to mental health needs and interned for the state of Utah in Weber County for Division of Child and Family Services. Contributing: Ladd Egan   Source: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=39646861&nid=148
ED: No Records on Closed Charters Mentioned in Its "Commitment to Transparency," CMD Appeals Submitted by Lisa Graves on May 5, 2016 - 8:23am Today the Center for Media and Democracy is filing its appeal from a claim by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that it has no records about closed or never-opened charter schools referenced in its "Commitment to Transparency" press release. On December 23, ED publicly issued a statement called "A Commitment to Transparency: Learning More about the Charter School Program." That statement noted that it had spent more than $1.6 billion funding more than 2,600 charter schools that were "operational" in the last full school year and that it had funded 430 charters that had "subsequently closed," along with 699 "prospective schools." However, ED released data for the operational charter schools and othes and did not list data identifying which of the 1,129 charters either had closed or had not yet opened since 2006. So, in January, CMD requested records about those other charters. In April, ED denied CMD's request saying it had searched and found no records about the closed or not-opened charters that had received federal taxpayer monies, despite the specific numbers it used in its release. CMD's appeal notes that: It strains credulity and common sense that, despite spending billions in taxpayer dollars on charters and putting out this press release—among several—on the accomplishments of the Charter Schools Program, the Department claims to have no databases, no data analyses, and no internal communications about the program mentioned in its press release and charters that received funds but closed or never opened, nor any external communications with charter school grant recipients about the success or failure of those charters. The Department's article states that, "CSP planning and startup capital facilitated the creation of over 2,600 charter schools that were operational as of SY 2013-14; approximately 430 charter schools that served students but subsequently closed by SY 2013-14; and approximately 699 'prospective schools.'" Yet the Department claims that it was unable to locate any lists of what schools those are, how much federal funding they received, or any correspondence or other records relating to that data. Similarly, the Department claims that is has no records relating to an assessment of the suitability or eligibility for financial support of "prospective schools" and no correspondence regarding charter schools that closed or never opened. Accordingly, the search conducted by the Department of Education's Office of Innovation & Improvement for records responsive to our requests must have been inadequate. As CMD was first to document last year, the federal government has spent more than $3.7 billion in taxpayer dollars fueling the charter school industry since the 1990s, and ED has now calculated that it has spent more than $1.6 billion of this sum since 2006. The Center for Popular Democracy and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools has tracked more than $200 million in fraud and waste by charter operators in the past decade or so, and many--but not all--of the charters whose operators were indicted for criminal fraud were subsequently closed. Charters have closed for a variety of reasons, as CMD documented in its "Charter School Black Hole" report, including fraud, mismanagement, poor enrollment, and poor planning. Meanwhile, as CMD noted, several audits and reviews have found that federal and state overseers have failed to monitor the spending of taxpayer money by charters or to follow up adequately when charters closed after receiving federal or state taxpayer monies. In numerous instances, states could not even identify where the assets went that were purchased by failed charters to reclaim them for the government. In essence, public assets had been converted to private ones and then were unaccountable when a charter failed. And, lobbying groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council have peddled legislation in states to exempt charters from financial accountability and other rules--while federal and state charter advocates in government agencies have been giving favorable ratings to states with "flexible" rules or loopholes governing charters. Using other federal data, CMD sought to determine which charters had closed or never opened ("ghost charters") after receiving federal funds and was able to identify more than 2,000 since the inception of the federal Charter School Program more than two decades ago, but some of those had been assigned new identification numbers because they had changed their names or locations or their status in some way. So, in response to ED's "Commitment to Transparency" statement and its release of data about "operational" charters, CMD sought records used and accessible to the federal Department of Education about the 430 federally-funded charter schools that the federal government had identified as closed since 2006, along with the 699 it has funded but not yet opened. But ED claims to have no records related to those failures or to the prospective schools it claims are worthy of federal funding because their "operators are best positioned to open high quality schools." In CMD's view, it is impossible that the agency has no records about charters that were deemed to have "high quality" potential and none about those whose potential failed to manifest or measure up. ED's denial of CMD's requests under the Freedom of Information Act comes in the wake of repeated assurances that the agency will provide greater transparency and oversight over charters as it seeks continued increases in funding for charters. It also comes in the aftermath of the decision by the agency's Office of Innovation and Improvement to award its largest grant last year to Ohio, despite the public scandal over the state's charter school leader fixing test scores to misrepresent the performance of charters to the public. CMD had requested that ED make public the names of the states and applications for that Charter School Program last year, so residents could learn whether their states were seeking more charter school funding and weigh in, but the agency refused to make that information public until after it had made its decision to award $71 million to Ohio and tens of millions more to other states. When it made those applications public after allocating taxpayer money, it turned out that the government had been provided only letters of support from the charter school industry favoring those grant awards and the government did not solicit or receive information from citizens concerned about fraud, waste, and other problems with charters--like Ohio's effort to manipulate public opinion about charters by hiding the terrible test results of virtual charters. In the meantime, CMD has documented ED's deferential culture toward charters as shown most recently by its obedience to a request by the KIPP "public school" charters to keep secret from the public information about how many of its charter students graduate from high school and enroll in or graduated from college, along with key information about how it is spending federal tax dollars, even as KIPP has spent millions of dollars on luxury trips to Las Vegas, DisneyWorld, and other resorts for KIPP charter employees in recent years. More information about CMD's appeal is available in the primary documents uploaded below. Education News Attachment Size Attachment Size CMD Appeal Letter 387.88 KB ED Commitment to Transparency Press Release 259.56 KB ED Says It Has No Responsive Records 199.52 KB CMD FOIA Request re Commitment to Transparency Request A 118.87 KB CMD FOIA Request re Commitment to Transparency Request B 118.15 KB CMD FOIA Request re Commitment to Transparency Request C 115.98 KB CMD Charter Transparency Article Image for Sharing 92.98 KB - See more at: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2016/05/13101/ed-says-it-has-no-records-re-its-commitment-transparency-charters-cmd-appeals#sthash.oomumGPJ.dpuf 
Modern boarding schools still a form of “abuse” claims therapist in new book By Xantha Leatham - May 6, 2016 0 14 SENDING children to boarding school is a form of abuse and forces youngsters to develop “survival strategies” to deal with feelings of neglect, according to a new book. The authors of “Trauma, Abandonment and Privilege” claim that despite improved pastoral care in modern boarding schools, pupils still mask their true emotions which can cause major problems in later life. The book has been written by former boarding school teacher Nick Duffell and Thurstine  Basset as a guide for therapists working with former boarding school students, to whom they refer as “survivors”. The authors claim that despite appearing outwardly happy, the vast majority of children are hiding psychological trauma caused by moving away from home at a young age. They report that the “Boarding School Survivors” agency they founded to help traumatised ex-boarders has had “more and more people coming forward for help” in recent years. Robin Fletcher, chief executive of the BSA, said boarding is “not right for everyone” Mr Basset, who is also a board member for the Journal of Mental Health Training Education and Practice, said: “Boarding schools aren’t as brutal as they used to be and there is more potential for contact with families now because of things like smartphones and improved technology. “But a child at just eight years old still has to learn to live without parents when they start at boarding schools. It’s ridiculously young really. “None of the psychological theories that I am aware of support taking children away from parents at eight years old. “I wouldn’t expect an eight-year-old to turn round to their parents and say ‘it’s time to go now’. Mr Basset claimed that youngsters who attend boarding schools are forced to develop “coping strategies” and mask their true feelings which can cause mental issues in later life. Strategy He continued: “When a child first goes away, they have to learn to cope – a survival strategy. “The mask is a part of that because the children will keep saying they’re loving it when they’re not. “When they’re older, the mask can start to slip and a trigger such as a relative’s death or tragedy can cause a seemingly successful person’s life to crack and spiral out of control. He continued: “This is because they haven’t resolved the feelings of neglect at school and are used to just having to grin and bear it so in adult life it all comes out. “At boarding school, you can’t go about crying so you keep a stiff upper lip but not showing emotion in adult life can cause problems.” The author noted that the “Boarding School Survivors” agency that he created had seen increased numbers of former boarders coming forward in recent years. He said: “We founded the Survivors’ agency and over the years we’ve seen more and more people coming forward, looking for help with the issues they have as a result of boarding. Suitability “The workshops every year are doubling in numbers as people are becoming more aware of their issues and see others share how they feel. “They then feel the strength to come forward themselves.” But Robin Fletcher, chief executive of the Boarding Schools’ Association,said: “I’m not sure a 16-year-old boy playing rugby with his mates has developed a coping mechanism, i think he’s just enjoying being with his mates. “Boarding is not right for every child but there’s a lot of interaction with professional staff who have lots of training before a child starts now. “It’s a family conversation now which involves a long process called “suitability for boarding” in which they have taster sessions and speak to parents and the children. “It’s not in the schools’ interests to have kids there who don’t like it so this helps to make sure you don’t get kids starting at schools who aren’t right for boarding.” He added: “The book refers to a very different time when certain people went to boarding schools who weren’t suited to it.” Source: http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2016/05/06/modern-boarding-schools-still-form-abuse-claims-therapist-new-book/
The State Foster Care System Has a License to Be Terrible at Licensing Friday, May 6, 2016 at 6 a.m. By Craig Malisow A A Facebook 4 Twitter 2 More shares recommend reddit email 0 0 On February 23, 2016, an inspector for the Department of Family and Protective Services discovered how the staff of a Children's Hope foster care facility in Levelland disciplined the kids in their care: They hit them. The state inspector noted the violation at the facility, about 30 miles west of Lubbock, and gave Children's Hope's supervisors two months to make sure their staff stopped hitting children.  Twenty days before the February inspection, a state worker observed that a staff member was sleeping instead of watching kids. Less than three weeks before that, an inspector noted that three storage rooms had "clothes, boxes, trash and other hazardous objects on the floor where children in care could trip and harm themselves."  This Levelland facility, it seemed, had a knack for hiring staff with unique methods of discipline. In June 2015, a staff member took to pulling a kid's hair; in February, a staff member made the kids exercise outside, inadequately dressed for cold weather, whenever they acted up.   The violations — all available on the department's online database — weren't just isolated to that Levelland operation. In April 2014, at Children's Hope's other Levelland facility, a staff member gave a kid a black eye, and in another incident, one worker told children to make false accusations against another worker. At this facility, kids "consistently reported that they were left in a van while two staff [members] went inside a staff's home."  And in the Children's Hope facility in Lubbock, staff got downright creative with punishment, by making kids walk or run while holding chairs above their heads. State inspectors also observed floors smeared with feces and trash; inaccurate records for medication; bathrooms without paper towels; and staff that weren't aware that children slipped off to a bathroom to engage in "inappropriate touching." But besides a personal investment in basic human decency, there was no real incentive for Children's Hope to get its act together; the department rarely if ever seriously sanctions residential treatment centers and group homes that make money off warehousing children.  Which is why it seems strange that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is getting into the business of licensing federal detention centers for immigrants seeking asylum. As we reported earlier this week, the department has granted a provisional license to the Karnes County Residential Center, which is run by the Geo Group, a private prison company that’s seen profits soar with the rise of immigrant detention in the United States in recent years. The detention facility must pass three unannounced inspections over six months before it can be permanently licensed, but that shouldn't be a problem. The licensing bar is low. As revealed in recent class-action litigation, the department had revoked the license of only one residential treatment center in the past five years — and that was only after four kids died. U.S. District Court Judge Janis Jack, who issued the damning ruling that laid bare the department's indifference to thousands of children in its care, outlined the ugly history of the Daystar facility in Manvel, which had a capacity of 141 children: Between 1993 and 2002, three teenagers died at Daystar from asphyxiation due to physical restraints. In most cases, the children were hog-tied. Beyond these deaths, there were reports of sexual abuse and staff making developmentally disabled girls fight for snacks. Numerous stakeholders, including the district attorney, spoke out against Daystar, but the facility kept its license. In November 2010, a fourth child died in what was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation due to physical restraints. Daystar’s license was still not revoked until January 2011. DFPS allowed this facility—that was responsible for four deaths, numerous allegations of sexual abuse, and unthinkable treatment of developmentally disabled children—to operate for 17 years. A group called Grassroots Leadership has rallied against the department's licensure of immigration detention centers earlier this week. The group's executive director says, "By all reasonable measures, family detention camps are prisons. They are not child-care facilities." (Grassroots on Wednesday successfully petitioned a Travis County District Court for a temporary restraining order blocking the department from licensing another detention center. A judge will hear arguments May 13.) But given how the department conducts business with residential treatment centers, it might be a stretch to call them child-care facilities as well.  In 2015, Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes filed his second complaint against the department regarding the number of runaway foster children from the Five Oaks Achievement Center. Brandes told the county commissioners' court, "We are deeply concerned for the safety of the residents that run away from this facility. Deputies have previously found runaways hiding in buildings on private property, and we’re concerned over what could happen if the owners of the properties approach the runaways, especially at night." Five Oaks' solution? "We are going to build a tall deer fence," Five Oaks CEO Craig Bibb told the commissioners. "The state was concerned that it could have no razor wire or barbed wire. It's going to look really nice." Nine months after the sheriff complained to the commissioners' court, at least two more kids ran away. One stole a van.  Apparently, Five Oaks and the department are less concerned with why so many children seem to want to get the heck out of Five Oaks, and are more concerned about penning them in like animals. Recent inspection reports note that Five Oaks could use some fixing up. Inspectors noted cottages full of holes, and mold in a girls' bathroom. Staff fight with each other in front of kids, and sometimes swear at the kids. One staff member continually taunts kids who display self-harming behavior; it's unclear if any of these include the kid who uses the chipped "upper corners" of the restrooms to "scratch themselves."   In 2010, a 17-year-old Five Oaks resident collapsed from heat exhaustion during a nature hike and died weeks later. A month earlier, state inspectors discovered that at least seven staff members lacked first aid and CPR certification. (Recent inspections noted that the first aid kits are missing many items, but are not lacking in expired medication.)  Department spokesman Patrick Crimmins told the Houston Chronicle  at the time, "The children there have an established relationship with their caregivers...We feel those children are very safe."  This is the level of safety that the children at the Karnes County Residential Center have to look forward to.  Source:  http://www.houstonpress.com/news/the-state-foster-care-system-has-a-license-to-be-terrible-at-licensing-8375852
Jail officer accused of choking teen inmate Will Cleveland, @WillCleveland13 7:23 p.m. EDT May 5, 2016 Brian Miller(Photo: Provided) A Wayne County correction officer is accused of choking a teenage inmate Thursday morning. According to the Wayne County Office of the Sheriff, Brian Miller, 47, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, endangering the welfare of a minor, two counts of second-degree falsifying business records, and second-degree harassment. Deputies allege that Miller, who has worked for the department for 14 years, choked an inmate during an altercation. The inmate, who is younger than 17, was not hurt during the incident. Miller was arraigned in Lyons Town Court and released to appear at a later date. He has been suspended with pay from the jail pending a departmental hearing.  Source: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2016/05/05/correction-officer-accused-choking-teenage-inmate/83991382/
Lawsuit: State Gave Child Foster Care License to Known Abuser Katherine Johnson Updated: 05/10/2016 1:29 PM Created: 05/09/2016 3:54 PM The Hennepin County Human Services Department allowed the placement of a foster care child into the home of a Brooklyn Park woman who had a record of substantiated child abuse, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. In December 2014, 6-year old Kendrea Johnson was found dead in that foster care mother’s home. The child was found hanging from a bunk bed in her bedroom. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reviewed the child’s welfare record cited in the lawsuit that shows that Hennepin County child protection authorities knew in December 2000 that the foster care mother, Tannise Nawaqavou, had a record of child abuse. But because of a little-known state law, commonly known as “the look-back law,” Nawaqavou was granted a foster care license by DHS in October 2011 because a defined period of time had expired since her violation, thus allowing her to become eligible to take care of abused children. All foster care applicants must undergo a background check by the state prior to a decision being made on whether to grant a license. A January 2011 DHS background studies memo stated that Nawaqavou “physically abused her child or a child in her care,” according to the document reviewed by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and which is referred to in the lawsuit. When she was asked in an interview about the DHS record, Nawaqavou denied ever having a record of child abuse. “I don’t know about that,” Nawaqavou said. “That’s negative. That’s the first time I’ve heard that.” Jerry Kerber, DHS’ Inspector General declined to be interviewed about the look-back law and Johnson’s case. He did send this statement. Following Johnson’s death, Nawaqavou’s foster care license was revoked in March 2015. DHS cited the fact that she had “provided false and misleading information during the child foster care license application process,” according to state records. The lawsuit accuses Hennepin County child protection workers, a private foster care agency, Family Alternatives Inc., and a day treatment center, Lifespan of Minnesota, of failing to adequately protect the child before she died. Hennepin County officials and Lifespan declined comment on the suit. The attorney for Family Alternatives Inc. said the agency he represents should not be held accountable for the child’s death. “It isn’t the result of anything Family Alternatives has done wrong or the foster parent,” said Rich Thomas. “It’s just a terrible circumstance.” But Jeff Storms, one of the attorneys representing Johnson’s grandmother, said child protection authorities and the other named parties failed the child and her family when she was removed from her mother’s custody. "Kendrea was alive at the time they took her,” Storms said. “She had family members who loved her, who kept her alive, who made sure she was going to school. Knowing that they are putting that child in the home of an abuser is a clear and obvious step towards potential peril for that child. Why would we take that risk? If we were going to put money, energy and resources into anything, it should be making sure that we have good foster parents. Not giving money to known abusers.” Three months before Johnson died, a Hennepin County child protection worker allegedly expressed concerns about whether the girl had been placed in the right foster care setting, according to state records cited in the suit. Monica Jochmans “had severe concerns about (Johnson’s) routine, supervision plan and what Nawaqavou does to ‘keep children safe that present with higher needs,” according to the state records. Jeff Montpetit, co-counsel with Storms, said that an overall review of Johnson’s records show a continuing pattern of failure. “Nobody was in charge,” Montpetit said. “Nobody cared enough to take charge and do things in Kendrea’s best interest. I think it’s a system that in its current state is broken. In its current state it needs to be overhauled and we hope to bring some of those deficiencies to light so that things like this don’t ever have to happen again.” Mary Broadus, Johnson’s grandmother, isn’t optimistic. “These are babies,” she said. “And bad things are happening to them. She (Johnson) wasn’t the first and she's not going to be the last. There’s someone who loves these kids out there. I’m not just fighting for Kendrea. I’m fighting for all the babies this has happened to.” Review the Child Protection Oversight Committee meeting agenda from March 21, 2016 here. Katherine Johnson can be contacted at 651-642-4441 and kjohnson@kstp.com.  Source: http://kstp.com/news/foster-care-child-abuse-lawsuit-kendrea-johnson-tannise-nawaqavou/4131970/
Patient accuses residential treatment center of sexual abuse Louie Torres May 11, 2016, 12:33pm CHICAGO — A Cook County woman is suing a Rockford residential treatment center, alleging she was sexually assaulted. Mary Bohanan filed a lawsuit May 3 in Cook County Circuit Court against Universal Health Services, Inc., doing business as Rock River Academy & Residential Center, alleging negligence, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. According to the complaint, between 2012 and 2013, Bohanan experienced abuse, sexual assaults and battery during her stay at the facility. The plaintiff alleges Rock River Academy failed to hire competent staff more suited to be around adolescent females as well as failing to take action when one of their patients was being mistreated. Bohanan seeks judgment of at least $50,000, plus court costs. She is represented by attorney I. Peter Polansky of Polansky & Cichon CHTD. in Chicago. Cook County Circuit Court Case number L004539   Source: http://cookcountyrecord.com/stories/510723896-patient-accuses-residential-treatment-center-of-sexual-abuse
Lawsuit alleging abuse, neglect of teen filed against Zelienople group home Updated: May 11, 2016 - 7:32 PM 103 Share this with your friends! From To Compose your message Thanks for sharing with your followers! Lawsuit alleging abuse, neglect of teen filed against Zelienople group homehttp://on.wpxi.com/1TbutGy ZELIENOPLE, Pa. — A family is suing Glade Run Lutheran Services, a group home in Zelienople, claiming that a 13-year-old boy was abused and neglected at the facility.   Attorneys for the boy and his family spoke Wednesday with Channel 11 News after filing the civil lawsuit.   “The thing that gets this little boy excited is the thought that Glade Run will no longer exist,” Nick Indovina of the Pisanchyn law firm said. Glade Run Lutheran Services in Zelienople   Channel 11 News has covered the residential treatment facility, which cares for children and teenagers with severe mental health issues, for months.    State inspectors found evidence last October of children having sex with other children on campus. As a result, the state Department of Human Services stripped the 56-bed facility of its license, which Glade Run is attempting to get back through an appeals process with the state. The campus has three additional facilities that have remained open pending the appeal decision.   No criminal charges were ever filed, but the state mandated changes, including firing the staff, hiring new employees and adding security cameras.   Indovina said the changes are not enough.   The lawsuit filed Wednesday details allegations too graphic for Channel 11 News to report about what the boy, now 15, endured from March to July 2015 while he was being treated at the group home for severe mental health issues.   The suit alleges that the staff failed to keep him safe from other children.    While Glade Run had yet to see the lawsuit, officials issued the following statement to Channel 11 News:   “Glade Run Lutheran Services serves our communities' most challenging and traumatized youth, providing residential, school-based and community-based offerings to thousands throughout Western Pennsylvania each year. Many have complex mental health issues and behaviors that necessitate residential treatment for stabilization and healing. The safety of our clients remains our first priority, and we are committed to providing the safest environment for their treatment and recovery.   “The provision of human services to individuals with mental health issues is not without risks. These risks include physical harm to staff and potential litigation. The privacy rights of our clients preclude us from discussing any allegation that may arise. Glade Run has a longstanding track record of more than 160 years of successful care and treatment of traumatized youth, and is dedicated to protecting the best interests of those we serve.” Source: http://www.wpxi.com/news/lawsuit-alleging-abuse-neglect-of-teen-filed-against-zelienople-group-home/276616277
Group home workers facing assault charges Two women accused of mistreating a special needs client in February By Eric Deabill | edeabill@pahomepage.com Published 05/11 2016 04:45PM Updated 05/11 2016 06:32PM SPRING BROOK TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - Two workers from a group home are facing assault charges in what Lackawanna County prosecutors are calling a disturbing case. Investigators say the two women shoved, pushed and even slapped a person with special needs who was in their care. Detectives say what makes this case especially disturbing is that the possible victim is non-verbal and doesn't use words to communicate. Investigators say they only learned of the abuse because the woman's family set up a secret camera in her room. The group home where the alleged assault took place is on Joni Drive in Spring Brook Township. The allegations are horrifying for neighbors. "It makes me angry to think that people could take advantage of someone who can't talk or someone who can't fight back," Donna Gardner of Spring Brook Township said. Prosecutors say Rakeelia Field and Jacquelynn Moore physically abused one of the residents. Besides being non-verbal, the victim can't feed or bathe herself and needs constant supervision. The abuse allegations involve the suspects slapping her, pushing her and shoving her into chairs. "It is really shocking for someone who can't complain to anyone that she's being abused," Barbara Delmore of Jefferson Township said. District Attorney Shane Scanlon says the abuse was only discovered after family members put a hidden camera in the woman's room. Scanlon has seen the videos. "But for the family putting in the camera, which is a hidden camera, God knows how long this abuse would have continued or endured," Scanlon said. According to court papers, one of the suspects may have actually stumbled onto the hidden camera on February 29th. That is the last date in the criminal complaint that any abuse may have taken place. People in the community say what the family of the victim did was right. "I applaud them because they were taking care of their own. They must have realized something was going on," Delmore said. All of the abuse is alleged to have taken place during on a one-week period at the end of February. Both of the workers charged are currently free on unsecured bail and expected back in court next week. Keystone Community Resources, the agency that runs the group home, told Eyewitness News on Wednesday that they don't comment on ongoing investigations. Court papers indicate that both women are no longer working at the facility in Spring Brook Township.  Source: http://www.pahomepage.com/news/group-home-workers-facing-assault-charges
Look-Back Law Allows Foster-Care Licenses for Criminals, Abusers By Katherine Johnson, KSTP TV on May 12, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. AddThis Sharing Buttons Share to Facebook7Share to TwitterShare to RedditShare to EmailShare to Copy Link News Fargo,ND 58103 http://www.wday.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/KendreaJohnson_0.jpg?itok=SpuuPsI_ Katherine Johnson, KSTP TV WDAY http://www.wday.com Look-Back Law Allows Foster-Care Licenses for Criminals, Abusers Fargo ND 301 8th St. S. 58103 We first told you about the Look-back Law in an investigation Tuesday morning on First News. A lawsuit alleges that 6-year-old Kendrea Johnson was placed in the foster home of a known abuser.      She died less than a year after her placement. During the investigation, we found a state law that allows the Minnesota Department of Human Services to issue foster-care licenses to criminals and child abusers as long as a set period of time has passed between the conviction and the application. Some crimes, such as murder and criminal sexual conduct, permanently disqualify a person from becoming a foster parent. However, other violent crimes involving children do not. We sat down with two members of the Governor's Child Protection Task Force to see if they believe changes should be made to the law. Regarding the conviction of Manslaughter of Assault of an Unborn Child, Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota Executive Director Rich Gehrman said, "If it's a conviction, it's a disqualification. It should be." Even a felony offense doesn't disqualify the criminal from obtaining a foster care license as long as 15 years has passed. "If there are some categories here that need to be looked at again, I think this is the opportunity to do it," said Gehrman. He said there is some leeway with the law but not when it comes to violent crimes involving children. "If you're convicted of malicious punishment of a child, that's not like you got into a situation randomly that you couldn't get out of. That's a pattern," said Gehrman. According to the Look-back Law, after parental rights have been terminated, that person is disqualified from becoming a foster parent for 15 years.  However, after that  time has passed, they are eligible again. "It's very difficult to have your parental rights terminated," said Gehrman. "It takes years and it's not just one mistake. There's a pattern there in almost in every case, statistically, so I think that's something that should disqualify somebody." State Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL-St. Paul) supports the law. "I don't think that a person should be excluded for their entire life for something that was committed a long time ago but I think they should be excluded for a certain period of time and then you watch them after that," he said. However, he adds it only works if case workers and investigators are making the proper follow-ups. "I don't think we have a very good quality assurance program for foster care in the state," said Gehrman. "We kind of don't know about how many quality foster homes we have and ones that aren't so good." Gehrman adds to create quality assurance in foster care there needs to be better training for foster parents. In Hennepin County, foster care training dollars have been steadily dropping in recent years. It fell from almost $13,000 in 2012 to $8,000 spent on foster care training in 2015. DHS declined an interviewed on the Look-back Law but they did send a statement that you can read here.   Source: http://www.wday.com/news/4029893-look-back-law-allows-foster-care-licenses-criminals-abusers
Peruvian Man Details Sexual Abuse He Faced at 'Boot Camp' for Troubled Catholic Kids By Simeon Tegel May 13, 2016 | 7:20 am The sexual abuse began one evening in a park, says Alvaro Urbina. He was 14. A misfit at his expensive English-style school in Lima, Peru, Urbina's recently separated mother was desperate to provide him with some direction. She enrolled him in Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana. Sodalicio was a kind of Catholic boot camp, run by non-clerical volunteers, dedicated to transforming teenagers from the Peruvian elite into prominent priests or devout and influential lay members of society. "We clicked a little," says Urbina of the mentor twice his age who had been tasked with befriending the troubled adolescent. "He was quite arrogant, but funny and very assertive, and a bit of a homophobe." One evening, after taking out Urbina and several other boys for ice cream, the pair wound up alone in the park. Urbina recalls his mentor talking about how they needed to trust each other and telling him to prove his trust by pulling down his pants and underwear. "He just looked at my penis for a while, in a kind of scientific way," the now 34-year-old remembers. "After a bit, he told me to get dressed and he took me home." It was the start of a two year physical relationship, involving oral sex and intercourse, during which Urbina and his abuser met about twice a week. Two decades later, Urbina has become the first of the dozens of alleged victims of sexual abuse that took place within Sodalicio to allow his name to be used publicly. He decided to do this as the scandal around the group, which is officially affiliated to the Vatican and governed by its canonical law, has grown into a litmus test of Pope Francis' ability to fulfill his promises of "zero tolerance" towards sexual abusers and those who cover up for them. When he was 14, Álvaro Urbina was sexually abused at Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana catholic boot camp in Peru. (Photo courtesy of Álvaro Urbina/VICE News) The Sodalicio case also has had a particular impact in Peru because the group maintains close ties with the country's elite. It also directly implicated Luis Fernando Figari, the order's founder and a prominent Peruvian. Last month, Sodalicio acknowledged that Figari — who is currently "in retreat" in Rome, apparently reluctant to return to Peru — had committed abuses and moved to expel him from the group. In an online video, Sodalicio's current head, Alessandro Moroni, tacitly admitted that the abuse involving Figari was the tip of the iceberg by accepting that victims had "received no satisfactory reply" from Sodalicio for years. "I apologize to the victims of any kind of abuse or mistreatment that they may have experienced from any member of our organization," he said. But this does not satisfy some. "It's been three years since Francis became pope, with his super-tough discourse on child sex abuse, but we have yet to see real action," said Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz, who co-authored a book on the abuses in Sodalicio that propelled the scandal onto the front pages in Peru. "There's no transparency and no real response to the victims, or even empathy, never mind justice." 'He just looked at my penis for a while, in a kind of scientific way' The Sodalicio case echoes the scandal around Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Mexican order Legionaries of Christ, and the decades-long systematic cover-up of his abuse of many children, including his own biological offspring. A confidante of Pope John Paul II, Maciel was treated like a living saint by the order that was close to some of the richest and most powerful people in Mexico. Although he was eventually ordered to retire to a life of prayer, Maciel was never declared guilty by the Holy See, let alone forced to face a criminal investigation in ordinary courts. Pope Francis, meanwhile, granted an indulgence, which is basically a pardon, to the order earlier this year. Related: Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse in Mexico Vanishes Sodalicio was founded in 1971 and is formally affiliated with the Vatican. Within Sodalicio, word of the horror first began dripping out in 2010, including through a Spanish-language blog, las Lineas Torcidas, dedicated to pedophilia within the Church. But it was the book — Half Monks, Half Soldiers — written by Ugaz and Pedro Salinas and published last year, that catapulted it out of the shadows. The book featured anonymous testimony about sex abuse within the organization from numerous victims of Figari and other adult members. It is only thought to have stopped in the 1990s. Salinas and Ugaz say this is because other Sodalicio members discovered it — and then promptly covered it up. It is only thanks to lobbying by the pair of journalists that Peruvian prosecutors finally began looking into the allegations last fall. The attorney general's office told VICE News that an investigation is active but the details remain confidential as it is still in a preliminary phase. But with a 20-year-statute of limitations for these sexual crimes, time is fast running out to bring the abusers to justice. 'This guy was supposed to be my spiritual guide. He was supposed to help me to grow up, to become a better person and deal with my personal problems. He wasn't supposed to fuck me' Meanwhile, last month's apology by Sodalicio head Moroni comes after months more of stalling. Sodalicio only acknowledged last October, while under considerable media pressure, that child sexual abuse allegations against its founder and other senior figures in the hierarchy were "plausible". The other figures included Figari's number two, Germán Doig, who died in 2001 and who Sodalicio had once proposed for sainthood. Related: 'Almost Sociopathic Lack of Care': Vatican Child Protection Commissioner Calls on Church Finance Chief to Resign In an emailed response to questions from VICE News earlier this year, Sodalicio's spokesman Fernando Vidal said that police were not contacted back in the 1990s, when the allegations first cropped up within the organization, because Doig was the person in charge of handling the matter. Vidal added that the group was "firmly committed to clarifying the facts", cooperating with investigators, providing compensation to the victims, and ensuring the crimes are never repeated. Of Urbina's alleged abuser, Vidal added: "We have had no ties to or contact with him since he left the institution many years ago." The response to the breaking scandal from Lima's archbishop, Juan Luis Cipriani — the ultra-conservative Archbishop of Lima who is one of just two cardinals from the famously strict Opus Dei order — has been similarly ambiguous. He ignored it entirely until commenting became unavoidable last October and he called for Figari's suspension from Sodalicio pending investigation. But Cipriani also gave a homily warning that he would not accept criticism from "false moralists who want to mistreat the Church." Related: Pope Goes Off-Script on Sex Abuse, Says 'All Responsible Will Be Held Accountable' More recently, Cipriani's office insisted that it was the Vatican, not the Lima archdiocese, which was responsible for getting to the bottom of the problems within Sodalicio. The Vatican did open an investigation in April 2015, yet the cleric appointed to head it admits he didn't get very far. 'We have had no ties to or contact with him since he left the institution many years ago' In an interview in his Lima office, Pablo Urcey, the Bishop of Chota, in the northern Peruvian Andes, said that he had met nearly 100 current and former members of Sodalicio, and had prepared a brief 30-page report for the Vatican. But although many witnesses alleged psychological abuse, the only evidence of pedophilia Urcey said he had uncovered was through two separate written statements from people he never met. He also said that he had not read Half Monks, Half Soldiers because he had been "too busy" with his other duties, including as General Secretary of Peru's Episcopal Conference. "We have been focused on how he [Figari] exercised his authority as founder," Urcey, said that this could have helped cover up "deviation" within the group. "The testimony alleges that he was authoritarian, despotic, bossy, and elitist." Urcey added that he believed Sodalicio wanted to get to the bottom of the scandal and saw his role as one of helping them do this. Related: Sex Abuse Survivors Aren't Happy With the Pope's Comments on Bishops' 'Courage' Urbina, who now runs his own bicycle business in Cologne, Germany, says his priority is to stop other children and adolescents suffering similar trauma. Though he is keen to stress he is proud of the man that he has become, he also recalls how he was expelled from school while he was being abused, and adds that the experience affects his sex life and requires him to still see a psychiatrist. "It took me a long time to realize how this has affected me, and shaped me psychologically," he says. "This guy was supposed to be my spiritual guide. He was supposed to help me to grow up, to become a better person and deal with my personal problems. He wasn't supposed to fuck me." VICE News was unable to contact his alleged abuser, who now lives in Illinois, despite repeated calls to his landline. "I've also felt guilty, not because of what happened but because I didn't speak out earlier," Urbina adds. "That is why I am talking now. If I can stop just one more kid being abused, I will be happy." Related: French Troops Face Another Sexual Abuse Allegation in the Central African Republic Follow Simeon Tegel on Twitter: @SimeonTegel  Source: https://news.vice.com/article/peruvian-man-details-sexual-abuse-he-faced-at-boot-camp-for-troubled-catholic-kids
Damian Lewis: Boarding school is a 'very violent' experience that 'defines you emotionally for life' Damian Lewis: Boarding school is a 'very violent' experience that 'defines you emotionally for life' Damian Lewis, the Homeland actor, was sent to boarding school aged eight Credit: JAB Photography/REX/Shutt​erstock Danny Boyle 15 May 2016 • 4:03pm Damian Lewis, the Old Etonian actor, has told how he found being sent to boarding school a "very violent experience". The star said children who are sent away from home to be educated are left with an experience that "defines you emotionally for the rest of your life". The son of a City broker, he was born in the wealthy London suburb of St John's Wood and was sent to boarding school Eton, whose former pupils include David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Lewis, who has two children with fellow actor Helen McCrory, said he would not send his own children to boarding school at such a young age. There's a sudden lack of intimacy with a parent, and your ability to get through that defines you emotionally for the rest of your lifeDamian Lewis Recalling his own experience, he said: "I went at eight and I think that's very hard. You go through something which, at that age, defines you and your ability to cope. "There's a sudden lack of intimacy with a parent, and your ability to get through that defines you emotionally for the rest of your life. It's a very violent experience in those first few weeks. It's just, boom." Lewis also told of his "surprise" when former pupils of a state school tried to stop him attending its 50th anniversary celebrations. The Homeland star was invited to switch on the laser display to mark Acland Burghley's golden anniversary earlier this year. But a former pupil of the mixed comprehensive in Tufnell Park, north London, tried to block the actor's appearance claiming his privileged background made him unsuitable. The petition - which only attracted 124 signatures - said the school had a "long and proud tradition in comprehensive education" whereas Eton "represents the reproduction of privilege and inequality in the UK". On Lewis, it added: "We have nothing against him as an actor or local resident, but he is a wholly inappropriate choice for this celebration of a wonderful local comprehensive school." Damian Lewis attended Eton, where former pupils include David Cameron and Boris Johnson Credit:  Ian West/PA Lewis told the Sunday Times Magazine the protest "missed the point". He said: "I was surprised there was so much feeling, but in the end, the petition was very small. "I think she missed the point of the occasion. It was a celebration of community. Acland Burghley is a performing arts school with a special status for that, and I am a well-known local actor. "On the day, I was surrounded by friends who had been in my kitchen endlessly over the past 10 years, going on play dates with my kids, who were at the school. So it was a misjudgment." Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/15/damian-lewis-boarding-school-is-a-very-violent-experience-that-d/
State: Girl, 14, raped by staffer at mental health facility for troubled teens Investigators say staffer at Nexus Glen Lake assaulted emotionally troubled girl.  By Paul Walsh Star Tribune May 18, 2016 — 9:58am Text size share58 tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase:Order Reprint A staff member at a state-licensed treatment facility for troubled teenage girls in Minnetonka flirted with a 14-year-old resident before raping the emotionally vulnerable teen, investigators revealed Tuesday. The attack occurred on Dec. 22 at Nexus Glen Lake, a locked mental health facility located about a mile west of Interstate 494 and County Road 62, according to the state Department of Human Services (DHS). The molestation and anal rape occurred in the resident’s bedroom, the DHS’s maltreatment report cited the teen as reporting to three Glen Lake employees. The teen has a history of being sexually, physically and emotionally abused, and has suffered from depression and anxiety, the state investigators noted in their report. The staffer denied the allegations and said the teen would make “playful” sexual comments to him, the DHS report read. A sexual assault exam and the DNA evidence collected neither confirmed nor discounted that the assault occurred, the DHS report read. The staffer, who identity was not disclosed by DHS, no longer works at the facility. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has responsibility for any criminal investigation. A spokesman for the county attorney said he sees no evidence that a case was submitted by the Sheriff’s Office for consideration of charges. A Sheriff’s Office spokesman had no information to share about the case, including whether there was an investigation. While investigators placed the blame for the assault solely on the staff member, the DHS found in a follow-up investigation that Glen Lake committed background check violations involving other two employees and fined the facility $400. According to the DHS’s findings, the staffer had a habit of saying he “liked” the teen and would slap her buttocks. On the day of the assault, the two spent much of the staffer’s shift “interacting with one another,” according the DHS review of the facility’s surveillance video. The two were spotted together in a supply room with the lights off and were smiling after exiting. Later in the kitchen, the girl pressed her body against the staff member, without him appearing to object. The rape occurred less than an hour later. Although the staff member “denied the allegations, given the consistent information provided by the [resident] and that video surveillance corroberated parts of [her] statement, it was determined that the [resident’s] statements were more credible” than the staffer’s,” the DHS report’s conclusion read. “Therefore, there was a preponderance ... of evidence that the [staff member] has sexual contact with [the teen] at the facility.” The 12-bed Glen Lake facility serves girls ages 14 to 19 with severe emotional and behavioral problems and is operated by the Plymouth-based nonprofit Nexus, one of the largest child residential treatment and foster care providers in the state. The nonprofit has similar facilities in Minnesota in Onamia and Austin, two in Illinois and one in Baltimore. Nexus also provides foster care, adoption and in-home counseling services in Minnesota for children from birth to age 18. In a statement read to the Star Tribune by one of its executives, Nexus said that as soon as staff became aware of the incident, “the employee was removed from the area immediately and had no further contact with the alleged victim. The employee was terminated.” The girl was taken to a hospital emergency room, where staff there contacted law enforcement, the statement continued. The state investigation found that a background check was done on this employee and that it “found no fault with Nexus” in connection with this incident, according to the statement. DHS records online show one other investigation of Glen Lake by the agency since 2010. That involved involved two allegations of physical abuse. Both claims were unsubstantiated.  Source: http://www.startribune.com/state-girl-14-raped-by-staffer-at-mental-health-facility-for-troubled-teens/379857011/
Oklahoma DHS pays settlement over murder of girl in foster care | News OK Oklahoma DHS pays settlement over murder of girl in foster care by Nolan Clay Published: May 17, 2016 Updated: 2 days ago 157 shares facebooktwittergoogle plusemail Alysa Horney The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has settled a wrongful-death lawsuit filed against it and a dozen child welfare workers after a 2-year-old girl was murdered by her foster mom. DHS settled the federal lawsuit for $435,000. The victim, Alysa Horney, bled to death on Dec. 8, 2013, after her liver was torn by a blow to her body. Her foster mother, Delila Ann Pacheco, 49, was convicted at a 2014 trial of first-degree murder. Advertisement: Replay Ad Ads by ZINC Prosecutors alleged the foster mother struck Alysa in the main bedroom of the rural trailer home outside Tahlequah because the girl wouldn't go to sleep. Alysa and an older sister had been in the foster home less than four months. Alysa spent nights on a pallet on the floor in the main bedroom. DHS admitted mistakes were made. The supervisor who approved Pacheco's application to be a kinship foster parent was demoted. Another supervisor involved in the girl's case resigned rather than face termination. Alysa's primary care worker retired. The demoted supervisor failed to have an adequate background check done on Pacheco and failed to take action after Alysa suffered a broken leg and a bruised face at the foster home, a DHS internal investigation found. He was specifically criticized for never even getting a 2011 arrest report about Pacheco or a 2012 request by a relative for a protective order against her. Pacheco had been arrested in 2011 on an aggravated assault and battery complaint. A Cherokee County sheriff's deputy reported she admitted grabbing a large kitchen knife during a fight with her husband. The deputy reported she also admitted to using marijuana and methamphetamine in the past. The supervisor said he did not review the arrest report because Pacheco was never charged and obtaining it would have “wasted another day,” disciplinary records show. The girl's estate sued DHS and the child welfare workers in January 2015, at first in Cherokee County District Court. The case was later moved to the federal courthouse in Muskogee. A federal judge there approved the settlement in April. “This entire ordeal has been heartbreaking for everyone involved,” DHS Director Ed Lake said Tuesday. “Though it was agreed by the parties to not pursue this case any further, nothing can make up for the underlying tragedy that cost this precious little girl her life. “The lessons learned ... was that we needed to ensure a consistent process in evaluating background checks before approving foster families and we need to more thoroughly assess the safety of children when visiting them in foster homes,” Lake said. “More training has been provided to workers and supervisors on assessing the safety of children in foster homes and evaluating the needs of foster families to ensure they can adequately care for the children in their homes.” The first $275,000 of the settlement was paid May 6 from funds in the state's self-insurance program, records show. The rest will be paid from DHS funds next fiscal year. Alysa and her sister, Halia Horney, had been taken into emergency custody by DHS “against the wishes of their mother and father” on Jan. 3, 2013, according to the lawsuit. The mother, Holly N. Adair, 29, of Welling, and father, Donald Horney, 29, of Tahlequah, divorced in April after eight years of marriage. They are splitting the settlement, after attorneys' fees and the lawsuit costs are paid, records show. Also, the estate's personal representative is getting $5,000 for his services. A Cherokee County judge approved that distribution Friday. Halia, now 6, was removed from the Pacheco foster home on Dec. 8, 2013, and is now living again with her mother, records show. Pacheco is serving a life sentence and will not be eligible for parole until 2052. Her conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal in April.  Source: http://newsok.com/article/5498786
.I. group home deficiencies detailed at Senate hearing Comment   By G. Wayne Miller Journal Staff Writer providencejournal.com By G. Wayne Miller Journal Staff Writer Posted May. 17, 2016 at 6:41 PM Updated May 17, 2016 at 6:41 PM |   Purchase this Photo Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Sen. Josh Miller; and BHDDH head Maria Montanaro. The Providence Journal files By G. Wayne Miller Journal Staff Writer Posted May. 17, 2016 at 6:41 PM  Zoom |   Purchase this Photo Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services; Sen. Josh Miller; and BHDDH head Maria Montanaro. The Providence Journal files By G. Wayne Miller Journal Staff Writer Posted May. 17, 2016 at 6:41 PM PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A recently completed survey of 30 state-run and private groups homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled people disclosed a multitude of deficiencies ranging from comparatively minor to significant, though not apparently life-threatening, such as medication errors and overdue physical exams. “Our survey and this experience has shown we need to make reforms to improve accountability and transparency in all of our group homes,” Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, told a Senate Committee on Health and Human Services hearing on Tuesday. The so-called Validation Survey — conducted in March and April by staff from the state Department of Health and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) — was prompted by the February death of Barbara A. Annis, 70, a developmentally disabled resident of the state-run College Park home, since closed. Staff abuse is alleged. Roberts told the committee, chaired by Sen. Josh Miller, D-Cranston, that while more than 100 deficiencies were found in the 30 homes — located in communities from Woonsocket to Charlestown — none were of the level of those that have been uncovered at College Park. Separate investigations of the alleged abuse of Annis continue. Among the Validation Survey’s findings: — Ten of the 30 homes had residents without current Individual Service Plans. Another 15 homes had residents whose plans were “not fully executed.” — Ten “failed to have medication orders currently filled.” — Fourteen of the homes’ staff said there were “staffing issues” at their place of employment. — Nine of the homes “failed to obtain annual physical exams” while 16 failed to see that residents had annual eye exams. Eight “failed to obtain annual dental exams.” The homes have 30 days to submit plans of correction after receiving notice of deficiencies. Roberts said that larger system issues, in part the result of years of budget cuts, were confirmed in the findings. “I am committed to working with you and working with Rhode Island’s very active, engaged and thoughtful community of providers, advocates and families to develop sound reforms which improve quality, accountability and safety for every resident in our system,” she said. Toward that end, Roberts said she supports legislation to create a state ombudsman for developmentally disabled people, a similar position to the state Child Advocate and Mental Health Advocate. "This office would also allow for greater transparency in our group homes," Roberts said. "Public reporting on investigations is extremely limited by current statute and regulation," she said. "Current statutes restrict BHDDH from releasing information most other — if not all other — licensing bodies would be obligated to release."  — A recently completed survey of 30 state-run and private groups homes for intellectually and developmentally disabled people disclosed a multitude of deficiencies ranging from comparatively minor to significant, though not apparently life-threatening, such as medication errors and overdue physical exams. “Our survey and this experience has shown we need to make reforms to improve accountability and transparency in all of our group homes,” Elizabeth Roberts, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, told a Senate Committee on Health and Human Services hearing on Tuesday. The so-called Validation Survey — conducted in March and April by staff from the state Department of Health and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) — was prompted by the February death of Barbara A. Annis, 70, a developmentally disabled resident of the state-run College Park home, since closed. Staff abuse is alleged. Roberts told the committee, chaired by Sen. Josh Miller, D-Cranston, that while more than 100 deficiencies were found in the 30 homes — located in communities from Woonsocket to Charlestown — none were of the level of those that have been uncovered at College Park. Separate investigations of the alleged abuse of Annis continue. Among the Validation Survey’s findings: — Ten of the 30 homes had residents without current Individual Service Plans. Another 15 homes had residents whose plans were “not fully executed.” — Ten “failed to have medication orders currently filled.” — Fourteen of the homes’ staff said there were “staffing issues” at their place of employment. — Nine of the homes “failed to obtain annual physical exams” while 16 failed to see that residents had annual eye exams. Eight “failed to obtain annual dental exams.” The homes have 30 days to submit plans of correction after receiving notice of deficiencies. Roberts said that larger system issues, in part the result of years of budget cuts, were confirmed in the findings. “I am committed to working with you and working with Rhode Island’s very active, engaged and thoughtful community of providers, advocates and families to develop sound reforms which improve quality, accountability and safety for every resident in our system,” she said. Toward that end, Roberts said she supports legislation to create a state ombudsman for developmentally disabled people, a similar position to the state Child Advocate and Mental Health Advocate. "This office would also allow for greater transparency in our group homes," Roberts said. "Public reporting on investigations is extremely limited by current statute and regulation," she said. "Current statutes restrict BHDDH from releasing information most other — if not all other — licensing bodies would be obligated to release." Page 2 of 2 - Five employees of the College Park residence were placed on paid leave following the death of Annis, and the remaining 14 residents and staff were transferred to other facilities. The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit also is investigating the death, along with the State Police. BHDDH head Maria Montanaro "and I are committed to ensuring that the Rhode Islanders who rely on our services have access to a safe, high-quality system of care," Roberts said. "We cannot tolerate abuse or neglect in any facility. I’m personally committed to strengthening the licensing and quality assurance divisions across the entire EOHHS umbrella so we can prevent abuse and neglect whenever possible."   Source: http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20160517/NEWS/160519386/?Start=2
9 Deaths, No Charges Raise Questions About Oversight Agency By michael virtanen and frank eltman, associated press MINEOLA, N.Y. — May 19, 2016, 11:58 AM ET 0 Shares Email Star 0 Shares Email Little more than names and incident numbers appear on a Long Island medical examiner's list of nine developmentally disabled people who died in state care since 2013, but this much is known for sure: All the deaths came under a cloud of abuse or neglect allegations, and none resulted in criminal charges. The one-page list titled "Abuse and Neglect with Death Involved" surfaced as part of a Freedom of Information request by an advocate who called it only the latest example of how New York's oversight agency for the disabled in state care, the Justice Center, is not doing enough to pursue suspicious cases. Questioned by The Associated Press about the handling of the deaths, all in Long Island's Suffolk County, state and local officials responded with conflicting accounts. The Justice Center says it told county prosecutors about the cases, in accordance with state law, but prosecutors say that's not true. The medical examiner's office says it referred two cases to police for further investigation. After police denied for days that they got them, they acknowledged this week that they did. "It screams for a federal civil rights and criminal investigation," said Michael Carey, who became an advocate for the disabled after his son was suffocated in 2007 by a state group home worker who was later convicted of manslaughter. Carey has become a frequent critic of the Justice Center, established in 2013 to protect the 1 million disabled, addicted and mentally ill in state care. Its mandate is to probe all allegations of wrongdoing by caretakers, with the power to refer cases to local prosecutors or bring criminal charges itself. But an AP analysis last year found it rarely uses that power, with just 2.5 percent of the more than 7,000 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect resulting in criminal charges. Records released earlier this year showed the Justice Center declined to investigate most of the nearly 1,400 deaths of developmentally disabled people in state care in the past two years, leaving the majority of the investigations to the caretaker facilities themselves. Seeking to find out exactly how often the Justice Center refers deaths in state care to local officials for criminal investigation, Carey filed a sweeping public records request of every county prosecutor and medical examiner in New York. Suffolk County was the only one of 62 counties to offer up — by name — the suspicious deaths it received from the Justice Center over the past three years. Three other counties gave just numbers, a total of 15 such deaths. The list from Suffolk's medical examiner's office contained no details, and the Justice Center refused to elaborate about individual cases, citing privacy laws that entitle only relatives to health records and abuse reports. One of those families, located by the AP, plans to use those documents to sue the group home where a developmentally disabled woman lived before dying last year. Carolyn Jirak, 62, spent nearly her entire life in state-funded care, classified as nonverbal with the intellectual capacity of a young child. Her sister Catherine Jirak Monetti contends Jirak's death followed weeks of mistreatment, including an unexplained broken kneecap that was untreated for days, an ankle wound that became severely infected with cellulitis, and prescribed antibiotics that weren't given for three days. Jirak was eventually taken to a hospital with pneumonia and fever, and died 10 days later of respiratory failure. A report the family received on an internal investigation by group home operator, Independent Group Home Living Inc., found there was no abuse. But Monetti is not convinced. "She did not die of natural causes," the sister said. Another death on the list, that of 65-year-old Joseph Schuele, raised red flags with his former caregiver, Danielle Pouletsos. She said she was told by a former colleague that Schuele died in November in the hospital from sepsis, a severe systemic response that followed a urinary tract infection at his Maryhaven Center of Hope group home. Pouletsos, a former training coordinator for Maryhaven who helped care for Schuele from 2006 through 2013, said sepsis developing from a urinary tract infection could be a sign of negligence and may have been prevented "if he was in a different housing situation with medical oversight." Independent Group Home Living and Maryhaven Center did not respond to requests for comment about Jirak's and Schuele's cases. While the Justice Center declined to disclose its inquiries into the nine deaths case by case, it did say, in general, it has confirmed four administrative findings of neglect. Spokeswoman Diane Ward said center investigators ruled out eight other neglect allegations while confirming eight instances of caretakers or supervisors obstructing incident reporting. Three deaths remain under investigation. Under state law, the Justice Center must immediately notify the local district attorney and medical examiner of deaths involving allegations of abuse and neglect, even while the center conducts its own investigation. Whether that was followed in the Long Island deaths is in dispute. Ward told the AP that the center notified the local prosecutor and medical examiner in six cases the day it received each death report, another the next day, and another eight days later. In the ninth case, the medical examiner was notified by a hospital where the person died. As proof, the Justice Center provided the AP with notification documents, with confidential information blacked out, that were sent to the email addresses the center had for the prosecutor and medical examiner. Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said it "has not received referrals from the Justice Center, the county medical examiner or any county or state agency regarding the deaths of these individuals." The Suffolk County medical examiner's office said that, out of the nine cases, it received seven notifications, was able to conduct four autopsies that resulted in two possible homicide cases referred to the Suffolk County Police Department. After the department initially said it never saw the two cases, Suffolk police Lt. Kevin Beyrer came back several days later to say it did, concluding one was a suicide. The other case was initially rejected for a homicide probe, he said, but now investigators are taking another look.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/deaths-charges-raise-questions-oversight-agency-39226962
Caregiver accused of sexually abusing girl was on hiring exclusion list The operator of a child treatment center failed to notice that the 25-year-old was barred from working there.  By Chris Serres and Brandon Stahl Star Tribune May 19, 2016 — 10:20pm Text size share33 tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase:Order Reprint A 25-year-old male caregiver accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl at a Minnetonka child treatment center in December should have been barred from working there in the first place, records show. The nonprofit operator of the center, Plymouth-based Nexus, also runs other child treatment facilities in the state where sexual misconduct occurred, state investigators have found. In three other instances since 2012, Nexus treatment centers in Austin and Onamia have been cited for allowing vulnerable children to engage in inappropriate sexual contact. Advertisement: Replay Ad Ads by ZINC In addition, the company did not always comply with the state’s requirements for conducting background checks of its staff, records show. The male caregiver at the center of the alleged abuse at the 12-bed facility in Minnetonka, known as Nexus Glen Lake, had previously been placed on a statewide “exclusion list” in July. He was sanctioned for improper billing of the state’s publicly funded health insurance program, known as Medical Assistance, state officials said. Under state rules, this should have barred him from working at the children’s treatment center. Yet he was hired there four months after he was placed on the list, according to state records and Nexus. Patient advocates say the case highlights a troubling gap in the state’s system for checking the backgrounds of tens of thousands of workers who care for troubled children and other vulnerable populations. Agencies have no automatic way of knowing when a caregiver has been placed on a state exclusion list, and often do not check. An ambitious effort to close this gap, through a new electronic background check system, has stretched on for nearly two years and will not be fully complete until late fall. “The tragedy here is this horrific assault was entirely preventable,” said Roberta Opheim, state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities. A spokesman for Nexus, which treats about 400 boys and girls at its residential treatment centers in Minnesota and Illinois, said it has fired the caregiver, but did not know he was on a state list of excluded providers. The issue did not come up on the company’s background check of the staff person, said Jack Ewing, vice president at Nexus. The man was hired in November as a youth care professional, and only began unsupervised work with clients after Nexus received a preliminary authorization from the Department of Human Services (DHS), he said. “Nexus’ priority is always to protect the safety of the clients in our care,” Ewing said. “However, because of the nature of our work, and the histories and trauma of the clients we treat, these types of incidents sometimes do infrequently occur despite all best efforts.” According to a DHS report, a girl with a history of being sexually, physically and emotionally abused reported being raped the night of Dec. 22, 2015. The girl said that a male staff person entered her room, exposed his genitals, fondled her breasts, and then “anally penetrated” her. Staff later found the girl in her room with the lights off and a blanket around her waist, “crying, stuttering and shaking,” the report said. Before that night, staff reported other incidents in which the man had touched the girl inappropriately, including one incident in which he slapped her buttocks; even so, the staff did nothing to discourage this behavior, the report said. The DHS determined that there was a “preponderance of evidence” that the male staff person at the Minnetonka facility had sexual contact with the girl. Despite the state’s findings, the alleged assailant was never arrested, and the Hennepin County attorney’s office decided not to bring charges against the man. A sexual assault exam and the DNA evidence collected neither confirmed nor discounted that the assault occurred, the state report said. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he was “horrified” by the girl’s allegations, adding that “folks are not supposed to be treated that way.” Yet, Freeman said his office found “no physical evidence whatsoever” that would corroborate the girl’s account. “It is a very rare case that we take when the only witness to the alleged bad conduct was the victim,” he said. “It’s impossible to prove these cases otherwise.” Reached Thursday at his home in Coon Rapids, the former caregiver denied the sexual abuse allegations and said he did not know he was on a list of excluded providers. “I’m innocent,” he said. “I didn’t do what they say I did, and I will be appealing through the proper channels.” The Star Tribune is not identifying the man because he has not been charged. Jeanne Ronayne, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, called the county attorney’s decision “regrettable,” arguing that a lack of physical evidence should not rule out criminal charges. In this case, she noted, state investigators had eyewitness accounts of the man touching the girl inappropriately before the alleged assault. “I certainly see quite a bit of evidence that could be used in a criminal case — more evidence than in other cases of sexual assault that are successfully prosecuted,” Ronayne said. This marks the latest in a string of maltreatment cases at Nexus treatment centers in Minnesota. In March, the Nexus center in Onamia, known as the Mille Lacs Academy, was cited for neglect after two young residents, ages 15 and 17, admitted to engaging in sexual contact; one of the teens filled a bed with stuffed animals, then covered it with a blanket to avoid being detected. In other incidents, children at Nexus facilities were found inappropriately touching each other’s genitals — both during a van trip and while in a storage shed during an outside activity, regulators found. Nexus, which reported $44 million in revenue in 2014, was also cited last month for failing to submit background study requests to DHS for two staff persons, resulting in a $400 fine.   Staff researcher John Wareham contributed to this report.  Source: http://www.startribune.com/caregiver-accused-of-sexually-abusing-girl-was-on-exclusion-list/380186391/
Ex-group home operator accused of rape now faces perjury charge 1:43 p.m. SHARE By Crocker Stephenson of the Journal Sentinel 1:43 p.m. 0 A man police say raped a 15-year-old boy at gunpoint while running a state-sanctioned group home for boys is now facing additional charges of concocting a fake alibi. Jermarro Dantzler, 37, of Brown Deer, was charged in October with first-degree sexual assault using a threat of force or violence. A final hearing in that case is scheduled for Monday. He now also is charged with one felony count of perjury and one felony count of bail jumping. A preliminary hearing on those charges is scheduled for Tuesday. According to court documents, the boy told police the assault occurred in Brown Deer on July 19. He said he was walking home when Dantzler, armed with a handgun, attacked him in the 6700 block of W. Brown Deer Road. Dantzler, the boy said, forced him behind some bushes and then raped him. When it was over, the boy said, Dantzler handed him two $20 bills. About a month later, police said, Dantzler tried to contact the boy on Facebook. Police matched Dantzler to DNA evidence collected by a hospital on the night of the assault. In March, according to a complaint filed in the perjury case, Dantzler's attorney, Syovata Kanini Edari, contacted prosecutors with an alibi. According to the complaint, an associate of Dantzler lied to a defense investigator, saying that, at the time of the assault, he and Dantzler were picking up a pizza, which they then brought to Dantzler's house. The friend later admitted that pizza story was not true. In addition, the friend said that he and Dantzler met with two prostitutes who became angry when Dantzler refused to pay them. "The purpose of this story," the complaint says, "would be to explain how (Dantzler's) sperm got on the (victim). Another associate of Dantzler, the complaint says, misled the defense investigator, saying that he had heard the victim make various plans to obtain Dantzler's DNA and use it to support a false allegation of sexual assault. Both men said Dantzler orchestrated the false reports. If convicted of the assault, Danztler faces up to 85 years in prison. If convicted of the new charges, he faces an additional 12 years in prison. A spokesman for the Department of Children and Families said Dantzler was licensed to run a group home for boys in 1999. Four days before the alleged sexual assault, a 15-year-old resident of the home committed suicide by hanging himself from a backyard tree. The state revoked Dantzler's license after he was arrested by Brown Deer police.  Source: http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/ex-group-home-operator-accused-of-rape-now-faces-perjury-charge-b99729267z1-380289831.html
Uncovering the Stark Disparities Behind School Money Saturday, 21 May 2016 00:00 By Annie Waldman, ProPublica | Audio Segment font size decrease font size increase font size Print Media Why do many school districts fail to meet the needs of their students? One commonly cited response is our country's disparate school funding system: because most districts rely heavily on local property tax for funding, schools in poor districts are often left with fewer resources than schools in wealthier areas. Even though school funding issues play out on a local level, in recent decades, it's risen to the forefront of national issues. This past year, for the tenth year in a row, a national Gallup poll found that Americans view lack of financial support as the largest problem facing America's schools. But can more money really fix America's struggling, poor schools? That is exactly what NPR's Cory Turner and a team of over 20 NPR member-station reporters wanted to find out. After six months of investigating, Turner and his team published a series of stories digging into school funding disparities from Chicago to Sumter County, Alabama. ProPublica education reporter Annie Waldman spoke with Turner to learn more about their investigation. A few highlights from our conversation: Annie Waldman: Nearly every state in the country has been faced with a school funding lawsuit. Cory Turner: Some 45 states have had school funding lawsuits. It also became clear to me very quickly that these lawsuits are a symptom of a much broader ailment, which is how we pay for our schools, and why it is that school money is so inequitable in so many different places, which, again, as we explained in the reporting, not every time, but quite often, boils down to disparities in local property tax revenue. The story of America's school funding system starts with an unlikely character: Satan. Well, sort of. It really goes to the back to the Old Deluder Satan Law when the Massachusetts Bay Colonists basically said, "Look. If we want every child to be able to read the Bible, then every child needs to be able to read. It is in the best interest of the Colony that every child be taught to read, and as such, any village of 50 or more people needs to pay up for a teacher." I mean, you can see it in the law too. They're not just talking to parents. They're talking to everybody. It was captured in law. It was codified in law, this idea that educating the Colony's children, or you can extrapolate that to today, the nation's children, is in the best interests of all citizens. That's what so interested me with the Old Deluder Satan Law, as it's known now. School funding inequities often stem from antiquated segregationist policies. The challenge is when so much of that funding depends on local affluence and local school district lines. It's informed in a big way by old segregationist housing policy. You know? I mean, this is the nation we live in, and the fact is, there are an awful lot of school districts that are low wealth, low income districts, and they just don't have the same capacity to fundraise as other more affluent districts. That's just a fact. Some states have been very progressive about reckoning with that and using state dollars collected at the state level to help offset some, if not much, of that imbalance. But lots of other states just haven't done much, if anything, about it. Working with a team of over 20 NPR member stations is no easy task. We created a gigantic spreadsheet that has every reporter, every reporter's phone number, email and a quick logline of the story. I mean, I spent hours with this spreadsheet. This is kind of insane, I actually at one point cut them all out into these little tiny strips of paper and I just taped them on the wall and started rearranging them or clustering them to figure out, this is very early in the process, just to see, "Do I have too much overlap? Do I have too much, too many stories that are basically rich school/poor school?"  Source: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36094-uncovering-the-stark-disparities-behind-school-money
Child care worker busted for disabled teen assault at troubled agency that placed kids with accused perv Worker at troubled agency busted for assault of disabled teen BY Ben Kochman NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016, 1:50 AM facebook 152 Tweet email Reneisha Goodridge arrested for endangering the welfare of an incompetent/physically disabled person. (Nassau County Police Department) BY Ben Kochman NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016, 1:50 AM A child care worker at the same troubled agency that placed foster care children with an alleged sexual predator was busted Friday for assaulting a disabled teenager, police said. Reneisha Goodridge, 27, who works at SCO Family of Services in Huntington, L.I., is accused of dragging the 17-year-old across the floor after arguing with her at her Downing Ave. office Sunday night, Nassau County cops said. The victim was treated at the scene for bruises to her eye, scratches on her neck and a swollen lip, police said. Goodridge surrendered Friday and was charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent/ physically disabled person. L.I. man charged with molesting boys says he's innocent Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu pictured in this undated booking photo. (HANDOUT/REUTERS) Earlier this year, the city cut placement ties with SCO Family of Services after it came to light that the agency kept sending kids to accused perv Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu despite allegations against him. Authorities have charged Gonzales-Mugaburu, 59, with sexually abusing seven children and a pet dog in his Suffolk County home. Prosecutors suspect he abused several more of the 140 kids he took in over the last 20 years.  Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/worker-troubled-agency-busted-assault-disabled-teen-article-1.2644669
Woman Dragged Disabled Teen Across Floor at Nassau Group Home: Police The 27-year-old was employed as a child care worker when the incident occurred, police say. Glen Cove, NY By Ryan Bonner (Patch National Staff) - May 20, 2016 10:22 pm ET ShareTweetGoogle PlusRedditEmailComments0 SEA CLIFF, NY - A 27-year-old Huntington woman is accused of grabbing a disabled teen and dragging her across the floor at a group home in Nassau County. According to detectives, Reneisha Goodridge, was employed as a child care worker at SCO Family Services, located at 101 Downing Avenue in Sea Cliff, when she became involved in an argument with a 17-year-old girl at about 5:52 p.m. on May 15. After pushing the teen, Goodridge grabbed her arm and dragged her across the floor, causing bruising to her eye, scratches on her neck and a swollen lip, police said. The teen was treated for her injuries at the scene. After SCO conducted an internal investigation, the police were notified on Friday and Goodridge voluntarily surrendered to detectives in Huntington, police said. Goodridge is charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person and will be arraigned on Saturday in First District Court, Hempstead. SCO says it "operates more than 80 programs at 120 locations, providing necessary services and unconditional care to more than 55,000 of New York’s most vulnerable people."  Source: http://patch.com/new-york/glencove/woman-dragged-disabled-teen-across-floor-sea-cliff-group-home-police-0
After Courant Investigation, Feds Find State Failing To Keep Developmentally Disabled Safe Abuse and neglect are cited as factors in the deaths of dozens of devlopmentally disabled in state care since reforms were instituted a decade ago. Here are some of the lives affected. Read more of the Courant's investigation. Josh Kovner , Dave Altimari and Matthew KauffmanContact Reporters After Courant Probe, Feds Find CT Failing To Keep Developmentally Disabled Safe Safeguards for people with developmental disabilities are severely lacking in Connecticut, with private group homes and state officials failing to report or respond to dozens of cases of potential abuse and neglect, a federal audit sparked by a Courant investigation has found. The audit, which analyzed the state's care of 245 developmentally disabled individuals from 2012 through the first half of 2014, found that private group homes frequently failed to report "critical incidents" to state officials, and that state officials almost never forwarded those cases for outside investigation. The cases include a man who suffered a broken spine and a woman who repeatedly ingested razor blades and other dangerous objects. The audit was conducted by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the result of a 2013 Courant investigation revealing that abuse and neglect were cited in the deaths of 76 developmentally disabled individuals who were receiving services from the state Department of Developmental Services in group homes, state-run institutions, nursing homes and hospitals. One was placed in a scalding hot bathtub. Several choked to death despite protocols designed to address swallowing issues. A number showed signs of medical distress but received inadequate intervention. The federal probe was requested by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy in response to the Courant's reporting. Politics Widget Promoted stories from PoliticsChatter.com The curious case of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley Meet Trump’s national spokesperson Katrina Pierson 19 things to know about FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly DDS, the state agency responsible for protecting individuals with intellectual disabilities, acknowledged serious flaws in the tracking of, and response to, serious injuries of people in its care. Details On Deaths Of The Developmentally Disabled In State Care Matthew Kauffman From 2004 to 2010, state investigators cited abuse and neglect while investigating the deaths of 76 Connecticut men and women with developmental disabilities. This timeline provides information on the circumstances of each death, culled from summaries of investigations conducted by the state Department... From 2004 to 2010, state investigators cited abuse and neglect while investigating the deaths of 76 Connecticut men and women with developmental disabilities. This timeline provides information on the circumstances of each death, culled from summaries of investigations conducted by the state Department... (Matthew Kauffman) The agency "agreed that the … incident reporting system needs to be revised to ensure the health and safety" of clients, the audit stated. The federal investigators found DDS and some group homes did not comply with federal and state requirements for caring for developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries. The audit found: • DDS failed to record more than one in five "critical incidents" reported by group homes. Critical incidents are those involving death or serious injury. Because DDS did not record these incidents, state investigators could not determine whether abuse or neglect contributed to the injuries. For Parents Of Developmentally Disabled Adults, The Wait For Help Never Ends JOSH KOVNER Three families. Three different paths. Same commitment. Each is raising a son or daughter with a profound intellectual disability. There were times that were filled with joy for all of these parents. Relief washed over Dawn DeMatteo of East Haven when she found the right weekday activity program... Three families. Three different paths. Same commitment. Each is raising a son or daughter with a profound intellectual disability. There were times that were filled with joy for all of these parents. Relief washed over Dawn DeMatteo of East Haven when she found the right weekday activity program... (JOSH KOVNER) • DDS alerted the state's Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities to possible abuse or neglect in just one of 152 critical incidents. The federal agency said all the critical incidents raised a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect and should have been reported. After federal investigators reported the critical incidents to the Office of Protection and Advocacy, the office issued immediate protective-service orders in 14 cases and opened new investigations in 24 others. • Group homes failed to report 14 percent of critical incidents to DDS, and when incidents were reported, the homes mischaracterized the severity of the incident more than half the time. • DDS "did not adequately safeguard 137 out of 245 developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries because the DDS system of reporting and monitoring critical incidents did not work as expected." That breakdown occurred, the audit reported, because staff at DDS and group homes lacked adequate training to correctly identify and report critical incidents and reasonable suspicions of abuse or neglect," the audit said. • Although DDS provided abuse and neglect training to its employees once a year, this training included limited examples of potential abuse and neglect. The audit also revealed that only about 10 percent of the state's private group home operators requested abuse and neglect training from the state for their staffs. • DDS only provided abuse and neglect training to 102 out of 961 private group homes. Advocates said that deep budget reductions over the last four years have left the state's safety net in tatters. Nearly $100 million has been cut from DDS' $1 billion budget, and group home operators and other private providers have not had an increase in funding in more than seven years. The result is a high turnover among workers and a dearth of new training opportunities in the private sector, which serves the large majority of DDS clients. Meanwhile, state-run institutions absorb a disproportionate amount of the public money. "What we're seeing here is the consequence of the chronic underfunding and slow starvation of the providers," said Leslie Simoes, executive director of The ARC Connecticut. She said the audit findings will reverberate nationally. "The report is a small piece of a larger systemic issue in Connecticut," said Simoes. "There is money in the system; there is just no public policy to shift it around to where it needs to go." She said that following the Courant's 2013 report on the string of preventable deaths, "policymakers have continued to allow devastating cuts to a system that was already exposed as broken." Murphy said the audit revealed an intolerable situation. "These residents are society's most vulnerable — they need us to speak up because they often cannot advocate for themselves," Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Tuesday. "The results of this investigation are worse than I could have imagined, and clearly the oversight agencies have failed in their responsibility to prevent and investigate incidents of abuse. The state needs to take action as quickly as possible to address the issues raised in this disturbing report." DDS officials said Tuesday that they have been working with federal authorities on a corrective plan since Commissioner Morna Murray was appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Feb. 2, 2015. The agency "has taken this investigation with the utmost seriousness," Deputy Commissioner Jordan Scheff said in a statement, stressing that the audit covered the period of 2012 through mid-2014. "DDS has reviewed the preliminary findings, provided feedback and continued to monitor and make changes to this system as findings indicate and require," Scheff said. "We continue to work intra-departmentally and with [the office of the inspector general] ... so that we can ensure the health and well-being of all individuals we support." The federal audit also found circumstances outside the scope of the review "worthy of further discussion" and action with various state agencies. One issue was that individuals required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect, including hospital employees, police officers and group home workers, routinely failed to report potential incidents. For example, the federal investigators found that of 310 emergency room visits across 25 hospitals involving 245 developmentally disabled people, hospital employees reported only one of these incidents for potential abuse or neglect. The audit cited the example of a group home resident with developmental disabilities and behavioral issues that included aggressive outbursts who was brought to a hospital with a lacerated scalp and fractured cervical spine. The unnamed hospital's emergency room treated his injuries, which group home staff attributed to falling down a flight of stairs. The resident's medical history indicated that his clavicle appeared to have been fractured at least once before. "Because the hospital staff had reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect of this resident, the hospital physician and nursing staff, as well as group home staff, should have reported this incident to [the Office of Protection and Advocacy] or an appropriate State agency," the audit said. The audit also highlighted the case of a group home resident with developmental disabilities and a variety of psychiatric disorders, including self-injury and suicidal ideation. Two hospital emergency rooms treated the woman on 19 separate occasions from May 2010 through August 2011. She also was treated three more times in 2013 and 2014. Medical records show that the woman swallowed pieces of razor blades, ingested other patients' medications, suffered self-inflicted burns and inserted numerous items from eyeglasses to batteries and cigarette lighters in other orifices. However, the group home that cared for her reported only six of the 19 incidents to DDS, which in turn reported none of the incidents to the Office of Protection and Advocacy. Instead it was federal officials who informed the Office of Protection and Advocacy of the cases. The office issued a request for an immediate protective service order citing the group home's inability to properly protect the woman from further injury. It also initiated an in-depth review of her care at the group home. In the time period covered by the audit, 85 people who received Medicaid benefits died while under DDS care. The agency did an in-depth investigation of 27 of the deaths and concluded that in 10 of those cases, the care that people were receiving before they died was inadequate. DDS officials agreed that the agency's incident-reporting system "needs to be revised to ensure the health and safety of individuals" who receive its services. "Critical incidents involving beneficiary visits to emergency rooms in general should have created reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect." But the agency disagreed with the audit's assertion that every emergency-room visit must be reported to the Office of Protection and Advocacy. "We do not agree that every beneficiary visit to an emergency room creates a reasonable cause to suspect abuse and neglect, as illustrated by beneficiary visits to an emergency room for a known chronic medical condition, such as a seizure disorder, the acute onset of symptoms resulting in a diagnosis of pneumonia, or for a precautionary evaluation following a fall or motor vehicle accident where there is no apparent injury to the beneficiary," DDS officials wrote in their response to the audit.  Source: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-abuse-neglect-developmentally-disabled-investigation-20160524-story.html
Jermarro Dantzler, accused of sexually assaulting teen at gunpoint, faces new charges Posted 4:57 pm, May 24, 2016, by A.J. Bayatpour, Updated at 06:39pm, May 24, 2016 Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest Email MILWAUKEE -- A man accused of sexually assaulting a teen at gunpoint is now charged with perjury and bail jumping. Jermarro Dantzler Prosecutors say Jermarro Dantzler, 37, tried to get others to testify with a false alibi -- one that took Dantzler away from the scene where the 15-year-old boy was raped in July 2015. On Tuesday, May 24th, Dantzler was appointed a public defender in the perjury case. Dantzler had been running a group home for troubled boys. He was appealing a state decision to revoke his license -- when the sexual assault allegation came to light. FOX6 News has been investigating the group home's history -- and found a long list of serious complaints that go back years. For about six years, Dantzler ran the "Rights of Passage" group home out of a house on Milwaukee's northwest side. Jermarro Dantzler Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families (DCF) removed the teenage residents after Dantzler's arrest for the alleged sexual assault of the 15-year-old boy. "The source of the DNA that was found on the victim was Jermarro Dantzler's specifically," said Amy Koeppel, Brown Deer police sergeant. It turns out, DCF had been getting complaints for years about "Rights of Passage." Jermarro Dantzler FOX6 News went to Madison and reviewed dozens of documents through an open records request. Here's what we found: In 2010, Dantzler was fined for secretly paying a resident's sister to keep the boy at her apartment. In early 2011, Dantzler got a 'non-compliance statement' over 'failed oversight by the group home manager.' One month later, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin called a case worker. A boy was discharged after being seen -- no one was there to pick him up. 'The group home left no contact information...they did not event wait,' read the complaint from a case worker filed on March 28, 2011. Less than two months later, DCF received allegations of abuse and neglect on May 3rd and May 5th. On May 7th, Milwaukee police investigated a burglary at the group home. Two computers and other property were stolen. DCR concluded there were 'conflicting stories' and because 'records were stolen, there is nothing for this licensor to review.' No further action was taken. Milwaukee police say no one was ever arrested for the burglary. Jermarro Dantzler A DCF spokesman says the agency took "took aggressive action to address issues that were discovered about the facility." "These penalties ranged from issuing non-compliance statements to imposing fines," said DCF spokesman Joe Scialfa. DCF moved to revoke Dantzler's license in April 2015 over "unallowable expenditures." But the home remained open as Dantzler appealed. During that time, the alleged sexual assault occurred. A review of the home's financial documents revealed multiple red flags, including past due notices for the water bill and billing statements from payday lenders with an interest rate of 250%. Dantzler now awaits trial for that -- and the new perjury charge stemming from it. The sexual assault trial is scheduled to begin in June. DCF tells FOX6 News that despite the financial issues, Dantzler was able to pay back the nearly $27,000 worth of fines his group home received. Source: http://fox6now.com/2016/05/24/jermarro-dantzler-accused-of-sexual-assaulting-teen-at-gunpoint-faces-new-charges/
Teen's death at residential center emblematic of 'system problem': DCFS Allendale Family photo | Joe Shuman / News-Sun Shortly after leaving Allendale Association's residential treatment center in Lake County, 16-year-old Shaquan Allen (inset) was pronounced dead on March 30, 2016.  Shortly after leaving Allendale Association's residential treatment center in Lake County, 16-year-old Shaquan Allen (inset) was pronounced dead on March 30, 2016.  (Family photo | Joe Shuman / News-Sun) Duaa EldeibContact ReporterChicago Tribune Trouble had dogged Shaquan Allen for much of his life, but after about a year at a facility that houses wards of the state, the teen had made enough progress to be cleared for discharge. A few months later, the Illinois Department for Children and Family Services placed him on a priority list of wards who could be moved to less-restrictive housing. When Shaquan did finally leave Allendale Association's residential treatment center in Lake County one year later, it was in an ambulance. The 16-year-old was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital the same day, March 30, and two Allendale employees now face criminal charges: One is accused of placing him in a chokehold; the other allegedly helped to mislead authorities about what happened. A Tribune investigation into Shaquan's history and his death reveals a series of missteps and missed opportunities and a system that ultimately failed to protect a child in its care. His prolonged placement at Allendale stemmed in large part from lengthy waiting lists, and his behavior spiraled down as his disappointments mounted over the delays, the newspaper found in its review of thousands of pages of court, police and DCFS records. Paid Post What's This? Paid Posts are created by our advertisers. Our editorial and reporting staffs are are not involved in the creation or production of Paid Posts. Think you have HS symptoms? A Message from AbbVie Red bumps? Recurring abscesses? It could be Hidradenitis Suppurativa—HS— a chronic, inflammatory skin condition. Sign up and get information at noBSaboutHS.com and visit a dermatologist. See More Shaquan Allen Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune A program from Shaquan Allen's funeral service. A program from Shaquan Allen's funeral service. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune) What's more, the chokehold allegedly used on Shaquan is strictly prohibited by DCFS and is against the protocols of Allendale, a private nonprofit that contracts with the state child welfare agency to provide round-the-clock supervision and intensive therapy to some of the system's most troubled kids. Experts and internal DCFS documents also raise questions about Allendale's use of physical restraints on Shaquan and other similarly traumatized youths. In addition, it remains unclear why Allendale's clinical staff cleared Shaquan to stop taking psychiatric medication in late 2014, despite his "severe mental health diagnoses" cited in a DCFS report about his death. "We thought he was going to be safe," said his grandmother Asielene Jones-Ayodele, who raised Shaquan for much of his life. "He didn't deserve to die. We never thought this was going to happen, especially because this was not a family that had him. This was a facility." DCFS Director George Sheldon called the delays in Shaquan's case unacceptable and emblematic of a larger problem. "We have to reduce Illinois' reliance on (residential centers), and these kinds of cases just prove it," Sheldon said. "It proves there's a point of diminishing returns. There's a point where it's no longer helping a child, and, frankly, I think that happens long before 12 months." Illinois' average length of stay at residential facilities is 18 months, DCFS officials said. That's higher than most states, where the estimated averages are seven to 12 months. Shaquan was in Allendale's care — split between its Lake Villa and southern Wisconsin campuses and a brief stint of weekday home visitation — for 2 1/2 years. State wards languishing at taxpayer-funded residential centers is a problem Sheldon and other experts recognize. A 2014 Tribune investigation found that attacks and abuse were rampant at some centers. In the past year, DCFS has sought to speed up the process of discharging eligible youths who've been at residential centers at least a year and has moved out nearly 350 youths. Although Shaquan was on that list, he never made it to another placement. The problem also highlights the state's drastic shortage of community-based alternatives. A DCFS program underway to shore up therapeutic foster homes is still in its pilot stages. "Early on, I think there was a lack of capacity, but I also think there may not have been a sense of urgency, not just on our part, but everyone's part in the system," Sheldon said. "We're talking as much about a system problem as we are an Allendale problem." Willie Mae Allen Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune Willie Mae Allen talks about the life and death of her son Shaquan Allen, at her attorney's office in Chicago on May 12, 2016. Willie Mae Allen talks about the life and death of her son Shaquan Allen, at her attorney's office in Chicago on May 12, 2016. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune) 'A sweet little boy' DCFS involvement in Shaquan's life began at birth when it was suspected he had drugs in his system, records show. His mother, Willie Mae Allen, acknowledged in a recent interview that she has battled drug addiction and mental illness. Jones-Ayodele stepped in to assist her daughter and when Shaquan was 4 became legal guardian to him and his younger sister. Church outings and sports filled their early years together, Jones-Ayodele said. "He was a sweet little boy," she said. "He sang in the choir. He loved playing basketball." Shaquan Allen Courtesy of the Allen family Shaquan Allen is seen in a 2005 family photo. Shaquan Allen is seen in a 2005 family photo. (Courtesy of the Allen family) But as he got older, she felt her grip on him slipping. She tried to keep him far away from the drugs and gangs outside their Englewood home. It wasn't easy. Shaquan had said he tried to join a gang at 7 but was turned away, DCFS records show. His father's death when Shaquan was 8 was another source of anguish. By the time Shaquan was 11, he was getting in trouble regularly at school. His grandmother sent him back to live with his mother. They stayed together for about two years, but Shaquan's problems continued: violent outbursts, school suspensions, psychiatric hospitalizations, a threat of harm against a teacher, an alleged attack on his mother and brother, records show. Doctors diagnosed him with a long list of mental health and behavioral disorders. He was at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center when, DCFS and court records show, his mother asked the agency to take custody of him because she was "unable to control" him. Allen said she reached out to DCFS because she feared the gangs that relentlessly recruited her son. At 13, he bragged about his gang affiliation, according to DCFS records. "I believed at the time (DCFS) was the best thing for my son," Allen said. "I wanted them to get him set on his medication and show him there's a different way than being in the streets." Shaquan became a ward of the state in 2013; months later, just weeks after his 14th birthday, he was placed at Allendale. At first, he struggled. He lashed out physically at staff members, smoked, went AWOL. But eventually he seemed to settle in and showed signs of improvement, records show. He took pride in completing tasks he set his mind to, staff members reported. Though his reading and math abilities were well below his grade level, his teacher at Allendale called him a "pleasure" to have in class. He worked hard to finish his science projects and earn good grades, documents show. He tossed aside pro basketball dreams for more practical goals of getting a diploma and learning a construction trade. He made such strides that he was cleared to transfer to a group home, where he would have more freedom but still receive treatment, court records show. Although he had expressed a desire to return home to his mother on a number of occasions, it was a rare bit of good news. In anticipation of the move, he did what was asked of him. He went to school. He didn't run away. I miss everything about him. The phone calls, the 'Mommy, I love you.' I miss it all.— Willie Mae Allen, mother of Shaquan Allen Lengthy delays, risky behaviors But Shaquan never made it to a group home. He had been accepted at two such programs, but both had monthslong wait lists. Meanwhile, his mother vacillated between wanting him back home and keeping him in DCFS custody, records show. In March 2015, she said she wanted to remain involved in his life, but she felt she could not "effectively manage Shaquan's needs in her home" because of her own mental and physical health, according to court records. Shaquan's discharge date was repeatedly pushed back. The setbacks seemed to all but wipe away the progress he'd made. The "lengthy" delays "may be the reason Shaquan continues to display risky behaviors," a June 2015 Allendale report said. He was back to missing school, getting arrested and running away, once disappearing for a week. Court records show he vented his frustration to child welfare officials that he had done his part and completed his treatment but still didn't have a placement. He said he wanted to be returned to his mother, who had also at this point requested that Shaquan come home for his safety. Though still formally in the state's care, he was then allowed to stay with his mother weekdays, returning to Allendale on weekends. That arrangement "deteriorated" after only a few months and he was sent back to Allendale full time, a DCFS report said. The report cited several factors, including both Shaquan's and his mother's mental illnesses and Shaquan's habit of running away. But in yet another breakdown of the system, it does not appear that DCFS conducted sufficient follow-up visits or provided adequate support to Allen once Shaquan moved back home with her. "It's not enough to say, 'OK, we're going to send this kid home,' and say, 'Thanks, have a good life,'" DCFS chief Sheldon said. "The real question is, were we actually actively engaged in providing those services, and I don't think there's anything in the records that indicates that we were." When Shaquan returned to Allendale, he refused to participate in treatment, records show. Around this time, Shaquan was charged with battery after he allegedly bit an Allendale staffer in December during a restraint. In February, the staff determined that he "could no longer benefit from services at Allendale," records show. Once again, efforts were made to find him a new placement — only this time it would be at another residential treatment center. He remained at Allendale until his death more than a month later. Allendale Association Joe Shuman / News-Sun Joe Shuman / News-Sun Other wards also restrained This was not the first time that youths at Allendale alleged they were harmed or choked during restraints. In December, a resident anonymously complained in writing that an Allendale employee "likes to choke you ... until you pass out," according to records obtained by the Tribune through a Freedom of Information Act request. That employee, who was on leave because of another incident, was let go, according to Allendale. Around the same time, a female ward said that an employee punched her in the eye, put her in a chokehold and slammed her head to the ground, though DCFS deemed her allegations unfounded. DCFS licensing records show that, in 2013, another employee had to agree to refrain from excessive restraints and complete a refresher course. As of March 31, Allendale reported seven pending investigations into claims of inappropriate staff conduct. Between April 2015 and March of this year, Allendale sent DCFS more than 1,500 so-called Unusual Incident Reports. Almost half involved allegations of aggression by wards, records show, and about 1 in 5 involved physical restraints of wards by staffers. In fewer than 1 percent of those cases, wards were reported to have been injured. The incident reports reveal that several youths needed medical attention following restraints, including one restraint last year that lasted 75 minutes. In another case, a girl was taken to the hospital after being restrained face down in the prone position — a tactic several advocates and experts have said should be avoided because of the risk of serious injury. Some agencies have banned prone restraints in youth residential centers. In addition, one girl's arm was broken during a restraint, records show. DCFS faulted one of the employees involved, but that finding was overturned on appeal. Allendale President Mary Shahbazian said in an emailed response to questions from the Tribune that the organization has seen a drop in overall restraints in the past year since focusing on reducing their use. She said also Allendale's practice is to notify a supervisor before or soon after a restraint and contact a nurse if there are any physical concerns. Lake Villa police officers, whose station is about a mile from Allendale's campus, are regularly called there — more than 130 times in 2015 alone — for reports including kids running away, battery and criminal damage to property. An Allendale attorney said the organization is cooperating with authorities and complying with subpoena requests in the criminal case resulting from Shaquan's death. "We remain devastated for the loss of Shaquan's life and are completely committed to doing all we can to cooperate with the reviews being conducted," Shahbazian said. "We will take all findings seriously. Improving safety and practice is our paramount goal." DCFS suspended its placements of wards at Allendale on April 1 and has increased monitoring to ensure the well-being of the wards who remain there. Allendale death Lake County Sheriff's Office James Davis, left, and Justin Serak. James Davis, left, and Justin Serak. (Lake County Sheriff's Office) Chokeholds banned Authorities have released few details surrounding the events immediately leading up to Shaquan's death. Prosecutors said he became combative and employees James Davis and Justin Serak attempted to restrain him. Davis allegedly grabbed Shaquan's upper body and neck, putting him in a chokehold, and Serak held his legs. When Shaquan became unresponsive, authorities allege, one of the two employees threw a cup of water on his face, trying to revive him. When he did not respond, the men collaborated on a false story that Shaquan slipped on water and fell, according to authorities. No one called 911 for about 15 minutes, though a nurse at some point administered CPR, according to a spokesman for the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, which investigated. The cause of death was ruled suffocation due to asphyxiation, prosecutors said. Davis, 37, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, and he and Serak, 27, are both charged with obstruction of justice for the alleged coverup. Both have pleaded not guilty. Their attorneys declined comment. DCFS policy bans the use of chokeholds as does Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, a model in which workers at Allendale and a number of other residential centers are trained. Martha Holden, who helped develop the model and is director of the Residential Child Care Project at Cornell University, said a chokehold is never appropriate. She said there are so many preventive and de-escalation techniques that physical restraints should be a last resort. When they are used, joints, airways and pressure points are to be avoided, she said. Allendale officials said all employees are up to date with their TCI training. DCFS's report recommends a thorough review of Allendale's restraint policy, saying it seemed "counterintuitive" to use a restraint to manage Shaquan's behavior, given his history and diagnoses. Shahbazian also said that restraints should be used as a last resort and only to maintain safety. She noted that all youths who end up in residential care have been victims of trauma, often including prior abuse. "We would love to be a 'restraint-free' agency — but absent serving a less severe clientele, that goal is a difficult one to achieve," said Shahbazian, who added that employees will undergo additional training this summer. Sheldon also called into question what steps Allendale staff took before using physical restraint against Shaquan. "Knowing that (Shaquan's) return home was disrupted, knowing that he was beginning to act out, to some extent should we anticipate what the behavior is going to be and have a plan in place to deal with it?" Sheldon asked. "I think that's where the department shares the burden of responsibility for making sure that facilities like Allendale ... really make sure their front-line staff knows those issues." Shaquan Allen Family photo Shaquan Allen in an undated photo. Shaquan Allen in an undated photo. (Family photo) In wake of Shaquan's death, Sheldon has recommended that residential centers including Allendale install surveillance cameras. Shahbazian said she supports the concept but said a funding source would need to be identified. Questions also surround why Shaquan was taken off the medication intended to manage his mental health diagnoses and how that decision might have affected his ability to deal with adversity. "It is unclear what the rationale was for the medication changes," the DCFS report stated. "These information gaps lend concern to the management of Shaquan's mental health stability ..." Shahbazian said health privacy rules prevent her from commenting. DCFS officials in their report also lamented a failure to connect "Shaquan's early drug exposure and trauma history ... to his behaviors." A "timely (psychological) evaluation" could have provided a more appropriate treatment plan, the report said. Allen said she sensed something was wrong when an Allendale administrator called to tell her there had been an accident and that her son had hit his head. At the hospital, she cried when the chaplain approached, knowing then that Shaquan was dead. She said she was not allowed to view his body at the hospital. "I miss everything about him," she said between sobs. "The phone calls, the 'Mommy, I love you.' I miss it all." deldeib@tribpub.com Twitter @deldeib  Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-allendale-shaquan-allen-death-met-20160526-story.html
For Many of Connecticut’s Disabled, Home Is Where the Harm Is Again and again, the disabled turned up in emergency rooms only to have the injuries they’d suffered in the state’s group homes go uninvestigated. by Joaquin Sapien ProPublica, May 27, 2016, 7:59 a.m. 0 Comments Print Print This is part of an ongoing investigation Level 14 How a home for troubled children came undone and what it means for California’s chance at reform. Spur Reform in 2016 Support ProPublica’s mission to expose abuses of power and corruption. The woman was sent to a Connecticut emergency room 19 times in 15 months. Her injuries were ghastly. She swallowed pieces of razor blades. She burned herself. She inserted pins, nails, metal can lids and other objects inside her vagina and rectum. She was developmentally disabled; living in a group home overseen by Connecticut state authorities. Each of her injuries should have been investigated by the state. None of them were. The woman’s experience is part of a federal report formally released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. Hers were among more than 300 emergency room visits examined by federal investigators between January 2012 and June 2014. The report found that on dozens of occasions, Connecticut group home workers failed to uphold their legal obligations to report incidents of abuse, injury, and neglect to authorities. Even when such reports were made, the state rarely took appropriate steps to find out what happened. “The results of this investigation are worse than I could have imagined, and clearly the oversight agencies have failed in their responsibility to prevent and investigate incidents of abuse,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who ordered the report following a 2013 investigation of Connecticut homes for the disabled by the Hartford Courant. “The state needs to take action as quickly as possible to address the issues raised in this disturbing report." Group home workers are required by law to report all injuries and signs of abuse or neglect to a state social services agency. In Connecticut, the Department of Developmental Services is then supposed to pass on particularly alarming reports— those of severe injury or that might suggest abuse at the hands of staff— to an independent state agency called the Office of Protection and Advocacy, which employs specially trained investigators. But the federal investigation found that Connecticut’s oversight system failed at almost every level. The Inspector General reviewed 152 “critical incidents” where residents came to harm. It found that group home workers understated their severity in more than half the cases; that the state failed to appropriately follow up on 99 percent of incidents that should have raised “reasonable suspicions of abuse or neglect,” and that hospital workers, who are also required to report such incidents, failed to do so in all but one of 310 emergency room visits. As in many other states, Connecticut’s developmentally disabled were once held in large institutions with hundreds, even thousands, of beds. Some of those facilities became notorious for abusive conditions, with patients suffering severe injuries and even death. Many of them were shut down and Connecticut has moved people into smaller group homes meant to resemble a family atmosphere and provide better supervision.   The report looked specifically at people whose care is paid for with federal Medicaid dollars. Currently there are more than 2,000 such beneficiaries living in scores of group homes throughout the state. “The goal of these programs is to improve the quality of the lives of people with developmental disabilities by moving them out of large institutions and into homes in their own communities,” said Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General. “The findings in this report suggest there is more work to be done to assure that dream is realized.” The Inspector General is conducting similar investigations in other states. Curt Roy, the auditor who authored the Connecticut report, told ProPublica that those probes have thus far unearthed similar problems. The results of these investigations are particularly disturbing for Jim Conroy. In 1995, he appeared on a “60 Minutes” episode that focused on an array of abuse allegations at a large Connecticut institution called the Southbury Training School. In a recent interview with ProPublica, he recalled crying over the level of care being offered thousands of disabled residents. “I told my parents I saw 3,000 American citizens living in a place where we wouldn’t put our dog for the weekend,” Conroy said. Conroy, who today is a Pennsylvania-based consultant, has spent the intervening decades helping U.S. states and foreign countries improve quality of care for the disabled. He has long supported the transition to smaller, community-based group homes, pointing at reams of data he has collected showing better outcomes for residents. That neglect is now happening to residents in those alternative settings disturbs him greatly. “What we did in institutions was overcrowd, understaff and underpay,” he said. “And I am fearful that we are repeating the exact same pattern in our community support systems now.” For its part, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services agreed with many of the findings in the report and an official with the agency told ProPublica it will continue to “make changes to this system.” As for the woman who was hospitalized 19 times in 15 months, the Office of Protection and Advocacy issued a protective order for her after being confronted by federal investigators. It also initiated a review of her care at the group home. Peter Hughes, the director of the OPA’s abuse division, said he could not comment on the status of that review due to privacy restrictions. Of the report as a whole, Hughes called it an “eye opener” and said his agency “worked for many, many hours on the report” with the Inspector General and “ultimately everyone wound up agreeing that we really need to do a better job of making reports and evaluating them.” Help us investigate: If you have experience with or information about care for the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, or troubled children email joaquin.sapien@propublica.org.  Source: https://www.propublica.org/article/for-many-of-connecticuts-disabled-home-is-where-the-harm-is
Former Middletown Group Home to Pay $1.5 Million to Settle Overbilling Allegations The group home, which provided residential and day services to the intellectually disabled and at-risk youth, settled with the government.  Middletown, CT By Vincent Salzo (Patch Staff) - May 31, 2016 10:50 am ET  MIDDLETOWN, CT — A former Middletown group home that provided residential and day services to the intellectually disabled and at-risk youth has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle overbilling allegations with the government, according to authorities. REM Connecticut Community Services, Inc. (REM), which ceased operating in Connecticut at the end of 2014, has entered into a civil settlement agreement with the federal and state governments in which it will pay $1.5 million to resolve allegations that it received overpayments from the Connecticut Medicaid Program, U.S. States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced in a joint statement. The allegations against REM arose from its submission of “cost reports” to the state related to its operation of group homes during the period from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2014, according to the press release. The government contended that REM reported certain interest expenses as allowable costs in the cost reports that were in fact not allowable under the state’s Cost Standards. As a result, the government alleges that REM received overpayments that it was not entitled to receive from the Connecticut Medicaid Program.  “Providers who bill government health insurance programs, such as Medicaid, must scrupulously follow the rules and regulations, and the failure to do so will have serious consequences,” Daly said in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s office will vigorously pursue health care providers who receive payments from federal health care programs that they are not entitled to receive.” To resolve its liability, REM will pay $1.5 million to the federal and state governments. Part of the settlement amount will be satisfied by the government retaining $1,189,025 that had been suspended by the state of Connecticut because of REM’s questionable billing practices, according to Daly. The additional $310,975 will be paid by REM collectively to the federal and state governments at the time the settlement agreement is executed.  Source: http://patch.com/connecticut/middletown-ct/former-middletown-group-home-pay-15-million-settle-overbilling-allegations
Russell Home faces fines, closure over licensing Lacking a proper state license, the Russell Home for Atypical Children faces closure Located on Holden Avenue, the Russell Home for Atypical Children has been serving Orlando for 67 years, albeit without any official licensing from the state. With more licensing challenges ahead, the home now faces closure. Located on Holden Avenue, the Russell Home for Atypical Children has been serving Orlando for 67 years, albeit without any official licensing from the state. With more licensing challenges ahead, the home now faces closure. Kate SantichContact ReporterStaff Writer This family-run nonprofit has been helping kids and adults for 67 years without incident.  For 67 years, the Russell Home for Atypical Children has cared for Central Florida's most vulnerable individuals — people who may not see, hear, walk, read, speak or otherwise fend for themselves. By most accounts, it has done an exceptional job. The home doesn't charge anyone and doesn't accept any government funding. But now, state officials have warned that the home needs to become a licensed facility — or shut down. If it doesn't, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration wrote in its most recent letter to the Russell Home, it will face a cease-and-desist order and fines of up to $1,000 a day. "We're baffled," says executive director Vantrease Blair, whose grandmother, Vantrease Russell, started taking special-needs children into her family home in 1949. "I know there are bad people in this world who would take advantage of others, but we're not trying to do that. We're just trying to do what my grandmother did her whole entire life." The state began investigating the home last October following an anonymous complaint that it was operating without a license, says AHCA spokeswoman Mallory McManus. Negotiations with the home since then haven't resolved the state's main point of contention: "By law the facility would need a license to continue operations," McManus says. The problem, it seems, is in the limits a license might impose. There isn't a category that the home neatly fits into: It no longer qualifies as a child-care facility as it once did — the children taken in by "Grandma" Russell, who died in 2003, are now adults. And if it operates as an assisted living facility, it would have to reject the more recent clients who are younger than 18. If it is licensed as a group home, it's limited to 15 residents; the Russell Home has 25. "We don't want to turn anyone away," Blair says. "And choosing who can stay and who has to go? That's like telling me which sisters and brothers I can keep." Late Friday afternoon, the Russell Home's board of directors voted to file the group home application to avoid a cease-and-desist order but requested that AHCA sign an agreement promising not to move any of the current residents. It was not immediately clear how state officials will respond. A registered nonprofit organization, the Russell Home has earned a large and loyal following over the years. Last week, a supporter launched a Change.org petition asking state officials to make a licensing exception for the home, and the group's Facebook page has filled with messages from outraged fans of the charity. But Blair says she doesn't object to licensing on its face. In fact, the Russell Home has had licenses under various state agencies in the past, though state officials sometimes struggled to define the home. A 2006 letter from the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities, for instance, states the home's "size, nature and structure … precludes APD licensure" under any of its categories. The home doesn't charge the residents who live there full time — some of whom are now middle-age and have no other family. Nor does it charge the handful of clients who come for day care, or those whose families simply need a reprieve of a week or two from round-the-clock care-giving. Instead, it raises $93,000 a month through donations and its thrift shop to cover licensed certified nursing assistants, cooks, custodians and administration costs. In addition, the home spent the past eight years raising $1.8 million to triple its cramped facility and upgrade everything to modern building codes. That construction is due to be finished this fall. "To have all this come up now…" Blair says, her voice trailing off. As she speaks, the women in the home are taking a dance class, and the sound of laughter and chatter spills into Blair's office. A nurse in the front room cradles a 12-year-old boy who was born without most of his brain. Other residents and day clients are in class or playing games. "They interact like that all day," says Kathie Post, a Winter Garden resident whose 37-year-old daughter attends day care there while Post works. "If my daughter were in some state-run facility, she'd be sitting in a chair all day. I can't say enough about the place." Jeannie Flynt of Orlando started bringing her son, Matthew, there in 2009. Born with a chromosomal disorders, he is now 29 and has severe intellectual and physical limitations. But Flynt was so impressed by his progress that, in 2013, she quit her corporate management position to become a teacher there. "Before I found the Russell Home, some of the places I checked out I wouldn't take my dog to," she says. "But you can come here any time, just drop in, and you will see the people like Matthew laughing, having fun, having a life that matters. To me, the Russell Home should be a model." The charity still hopes to resolve the matter amicably, says Tampa attorney Robert Williams, a senior litigator who has volunteered his services for the cause. "I'm prepared to go to court if it becomes necessary," he says. "But we're trying to avoid that." ksantich@tribpub.com or 407-420-5503  Source: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-russell-home-for-children-facing-closure-20160531-story.html
Audit: NYC agency didn't properly monitor troubled minors June 2, 2016 11:35 PM By The Associated Press  By MICHAEL BALSAMO (Associated Press) Reprints + - advertisement | advertise on newsday NEW YORK - (AP) -- New York City's child welfare agency failed to properly oversee a citywide juvenile justice program when its workers didn't make required visits to group homes or routinely check on the condition of children who were sent to the homes, the city's comptroller said in an audit released Thursday. The audit alleges that workers for the city's Administration for Children's Service, which oversees a program known as Close to Home, routinely failed to meet with children in the program and their families, or ensure that they were getting help from the providers who were contracted by the city. The program tries to house minors between 7 and 15 years old in residences near their relatives and schools instead of in far-off detention centers. The agency "abdicated its responsibility to oversee this program and robbed hundreds of New York City children of the opportunity to get back on the right track," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told The Associated Press. "It is outrageous that ACS has no idea if windows are locked, if children are receiving care or providers are doing their job. They are sounding a loud message that these kids don't deserve the necessary follow-up." Stringer said two-thirds of Close to Home group homes didn't receive a single unannounced visit in 2014, even though workers were required to make both announced and unannounced visits to every site. He also alleged that workers often failed to make required phone calls and didn't show up for required visits to check on the children. "The safety of our young people -- and communities -- is paramount," ACS Deputy Commissioner Jill Krauss said in a statement. "Over the past year, ACS has added experienced staff to monitor the safety of programs, enlisted the NYPD to assess security at all Close to Home sites, and, since 2013, we have shut down three programs that were unable to adhere to our standards." advertisement | advertise on newsday Last year, authorities arrested a worker at a now-closed Close to Home program group home after three teenage boys escaped on his watch and raped a woman. Prosecutors said the worker had made false entries in a group home logbook indicating he checked on the boys every half hour and that they were in their beds. Three additional group home staffers were arrested in April. They have all pleaded not guilty. The boys were charged as adults with raping a 33-year-old woman in Manhattan. ___ Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.  Source: http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/audit-nyc-agency-didn-t-properly-monitor-troubled-minors-1.11871326
Lawsuit demands safer conditions for S.C. foster children Lauren Sausser Email @laurenmsausser Jun 3 2016 12:05 pm The 2015 investigation "Warehousing our Children" shows South Carolina places its youngest foster children in group homes and institutions at a higher rate than any other state in the country. × The Department of Social Services announced Friday it settled a class-action lawsuit that alleged 11 children in foster care were abused, neglected, separated from their siblings and over-medicated. Part of the settlement will require South Carolina to find alternatives to group homes and institutions for children. The Post and Courier published a series of articles in 2015 titled “Warehousing our Children” that showed the state places its youngest foster children into group homes and institutions at a much higher rate than any other state in the country. Many experts find this practice troubling because research proves children tend to thrive when they live with families, not in a group setting. More than 3,000 South Carolina children have been placed in state custody. Data provided by the Department of Social Services last year shows more than 20 percent of them lived in a group home, institution or orphanage. Friday’s settlement also requires the Department of Social Services to reduce caseworker loads, to improve safety oversight and to make sure foster children receive adequate medical care. “We think it’s a wonderful step forward for children in foster care,” said Sue Berkowitz, executive director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. The settlement does not award money to the foster children, Berkowitz said, adding, “It’s all systemic relief. It’s class-action relief for all of the kids who are in foster care.” Her group, in partnership with Children’s Rights, a national advocacy organization, filed the lawsuit against South Carolina on behalf of the foster children last year. Camden attorney Robert Butcher represents former foster children who say they were sexually abused by adults and other children in state custody. He called Friday’s settlement “dramatic.” Similar settlements in other states have prompted major changes, he said. “In those states, they’ve had legislatures that have had the desire to make the changes,” said Butcher, who was not involved in the class-action lawsuit. “We always talk about unfunded mandates. If it’s a mandate that no one’s supporting, we’ve got some big problems.” Foster children have no voice in the Statehouse, Butcher said. “Foster kids don’t have lobbyists. They don’t have special interests,” he said. “They’re going to be the first ones our politicians drop when they need to cut costs.” Berkowitz agreed that the settlement will require the state to spend more money. “They cannot help kids if they don’t put resources into the services that they need,” she said. “That’s part of the reason they’re in such a big mess to begin with.” In a press release, the Department of Social Services said the settlement will avoid “prolonged, expensive litigation and allows DSS to continue to focus on implementing reforms that will improve the quality of care for children in foster care in South Carolina.” Gov. Nikki Haley, a named defendant in the lawsuit, issued a prepared statement Friday through her spokeswoman. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and our most vulnerable citizens, particularly those under the care of DSS. Whether it’s increasing the number of caseworkers or working with partners across state government and in our communities, we remain focused on strengthening DSS,” Haley said. “This settlement agreement represents yet another step in this process, and I applaud the work Director (Susan) Alford and her team do everyday.” Department of Social Services spokeswoman Karen Wingo said Alford was not available to discuss the settlement Friday. Alford also offered a prepared statement: “We will not reach these outcomes overnight; but our goal is to establish a strong foundation which builds a continuum of services for children that will be sustainable.” Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.  Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/20160603/160609795/lawsuit-demands-safer-conditions-for-sc-foster-children
‘Supergirl’ Star Jeremy Jordan Begs Fans to Help Rescue Cousin From ‘Ex-Gay’ Camp TV | By Itay Hod on June 7, 2016 @ 4:55 pm Follow @Itayhod Email Print Related CBS’s ‘Supergirl’ Casts ‘Last Five Years’ Star Jeremy Jordan Watch Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan Sing While Driving Recklessly in ‘The Last Five Years’ (Video) Jeremy Jordan’s Followup to ‘Smash’ Begins Production With Anna Kendrick as Co-Star “Sarah’s parents… sent Sarah away against her will to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens to ‘pray away the gay,’ actor writes “Supergirl” star Jeremy Jordan is asking fans to help rescue his 17-year-old cousin from an “ex-gay” conversion camp in Texas where she has been placed against her will. “Meet my cousin Sarah. At 17, her future looks bright. She is in the top 10% of her class, runs cross-country and belongs to the National Honor Society and the debate team. She is also gay,” Jordan wrote on his Facebook page. “Like any high school kids in a relationship, Sarah and her girlfriend wanted to go to prom together,” he wrote. “But when they did that, Sarah’s parents, who believe that homosexuality is a sin and abnormal, sent Sarah away against her will to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens to ‘pray away the gay.'” Also Read: Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato Cancel North Carolina Concerts Over Anti-LGBT Bill Jordan also set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover legal expenses to get Sarah released from the facility. So far, the page has raised more than $33,000 toward its $100,000 goal. At least one Hollywood friend has already agreed to help. Colton Haynes, the former “Arrow” star who recently came out as gay, has contributed $5,000 to Jordan’s campaign. This absolutely breaks my heart. Pls help Jeremy Jordan's cousin be her true self. #FreeSarah . Join me & donate. https://t.co/Iroz5nN8W4 — Colton Haynes (@ColtonLHaynes) June 6, 2016 And gay dating app Grindr asked its Twitter followers to help. Help #SaveSarah from a year of useless, damaging therapy. https://t.co/fb33X4tqJ2 — Grindr (@Grindr) June 7, 2016 Texas State laws allows parents to place their children in a residential boarding facility until they turn 18. Also Read: North Carolina, Mississippi's Anti-Gay Laws Prompt UK Warnings to Citizens Traveling to America According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, conversion therapy can be extremely dangerous: “Research shows that lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were more than eight times more likely to report having attempted suicide, more than five times more likely to report high levels of depression, more than three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and more than three times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.” A handful of states have banned conversion therapy, including California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Vermont. Also Read: Mumford & Sons Donate Proceeds From North Carolina Show to Charity Here’s Jordan’s emotional plea in full: Meet my cousin Sarah. At 17, her future looks bright. She is in the top 10% of her class, runs cross-country and belongs to the National Honor Society and the debate team. She is also gay. Like any high school kids in a relationship, Sarah and her girlfriend wanted to go to prom together. But when they did that, Sarah’s parents, who believe that homosexuality is a sin and abnormal, sent Sarah away against her will to an East Texas Christian boarding facility for troubled teens to “pray away the gay.” Not only does this type of “therapy” not work, mental health professionals from organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have found it to be psychologically damaging, especially for minors. And Sarah has been told that she must stay in this facility for a whole year. So instead of being surrounded by friends and extended family who love and support Sarah for who she is, she’ll be isolated in a place where the fact that she is gay is treated as a sin and an illness. Instead of preparing for college and competing in the state debate tournament, she’ll be doing forced labor every day and enduring Bible-based “therapy” for her “disease.” She is not allowed phone calls or email or any form of computer communication. She is also not allowed visitors and cannot leave the property. She is completely cut off from the outside world. She tried to run away, but was caught by the staff and returned to the facility. Sarah’s extended family and close friends are trying to win her release through the legal system, but it’s not cheap. Attorney’s fees in the first few weeks have already exceeded $20,000, and they are continuing to mount, with a full hearing set for July. Sarah needs your help. But this is about more than just one gay kid – if we free Sarah we can help show that it’s not okay to try to make gay teens straight by sending them away and using the threat of God against them. Spread the word so being gay doesn’t mean losing freedom for Sarah. #savesarah. Source: http://www.thewrap.com/supergirl-jeremy-jordan-cousin-ex-gay-camp/
New sex charges filed against ex-MK Place staff member By Debbie Bryce For the Journal Jun 7, 2016 (6) prev next POCATELLO — Prosecutors filed new charges against a former MK Place worker accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with underage clients at the adolescent residential center. Charges were dismissed against Julie Ann Gewarges, 30, in April. She was originally charged with two counts of felony lewd conduct related to one underage male victim. Following a preliminary hearing, Sixth District Magistrate Thomas C. Clark dismissed one count, and Gewarges was bound over to the trial court for the second charge. According to court records, the second charge was later dismissed by the prosecutor. Story continues below video The former MK Place staff member is now charged with four felony counts of sexual abuse by soliciting a minor under 16 to take part in a sexual act. Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor Zach Parris said if convicted of the charges against her, Gewarges could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for each count. Parris said the new charges were the result of additional investigation in the case and the new complaint involves a second victim. The deputy prosecutor said authorities are in contact with both victims and their families. The new charges were filed on June 1, and Gewarges will make her first appearance in court on June 17 when she be arraigned on the new charges. Gewarges was previously represented in the case by Shane Reichert of Pocatello. The charges against Gewarges stemmed from an incident on July 4, 2015, inside a van en route back to MK Place, 110 19th Avenue, following a Fourth of July celebration at the North Bannock County Fairgrounds. During the preliminary hearing in April, a 15-year-old male victim told the court that Gewarges made several sexually explicit comments to teens inside the van and engaged in lewd behavior with his friend. The boy’s father, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his son, said he’s pleased that charges were refiled in the case. “(Gewarges) needs to be exposed," he said. "It’s like she went on a rampage against children.” The underage male is currently receiving counseling, and his father said the teen is prepared to take the stand again. The man has taken no civil action against MK Place or Gewarges, but he said he wants the juvenile treatment center and the former staff member held accountable. MK place is a residential treatment center specializing in young people 13 to 17 years of age. The center has not released any statement regarding the July 2015 incident or the charges against Gewarges, and the director did not respond for this story Tuesday.  Source: http://idahostatejournal.com/members/new-sex-charges-filed-against-ex-mk-place-staff-member/article_eccce4e8-5a05-54ed-9bfe-1e6e5abc7652.html
Lawsuit alleging abuse, neglect of teen filed against Zelienople group home Updated: May 11, 2016 - 7:32 PM 140 Share this with your friends! From To Compose your message Thanks for sharing with your followers! Lawsuit alleging abuse, neglect of teen filed against Zelienople group homehttp://on.wpxi.com/1TbutGy ZELIENOPLE, Pa. — A family is suing Glade Run Lutheran Services, a group home in Zelienople, claiming that a 13-year-old boy was abused and neglected at the facility.   Attorneys for the boy and his family spoke Wednesday with Channel 11 News after filing the civil lawsuit.   “The thing that gets this little boy excited is the thought that Glade Run will no longer exist,” Nick Indovina of the Pisanchyn law firm said. Glade Run Lutheran Services in Zelienople   Channel 11 News has covered the residential treatment facility, which cares for children and teenagers with severe mental health issues, for months.    State inspectors found evidence last October of children having sex with other children on campus. As a result, the state Department of Human Services stripped the 56-bed facility of its license, which Glade Run is attempting to get back through an appeals process with the state. The campus has three additional facilities that have remained open pending the appeal decision.   No criminal charges were ever filed, but the state mandated changes, including firing the staff, hiring new employees and adding security cameras.   Indovina said the changes are not enough.   The lawsuit filed Wednesday details allegations too graphic for Channel 11 News to report about what the boy, now 15, endured from March to July 2015 while he was being treated at the group home for severe mental health issues.   The suit alleges that the staff failed to keep him safe from other children.    While Glade Run had yet to see the lawsuit, officials issued the following statement to Channel 11 News:   “Glade Run Lutheran Services serves our communities' most challenging and traumatized youth, providing residential, school-based and community-based offerings to thousands throughout Western Pennsylvania each year. Many have complex mental health issues and behaviors that necessitate residential treatment for stabilization and healing. The safety of our clients remains our first priority, and we are committed to providing the safest environment for their treatment and recovery.   “The provision of human services to individuals with mental health issues is not without risks. These risks include physical harm to staff and potential litigation. The privacy rights of our clients preclude us from discussing any allegation that may arise. Glade Run has a longstanding track record of more than 160 years of successful care and treatment of traumatized youth, and is dedicated to protecting the best interests of those we serve.”  Source: http://www.wpxi.com/news/lawsuit-alleging-abuse-neglect-of-teen-filed-against-zelienople-group-home/276616277
Oregon plans to revoke another foster care license 1 / 6 foster care feb. 3, 2016 Oregon's then-interim human services director Clyde Saiki, left, and Dani Ledezma, a policy adviser for Gov. Kate Brown, prepare to testify to lawmakers in support of foster care reform legislation. Saiki is among those sued Thursday over treatment of two vulnerable preschoolers. Denis C. Theriault/staff Denis C. Theriault | The Oregonian/OregonLive Print Email By Hillary Borrud | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian Email the author | Follow on Twitter on June 09, 2016 at 12:14 PM, updated June 09, 2016 at 1:30 PM 0 shares OAnother state-licensed facility for foster children could soon shut down, after investigators found neglect, maltreatment and failures to protect health and safety. The Oregon Department of Human Services plans to revoke the state license of Chehalem Youth and Family Services in Newberg, which currently provides behavioral rehabilitation for 16 children. The agency sent out a notice of intent to revoke the license on Wednesday. According to that notice, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive, investigators found youth went missing from the facility overnight without the staff noticing, staff failed to notify emergency personnel when a youth was unconscious for nearly an hour, and staff did not file mandatory reports on sexual assault allegations. Gene Evans, a spokesman for the department, said Thursday morning that Chehalem was "one of those where I think the agency's finally reached an 'enough is enough.'"  The state's Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations conducted multiple investigations of the facility starting in September. Human Services officials took action after an increase in reported problems at Chehalem Youth and Family Services starting last fall, according to the notice of intent to revoke the facility's license. The state also discovered Chehalem Youth and Family Services had financial problems and "is on the path to insolvency," according to the state.   All of the residents are wards of the juvenile court, according to the state's notice. Evans said the state has begun seeking other placements for children at the facility, which serves children with debilitating psychosocial, emotional and behavioral disorders. Human Services officials had been tracking issues at Chehalem Youth and Family Services for a while, and had placed it on a watch list of licensed facilities with recurring problems.  Evans said Chehalem Youth and Family Services was one of the facilities that spent the longest time on the department's so-called "radar list," which was created in 2012.    Chehalem Youth and Family Services has 30 days from the notice to request a hearing to make the case to licensing staff that the facility should be allowed to keep its license. If the facility does not, DHS will revoke its license. — Hillary Borrud hborrud@oregonian.com  Source: http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/06/dhs_revoke_license.html
NY group home operator sued in probes of alleged abuse  By - Associated Press - Thursday, June 9, 2016 ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A federal judge has ordered an upstate New York group home operator to provide records and access to a legal services organization representing two youths allegedly attacked by staff. Judge Glenn Suddaby says Thursday that Northern Rivers Family Services cannot block Disability Rights New York from its federally authorized monitoring of the disabled. Disability Rights received complaints about a 13-year-old punched and choked at a Schenectady group home in 2014, and a 15-year-old left unattended at a bus stop and choked there in early 2015. Northern Rivers, which initially denied access, says it’s committed to protecting the rights of people in its care and welcomes any group with legal authority to monitor its efforts. It told the judge both youths left the home last year and two staff were fired.  Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/9/ny-group-home-operator-sued-in-probes-of-alleged-a/
. Questions surround death of 2-year-old child in foster care By Danielle Taylor June 11, 2016Updated Jun 11, 2016 at 12:07 AM CDT Cloquet, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- A funeral was held Friday morning on the Fond du Lac Reservation for a two-year-old girl who drowned in a plastic laundry bin in a Bemidji Foster home last Sunday. According to a criminal complaint, Kira Friedman was placed in the shower and left unattended by her foster dad, who is now facing manslaughter charges. "This didn't have to happen. This little girl didn't have to die. She should be right here with her parents at this time," said Patti Larsen, a family spokesperson. Larsen, who serves as the Sacred Hoop Coalition Director, was shepherding 2-year-old Kira Friedman's case through the St. Louis County Court system on behalf of the little girl's family, and believes her death was preventable. "The maternal grandmother identified numerous people who would be potential placements for the child," she said. Larsen wanted to ensure Kira was placed in a Native American home. Therefore, she says the County let this child down when they removed her from a Native foster home, and placed her with a white foster family in Duluth. "Kira was just a number, was shipped off to a place," Larsen said. At the family's request, Leech Lake Reservation got involved to find a Native foster home. When Kira was placed in a home in Bemidji, red flags were sent up right away. "There was too many children in that place to properly care for a child with special needs, such as Kira," said Larsen. Larsen says keeping Kira in the hands of the St. Louis County Court System is where her parents went wrong. However, a spokeswoman with the county says the child was no longer in their custody. In a written statement the county said, "This case has been under the jurisdiction of Leech Lake Tribal Court for close to a year and custody has been with the Leech Lake Band. This matter is under active investigation by the authorities involved, so we would have no further comment on it." Nonetheless, Larsen stresses the importance of applying the Indian Child Welfare Act to foster children. The act is a federal law that seeks to keep native children with native families. "Follow ICUA. It's there for a purpose. It was placed there for a purpose in 1978 when so many kids were being lost," said Larsen. In addition to the Indian Child Welfare Act, Larsen also mentioned the Minnesota Indian Preservation Act should be followed by government agencies, when dealing with Native foster children.  Source: http://www.northlandsnewscenter.com/news/local/Questions-surround-death-of-2-year-old-child-in-foster-care-382559811.html
Three central Ohio residents who endured horrific foster care child abuse have joined several young survivors going public with their stories THE ASSOCIATED PRESS   June 11, 2016 - 9:36 am EDT AAA COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three central Ohio residents who endured horrific foster care child abuse have joined several young survivors going public with their stories. The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1YP0lCx ) that Julius Kissinger and his siblings, Jermaine Ferguson and Valnita Ferguson— all in their 20s —have posted accounts of their experiences online as part of a nationwide foster-care awareness campaign. Their adoptive parents, James and Vonda Ferguson, are serving 65-year sentences for the abuse. Five of the couple's children were tortured and beaten until they bled at the couple's Springfield and Marysville homes. They were rescued in 2004 and later scattered to different homes. Sandy Santana, the executive director of the New York City-based legal advocacy organization Children's Rights, says part of the campaign's aim to put a real face on foster care.  Source: http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/07d4bae256b0451488890d1d32c1e879/OH--Child-Abuse-Survivors
Former pill mill doctor's home to become drug treatment center By WSAZ News Staff |  Posted: Fri 4:26 PM, Jun 10, 2016 GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) – A new treatment center is opening at a mansion owned by a former pill mill doctor who spent time in prison. Recovery Works has announced it will open its second treatment facility in Kentucky. The facility will be housed in the former home of David Procter, a doctor who ran a pill mill out of his South Shore practice. Procter moved to the US from Canada, opening his practice in the early 1980’s. His practice was then converted to a pill-mill in the mid-1990’s with the held of 3 former associates. Dr. Procter, as well as two other partners, traded pills for cash regularly, with prices ranging from $80 to even $120 per prescription. During the trial of one of his former business managers, Procter testified he saw as many as 80 patients per day. Procter pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to illegally distribute substances in 2003. In 2006, Procter appealed his conviction and his 200-month sentence was reduced to 141-moths He finished his sentence in 2013. Procter’s old mansion will hold 32 beds once it is converted to a treatment facility and it will be an unlocked facility, meaning patients will be able to come and go. Recovery Works says, on average, their patients stay three weeks. They offer residential, outpatient and transitional living programs and 24 hour nursing coverage. The center, which will operate under the Pinnacle Treatment banner, says they plan to hire locally in order to staff their workforce. The organization says they will break ground on the new facility June 15th, with an expected opening date set for July 2016.  Source: http://www.wsaz.com/content/news/Former-pill-mill-doctors-home-to-become-drug-treatment-center-382519111.html
A staffer at a state-run treatment center for troubled youth is accused of having a sexual relationship with a teen who made headlines in 2013 after shooting and killing his parents and three younger siblings THE ASSOCIATED PRESS   June 15, 2016 - 4:37 pm EDT AAA ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — A staffer at a New Mexico-run treatment center for troubled youth is accused of having a sexual relationship with a teen who made headlines in 2013 after shooting and killing his parents and three younger siblings. Amber Lucero, 35, made her first appearance in court Tuesday. She's charged with sexual contact of a minor by a person in a position of authority. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney. Lucero works at the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center where Nehemiah Griego — now 19 — had received therapy prior to pleading guilty to charges stemming from the slayings at his family home just south of Albuquerque. According to a criminal complaint, some of Griego's family members learned of the relationship and reported it last week to administrators at the Albuquerque treatment center. State Health Department spokesman David Morgan said the allegations are troubling and that the agency, which oversees the center, is taking them seriously. "DOH placed the employee on leave Monday and we are moving forward with termination," he told The Associated Press in an email. "We have also been cooperating with state police on their criminal investigation and will continue to do so." Albuquerque television station KRQE first reported allegations about the relationship. The criminal complaint stated that Griego confirmed for investigators that he was in a romantic relationship with Lucero and that the relationship began in the latter half of 2014. The two began spending time together. Walks around the facility led to holding hands and kissing, and Griego told investigators that he had touched Lucero's breasts over her clothing. Griego was reluctant to talk about their relationship because he cared for Lucero and didn't want to get her in trouble, according to the complaint. When Griego was moved to another facility, authorities said, the two continued to exchange letters. In an interview with police, Lucero said she believed she loved Griego and that she "weakened" when he asked for a kiss. She went on to say that she overstepped her boundaries by becoming "too much of a friend with him and caring too much." During Tuesday's court hearing, the judge ordered Lucero not to have any contact with Griego or return to the treatment center. Griego will remain in state custody until he is 21 as part of a sentence handed down in March for the shooting deaths of his parents and siblings. He was 15 when he opened fire inside the family home. Prosecutors are appealing the sentence.  Source: http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/8dbd234b071f4b649928c5b100e17666/US--Teen-Killer-Relationship
Rapes, Daily Beatings, and No Escape: Christian School Was Hell For These Boys Blue Creek Academy was an abusive hell on earth, former students say—and the principal who ran it is now heading up a new Bible school in another state. Jacob* dressed himself in a camouflage jacket and a matching beanie on the summer morning he ran away into the West Virginia hills. At 14 years old, he was one of the youngest, smallest, and longest-attending students at Blue Creek Academy, a religious reform school for boys from which he was desperate to escape. Blue Creek Academy was made up of an old schoolhouse and several cabins situated on a remote campground in central West Virginia. A mission of the nearby Independent Fundamental Baptist church, pastor James Waldeck advertised Blue Creek as an “alternative to today's degenerate, secular culture and education methods,” and took in boys who had been in trouble at home—both locally and from as far away as Texas—to be reformed. Its principal, 35-year-old JR Thompson, had reopened the church’s campgrounds in 2010, renamed it Blue Creek Academy, and marketed the boarding school, which he ran with his wife, Hannah, as a godly answer for “at-risk” teens with emotional and behavioral disabilities and Christian parents with $1,000 a month to spend on their salvation. “We can’t wait to watch God move as he helps us snatch troubled souls out of Satan’s hand,” Thompson wrote on the school’s now-defunct website. What the boys found when they got to Blue Creek Academy was something else entirely—an all-too-common story for victims of Lester Roloff-inspired homes, which thrive as part of the unregulated religious teen reform industry. Along with a strict Bible-based curriculum, boys at Blue Creek Academy were allegedly subject to isolation, physical beatings and mistreatment, and at least two students reported sexual abuse by another student, according to court documents from a pending civil case brought against the school by one boy’s guardian; complaints and reports from West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Resources obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Daily Beast; and interviews—with a lawyer representing three Blue Creek Academy students, three other former students, one parent, and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office. Once at Blue Creek, the boys were cut off completely from the outside world, former students and their representatives claim. Bunkered in dilapidated quarters that were infested with rats and mice, the boys weren’t permitted to speak in public unless it was to sing hymns for local churches and the elderly. They weren’t taken to the doctor, and their calls home were monitored to intercept any unhappy tidings. When the boys weren’t going to church, doing manual labor, or memorizing Bible verses, they were in a kind of school—seated in desks facing the wall, completing Bible-based academic workbooks for hours. Staff at Blue Creek Academy educated children using the Accelerated Christian Education (A.C.E.) curriculum, from a homeschooling supply company whose workbooks promote the Bible as a literal history book and stress Creationism as science. (At one time the company even used the Loch Ness Monster to “disprove” Darwin’s theory of evolution.) Following A.C.E. guidelines, desks faced the wall, and were usually surrounded by dividers to block out any distractions. “They basically handed you a book and said, ‘Learn,’” one former student, who asked not to be named, told The Daily Beast. In lieu of teachers, ACE only requires “facilitators” to check students work and record grades, but even that was neglected at Blue Creek, according to several students who told The Daily Beast their time at Thompson’s school had to be made up once they returned to public school because none of their work “counted.” Even the director’s adopted son, 19-year-old Justin Thompson, who lived at Blue Creek starting in 2010, told The Daily Beast over Facebook chat, “I passed high school but [JR Thompson] never kept a lot on record, so I have no proof.” But the educational neglect was nothing compared to the punishments given by Thompson, former students allege. Get The Beast In Your Inbox! Daily DigestStart and finish your day with the smartest, sharpest takes from The Daily Beast Cheat SheetA speedy, smart summary of news and must-reads from The Daily Beast and across the Web By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy Thank You! You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason Boys who acted out, or refused to obey, might have their heads shaved like Jacob. Attempts to run away were allegedly penalized with food: an all-bean or asparagus diet or being made to chug water then denied use of the bathroom. They were all allegedly beaten—with bare hands, paddles, and boards. Jacob—whose new guardian is now suing Thompson and Waldeck for the maltreatment the boy allegedly endured there— said he was thrown into a wall when he wouldn’t confess to breaking a bench. “Mr. Thompson was very aggressive when it came to paddlings,” said one former student, reached through Facebook, who says he was sent to Blue Creek Academy for drinking and smoking pot. The boy, who asked not to be named because of his remaining ties to Blue Creek staff, said that he was hit nearly every day with Thompson's bare hands or a two-inch thick wood plank with holes they called “The Hillbilly Hot Seat” for lying, or cursing, even singing a secular song in the shower. “It was hell,” he said. “They forced unwanted religion on us, made us do labor that we hated, and made us run up and down the driveway. They used a board to hit us if we didn't do what we were asked,” he said. At least two of the boys there were the victims of sexual abuse. As detailed on an intake form from the division of Child Protective Services, obtained by a FOIA request from The Daily Beast, a 17-year-old boy—who was sent to Blue Creek from another teen reform school in Wisconsin where he had been originally placed and subsequently booted for molesting boys—was sexually abusing two of the younger students in 2012. Thompson—whom two former Blue Creek families fault with failing to supervise a known abuser—did report the older boy to police. When questioned, the older boy admitted to Thompson and police that he had raped one boy and molested another; he was arrested and sent to a juvenile detention center, where he was charged with four counts of 3rd degree sexual assault and three counts of 1st degree sexual abuse. A separate allegation of sexual assault by a different boy at Blue Creek Academy is still currently under investigation, according to Sgt. Brian Humphreys, the public information officer for the Kanawha Sheriff's Office. Blue Creek administrators had their own personal history with CPS: one had been investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of his biological children, while another had been reported for unspecified allegations against his adopted son. Both investigations were closed as “incomplete.” On the intake form, the CPS investigator noted there was not enough supervision at the school and took issue with the policy of corporal punishment, but neither concern was enough to remove the children. Besides, where would they go? “The parents of all the boys do not seem interested in coming to get any of them,” the worker wrote. Handout But Jacob wanted out. So he waited until the morning of June, 10, 2014 when Thompson would be off campus. As the other boys gathered for prayers and school, Jacob went back to his cabin, telling them he had forgotten to brush his teeth. Then he made a run for it. When the staff at BCA realized Jacob had run, they called Thompson back to look for him. After hours of fruitless searching, Thompson called local law enforcement, who helped him search the surrounding woods—but Jacob was gone. The next evening, a man found Jacob begging for change at a neighboring county supermarket 10 miles from Blue Creek and called Clay County Child Protective Services. Jacob smelled foul and the soles of his shoes had been worn bare from running. He was hungry, dirty, and scared, according to the CPS intake form.   Jacob begged the sheriff not to send him back. Kanawha County Child Protective Services went out to investigate Jacob’s abuse allegations and interview the boys at Blue Creek. When they got past Thompson, who initially refused to let them in the door, they found seven boys who all disclosed allegations of abuse and neglect by Thompson. The caseworker wrote that, in her interviews, the children told her Thompson had left marks from beatings and his poor supervision allowed for the molestation of several children; guns, drugs, and alcohol were also being brought on campgrounds.  The official finding was maltreatment. “There was a lack of oversight,” said Troy Giatras, the attorney litigating a case for Jacob’s guardian against Thompson, Waldeck, and Blue Creek Academy. “The corporal punishment, the manual labor, the isolation, and the allegations of abuse that were never investigated? Other kids have reached out to us, so I know this isn’t an isolated incident.” “You have a place that is operating without a good charter and not well supervised by the Department of Health and Human Resources, and parents with troubled kids who are expecting a religious school to help.” No one from Blue Creek chose to comment for this story. Calls to Wadeck and Bible Baptist Church, and calls and emails sent to JR Thompson, his wife Hannah, and two other couples who worked at the camp during the time of alleged abuse were also not returned. In answers to a number of pending lawsuits, however, including one on behalf of Jacob, Waldeck and Thompson deny all charges of neglect or mistreatment of the boys at Blue Creek Academy. After her interviews, with the help of the Kanawha County Sheriff, the Child Protective Services caseworker brought the kids to a pizza parlor while they organized a return to their homes. While the children could be removed—because Blue Creek was unlicensed as a residential home—the Department of Children and Families had no power to shut the boarding school down. Like thousands of other religious private schools around the country—many of which become havens for abuse—Blue Creek Academy operated unlicensed, unregulated, and wholly unmonitored by the state. The only avenue for closure rested with the Board of Education, an entity that until then, had also had minimal interaction with the school. As in many other states, religious private schools in West Virginia aren’t held to the same standards as their nonreligious counterparts. Though the ways in which they are exempt varies from state to state, for many schools that operate with a religious mission—80 percent of private schools nationwide—accreditation or licensing, the hiring of certified teachers or the approval of curriculum, or even simply notifying the state as to its existence is completely voluntary. “It’s a little scary when you think about it,” Betty Jordan, executive assistant to West Virginia’s Education Superintendent told The Daily Beast, explaining Blue Creek’s “Exemption K status,” a category that simply requires any religious school to send a letter to the state of its intent to operate and file annual test scores. “There is very very limited oversight. Actually there is no oversight. So basically if I wanted to tomorrow, I could write a letter to the state saying I want to open a school and I could open a school.” There are 130 such schools in West Virginia. Jordan said the exemptions are “hardly ever” revoked. State superintendent Michael Martirano did initiate Blue Creek’s closure, by revoking Blue Creek’s exemption status shortly after the children were removed. And in his September 2014 revocation letter, Martirano ostensibly put an end to any ideas of Blue Creek reopening. He wrote: “Due to the egregious nature of the non-compliance, children's health, safety and welfare, any future attempts by the school to seek reinstatement of the exemption status will be denied by this office.” Notably, the superintendent had shuttered another school 75 miles south of Blue Creek Academy the month before, after 26 years of operation. Martirano forced Miracle Meadows, a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school for “at risk” boys and girls from 6 to 17 years old, to close after a DHHR investigation found that school officials had failed to report an instance of sexual abuse of one student by another and that a school janitor had restrained students in handcuffs until their wrists bled and choked others who misbehaved.     The Department of Health and Human Resources had received 13 formal complaints about the school since 2009, four of which alleged sexual misconduct, according to an Associated Press report on records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Miracle Meadows’ former director Susan Gayle Clark, 69, pled guilty this year to three misdemeanors counts of child neglect creating a substantial risk of injury, failure to report by a mandated reporter, and obstructing a law enforcement officer. She was sentenced to six months and 30 days in prison.   Abuse at religious schools like Blue Creek Academy and Miracle Meadows is underreported and frighteningly prevalent, according to Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and author of God vs the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty. “These small institutions can be very dangerous to kids because they are isolated and fly under the radar,” Hamilton told The Daily Beast. Because some fundamentalist parents agree with physical abuse as discipline and sexual abuse is often dealt with internally or covered up, Hamilton said, it can be “easy for these groups to get away with it for quite a while, while endangering a series of children.” “This is a common problem, which calls for a National Commission on child sex abuse and for states to work more cooperatively on tracking entities that permit and foment child sex abuse and neglect.” Indeed, a lack of cooperation by states is the very thing that allows abusive Christian teen reform homes closed by authorities in one state to be reopened in another, sometimes using the same name, and frequently run by the same operators. via Facebook After Olin King pled “no contest” to charges in South Carolina stemming from the isolation, imprisonment, and beatings of children in his care at The New Bethany Baptist School for Boys in 1984, he packed up and moved, opening the aptly-named Second Chance Ranch in Danbury, North Carolina. A state bill that would have licensed such boarding schools proposed in response to New Bethany’s closing was protested by local pastors who called it an “intrusion into freedom of the church’s rights.” Today South Carolina is one of the states that exempts religious schools from licensing rules that govern other residential youth homes. In 2009, a Lester Roloff disciple, Pastor Jack Patterson, was forced to close his tough-love boarding school, Reclamation Ranch in Alabama, after allegations of torture and a police raid that turned up guns and shackles. As part of a plea deal, Patterson traded in a felony aggravated child abuse for a verbal harassment misdemeanor and a $500 fine. Though he did close Reclamation Ranch, Patterson opened a home for adult men in its place, maintained his school for girls nearby, and told a Mother Jones reporter in 2011, he planned to open more homes in Ohio, Florida, and Michigan.   In 2012, Alexandra Zayas, a  Pulitzer Prize finalist for her reporting on religious boarding schools in the state, wrote that Florida preacher Clayton "Buddy" Maynard was housing five children when, just two years earlier his isolated Heritage Boys Academy had been closed after a state investigation found that boys had been abused there, including one boy who was whipped 1,330 times. “None of the state agencies that oversee such facilities were aware the church was caring for children,” Zayas wrote. And Florida pastor Russ Cookston’s Lighthouse ministries school was closed in 2013 after being plagued with allegations of physical and sexual abuse and solitary confinement. According to his Facebook and LinkedIn pages, though, one month after he closed up his shop in the small town of Jay, he was working as an associate pastor at a Master’s Ranch, a home for troubled boys in Missouri, a state with notoriously lax child welfare laws. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Master’s Ranch administrator David Bosley confirmed Cookston’s position as a senior staff member, praising him as “almost too gentle for this job,” “extremely kind,” and “extremely patient.” “I do know when you get in this business—and I've been working with kids for almost 30 years—that you will always be accused of abuse by someone,” Bosley said. “I firmly believe every student should be heard and every allegation thoroughly investigated for the safety of all kids, but you're always going to have one or two disgruntled kids or parents who are trying to find a way out of the program or who just hate you for trying to help him.” The Government Accountability Office found thousands of allegations of abuse at teen reform homes and camps from 1990 to 2007, some of which involved the death of a young person. The 2007 report was unable to provide a specific number however, as “it could not locate a single Web site, federal agency, or other entity that collects comprehensive nationwide data.” In fact, the only tracking of these types of homes and the abuse that often occurs in them, comes from bloggers and advocacy groups. Angela Smith, 42, runs HEAL, one of the most prominent organizations working to expose and ultimately close abusive youth facilities. Blue Creek Academy is one of some 500 past and present residential programs in the U.S. that currently make up HEAL’s watch-list of fraudulent and abusive programs in the U.S. “Abuse is rampant because many of these facilities operate with little or no oversight and accountability,” Smith said. Even in the states with licensing boards like Montana and Utah, she said, ”the people who own and operate these youth programs are the ones doing the oversight.”   “The fox is watching the hen-house so to speak.” Nobody seems to be watching JR Thompson. By the time the Department of Education mailed the revocation letter to Blue Creek Academy, principal Thompson had moved to Montana, to a three-bedroom single family house on 11 acres in De Borgia, a six-mile-wide town near the Idaho border that, as of the last census count, was home to 78 people. Within a year, and with the blessing of his “sending church” in West Virginia, Thompson had registered his new home as Canaan’s Land Baptist Church with the Secretary of State. By August 2015, the Canaan’s Land Boy’s Ranch, a non-public secondary school, was registered as a business. “Even though our name is Canaan’s Land Boys Ranch, we are not currently in a ranch setting,” Thompson says in a video advertisement for the $900-a-month boarding school running out of his new home. “We do plan to expand and move to a location where we will be able to acquire animals for the boys to work with.” There is space for eight children, according the Canaan’s Land Boys Ranch website, and so far, two boys, ages 14 and 15, currently live, go to church with, and are educated by the Thompsons. The minors both appear in promotional videos for Canaan’s Land Boys Ranch, where they decry their past lives of “doing the wrong things,” and being disrespectful to their parents. They’re wearing bowties in Facebook photos as they sing hymns with the Thompsons for a church audience. The existence of Thompson’s new endeavor came as a surprise to Montana school officials. “This is the first I’ve heard anything about Canaan's Land Boys Ranch,” said Mineral County Superintendent of Schools Mary Yarnall, who explained Thompson has yet to fill out the minimal paperwork the state requires from the operator of a boarding school. “I will try figure out an address and send him a packet. If he doesn’t acknowledge that, I can send the sheriff to at least make him sign, but in Montana there isn’t a whole lot of consequence for not registering.” Montana’s negligible yet unenforceable education requirements for religious private schools no doubt appeal to Thompson, who according to his pseudonymous activism on social media, seems particularly keen on separating himself and his boys’ home from any more government meddling. Thompson blogs under the the alias Nehemiah Flynt, “a Christian author determined to expose the evils of Child Protective Services,” according to his Facebook page, which he made private following a request for comment for this story. In a YouTube video reading from his book, “Legal Discrimination,” Thompson—speaking as Flynt, with his face blurred, but with his characteristic southern drawl intact—does speak to the controversy at Blue Creek saying, “Flynt took charge of a successful Christian-based facility for at-risk youths. He soon, learned, however, that the government of the United States is so narrow-minded that they would stop at nothing to close any facility operating under moral or religious principles differing from their own devilish agendas. ” “One allegation from a non-credible source changed everything," he says in the video. Now, attorney Troy Giatras says he’s representing at least three former students and their parents, who are hoping someone at Thompson’s former boarding school will have to answer for what went on there. Since being reunited with her son after the raid at Blue Creek, one of Giatras’ clients, Carolyn*, 32, from Evansville, Indiana, has written and called every local, state, and federal law enforcement office and lawmaker that she knows, looking for someone who will hold the operators of Blue Creek Academy accountable for the abuse she says her son withstood there for 17 months, and to make sure it doesn’t happen to other children. “They dodged my calls,” she said. “They told me that me and my son should be lucky, that I got him back and they don’t have time to do anything else, that their work is for active cases.” As for her son’s well-being, she said, “It’s a process. The damage is overwhelming. He’s been in counseling ever since he left.” Meanwhile, Thompson is being careful with his new school. The website for Canaan's Land Boys Ranch used to have his and his wife’s names on it, but they’ve since been scrubbed clean and a warning for prospective parents has been added: “Our Ranch Isn't For Everyone!” it says, along with the caveat that boys with a history of “sexual acting out (molestations, rapes, etc)” and “students who come from families who would not be supportive of the day to day operations of Canaan's Land Boys Ranch” will not be admitted.   *Names of children and parents have been omitted or changed to protect child victims of sexual abuse.  Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/12/rapes-daily-beatings-and-no-escape-christian-school-was-hell-for-these-boys.html?via=desktop&source=facebook
--> California’s Addiction Rehab System Desperately Needs a Fix Details Beth Cone Kramer 20 June 2016 -Last Friday, ABC’s 20/20 detailed the unfathomable saga of rehab mogul Chris Bathum, (photo above) subject of an April expose in LA Weekly written by Hillel Aron. Bathum’s company, Community Recovery, Inc., took in over $30 million in revenue last year, despite his record as a convicted felon and, by his own admission, that he is neither a licensed drug counselor nor a therapist.  Bathum doesn’t even have a college degree and the only certification he holds is from a hypnotherapy institute. His legal troubles had been the subject of an LA Weekly cover story back in December. The founder and board chairman of a chain of over 20 sober living houses and outpatient clinics in California and Colorado has been the target of three lawsuits in early 2016 for allegations ranging from wrongful termination to sexual battery. A pair of former patients at Bathum’s Community Recovery Los Angeles (CRLA) facilities alleges that Bathum had “isolated and targeted (the) plaintiffs and other women to prey on their addictions by using and supplying drugs around them, moving them to isolated hotel rooms and remote locations, encouraging them to use drugs with him, and sexually molesting them when they were high and/or incapable of consent.”  According to various reports, Bathum is the subject of over 50 lawsuits, including former client Amanda Jester who filed a suit that he had molested her in a sweat lodge during a meditation session. Another client, Erika Bruakis, claims he provided her with crystal meth and made sexual advances toward her. Dana Reardon, the most recent patient to file a suit, claims he provided her with meth and heroin, forcing her to watch him engage in sex acts with two of his other patients.  20/20 and LA Weekly both reported that Bathum overdosed on heroin and was taken by ambulance from a Malibu motel in December, which he denies. In fact, when questioned during the 20/20 report, he denied all charges and claimed his identity had been stolen. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department says he never filed a report. He is currently countersuing multiple women who have filed lawsuits against him for libel. Bathum’s troubles didn’t start at CRLA. Last July, one of his former patients, Julie Hluchota, died of an overdose. Hluchota had entered a Malibu rehab clinic, Seasons, where Bathum was the co-founder and the director. After spending 90 days in the program, she began to work at the facility and relapsed just two months later. Hluchota alleged that Bathum made unwanted sexual advances toward her, which is denies.  Just how does a convicted felon without a degree or credentials open and run a chain of sober living facilities and rehab clinics, preying upon young women in the most dire of conditions?  Kenneth Whoridaz Whitfield has a lot to say about it. The 46-year old military veteran has been in recovery since 1993 and has been sober for the past six years. He shares that he made some bad decisions and relapsed in 2008, serving time in County and as a result, awakened to what recovery really is and what it isn’t.  “People in the Inland Empire, San Bernardino, and other areas aren’t as affluent,” he says. “They might not have as many resources other than 12 step-programs. It was a real culture shock when I arrived in LA in May 2010. After I was incarcerated, I got clean and sober, thanks to the VA in West LA and Henry Waxman who was committed to staying on top of things to get veterans the best care possible,” he shares. “My experience at the VA wasn’t perfect but they did the best with limited resources and I’m back to being a productive member of society.”  Following his time at the VA, Whitfield got into the field of recovery, managing a sober living facility in Mar Vista and working in marketing for another facility. When his last contract was up, he says he “didn’t like the direction the treatment world was going.”  The U.S. is the most addicted country in the world, he says, and the consumer of 90 percent of prescription drugs worldwide. As a result, the addiction treatment centers and rehab have become a multimillion dollar industry. “Until society looks at prescription and illegal drugs as drugs anyone can get addicted to, nothing will change,” says Whitfield.  He continues, warning, “Big names in rehab are just about making money. It’s easier to get a license as a rehab owner in California than it is to get a contractor’s license. If you have a felony record, you just have to write to the governor. Doctors who have had their medical licenses revoked can open clinics and rehab facilities. There’s no process to make sure they are legit and they are given carte blanche to scam insurance companies.”  What can be done to change the broken system?  Whitfield points to the Governor. “When it comes to this issue, he’s dropped the ball. He needs to put his foot down and say if you’re a sober living facility, you need to be non-profit,” he advises. “The East Coast has far more regulations. In New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, they don’t have this stuff going on. To open a treatment center there, you have to get a license like a hospital or mental health facility.”  If someone owns an outpatient treatment clinic, he or she should not be able to open a sober living facility and the facilities need to be licensed, he suggests. There should be some oversight and regulation to check up on non-licensed employees handing out medication, as well. Residential treatment centers must have doctors and nurses present to provide the level of care necessary. Substance abuse and addiction come at a tremendous cost to individuals, families, and society. As the need grows for rehab and sober living facilities, it’s crucial that we don’t allow unscrupulous entrepreneurs to take advantage of Californians in the most dire straits. California should follow the lead of other states that place more restrictions on who can open and operate facilities, as well as how the facilities operate.  (Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.) Photo: LA Weekly. Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.    Source: http://www.citywatchla.com/index.php/the-la-beat/11315-california-s-addiction-rehab-system-desperately-needs-a-fix
Nurses at Illinois hospital file complaint over recent 'boot camp' training Written by Kelly Gooch | June 21, 2016 0 inShare Nurses at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., are alleging that a recent "boot camp" training was punitive and humiliating, The Herald-News reports. The Illinois Nurses Association, which represents the workers, said the emergency room training involved forcing nurses to drink water without access to restrooms, as well as nurses sitting on a bedpan in a patient bed for 30 minutes in a public hallway while wearing goggles and headphones to simulate poor vision and hearing, according to the report. The union claims the training was disciplinary after certain patient satisfaction scores. In response to the experience, the union filed a petition with the hospital contending that the training session violated scheduling provisions in the union contract, The Herald-News reports. "I think they're looking for better dialogue on these kinds of matters going forward," Chris Martin, spokesman with the INA, said, according to the report. In a statement provided to The Herald-News, hospital officials said nurses "are held in the highest esteem," and participants found the training "a positive and productive experience." The hospital said the training provided "new best practice insights" that the nurses are eager to implement.  Source: http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/human-capital-and-risk/nurses-at-illinois-hospital-file-complaint-over-recent-boot-camp-training.html
Mandatory treatment not effective at reducing drug use, violates human rights, researchers say Date: June 21, 2016 Source: Boston University Medical Center Summary: Clinician researchers assessed current global evidence and found that mandatory treatment for people with substance use disorders is not effective in reducing their drug use. S In an analysis recently published in BMJ, which coincided with the UN High Level Meeting on HIV in New York, Boston Medical Center (BMC) clinician researchers assessed current global evidence and found that mandatory treatment for people with substance use disorders is not effective in reducing their drug use. In addition, mandatory treatment, which is defined as treatment ordered, motivated or supervised under the criminal justice system, done without a patient's informed consent violates their human rights and does more harm than benefit to the patient. Bulat Idrisov, MD, MSc, and Karsten Lunze, MD, MPH, DrPH, from the Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit at BMC and Boston University School of Medicine, in collaboration with researchers in Canada and Malaysia, assessed global data and found that countries often lack the capacity to treat substance use disorders. This happens because they are not able to offer the diagnostic and therapeutic modalities and providers trained in addiction medicine that are necessary for effective treatment. The authors argue that in order to reach successfully reduced substance use disorder rates, countries should consider implementing approaches that have been shown to be effective in rigorous scientific studies. These strategies include community-based opioid treatment, including methadone and buprenorphine. In addition, they suggest that offering harm-reduction programs like needle exchanges and providing education about overdose medications such as naloxone to people with substance use disorders, as well as to their friends and family members. "The evidence presented in this article provides additional argumentation supporting the position of all UN organizations that mandatory treatment settings do not represent a favorable or effective environment for the treatment of drug dependence," said Fabienne Hariga, MD, MPH, senior adviser to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime during the recent meeting in New York. "The United Nations therefore calls on States to transition from mandatory drug treatment and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community.''  Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160621115655.htm
How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law - The Washington Post How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law The inside track on Washington politics. Be the first to know about new stories from PowerPost. Sign up to follow, and we’ll e-mail you free updates as they’re published. You’ll receive free e-mail news updates each time a new story is published. You’re all set! Sign up *Invalid email address Got it Got it “We cannot allow the students who need our attention the most to be treated unfairly under the law,” Education Secretary John King Jr. said Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press) By Emma Brown Education June 23 at 12:01 AM The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help. Also for the first time, schools are legally bound to work with child welfare agencies to ensure that children in foster care can stay in their school if it’s in their best interest, even if they move — a measure meant to provide stability for children who often otherwise lack it. If school district and child welfare agency officials decide that moving to a new school would be in a child’s best interest, then the receiving school must allow immediate enrollment, even if the child cannot produce the required paperwork. [These are the faces of America’s growing youth homeless population] The new provisions were written into the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind as the nation’s main education law in December. They are meant to protect the approximately 270,000 children in foster care who are enrolled in U.S. public schools; foster children are more likely than their peers to be retained in a grade level and to drop out of high school. “For far too long, we as a country have failed so many of our most vulnerable students,” Education Secretary John King Jr. told reporters Wednesday. “We cannot allow the students who need our attention the most to be treated unfairly under the law.” The new guidance, released Thursday by the departments of Education and Health and Human Services, explains with more specificity how states and schools should live up to the law’s provisions on children in foster care. local education Orlando Shooting Updates News and analysis on the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. post_newsletter348 follow-orlando true endOfArticle false Please provide a valid email address. You’re all set! See all newsletters It recommends, for example, that states, districts and child welfare agencies set up a process for dispute resolution in cases in which there is disagreement over whether a child would be best served by staying in their original school or moving to a new one. And it clarifies that if an agreement cannot be reached, then the child welfare agency should have the final say. The guidance does not, however, clear up an important ambiguity in the law: who must pay for transportation to a child’s original school if the child moves outside that school’s attendance zone. [Obama signs new K-12 education law] The law requires that transportation be provided but does not say what should happen if a school district and a child welfare agency disagree over who should cover the bill. The Education Department has proposed regulations that would require the district to pay if negotiations over sharing the cost fail. The department is accepting public comment on those draft regulations, and officials said they would incorporate feedback as they write the final rule. The department also issued guidance Thursday outlining how states and school districts should solicit feedback from their communities as they figure out how to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. The guidance is meant to ensure that everyone with an interest in education — including parents, teachers and members of historically underserved communities — have a chance to chime in.  Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-children-in-foster-care-could-benefit-from-the-new-federal-education-law/2016/06/22/397c409c-38ac-11e6-8f7c-d4c723a2becb_story.html
Former foster parents indicted for abuse, drug charges Forest Gove couple accused of child abuse Forest Gove couple accused of child abuse Share Video Researchers test vulnerability to major quake Brexit impact on stock market Top Stories: Sunrise 6-24-16 Top Stories: 11 p.m. 6-23-16 Patron and manager help stop bar robbery Man searching for stolen car and dogs Top Stories: 6 p.m. 6-23-16 Garden designed to give helpful tips Woman wants justice for dog shot in back yard Man shot by Portland homeowner is former NFL player Feds blame Union Pacific in Mosier derailment Forest Gove couple accused of child abuse Related Videos Share Video Related Videos 00:00 00:00   Forest Gove couple accused of child abuse KGW.com Staff and Christine Pitawanich, KGW 1:42 PM. PDT June 24, 2016 170 1 Darren and Dawnyle Durham CONNECT TWEET LINKEDIN GOOGLE+ PINTEREST A Washington County grand jury indicted two former Department of Human Services foster parents accused of abusing children and forcing them to ingest drugs. Dawnyle and Darren Durham were arrested June 9. They face charges including criminal mistreatment, delivery of a controlled substance to a minor and causing another person to ingest a controlled substance. Dawnyle Durham was also charged with possession of methamphetamine. The Durhams were DHS certified foster care providers from 2001-2013.  The couple adopted four of the foster children prior to their certification being revoked in 2013.  “There was yelling but they kept to themselves pretty much,” said neighbor Donnie Long. Long and other neighbors aren't surprised that Dawnyle and Darren Durham are in jail. The couple's four adopted kids, ages 11-17, were taken away earlier this year. Court documents described horrific living conditions. The children said the Durhams’ Forest Grove home was filled was with drug use, from meth to prescription pills. Neighbors, took note. “We had some challenges in the neighborhood with some unsavory characters coming in at early hours and so contacted the police a couple of times,” said Michelle Rydman, who lives behind the Durhams. The kids told investigators they found syringes inside their home, and that their mother Dawnyle hit them. The children described one instance where their mother used a belt and hit one of her daughters so hard "that one child was unable to stand." The children said one of the daughters was even forced to take percocet and do a urine test for her mother. In an interview with police, Dawnyle admitted to having her daughter to a urine test for her because she was using marijuana and would not be able to get any other prescriptions if it showed up in the test. When asked if she told her daughter to take Percocet, she said she could not recall.  Another child said he had thought about killing himself, telling investigators "hell would be better than my life." Washington County detectives learned that Dawnyle pawned off a wheelchair belonging to one of the children, along with some video games, according to Sgt. Bob Ray with the Washington County Sheriff's Office. “The kids were sad all the time,” said Long, whose children also played with the Durham’s kids. Long said the kids appeared lonely and didn't spend much time outside. “They weren't allowed to play sports, no after school activities, things that kids like to do,” said Long. “They were always very sweet and polite to us. They would say hi through the fence,” said Rydman. The children also said they didn't get enough food and sometimes would have to steal food from their home. The kids said they were made to stay home and clean before DHS came to their house.  “I hope the state helps these kids and … doesn't let this happen again,” Long said. Washington County investigators couldn’t go into many details, but said the case is complex. “They were foster parents from 2001-2013 so we have a 12 year time span there. During that time span they were foster parents for more than 50 children,” said Ray. Ray said they've contacted half of the kids so far and are looking for other possible victims. “We really don't know how far reaching it may be,” he said. DHS said they've asked for a review of the case because abuse in foster care continues to be an issue in the child welfare program. Both parents are still in jail. Bail for each of them is at more than $100,000. In court documents, Dawnyle denied the allegations. She said the syringes weren't hers and that they belonged to a homeless couple she allowed to stay in the family’s guest house. She said her kids had plenty of food and she did not abuse her kids. Though she told an officer she "is not a bad mother but she is not proud of what she's done." According to court documents, Dawnyle’s mother said her daughter’s son was murdered 16 years ago and she has also been going downhill ever since her brother died three years ago. She also said Dawnyle struggles with mental health issues. Washington County detectives are asking anyone with information about unreported crimes by the Durhams to call 503-846-2500.  Source: http://www.kgw.com/news/crime/former-foster-parents-indicted-for-abuse-drug-charges/254026103
City Files Lawsuits Against Two Alcohol and Drug Treatment Facilities by Dana Point Times on June 23, 2016 in EYE ON DP, News Headlines Leave a comment By Kristina Pritchett On Wednesday, the city filed two lawsuits against two properties that the city says are alcohol or drug abuse treatment facilities. Both lawsuits were filed with the Superior Court in Orange County, calling the properties public nuisances and stating they do not have required state license. On Tuesday night during the City Council’s closed session, Council members approved for the city attorney to file the two lawsuits against Capo By the Sea and Sobertec LLC. Capo By the Sea is an exclusive drug addiction and alcohol rehab center that offers customized recovery programs. Along with Capo by the Sea, John T. Kahal is also named as the defendant. The city states in the lawsuit against Capo by the Sea that the corporation has been operating a treatment facility at the property. In the lawsuit against Sobertec LLC, the defendants are listed as Sovereign Health Group, Sober Network Properties, Edward Smilde and Grace Smilde. In both lawsuits, the City also states the properties are located in city zoning areas that do not permit the use of a treatment facility. “Alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities are prohibited in certain zones and are allowed in other zones within the city with the issuance of a conditional use permit,” the lawsuit states and adds that the location of Sobertec is not permitted in the zone in which it resides. The lawsuits state “any facility that provides non-medical alcoholism or drug abuse recovery, treatment, or detoxification services to adults must obtain a license from the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs. Facilities licensed by the Department must comply with the requirements proscribed by state laws.” According to the lawsuits, some facilities that are known as “sober living homes” do not need to be licensed if they do not provide any care or supervision of the residents. However, if the home serves seven or more clients and provides “alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment service[s],” they must obtain a license from the state. The City believes that both of the properties are being used as a facility which provides recovery or treatment services to seven or more paying clients, who are either onsite or using the property as a residential component of a treatment facility. The city also believes the properties do not have the state-issued license. In the lawsuit against Sobertec, the city states they believe “the defendants are operating a Drug Abuse recovery or treatment facility that provides treatment services to seven or more clients in violation of state law, because it failed to obtain the necessary state-issued license, and in violation of the city’s zoning code, because such uses are prohibited in the zoning district in which the treatment facility is located.” During the Tuesday night meeting, City Attorney Patrick Munoz said the Council authorized for code enforcement activity against one particular licensed facility in the city. “We have reason to believe they’re not complying with their licensing requirements,” Munoz said on Tuesday. Munoz said the city cannot and will not discriminate, or take any action, against disabled persons. But, they can take action to ensure licensing requirements are met. They can take action to enforce laws that apply to all residences, and if the city has a legitimate reason to believe that licensing laws are being violated. Munoz said the city staff has been keeping watch on efforts made by other cities “to address the concerns that sober living home concentrations detract from the character of the community, as it is a current issue of statewide concern.” Munoz said the city has received multiple emails and phone calls related to several homes and facilities in towns, and have been investigating their compliance with city and state regulations. The city instructed staff to schedule a study session to be able to explain more details during a public forum.  Source: http://www.danapointtimes.com/city-files-lawsuits-against-two-alcohol-and-drug-treatment-facilities/
Foster Parents Under Investigation For Abuse By Genevieve Reaume Jun. 26, 2016  Video  Photos PORTLAND, Ore. -- Certified foster parents for dozens of children are now facing several charges for abusing their four adopted children. This is all according to court documents. One foster father, Darren Durham's record includes arrests for drugs, assault and harassment. Despite his record, DHS placed 54 children in his care from 2001 to 2013. In 2013, his certification was revoked, but by then he had adopted four children. One of the kids told investigators that she was beaten so badly she could barely stand. Detectives are now looking for more victims. - See more at: http://www.kdrv.com/news/Foster_Parents_Under_Investigation_For_Abuse.html#sthash.VaUTBgbz.dpuf 
Prison officials fail to review rape allegations Catie Edmondson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2:19 p.m. CDT June 26, 2016 Federal authorities are investigating a range of potential crimes at Lincoln Hills School for Boys, including second-degree sexual assault, physical child abuse, child neglect, abuse of prisoners, and intimidation of victims and witnesses.(Photo: Mark Hoffman) - Officials at a troubled youth prison failed to properly oversee more than two dozen rape and sexual assault investigations as required by federal law, with one prison leader admitting to ignorance of even basic details about the facility's system to root out abuse. The security director at Lincoln Hills School for Boys acknowledged to state investigators that he had failed over 7½ months to review any investigations of sexual abuse and had met just once with the staff tasked with probing allegations of assault, according to documents released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel under the state's open records law. That official, Rick Peterson, was demoted in February after an investigation showed he was unable to correctly identify who on his staff was trained to investigate sexual assault allegations, the records show. With more than 30 internal sexual assault investigations open at the prison 30 miles north of Wausau, the facility's handling of abuse claims remains as critical as ever. "There are clear signals the institution isn't taking allegations seriously. They should be acting immediately (on reports of assault)," said Amy Fettig, the associate director for the Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union."When you don't have leadership and supervisors taking responsibility for what's happening, there's no way they're going to effectively prevent abuse from happening. It sends a signal to other people, both staff and those in custody, that nothing is going to happen, that (assault) is not serious." Fetting, senior legal counsel for a group that frequently sues state governments, said that any facility that fails to properly investigate abuse "is exposing itself to serious litigation liability." The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing alleged abuses at the prison, including sexual assault, abuse of prisoners and destruction of public records. The failure to review sexual abuse investigations under a key federal law could play a role in that probe or a separate U.S. Department of Justice investigation into whether the prison violated inmates' civil rights. A summary of the internal investigation of Peterson includes findings in keeping with critics' claims that allegations of sexual abuse are met with indifferent or botched responses. After he failed to provide oversight of investigations of sexual abuse under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, Peterson was demoted from security director to a supervisory position, and his pay was cut from about $76,000 to about $68,000 a year. A new security director — the No. 3 post at the facility — has not yet been hired. The Department of Corrections is currently developing a database that "will significantly enhance tracking and reporting of (sexual assault) allegations and investigations," according to agency spokesperson Tristan Cook.  According to the investigation report, Peterson told Department of Corrections investigators that the prison did not track ongoing investigations of rape and sexual assault. He said that no such mechanism was in place because the longtime security director before him, Bruce Sunde, also failed to track such investigations. Sunde, who retired last year, declined to be interviewed for this story and Peterson didn't respond to a request for comment. Peterson acknowledged to DOC investigators that someone needed to review investigations, but said he was unable to because "there were lots of stuff going on" at the prison and he was "busy putting out fires and pulled in different directions." Despite what Peterson told investigators, Cook contended there is a tracking system for abuse allegations at Lincoln Hills and its sister facility on its campus, Copper Lake School for Girls. "DOC strongly disputes any suggestion that (sexual assault) investigations at (the youth prisons) are not being tracked, as both institutions and DOC's PREA unit track PREA investigations," Cook said in a statement, using an abbreviation for the Prison Rape Elimination Act. When asked why the prison's security director and investigator as well as DOC investigators were unaware of such a tracking mechanism, Cook repeated that "allegations were being reported and routed for investigation, investigations were being assigned, investigations were being completed, and investigation information was being provided to the PREA unit for record-keeping purposes." The lack of oversight from correctional leaders is underscored in one instance described in the report. DOC investigators found that a staffer at the prison tasked with looking into allegations of assault took it upon himself to review and approve his own report on the subject. Investigators are not vested with that authority — they are supposed to present their findings for review to their supervisor. "That should never happen in a chain of command," the ACLU's Fettig said. "There needs to be oversight to guard against bias and, frankly, sloppiness in the investigation. The fact that they're not paying attention is a big problem." Though Peterson admitted he had not reviewed any investigations of assault at the prison, he told investigators he was unaware that reports were being finalized without his oversight. In violation of the standards established by federal law, the facility also failed to conduct formal sexual abuse incident reviews following each investigation of sexual abuse and did not annually review sexual assault data, a federal audit found in February. Those two practices are intended to compel senior management to consider whether the investigations and data indicate a need to change policy or practice to better prevent, detect or respond to sexual assault. Staff at Lincoln Hills were given 180 days to meet those standards. The auditor found that after her initial visit, the facility compiled a report of aggregate sexual assault data and began holding incident reviews. Even though Lincoln Hills worked to comply with those basic federal standards, multiple reports of failing to properly respond to allegations of sexual abuse open the state up to serious risk of litigation, according to Brenda Smith. Smith, a professor at the Washington College of Law at American University, served on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission from 2004 to 2009. "To the extent you don't take care of these things and there's a pattern of not following up on complaints, it puts the agency and the state in a place of peril with regard to liability," Smith said. "This is something that the governor's office should be looking at. There should be oversight not just from the federal level but local and state oversight." Gov. Scott Walker has defended or not commented on the way his administration responded to a year of warnings from county officials and judges about assaults at the prison. When asked if Walker was aware that staff at Lincoln Hills failed to track or oversee investigations of rape and sexual assault at the facility and whether he believed his office had appropriately responded to problems at the youth prison, spokesman Tom Evenson said that Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher "has Governor Walker's full support in addressing agency issues and instituting reforms." Last month in his first interview since returning to the Corrections Department after heading it from 1999 to 2003, Litscher told the Journal Sentinel that he believes the agency is getting past problems at the youth prison. The newly released records are the latest to document a pattern of what one judge four years ago described as "inexcusable" responses to sexual assault and inmate safety at the Northwoods facility. The Journal Sentinel reported in February that Racine County officials pulled their youth offenders from Lincoln Hills after the institution botched its response to the 2012 sexual assault of an inmate. Staff waited to take the victim to the hospital until after a basketball game finished and failed to inform law enforcement of the assault. It has also been reported that the facility has no central mechanism for tracking assaults, fights and other incidents. Many key reports are handwritten. When a female worker was groped by an inmate last fall, corrections officials initially did little in response, and instead subjected her to a seven-week probe into whether she invited the touching. Peterson, the security director, told a Lincoln County detective that he was considering formally referring the assault to law enforcement but did not provide additional paperwork for months, according to the Sheriff's Department. A former supervisor at Lincoln Hills reported that corrections officials mishandled a case of sexual assault when they dropped charges against a juvenile inmate accused of molesting his roommate after a witness claimed the act was consensual.  Source: http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/story/news/2016/06/26/prison-officials-fail-review-rape-allegations/86408746/
Report: More Sex Abuse at Understaffed Juvenile Facilities By rebecca boone, associated press BOISE, Idaho — Jun 29, 2016, 7:45 PM ET 22 Shares Email Star 22 Shares Email A new report from the U.S. Department of Justice shows that youths are sexually abused more frequently in juvenile detention centers that are understaffed, have more gang violence and more offender complaints. The report, released Tuesday by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, examined the impact juvenile facilities have on sex abuse rates as well as the risk factors for victims. The work was intended in part to measure how effective federal rules designed to stop sex abuse behind bars actually are at reducing victimization inside youth detention centers. The study found that lower rates of sexual victimization were reported in facilities with higher staffing levels, less violence and fewer overall complaints. Lovisa Stannow, the executive director of prisoner advocacy group Just Detention International, said the findings are encouraging and exasperating. "They are encouraging because they confirm that sexual abuse is a problem that strong youth detention leaders can solve, if they want to, and exasperating because so many leaders continue to insist, against all evidence, that sexual violence is outside of their control," Stannow said in a statement released Wednesday. Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, and experts across the country worked over the next decade to create rules designed to stamp out rape behind bars. All states were supposed to be fully compliant with PREA in 2014, but some, such as Idaho, initially refused to meet the standards. Idaho officials later reversed course, and in 2015 announced that three state juvenile detention centers passed audits showing they were compliant with PREA standards. The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections is currently facing several lawsuits from nearly a dozen current and former juveniles who say they were sexually abused by staffers while at a detention center in Nampa. Compliance with many of the standards spelled out in the Prison Rape Elimination Act were associated with lower rates of staff sexual misconduct, the study found. Youth who have previously been sexually assaulted are more likely to be assaulted in detention, the study found, as were kids who identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Males and black youth were much more likely to be victims of sexual abuse by staff members. The study included mostly state-owned facilities for youth being held in custody, including residential treatment centers, detention centers, training schools, group homes, boot camp or farm programs and youth homeless shelters. The highest rates of youth-on-youth sexual assault were found in facilities that only housed females, and male-only facilities tended to have higher rates of staff sexual misconduct.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/report-sex-abuse-understaffed-juvenile-facilities-40235283
Richard Wexler: Family First Act Institutionalizes Institutions, Sets Up Prevention to Fail by Richard Wexler June 30, 2016 | Guest Writer Now that there finally is a bill, it is clear who has the greatest reason to oppose the so-called Family First Prevention Services Act: environmentalists. That’s because of how many forests will be destroyed to provide the paper for all the new plans, reports and assorted other documents that the bill mandates as a substitute for real change. In some respects, discussed below, the bill is an improvement over previous versions, and I’m sure those who worked so hard to craft this legislation meant well. But mostly, the Family First Act proposes to solve the problems of child welfare by throwing paperwork at them. Provide a plan for this, a certification for that, and a report on something else, and America’s foster-care-industrial complex can keep doing what it’s been doing for more than a century: failing vulnerable children. The bill also enshrines in law the double standard that pervades American child welfare: services to keep families together must meet tests that are almost impossibly high before being deemed “evidence-based.” But to keep right on using the worst form of care, group homes and institutions, no evidence is required; just more paperwork. So it’s no wonder most of the foster-care-industrial complex favors the bill, and those who don’t want to make it even weaker. One major supporter of the bill is the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, a group that has little to do with either one. Rather, it is a trade association made up largely of private agencies that oversee foster homes and run group homes and institutions. These agencies typically are paid for each day they hold a child in foster care. They know a good deal when they see one. Institutionalizing Institutionalization In the earliest stages of developing what would become the Families First Act, there was an idea for dealing with the misuse and overuse of institutions that was simple and smart: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested simply refusing to fund such placements for any child under age 13. Other smart proposals over the years have included reducing federal aid for institutionalization month by month – the longer the placement the fewer the dollars. But once the foster-care-industrial complex got through with it, what emerged was a muddled mess. If the bill becomes law, the federal government would stop reimbursing states for part of the cost of group home and institutional placement after two weeks. But it creates a giant loophole: funding would continue for something called a “Qualified Residential Treatment Program.” What does it take to become a QRTP?  Very little: Write lots and lots of plans filled with appropriate buzzwords. (Drop the word “trauma-informed” into every third paragraph and you should be fine.) Hire nurses during working hours and have them on call the rest of the time. Get a rubber-stamp seal-of-approval from an accrediting agency. I say rubber-stamp because one of the groups a QRTP can choose is the so-called “Council on Accreditation.” COA is a creation of another agency trade association, the Child Welfare League of America. Its “site visits” are announced well in advance and “accreditors” interview people who can be hand-picked by the agency under examination. Everything else is based on the agency’s paperwork. COA doesn’t accredit agencies, it accredits file cabinets. Perhaps that’s why, in the 1990s, COA accredited a private agency in Ohio in which, the Dayton Daily News found, children lived in squalid group homes and the agency director had a conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. More recently, COA accredited this agency. Take these simple steps and voila! That cruddy old group home is now a “Qualified Residential Treatment Program”! Similarly, the Family First Act goes on for paragraphs about how an independent “qualified individual” will determine if a child needs to be institutionalized; unless, that is, the public child welfare agency gives its solemn word that someone associated with the institution itself can do the evaluation and still be objective. Then, the independence requirement can be “waived” by the Department of Health and Human Services. In short, the Family First Act institutionalizes the process of institutionalization. Perhaps that’s why the Congressional Budget Office estimates that, were it to become law, the Family First Act would barely reduce the proportion of institutionalized foster children on any given day. It would decline from the current 14 percent to 11 percent, over ten years. Yet even these minimal requirements apparently are too onerous for some providers of institutional care and their acolytes in government. Whatever Happened to “Evidence-Based”? What is missing in these requirements for becoming a “Qualified Residential Treatment Program” is anything forcing the “providers” to prove that what they provide actually helps children. There’s a reason for that, namely A review of the scholarly literature by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General found only “weak evidence” for the success of residential treatment. A second review, by the University of North Carolina, found “when community-based services are available, they provide outcomes that are equivalent, at least [to residential treatment].” Still another study, of children institutionalized for mental health problems, found that seven years after discharge from residential treatment, 75 percent of the children were back in the only settings they could understand: institutions. They were in psychiatric centers or jails. Even former CWLA President Shay Bilchik admitted there is a lack of “good research” showing residential treatment’s effectiveness and “we find it hard to demonstrate success…” (though he claimed this was only because foundations don’t want to fund the research and children aren’t institutionalized soon enough.) Some of those who think even the minimal restrictions in the Family First Act go too far don’t even pretend that institutionalization is good for children. Rather, they claim there’s no alternative because they can’t recruit enough foster homes. But, as I’ve noted before, the real problem is not too few foster parents, it’s too many foster children. For example, Los Angeles seems to be the epicenter of the whining about the congregate care restrictions. But Los Angeles takes away children at triple the rate of Chicago, even when rates of child poverty are factored in. Yet it’s Illinois where independent court-appointed monitors have found that reforms emphasizing family preservation improved child safety. No Real Help for Prevention That brings me to the second set of failings in the bill: the increased support for prevention is minimal and largely misdirected. For starters, while residential treatment programs need provide no evidence at all of effectiveness to be funded, 50 percent of all new prevention spending under the bill would have to go to programs that meet a standard, created for clinical trials in medicine, so high that almost nothing qualifies. (This is an improvement from previous drafts, where it was 100 percent.) Lisbeth Schorr, senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, has several excellent articles on why this is an unwise approach in human services. And in child welfare, there is the additional problem of a profound bias among many of the “scholars.” Even worse, the kinds of programs that can be funded are limited to three categories, two of which, mental health and parenting skills, are precisely the “public health approach” that has failed for more than a century. So after the reams of new paperwork required under this section are filed and it turns out that this failed approach failed again, it will become an excuse for the advocates of traumatizing children with needless foster care to run back to Congress and demand even more money to warehouse even more children in foster care. This bill doesn’t aid alternatives; it sets them up to fail. In contrast, even though study after study finds that 30 percent of America’s foster children could be home right now if their families simply had decent housing, housing aid was eliminated from the bill early on. There is not even funding for the kinds of simple, sensible and very inexpensive approaches advocated by Joanne Samuel Goldblum in the Chronicle last month. So again, it’s no wonder the CBO thinks the new spending on prevention will be a drop in the bucket – an average of $130 million per year. Even with that new funding, the federal government still would spend vastly more on tearing families apart than on trying to keep them together. What’s Good About the Bill There is one thing the bill gets right: the third category of funds for which states could get reimbursement under the Families First Act is drug treatment. That almost certainly got into the bill, and probably has appeal to most members of Congress, because the latest “drug plague” – opioid addiction – has a whiter, more affluent face than the drug plagues that preceded it. The other argument for the bill is that it’s better than nothing, and a floor on which one can build in the future. But it’s not better than the waivers available to states now, which allow them to spend a lot more money on a much wider variety of alternatives to foster care. The waiver process, which is set to expire in 2019, also includes a vital incentive that Family First Act lacks: it caps the giant open-ended entitlement to foster-care funding. This bill is more likely to be a ceiling than a floor. Once the bill becomes law, all the pressure for real reform would go away, and the ceiling will only get lower. Because from here, the bill can only get worse. Having come so far, the members of Congress behind this bill are likely to appease those who want to make the congregate-care restrictions even weaker, rather than see the whole thing fall apart. Better Alternatives I’ve written elsewhere about the best long-term alternative: end the foster-care entitlement and turn it into grants indexed to inflation that states can use for foster care and for better alternatives. Short term, Congress should Salvage the one part of the Family First Act everyone seems to agree on and provide $130 million per year in additional funding for drug treatment – targeted toward families at risk of losing their children to foster care. Restore the federal government’s authority to grant child welfare waivers, which has expired, with current waivers scheduled to end in 2019. As for whether we ever can really get major reform, there is one hope: the lookback. That’s the clumsy, bureaucratic detail that has the effect of reducing the number of children eligible for federal foster-care assistance by a tiny amount each year. If nothing at all is done, the federal government will be out of the foster-care funding business in about half a century or so. The longer this persists, the greater the pressure on the foster-care-industrial complex to accept real reform, not a pale imitation like the Family First Act. Richard Wexler is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, www.nccpr.org  Source: https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/opinion/family-first-institutionalizes-institutions-sets-prevention-fail/19342
New York is plagued by diploma-mill high schools By Post Editorial Board  June 30, 2016 | 8:59pm Modal Trigger Photo: Getty Images A landmark report by StudentsFirstNY just tore the mask off the supposed “success” of many city high schools: They’re graduating kids without actually teaching them. Mayor de Blasio touts a 70 percent graduation rate as proof his policies are working. Problem is, half the grads aren’t ready for college (or a career in the workforce). CUNY deemed only 35 percent of New York City high-school graduates college-ready last year. And some schools seem to specialize in awarding worthless diplomas to young men and women. The SFNY report flagged 65 schools with above-average graduation — but college/career-readiness rates 50 points lower. The HS for Medical Professions boasts that 95 percent of students graduate — yet only 15 percent are college-ready. The UFT Charter School sports a 78 percent graduation rate, but only 11 percent are college-ready. Chancellor Carmen Fariña just spoke at the Academy for Young Writers, whose graduation rate is 75 percent, yet with a college-readiness rate of just 6 percent. In short, the problem goes far beyond the grade-fixing and bogus credit-recovery programs The Post has exposed in recent years. It’s a citywide plague of diploma mills — many of which face no pressure to improve. Of the 10 high schools with the city’s worst college-readiness rates, only two are in de Blasio’s Renewal program for failing schools. CUNY Chancellor James Miliken calls the lack of college readiness his system’s top challenge. It’s a nightmare for the kids, too: They have to waste their first year (or more) in college on catch-up classes. We don’t blame de Blasio or Fariña or even the United Federation of Teachers for all the system’s failings. No, we blame them for their fight against reform, and all their lies and spin as they pretend everything’s just fine.  Source: http://nypost.com/2016/06/30/new-york-is-plagued-by-diploma-mill-high-schools/
Care worker at Northland Recovery Center abused two teens, DHS finds Report finds procedures are adequate but were not followed.  By Brandon Stahl Star Tribune July 1, 2016 — 8:09pm Melanie Lynn Peterson  A care worker at a northern Minnesota drug treatment center for juveniles helped two teen residents escape to get drugs, got high with them while at the facility, and had sex with them more than two dozen times, according to court and state records. The staff member, Melanie Lynn Peterson, 30, who court records say "was responsible for the care and well-being of juveniles housed at the facility," pleaded guilty in June to three counts of criminal sexual conduct and three controlled substance crimes. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Human Services found Peterson responsible for sexual abuse of the two minors while she worked at the Northland Recovery Center's Adolescent Unit in Grand Rapids. Peterson's relationship with the two teens began sometime in March, according to court and DHS records. One of the boys, who was 15, had been at Northland Recovery since the start of the year. The teen told police ­Peterson would often help him leave the unit and not trigger the alarms so he could find drugs. He said they snorted pills and had sex about 20 times in the facility and four times at her home. When confronted, Peterson admitted to police that she used drugs with one of the teens and had sex with him. The other boy was 17 and considered a "smart and tenacious person" diagnosed with substance abuse disorders and considered vulnerable to neglect and abuse, according to the DHS report. He said Peterson helped him escape from Northland Recovery, that Peterson had sex with him at least twice in the facility and was "high for a week" from the drugs she gave him. The teen told DHS investigators that he suspected Peterson tampered with their drug tests because "none of us were getting in trouble." A staff member at Northland Recovery referred all questions to the Director of Services, Colleen MacKay, who was on vacation Friday. According to the DHS report, following an internal review Northland Recovery "determined that policies and procedures were adequate but not followed," and that "the incidents were not similar to past incidents." Still, Northland Recovery said staff members were trained on boundaries and that surveillance cameras would be "pursued." Peterson is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of the month. This is the second time in two months DHS has found a juvenile was sexually abused at a child residential center. In May, the agency determined that a staff member of a Minnetonka facility for troubled teenage girls raped a 14-year-old resident. That person was not charged.  Source: http://www.startribune.com/two-teens-sexually-abused-at-drug-treatment-center/385246471/
Texas Accused of Ignoring Mentally Disabled in Nursing Homes By betsy blaney, associated press LUBBOCK, Texas — Jul 3, 2016, 2:21 PM ET 0 Shares Email Star 0 Shares Email It took more than 40 years for Leonard Barefield to finally get to choose where he lived. The intellectually-disabled Texas native moved to a group home in Lubbock in September after he had first lived in near slavery conditions for more than three decades in a squalid house in Iowa and worked at a turkey processing plant there for 41 cents an hour. After being freed by social workers from that situation, he was sent in 2008 to a nursing home in Midland, Texas. His plight is not uncommon in Texas, where people with such disabilities are routinely warehoused in nursing homes, according to a lawsuit brought by Barefield and other disabled people. Advocates for the intellectually-disabled — a condition affecting reasoning and learning — say Texas is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws by denying services that could allow more than 4,000 people to live in the community. The state denies it is exploiting the disabled, saying it is committed to providing them with the highest quality of services. The 71-year-old Barefield has a developmental disability, suffers from depression and other mental health and medical conditions, and has high blood pressure, court records show. He wears a hearing aid and his speech is significantly impaired. But he can read, write and drive a truck. Barefield lives with three other intellectually disabled men in a well-maintained and spacious home. "It's better here," he said, nodding his head emphatically. Barefield leaves the home several days a week for a day center where he can play games and work on small projects. Even though he was exploited for decades, the outcome of Barefield's case is better than some. Andrea Padron, who suffered a severe head injury in a car accident when she was 10, died in 2013 after getting an inaccurate evaluation to determine the care she needed in a nursing home, court documents show. Padron's mother put her in a nursing home when she could no longer afford to care for her. Her mother then was deployed to the Iraq war with the military. The services promised for Padron were not provided during the mother's absence. When her mother returned to Texas, Padron couldn't even sit in her wheelchair. Padron was left to lie in bed for about 165 hours a week — without specialized services, including physical therapies. She eventually was unable to straighten her wrists, ankles, shoulders, legs or hips and developed a spine deformity, court records show. She was 29 when she died. The lawsuit against the state by Barefield and the other disabled patients was filed in 2010 and has crawled through the legal system. The federal Department of Justice joined the suit on the side of the disabled in 2012. In 2013, the state and lawyers for the disabled reached an "interim settlement agreement" that in part called for Texas to expand community services and create a service team for each disabled person. In return the suit was put aside for two years. But without explanation, the agreement was ended in 2015. Neither side will talk about why this happened because they say confidentiality rules prevent comment. The lawsuit has been reactivated. A federal judge in San Antonio ruled in May that the case could go ahead and granted class-action status to include more than 4,000 intellectually-disabled people in nursing homes. Barefield and the others aren't asking for any money in compensation. "All we're asking the state to do is comply with the (federal) law," said Robert Velevis, an attorney for the disabled clients. State aging and disability department spokeswoman Cecilia Cavuto declined to comment on the case but said the state is "committed to ensuring Texas nursing home residents, including those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, receive the highest quality services." She said Texas care providers do evaluations for each person entering a nursing home to determine what specialized services might be needed and whether a resident wants to transition into a community-based setting. Lawyers for the disabled say the state excludes them from "any meaningful access" to Texas's system of community-based services needed to be able to live in the community. Lenwood Krause, whose 36-year-old son has a condition related to a developmental disability from a traumatic brain injury, said the state has mishandled the care of his son for years. "I can't exactly express the sentiments I feel about them," the 72-year-old said. "It's that bad." Texas was ranked in the bottom one third of states for the comprehensiveness of evaluations conducted on intellectually-disabled patients, according to a federal report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year. "Our belief is that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have just as much right to live in the community as anyone else," said Yvette Ostolaza, another attorney for the disabled clients.  Source: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/texas-accused-ignoring-mentally-disabled-nursing-homes-40314250
Man with autism beaten, allegedly by group home employee Posted: Jul 05, 2016 6:03 AM PDT Updated: Jul 05, 2016 11:23 AM PDT By Laura McCallister, Digital Producer Email Connect laura.mccallister@kctv5.com By Emily Rittman, News Reporter BioEmail Connect Biography Emily.Rittman@kctv5.com   Scottie, 25, lives at the Preferred Family Healthcare Kansas City’s south location off of James A. Reed Road. Staff members help him complete his day-to-day activities. (Richard Skillman) KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - A group home employee is under investigation, accused of beating a man who has autism with a belt. MOREAdditional LinksPoll The man’s family is sharing their story in hopes of raising awareness. They said staff members discovered the abuse Sunday night and reported it to Kansas City police. The victim’s brother also made a hotline call to state investigators. Scottie, 25, lives at the Preferred Family Healthcare Kansas City’s south location off of James A. Reed Road. Staff members help him complete his day-to-day activities. “He's very quiet. He likes to keep to himself. He enjoys his Legos,” said Scottie’s brother, Richard Skillman. Skillman said a staff member called his mother to report that another employee not only hit Scottie with a belt, but admitted to it. He said overnight staff took photos of Scottie’s injuries, sent them to his mother and filed a police report. “I was devastated. Scottie can't fend for himself. Not only that but he can't tell anybody he got hurt. He just doesn’t have that communication,” Skillman said. Scottie’s brother said the company fired the employee after calling him to ask about the marks discovered by overnight staff. “It’s kind of chilling to think when the manager called him and talked to him about it, I got the feeling he was very nonchalant about it,” Skillman said. Scottie was still at the hospital Monday night where doctors examined him. The Department of Mental Health is investigating. His brother hopes, after the police investigation is complete, the employee will be held accountable. “I hope he faces charges and understands how horrible of thing he has done,” Skillman said. If you suspect a senior or disabled adult is being abused or financially exploited, you can call 1-800-392-0210. Source: http://www.kmov.com/story/32372729/man-with-autism-beaten-allegedly-by-group-home-employee#
Sierra Tucson fined over deficiencies in psychiatric care By Stephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star Stephanie Innes Updated Jul 5, 2016 (1) prev next The local rehab center Sierra Tucson has agreed to pay a state fine of $4,000 for failures in caring for its most seriously ill psychiatric patients. In its investigation, the state found that Sierra Tucson had repeat and ongoing deficiencies with the services provided in its acute psychiatric unit. The deficiencies “posed a high potential risk to the health and safety of patients,” a state survey says. The facility holds two state licenses — a medical license for its 15-bed psychiatric unit and a residential facility license for its lower-level, 124-bed residential treatment center. The for-profit center, owned by Tennessee-based behavioral health giant Acadia Healthcare, has paid prior fines to the Arizona Department of Health Services for violating its own policies. It is also the defendant in two pending wrongful death lawsuits involving patients. In agreeing to pay the latest fine, Sierra Tucson’s executive director, William D. Anderson, signed an enforcement agreement with the state, acknowledging that the facility is subject to frequent state monitoring visits and that further violations could result in further action, including losing its license. As of now, the facility is in compliance with all state rules and regulations, Arizona health officials say. In a statement to the Star on Friday, Anderson said the safety and well-being of its residents is Sierra Tucson’s “utmost priority.” Anderson also said his facility has a good working relationship with the Arizona Department of Health Services. “We are very proud of the care we provide and the thousands of lives that we have improved and saved because of the treatment received at Sierra Tucson,” the statement says. “All of our clinicians and staff are committed to our patients and continuously work towards providing higher quality, clinical care in accordance with Arizona Department of Health Services standards.” The latest civil penalty was determined after a state investigation conducted in January. The facility paid the fine May 9, state documents show. Five Sierra Tucson patients have died since 2011, all of them men. Autopsy reports concluded that three of them died of suicide. Autopsies on the other two — a man who died of drug toxicity and another whose body was discovered two weeks after he disappeared from the facility — were inconclusive. The facility helps patients with addictions, mood disorders, chronic pain, eating disorders and trauma through its “Sierra Model” of integrating therapies such as massage, yoga and acupuncture with traditional psychiatry. Sierra Tucson, on 160 acres north of Tucson, has earned a reputation as “rehab to the stars.” The cost to patients starts at more than $1,000 per day. Since not all insurers cover it, many families must pay out of their own pockets. The state’s findings about Sierra Tucson’s care for patients, outlined in its Jan. 6 survey and supporting documents:  Failed to ensure a patient with multiple medical problems, including a history of head injuries, had a physical examination within 48 hours of admission. This posed a “high risk” that the patient’s medical needs would not be met, the state report says. Failed its own policy on patient rights by threatening a patient with law enforcement if she did not follow a registered nurse’s instructions to be discharged and enter a transport vehicle. Failed to ensure a patient with anorexia nervosa was appropriately discharged from acute psychiatric care to a lower level of care. Failed to complete a medical discharge summary for three patients who left treatment against medical advice. Intake and meals for a severely anorexic patient were not recorded, and Sierra Tucson did not ensure a registered nurse assessed and directed the patient’s care. Did not ensure a registered nurse completed an updated assessment for a patient who was readmitted to Sierra Tucson’s psychiatric unit after transfer to an outside hospital. A patient was discharged and sent to an airport with no money and no identification. Sierra Tucson’s lower-level residential facility was on a provisional license, with stepped-up monitoring by the state, from June 10 through Oct. 31 of 2015 after state officials found it had not been following its own policies on keeping track of patients’ whereabouts. The state could have decided not to license Sierra Tucson at the end of the provisional period. Surveyors from the state ultimately determined there were enough improvements to restore the license. As part of restoring its license in October, Sierra Tucson had to pay the state $35,000 in civil penalties — $27,000 related to an investigation into the Aug. 27, 2015, patient suicide of a 59-year-old California man, plus $7,500 following an investigation into the Jan. 23, 2015, suicide of 55-year-old Richard Lecce, a Pennsylvania man whose family has since sued the facility for wrongful death. Sierra Tucson at the time also agreed to some new rules, including excluding certain patients from admission — those with a current or active diagnosis of schizophrenia; a current or active diagnosis of dementia; five suicide attempts in a lifetime; three attempts in the previous 12 months; or an attempt within 72 hours of the requested admission date. The facility has had to pay other, smaller fines to the state, including $1,000 for transferring Lecce from one of the high-level psychiatric beds to the lower-level residential facility. Lecce had been assigned one-on-one observation by a staff member while in the acute high-level psychiatric unit. When he was transferred to lower-level care, the one-on-one monitoring stopped, though there was no note in his record to discontinue it, a state report says. The other wrongful death lawsuit against Sierra Tucson was filed by the mother of a 20-year-old East Coast man who was at the facility for drug rehabilitation. He was found unresponsive at 8:45 a.m. on April 13, 2014, and died two days later. An autopsy report said he died from drug toxicity and that it was unclear whether the death was intentional or accidental. A 2014 state report into the young man’s death found problems with the facility’s pharmacy services, and found that staff members did not adequately check on his vital signs or follow the facility’s suicide assessment protocol. The state report did not offer any clues as to how the 5-foot-8, 162-pound man acquired a toxic level of drugs in his system while in treatment. Contact health reporter Stephanie Innes at 573-4134 or email sinnes@tucson.com. On Twitter: @stephanieinnes Sierra Tucson history Sierra Tucson was founded in 1983 by recovering cocaine addict William O'Donnell Jr. at the former Brave Bull Guest Ranch. The center has had a reputation as a rehab center to the stars, with reports of celebrity patients. Most patients are in their late 30s and early 40s. A majority of patients self-pay at a cost of about $1,300 per day or about $40,000 per month. In 2002, Sierra Tucson went from a publicly traded company to a private concern in an $82.5 million deal that consolidated ownership of Sierra Tucson and the Miraval, Life in Balance health resort under one company, NextHealth Inc. Sierra Tucson was sold to California-based CRC Health Group in 2005 for $130 million. The following year, CRC Health Group was purchased for $723 million by Boston-based Bain Capital Partners. In October 2014, Acadia bought CRC Health Group from private equity firm Bain Capital for $1.2 billion, according to Becker's Hospital CFO Report. Publicly traded Acadia has inpatient behavioral health facilities in the United States, England and Puerto Rico. In 2015 O'Donnell's younger brother, Jack O'Donnell, co-founded Sabino Recovery, a residential facility 15 miles northeast of Tucson that specializes in treating trauma as the core cause of drug addiction and other problems. Between 2002 and 2005, the younger O'Donnell served as the CEO of NextHealth Inc., the company that once owned Sierra Tucson. Statement from Sierra Tucson The safety and well-being of our residents is our utmost priority. As part of our continuous efforts to improve patient care, we conduct reviews of all facility policies and procedures and implement measures designed to improve patient safety in our residential programs. Sierra Tucson has a good relationship with the Arizona Department of Health Services and we continually work in partnership with this organization to understand guidelines for any changes with state rules and policies. Additionally, we implement extensive employee training on patient monitoring, transitioning communications and additional patient safety measures. Sierra Tucson has a longstanding legacy of clinical excellence and care for the past 32 years, resulting in recovery for thousands of people struggling with substance use disorders, trauma-related issues, eating disorders, chronic pain and mood and anxiety disorders. We are very proud of the care we provide and the thousands of lives that we have improved and saved because of the treatment received at Sierra Tucson. All of our clinicians and staff are committed to our patients and continuously work towards providing higher quality, clinical care in accordance with Arizona Department of Health Services standards.  Source: http://tucson.com/news/local/sierra-tucson-fined-over-deficiencies-in-psychiatric-care/article_8a709016-95fc-5245-a7e5-4d015f4d8a93.html
Storytellers: Teachers turn to the guitar to reach at-risk kids 9NEWS at 10 p.m. 07/10/16. Nelson Garcia, KUSA 10:50 PM. MDT July 10, 2016 89 1 Chris Van Noy and Steve Cram offer lessons to student Michael Gabriels. (Photo: Mike Grady)  JEFFERSON COUNTY - Sometimes the only way to reach a troubled teen is through the language they understand -- music. "A couple of years ago, I started working with some kids that were at risk, at risk from a lot of things, dropping out of school, running away from home," teacher Chris Van Noy said. Van Noy wanted to go beyond the walls of the classroom to try to change the path of students making bad choices. He teamed up with another teacher Steve Cram and they formed the Music Appreciation Project. "A lot of at-risk youth, they don't feel comfortable talking with adults," Cram said. Music Appreciation Project is a non-profit that provides instruments and lessons to students like Michael Gabriels. "I guess I get stressed out over a lot of things. I've always struggled with like depression, anxiety, stuff like that," Michael said. "It's very difficult for me to talk to people and express myself." But, when Michael plays guitar, he says, things change. "It just comes naturally to me and it feels like talking," Gabriels said. Van Noy says music can break barriers. "Working with the kids that we do, when they're depressed, when they're sad, when they're having a hard time, they put their earbuds in," Van Noy said. "They're listening to music and music helps them through difficult times." Michael used to just play at home.  He has can play all styles of music, but he has learned to solo on his electric guitar with the energy and creativity of a heavy metal band. "It's kinda like my escape, you know, cause, I don't feel emotionally or passionately connected to anything else, you know," Michael said. But, when he started working with Van Noy and Cram, things started to change. "The relationship piece is the deal maker," Cram said. Michael says he now cares about school and feels like his mental health is improving. "It's changed my life completely, something completely different, you know," Michael said. "I feel like a completely different person, even." His father Mike says the change since becoming involved with the Music Appreciation Program is astonishing. "It has flipped his entire demeanor and his life in general, night and day," Mike Gabriels said. "Bad grades to good grades, feeling horrible, feeling exhilarated." Van Noy and cram offer lessons to students. The nonprofit purchases equipment and instruments for needy students who cannot afford it. They want to give kids a chance to find the guitar hero inside themselves. "You can see the signs," Van Noy said. "You can see the signs that they need something else." Now, instead of just playing at home, Michael is actively pursuing a career in music. "Just a tremendous blessing to see that he's been lifted out of that place and using music as an outlet," Toni Gabriels, Michael's mother, said. Instead of being lost, Michael wants to mentor other kids who once felt like he did. "If we're teaching kids to give to help other people, that's beyond the scope of anything we could do and that's been amazing," Van Noy said. If you want to find out more about the Music Appreciation Project and its fundraising efforts, click here, http://www.musicappro.org/. "To give them something that they can be good at, I think is what really helps them a lot," Van Noy said.  Source: http://www.9news.com/news/local/storytellers/storytellers-teachers-turn-to-the-guitar-to-reach-at-risk-kids/239520746
16 placements in eight yearsTeen details life in foster-care system Story Comments (1) Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size 9 Previous Next Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake Johnny Perez Jr. Johnny Perez Jr., a 2016 Whitefish graduate, has spent most of his life moving from foster home to foster home. Posted: Monday, July 11, 2016 6:00 am Teen details life in foster-care system By HILARY MATHESON/Daily Inter Lake Daily Inter Lake | 1 comment Johnny Perez Jr. spent most of his life trying to be “normal” as he was moved 16 times in the foster-care system. Perez counts on his fingers, saying the name of each placement out loud during an interview at his current foster family’s Whitefish home on June 7. Subscription Required An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety. “Yes, 16 placements,” Perez said. “I think throughout those 16 placements only five, possibly seven were in foster homes with foster families.” Despite his success as a recent Whitefish High School graduate, state track star and talented musician, the 17-year-old had to adapt to a feeling of impermanence. To get his diploma, Perez had to attend nine different high schools. “I’ve been in nine high schools — nine major moves. Some high schools I’ve been to twice [back and forth], so I guess 11 moves,” Perez said, noting that his freshman year alone he moved four times. “The last time I finished out a year at a single school was in third grade,” he said. “I attended Evergreen Elementary.” Because of his top achievements in sports and academics and plans to attend Grand Canyon University in the fall, Perez said he is considered a success in the foster-care world, but it hasn’t been easy. “I kind of get looked at as a success story,” Perez said noting that he went from punching holes in walls to playing sports such as football and competing at state in track. For a foster child to have more than 10 placements is unusual, Child and Family Services Family Resource Specialist Daniel Donnelly said, but it’s always a case-by-case basis. The average number of placements for foster children in Montana is three. “I teach foster-care classes as part of licensing. Our focus is not moving kids around because of the damage it causes,” Donnelly said. Underneath Perez’s positive and confident disposition are the damaging effects of moving from placement to placement and facing hopelessness. “It hasn’t always been the ‘I can succeed mentality,’” Perez said. “I attempted suicide twice.” Perez paused when asked what pulled him through, pondering the question. “If I knew I’d bottle it up and sell it — I think the strong people in my life,” Perez said. What he pinpointed were the staff members of various institutions in which he’s been placed in, and other kids like him. “I use the term ‘family’ loosely because my family is very large and I’m unrelated to almost all of them. They are mostly group-home staff and foster family and siblings and other kids in group homes I’ve built these life-long bonds with,” he said. Placed in foster care at 9, Perez became an expert at having his bags packed at a moment’s notice and moving to a group home or foster family. “When I got put in foster care my mom was put in jail,” Perez said. “That began my 16-placement journey throughout the foster-care system.” At first, Perez said he was upset at being taken from his family in spite of a rocky home life. “When you’re that young you want to be with your family,” Perez said. The ultimate goal, Donnelly said, is to reunite children with their biological families. “First and foremost, the goal is to create a reunification and treatment plan to help the family become a safe place and overcome obstacles,” Donnelly said. Reunification is attempted through supervised visits, working toward unsupervised visits and onto a trial home visit. Only if a parent makes significant progress or achieves treatment goals is reunification possible. Yet supervised visits, therapy sessions and a month back with his mother when he was 10 or 11 couldn’t mend a broken relationship from Perez’s perspective and he went back into foster care. He said a lot of anger remained, eventually leading to expulsion from school. “That was in the heat of abuse from my family. I was acting out,” he said. Perez had to learn how to make sense of and deal with emotions such as anger without parental guidance, which is something therapeutic youth group homes helped provide. “When I first got put in care, something a lot of kids go through is they have anger issues, so a lot of the stuff was for behavioral health,” Perez said. “Group homes try and help us with that, however difficult to get used to, they definitely were a significant help. Some of the staff were some of the most genuinely caring and influential people I’ve met in my life.” Being in a foster family was very different from the structured therapeutic youth group home environment. Perez described it as going from a “super tight ship” to a less-structured routine. “I’ve never had a foster family I didn’t mesh with. I did try very hard to make everything succeed because everybody wants that next placement to be their last placement. No kid enjoys being bounced around,” Perez said. For the rare occasions when children are moved to more than 10 placements Child Protective Services Specialist Melissa Cichosz said the goal is to convey to the child that the move is not their fault. “Sometimes a child is unable to understand why they are moved,” Cichosz said. The length of time a child stays with a foster family is dependent on a lot of factors that a child cannot necessarily control. “I’ve had foster homes fall apart because the foster family got a divorce and so all of us kids were disbanded. I’ve had foster homes where I just showed up after school one day and everything I owned was packed,” Perez said, noting one instance that happened after placed in a home for a long time. “I was told my case worker was coming in an hour and I had no idea why and that’s after I had been there for two and a half years.” Although he said he’s remained in contact with the family, Perez still seems hurt. “I beat myself up so much for that for so long [why it happened] I just don’t want to open that up again. It’s six years ago. I don’t mind,” Perez said glancing out a window. His current placement has spanned nine months with first-time foster mother Cheryl Sausen of Whitefish. With 3,206 children in Montana’s foster-care system, 6 percent are youths ages 15 and over and there is a need for families to foster and adopt teenagers. “People saying they’d only adopt 0 to 4-year-olds is very common. We’ve had people say ‘those teenagers are broken — too much trouble’ — which is not the way to be thinking,” Donnelly said. Fostering a teenager hadn’t occurred to Sausen, 54, until she met Perez, who had been a friend of her son, Tommy, the youngest of four children. “Tommy went off to college and I just still had Johnny in my heart to help him,” Sausen said. “When I met him I didn’t know if he was officially in foster-care system; I just knew I wanted to get him in a better place and get him through high school.” Sausen was able to take Perez in under kinship care. Eventually she took classes to become a licensed foster parent through Child Protective Services. “We’ve had good stuff, some not so good, normal teenage stuff,” Sausen said. She recalled one time when they had a “big blowout” where an average teen would see a disagreement or argument between parent and child as something that’s normal and bound to happen. Perez was ready to pack his bags. “He was already making his plans and knew he would have to move out and go somewhere, so I guess that’s kind of the norm that he was expecting; he would just have to move onto the next thing,” she said. Sausen said she knew Perez seemed to be stuck in “fight or flight” mode. “So we talked in the beginning, I’m sure you are used to fighting or flighting, I know you may self-sabotage, but hopefully, eventually you’ll learn you don’t have to go to that old stuff,” Sausen said. And so far, it’s been a good work in progress. Sausen said the classes were very helpful in opening her eyes to the reality of what some foster children are facing and how to handle different situations. “From my own background I kind of know how kids can react — even how adults react from not-so-good childhoods,” Sausen said. “The classes, whew, the classes really open up your eyes to the reality of some severe things.” And if she ever needed assistance there are caseworkers for families. To maintain what he considered a normal life, he kept his past and the fact that he was a foster child, to himself. “I kept very few kids from knowing my life — never told anybody any of the things I’ve been through. Never told them where I lived,” he said. “People would ask to hang out after school and I’d tell them that I couldn’t. I would say ‘oh I’m grounded,’ when it was because I was living in group homes where you weren’t allowed to have people spend the night,” Perez said. What gave him a sense of normalcy was playing sports such as football, basketball and track. He could simply be known as “Johnny the good athlete” rather than “Johnny the foster kid.” What Perez considered normal was “just that kid who could go to football games without having to get it approved a week in advance first. Or go do anything on [your] own in the community without having a staff member watch [your] every action, I mean, even down to the cliche of sitting down for dinner at night with your family.” Perez kept his life in foster care from most of his friends until he became a junior in high school, when he didn’t see a reason anymore to be self-conscious about stigmas. “When I moved back to Whitefish I chose a more open approach. If people asked about my past I would tell them,” Perez said. On social media he would share some of the hardships he went through, not always resulting in positive comments. “I started getting called Pity King. I just want understanding. There are kids who put on the facade of the happiest kid on earth when in reality they aren’t,” Perez said, petting his Chihuahua, Paca. “She was the runt of litter,” said. “Her mom wouldn’t let her feed ... I bottle-fed her; the first two months of her life she slept in my shirt to maintain her body heat.” Perez said his motivation for sharing his story is to tell the public there are talented and successful foster children out there. “I want to share that foster kids are normal kids and we exist,” Perez said. “You don’t hear the success of foster kids. You hear foster kids live in low-income housing, don’t go to college, drop out of high school, when there’s so many talented kids from the foster system.” In less than a month Perez will celebrate his 18th birthday and “age out” of foster care, but there are supports available such as the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, to help foster children transition into adult independence. “The foster-care system is trying to help me with college stuff and after high school plans,” Perez said. “They have independent living, which is what a lot of kids do, but I’ll be living in the dorms. I have my next four years basically planned out. In the summers I’ll live here with my foster family.” And Perez still needs a connection to the foster-care system. He doesn’t necessarily want to push the system behind him yet. Perez would like to help change the foster-care system. “Child advocacy is something I feel is not strong enough,” Perez said. In college, Perez plans on studying psychology and eventually working in the foster-care system to “help kids out like myself.” He would like to strengthen awareness and community involvement with foster children and families. Perez understands what the difficult job entails. “Do you think you have a heart to walk into a family and say ‘I deem you unfit as a parent and I have to take your child’? People who work at CPS have to do that. It is so difficult to do that job. It’s just gut-wrenching,” he said. For more information on becoming a foster parent call 1-866-936-7837 or visit http://dphhs.mt.gov/CFSD/Fosterparent.aspx. To report a possible case of child abuse or neglect, call 1-866-820-5437.  Source: http://www.dailyinterlake.com/members/teen-details-life-in-foster-care-system/article_4e4d1368-470f-11e6-a7db-abbac31d73d5.html
WA State Now Implementing E2SSB 6564: A law passed to protect the developmentally disabled from institutional abuse. This law reads in part: "Summary of Engrossed Second Substitute Bill: Within funds dedicated for this purpose, DDA must increase home visits for clients identified as having the highest risk of abuse and neglect. DDA must develop a process to determine which of its clients who receive an annual developmental disabilities assessment are at highest risk of abuse... and neglect. Factors which DDA may consider in making this assessment are specified in the bill. DDA must visit these clients at least once every four months, including unannounced visits as needed. If an unannounced visit takes the place of a scheduled visit and is unable to be completed, the case manager must schedule a follow-up visit." Read this new law now at: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate/6564-S2.E%20SBR%20HA%2016.pdf
How Education Fares In The Democratic Party Platform Although education policy has not been a prominent issue in the current presidential race, the Democratic Party’s platform gives the subject some of its just due with a fairly extensive treatment. In the current draft, which will be finalized on June 8 and 9, there are numerous mentions of education and a special section with over 1,000 words devoted to the topic. Many are saying this platform “may be most progressive platform the Democratic Party may have ever had.” But is it progressive on education? Let’s weigh the evidence. First let’s examine how the Democratic Party platform differs from what’s proposed in the Republican Party’s platform. The Republican document gets education policy wrong from with the very first sentence by asserting, “Parents are responsible for the education of their children.” Although it’s true parents certainly need to be involved in their children’s education, have a voice in how schools are run, and take responsibility for encouraging and maintaining their children’s educational development, putting the sole burden for education on parents guarantees inequity of education opportunity and is, frankly, un-American. Relegating education opportunity to “consumer rights” and “choice,” as the Republicans do, ensures those who are the wealthiest and most enabled in the system have the most opportunity, while less-well-off parents have the least. And since our country’s founding, the American tradition is for education to be a shared burden taken on by the entire population. Virtually every state’s constitution asserts government’s responsibility to provide for an education for elementary and secondary students, a precedent established by the Ordinance of 1785, which predates our national Constitution. The rest of the Republican platform is studded with the usual bromides about “high standards,” “high expectations,” “accountability,” and “choice” with very little attention to governmental responsibilities for education. In fact, Republicans bash government’s role in relation to spending on education, making a false assertion that $2 trillion expenditure by the federal government since 1965 has resulted in “no substantial improvement in academic achievement.” According to the best measure available, the National Assessment of Education Progress, scores are up over the past 40 years, and black and Hispanic students have made the greatest gains over that period. Specific proposals in the Republican’s platform range from removing government financial support for higher education, to providing parents with vouchers to transfer their children out of the public system at taxpayer expense, to getting tough on teachers while leaving the profession open to un-credentialed, untrained recruits. In other words, remove government’s responsibility to provide for a universally accessible, high quality, and equitable education for every child. Nothing progressive here. Are Democrats any better? Unfortunately, the Democratic Party’s platform falls short of asserting a bedrock philosophy for education. Although, those who drafted the document include a statement about the federal government’s role in “working towards an America where a world-class education is available to every child,” what’s missing is a statement defining education as fundamental right and a collective responsibility. As public education advocate Jan Resseger writes on her personal blog, Democrats should, at the very least, declare education to be a “common good” and call for “a comprehensive system … that serves all children and is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public.” But instead, the platform highlights a series of isolated issues that, although important, further the perception that education is mostly a technocratic endeavor rather than a moral and political imperative. So, without a rudder to guide its education positions, how do the Democrats fare in their treatment of specific policy points? The section devoted to education begins with higher education, which certainly has been a prominent issue in the presidential campaign. The writing is mainly focused on addressing the dramatic increase in the cost of higher education, calling it a “barrier” that government needs to help students overcome. Specifically, the platform calls for free community college, which would guarantee at least a basic access to higher education opportunity. This idea has some practical validity, as is being demonstrated by the free community college program currently being run in Tennessee. Nevertheless, the call for tuition free community college, without extending it to four-year university, falls short of the proposal made by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to provide for universal tuition free college. Although the party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton initially eschewed what Sanders proposed, she has since reconsidered and embraced the idea. So on the subject of higher education, the Democratic platform needs to catch up with its candidates. On the subject of college student loan debt – a key issue in turning out the vote from millennials – Democrats call for a Student Borrower Bill of Rights and a pledge to allow borrowers with student loans to discharge their debts in bankruptcy. These are admirable proposals but again fall short of the student debt “jubilee” that would reflect both the values upon which this nation was founded and the economic principles that have sustained it through its greatest periods of growth and prosperity. The platform’s pledge to support “minority-serving” universities, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is worthy, although as classroom teacher and popular blogger Peter Greene, on his personal site, advises those who drafted the document, “You guys may want to take a look at that whole ‘minority’ thing, since particularly in schools ‘minority’ also means ‘white’ at this point.” The platform’s pledge to crack down on predatory for-profit colleges is also generally worthwhile; although, it’s not clear whether this puts them at odds with the Obama administration’s current effort to include Navient – the loan servicing giant with one of the worst track records for ripping off students – as one of the finalists to help overhaul federal student loan collection practices. Regarding early childhood education and K-12, the platform lumps the two issues together, a mistake because states generally have no constitutional obligations to provide for ECE. For sure, providing high quality pre-K education to little kids is vital but not just for the sake of the “workforce,” as the platform seems to suggest. Much of what is stated about K-12 education amounts to generalities that few can object to but don’t have much of a basis in research and enduring practice. Having “great Pre-K-12 schools in every zip code” is important but not without some consideration of what makes them “great.” Few would object to high standards but standards do little to actually ensure outcomes. One of the few specifics in the platform is the call for mentoring programs, which certainly have some merit but seem an odd proposal to highlight in a document with national significance. One wonders, as Greene does in his assessment, “Which genius on the committee has a bunch of money sunk in some mentor-consultant business?” The Democratic proposal wraps up with attention to the issue of charter schools, declaring support for “high-quality public charter schools” (who would support bad ones?) and opposition to “for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources” – an empty rhetorical phrase because charters can operate as non-profits while being connected to all sorts of profitable enterprises. The issue of charter schools is complicated and hard to address in a broad document like a party platform. But here again, the platform authors could have reasserted the need for schools to be democratically controlled by and accountable to the entirety of the population that the school is intended to serve – which would be a clear statement of opposition to the rapidly expanding industrial approach to schooling being spread by large charter management companies. In sum the platform’s authors would be wise to consider advice of California education professor Julian Vasquez Heilig to focus on the solutions that have some basis in research. So does the Democratic platform support education policies that are progressive? Currently, the best answer to that question is, “Maybe.”  Source: http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/how-education-fares-in-the-democratic-party-platform/
Don’t Make Our Most Vulnerable Children Wait Longer! 07/12/2016 10:37 am 10:37:16 | Updated 3 days ago Marian Wright Edelman  In an important show of bipartisanship, Congress is on the cusp of an historic step to help many of the most vulnerable children in our nation who are abused and neglected and at risk of entering foster care and lingering in group care. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456) on June 21st to help keep these children safely with their families and out of foster care. I hope the Senate will do the same this week before it leaves for summer recess and not keep vulnerable children waiting and waiting longer. Alumni of foster care frequently say the most important step the state could have taken was to help their family early on to keep them out of foster care. They talk about what a difference it would have made if drug treatment or other supports were available to keep their families together and offer them needed stability in their lives. We often overlook the trauma children experience when they are uprooted from their home, family and school and are expected to adjust to new environments. My mother was a wonderful foster parent to nearly a dozen children, yet many of her foster children yearned for their birth families. This separation trauma can be intensified for children in group homes and lead to worse life outcomes than experienced by children in family foster homes. Many children who move frequently from family to family or one group setting to another and from school to school wish they could have a stable family all children need growing up. “You don’t age out of families,” they say, underscoring a fundamental problem with having only the state as a parent. Passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, identical to the Senate bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), will make historic and crucial investments in prevention for children and families. Currently major federal child welfare funding is available to states only after a child has been removed from their home and placed in foster care. This has created a disincentive to help families at the front-end. For many years state child welfare agencies and a range of other providers and advocates have challenged this misalignment in federal funding which undermines the best interests and outcomes for vulnerable children and urged federal investments in prevention. The Family First Prevention Services Act finally does that recognizing that mental health and substance abuse problems bring the majority of children into the child welfare system. It allows federal dollars to be used to prevent and treat such problems and to fund home-based programs to strengthen parenting skills for children in their own families. We know quality prevention programs work and are less costly than group and congregate care. So we urge the Senate to act now. The Family First Prevention Services Act also redirects federal fiscal incentives to states to help children who must enter foster care be placed with families rather than in more expensive and less effective group care. Over the years foster care alumni have shared their experiences in group home settings with members of Congress and explained how they needed the love and support of their parents or extended families, not rotating shifts of staff in a place that felt more like a business than a home. So this long overdue bill acts to reduce the unnecessary funneling of children into group care settings. Federal dollars are available for family foster care or quality residential treatment programs for children with special emotional or behavioral needs — often the most expensive care. The bill includes enhanced protections to ensure children remain in residential programs no longer than treatment requires. States will continue to receive federal support for programs serving pregnant and parenting teens and youth 18 and older transitioning from foster care to adulthood. After more than 35 years of federal support, states and localities will now have to pick up the full tab for the care of children in other group settings to better align federal dollars with prevention and the most family-like foster care settings that offer better outcomes for children. Recognizing that this is a big change, these new funds for prevention and restrictions on group care funding will not take effect until three years after the bill is enacted. This three year delay gives state and local agencies, private providers and child and family advocates ample time to prepare and work with the Department of Health and Human Services to build on the new law’s flexibility in defining who is eligible for prevention services, how the services are defined, and the definition, structure and eligibility for residential treatment programs. There is also initial funding to build on for recruiting and retaining quality foster homes. Could some states get less federal money for group care than they have been receiving? Possibly, but only if they maintain the status quo rather than supporting more family-like settings and treatment for children with special needs. And now all states will be able to use federal dollars for services and treatment to help keep children safely in their families and out of more expensive foster care. The bottom line must be what’s best for children. A number of states already have time-limited federal waivers allowing more flexible use of federal foster care dollars to show the benefits of investments in prevention. The new federal prevention funds in the Family First Prevention Services Act will become available in 2019 as those waivers end. The new federal reforms build on what Congress has learned from states’ efforts to increase prevention investments and move children in foster care to more family-like settings, steps that improve child outcomes. The Senate should approve H.R. 5456 before summer recess in four days. Attempts to change the bill, even technical amendments, will kill it and send a hurtful message to vulnerable children across the country that continued reliance on foster care over prevention is acceptable. I urge passage of this crucial bill to ensure long awaited services and protections for abused and neglected children.    Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and loving family. The Family First Prevention Services Act is a critically important step toward this goal for hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable children.  Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/dont-make-our-most-vulner_b_10941914.html#
­ Charge: Group home leader punched, kicked resident in vehicle - Eau Claire Leader-Telegram Charge: Group home leader punched, kicked resident in vehicle posted July 13, 2016 12:00 a.m. (CDT) email article print font size - + by / Dan Holtz. bio | email 4 Enlarge Stoner prevnext A man who runs an adult group home in Eau Claire is accused of punching and kicking one of his residents in a vehicle in Fall Creek. The 46-year-old resident sustained a bruised and swollen left eye in the incident, police said. Clinten E. Stoner, 50, of 716 Kimberly Drive was charged Tuesday in Eau Claire County Court with a felony count of causing bodily harm by intentionally abusing a patient. Stoner is free on a $5,000 signature bond and returns to court Aug. 23. As conditions of bond, Stoner was ordered not to have contact with the resident or vulnerable adults and children. According to the criminal complaint: A Fall Creek police officer received a report of possible family trouble that occurred just after 4:30 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of Wisconsin Street in Fall Creek. The officer spoke with a witness who said she was sitting on her front porch when a vehicle pulled over. The driver got out, opened the back door and started punching and kicking the passenger and restraining the passenger from getting out of the vehicle. The witness also heard the driver yelling and swearing at the passenger. The altercation lasted about two minutes. The witness got the license plate number of the vehicle before the vehicle headed westbound on U.S. 12. A second witness told the officer the male in the back seat may have been mentally challenged. The officer then spoke with Stoner, the registered owner of the vehicle. Stoner said he runs an adult group home in Eau Claire, cares for two residents and had taken them swimming. Stoner took one of the residents to his mother’s house in Fall Creek to get a swimming suit. The resident wanted to stay at his mother’s house, which he was not allowed to do. Stoner claimed the resident started attacking him in the vehicle and he had to pull over to restrain him. Stoner said the resident pulled his hair and tore off his shirt. Witnesses told police the driver of the vehicle pulled off his own shirt. The resident, who cried when speaking to an Eau Claire police officer, said Stoner hit him with a closed fist. If convicted, Stoner could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com  Source: http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Front-Page/2016/07/13/Charge-Group-homeleader-punched-kickedresident-in-vehicle-nbsp.html
Report rips State Agency in charge of Group Homes Potential cases of neglect and abuse not reported By Ryan Walsh, 22News I-Team Reporter Published: July 14, 2016, 11:04 am Updated: July 14, 2016, 5:54 pm  BOSTON (WWLP) - An Inspector General report rips a Massachusetts state agency for not reporting potential cases of abuse and neglect of developmentally disabled individuals under state care.  The report found that the state and group homes staff did not report critical emergency room visits to investigators 58% of the time.  The Inspector General reviewed emergency room visits of developmentally disabled individuals living in group homes.  The Department of Developmental Services oversees group homes. The Office of the Inspector General found that the Department of Developmental Services did not comply with Federal waiver and State requirements for reporting and monitoring critical incidents involving developmentally disabled individuals. One unnamed woman with developmental disabilities was living in a group home with psychiatric disorders.  She was in the emergency room 10 times form May 2013 to May 2014.  She was in the hospital for swallowing batteries, screws, bolts, soda can tabs, and a part of a cell phone charger.  The Department of Developmental Services only reported one of the ten incidents to the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC).  The state agency has to report reasonable suspicions of abuse or neglect to the DPPC. Another incident showed that a resident had cuts on their head due to being restrained by the group home's aides on two separate occasions. The state agency did not report that incident to investigators either. The Inspector General's report also says that the state agency did not make sure that Group Homes reported all critical incidents to the Department of Developmental Services.    The report says that Group Homes did not report 15% of the 587 emergency room visits reviewed to the Department of Developmental Services.  Group Home providers are required to do so.  Due to this, the Department of Developmental Services did not review and analyze data on the 88 critical incidents group homes did not report. One incident involved a group home resident who suffered second-degree burns on his shoulder.  Another resident was hit in the head with a metal chair by another resident and suffered a concussion.  Neither incident was reported to the state. The Inspector General went through 2964 emergency room claims from the Massachusetts Medicaid Management Information System that the state agency paid for developmentally disabled Medicaid beneficiaries living in group homes from January 2012 through June 2014.  Those individuals had 587 hospital emergency room visits that were diagnosed with at least 1 of 149 conditions that were high risk for suspected abuse or neglect. In letters to the Inspector General, the state agency disagreed with many of the findings, but did say they welcome the recommendations made in the report. In a statement sent to 22News on Thursday, the Executive Officer of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Department of Developmental Services had this to say; “DDS is committed  to protecting the health and welfare of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are receiving services, has carefully reviewed the findings in the OIG’s report and is in the process of implementing recommendations, including additional staff training practices and new guidance on critical incident reports, to ensure quality care for the 36,000 individuals it serves are safe and protected .” The Inspector General reviewed this data in several states, including Massachusetts, in response to a congressional request concerning the number of deaths and cases of abuse of developmentally disabled residents of group homes.  Source: http://wwlp.com/investigative-story/report-rips-state-agency-in-charge-of-group-homes/
Scathing report details failings at group homes E-Mail Share via e-mail To Add a message Your e-mail Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn 29 Comments Print The Boston GlobeTweet Share 29 Comments By Michael Levenson Globe Staff  July 14, 2016 A scathing federal audit released Thursday faults Massachusetts officials for frequently failing to alert authorities when developmentally disabled residents of the state’s group homes suffer broken bones, burns, and other injuries potentially caused by abuse and neglect. The audit, by the inspector general of the US Department of Health and Human Services, found that 58 percent of emergency room visits that involved reasonable suspicion of abuse and neglect were not reported to investigators between January 2012 and June 2014. Advertisement In one case, a developmentally disabled man had second-degree burns on his shoulder that neither he nor an aide at his group home could explain. In another case, a woman prone to seizures and defiant behavior was brought to the emergency room on two separate oaccsions with cuts on her head after she was restrained by group home staff. And in a third, an autistic man had a bed sore that was so infected it was possibly gangrenous and in need of extensive surgery and reconstruction. Curtis M. Roy, the audit manager who oversaw the report, said he was flabbergasted and disturbed by the findings. “I shake my head every time I read these reports because I don’t quite see how people can see somebody laying there with an infected gangrenous bed sore and not pick up the telephone,” he said. “I just don’t understand that. I really don’t.” Advertisement State officials said they disagreed with many of the findings of the report, which they said were overstated. Nevertheless, they said they had issued several new advisories to group home contractors on how to identify suspected abuse and neglect and are developing additional training for group home workers and state officials. The state “is committed to protecting the health and welfare of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are receiving services, has carefully reviewed the findings in the OIG’s report and is in the process of implementing recommendations,” said Michelle Hillman, spokeswoman for the state health and human services agency. Private contractors operate about 1,800 group homes in Massachusetts, while the state directly runs about 200, according to the Arc of Massachusetts, an advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities. They serve a total of 10,000 residents with disabilities. The federal audit found the lack of action by state officials and group home workers placed developmentally disabled adults – some of whom cannot speak, hear, or see, and many of whom have serious physical and intellectual disabilities – at risk of harm. The state’s failure to report the injuries to investigators also violated state and federal rules. “Personally, I would be at least moderately concerned, if not very concerned, if I had a relative in a group home,” Roy said. “I just don’t think there should be any tolerance of abuse or neglect of anybody, but in particular of developmentally disabled people.” US Senator Christopher Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, requested audits of several states’ group homes after the Hartford Courant reported in 2013 that abuse and neglect had been cited in the deaths of 76 developmentally disabled people in Connecticut between 2004 and 2010. As a result, the inspector general’s office reviewed the safeguards designed to prevent abuse and neglect in group homes in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Maine. Connecticut’s audit, released in May, found that state, like Massachusetts, often failed to report possible abuse or neglect to investigators, including cases involving a man who suffered a broken spine and a woman who repeatedly swallowed razor blades. Massachusetts’ audit f0und that state officials and group home workers, by not acting on possible cases of abuse and neglect, “failed to adequately protect” 146 of the 334 developmentally disabled residents whose emergency room visits were reviewed. The audit also found that the Department of Developmental Services, the state agency that oversees group homes, did not ensure that group homes detail the “action steps” they would take to prevent injuries from occurring again in 29 percent of cases. The report was based on a review of 587 emergency room visits made by 334 group home residents on Medicaid between January 2012 and June 2014 – cases that involved broken bones, burns, open wounds, drug overdoses, and swallowed objects. Christine Griffin, executive director of Disability Law Center of Massachusetts, said she hopes the report prompts officials to overhaul how the state handles potential abuse and neglect – including what she called the chronic underfunding and understaffing of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, which investigates possible cases in group homes. She said the state should also implement, as others have, a registry of group home workers who have abused or neglected residents, to ensure they can’t be hired again at another group home. “It’s startling to me that we’re this behind,” Griffin said. “Especially someone who is nonverbal, we just discount what happens to them in some way. If they can’t say, ‘Somebody did this to me and this is who that person is,’ then things that happen to them get ignored by everybody.” Nancy A. Alterio, executive director of the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, said the agency fields 10,000 reports of potential abuse and neglect a year, has a $3 million budget and five investigators. Each investigator typically has 50 open cases. “In Massachusetts, we work very diligently and vigilantly to ensure the protection of persons with disabilities,” she said. “We’re far from a perfect system, but we’re often seen as a model across the country because of our collaborative efforts and focus.” Roy said it is essential that group home workers and officials understand that they must act if they are concerned that the injuries suffered by a developmentally disabled person might have been caused by abuse or neglect. “If you have to even think about it,” Roy said, “you should tell someone.” Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.  Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/07/13/scathing-report-details-failings-group-homes/gXx87GpHkixBJTuROkJL1L/story.html
--> --> 'This is not my room': The harrowing message a five-year-old girl wrote on the walls of a room her mother and stepfather locked her in as they subjected her to cruel bootcamp-style torture A man and woman will spend time in jail for torturing a five-year-old girl  The woman is the child's mother and the man is her step-father They began torturing the girl when parenting became 'over whelming'  Was forced to run behind a car in bushland to simulate being abandoned The torture was 'punishment' for the girl's misbehaviour, the court heard By Belinda Cleary For Daily Mail Australia Published: 09:30 EST, 15 July 2016 | Updated: 09:38 EST, 15 July 2016 View comments The parents of a five-year-old girl who exposed her to barbaric boot-camp torture and locked her in her room without toilet breaks will spend less than a year in jail. The Caboolture-based mother, 26, and step-father, 30, of the young girl executed a bizarre torture regime after they became 'overwhelmed' by the task of parenting, Brisbane District Court heard. The five-year-old was forced to run up to 6km, in bushland behind her parents car which would pull away whenever she got close.  SHARE PICTURE Copy link to paste in your message +3 The parents of a five-year-old girl who was tortured with an extreme exercise regime and locked in her room for up to 24 hours at a time will see less than a year behind bars This bizarre method of punishment was supposed to make the child feel like she was being abandoned and was a 'corrective treatment' for her behaviour.  Sometimes she would be joined by two other children on these runs. She was also forced to undertake up to four hours of other exercises including situps and stand ups,the Courier Mail Reports.  The abuse started after the parents turned to an older man for guidance and would be administered as a form of punishment when she misbehaved.  SHARE PICTURE Copy link to paste in your message +3 The parents appeared before Brisbane District Court where they were sentenced for the torture and abuse of the girl This older man would force the girl to eat curry powder if she did not exercise fast enough.  When the girl was at home she would often be sent to her room where the door handles would be removed so she couldn't escape. 'This is not my room, this is not my house,' she wrote on the walls of her room.  The words were a 'sad and poignant' feature of the shocking case, Judge Craig Chowdhury said in a hearing on Friday. 'The girl had also smeared her own excrement around the room and suggested her spartan room had become her personal prison,' he said. The step father was ordered to spend eight months behind bars and the girl's mother was given three months. SHARE PICTURE Copy link to paste in your message +3 The girl wrote harrowing messages on the walls and also smeared excrement around the room The couple, who are no longer together, had their full four and three-year terms suspended. The court heard the woman had also admitted to police she struck the girl across the face on several occasions - once so hard it had hurt her own hand. Summarising her treatment, which also included being forced to exercise excessively and being left outside with pet dogs, Judge Chowdhury said: 'The mind boggles'. 'These acts can only be designed to humiliate, demoralise and destroy whatever happy childhood this girl was ever going to have.' Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3691978/Queensland-parents-jailed-subjecting-girl-5-cruel-bootcamp-style-torture.html#ixzz4EX74DBnn Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Groundbreaking human rights of children bill introduced in Congress By Elizabeth Bartholet & Paulo Barroz • 7/16/16 12:03 AM The Washington Examiner Share Tweet Mail Print SMS More Tens of millions of children worldwide live without parents, with an estimated 10 to 14 million of these unparented children confined to institutions. And this number is growing. These children are denied their human right to grow up in a family and to be free from the cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, unnecessary detention, and denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of persons characteristic of institutionalization. Their plight is the largest unrecognized humanitarian and human rights crisis of the 21st century. Human rights legislation addressing this crisis was introduced in Congress recently by Rep. Tom Marino, R-Penn., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., H.R. 5285 amends the Congressional mandate to the Department of State to prepare and publish annually Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, requiring it to include in those Country Reports violations of the above-listed child human rights. This new legislation is simple. It requires no new resources, and no new office. It creates no new sanctions, and allows the Department of State the same discretion it has traditionally enjoyed in preparing the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. H.R. 5285 simply requires the Department of State to stop discriminating against millions of children worldwide by refusing to count as a human rights violation their denial of family life through adoption and their unnecessary institutionalization. While simple, this legislation would nonetheless be of enormous significance in the debate over whether unparented children should continue to be condemned to institutions whose destructive effects have been documented by leading social and medical sciences research, or allowed to find permanent families through adoption. Adoption gives children the permanent, nurturing, legally stable parents they need. However, few countries with large populations of unparented children have a robust domestic adoption tradition and many countries impose severe restrictions on or altogether prohibit international adoption. This deliberately denies millions of children in need their human right to grow up in nurturing homes. These restrictive adoption policies have resulted in the precipitous decline by 75 percent in the number of adoptions into the United States since 2004, and by more than 50 percent in the number of international adoptions worldwide. This represents the deliberate and unnecessary denial to well over 20,000 children per year of their most fundamental human right other than life itself — the right to grow up with nurturing parents. H.R. 5285 would help shift the U.S. position so that instead of undermining the child's right to family, the United States would take a leading role in advocating for this vulnerable population globally. This landmark legislation has the support of a broad coalition of leading human rights and child welfare experts and organizations, assisted in this endeavor by the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and Arent Fox LLP. This coalition includes the National Council for Adoption, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the Center for Adoption Policy, Saddleback Church Orphan Care Initiative, and Harvard Law School's Child Advocacy Program. We call on Congress to join the fight to secure the rights of unparented children worldwide who continue to be unnecessarily institutionalized and denied the opportunity to grow up in stable loving homes by geographical accident and the policies of governments. Also from the Washington Examiner NIH: Lack  Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/groundbreaking-human-rights-of-children-bill-introduced-in-congress/article/2596677
Editorial: More questions about group home care Greenville News Editorial Page 1:03 a.m. EDT July 17, 2016 5 CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE A three-day investigative report published last week by The Greenville News begs many more answers about the way South Carolina and its contractors manage the care of the state’s most vulnerable adults. Investigative reporter Rick Brundrett spent seven months poring over records and conducting interviews as he explored the deaths of three clients in group homes run by South Carolina Mentor, a division of a national company that operates homes for vulnerable adults. Mentor is overseen by the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. --> Play Video Play Mute Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 3:05 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% Stream TypeLIVE Remaining Time -0:00   Playback Rate 1 Chapters Chapters subtitles off, selected Subtitles captions settings, opens captions settings dialog captions off, selected Captions Fullscreen Brother and best friend lost in the care of Mentor.m4v This is a modal window. Play Mute Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% Stream TypeLIVE Remaining Time -0:00   Playback Rate 1 Chapters Chapters subtitles off, selected Subtitles captions settings, opens captions settings dialog captions off, selected Captions Fullscreen Brother and best friend lost in the care of Mentor.m4v Foreground Background Window Font Size Text Edge Style Font Family Skip Ad Ad Loading... x Embed x Share Michelle McCarroll talks about her brother, Jamie Rosemond, who died while living in a Mentor group home. Lauren Petracca The investigation looked at a very small sample of cases, but raises important questions about how well the state is fulfilling its duty to care for these adults who have very serious intellectual or other developmental issues, and how well the state is monitoring the companies it authorizes to carry out those duties. By law, the state has a responsibility to care for vulnerable adults. Even when contracted to private companies, the state’s responsibility extends to carefully overseeing those companies. Taxpayers have funded a $17.5 million annual contract (recently increased to $19.9 million) for Mentor alone, but Mentor is one of multiple companies that serve the state in this capacity. To ensure that money is being spent responsibly there needs to be a high degree of transparency over both the state and its contractors. That has not been the case. Brundrett ran into difficulty obtaining some public records – such as the addresses of group homes in the state. In addition, details about abuse reports and patient deaths in contractor-run group homes often are murky. Such a lack of transparency not only keeps the taxpayers in the dark, but also prevents relatives of vulnerable adults from having any assurance their loved ones are being properly cared for. One example from the Greenville News report provides cause for worry. Brundrett recounted the case of Jamie Rosemond who wandered away from his group home in Mauldin and was fatally struck by two cars in 2012. The window on Rosemond’s room had an alarm, but the alarm was disabled when he broke the window several days before his fatal escape, according to a lawsuit. Further, employees were supposed to be checking on Rosemond every 15 minutes, but apparently had not done so – logs showed group home staff had checked on Rosemond at 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on the day he died while police reports show he was struck by two cars at about 6:25 p.m. All of this despite that fact caregivers knew Rosemond was prone to wandering off. Families of group home residents as well as taxpayers should demand answers. Systems that are in place to protect group home clients need to be maintained and procedures followed. The state needs to follow up on maintenance. It also needs to ensure policies – those mandated by the state or put in place by the contractors – are being consistently followed. If a procedure is not being followed, it should not be used to give clients’ family members a false sense of security. There also are legitimate questions about the finances of these contracts. The state contract with Mentor averages to about $85,000 per client per year. That is a significant sum for the care of one individual, and though the cost may be legitimate, contractors’ books should be open so taxpayers can see how their money is being spent. Further, the quality of direct-care workers needs to be reviewed. Brundrett reported that the starting pay for direct-care staff in South Carolina is $9.79 per hour. Mentor’s workers, who average 3.5 years of service, earn $9.86 per hour on average. Those low wages are concerning given the responsibility these workers have. It’s easy to assume higher wages could improve the quality of care. If true, the state and its contractors should consider providing better pay for these important workers. These questions need to be answered. In the meantime, some help may be on the way. In a story on Tuesday, Brundrett reported that state Rep. Chandra Dillard plans to introduce or cosponsor legislation to improve accountability by requiring video cameras in common areas of group homes. That would be a good first step. Michelle McCarroll, the sister of Jamie Rosemond, told Brundrett she thinks the state also should ensure there are working alarms on the doors and windows of group homes. These both are needed changes. Dillard and the Legislature should also consider other steps to improve transparency for private contractors and tighten state oversight of privately run facilities to ensure group homes are maintained and procedures are being followed. Caring for vulnerable adults is a vital state responsibility. Families depend on the state to provide care they are unable to provide on their own. These vulnerable human beings deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. There are simple steps that can improve care where needed or demonstrate to South Carolinians that these standards already are being met. Those steps need to be taken.  Source: http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/07/17/editorial-more-questions-group-home-care/87032796/
Foster care survivors fight to improve the system Story Comments Image (4) Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Previous Next Foster care survivors fight to improve the system Foster care survivors fight to improve the system Rochelle Alvarado, right, and Palmira Ramirez speak with Nick Vottero, the community engagement coordinator for the New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding foster children and youth who age out of the state’s foster care program. Alvarado and Ramirez are part of a group of youth who are playing a key role in improving policies that affect kids in the foster program. Cynthia Miller/The New Mexican Foster care survivors fight to improve the system Foster care survivors fight to improve the system Santa Fe native Lauren Huichan, shown with her therapy dog, says she and other youth who spent time in the state’s foster care system are working with the New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks to improve foster program policies ‘so that other kids don’t have to go through what we went through.’ Cynthia Miller/The New Mexican Posted: Saturday, July 16, 2016 11:15 pm | Updated: 11:58 pm, Sat Jul 16, 2016. Foster care survivors fight to improve the system By Cynthia Miller The New Mexican The Santa Fe New Mexican The night she was taken into state custody was a “big mess,” Palmira Ramirez said. “There were guns involved. There were policemen involved. There were bartenders involved.” She and her two half-sisters hid when they heard the commotion, knowing that child welfare caseworkers wouldn’t be far behind. Her two stepbrothers fled down the street to a relative’s home, missing the social workers “by minutes,” Ramirez said. The girls were discovered and divided, one sent to a great-grandmother’s home and two placed with an aunt they hadn’t seen in years. Ramirez, now 20, was 9 when she entered the state’s foster care system, beginning a journey that would shuffle her to nearly a score of foster homes and residential centers in cities around the state: Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Mora. Like many children who grow up in state custody, she never found a permanent home. Caseworkers came and went. Adoption procedures fell apart. She was always separated from her siblings, and she had little voice in the important decisions about where she would live and who would care for her. But she and other young adults who have aged out of the state’s foster care system have been fighting to change that. Through New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding foster children, these young people are playing a key role in improving policies that affect kids in a state system that operates largely out of the public’s eye. Case files on abused and neglected children and their families are kept confidential under federal funding rules. Family court hearings involving children are closed to the public. The confidentiality rules are meant to preserve children’s privacy, but they also shield deficiencies and injustices in a system that is meant to protect the nation’s most vulnerable young people. The experiences of Ramirez and other youth involved with NMCAN offer a glimpse into that system and the difficult years after they turned 18 and were suddenly on their own, young adults with no family support, few skills and little knowledge of how to navigate the state services and benefits still available to them. “Kids really do fall through the system,” said Santa Fe native Lauren Huichan, 24. State officials say New Mexico suffers from a combination of too few foster homes in some areas and overloaded social workers, despite heavy recruitment efforts to fill vacancies. A recent report by the Legislative Finance Committee said foster kids “are lingering in non-permanent care or have multiple placements meaning a lack of stability for children already experiencing trauma.” Exacerbating the problem, New Mexico, which leads the nation in the percentage of children living in poverty, has among the highest rates of child abuse and neglect, state and federal reports say, and a high rate of drug use among parents and other caregivers. Huichan’s advocacy work for foster kids began 10 years ago, through a youth program connected with the state Children, Youth and Families Department. She’s also worked with other organizations, such as the Gerard’s House program for grieving children in Santa Fe. Her efforts earned her some celebrity. In 2010, at the age of 18, she was invited to the TeenNick cable network’s HALO Awards in Los Angeles, where she received red-carpet honors for her activism, and mingled with pop stars and actors. In Los Angeles, Huichan was a long way from the 22 foster homes, group homes, shelters and psychiatric centers where she had spent her teen years, sometimes locked down and often medicated. She was diagnosed with depression and PTSD, she said. “I was moved around so much because I was considered a runaway,” Huichan said. “… I had just blown out of every placement.” She lost contact with her twin sister for six years. The foster system is a particularly tough place for kids with disabilities or mental health issues. Robert Carbajal, 25, who was diagnosed with a mild form of a developmental disability and bipolar disorder, said he spent years doped up on medication in a foster home that CYFD eventually determined was abusive. Not long after he was born in El Paso, Carbajal’s mother left him with some friends of her parents and then disappeared from his life, he said. His elderly grandparents took him into their home in Albuquerque, but they had a hard time caring for him. “I was a wild kid,” he said. “I wasn’t really controllable.” Unable to handle a growing child with behavioral challenges, his grandparents turned him over to state custody when he was 5. He spent a few months in a mental health facility and then went to live in the foster home, where he stayed for more than a decade before caseworkers removed him and a half-dozen other foster kids the couple had collected. Carbajal’s last two years in the foster system were spent in the home of a single mother and daughter. “There, I lived more of a normal life,” he said. A normal life can be hard to come by in the foster care system. But for Ramirez, the confusion and instability of that system was the “lesser of two evils.” As she was growing up in San Rafael, a tiny village in Cibola County not far from Grants, Ramirez and her motley pack of siblings — two half-sisters and two stepbrothers — were their own support system. Her mom had started using drugs and abusing alcohol, she said, “and not really caring anymore that she was our mom.” Her dad wasn’t around. She doesn’t know him. “None of me or my sisters know our dads.” The family had been investigated by state child protective services workers when she was 6, Ramirez said, but it was about a year later, when she was 7, that the troubles really began. That’s when a new boyfriend began to lure her mom away from the responsibilities of motherhood and into a drug-fueled decline. There would be weeks or months when Ramirez’s mom wasn’t around much, “leaving us to kind of fend for ourselves and take care of each other.” Ramirez had to help make sure the younger children got to school and that everyone was fed, she said, to fend off the social workers who had started coming around. The kids knew what would happen if their cover was blown: They’d be torn apart and put in foster care. “We were trying to keep the family together, because that was all we knew,” Ramirez said. But foster care was inevitable, she added, because of how careless her mother had become. When state caseworkers did arrive during a violent scene at the home in the middle of the night, they placed her and one of her sisters with an aunt in nearby Milan. But the woman, whom they barely knew, had an abusive husband, Ramirez said, and before long, the aunt fled the home while the girls were at school. It would become a familiar scenario, Ramirez said: “You come home from school, and all your stuff is outside in a trash bag.” She and her little sister bounced around to other caregivers, until it appeared they would have a permanent home with a former caseworker and his wife. The man had quit his job and took a new position in juvenile justice so he could take them in, she said. “We stayed there for a while. I was actually supposed to get adopted.” But the couple decided to separate, she said, and the adoption fell through. She was 13 at the time. “That was kind of heartbreaking,” she said. “I got shoved back into the foster system.” It wasn’t an easy transition. She said the foster mother who had planned to adopt her instead left her at a hospital. “I was shell-shocked. … I just got abandoned again. “They put me in a psych hospital because they thought I was going to go crazy.” She smiled. “But that ended up not happening.” Resiliency is a common trait among the young adults involved with NMCAN. They’re attending college and learning to live independently, and they’ve found a family there. Ramirez, who hopes to earn a degree in pediatric nursing, shares a home in Los Lunas with 22-year-old Rochelle Alvarado, also a native of the Grants area. “We call each other sisters,” Ramirez said. They’re both enrolled at Central New Mexico Community College. Alvarado is studying social work. She wants to work for CYFD some day. “I want to be that helping hand that my YTF is to me,” Alvarado said, referring to her youth transitional specialist, a state worker who, like NMCAN, is helping to ease her path to adulthood. NMCAN began in 1990 as the New Mexico CASA Network to provide court-appointed volunteer advocates for children in the foster system. While it continues to support CASA programs, NMCAN has expanded its mission in recent years to help former foster youth build life skills and job skills, further their education, find housing and employment, deal with their years of trauma and become their own advocates, using their experiences to push for policy changes to benefit the 2,300 kids in state care. They’re doing the work, Huichan said, “so that other kids don’t have to go through what we went through.” The group saw passage in 2014 of a bill that waives tuition and fees at state colleges and universities for students up to age 25 who have been in the foster care system. Their work also led to a “bill of rights” for foster children, legislation introduced by state Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, during the 2015 legislative session. The bill, which fell in line with the requirements for child welfare agencies under a 2014 federal law, would allow children in state custody to participate in normal activities, such as athletic and art programs, and attend sleepovers and summer camps. It also would give kids 14 and older a voice in creating a plan for their future, and it would require the state to give each child a list of their rights to education, health care, visits with family, safety, participation in court hearings and access to their own documents. It passed in the Senate but didn’t survive the House. Still, it inspired CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson, who had just stepped into the job, to meet with the youth and help them achieve some of their goals by changing policies and procedures in her agency. “It was a huge win to get it into administrative code,” said NMCAN Executive Director Ezra Spitzer. “… Young people had a very direct role in that process.” Jacobson said the new policies ease some of the restrictions for foster parents, giving them a greater role in making decisions for kids in their care, such as allowing them to join a sports team or simply go to the mall with friends. It also empowers the kids. “One thing I heard loud and clear is that they want a voice at the table,” Jacobson said. She meets with children in the state’s care, sometimes in groups and sometimes one-on-one, to listen to their concerns. One message from kids during such a session still sticks with her. “They said, ‘What we wish people knew is that it wasn’t our fault.’ ” Facing blame — from family members, foster parents and caseworkers — was a common thread in the stories of the NMCAN youth. Some of them are still battling the fallout as they try to build new relationships with their biological families. Jacobson said the agency is also working to increase the number of foster families in New Mexico, so that more kids can be placed in homes close to their biological families. Moving a child to a new city “should never happen,” she said. “That’s not best practice.” After adding 100 families over the past year, Jacobson said, the state now has about 1,200 homes for foster kids. “But we are always looking for more.” Her work in improving the system is far from over, she said. “In no way, shape or form do I think we’ve got it all figured out.” Spitzer said the nonprofit also has work to do. Its next mission might be drafting new legislation that creates a way for foster kids to file a grievance without being routed through their state caseworkers. “I really think that’s a missing ingredient,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been recently talking a lot about.” Ramirez said the group is also working on a measure that would allow foster kids to visit with siblings who live in other homes, separated by decisions beyond their control. Ideally, Spitzer said, a child taken into state care will be able to go home quickly. “But sometimes they don’t go home,” he said, “and they don’t get adopted.” Those who enter as teens rarely are adopted, he said, and tragically, some kids get adopted and then return to the foster system. “We do these things to protect kids, but sometimes there’s trauma inside that,” Spitzer said. “… We have to find solutions.”  Source: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/foster-care-survivors-fight-to-improve-the-system/article_1eb904ae-52b6-596e-9af3-304a3d2a8206.html
If Democrats Think Mike Pence Is An Extremist, Will They Stop Supporting His Education Policies? Soon after the announcement that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would be the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party, word came from Democrats that he was an extremist – and not just your garden-variety extremist. “The ‘most extreme’ vice presidential pick in a generation,” an article in USA Today quotes a statement from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Podesta elaborates, according to the reporter, calling Pence, “an early supporter of the Tea Party” and someone who “‘personally spearheaded’ a religious liberty bill that ‘legalized discrimination’ against gays and lesbians (which he later revised); and he was a leader in the effort to defund Planned Parenthood as a member of the U.S. House.” “Mike Pence is even worse than you think,” warns a report from left leaning news outlet Salon, arguing he has “the most virulently anti-gay records of any government official” and has “also built his career on restricting abortion rights.” According to an article in Alternet, Pence is a favorite of Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who fund extreme right wing organizations such Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that writes extremist right wing laws that have been enacted in many states. Another opinion piece in the Washington Post criticizes Pence for “mocking” working moms. As for Clinton herself, according to Politico, because the announcement of Pence’s candidacy coincided with her appearance at the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers, she focused some of her criticism of Pence on his record on education issues. In her address, Clinton “told thousands of cheering teachers union members that Pence is ‘one of the most hostile politicians in America when it comes to public education.’” Clinton accused Pence of cutting “millions from higher education while he was ‘giving huge cuts to corporations’ … Clinton also said Pence ‘turned away millions of federal dollars that could’ve expanded access to preschool for low-income children.’” A more dispassionate look at Pence’s education record by Chalkbeat Indiana reveals he “pushed for career and technical education, school choice, and changes to standards and tests.” Despite Clinton’s claim that Pence turned away “millions” in federal money for pre-k education, which is true, Pence also, according to the Chakbeat reporter, pushed “to create a small preschool pilot program” that got “Indiana off the list of just 10 U.S. states that spent no direct state funds to help poor children attend preschool.” What’s also on Pence’s list of education policy accomplishments are a repeal of the state’s adoption of Common Core Standards pushed by the Obama administration, a prolonged battle with the state superintendent over control of education policy, and lots and lots of “school choice” legislation, including more funding for privately operated charter schools and expansions of the state’s voucher program that allows parents to transfer their students to private schools at taxpayer expense. In other words, what Pence adopted as his education policies resemble a hodge-podge of what is commonly referred to as “education reform.” Indeed, organizations that espouse the reform agenda give Pence’s education record rave reviews. “Mike Pence Is the Veep Education Reformers Need,” declares the Center for Education Reform. CER leader Jeanne Allen declares in her statement, “Mike Pence is a true pioneer of educational opportunity.” Pro-reform American Federation for Children gushes, “Governor Pence is a longtime champion for educational choice, believing that every child, regardless of family income or ZIP code, deserves access to a quality education.” At Forbes, reform cheerleader Maureen Sullivan’s list of “seven things” to know about Pence’s education stance reads like a checklist from the reform movement, including charter schools, standardized testing, merit pay for teachers, vouchers, and curriculum geared toward workforce preparation. So, although Pence has strayed from reform orthodoxy at times – voting against the No Child Left Behind law passed under President Georg W. Bush and steering his state out of the Common Core (which he initially embraced) – he is generally recognized as an education reform leader, making him, in fact, aligned with many Democrats who’d never want to be caught dead supporting what Pence generally espouses. For decades, both Democrats and Republicans have dined at the salad bar of education reform, with Democrats taking a heaping helping of charter schools but light on the vouchers please, and Republicans insisting on standardization but hold the Common Core now that we’ve gotten a taste of it. Democrats eagerly sat alongside Republicans at the same education policy table in Indiana too. Most of the education policies Pence supported as governor have been a continuation of policies created by fellow Republicans – his predecessor Mitch Daniels and state superintendent Tony Bennett, who suffered a humiliating defeat during Pence’s tenure. But those policies often drew the praise of former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In a visit to the state in 2011, Duncan and Bennett commended each other for their “efforts to overhaul education,” according to a local reporter. In another visit to the sate a year later, Duncan “complimented,” according to a local news source, Bennett and Indiana’s leadership on the state’s expansion of charter schools and state takeovers of local schools – another popular item in the reform salad bar. A New York Times article from 2013 lumps Duncan and Daniels, along with former Michigan Governor John Engler, together in the education policy arena, writing, “They all sympathize with many of the efforts of the so-called education reform movement.” Outside of the Obama administration, Indiana education leadership has drawn strong support from StudentsFirst, the education reform advocacy group created and formerly led by ex-Chancellor of Washington, DC schools and avowed Democrat Michelle Rhee. The leader of StudentsFirst Indiana state chapter has been “a key advisor to Governor Mike Pence,” according to a statement from the organization. Now that StudentsFirst has merged with reform advocacy group 50CAN, which is also led by avowed Democrats, no doubt that organization’s agenda will continue in the Hosier State. The organization Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) hail Pence’s education priorities and claim the influence of prominent Democrats, including President Obama, have had a lot to do with them. So why have so many Democrats shared the education agenda of an extremist the party now generally abhors? When education journalist and Washington Post blogger Valerie Strauss recently asked education historian Diane Ravitch what she would most want to tell President Obama should they ever have a face-to-face meeting, Ravitch replied she would like to tell him, “I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush.” The fact that Democrats have been supporting an education agenda that was to a great extent conceived in conservative Republican policy shops has been well known among careful observers and thoroughly documented by Ravitch in her books, The Death and Life of the Great American School, and Reign of Error. “The irony today,” Ravitch explains in her interview, “is that many of the leading figures in the Democratic Party support some of the same education policies as the right-wing extremists in ALEC.” In an email to me, Ravitch elaborates on more recent collusions between Democrats and Republicans on education policy. “President Obama pulled the rug out [from under public education supporters] by aligning with DFER,” she writes. “DFER money managers were big supporters of his. He was the inaugural speaker when they first met in NYC. After the election, they gave Obama a list of people they wanted in the Education Department. Top on it was Arne Duncan.” As Dana Goldstein documented for The Nation in 2009, Obama made a decision at the outset of his presidency to listen “to only one side of” the debate on education policy in the Democratic Party. On the winning side were DFER and its wealthy backers from Wall Street who, according to Goldstein, conducted a “highly coordinated media campaign to call into question the work of Obama education adviser Linda Darling-Hammond, once considered a top contender for the job of education secretary.” After “DFER’s anti-Darling-Hammond talking points,” got prominent attention in major media outlets, Goldstein explains, “Less than two weeks later, Obama appointed DFER’s choice to the Education Department post, Chicago schools CEO Duncan.” By the time Obama and Duncan rolled out Race to the Top and other education initiatives that directed the course of education policy across the nation, it had “become clear,” Goldstein writes, “that DFER’s idea of education reform is the one driving the Obama administration.” But the policy ideas never had roots in populist soil. As Goldstein explains, “Lacking a membership base, [education reform’s] lobbying arm is essentially top-down, financed by New York hedge-funders, supported by research conducted at Beltway think tanks, and represented on the ground by a handful of state and local politicians scattered across the country.” So for the past eight years, the Democratic Party’s education agenda has chiefly been based on an idea conceived in right wing policy shops then pushed into the party’s most powerful circles by a very small but wealthy group of individuals with the ability to push the right levers. Based on this understanding, it’s not a surprise that extremists such as Mike Pence have been eager to adopt much of this agenda. But in calling out Pence as an extremist, is Hillary Clinton signaling there may be “shifts in her party’s education agenda,” as American Prospect’s education journalist Rachel Cohen suggests? An op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, a consistent megaphone for education reform, seems to think so. Calling Clinton’s criticism “an opening,” the author seems to relish a debate on whether policies from an extremist like Pence are best for “low- and middle-income families.” Public schools advocates in the Democratic Party are eager to have that debate too.  Source: http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/if-democrats-think-mike-pence-is-an-extremist-will-they-stop-supporting-his-education-policies/
Audit: Kansas foster care system puts children at risk MARGARET STAFFORD, Associated Press Published: July 27, 2016, 3:44 pm Updated: July 28, 2016, 10:55 am Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window) 21Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)21 Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) Phyllis Gilmore, Department for Children and Families Secretary, answers questions about the audit of her department at a Post Audit Committee meeting Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in Topeka, Kan. The Kansas Department of Children and Families continuing struggles to adequately oversee private foster care contractors is putting children in the system at risk, according to a state audit of the agency released Wednesday. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP) KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas Department of Children and Families’ continuing struggles to adequately oversee private foster care contractors is putting children in the system at risk, according to a state audit of the agency released Wednesday. Shortly after the 59-page audit was released, two Democratic senators called for department Secretary Phyllis Gilmore to resign. She defended the agency’s efforts to ensure children’s safety and said she did not intend to resign. The Legislative Post Audit found that the agency had implemented only one of nine recommendations it received after a 2013 assessment of services. The department also doesn’t ensure that background checks of individuals in foster homes, adoptive homes and those where children are returned to their families are as frequent and thorough as they should be; doesn’t complete all required monthly visits to foster homes; doesn’t determine if families have the financial resources needed to provide for the children; and approves nearly all requests for exceptions to rules governing foster care homes, auditors said. Phyllis Gilmore, Department for Children and Families Secretary, talks about the audit of her department at a Post Audit Committee meeting Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in Topeka, Kan. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP) Some state lawmakers had sought the audit after reports that children died or were mistreated while in the agency’s care. The audit did not address allegations that the agency discriminates against same-sex couples when deciding where to place children. A second audit addressing privatization efforts at DCF is scheduled to be released later this year. Auditors said their findings “indicate that DCF continues to take a hands-off approach to monitoring contractors and perhaps focuses too much on whether federal outcomes are met and not on the specific steps needed to meet them.” Frequent turnover of DCF staff has led to low morale and affected employees’ ability to do their jobs effectively, auditors said, and some case-workers also complained about inadequate training. Auditors also criticized the agency’s record-keeping. Five children in the foster care system died during the 2015 fiscal year, with only one death attributed to mistreatment, according to a November report. Other causes of fatalities included illness and car accidents. One child died because of mistreatment in foster care in the 2014 fiscal year, while another child in the DCF system died that year because of mistreatment while in a family member’s care. Five children in DCF’s system died in total that year. Gilmore conceded the agency has room for improvement but contended its safety record was among the best in the nation. She cited a Child & Federal Services Review that found Kansas ranked second in the nation in protecting children from abuse and neglect, although not all states have completed the review. “That is borne out in our records, which show very few child deaths of those in custody from maltreatment,” Gilmore said in an interview before the audit was released. “We absolutely want no deaths. One is too many and grieves our heart greatly.” She agreed the agency’s turnover is too high and hoped a salary increase approved by the Legislature and an emphasis on improving staff training will help retain employees. Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, asks DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore a question after learning the results of an audit of the department Wednesday Wednesday, July 27, 2016 in Topeka, Kan. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP) But Democratic Reps. Jim Ward and Jarrod Ousley said in a statement that Gilmore should resign. “I’m not comfortable gambling the future of our children in unsafe home environments,” Ward said. “Now is the time to step up and get serious about improving a broken system that is failing Kansas kids. The first step toward that is getting new leadership at DCF.” Gov. Sam Brownback defended the agency and Gilmore. “The men and women at DCF work hard every day to protect our children through these complex and very personal cases,” he said in a statement. “It is important that we all provide them with our full support. Secretary Gilmore will continue to have my full support as she works to address the legitimate record-keeping and contractor accountability concerns cited in the post audit report and, most importantly, to improve the overall foster care system for Kansas children.”  Source: http://ksnt.com/2016/07/27/audit-kansas-foster-care-system-puts-children-at-risk/
Ex-Children's Home staffer accused of sexually assaulting 3 Print Email By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann | For lehighvalleylive.com The Express-Times Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 26, 2016 at 3:59 PM, updated July 26, 2016 at 6:50 PM 347 shares A former staff member at The Children's Home of Easton is accused of sexually assaulting three teenage girls there over two years. Troy Bussey in 2008. (lehighvalleylive.com file photo)   Troy Lowell Bussey, 33, of the 100 block of North Third Street in Easton, allegedly committed the acts between Jan. 1, 2013, and Feb. 1, 2015, while a staff member at the home at 2000 S. 25th St. in Wilson Borough. Borough police said Bussey was in charge of the girls' care and welfare at The Children's Home during the time of the crimes. Anita Paukovits, executive director of the organization, said as soon as administrators learned of the accusations, Bussey was suspended and terminated. "This is totally against everything The Children's Home believes in," she said. "Safety is of the utmost importance for all of our children as we are in full cooperation with every possible authority so justice is served." A female victim who was under age 16 told police she was placed with the organization in 2013 and the pair had sex at least 10 times. A second victim under age 17 told police she was placed at the home in 2015. She told police the pair were in a back office of the Cordina Cottage when Bussey grabbed her buttocks and later touched her breasts above her shirt while the pair were in a dining area. When it was time for her to go to bed, the girl told authorities Bussey picked her up, placed her into the bed and touched her genital area. A third victim under age 18 reported to police the pair had sex and Bussey touched her genital area. Paukovits said the organization has since made modifications following the alleged sexual assaults. "Changes have been implemented to make sure nothing like this occurs again," she said. "The Children's Home works very diligently to protect all the children and families we serve. We make every effort to prevent incidents like this from happening." Bussey is charged with one count each of statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16, and indecent assault of a person less than 16; and three counts each of institutional sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and corruption of minors. Bussey was arraigned before District Judge Richard Yetter III, who set bail at $150,000, $100,000 and $100,000 for all three cases, respectively. In lieu of bail, Bussey was sent to Northampton County Prison. The judge ordered Bussey stay away from all the victims and undergo a mental health evaluation. Bussey is tentatively due back in court for a preliminary hearing before Yetter on Aug. 5. According to its website, the Children's Home is a private, nonprofit organization established in 1885 that provides care for children in need. It provides foster care, residential and group home services.  Source: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2016/07/childrens_home_employee_charge.html
Disturbed’ kids at city foster-care center ‘drugged’ at hospital By Susan Edelman and Rachel Petty View author archive email the author Get author RSS feed View author archive Get author RSS feed Name(required) Email(required) Comment(required) July 31, 2016 | 6:35am Modal Trigger The Nicholas Scoppetta Children's Center Photo: J.C. Rice Dozens of kids housed in a city-run foster-care center are labeled “emotionally disturbed persons” and hauled next door to Bellevue Hospital, where some get drugs to sedate them, The Post has learned. “We call it ‘booty juice’ when they’re acting out,” said a 15-year-old girl at the Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center in Manhattan, using a slang term for medication typically shot in the buttocks to calm psychiatric patients. “Nobody likes to be sent to the hospital.” Social workers and safety officers in the First Avenue holding pen, which is run by the Administration for Children’s Services, struggle to control outbursts and talk rebellious youths into cooling down. But in the last year, at least 50 kids were “EDP’d” and taken by EMS to Bellevue’s emergency rooms, internal reports show. “They’re doping them up,” an insider charged. ‘We call it “booty juice” when they’re acting out. Nobody likes to be sent to the hospital.’  - a 15-year-old girl at the Nicholas Scoppetta Children’s Center The Post’s findings come as Mayor de Blasio — who has pledged to protect the city’s most vulnerable children — fights a federal class-action lawsuit filed in Manhattan last year against ACS. It charges that children in the foster-care system suffer physical and mental abuse, and some get put on mind-numbing doses of psychiatric drugs. ACS said it partners with Bellevue for mental-health services. “If it is determined by doctors that a child requires medication, families are consulted . . . Children are not medicated to sedate them, but only for medically necessary reasons,” said ACS spokeswoman Carol Caceres. But ACS’s Psychotropic Medication Unit has the power to “override” parents unwilling or unable to consent to give drugs. And experts said drugs can be administered to kids in crisis. “If someone is so agitated and out of control that they’re hurting themselves or others, they absolutely could be given an injection,” said Dr. Julie Holland, a psychiatrist and author of “Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER.” She said kids or adults who refuse to take oral medication may get shots of an antipsychotic such as Haldol plus sedating drugs such as Ativan and Benadryl in the arm or buttocks. Bellevue Hospital, where a city-run foster-care facility is allegedly shipping “disturbed” kids for treatment.Photo: R. Umar Abbasi The 55-bed Children’s Center houses wards of the city, from newborns to 21-year-olds. They can spend days to months in the chaotic and dangerous place. ACS insisted the center sees “very few incidents that require the attention of the NYPD,” but incident reports document many cases of assault and vandalism. Some kids kick, punch, bite, scratch and spit at staff. Some break windows, toss furniture and damage property. Most are physically restrained but not charged with crimes, even when a staffer is injured. “They refuse to arrest because it makes it harder to place these kids,” the insider said. “The agency is covering everything up.” Among the uncontrolled youths taken to Bellevue: A girl who screamed and banged on the walls, igniting “a riot” with eight roommates. When cops arrived, one girl was pepper-sprayed. The girl who started the mayhem was sent to the psych unit. A boy who ran through the building “in a state of emotional crisis” last December, ripped down a Christmas wreath and tossed garbage. He kicked a radiator, breaking it, and tried to shock himself with the inner coils. A 20-year-old man who banged his head against the window in a sleeping room, then tried to jump out a second-floor cafeteria window to kill himself. He flipped tables and wrestled with cops who handcuffed him. He suffered an eye injury. A 17-year-old boy told The Post he was sent to Bellevue after threatening to attack a worker who unplugged a TV he was watching. “I wouldn’t do that to him. Why should he do that to me?” he asked. He said he didn’t get any drugs, but other kids said meds given at Bellevue include Benadryl, which can help someone relax, and drugs for bipolar and anxiety disorders. A 17-year-old girl said she was sent to Bellevue and “they had to up the dosage of my medication.” Photo: Shutterstock Kids warehoused at the center have been abused, neglected and removed from their parents but not yet placed in foster homes. They include children with autism, conditions such as diabetes, and pregnant girls or teen moms with babies. “It’s not a jail, but it might as well be,” an insider said. Kids, who attend public schools, are searched with metal detectors upon entry, must turn over cellphones and cigarettes and sleep in rooms with up to 12 beds. “Some kids come and go in the middle of the night,” one said. Those who leave without permission or miss the midnight curfew and fail to return after 24 hours “go AWOL.” Since Jan. 1, the center has called 911 more than 600 times and filed 474 complaint reports — mostly for missing persons, NYPD Lt. John Grimpel said Friday. Guards often break up squabbles and fistfights among kids. “There’s some tension with me and a couple of the girls,” said a 17-year-old girl staying at the center for the second time. Three others tried to “jump” her because she spoke to one of their boyfriends, she said. Marcia Robinson Lowry, the lead lawyer in the federal suit, says she is appalled that kids are sleeping in what was intended as an intake center. “Foster kids don’t do well in shelters. These are troubled kids, and staying in a place like that is likely to exacerbate the problem,” said Lowry, who is also executive director of the advocacy group A Better Childhood. She said she believes the wide use of psychotropic drugs on the kids are “a form of behavior control.” Leticia James, New York City Public AdvocatePhoto: David McGlynn The office of Public Advocate Letitia James said Friday that it has received numerous reports of “overmedicated” foster kids. James, a plaintiff in the suit, faulted de Blasio’s management of ACS, which oversees some 10,300 children. ACS, she said, “has failed at its singular responsibility, with persistent reports of children placed in harm’s way while under its watch.” Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, the union that represents ACS safety officers, blasted de Blasio for “a pattern” of going easy on kids who break rules and attack others. “All that behavior is being excused by this administration,” Floyd said. “I’m not saying incarceration is the answer, but they need to acknowledge the problem and get them the appropriate treatment or it will only get worse.” ACS said it’s trying to move older kids out of the downtown center. It has a 12-bed “youth reception center” in Brooklyn for those 14 and above, and aims to add 18 teen beds in Brooklyn and Staten Island by the end of September. It also plans to open “host homes” in each borough where 30 teens can stay while awaiting a permanent placement.  Source: http://nypost.com/2016/07/31/disturbed-kids-at-city-foster-care-center-drugged-at-hospital/
Poor Discipline: Why Scared Straight Programs and Boot Camps Don’t Help Teens at Risk for Substance Use and Addiction POSTED: 8/2/16 TEENS AND FAMILIES ADDICTION MYTHS Comments(0) For over 30 years, programs like Scared Straight and juvenile boot camps for teens have been used as a way to try and help troubled youth. These programs utilize different methods that revolve around the same basic principle: that instilling a sense of consequence, discipline, fear, and pro-social behaviors in teens struggling with behavioral issues and substance problems will provide them with healthier, more structured lives, and deter them from committing crimes. Yet these programs have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. Experts who study the justice system have questioned if they’re truly effective. Additionally, staff members in boot camp programs have been accused (and convicted) of abusing the teens they’re supposed to be helping. The History of Scared Straight and Boot Camps Scared Straight programs started in New Jersey in the 1970’s, and were popularized by the 1978 Academy Award winning documentary Scared Straight!, which followed a group of teens participating in a Scared Straight program. In this film – and in most of the Scared Straight programs – teens who are thought to be at high risk for delinquency are brought to a prison, shown the facilities, and then (often in screams), told by inmates the ways in which they’re destroying their lives by committing crimes and using drugs. These confrontational lessons reflect the inmates’ own experiences. In the documentary – and among many advocates of Scared Straight programs – it is claimed that there are low rates of re-arrest for teens who participate in these programs. In one study, it was suggested that 10 out of 12 adolescents remained offense-free in the three month follow-up. Teen boot camps – military-like training programs frequently located in rural areas – operate in a similar manner. Boot camps often revolve around grueling physical activities and tough discipline, intended to instill a sense of order in adolescents and stamp out non-conforming or oppositional behavior. Developed in Louisiana in 1985, boot camps gained immense popularity in the 1990’s. They were less expensive than putting juveniles in detention centers and thought to be more effective. Most adolescents in the boot camps complete the residential program without incident (i.e., without committing infractions that would have them removed from the program) – at rates as high as 96 percent. By 1995, 30 states had a form of adolescent boot camps for juvenile offenders. According to the Science, They Don’t Work Though a few studies suggested that Scared Straight worked, many others showed less successful results. In fact, research showed that the re-arrest rate after Scared Straight was actually higher than for teens who never participated in these programs. In other words, teens participating in Scared Straight were committing more crimes. The strict discipline provided by boot camps has also been shown to fail the troubled teens they’re supposed to serve. Re-arrest rates are high among graduates of boot camps, and many of these programs were – and continue to be – completely unregulated, without any mental health professionals on staff. There have even been a number of cases of physical and sexual abuse in boot camps and, tragically, a few teens have died while in the program. Some boot camps have been shut down as a result of abuse. By 2009 only 11 states retained boot camps for juvenile offenders. Scared Straight and boot camps fail for the reason they’re supposed to succeed: the threat or delivery of harsh negative consequences. Indeed, teens exposed to Scared Straight programs tend to idealize the structure found in prisons – an element that is often missing from juvenile offenders’ lives. For those attending boot camps, the rough conditions only seem to encourage more aggressive behaviors – obviously not what’s needed for teens already facing the legal system or suffering from a substance or behavioral problem. What You Can Do There’s no quick and easy fix for an adolescent struggling with substance use or a related behavioral disorder. Be proactive when helping your teen, and research what kind of program best suits their needs. There are many effective, safe treatment centers that offer help – but it’s important to make sure they have licensed health professionals on staff, and that the program uses evidence-based practices that take a health-promoting rather than a punitive approach. Addiction is a disease and, like other diseases, it cannot be cured through fear and punishment.  Source: http://www.centeronaddiction.org/the-buzz-blog/poor-discipline-why-scared-straight-programs-and-boot-camps-don%E2%80%99t-help-teens-risk
State accused of segregating Minnesotans with disabilities in group homes Group home system limits options, class action says.  By Chris Serres Star Tribune August 4, 2016 — 9:45am David Joles, Special to the Star TribuneScott Rhude, 33, sat in a field of garbage, reaching for a piece of trash while on a work assignment with a sheltered workshop "enclave" Tuesday, April 28, 2015, near the landfill in Wilmar. Text size comment51 share tweet email Print more Share on:Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Share on Pinterest Copy shortlink: Purchase:Order Reprint Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Minnesotans with disabilities are being forced to live in segregated group homes, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday that asserts that they are cut off from mainstream society and prevented from living in communities of their choosing. In a class-action suit against the state of Minnesota, attorneys with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid allege that the Department of Human Services maintains a “discriminatory residential service system” that funnels individuals with disabilities into nearly 3,500 group homes statewide, where they are surrounded by other people with disabilities and have little control over their daily lives, while depriving them of access to housing options that would enable them to live more independently. Advertisement: Replay Ad Ads by ZINC “People are stuck in these facilities, where they experience isolation, lack of control and an overall helplessness,” said Legal Aid attorney Sean Burke. “It’s no longer good enough.” A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services declined to comment, saying Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper had not been served with the lawsuit as of late Wednesday. Minnesota has long stood out among states for its reliance on private group homes for adults who may have difficulty living independently. After the state began closing large public mental health hospitals in the 1970s, such small, four-bedroom group homes were seen as a more humane and cost-effective alternative. However, a Star Tribune investigation last year found that many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are sent to group homes against their will, even when they are capable of taking care of themselves. Hundreds are placed more than 100 miles from their families, in settings that leave them isolated from friends, relatives and support networks. The homes are indirectly subsidized through Medicaid, the state and federal health insurance program, which covers the cost of their services. One plaintiff, Marrie Bottelson, 41, is an artist who would like to create an art studio in her own home. However, Bottelson, who has cerebral palsy, has lived in a group home for 13 years where staffing has severely limited her ability to become more involved in the community, the lawsuit states. Because of staffing patterns in the facility, Bottelson is forced to go to bed at 7 or 8 p.m. because there is no other way for her to receive care for her disability. For several years, Bottelson has asked case managers and county workers for help moving into an apartment with her best friend, but has been told repeatedly that there are no options other than her group home. “This is a person who could really be flourishing if she could actually have an apartment and an art studio,” said Justin Perl, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s litigation director. Another plaintiff, Tenner Murphy, 32, has severe physical and cognitive disabilities as a result of a lifelong battle with degenerative brain cancer. Despite this condition, Murphy has developed hobbies, such as archery, and has many non-disabled friends in the community. When he moved to a group home, he was walking on a regular basis, yet the home’s managers made him use a wheelchair because they lacked the staff to assist him when he was unable to walk, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit alleges that such restrictions are a violation of a landmark 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as Olmstead, that requires states to ensure that people with disabilities receive services in integrated settings. Under the ruling, public entities are required to provide community-based services when such services are appropriate and when they can be reasonably accommodated. Under pressure from a federal judge, Minnesota last year became one of the last states in the country to adopt a blueprint — known as an Olmstead plan — to expand community-based options for people with disabilities. Under that plan, the state planned to move 5,547 people by June 2019 into more integrated housing and pledged to greatly expand community alternatives for Minnesotans with disabilities, though attorneys allege the state still lacks a detailed plan for how to reduce its overreliance on group homes. “Our clients just want to live where they want and with whom they want, just like people without disabilities,” Perl said. “Unfortunately, the system Minnesota has created for them has needlessly segregated them from the rest of the society.”  Source: http://www.startribune.com/state-accused-of-segregating-minnesotans-with-disabilities-in-group-homes/389129591/
Suit over NYC foster care system continues Hearing on state settlement on Friday Story Comments (1) Print Create a hardcopy of this page Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016 10:30 am Suit over NYC foster care system continues by Christopher Barca, Associate Editor Queens Chronicle | 1 comment Beatings, sexual abuse, neglect and malnutrition. That’s what countless kids in the city’s foster care system have experienced on a daily basis, according to Marcia Robinson Lowry. The executive director of A Better Childhood, Lowry is leading the class action lawsuit filed last July against the city, state and their respective agencies and commissioners that handle the foster care system. Despite nearing a settlement with the state and its Office of Children and Family Services — a fairness hearing, where a judge will consider any opposition to the settlement, is scheduled for Friday — she says the suit against the city continues. But instead of financial compensation, Lowry said all the 10 foster children listed as plaintiffs on behalf of the 11,000 kids in the system are reforms. “New York has some of the worst outcomes for kids in the country,” Lowry said. “Kids in New York City stay in foster care significantly longer than anywhere else in the country and are discharged at a far lower rate.” Some of the reforms being demanded are increased oversight, limitations on care agencies the city can contract with and an attempt to reduce caseloads of overburdened workers. In the proposed settlement with the state, many of those issues have already seen compromise. OFCS Commissioner Sheila Poole has agreed to hire a monitor to identify flaws in the system and cases of mistreatment, in addition to creating quarterly reports about the state of foster care in New York. A research expert will also be hired to review case records and evaluate the safety of foster children. City Administration of Children’s Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion, a defendant in the suit, told The New York Times in 2015 that the agency has taken “substantial strides” in reforming foster care in the five boroughs, an initiative that came directly from Mayor de Blasio.  Source: http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/suit-over-nyc-foster-care-system-continues/article_954882d5-e188-5626-b8c8-fdd23c87c6ab.html
Former group home worker faces new assault charge CAROLINE GRUESKIN Bismarck Tribune 5 hrs ago Additional charges have been filed against a former employee of Charles Hall Youth Services who's been accused of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old in the group home. The new charges against Ethmonia Barclay, 25, come as the result of a new interview with the victim. The incidents allegedly occurred about a year and a half ago.  The victim told police in April 2015 that he and Barclay had sex at the home. That story was corroborated by statements from other residents, according to an affidavit filed in the original case.  While preparing for trial, the victim told authorities about additional encounters between him and Barclay, according to a brief filed by Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Marina Spahr. The teen was then interviewed at the Sanford Children's Advocacy Center in May 2016, where he reported incidents of inappropriate touching, according to an affidavit filed in the newer case. Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:02 Pause Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Remaining Time -0:00 Stream TypeLIVE Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Playback Rate 1 Subtitles subtitles off Captions captions off Chapters Chapters All of the alleged incidents took place from March 25, 2015, to April 14, 2015, when Barclay was employed at Charles Hall, according to the court documents. Barclay was responsible for supervising kids in the group home at the time.  Barclay was initially charged in May 2015 with corruption or solicitation of minors. Now she also faces charges of sexual assault and sexual abuse of wards. Barclay could face a maximum of 15 years in prison, if convicted. The cases have been joined, and she is scheduled to go to trial on all charges on Oct. 11. Barclay's attorney declined to comment on the case. Three calls and an email to Charles Hall Youth Services were not returned Friday. Reach Caroline Grueskin at 701-250-8225 or at caroline.grueskin@bismarcktribune.com  Source: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/former-group-home-worker-faces-new-assault-charge/article_4810d4fe-04db-5b9d-96e7-c5f7307feeba.html
THE DRUG DOCS California’s top foster care prescribers are fueling the medication of vulnerable kids. Now, lawmakers are on the cusp of reining in the practice Story by KAREN DE SÁ and TRACY SEIPEL Photographs and video by DAI SUGANO  PUBLICATION: AUGUST 7, 2016 THE DRUG DOCS California’s top foster care prescribers are fueling the medication of vulnerable kids. Now, lawmakers are on the cusp of reining in the practice Story by KAREN DE SÁ and TRACY SEIPEL Photographs and video by DAI SUGANO  PUBLICATION: AUGUST 7, 2016 PART 6 of 7 F or years, few questioned how doctors treated the emotional trauma of California’s abused and neglected children — and nobody monitored how often they handed out psychiatric drugs that can turn fragile childhoods into battles with obesity and bouts of stupor. Now, a Bay Area News Group investigation into the prescribing habits of the state’s foster care doctors reveals for the first time how a fraction of those physicians has been fueling the medicating of California’s most vulnerable kids. Tomorrow: Part 7 Abandoned as a child, Tasia Wright wanted love and understanding. But her foster care doctor had a different idea of how to treat her trauma. A mere 10 percent of the state’s highest prescribers were responsible about 50 percent of the time when a foster child received an antipsychotic, the riskiest class of what are known as psychotropic drugs — with some of the most harmful side effects. The startling numbers are revealed as part of a new analysis of Medi-Cal pharmacy data, which the news organization obtained through a public records request. These same doctors often relied on risky, unproven combinations of the drugs, a practice widely rejected by medical associations and other states.  In San Bernardino County, one psychiatrist prescribed antipsychotics to 328 foster children — 85 percent of the young patients to whom he gave a psychiatric drug in the five years the investigation examined. And when one antipsychotic didn’t work — or wasn’t enough — Dr. Warris Walayat routinely prescribed another. Many of the highest prescribers stand out for other practices that raise questions about their judgment or objectivity: A psychiatrist who oversees treatment at a Riverside County group home for troubled children is a self-proclaimed “spokesperson for pharmaceutical companies.” A doctor training psychiatry residents at a San Diego children’s center once prescribed an antipsychotic to an out-of-control kindergartner. And a veteran Visalia child psychiatrist touts a drug approved to treat mania and schizophrenia as an effective “sleep aid.” Growing up in the foster care system, Rochelle Trochtenberg spent much of her youth in a heavily medicated state. She says her doctors weren’t especially cautious about the drugs, and when she was 18, she had a reaction that sent her to the emergency room. She was suffering from a side effect that caused much of her body to seize up. “I literally didn’t have the ability to move my body,” she recalls. “I was terrified.” The findings come as state lawmakers consider stepping up scrutiny of foster care prescribers — one of the final pieces of sweeping reforms in response to this newspaper’s 2014 investigation “Drugging Our Kids.” The series found nearly 1 in 4 adolescents in California foster care received psychotropic medication, often to control their behavior — not address the serious mental illnesses that many of the drugs were approved to treat. In the cases of seven of California’s highest prescribers, the state has been put on notice before — all were identified in 2010 as part of a ranking in a U.S. senator’s nationwide hunt for doctors “prescribing mental health drugs at astonishingly high rates.” But no action was taken; in fact, the state appears to have never disciplined a doctor for excessive prescribing to foster children.  Rochelle Trochtenberg, a once-heavily medicated foster youth who now serves as California ombudsperson for foster care, called the reluctance to even monitor prescribers a failure of “staggering” proportions. “What I see in these numbers is: We don’t really treat, we use chemical restraints. We drug,” said Trochtenberg, who said doctors blithely prescribed multiple meds rather than help her recover from the deep pain and trauma of childhood abuse. “Medications are so overused — and so significantly — that it’s outrageous there’s such a lack of leadership in holding doctors accountable, and holding the system accountable.” The findings The prescription data, obtained from Medi-Cal benefit claims after more than a year of negotiations with state officials under the California Public Records Act, are limited. They omit dosage levels and diagnoses, which would reveal just how many of these drugs were prescribed for uses not approved by the FDA, a common and legal but sometimes controversial practice known as “off-label” prescribing. Nevertheless, the data reveal how the state’s most prolific prescribers helped sustain a drug-dependent system.  To identify outlying prescribers, this newspaper consulted more than a dozen child psychiatrists and academic researchers across the country, ultimately focusing on the most extreme forms of prescribing found in the database: Physicians who gave their young patients multiple antipsychotics, or three or more drugs at once. The risks of administering multiple drugs to children, especially to their developing brains, have not been well-documented. But the side effects of even one antipsychotic — excessive weight gain, diabetes, extreme lethargy and tremors — can be debilitating. The data from July 2009 to July 2014 show: A select group of doctors used the riskiest drugs as regular treatment and often in dangerous combinations — Despite widespread concern over the use of antipsychotics on children, more than 100 doctors prescribed the drugs to at least 75 percent of their patients who received a psychiatric drug — more than double the average rate. And 56 prescribers gave two or more antipsychotics for more than 60 days to at least 11 of their patients. “This is definitely an outlier practice group,” said Dr. Chris Bellonci, a longtime child psychiatrist and researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine, widely known for his studies of the use of psychotropic drugs in foster care. “You can see what happens if all we have is a prescription pad. We’ll use it, and in these cases, perhaps, abuse it.” Dr. Cynthia Hunt, a Monterey psychiatrist, was the most prolific prescriber of the lengthy regimen of multiple antipsychotics, resorting to the combination for 50 of her young patients, covering 7 percent of the foster children statewide who received a similar treatment plan. Pasadena psychiatrist Dr. Eliot Moon accounted for another 6 percent of the dual prescribing, according to the data. Affiliations of many high prescribers raise questions about objectivity — An intensive review of the backgrounds and affiliations of 25 of the highest prescribers revealed seven conduct research for drug companies that manufacture and market psychotropics; 14 have worked in an outmoded residential group home industry that relies on sedation to maintain order among the troubled youth it shelters; and eight are spreading their treatment approaches by teaching the next generation of psychiatrists in medical schools. Prescribing by nonphysicians may be violating state law — “Physicians” are the only professionals who can receive authorization from the juvenile court to prescribe psychiatric drugs to foster children, but more than 600 nurse practitioners and physician assistants have prescribed the medications to thousands of patients, an apparent violation of state law that has gone wholly unnoticed. While state officials suggest nurse practitioners have legal authority to prescribe under the supervision of a physician, judges and children’s advocates say the court authorization process does not, and was never intended to, account for that. Retired Los Angeles Juvenile Court Judge Terry Friedman, the architect of that law, condemned the “alarming degree of noncompliance” as an example of the lax oversight tolerated for years. “Everything just sort of falls between the cracks because there’s been no serious enforcement of this law.” Tisha Ortiz, a former foster youth now attending Cal State East Bay, says the constant medication left her “so zoned out I couldn’t understand what was going on around me.” Although she played softball and kickboxed, her weight ballooned. The medication made her face and legs twitch and left her so lethargic she often fell asleep in school says Ortiz, 23. Doctors: Drugs often needed Psychiatrists who treat foster youth describe their urgent needs, suicide attempts, aggressive acts toward caregivers, and the depths of their grief and depression. Many doctors say medication is often the safest and most effective way to help a child in a crisis. “It’s kind of like if someone comes into the emergency room and is bleeding from an artery on their wrist, you don’t do marital therapy on them – you stop the bleeding,” said Dr. Michael Barnett, a psychiatrist who treats foster youth at two Visalia group homes and is one of the state’s highest prescribers of antipsychotics to foster youth.  Eighty-five of the 104 foster youth to whom he prescribed a psychotropic drug received antipsychotics, the data show, and half were prescribed two or more for over a month. While the news organization reached out to more than two dozen of the highest prescribers, Barnett was one of only three who agreed to be interviewed. He said he wasn’t surprised to land high on the list because he prescribes low doses of the antipsychotic Seroquel as a sleep aid. “Whether the child is agitated because of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, withdrawal off drugs, or agitated because they’re in a group home, a lot of times it’s difficult to tease out why they’re breaking things or punching holes in the wall,” Barnett said. “But I’m going to stop that behavior as quickly as I can to protect the child, so I will use any medication that I think will help with that.”  However, as long-term treatments go, psychiatric drugs can be a blunt instrument, failing to address the source of a child’s pain and leaving scars that may last years, even a lifetime.  Tisha Ortiz, a 23-year-old former foster youth now attending Cal State East Bay, has testified repeatedly before the Legislature about the impact of being heavily medicated throughout her childhood as she grew up in residential group homes.  An examination of her foster care health records, which she shared with this news organization, revealed the names of psychiatrists who were among the state’s highest prescribers of aggressive combinations of medication.  Among them was Riverside County psychiatrist Dr. Michael Ilas, who was Ortiz’s doctor when she was 15 and prescribed four medications, including lithium, used for bipolar patients; trazodone, used to treat major depressive disorder in adults but not approved for pediatric use; and the antipsychotics Abilify and Geodon. Ilas, who resorted to multiple antipsychotics for his foster care patients more than three times as often as the average doctor, declined to comment. The combinations of these drugs left Ortiz “so zoned out I couldn’t understand what was going on around me,” she said. Although she played softball and kickboxed, her weight ballooned. Her face and legs twitched, and in high school, she slept through first and second periods, failing her favorite class. When she saw psychiatrists, “they were all about upping or adding on more medication, and not about what was really going on with my mental health,” said Ortiz, who first entered foster care at age 4 and suffered flashbacks from sexual and physical abuse. “You really can’t treat trauma with just medications. It doesn’t help a child heal.” Children in the foster care system are issued "health and educational passports" that, in part, track their various prescriptions. According to an excerpt from one of Ortiz's diagnosis and treatment documents, in January 2008, Ortiz, then 15, was diagnosed with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders and was prescribed four medications at once: lithium, trazodone and the antipsychotics Abilify and Geodon. Ortiz’s testimony has helped propel legislation through Sacramento that would identify doctors who prescribe psychotropic drugs inappropriately. State Sen. Mike McGuire’s Senate Bill 1174 — which faces key votes in the Assembly and Senate this month — would for the first time establish routine monitoring of prescribers and alert the state medical board about individual physicians whose patterns warrant an investigation. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills to hold the state’s judges, social workers, public health nurses and care providers more accountable for protecting foster children from inappropriate medications.  But efforts to rein in prescribers ran head on into the powerful doctors’ lobby, delaying critical pieces of the legislative reform package. And the opposition this year has not wavered. Lobbyists for California psychiatrists fiercely defend their doctors’ treatment of foster children. They note that doctors already must undergo a newly mandated review process that state data suggest is reducing the use of antipsychotics and curbing questionable prescriptions. They also argue against identifying outlier doctors to the medical board, stating in testimony before the Legislature that the proposed law would single out doctors who work in juvenile halls, group homes or psychiatric inpatient units, and “may have a much higher prescription rate to children than a prescribing physician who provides services to the general population.” Hunt is one of those doctors. In a statement to the news organization, she said her high rates of prescribing multiple antipsychotics came as she was working with deeply troubled foster youth who were one step from being hospitalized or in a locked facility and suffered from serious mental illnesses. “I completely agree that it should be the exception that an adolescent has two or more antipsychotic medications,” said Hunt who worked in Merced at the time. “In these youth, the combination of medications was necessary to keep them stable and to avoid another hospitalization. The plan was, and always is, to lower the medications for these children. To discontinue medication too quickly can also cause significant side effects or a return of symptoms.” Walt Mancini/Southern California News Group Dr. Allan McDonald, a Los Angeles psychiatrist who landed among the highest prescribers of antipsychotics, said doctors can use more scrutiny: “We tend to operate in isolation.” Dr. Linette Scott, chief medical information officer for the state Department of Health Care Services, said prescribing rates differ among doctors in any area of practice, such as cardiology and neurology, because specialists “will prescribe the medications that are used more rarely and carry additional risk.” But Dr. Allan McDonald, a veteran Los Angeles County child psychiatrist who landed among the highest prescribers of multiple antipsychotics, said he welcomes more scrutiny. Doctors — and their patients — will only benefit from more feedback and review from peers, he said. “We tend to operate in isolation,” said McDonald, 78, who still sees foster children at two group homes. He said he was surprised to learn he prescribed multiple antipsychotics to 76 foster children during the period reviewed, acknowledging, “The general rule among child psychiatrists is not to do that.” There are explanations, he said. Sometimes a child is on two antipsychotics for a short period while a doctor switches drugs (the news organization’s analysis suggested that was the case with about 60 percent of the children who received dual antipsychotics from McDonald). Other times, the list of medications can grow if doctors feel it’s necessary to try new combinations to help a child who is not improving. But McDonald, who has treated some of the Los Angeles area’s toughest-to-reach children over nearly five decades, said he believes the state has its share of doctors who overprescribe without thoroughly evaluating a child. “They are not working smart enough, not collecting enough reliable information, to support a diagnosis,” McDonald said. “It is probably a sign that doctors are feeling desperate — you don’t know what to do, you’re throwing everything at it.” Dr. Michael Barnett, a psychiatrist who treats foster youths at residential group homes in Visalia, says when a child is in crisis, it can be “difficult to tease out why they’re breaking things or punching holes in the wall. But I’m going to stop that behavior as quickly as I can to protect the child, so I will use any medication that I think will help with that.” Where are the high prescribers? Many of the highest prescribers of psychiatric drugs to the state’s foster children can be found in California’s Inland Empire, a sprawling region of San Bernardino and Riverside counties stretching east of Los Angeles to the desert. Here, child psychiatrists can spend hours on the road, driving from far-flung medical offices to residential group homes that house tough-to-place foster youth.  NOT ENOUGH DOCTORS? Psychiatrists per 100,000 children: 4 in San Bernardino County 20 in Santa Clara County Number of high prescribers of anti-psychotics under one measure: 8 in San Bernardino County 2 in Santa Clara County This news organization’s analysis showed the region was home to 25 percent of the state’s highest prescribers in one measure — a group of 56 doctors across California who prescribed two or more antipsychotics to at least 20 children representing at least one-third of their foster care patients who received a psych drug. Twenty-three percent of the doctors from this high-prescribing group treated children in the Central Valley, and 16 percent practiced in Los Angeles. In contrast, only 10 percent from this group worked in the nine-county Bay Area. It isn’t clear what’s behind pockets of high prescribers, or whether doctors who choose to prescribe regularly influence colleagues to do the same.   Another factor that could be driving doctors to rely on medications: too many patients, too little time. For example, with a rate of four child psychiatrists for every 100,000 children, San Bernardino County is well below the statewide average of 11. In Santa Clara County, there are nearly 20 per 100,000 children.   But the news group’s investigation found one more potential driver for some of this region’s high prescribing: Many of these doctors are affiliated with clinical research firms that conduct paid trials for pharmaceutical companies interested in boosting sales of their drugs. Perhaps the most notable example was a group of doctors who, until recently, did business as Shanti Clinical Trials in an unremarkable medical office building, 2 miles west of Loma Linda University Medical Center.  ANTIPSYCHOTIC MEDICINES Antipsychotic drugs are approved to calm or sedate mentally ill patients during psychotic "breaks" and allow patients to sleep or help make them more compliant. But they are often prescribed "off-label" to control the behavior of patients with no diagnosis of mental illness. Here are some of the antipsychotics being prescribed to foster children: Abilify Brand name for aripiprazole Approved to treat: Manic episodes of bipolar disorder in adults and children ages 10 to 17, schizophrenia in adults and children ages 13 to 17, and irritability from autism in kids ages 6 to 17. Possible side effects: Include weight gain, diabetes, tremors Geodon Brand name for ziprasidone Approved to treat: Schizophrenia and acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder; can be added to lithium for maintenance of bipolar disorder. Not approved for children under 18. Possible side effects: Include nausea, constipation, dizziness, restlessness, tremors, diarrhea, runny nose, cough, drowsiness. Risperdal Approved to treat: Schizophrenia in children ages 13 to 17 and acute bipolar mania in kids 10 to 17 years old. Possible side effects: Include weight gain, diabetes, bed-wetting and tremors. Seroquel Brand name for quetiapine Approved to treat: Schizophrenia in children ages 13 to 17, and bipolar mania in kids ages 10 to 17. Possible side effects: Include weight gain, diabetes and tremors. Zyprexa Brand name for olanzapine Approved to treat: Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults and children ages 13 to 17. Sometime used with other antipsychotics or anti-depressants. Possible side effects: Include trouble speaking or swallowing, uncontrollable face movements, confusion, hallucinations, weakness, chills, sore throat, stomach pain, rigid muscles, increased thirst, swelling in hands or feet. Two of the highest prescribers of psych drugs in the California foster care system, Dr. Warris Walayat and Dr. Salvador Lasala, are listed as investigators at Shanti, which ran medication trials for childhood depression, attention deficits and bipolar disorder, among other research sponsored by some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry. Walayat, who has offices listed throughout San Bernardino County and was a staff psychiatrist with the Riverside County Mental Health Department, was the state foster care system’s most frequent prescriber of both antipsychotics and the mood stabilizers lithium and Depakote.  None of the Shanti clinicians responded to repeated interview requests by phone, email or certified mail. And a visit in May to the clinic’s address in the city of Colton found the office had been taken over by a new psychiatrist. Two other psychiatrists who worked at Shanti showed up in the news organization’s data analysis, including Dr. Gurmeet Multani, who prescribed psych drugs to 196 foster children in less than two years. In 2010, he surrendered his medical license after being accused of having sex with five adult patients as well as the wife of a man he was treating for depression. The California Medical Board also accused him of writing prescriptions for drug addicts and people who were not his patients. He was found to have falsified his patient records in a failed attempt to deter investigators, state records show.  Multani also came under fire that same year when the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly found serious noncompliance issues in a drug trial he was conducting, including the underreporting of “adverse events” in patients. The drug, which combined antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, was being tested on children ages 10 to 17.   Leemon McHenry, a legal consultant in California who researches cases against drug companies that have misrepresented their scientific findings, described the role of high-prescribing pharma researchers — particularly those treating foster children — as “extremely problematic.”  “Given the vulnerability of this particular patient population,” he said, “we owe it to them to have less conflicted investigators.” Questionable connections Of all the juxtapositions of interests and influence, one raised the deepest concerns: the presence of doctors with drug company connections at group homes. Foster children in those homes are often the most emotionally damaged and difficult to manage, so the temptation to medicate them is strong — even without the potential intrusion of other interests. Dr. Eliot Moon, who treats foster children at Hillsides, a residential group home in Pasadena, also runs a firm out a storefront in the Riverside County city of Wildomar that conducts clinical trials sponsored by 13 pharmaceutical companies.  Moon and his firm received more than $1.2 million from 2013 through 2015 from drug companies to conduct his research, according to the government’s website that discloses pharmaceutical company payments to doctors. And Medi-Cal pharmacy records show he was the second-highest prescriber of multiple antipsychotics, using the combination on 46 foster children for more than 60 days in the five-year period examined.  Repeated interview requests to Moon by phone, email, certified letter and visits to his offices were not answered.  His dual role as a prescriber and paid researcher is not unique. About 80 miles to the south, Dr. Harinder Grewal oversees care for troubled youth “experiencing psychological, social, emotional and behavioral problems” at the Oak Grove Center in Murrieta. The group home’s website also describes her as “a spokesperson for pharmaceutical companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.”  The state’s data show Grewal prescribed an antipsychotic to 115 foster children during the examined period; 26 percent of them received multiple antipsychotics for more than 60 days. From 2010 to 2013, she received $471,665 for drug company research, according to company disclosures compiled by the news outlet ProPublica.  An identified high prescriber of Seroquel — the brand name for the antipsychotic quetiapine — Grewal is also listed as one of the investigators in a 2013 study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology that found the drug “generally safe and well tolerated in youth.” Sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer, AstraZeneca, the study listed two of its four authors as drug company employees.  Seroquel is narrowly approved for older children and teens diagnosed with rare pediatric instances of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But doctors often prescribe the medication “off-label” to treat children for everything from aggression to attention deficits.  In 2010, AstraZeneca settled a federal lawsuit by paying $520 million to resolve the U.S. Department of Justice’s accusation that the company illegally marketed Seroquel to child and adolescent physicians and doctors treating the elderly. Discovery in the legal case revealed questionable science behind the Seroquel promotional campaign, including internal documents describing the “cherry-picking” of data, and unfavorable scientific findings that were “buried.” Grewal didn’t respond to repeated inquiries from a reporter about her work. But managers at Oak Grove and Hillsides said no foster kids in their care have been involved in clinical drug trials.   That assurance was of little comfort to foster children advocates who reviewed the news organization’s findings. “The prevalence of industry-funded, high-prescribing doctors at group homes may be the most troubling discovery,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica-based advocacy group. “Are doctors blind to a prescribing bias created by their financial ties to the drug companies? Or have group homes become testing grounds for some of the drug industry’s most lucrative products? Either possibility is chilling.” LINKS TO HIGH PRESCRIBERS Loma Linda University Medical Center State data shows a cluster of high prescribers of antipsychotics to foster children with connections to the university and hospital, including Dr. William Murdoch, the chair of the psychiatry department and an associate professor. Murdoch was surprised to see his name so high on the list of California prescribers, saying his philosophy on prescribing is cautious, especially among young patients.​ Oak Grove Center At this Murrieta group home, Dr. Harinder Grewal oversees care for troubled youth “experiencing psychological, social, emotional and behavioral problems.” Between 2010 and 2013, Grewal received $471,665 for drug company research, according to company disclosures compiled by ProPublica. The group home’s website describes Grewal as “a spokesperson for pharmaceutical companies such as Bristol-Myers, Squibb, Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.”​ Shanti Clinical Trials This office in Colton until recently housed a firm that ran medication trials for childhood depression, attention deficit and bipolar disorder, among other research sponsored by some of the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry. Two of the highest prescribers of psych drugs to foster children are listed as investigators at the clinic: Dr. Salvador Lasala and Dr. Warris Walayat, who state records show was the highest prescriber of antipsychotics to foster children from 2009-2014. Rancho Damacitas Tisha Ortiz, a 23-year-old former foster youth now attending CSU East Bay, has testified repeatedly before the Legislature about the impact of being heavily medicated throughout her childhood as she grew up in residential group homes. Ortiz spent two years of her childhood at this group home. The prescribing debate There is no dispute that many foster children have significant mental health needs, having been wrenched from abusive and neglectful parents, and then suffering the trauma of losing their families, no matter how troubled. But a fierce debate continues among psychiatrists about what medications are safe and appropriate to treat childhood trauma. Absent scientific evidence or research, prescribing often falls on a clinician’s preference and personal experience. And those who most frequently opt for nonapproved drugs say they believe they are doing the right thing for kids. “If I see a 4-year-old and several other doctors have seen this child, and they’re in the hospital because of out-of-control aggression, I may go ahead and prescribe medication even though it is not recommended,’’ said McDonald, the Los Angeles-area psychiatrist. “I would start with an anti-anxiety medicine, and if it does not work, then I would look to an antipsychotic like Risperdal. … If somebody called me up or wrote me a letter questioning my decision, I would explain the situation.” Barnett, the Visalia group home psychiatrist, said he has successfully treated “a lot” of children with two — and even three — antipsychotics at once. He describes the drugs as an effective sleep aid, an “augmentation” to antidepressants, and safer than mood stabilizers and other medications that can become addictive.  “I know it’s not approved by the FDA or recommended and all that stuff,” Barnett added. But he said the second antipsychotic can have a “booster effect,” enhancing the first drug.  “I cannot understand what is unsafe about two antipsychotics,” he said. However, the simultaneous use of two antipsychotics is widely rejected by medical professional groups and in many states. Citing “significant risks,” the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states “there is no clear evidence to support the use of more than one antipsychotic in either adults or youths.”  County mental health departments in the Bay Area and Los Angeles discourage the use of two antipsychotics, as do the states of Illinois, Washington, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.  If a child is on two antipsychotics for more than four weeks, “it’s negligence,” said Thomas Tarshis, an adjunct assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and treating psychiatrist on the adolescent inpatient unit at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center in San Mateo. The news organization’s review suggested that many doctors are finding another way. More than 2,600 prescribers gave no more than one mental health drug to their patients, often stimulants to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Several psychiatrists did not prescribe a single antipsychotic, even those treating children in residential facilities.  Dr. Stuart Bair, of Sunnyvale, was one of them. With more than 40 years’ experience, Bair said psychiatric medication does nothing to address traumatic childhoods. “In general, they are worse than the benefit,” Bair said, “and do not deal with the pervasive underlying problems that these children have suffered.” One 16-year-old boy Bair treated in a group home recently was on so much Seroquel for an unspecified “mood disorder” that he was overweight, could barely keep his eyes open and slurred his speech. He sat slumped in a chair most days, barely moving. Over a month’s time, Bair tapered him off the drug and watched him come back to life, becoming a “lively and talkative” boy who cried and embraced Bair when the psychiatrist moved on to a new job. “There are doctors out there trying to do the right thing,’’ said Anna Johnson, policy advocate at the National Center for Youth Law, which has sponsored a series of bills on the issue, including McGuire’s. “But the good people in the system are being weighed down by the doctors who think multiple medications are the standard of care. That’s a big myth.’’ On two different occasions, Trochtenberg, the ombudsperson, received prescriptions for two antipsychotics when she was in foster care. Never, she said, did she feel that her doctors were especially cautious about the medications. Her clearest memory is a sudden reaction to a mix of Haldol and Trilafon when she was 18 that sent her to the emergency room. Suffering from what she was told was a common side effect known as tardive dyskinesia, her fingers seized up and became rigid, then her hands, arms and legs froze. “I literally didn’t have the ability to move my body,” she recalled. “I was terrified. I had no idea what was happening to me, and of course when I found out it was related to the medication, I wanted to stop it all.” Sen. Mike McGuire, left, is pushing legislation to closely watch foster care prescribers with SB 1174, which faces crucial votes this month in the Legislature. But Christopher Castrillo, center, a lobbyist for the California Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Stuart Thompson, right, of the California Medical Association say the bill unfairly focuses on doctors who treat foster youth with the most severe needs. PROPOSED BILLS SB 253 Author: Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey Summary: Asks doctors to provide better justification for prescriptions before judges approve them.  SB 1174 Author: Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg Summary: Creates process for Medical Board to review and investigate doctors who prescribe psychotropic medications inappropriately. SB 1291 Author: Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose Summary: Requires county mental health plans to gather data and submit annual plans on how they serve foster youth. BILLS PASSED IN 2015 Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills curbing the use of psychiatric drugs in foster care: SB 238 Author: Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles Summary: Requires foster parents, child welfare workers, group home administrators receive training on psychotropic medication, trauma and behavioral health. Also requires Department of Social Services to alert social workers when multiple medications, high dosages or prescriptions for children 5 and younger are prescribed. SB 319 Author: Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose Summary: Expands duties of foster care public health nurses to include monitoring and oversight of children prescribed psychotropic medication. SB 319 Author: Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose Summary: Requires state to identify and inspect group homes that may be inappropriately administering psychotropic medications. What’s been done? In the legislative push for more scrutiny of doctors, McGuire, the North Bay Democratic state senator, is quick to point out that the California Medical Board received more than 8,000 complaints about doctors during the 2014-15 fiscal year. None of the reports, though, appear to have been made on behalf of a foster child.  “No one’s looking out for them,” McGuire said.  Seven of the high prescribers in the foster care data also turned up in 2010-12 as part of a broader U.S. Senate Finance Committee inquiry headed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, into the runaway costs and prescribing of painkillers and mental health drugs on the taxpayers’ dime. It appears that identifying those doctors is all officials did. Instead of cracking down on them, the state Department of Health Care Services cautioned Grassley in a letter not to misinterpret the data and jump to conclusions. Walayat, Lasala, Barnett and Grewal all appeared on that list, among Medi-Cal’s top prescribers of an antipsychotic.    Reforms to prescribing practices in the foster care system only took shape years later after the newspaper’s series “Drugging Our Kids” spotlighted the problem.   The same day the series launched in August 2014, the state medical board answered a lawmaker’s call to investigate high-prescribing doctors. But that one-time inquiry has produced no results to date. One reform affecting doctors has taken hold: In October 2014, California began requiring doctors to provide far more medical justification to prescribe antipsychotics to foster children and receive authorization from state pharmacists to do so. There are signs that the requirement is leading to fewer requests to prescribe the drugs amid hundreds of denials of unnecessary prescriptions.  And statistics suggest the overall number of foster children on psychiatric drugs is dropping as well. Data compiled by the UC Berkeley’s Center for Social Services Research show 12 percent of the state’s foster kids were on a psychiatric drug in the first quarter of 2015 — a 1.5 percentage point decline from 2012. The state also cut spending on antipsychotics for foster children in the 2014-15 fiscal year by 10 percent from the previous year, shelling out $22.9 million — its lowest bill in four years. But McGuire feels a more targeted approach is still needed. His SB 1174 stipulates that “repeated acts of clearly excessive prescribing, furnishing or administering psychotropic medications to a minor without a good faith prior examination of the patient and medical reason” should become priority cases for “investigation and prosecution.” Doctors would be selected for review based on annual reports of foster children on three or more psych drugs for at least 90 days.  In the most extreme cases, the state’s attorney general would file a challenge to a physician’s medical license.  Physicians are known in the state Capitol as one of the toughest professional groups to regulate. Their lobbies are well-funded and their members are particularly resistant to anyone challenging their discretion. As to foster care prescribing, they say the state has already done enough. “I think doctors have been getting the message that the practice of giving antipsychotic medications to foster children is at times problematic and will be subject to careful scrutiny,” said Dr. Saul Wasserman, a San Jose child and adolescent psychiatrist who co-chairs the government affairs committee of the California Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, a doctors group that opposes McGuire’s bill. Nonetheless, McGuire’s bill is moving forward. In May it passed the Senate on a 35-3 vote but has been amended in the Assembly, so it requires approval in both chambers of the Legislature this month.  One opponent, Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, echoed many of the lobbyists’ sentiments, saying that increased accountability would result in fewer doctors willing to treat foster youth.  “We have to be very careful we don’t get into a situation where we’re actually discouraging the few willing to take care of this population from deciding that they have even more reasons not to,” said Pan, a pediatrician. But McGuire countered that rather than doctors being under fire, “those being punished now are the foster youth.” From Trochtenberg’s unique view as foster youth turned state official, it is clear: Something more must be done. “These are kids that are hurting — these are children who have been through what we know war veterans have been through,” Trochtenberg said. “But where is the accountability? The person who has the authority to write a prescription is where we need accountability. “We still don’t have that.” How we gathered, reviewed the project data In the 2014 series “Drugging Our Kids,” the Bay Area News Group reviewed a decade of data that revealed the widespread use of psychotropic medication on foster kids. Shortly after the publication, the news organization returned to the state Department of Health Care Services to begin months of negotiations for a new set of Medi-Cal prescription data. The resulting database provides a unique look at how individual doctors prescribed these drugs to children in foster care. What we reviewed The data are drawn from Medi-Cal pharmacy benefit claims and name individual prescribers but do not identify their patients. Overall, the data included information on 1,280 psychiatrists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other medical providers who prescribed psychotropic medication to foster children 17 and younger from July 2009 to July 2014. State officials excluded doctors who prescribed to 10 or fewer patients during the five-year period saying it was necessary to preserve patient privacy. For each prescriber, the data show the number of patients who received psychotropic drugs, how often those doctors prescribed multiple psychiatric drugs to their patients, and how often they chose the most powerful class of the drugs known as antipsychotics. Because of limitations in the data, it was not possible to learn whether the doctors saw patients to whom they did not prescribe drugs. For comparison, the state provided aggregate data for the overall pool of doctors and patients — 5,584 prescribers and 26,467 foster children — to yield a complete picture of average prescribing practices across California. How we defined ‘top prescribers’ To identify outlying prescribers, this news organization consulted more than a dozen child psychiatrists and academic researchers, and ultimately focused on what those experts deemed the most extreme forms of prescribing found in the database: Giving multiple antipsychotics or three or more psychiatric drugs at once to their young patients. The news organization reviewed doctors who prescribed two or more antipsychotics for 30-45 days and also for a longer period, 60-75 days, because the shorter period could represent a “cross-taper,” a period of time when patients on medications which cannot be abruptly stopped are transitioning from one drug to another. Antipsychotic use in children is narrowly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat the rare pediatric cases of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism with irritability. Common side effects include rapid-onset weight gain and obesity, diabetes, irreversible tremors, and extreme lethargy. But in the foster care system, the drugs are widely used “off-label” — or outside of FDA-labeled approvals — a practice that is legal and common with many other types of drugs. The data did not include dose levels or diagnoses, but interviews with former foster youth, social workers, public health nurses, foster care providers and the doctors themselves reveal antipsychotics have been routinely used for behavior management, when children are difficult to control or threatening to harm themselves. While the use of even a single antipsychotic for children who are not mentally ill is increasingly questioned, the use of two at once is discouraged.  Source: http://extras.mercurynews.com/druggedkids/
Guards allowed fights at youth prison Patrick Marley and Catie Edmondson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 11:01 a.m. CDT August 7, 2016 Department of Corrections keeps quiet about log of prison incidents Lincoln Hills School for Boys is under investigation by federal officials for a variety of crimes, including abuse of juvenile inmates and intimidation of witnesses.(Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Madison — A guard at the state’s troubled youth prison was fired in February after he got in a physical fight with a juvenile inmate and allowed other teens to throw punches at each other in an area that was out of the view of cameras, new records show. A second guard resigned amid the investigation, which found he had not stopped or reported fights at Lincoln Hills School for Boys. The Northwoods facility has been under criminal investigation for 19 months for suspicion of child neglect, prisoner abuse and misconduct in office. Another document recently released under the state’s open records law details dozens of incidents that occurred at the prison in the second half of last year, many of which raise troubling questions about the staff’s use of force and pepper spray. In one incident, staff sprayed a juvenile who was restrained. In another, staff blasted pepper spray into a room after an inmate prevented guards from seeing into the room. Top officials at the Department of Corrections kept mum for months about the log of incidents, even when directly asked if it existed. They didn’t produce it seven months ago in part because the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked for a log of conduct reports, rather than incident reports. Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook said in a statement the detailed accounting of hundreds of incidents at Lincoln Hills was a “tracking document” that was “not meant to serve as a comprehensive log of completed incident reports,” as the Journal Sentinel initially requested. “I think that’s completely absurd. The open records law does not require requesters to use magic words to get records,” said attorney Christa Westerberg, the vice president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. “The department should not tie themselves in knots to avoid producing records.” The Journal Sentinel recently acquired a copy of the log in response to a request for emails and attachments sent to and from John Ourada, who ran Lincoln Hills until he abruptly retired in December just days before investigators raided the facility. Ourada used the log to keep track of incidents at the facility, according to the Department of Corrections. Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers last year worked to sharply limit the public records law but backtracked in the face of public opposition. Since then Walker has emphasized the importance of open records and in March issued an executive order to speed up the release of documents requested by the public and news organizations. Despite that executive order, retrieving records from the Department of Corrections can be a months-long process, and the Journal Sentinel has had to retain lawyers to get some of them. The department says producing records takes so long because the newspaper has asked for large amounts of records, many of which include sensitive information about juveniles that must be blacked out. The log documents hundreds of incidents over six months, painting a picture of the extent and frequency of fights and assaults at Lincoln Hills. In one incident, an inmate was put in restraints after becoming disruptive and arguing with staff. The inmate was then pepper sprayed “for safety,” the log said. That practice appears to contradict widely established principles of when to use the chemical agent known as oleoresin capsicum, according to nationally recognized use-of-force expert Steve Martin. “Unless there is a high-level immediate threat, OC should not be used on a restrained inmate. There’s not enough information here that would justify the use of OC spray,” Martin said. “There may have been something extraordinary that compelled them to use it, but it’s certainly not in this description.” Martin, who served as a corrections expert for the U.S. Department of Justice for over a decade, reviewed the log at the Journal Sentinel’s request. Another entry describes an incident in which staff used pepper spray on an inmate who refused to go into a bedroom. In another case, staff deployed pepper spray into an inmate’s room after the inmate covered the window on the door to the room and became unresponsive. “(Pepper spray) should not be deployed unless there is a live, immediate threat of harm,” Martin said. Cook, the department spokesman, said pepper spray is used to prevent physical harm to inmates and staff. In cases where staff can't see inmates in a room and they won't respond to verbal directives, pepper spray is sometimes used to avoid incurring injuries when staff members enter the room, Cook said. While the log captures many fights, others at the institution went undocumented. Some of those incidents are described in reports on internal investigations into two guards, Lance Glisch and Peter Vandre, who worked together in one of the living units scattered around the prison’s campus. Glisch was fired in February and Vandre quit that month. An inmate and Vandre said they saw Glisch fight in the summer of 2015 in a part of the kitchen known as the “cut” that cannot be seen by the prison’s cameras. The inmate who witnessed it said he saw Glisch deliver two body punches to the inmate he was fighting, and that inmate admitted he received bruises on his back and ribs. No one answered the phone at Glisch’s home last week, but he described the incident to investigators as horseplay. Glisch acknowledged to investigators he knew two inmates were going to fight in November 2015, but decided to steer clear of it instead of stop it. “I didn’t want anything to do with what was going on, so I went to the kitchen,” he told investigators. Afterward, he said one of the inmates had injuries on his head and hand. He said he was present while Vandre and the inmate concocted a story about the inmate falling so he could get medical attention. In an interview, Vandre denied that, saying he suspected the inmates might have fought but had no way to prove it. He told investigators he did not report his suspicions to a supervisor because he did not think they would care. Vandre said Glisch and the inmates had conspired to make Vandre look like he had done wrong in that incident and others. Glisch “was the one doing a