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Lawsuit may force reforms to Michigan foster care system



 
 
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Old February 17th 08, 07:28 PM posted to alt.support.child-protective-services,alt.support.foster-parents,alt.dads-rights.unmoderated,alt.parenting.spanking
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Default Lawsuit may force reforms to Michigan foster care system

Lawsuit may force reforms to Michigan foster care system
2/17/2008, 8:38 a.m. ET
By DAVID EGGERT
The Associated Press

http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/michi...t=newsmichigan


LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A federal class-action lawsuit nearing trial may
spell trouble for the state agency responsible for protecting 19,000
abused or neglected children in Michigan.

An independent, court-ordered study shows a foster care system riddled
with failures, one so understaffed that a number of children are not
getting routine medical and dental exams — or worse.

"The system is so fundamentally broken that children are dying," said
Sara Bartosz, an attorney with Children's Rights, a New York-based
advocacy group that in 2006 sued the state on behalf of thousands of
children in state custody.

Settlement talks recently restarted, a sign that both sides want to
avoid the trial set for June in Detroit. Negotiations had stopped last
year when the Michigan Department of Human Services said it had no money
to enact reforms.

The case is heating up. Two dozen DHS managers and supervisors spent
countless hours giving depositions in the fall. And Children's Rights in
recent weeks made public two scathing reports by expert witnesses it
will use if there is a trial.

One expert who reviewed the deaths of five foster children concluded
that abused and neglected children are far too likely to be no safer in
foster care. John Goad, former director of child protective services in
Illinois, found serious shortcomings in how DHS is structured and managed.

Even if those problems and others did not exist, Goad said, not having
"nearly enough" caseworkers by itself is rendering the department
incapable of protecting children.

The state dismissed the findings as one-sided and said it would conduct
its own reports.

"These reports that were authored by third parties selected and paid by
Children's Rights lack balance, overstate and generalize findings from a
biased, non-representative sample of cases to support the Children's
Rights agenda," DHS spokeswoman Maureen Sorbet said in a written statement.

She said the department's primary focus continues to be fundamental
reform of child welfare services.

The state is trying to improve, hiring nearly 200 more foster care
workers this budget year and boosting rates paid to private agencies
that care for abused, neglected or delinquent children. The next budget
proposed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm would continue funding the extra
workers and higher payments.

But it may not be enough. If the state loses the lawsuit and the foster
care system is placed under federal oversight, it could cost taxpayers
hundreds of millions of dollars.

"I appreciate the budget the governor has proposed, but I don't think
it's going to go far enough to mitigate the lawsuit," said Jack Kresnak,
president of Michigan's Children, an advocacy group in Lansing. "This is
a serious situation and we could find ourselves on the wrong end of a
judgment here that will hurt our state."

Kresnak said the state has been doing a good job making changes since
the high-profile 2005 murder of 7-year-old Ricky Holland, of
Williamston, at the hands of his foster-turned-adoptive parents, which
outraged the public.

Kresnak said nobody wants the state under a federal consent decree and
estimated Michigan could avoid that by spending an extra $130 million to
$150 million on child welfare in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. A
loss at trial may "blow a $400 million hole in the state budget," he
said. "We've got to be a little flexible."

Lawmakers are watching the suit. The House plans a hearing to discuss a
statistical analysis of state foster care cases by the Children's
Research Center, a Madison, Wis.-based nonprofit. The report ordered by
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds found that caseworkers did not make
face-to-face visits with children and failed to conduct background
checks before placing children with relatives.

Other problems included delays in adoption referrals, and children not
getting medical, dental and psychological exams.

In separate reports, Children's Rights experts blamed turnover in DHS
management — starting at the top. Among the rank and file, the report
noted the number of workers taking early retirement offers in the late
1990s, hiring freezes due to budget constraints and rising turnover
rates, all coinciding with a four-year period in which the total foster
care population was on the rise in many parts of Michigan.

In Oakland County, for instance, the foster care caseload jumped by more
than 60 percent between 2003 and 2007 while staff increased about 20
percent.

The generally accepted standard caseload is between 12 and 15 per worker
for foster care. But many workers carry more than 30 cases.

"Clearly, we should be concerned about the caseload level and how that
affects the safety of children in care," said Rep. Dudley Spade,
D-Tipton, who chairs the House Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

Spade said the state has started to spend more on foster care but more
must be done, especially when state funding is being fought for by
schools, universities, prisons and others.

"One of the struggles we've had for years is there aren't powerful
lobbyists out there. Kids can't hire lobbyists. Sadly, you can look back
over time and see how the budget has suffered."

___

David Eggert can be reached at deggert(at)ap.org

___

On the Net:

Children's Rights: http://www.childrensrights.org

Michigan Department of Human Services: http://www.michigan.gov/dhs

Read the Children's Research Center report:
http://www.childrensrights.org/pdfs/...R%202.5.08.pdf

Read review by Children's right expert:
http://www.childrensrights.org/pdfs/...08%20FINAL.pdf










CURRENTLY CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES VIOLATES MORE CONSTITUTIONALLY
GUARANTEED LIBERTIES & CIVIL RIGHTS ON A DAILY BASIS THEN ALL OTHER
AGENCIES COMBINED INCLUDING THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY/CENTRAL
INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WIRETAPPING PROGRAMS....

CPS Does not protect children...
It is sickening how many children are subject to abuse, neglect and even
killed at the hands of Child Protective Services.

every parent should read the free handbook from
connecticut dcf watch..

http://www.connecticutdcfwatch.com

Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the US
These numbers come from The National Center on
Child Abuse and Neglect in Washington. (NCCAN)
Recent numbers have increased significantly for CPS

*Perpetrators of Maltreatment*

Physical Abuse CPS 160, Parents 59
Sexual Abuse CPS 112, Parents 13
Neglect CPS 410, Parents 241
Medical Neglect CPS 14 Parents 12
Fatalities CPS 6.4, Parents 1.5

Imagine that, 6.4 children die at the hands of the very agencies that
are supposed to protect them and only 1.5 at the hands of parents per
100,000 children. CPS perpetrates more abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse
and kills more children then parents in the United States. If the
citizens of this country hold CPS to the same standards that they hold
parents too. No judge should ever put another child in the hands of ANY
government agency because CPS nationwide is guilty of more harm and
death than any human being combined. CPS nationwide is guilty of more
human rights violations and deaths of children then the homes from which
they were removed. When are the judges going to wake up and see that
they are sending children to their death and a life of abuse when
children are removed from safe homes based on the mere opinion of a
bunch of social workers.


CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, HAPPILY DESTROYING THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT
FAMILIES YEARLY NATIONWIDE AND COMING TO YOU'RE HOME SOON...


BE SURE TO FIND OUT WHERE YOUR CANDIDATES STANDS ON THE ISSUE OF
REFORMING OR ABOLISHING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ("MAKE YOUR CANDIDATES
TAKE A STAND ON THIS ISSUE.") THEN REMEMBER TO VOTE ACCORDINGLY IF THEY
ARE "FAMILY UNFRIENDLY" IN THE NEXT ELECTION...
 




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