This is a 4th article in response to the forensic and freedom of information act journalism of the Miami Herald, last weekend. http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/22/4012675/innocents-lost-floridas-un... The Herald continues to add details, which are very difficult for most to read. Imagine what it is like to endure those actions or inactions. Then pick up the sentences and read it.
Miami Herald identified that the family support programs chosen by Florida might be reaching in the wrong direction in cases where there are extreme circumstances, because it reduced or eliminated child pick up in favor of inhome enrichment, the latter of which was misapplied, never applied or totally missed the mark. And in favor of reducing dollars to the Florida HHS/CPS, the combined effort resulted in a seeming explosion of deaths. Pointedly, note the avoidance of child deaths by the State of Florida.
Dr. Michelle Alexander from the prior article identified that some things the public has considered as points of dismissal are in fact hallmarks of need and need to be directly entertained, approached and considered until a plan can emerge to employ them. So, most people think CPS or even HHS involvements are a sign of some other problem, and shy away from them. People don't in general know what to do, and often don't wish to entertain a subject.
Agreed, that understanding extreme circumstances, the players and situation are dire for any child's health and safety. An accurate read on how to help, who to help and when to help is important. Refusal of state systems to use professional accreditation for the agency reduces effectiveness in proven agency strategies, and checks and balances. Refusal of agencies to use professionally trained and degreed, seasoned staff reduces effectiveness.
Social services are not, and are not to be confused with law enforcement agencies. These boundaries are increasingly blurred which negatively effects the public.
Deona Hooper MSW out of North Carolina has a clearing house of information that fleshes out some of the better professional thoughts on community welfare, social welfare and developing programs policy and law. http://www.socialworkhelper.com/about-3/
CRISP Which makes use of social workers as professionals in advanced government policy is a group in it's infancy. http://crispinc.org/tag/social-policy/ which is out of Washington, DC.
Oklahoma Family support programs can be effective. Most states have services through HHS or the Health Department that address with funding for actual tangible goods like classes, clothes, childcare groceries, diapers, housing and educational supports.
In Oklahoma, library systems and the public schools also host supportive introductions and ongoing resources for families. As do some churches. Crossing Community Church has an entire mental health and addictions treatment service, along with a medical clinic and food and job bank. Other groups help too, providing education, hotlines, warmlines and lifegiving supplies.
This can include mental health, visiting nurses, in home intervention services, parent/child residential addictions treatment programs ( where kids and Mom don't have to be separated for Mom to get treatment.).
It can also look at developmental delays and healthy development providing in home treatment teams for care.
High risk elements and complex cases have to be assessed properly for strengths and weaknesses, within a well versed awareness of truly normal and truly aberrant behaviors. It is also true that Oklahoma has further reduced it's options for advanced mental health and addictions care, so there aren't even beds available for the garden variety acute care consumer. And the state has not, in Oklahoma renewed or advanced these monies. ( OKDHS did as for a 33million dollar advance for a quarter, have no idea if they got it. State School system has asked for 6mil for annual budget, and suspect they won't get it).
In Oklahoma, there is a standard of who can provide testimony or decisions in child custody cases, but the OKDHS and the Court staff ( Judge, assistant State Attorney General Rep, Guardian Ad Litem) and CASA never seem to address this.
Expert mental health and addictions testimony and consultation from advanced degreed providers either isn't happening or happens behind the scenes without ever meeting the involved parties.
SAMHSA http://www.samhsa.gov/ makes every possible suggestion that proficiency from responsible parties in TEAM responses , in a timely manner, in sequences that enlist supports rapidly and have access to advanced assessements along with the ability to instantaneously effect any identified risk or safety issue to containment for stabilization did not happen in the Miami Herald fatalities.
Lethality assessments ( http://www.dangerassessment.org/) are often fragmented and faulty. There are hundreds of types of these assessments, and ultimately those aggressed against and those caring for them will tell you these tools are educational, but not necessarily effective in defining or preventing emotional, physical or sexual intimidation, abuse or violence. Including death.
But the Miami Herald article noted that given the calls for services to be applied, that the worker was responding to what their training told them to look for in the house, not for what risks any family who is has been separated by incarceration, who has had a history of addictions or mental health issues or both ( no mention of mental capacity, learning disabilities, language disparities, head injuries or medical compromises in either parent).
The problem with State HHS/CPS departmental audits of failed cases is that the agency is ONLY required to look at the policy and procedure and minimum response to it. They write the policy and if they did what they said they would, there is no failure. Ditto on the state based watchdog agency (in Oklahoma it is the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth) OCCY is paid for by Oklahoma, so Oklahoma owns the independent body of "investigation" which does not require OCCY to be accredited, hold licenses or even advanced degrees.
Top that with federal officials in ACF ( Administration to Children and Families) HHS ( Health and Human Services) or OCR ( The Office of Civil Rights) no where to go, because any of those investigative bodies have also no advanced degree required, no license required and no agency accreditation. States absolutely do not have to listen to the feds, for any reason, and feds are really unable to effect an investigation, recommendation and measured change followed by consequences, it is pretty easy to have absolutely nothing come forward when severe discoveries advent. The threat if there ever is one, is that medicaid dollars would be witheld from the state for non-compliance. So guess who gets it when there is a problem. The same people who get it when there is a problem. The children.
Broad spectrum professional assessments have to be summoned currently. In Oklahoma, the OKDHS uses a non-clinician ( as far as the public is advised to date) to assign cases, clinicians and services to their cases to agencies and staff who may never be able to "figure it out".
Both my office mate and I have received random calls from HHS/CPS canvassing information on cases that the caller had provided no release of information on, the request was inappropriate, the family either was long gone from care or never was involved in care. The caller was calling to confirm non-compliance for COURT, so the person who was involved with OKDHS was, based upon the results of this call to be upbraided for documentable non-compliance.
Pointed concerns addressed to local elected officials for the state, and the head of OKDHS over child and family services never had an answer that explained this process. All of which locked families potentially into problems they perhaps actually did not, and maybe never had.
How many families are caught in unproven, home brewed reactive strategies of staffers designed to "catch" bad, or avoid case needs all together and then converge for "non-compliance"
Hold your incredulity, please. Yes that can happen.
Another tenet that matches death cases in Florida and Oklahoma is the failure to assess parents for their desire to have said child in their home, or care.
Oklahoman Serenity Deal's Father was told he had to take her post prison sentence.It seems like he was living or staying in a room at a hotel, where he worked as a clerk when he beat Serenity, and then beat her to death. The insistence behind the OKDHS worker and the "team" demanding that Serenity live with him despite blackening her eyes and body with bruises more than once, and finally killing her was that the workers appeared to be pursuing some version of a personal payment, a departmental bonus for placing her.
This has never been addressed in any court, nor has any medical or mental health provider been brought forward regarding this decision, nor the Judge. How many other kids are placed with a parent who overtly says they do not want the child. Abuse, neglect or death happen because of this. The Florida Father of the boy "Triumph" ( that name has a painful ring to it) finally did him in. Whose triumph was the pregnancy for Triumph? Did his father not want him too? or just couldn't cope across the board and any negative stimulation got a violent response? or he was high as a kite and/or psychotic and ...... Dr. Alexander's point about people, particularly men released from prison is that they have been put into a caste during very vital years of their lives. Upon release from prison they cannot vote, they often cannot work, they cannot qualify for food stamps or food aid, or for housing. Triumph's Father was newly out of incarceration, and had some classic risky behaviors as well. Did the facility that released the father know he was unstable or at risk for violence? Privately run prisons and advanced criminal complaints don't necessarily
Why isn't refusal of a child a lethality measure. An indicator of risk.
Why isn't revenue generating adoption payments to state staff illegal? Or at least questioned? If an answer were returned regarding this in the Serenity Deal case, were the worker's driven by making a bonus for theme selves, department or state in finding a "proper" candidate, severing family ties ( there were many biological family members who had lifetime connections with the girl), manufacturing a placement with the Father ( jumping on the Fathers have rights campaign which could be any non-custodial parent right campaign, just 'cause) and then facilitating ..... there are about 3 other things that have to do with money, adoptions and the feds but will hold this for another article.
Serenity has been dead for years, and her available family: the bio Mom, the maternal Grandmother and Grandfather conjointly calling suit against the Oklahoma.
IF you have never read up on this case, the whirlwind the Mom was put through about her alleged gross inability to parent is a doozy. There is no national standard for reporting or investigation of child sex assaults. http://www.examiner.com/article/potus-reveals-sex-assault-report-here-ar...
The problem with suits or investigations, is that unlike the Miami Herald article or even these articles, the complainant has to focus on ONE or TWO things that are violations, and the public typically in a court case doesn't hear the maximum information available.
Where is the audit of contracted or state employed service workers over multiple systems, looking at work product?
Whose job is it to push for more accreditation http://www.examiner.com/article/campaign-for-clarity-exact-functional-ch... , and more professionalism in helping people. Quickly.
Is it as the Miami Herald reported only about releasing or refreshing governing funds to a prior level? Or is it about something more complex and comprehensive.
United Way has resource listings for just about anything the public might need to reduce the risk of child abuse happening., and can be reached by dialing 211 from a land line phone. How many people have those these days? People who are benefits recipients are required to have a landline phone, and there are "government" cell phones, which allow a cell line at a reduced rate.
These articles are longish. They require that a person be able to read ( Oklahoma's reading level is 8th grade and under for the general population, possibly as low as 3rd grade for the average adult here). http://www.ocpathink.org/articles/208 No. This writer is not kidding.
On that note, the absence of professional translators ( This writer's neighbohood being one with 17 languages) has watched the OKDHS Juvenile Court use the custodian as a translator in a preliminary meeting ( it isn't court, the person isn't a judge but the public doesn't know that and can get sacked all the same with a 90% honor on pick up orders that return a case to this "hearing" as the next process which is sans an attorney unless the respondent hires one). Seems a little off. This whole reading, language deficiency is known, but is exponentially greater with ESL situations increasing in the last 30 years.
Consider that with regards to parents being asked to read and sign papers for custody, court, business or a property. Or when challenged and handed a warrant, complaint or "careplan", discharge papers or a school note. Ain't happenin' people.
But systems press ahead and it is an aspect of intentional consuming failure, OR as Marion Wright Edelman calls it "Convenient ignorance" to be counteracted. http://www.examiner.com/article/counteracting-convenient-ignorance
Maintain an awake status.