A Different Way of Doing Things: Big Data is Coming for Child Welfare

We’re Robert and Kathey Raskin, and if this is your first time here, then you’re probably intrigued about what we are trying to do here. We try to write daily, so come back in the next few days for a fresh post. Now, we’re continually talking about the overhaul of the child welfare system across the United States. There’s systemic abuse of the order by its workers, the people utilizing the service, and local governments. It needs a complete and total overhaul. A lot of the methods can be part of the 21st century by embracing the resources provided by the so-called big data niche of tech.

But First, the Facts

Roughly 7 million children come to the attention of child welfare authorities every year in the United States; one in three will be the subject of maltreatment investigations in their lifetimes. This data is what we shed light on every time we hear about another new case. Emily Putnam-Hornstein – a USC professor of social work – thought that there had to be a better way to protect kids. Frequently there are fraudulent or non-emergency issues submitted to the child welfare system.

She noted that the system has lots of calls of potential abuse and neglect, but the investigators find it was a misunderstanding. We are wasting resources that could be on the kids who get lost in the system. Since we don’t have the people power to sift through the noise, she hit on the way to identify and protect children more efficiently.

Pennsylvania is Onboard

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania connected with Putnam-Hornstein to develop a predictive analytics tool for the Office of Children, Youth and Families to help screen allegations of child abuse and neglect. That Pittsburgh-based agency is under scrutiny for failing to investigate kids who died from maltreatment.

Thousands of child maltreatment referrals were studied to help create an algorithm that would assign a “risk” score to every family reported to Allegheny County child protective services. The process eliminates the biases and randomness of human decision-making. The algorithm considers a handful of factors and computes the family’s risk based on dozens of determinants from public databases: use of mental health and drug treatment services, criminal histories, receipt of government benefits, and so on. The human screeners get a say, and there are checks and balances to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

American Enterprise Institute has further insight into how big data could work to revolutionize the dated system in place and to help remove the corruption that exists that we’ve reported on for so long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iYNb5UvMP0

Are Stricter Rules Any Better? A Study of New York’s Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment

They do things differently on the East Coast, as evidenced by this act. We’re Robert and Kathey Raskin, and we were intrigued by what we found during our investigations. When accused parents get slapped with charges of child neglect or abuse in the state of New York, they face an investigation by child protective workers. This approach leads to their case heard in family court and the possibility of having their children removed from their care. You’d think, okay, that sounds about right. That’s the job of social services.

However, the process can take months of home visits, disrupting the stability of a child’s life. Their parents may be required to comply with various recommendations about and for social services. The goal – of course – is to make sure that children feel safe in their homes. The glaring problem for us is that once a case of child neglect is in the system, their parents are on the state registry for an egregiously long time, even if their case was heard and dismissed by a family court judge.

How Much is Too Much?

The Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment is easy to get on. But it’s challenging to get off. Not only that, it can restrict parents’ employment opportunities for up to 28 years. That’s not normal. Imagine being 12 years old and a case opened on your family when it was a misunderstanding. You’ll be 40 years old – long past the age of majority – and your parents may be struggling financially due to their lack of steady work.

They can’t work with people in vulnerable situations, such as jobs in daycares, as a substance abuse counselor, and as a home health aide. These are positions that are on the upswing but can’t seem to find enough good people. Imagine being told that you couldn’t continue with the career that you built because of this constraining law. That’s not fair at all. The current methods in place are something to examine with a deeper lens.

Neglect Means Different Things to Different People

If you’re suffering under this law, then you’re probably doing the math in your head. You can indeed be on the registry longer than you would a felony in the state of New York.

This short video tells how kids end up in foster care in New York.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmsrLNq9ogk

Three Years Until Burnout: The Sad Trajectory of a CPS Caseworker

In Outagamie County, Wisconsin, within the Children, Youth & Families Division, a typical caseworker handles about 15 families at once. Imagine being one of 28 social workers in a county of more than 180,000 people. These numbers are disgustingly skewed because our local governments are doing enough to help its citizens. We’re Robert and Kathleen Raskin, and we’ve been reporting on the failure and utter corruption of social services across our great nation for many years. This situation is yet another example of what’s going on right under our noses. And we shouldn’t stand for it!

The goal of caseworkers is to keep families together. They must make decisions that will reverberate within the families they oversee for years to come. It’s when they fail to see the facts at hand and return children to dangerous situations for the sake of keeping families together. It’s not right. It’s not fair to the kids when the reasons that brought Child Protective Services in the first place continues and – in some cases – the abuse intensifies.

Studies Show Corruption

In 2017 alone, an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect in the U.S. A quarter of them were previously known to CPS agencies in their jurisdictions. It’s especially heartbreaking when you become aware of the death of Andrew “AJ” Freund in Illinois. The resolution from that charges against his parents for murder. It’s an ideal solution, but child welfare workers could’ve prevented his death. They had been called to their home previously.

Reports of abuse nationwide have increased by more than 12% since 2013. Thankfully, more stringent laws that require the reporting of suspected abuse, which brings more eyes to these disastrous situations. There has also been an increase in calls related to the opioid epidemic over the years. In Outagamie County alone, the number of kids in the system has doubled over the past four years.

Workers Reduce Risks, But Can’t Eliminate Possibilities

That’s their job, and they’re unable to perform the duties of their career. In America, it’s a sad day when we realize that’s what it’s come down to here.

This documentary sheds light on the crisis of in the southeastern part of Wisconsin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV9xZW3ghP4

Child Deaths Stack in Oregon Foster Care

Child Death Justice

We – Robert and Kathey Raskin – believe in enforcing the laws already on the books. They’re right, and they do what they’re supposed to do. In Oregon, the law requires child welfare officials to promptly review the deaths of children killed by abuse or neglect in the year before they died. The bill was supposed to provide oversight for the overworked caseworkers, helping them identify any missteps that may have occurred before the death of the child. From there, solutions would be provided to fix what wrong so that they don’t happen again.

Failure to Follow the Law

The local press has reported and showed that the Department of Human Services failed to meet existing deadlines to follow the law to the letter. By sheer incompetence, they knowingly and gradually told the public less about the department’s preemptive actions, if at all. The blatant lack of respect for the law is nonsense. What is going on in Oregon that we can’t protect children? The department’s backlog of unreported child deaths stretches as far back as 2017.

A seven-month-old infant died after being thrown from a car that veered off Interstate 84 near Boardman, Oregon, court documents say. The department – who was familiar with this family – barely launched a review nine days after police concluded the driver was drunk. This bureaucratic approach helps no one, and a more mindful approach about the family’s situation brought an unnecessary death.

Failing the Children

Of 14 categories related to child welfare, a Child and Family Services Review shows Oregon DHS failed unconditionally. We know that is patently absurd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-NElGy_960

No System in Place to Track Foster Care Complaints in West Virginia

The West Virginia State Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has plans to begin soliciting applications for the state foster care ombudsman position. The incumbent’s duties include tracking foster families’ complaints about agencies they deal with here. These organizations include social service agencies, public agencies, including DHHR itself, and managed care organizations. So, the question that we – Robert and Kathleen Raskin – are asking is why wasn’t there something already in place?

There are about 7,000 kids in state custody. How were their complaints handled before? How many have fallen to the wayside because of a lack of government oversight? It’s this lackadaisical approach to caring for simple human needs has us downright fuming. People must take a stand and say something for the people who don’t have a voice. That’s what we’re doing with everything that we do here.

Transitioning to Managed Care

West Virginia lawmakers, during the 2019 legislative session, added this position as part of a bill assisting foster children to managed care. The system in place means the state pays third-party managed care organizations to not only improve the quality of health care but also reduce Medicaid costs. However, if you look at some of our previous entries, these third-party organizations need to be paid. And who pays them? The state, with your tax dollars.

At least with the new ombudsman position, people will be able to air their grievances about what’s going on. It’s tangible and trackable, and trends can be identified to focus on closely. However, this only one drop in the bucket. The entire system must be overhauled to accommodate the issues that are plaguing West Virginia right now.

Open Your Eyes to the Foster Care Crisis in West Virginia

There’s an emergency going on in your backyard. We charge the state of West Virginia to take control of the situation and protect its citizens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s031UhcohUo

Systemic Abuse and Neglect Continues for Mississippi Foster Kids

In 2004, caseworkers at Mississippi Child Protection Services (CPS) acknowledged that their caseworkers in 2004 were juggling over 200 cases at a time. We’re Robert and Kathleen Raskin, and we charge the state to do better by its citizens. A report recently released stated that over 95 children were victims of abuse or neglect by their caregivers last year, which is more than the three times the agreed-upon standard. How is this possible? It’s because they don’t have the resources to care.

On top of all that, the state bungled some abuse and neglect investigations over the years. This view should not be a secret to anyone who knows the CPS in Mississippi. Their persistent failure to meet the fundamental, court-ordered reforms before the investigation puts the state at risk. The government may flex its authority and take over their system to hopefully overhaul it to make it the best it can be. At this point, they should, and for a good reason too!

The agony these undeserving children suffer under the hands of bureaucracy

Listen to this: What if you saw a foster home was the adoptive mother punished the kids in inhumane ways? Imagine discovering evidence that a five-year-old squatted against a wall naked, or in their underwear. How is this allowed? It shouldn’t be, and that’s why we need to come together and crackdown on the abuses of the system that are so rampant today.

Police arrested a 16-year-old foster child for breaking into cars and stealing handguns and bringing marijuana into the home. Their adoptive mother worked the night shift. There was documented evidence showing that the children had free access to guns and drugs. There was a police officer quoted as saying that there was “no way these boys were being properly supervised.” So why didn’t someone step in sooner and speak up on behalf of those kids?

In another case, a foster home wasn’t shut down until the choking of a child occurred by an adoptive mother. This same adoptive mother previously reported to have allegedly slapped her foster daughter in the face and pulling her hair for putting “a spell on her without using words,” calling the child “evil” and a “devil worshipper” five months prior — five whole months.

Who determines the ideal interests of the child?

We the people should. Departments like South Mississippi’s Department of Human Services (DHS) shouldn’t be given the responsibility any longer. We should be stepping up and doing what we can to bring light to these injustices.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YspXYxFcsuE

Where Are Your Tax Dollars Going? Private Companies Paid Millions to Manage DCFS Cases

We expect our government to take care of its citizens. But we – Robert and Kathleen Raskin – want you to know that private sector companies exist who take on those roles instead. Their sole purpose is to manage the caseload of workers under the Department of Children and Family Services in Springfield, Illinois, just one of many places with this system in place.

And who is paying for this? You! The office of the Governor of Illinois reported that an ineffective supervisory structure, inadequate procedures for closing high-risk cases, and significant communication gaps are what hinders the employees of DCFS from doing their job. Who would stand for that? No one would, so they abandon their cases and the children they are trained to protect.

300 private agencies take 85% of the workload off DCFS

This figure is unacceptable for America. 300 private agencies! This systemic bureaucratic abuse of the system needs to stop immediately. We’re reminded every day to trust the process and believe in the government to do the right thing. The sole purpose of the Department of Children and Family Services is to keep an eye on the children, the same people who will make your community great someday.

Imagine not having the right tools to do your job. You’d do something about it, wouldn’t you? What if you couldn’t even get into the system because there wasn’t anybody to help you? No one wants an apathetic person who is only in it for the paycheck, but no one wants someone paid so poorly that they were unable to do their job at all.

98 Children’s’ Lives Lost Due to Incompetence From the Top Down

The system must be agile, innovative, and modernized in Illinois. It’s time for an overhaul.

Indiana’s Poor Deserve Better From DCS

In Indiana, being poor while parenting is a crime, and the punishment is the removal of your children.

Indiana, why aren’t you helping poor parents instead of taking their children away? That is what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin, will be discussing today. Most states do not consider the inability to provide for your child to be a crime, but Indiana is one of the few that do, despite having no evidence that demonstrates rates of child abuse among the poor are any higher than they are for any other group. In fact, of all reported risk factors children in the state face, the only group that showed higher than average rates of abuse were those families that were suffering from financial issues.

Reports have shown nearly 90% of reported child welfare cases in the state’s system are due to neglect, but is it neglect if a parent can’t pay the bills? If a family is suffering from financial issues that are detrimental to children but the parents are otherwise caring, it is the state’s duty to intervene and act in the child’s best interests. Studies have shown approximately 28% of children are abused in the foster care system, so if they aren’t being abused at home it is most definitely not in their best interests to be removed.

Foster Care Abuse Statistics

  • Nationwide, 71.8% of child fatalities were younger than 3 years old, putting children who are non-verbal and cannot report foster care abuse at higher risk.
  • In Indiana in 2017, 59 children were murdered by foster parents.
  • That same year, 126,719 completed child abuse reports were made between 880 investigators, meaning each investigator averaged 14.45 investigations per year.
  • Physical and sexual abuse reports have declined in Indiana, while cases involving neglect have substantially increased.
  • Rates of substantiated neglect in the state did not increase, only investigations that did not find neglect.
  • In 2017, the state had the nation’s 14th highest opioid overdose rate, which has been fueled by poverty.
  • African-American children are overrepresented in the state’s DCS system, and 28% of those who live in poverty in the state are Black, making this the largest group.

When we know poverty and drug abuse are factors that are leading to the removal of children and it’s not necessarily leading to better outcomes for Indiana’s families, it’s time to take a good, hard look at the system and determine where the disconnect is.

We’ll give you a hint, Indiana lawmakers: The disconnect is located in your most poverty-stricken communities, and it’s time to do something about it instead of kidnapping their children.

 

Poverty is on the rise in Indiana.

 

One Indiana mother’s DCS horror story.

Wrongful Convictions: An Innocent Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Imagine that you are a mother going about your business, just having a regular day. You are struggling to keep up with the demands of an active toddler and a helpless newborn, maybe worried about the dishes that are piling up, or the laundry. Then out of the blue the police show up and arrest you for a crime you did not commit, taking your children away from you in the process. It sounds like something out of a horror movie, but the truth is this happens to parents here in America more often than the authorities would like to admit. We, Robert and Kathleen Raskin, are shining a spotlight on these injustices today.

Studies have estimated that between 2/3 and 5% of all prisoners are innocent, with as many as 10,000 American citizens wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year. According to the Innocence Project, over 200 women who have been exonerated in the U.S. Of those, 40% were charged with harming children or loved ones in their care. In 37% of those cases, it was eventually discovered that no crime was committed.

In one recent case a Broward County, Florida mother was arrested on charges of heroin trafficking in a case of mistaken identity. Investigators bungled the case and confused single mother Ashley Foster with another woman who had the same name. What began as a routine trip to Target with her toddler and newborn quickly spiraled into a waking nightmare. Foster was forced to listen as her 8-week-old screamed, and she was not permitted to feed or comfort him.

Ashley Foster’s children were removed from her custody, and child protective services was involved when the officers could not immediately find someone to take the children. This innocent mother spent seven days in jail before an officer interviewed her at the jail and realized they had the wrong person. The young mother lost her children and her job because of the mistake. Her children were eventually returned to her, but not her means to support them. Who will be held accountable?

Adding insult to injury, before returning her children to her, a Clermont County Job & Family Services investigator gave her home a 10-minute check before she was cleared for her children to be returned to her. Foster was cleared of all charges, but she was still subjected to a search and treated as though she were a suspect who had to earn her own children back before they were returned to her. Foster has retained the services of an attorney, and we hope she gets every penny that’s coming to her.

This case makes you wonder, when this has happened to other mothers, what was the outcome? Did they lose their children? Their jobs? Their homes? This could happen to any of us, and the possibility of it is frightening enough that we need to ask these questions.

 

Woman exonerated in son’s murder after 20 years.

 

Wrongfully convicted grandmother finally released from prison.

 

 

 

MA Foster Parents to Get Bill of Rights

We are Robert Raskin and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, and today we’d like to talk to you about a subject we don’t touch upon here on StopDHR Corruption too often, and that is the needs of foster parents.

Becoming a foster parent is a tremendous commitment, it requires 30 hours of training, and the financial compensation is minimal, just $25 per day. When people are willing to go through intrusive home inspections and background checks in order to take at-risk kids into their homes, we need to make sure they have the resources they need.

What the Foster Parents Bill of Rights Will Accomplish

  • Relieve the frustration foster parents experience
  • Grant foster parents more autonomy
  • Increase spending on and access to health services, including mental health
  • Require DCF to share more information
  • Offer additional training

The State of Massachusetts is planning a complete, top-to-bottom overhaul of their system with a focus on consistency, which is sorely lacking. Another focus of this overhaul is to improve communication with foster families, including the addition of an online system that will allow the state to post messages to foster families while maintaining their privacy.

When foster parents don’t have the necessary resources, they risk burnout, and society risks ending up without enough foster parents to place the number of children who require placement. One other item on the agenda is the potential addition of exit surveys that will be sent via email to foster parents who have exited the system so the state can learn more about how to improve the foster parent experience going forward.

Why are Massachusetts foster families dropping out of the system? One common complaint is the lack of access to information and mental health services for traumatized children. Children who have been subjected to horrific abuse are placed in foster homes that have no information about the children’s specific needs. When mental health services are needed, the wait list stretches on for months. It’s simply too much for many families to handle.

Another problem is inconsistent rules. The rules for foster children can vary wildly from agency to agency. Families become frustrated with the lack of consistency and with always wondering if they are breaking rules without realizing it. Who wants to put themselves at risk of being penalized for breaking a rule that was fine in one place or with one child but not okay with another?

Approximately half of Massachusetts foster families have dropped out over the past five years, so this is a crisis that needs a solution, and fast. Will the Foster Parent Bill of Rights be enough to attract quality families back to the system? That depends on how serious legislators are about passing it, enforcing it, and making sure it’s not just more pointless lip service. Right now, the state’s policies are making things harder on foster parents. It’s completely unnecessary, and it’s time to do something about it.

 

5 things no one tells you about being a foster parent.

 

These are the most surprising things you can’t do with foster kids.