When Will People Stand Up for the Kids in Arizona?

There’s a foster bed shortage in Arizona. We’re Robert and Kathey Raskin and we want to tell you more about this alarming development. There aren’t enough cribs for infants either. There are over 21 private agencies operating in central Arizona. While it’s true that foster beds are always in demand, the shortage is more prominent because they’re simply unable to find foster families. There are checks and balances in place. For example, Child Crisis Arizona is one shelter in Mesa that handles the overflow of intakes when the Department of Child Safety can’t locate a foster bed. Yet, there was no room in their facilities to handle the multitude of children coming through the system. Strangely enough, of 200 foster homes that agency gives licenses to, none of them had open beds.

Drop in Applications

Something’s wrong statewide when there’s a significant drop in new foster-home applications. DCS has been offering $200 gift cards to current foster parents who send referrals their way. All they must do is complete foster-care training and get their license. A private agency named HRT offers a $75 bounty for successful referrals. It’s sad that you have to incentivize the life of a child to get people interested.

There are more than 1,200 foster homes with on hold licenses, meaning they’re unable to continue being foster locations. This is offered when families want to take a break, go on an extended vacation, or dealing with other extenuating circumstances that prevent them from being fully committed to their duties. While understandable, DCS should stay aggressive and on top of their game, knowing that lulls in availability are possible. We implore the State of Arizona to take a deeper look at their current system.

Streamline the Process

It’s been said that it typically takes four to six months for prospective foster parents to complete the needed training, background checks, and home inspections. So why wouldn’t they have done their research and realized that the DCS preference for moving older children out of group homes and into foster placements is more than likely what caused the kink in the pipeline? They should have had the foresight to know that when you focus on one area, another becomes lax. We should always account for bumps in the road when it comes to our children. Arizona has let them down.

Arizona is making plans to fix the system but let’s see how far they get. Stop DHR is on the lookout for improvement and once we see results, we’ll tell you more.


When Will It Stop: More Deaths in Monitored Homes

Maine has become a hotbed for children killed in homes in the past 12 years. These were cases where child welfare officials were previously made aware of where children were subjected to abuse or neglect, sometimes for years. Not only that, but an additional 34 deaths were ruled accidental or of natural causes in the same type of environment. The State of Maine is doing a great disservice to their citizens by not following up on these sorts of issues. We’re Robert and Kathey Raskin, and we’re here to shed light on this gross miscarriage of justice against children in this state.

More About the Fallout

Dr. Stephen Meister claims that “changing behavior and identifying the families that have multiple risk factors, which dramatically increases the likelihood of death, accidental or otherwise. So, death may not be the result of abuse, but can be linked to an increased number of hazards.” He is an Augusta pediatrician and member of the state’s Child Death and Serious Injury Review Panel. In the latest report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families, Maine did not submit data about the deaths of children. This report was from 2017 and would’ve included child fatalities and the rate of fatality per 100,000 children. But nobody knows what’s happening up there.

We Demand Answers

As is the case with most child welfare agencies in America, the Office of Child and Family Services is rotten. There’s high staff turnover at the caseworker level. Workers are responsible for too many cases, far beyond what anyone can manage in a regular office position. There are zero incentives to stay where they’re at which is sad about how things are there.

Furthermore, they’re bogged down by a paperwork system that’s entirely burdensome and needs desperate modernization. The department can’t seem to hang onto administrators either, which has led to a leadership vacuum. It’s a thankless career and an overburdened system that helps no one. We call upon the State of Maine to stand up and do something about it.

News Center Maine tells us that the State is making headway on upgrading their ancient system below.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.