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.

 

 

Virginia Will Use Federal Funds for Foster Kids

This is Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, Nevada, and today we have good news for Virginia families! Governor Ralph Northam has signed SB1679 and HB2014 into law. During the 2018 fiscal year alone, 55,255 children in the state were reported as being possible victims of abuse and neglect. The new laws will provide families with access to early intervention services, reducing the number of kids who will end up trapped in the system and put at risk in foster care.  In a system where so many kids end up being removed from their homes, this is a significant improvement.

The New Laws Explained

For far too long, Virginia families have had to wait to get access to services that could have kept their children in their custody if they’d been available in a timely manner. If a parent had a substance abuse issue, the first course of action would be to remove the child from the home, then treatment would be addressed if and when there was state funding available. Much-need services like mental health treatment and in-home therapy were also withheld until after children were removed from the home.

When research has shown that children typically fare better with their families, every effort should be made to keep families together barring cases in which children are being abused. Now that SB1679 and HB2014 have been signed into law, Virginia will be more in-line with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. That means federal money can be used to go toward securing the services a family needs in order to stay together, and not just after it’s too late.

There are plenty of families that are doing the best they can, and who mean well and truly love their children. Despite this, some families still fall short of what their children need, even if the children aren’t being abused. In these cases, it’s wonderful to see the state and federal government contributing toward services that can help give struggling families the tools they need to thrive and be successful.

The sad truth is, this generation is not the first that has been failed by the system. Many parents in today’s struggling families were once abused themselves. Those who are abused are more likely to repeat the cycle, and for some, the cycle has gone on for generations. Families who simply do not know better because they have never been exposed to anything else may be falling through the cracks. Instead, Virginia officials have determined these families are worth saving.

 

 

 

New report is highly critical of foster care in Virginia.

 

Virginia’s foster children deserve better.

Arizona DCS is Kidnapping Kids LEGALLY

The State of Arizona crafted legislation that required DCS to obtain a warrant before removing a child from its family. After being notified of a feverish child whose anti-vaxxer parents declined to have him hospitalized, a SWAT team had no problem getting a warrant that allowed them to terrorize a family despite the fact the child’s fever had gone down. Though this was meant to protect children and families, already it is being abused, and with appalling consequences.

We, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, are dedicated to raising awareness of corruption within the agencies that determine which families do—and do not—get to raise their own children. We are parents and grandparents, and we understand how many different decisions there are to make when you are responsible for your child’s health and well-being. Who among us has followed our pediatrician’s every word of advice to the letter without ever second-guessing? If this is a crime that requires the removal of our children, the vast majority of us are guilty.

Requiring a warrant does absolutely no good if the warrants are handed out without verifiable cause. One doctor’s word without any evidence a child is in harm is simply not good enough. Abuses of power like what we saw recently in Arizona could harm children by making it less likely that their parents will seek medical attention in the first place. If you were a parent who was trying to make a judgement call about the ER and you knew the SWAT team might break down your door and kidnap your children, would you err on the side of caution and visit the ER or decide to sit tight and hope the Children’s Tylenol works?

In the not-too-distant past, CPS workers in Arizona were allowed to remove children without warrants, and they did so often. Since the new legislation passed, if there is not a less-intrusive alternative to removing the children, DCS must be able to have probably cause that the child in question is at imminent risk of harm. Was there really no less intrusive alternative to a SWAT team swarming this family’s home like it was a drug den and ripping their children away? Really, Arizona?

Unless there is compelling evidence that a child is in danger, parents do have the right to decide what is in their child’s best interests. There has been an increase in legislation across the country that is designed to strip us of our rights, and our child protective services organizations are just one way they are doing this. Our children do not belong to the state; they belong to us, and if they plan to take them they need to have more than just a desire to do so. They need to have proof.

 

Listen to an Arizona DCS caseworker explain how they legally kidnap children.

 

One family’s experience with medical kidnapping at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Monsters In the System: The Tragic Death of Grace Packer

Once again the state of Pennsylvania has failed to protect a vulnerable child, this time with lethal consequences.

Sara Packer admitted to investigators that she had a fantasy about killing her adopted daughter Grace, and her boyfriend Jacob Sullivan told the police he’d been planning to kill the girl for years. Why was a monster like Packer allowed to foster 30 children across multiple counties? That’s what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know. Today we’re taking a closer look at the case.

In April of 2010 Sara Packer, an adoptions supervisor in Northampton County, lost her $44,000-a-year job, and she was also barred from taking in any more foster children. The reason? Packer’s now-ex-husband, David Packer, was convicted of abusing the children who were already in her care. Did the state investigate Sara adequately? Obviously not, because the case would go on to become the second time Sara made foster children and adopted children available to predatory males.

At one point a former foster daughter from Sara Packer’s home became pregnant herself, and Packer offered to adopt the child. When you consider Packer’s fantasies and the men she shared them with, it’s terrifying to think that predators like these are using their positions within the system to make victims of some of society’s most vulnerable members, foster children.

In an interview the girls said of being assaulted by Packer’s ex-husband she gave up mentally and physically because she felt she had nowhere turn. Packer and other predators like her know that this will be the case in situations like these, and that is why there must be a system of checks and balances that weeds these predators out and protects children.

Sadly, Sara Packer was not the first foster parent to abuse a child in her care. In fact, her home was the third in which Grace Packer had been sexually abused, after being removed from her birth parents’ custody over sexual abuse allegations. Packer adopted the girl when she was three, making her available to Packer’s pedophile husband, who ended up going to prison for raping a 15-year-old foster child as well as for molesting Grace.

Today the state is looking into the case further to see if any other children have been abused while in Packer’s care and to determine whether or not any red flags were missed. Now that she’s most likely going to prison for life, this is far too little, too late. If children being abused out in the open is not a red flag to investigators, then what is?

Last month Jacob Sullivan pleaded guilty to raping, killing, and dismembering Grace. Now the jury is out regarding whether or not he’ll serve life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Sentencing may last as long as two weeks, but we’ll be watching and demanding justice is served.

Learn more about the tragic life and horrific death of Grace Packer.

 

Sara Packer is not the only monster hiding in plain sight within our foster care system.

Twin Sisters Sue Washington State DCYF

A set of unidentified 12-year-old Washington twins are suing the State of Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families, and we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, hope they get every penny that’s coming to them.

The twins started off their lives already in DCYF custody, after they were removed from their mother’s custody. Their mother’s drug use left lasting effects on the girls, whose father is in jail for murder. With so many unfortunate circumstances in these vulnerable young girls’ lives, one would think the state would make sure they were protected. Instead, they did the opposite.

The girls are being represented by Tamaki Law, a personal injury firm in the Tri-Cities area. Their attorneys said the twins are suing because DCYF social workers removed them from the foster care where they were loved and protected and gave them back to their biological mother, who they knew to be an abusive drug addict. The girls had lived with their foster family since birth, and they were removed at age 7, which must have been devastating for the girls and the foster family who loved them.

Why would DCYF force these innocent girls from the only home they had ever known to return them to a woman who insisted repeatedly she wanted to relinquish her parental rights? This woman had failed to complete alcohol and drug rehabilitation, and she did not attend the required safe parenting programs.

Once they were trapped in their mother’s home, the twins were starved, forced to live in their own waste, and kept from school. Where were social workers when these girls were being kept isolated in a dark room? Why did no one notice the girls weighed only half their body weight?

Attorney Bryan G. Smith said, “This is the worst case of child abuse and neglect I have ever seen in my 20 years of representing children in these situations. What my clients’ mother did was not just abuse and neglect – it was torture under any definition. These social workers completely let my clients down and failed to protect them. As a result, they will be forced to live with physical and emotional trauma for the rest of their lives. We are hopeful that by bringing this lawsuit the state will be forced to make changes to ensure that this kind of neglect by social workers never happens again.”

The girls’ biological mother is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence, but that is simply not enough. She is only one of the many people who need to be held accountable for this tragic injustice.

Tamaki Law has a proven track record when it comes to getting justice for children. They reached a $6.55M settlement with DSHS for placing children in a home they knew was unsafe and abusive. The firm also reached a $20M settlement with the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings for a case that involved 86 claims of child abuse within the church. Let’s hope this firm can get justice for the girls in this case, who have already been through far too much in their young lives.

Learn more about the effects of drug use during pregnancy.

Texas Moves to Privatize CPS, Putting Kids in Danger

Texas’s foster care system is broken, and putting vulnerable kids into privatized care isn’t going to fix it. We are Robert Raskin and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, and if the CPS system has left you feeling helpless and hopeless, we want you to know you are far from alone. We are working to raise awareness of the need for a system of checks and balances in the corrupt, inept agencies that are meant to protect children. We are against privatized care because no such system can be put in place when we hand kids over to agencies that work for profits.

Texas, what are you thinking? The children in state’s custody suffer the consequences of mismanagement, understaffing, underfunding, and a high turnover rate that leave them without any stable source of support. This is an issue that has persisted in the state for decades, and because of this one federal judge in Corpus Christi demanded changes, stating that children who leave State custody often come out “more damaged than when they enter.”

It has been estimated that child protective services workers in Texas spend just 26% of their time visiting children. Currently, 43% of caseworkers are managing at least 21 cases, which is far more than the recommended standard. Neglect and abuse investigations are being delayed, kids are being placed in hotels and mental health facilities, the rates of death for children in the system is climbing, and approving an extra $500 million in the budget for foster care hasn’t helped. Bureaucratic lapses are putting children at risk, and it’s inexcusable.

We need an immediate overhaul of Texas’s foster care system, and the last thing our kids need is to be thrown into for-profit care that will always prioritize the numbers over the children. Putting kids into private care will mean relying on self-reported statistics to determine whether or not they’re receiving the level of care they need. It will diminish transparency in the system right when we need it more than ever before.

The state is expected to begin the process of moving to privatization in the near future. It’s time to put a stop to it. Write your legislators and let them know that you want vulnerable children to be placed in situations where their safety can be measured and tracked, with someone other than the people who have everything to gain financially advocating for them.

Opposing privatized foster care in Texas.

 

Why children are dying at an alarming rate in for-profit foster care.