South Carolina, How Dare You Refuse to Fund DSS

South Carolina’s Department of Social Services has been plagued by issues that have gone on for years. One of the biggest of these issues is the lack of funding to hire desperately needed caseworkers for their foster care system. The state’s social workers are underpaid and overworked, and DSS has requested to hire 163 new case managers to ease the workload. This would protect children and families, but thanks to mismanagement and corruption, the funding is not being provided. We, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, demand to know why.

One of the goals the state has is to lower the worker-to-child ratio in the system. As it is currently, there are 948 caseworkers, with 43 of whom have a 1:50+ worker to child ratio. The agency would like to see this ratio lowered to 1:20-24 children. They are also aiming to reduce DSS’s reliance on group homes when very young foster children are involved. These group home facilities can have dangerous conditions, putting children who are already at risk in even more peril.

How much would a new staff cost? According to estimates, over $11 million. The total budget request of $53.3 million is more than enough to meet this need, especially when you consider the state’s total proposed budget for 2017-2018 is $9.3 billion. Foster children are NOT the place to cut costs. Their lives are literally in the state’s hands. Terrifyingly enough, during the lawsuit against the state’s DSS, they admitted they did not know the exact number of children who died while in state’s custody.

One of the problems with the budget is it includes no provisions for settling the federal-class Michelle H. lawsuit, which accused then-Governor Nikki Haley and the DSS of failing to protect vulnerable children. In other words, the money that should have gone to the management of foster children is now going toward the past mismanagement of them instead. Currently, SC DSS doesn’t even have a permanent director, so it’s hard to imagine how the troubled agency wouldn’t be mismanaged in a situation like this.

Come on, South Carolina, it’s time to do better for these kids.

 

Learn more about South Carolina’s war on children and families.

South Carolina’s foster care system is in desperate need of more resources.

 

Why Are We Jailing Runaway Foster Kids?

If running away from your foster home isn’t a crime, why is the State of Washington jailing kids for it? That’s what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know.

Unlike other runaways, when foster kids run away they are often simply trying to return to their normal lives. It is not uncommon for friends and family members to agree to harbor them until they age out of the system. Wherever these kids end up, there can be consequences for them, those who harbor them, and for the lawmakers and caseworkers who consistently fail them.

Inside many group home facilities there is simply no semblance of normal life, leaving these kids without access to the things they were used to being able to do, like watching TV when they wanted, hanging out with friends, or even simply being able to go outdoors. One foster child said she ran away because she knew wasting away in a group home was going to prevent her from ever meeting an adoptive family. There’s got to be a better alternative than that.

What these kids are running from:

  • Abusive foster parents
  • Loneliness and the loss of their support systems
  • A system that may penalize them or their loved ones

What these kids are running to:

  • The communities and connections they came from
  • Their schools and educational opportunities
  • “street parents” and communities of their own choosing
  • Sex traffickers
  • Predatory older “boyfriends”

Many foster kids are exposed to deplorable conditions while they are at the most vulnerable point of their lives and already suffering. Children report everything from being kept in shackles to being forced to sleep on bloodstained mattresses while in group homes. Many of the foster youth who run away have done so multiple times. In one study only one in eight children had run away a single time. Half had run away over ten times.

When children leave state care and refuse to return, it’s difficult to predict what the consequences may be. If you are a foster child who has run away, remember that you have rights. Call a lawyer and find out exactly what those rights are. You can contact that Foster Care Alumni Association at (703) 299-6767 for help with your situation.

For the rest of us, it’s time to contact your legislators to demand improvements that will help these kids.

Learn more about why children choose to run away from foster care.

Just one of many reasons we need to find real solutions to this problem, and fast!

 

 

 

 

 

NM Pushes Bill to Track Child Welfare

New Mexico has a bad habit of taking children from families and then placing them with dangerous foster parents. We, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, are happy to hear a plan has finally been proposed to hold their child protection agencies accountable.

Why is New Mexico such a hard place to be a child? There are many reasons children are failed in this state, including parents who are in prison, an opioid epidemic, a weak education system, and crippling poverty levels. When the problem is so deeply rooted in multigenerational poverty, how can a corrupt system with no checks and balances in place possibly address it? The simple answer is it can’t, and that’s why a bill has been introduced to track funding and prove results.

Sobering New Mexico Facts

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment, but for children it can be anything but. Here are some of the reasons this state is named one of the worst for children.

  • Nearly a third of NM children live in poverty, compared to 22% nationally.
  • 16% of NM children live in communities that are riddled with crime.
  • 12% of NM babies are born to teen moms, compared to 7% nationally.
  • Over 60% of NM babies are born to mothers who received no prenatal care at all during the first trimester of their pregnancy.
  • Child injury deaths are 50% higher in NM than the rest of the nation.
  • Nearly twice the number of children die after being intentionally injured than the national rate, an appalling 7.1 per 100,000.
  • Nearly 2% of children who die in NM are victims of abuse, compared to 1% nationally.

The chips are stacked against the children of New Mexico from day one, and the woefully inadequate child protection services system has exponentially worsened the situation. On any given day, there are 2,500 children in the state’s system. A combination of tight budgets and high caseloads has led to an increase in the use of privately-owned child welfare agencies. These for-profit agencies have come under intense scrutiny after a slew of high-profile cases like that of the 11-month-old baby who died in foster care and  the tragic murder of little Alexandria Hill.

The Child and Family Databank Act will identify the residents who are most in need of services, and after they receive those services, it will track whether or not they were effective. It will also make it possible for agencies to share data that will determine where resources should be directed, which is critical when there aren’t enough resources to go around.

Will the State of New Mexico care enough about its children to pass this bill? This still remains to be seen. New Mexico parents, it’s time to demand accountability.

New Mexico families are suing CYFD

The New Mexico foster care system is seriously overcrowded

Child Abuse Pediatrics: Flawed Science That Harms Families

Child Abuse Pediatrics is a fairly new subspecialty, and it’s one that’s already generated more than its share of controversy. Ostensibly, the mission of Child Abuse Pediatricians is to protect children and society from the long-term damage caused by child abuse. However, faulty training and overzealous practitioners have led to many cases in which innocent parents have been falsely accused of abuse.

 

According to the study “Exploring the controversy in child abuse pediatrics and false accusations of abuse” published in the journal Legal Medicine in 2016, Child Abuse Pediatrics is controversial for the following reasons:

  • Practitioners are relying on the unproven hypothesis SDH & RH = abuse to determine when a case of child abuse has taken place.
  • Child Abuse Pediatricians have been shown to reject both old and new science that doesn’t fall in line with their beliefs.
  • The methods used by Child Abuse Pediatricians have been increasingly challenged after numerous doubts have been raised regarding their validity.
  • There is a demonstrated lack of effort to eliminate false accusations of abuse.

 

When so many questions and doubts are being raised about the methods these pediatricians are using to determine when abuse has taken place, why are these doctors being allowed to tear families apart at will? That’s what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know. Won’t you join us in our quest to hold the people who are working to destroy families accountable?

 

The Parker Family

A recent case has thrust the Child Abuse Practitioner controversy back into the spotlight. Last April, CPS workers removed Allie and Jimmy Parker’s two children, Isabella and Dylan, after a Child Abuse Pediatrician falsely accused them of abusing their infant son. The Parkers originally brought the newborn to the doctor over concerns about a mark on his abdomen, never dreaming they’d be accused of causing an injury to their child.

 

The Parkers were not permitted to get a second opinion because the doctor who accused them, Bethany Mohr from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, was a so-called expert. If that is the case, why not allow them to consult a second expert? Ironically, the Parkers chose this particular hospital because they were led to believe their child would receive the highest standard of care there. Instead, what this family received was nothing short of a nightmare.

 

The false accusation not only devastated the family emotionally and placed their children directly in harm’s way—it also devastated the Parkers financially when they were forced to hire attorneys and bring in outside expert witnesses. Ultimately, the family did not have their parental rights terminated after outside experts demonstrated that the infant had a severe vitamin D deficiency that caused him to have brittle bones. This family was lucky, but not all families who have been falsely accused by these practitioners can say the same.

 

While Dr. Mohr has not agreed to an interview, retired University of Michigan Pathologist Dr. Douglas Smith was willing to comment on the case.

 

“I’m seeing a great number of families that are being torn apart because they’ve been falsely accused of child abuse,” Dr. Smith said. “There are simple explanations or medical conditions that explain the injuries to the child…I think Dr. Mohr misleads families.”

 

Before you agree to be interviewed by a Child Abuse Pediatrician, educate yourself about your rights. Anything you say to these doctors can and will be held against you in a court of law, whether you have committed a crime or not.

 

Are parents being wrongly accused?

Wrongly accused Detroit family has charges dismissed.

 

Outrage as LA Social Worker Punches Boy

Young black males in New Orleans are at risk, with many obstacles to face and organizations in place that are meant to help. Unfortunately for one family in the Big Easy, that was not the case. We are Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, and we started StopDHR to expose corruption in the child protective services agencies that have gone unchecked for too long. This incident, like many others just like it that happen across the country each day, is completely unjustifiable.

An unlicensed counselor with Empowerment Behavioral Services has been accused of attacking a youth who rolled his eyes at the man, and the shocking incident has been captured on video. The boy, a 13-year-old who has not been named, was at the home of his aunt when the incident took place December 29 of last year.

Video footage shows two social workers refusing to let the teen enter his aunt’s house. An argument ensued, at which time the workers began cursing at him. Then one of the counselors struck the boy.

The boy’s aunt called the child’s mother for help, screaming as she told Quishandra, “Who is those men that see your son?”

Of the the incident the boy’s mother, Quishandra Walker, said, “I’d just like to see justice, cause it’s wrong. There’s ways you can go around talking to a child without cursing them out. Calling them all kinds of names.”

The counselor in question was revealed to be the supervisor. Further investigation into the incident revealed he is not licensed. Though Ms. Walker has since received an apology by phone, no follow-up was done, and the apology has proven to be far too little, too late.

The family has retained the services of attorney Juan LaFonta. They’ve filed a formal complaint, they are planning to have their day in court. While this particular family waits for justice to be served, we must wonder how many other families this so-called counselor has already harmed before he was caught in the act on tape.

Click here to see the shocking video footage.

NH DCYF, It’s Time to Get It Together

It’s been two years since a much-needed audit of New Hampshire’s Division for Children, Youth, and Families determined a complete overhaul of the system was desperately needed, so why are there still so many problems? That’s what we, Rob and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know.

 

A nine-month review has determined issues such as staff shortages, lack of resources, and inefficient policies are at the root of the problem. Children in the state are being placed in a vulnerable position because this lack of efficiency is leaving them in the system much longer than they should be. There have been increases in funding to add more staff, but it’s simply not enough. This, of course, is due in large part to chronic mismanagement.

 

Another issue is the increase in children who are being removed from their families. Are more children being abused in New Hampshire now than they were before, or is the increase in placements related to incompetence and corruption? When children and families are at stake, there is no excuse for not making sure there is adequate staff and resources in place. Mistakes in these cases destroy, and sometimes end, lives.

 

The commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeffrey Meyers, had this to say of the situation: “While we do not agree with every aspect of the report, we recognize that it is largely informed by the lived experiences of individuals who have experienced different aspects of the system and that those experiences are important.”

 

Meyers is missing the point, which is that it’s necessary for a third-party to handle the report. These agencies simply cannot be trusted to self-audit, and what the man charged with overseeing the corrupt agency thinks about the validity of the report’s findings is irrelevant.

 

What is being done for NH foster children?

  • The OCA was created to act as a watchdog for the troubled child services agency
  • Legislators are being pushed to write RSA 169-C, which is meant to ensure the best interests of the child are always put first.
  • Demands are being made to implement better integration of therapeutic services
  • Funding is being requested to hire more nurses to oversee cases in which substance abuse problems are involved.
  • Demands are being made to reunify more children and their parents.

 

The children and families of New Hampshire deserve better, and we are here to do our part to make sure that happens. Won’t you join us in our cause?

 

 

Former New Hampshire DCYF Worker Shines a Spotlight on Corruption

 

Attorney Calls for DCYF Reforms

Oklahoma Needs to Do More to Protect Children

According to a new report, although improvements have been made, reforms in Oklahoma’s DHS system have failed to adequately protect children. Despite the report’s findings, the state is defending their failure to address several critical issues. We, Rob and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, Nevada, want to know why. If you are also invested in putting an end to corruption and abuse in child protection agencies, please join us in demanding answers.

Unlike many other states, Oklahoma’s DHS is subject to regular reviews, so there is a system of checks and balances in place. Unfortunately, these checks are the result of a lawsuit, so they are mandated and were not something the state decided to undertake because it was necessary. Their hand was forced, and now it appears they are doing the bare minimum they can get away with. The report said the agency failed to make “good faith efforts,” but that is putting it mildly.

Foster children in Oklahoma have not been removed from foster homes that were proven to be unsafe, sometimes putting them at the mercy of sexual predators, drug addicts, and monsters who assault and batter. Rather than reducing worker caseloads, as was their original goal, they have managed to increase them.

Only four of nine areas targeted for improvements actually saw them. In the other five areas, efforts were woefully inept. One area that doesn’t seem to have been addressed at all is how the state agency plans to deal with special needs children who are in the system.

Sheree Powell, the Director of Communications for Oklahoma Department of Human Services, said, “We’re very encouraged and excited about the progress and we’re looking forward to the next commentary that we think will be even better.” We say we’ll wait and see what happens in the future, because actions speak louder than words.

Learn more about why Oklahoma leads the nation in abuse by foster parents.

 

Oklahoma’s failings have had tragic consequences.

Why Isn’t Arizona Using Foster Care Money on Foster Children?

Why isn’t the State of Arizona using the money they are being given for foster care to improve the lives of foster children? That’s what we, Robert and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, would like to know. Arizona receives $56 million in no-strings aid from the feds, but they did not accept the funds because they haven’t come up with a plan of how they’ll use it.

Thanks to an agreement with early childhood organization First Things first, the state is provided with millions in federal money that is supposed to go toward foster children. The state contributes an additional $7 million that is allocated to cover the child care expenses incurred by foster families and family members who are caring for children while they are in the custody of the child protection organization. The stipend, however, is ridiculously low. So where is the money?

The support these families need is very much deserved, but their needs are woefully unmet, with wait lists up to eight months long and thousands of families left in the lurch. Studies have shown that affordable child care is one of the keys to keeping children out of the system in the first place. In a system that rewards caseworkers for placements, is it ethical to refuse to provide funds to these families, thus increasing the likelihood of placements?

What will happen to families with dependent foster and at-risk children who can’t afford child care? They will be left with few options, and these include leaving children home unattended, quitting work and relying even more on government support, and an increasing number of foster parents choosing to leave the system entirely. At a time like this, when good foster parents are needed, this would also be detrimental to children’s health and safety.

We the People DEMAND the State of Arizona do the following on behalf of its children:

  • Ensure foster parents and other providers have adequate access to child care
  • Raise the amount you pay child care providers – this hasn’t been done in 19 years!
  • Provide funding for child care provider training

Get it together, Arizona. Your state has over $56 million provided for these purposes. The fact that you are leaving families and children in crisis while you sit on these funds is unconscionable!

 

Learn more about how Arizona DFC kidnaps kids LEGALLY.

The State of Arizona has been sued before, and they can be sued again.

When will the children of Arizona be protected?

West Virginia Mother Sues HHS

When a West Virginia girl admitted her father was sexually harassing her, her mother reported it to the West Virginia Health and Human Resources department. It is the department’s duty to protect children when they report abuse, but what did workers do in this case? They decided the girl had been coerced into making false allegations and deliberately presented their theory as fact during the subsequent investigation.

Child protective workers involved in the case claimed to believe the child’s allegations, but they said the opposite in hearings. Well, corrupt workers, which one is it? Do you believe her or do you not? Is it more important to “win” a case than it is to protect a child? That’s what we, Rob and Kathleen Raskin of Las Vegas, Nevada, would like to know.

While it saddens us that this vulnerable child was placed in harm’s way once again thanks to the broken child protection services system, we are happy to see another parent taking the battle to court. The child’s mother, who will remain nameless in this report, is now suing the department and individual workers for violation of due process rights, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, alleged negligence, and more.

If the statutory purpose, goals, and child protective powers of the agency exist to protect children, then what is the point of the agency’s existence when kids aren’t protected? The system is corrupt, and it needs a complete overhaul. This WV mother is seeking punitive damages and attorney’s fees from the agency and the individuals involved, and we hope she and her children see justice served.

 

Here’s what one West Virginia whistleblower has to say about CPS corruption.

 

Here’s an insider’s look at CPS corruption in West Virginia.

How the White House Can Help YOU Fight CPS

The White House has an online petition website where any citizen can file a petition, and if you get 100,000 electronic signatures by the deadline they may consider your request. Currently there is a very important petition on the website, one that deals with corruption in child protection agencies.

The petition demands complete reform and accountability for Child Protective Services and the Department of Human Services, with the ultimate goal of combating the corruption that has run rampant in these agencies. Furthermore, the petition demands immunity protections be lifted from the caseworkers, supervisors, and judges so they can finally be brought to trial for the crimes they commit against American children and families every day.

We, Kathleen and Robert Raskin of Las Vegas, strongly urge you to sign this petition so it’ll gain traction. If we want to overhaul these agencies we need to be a grassroots force to be reckoned with. Let’s give ’em heck! Our voices WILL be heard!

You can Sign the Petition Here!