Is it neglect?

baby_and_doctorAs stated in the Illinois General Assembly-

 (8) Parents or legal guardians who object to health, dental, or eye examinations or any part thereof, or to immunizations, on religious grounds shall not be required to submit their children or wards to the examinations or immunizations to which they so object if such parents or legal guardians present to the appropriate local school authority a signed statement of objection, detailing the grounds for the objection. If the physical condition of the child is such that any one or more of the immunizing agents should not be administered, the examining physician, advanced practice nurse, or physician assistant responsible for the performance of the health examination shall endorse that fact upon the health examination form. Exempting a child from the health, dental, or eye examination does not exempt the child from participation in the program of physical education training provided in Sections 27-5 through 27-7 of this Code.

Cases (not necessarily in Illinois) of children who died after parents failed to request medical intervention in a timely manner-


Andrew Wantland, age 12, died of untreated diabetes in LaHabra, California, in 1992. A Christian Science practitioner attempted to heal him with prayer for four days. He lost thirty pounds. On the last day of his life, he was emaciated, vomiting, and urinating frequently. Later in the day he was unable to eat, drink, make eye contact, speak, or move around.

His mother, Gayle Quigley, lived in Philadelphia and was not a Christian Scientist. She had joint custody of Andrew and had made it clear that she wanted medical care provided for her children.

Nevertheless, neither Andrew’s father, the Christian Science faith healer, nor other church officials informed Mrs. Quigley that her son was ill.

No criminal charges were filed in the boy’s death. Mrs. Quigley filed a civil wrongful death action against the Christian Science church, the practitioner, Andrew’s father, grandmother, and others. The district court, however, ruled that only the father could be held responsible, and an appellate court upheld the ruling in a split decision. Quigley then dropped the suit.


At the age of five, Nancy Brewster of El Paso, Texas, developed lumps on her neck and threw up repeatedly. She was too sick to go to school after first grade. A Christian Science practitioner prayed for Nancy. She urged the girl and her mother to deny the symptoms of the illness as an illusion. Nancy was constantly told that she was God’s perfect child and nothing could be wrong with her.

Nancy was made to exercise in 100 degree–plus heat and forced to eat even though she was vomiting. Both her mother and the practitioner believed that Nancy was just being stubborn. Her mother sometimes even beat Nancy and blamed her for not getting healed. Nancy got no pain relief, even an aspirin. She was not held or comforted because that would be giving reality to the disease.

Nancy died September 29, 1963, at age 7. Her death certificate lists “probable malignant lymphoma” as the cause.

She had no obituary or funeral service. Her mother told her siblings to think that Nancy had just gone on a trip to Africa. In her family home, Nancy was never spoken of again. Like illness, death was considered unreal in Christian Science theology.

Her mother later became a Christian Science practitioner and published a testimony in the January, 1984, Christian Science Journal with a disturbing omission. “Rearing four children with total reliance on God for healing was a joy. I cannot remember an activity missed because of illness,” she wrote.

As Caroline Fraser writes, however, “In fact, Mrs. Brewster had five children. The unmentioned fifth child who has been revised out of this testimony—indeed, out of life itself—was Nancy Brewster.” (Fraser, God’s Perfect Child, 428)

Nancy’s big sister published an obituary and held a memorial service for Nancy on the 40th anniversary of her death, and publishes an In Memoriam every year to honor and remember Nancy.

And now in Illinois-

Families seeking a religious exemption next year, or transferring after Oct. 16, will have to complete a certificate explaining their objection on religious grounds before kindergarten, 6th and 9th grades. That certificate also must include the signature of a doctor, attesting that he or she counseled the parents about the risks of skipping vaccines.


Different Views on Spanking

  • Jeff Says December 3, 2015, 2:49 am
    I have to agree. I’ve really gotten into this positive parenting thing and it’s turned my kid into a total brat. Obviously no one WANTS to spank, but when your kid spits in your face you can’t just say “now Johnny lets evaluate our alternatives.”

  • Deborah Godfrey Says December 14, 2015, 3:41 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    I’d be interested to see what you think “Positive Parenting” is in a practical way. As in, how exactly how do you handle certain situations? I would never respond with your response to his spitting, that would be a ludicrous response. I’ve never seen you in any of my classes, so most likely you are misinterpreting the idea of Positive Parenting or Positive Discipline, which many parents do. This is NOT permissive parenting, and in fact, it takes a great deal more thought and effort into systematically and effectively approaching discipline with your kids. I always say, “I am relentless with Love” AND CONSISTENCY! I can’t imagine getting myself into an interaction with any of my kids, as ornery as they could be, where they would spit in my face. That would have taken years of relationship destruction on your part to create that result! I could help you turn all that around if you are interested.


    badseed4We thought this exchange, held between a parent and a Positive Parenting instructor was very interesting, especially given the recent release of the study claiming that, “Around the world, an average of 60 percent of children receive some kind of physical punishment, according to UNICEF. And the most common form is spanking. In the United States, most people still see spanking as acceptable, though FiveThirtyEight reports that the percentage of people who approve of spanking has gone down, from 84 percent in 1986 to about 70 percent in 2012.” Also mentioned in the same article it states, “Thus, among the 79 statistically significant effect sizes, 99 percent indicated an association between spanking and a detrimental child outcome.” The study followed children over a five decade period and found that kids who had been spanked as a form of discipline experienced at a higher level than their peers, “low moral internalization, aggression, antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior problems, internalizing behavior problems, mental-health problems, negative parent–child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self-esteem, and risk of physical abuse from parents.”

    Inthe article 9 alternatives to spanking are provided for parents. They are-

    1 – Get Calm

    First, if you feel angry and out of control and you want to spank or slap your child, leave the situation if you can. Calm down and get quiet. In that quiet time you will often find an alternative or solution to the problem. Sometimes parents lose it because they are under a lot of stress. Dinner is boiling over, the kids are fighting, the phone is ringing and your child drops the can of peas and you lose it. If you can’t leave the situation, then mentally step back and count to ten.

    2 – Take Time for Yourself

    Parents are more prone to use spanking when they haven’t had any time to themselves and they feel depleted and hurried. So, it is important for parents to take some time for themselves to exercise, read, take a walk or pray.

    3 – Be Kind but Firm

    Another frustrating situation where parents tend to spank is when your child hasn’t listened to your repeated requests to behave. Finally, you spank to get your child to act appropriately. Another solution in these situations is to get down on your child’s level, make eye contact, touch him gently and tell him, in a short, kind but firm phrase, what it is you want him to do. For example, “I want you to play quietly.

    4 – Give Choices

    Giving your child a choice is an effective alternative to spanking. If she is playing with her food at the table ask, Would you like to stop playing with your food or would you like to leave the table?” If the child continues to play with her food, you use kind but firm action by helping her down from the table. Then tell her that she can return to the table when she is ready to eat her food without playing in it.

    5 – Use Logical Consequences

    Consequences that are logically related to the behavior help teach children responsibility. For example, your child breaks a neighbor’s window and you punish him by spanking him. What does he learn about the situation? He may learn to never do that again, but he also learns that he needs to hide his mistakes, blame it on someone else, lie, or simply not get caught. He may decide that he is bad or feel anger and revenge toward the parent who spanked him. When you spank a child, he may behave because he is afraid to get hit again. However, do you want your child to behave because he is afraid of you or because he respects you?

    Compare that situation to a child who breaks a neighbor’s window and his parent says, “I see you’ve broken the window, what will you do to repair it?” using a kind but firm tone of voice. The child decides to mow the neighbor’s lawn and wash his car several times to repay the cost of breaking the window. What does the child learn in this situation? That mistakes are an inevitable part of life and it isn’t so important that he made the mistake but that he takes responsibility to repair the mistake. The focus is taken off the mistake and put on taking responsibility for repairing it. The child feels no anger or revenge toward his parent. And most importantly the child’s self-esteem is not damaged.

    6 – Do Make Ups

    When children break agreements, parents tend to want to punish them An alternative is to have your child do a make-up. A make-up is something that people do to put themselves back into integrity with the person they broke the agreement with. For example, several boys were at a sleep-over at Larry’s home. His father requested that they not leave the house after midnight. The boys broke their agreement. The father was angry and punished them by telling them they couldn’t have a sleep-over for two months. Larry and his friends became angry, sullen and uncooperative as a result of the punishment. The father realized what he had done. He apologized for punishing them and told them how betrayed he felt and discussed the importance of keeping their word. He then asked the boys for a make-up. They decided to cut the lumber that the father needed to have cut in their backyard. The boys became excited and enthusiastic about the project and later kept their word on future sleep-overs.

    7 – Withdraw from Conflict

    Children who sass back at parents may provoke a parent to slap. In this situation, it is best if you withdraw from the situation immediately. Do not leave the room in anger or defeat. Calmly say, “I’ll be in the next room when you want to talk more respectfully.

    8 – Use kind but firm action

    Instead of smacking an infant’s hand or bottom when she touches something she isn’t supposed to, kindly but firmly pick her up and take her to the next room. Offer her a toy or another item to distract her and say, “You can try again later.” You may have to take her out several times if she is persistent.

    9 – Inform Children Ahead of Time

    A child’s temper tantrum can easily set a parent off. Children frequently throw tantrums when they feel uninformed or powerless in a situation. Instead of telling your child he has to leave his friend’s house at a moment’s notice, tell him that you will be leaving in five minutes. This allows the child to complete what he was in the process of doing.


Three Ways CASA gets cases

Boone County CASA gets cases one of three ways. See the chart below to learn how!

Can you guess which case fits where?

A) Jenna’s mother was picked up for manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance while Jenna was staying overnight at her father’s house (who has weekend and Wednesday visits per the divorce decree). DCFS becomes involved when Mom is released and a neighbor hotlines Mom’s suspected continuation of drug use. Mom admits that she has relapsed since her release on bail but states that she is currently involved in AA with a sponsor. She states she has never and would never use in Jenna’s presence. Mom continues to be able to provide for Jenna and no substances are found in her home, which is deemed a safe and appropriate environment. After discussion a decision is made that Jenna will be able to continue living with her mother while DCFS helps Mom get a drug assessment completed and search for an inpatient treatment unit that allows parents to bring their children with them.

However, Mom schedules and misses three appointments for her drug assessment. She stops taking both the case worker and Jenna’s father’s calls.

B) Mina and her little brother, Drew, usually get to school late. Sometimes, Mina misses her first class entirely. Mina says that her mom’s car doesn’t always start, and Mom can forget every now and then to wake up to get them to school. Drew, who doesn’t have a bike of his own to ride to school when the car doesn’t start, often misses entire days of school. In fact, Drew’s attendance is at about 60%. The school district has offered to help the family look for carpoolers in their area since the family lives too close to school to receiving busing. The family, however, does not feel that they need help with transportation as the children’s grades are passable.

C) Casey’s parents let her paternal grandmother and grandfather have guardianship of Casey for two years while they were in prison for aggravated assault. Once they are released, they regain custody of Casey, who dearly missed them and only got to see them a few times while they were locked up. After returning to her parents’ care Casey still visits her grandparents regularly, although she avoids talking about her parents. One day her grandmother notices a large bruise on Casey’s upper arm which looks suspiciously like an adult’s hand print. Casey refuses to discuss how she got this mark, although she tears up when gently questioned. Her grandmother calls the hotline, who do not take action because the grandmother does not know how Casey came to have the mark and Casey herself is making no allegations. The grandmother, certain that Casey is being abused, hires an attorney to file an abuse and neglect case for her.

(Disclaimer: As always, the children mentioned above, as well as the stories of abuse, reflect what is commonly seen at CASA. The children and situations are fictitious.)

CASA flow chart


a.DCFS intact case

b.Educational Neglect

c.Direct File

One Step Starts the Journey

We really liked this post entitled “For Every Next Step” from someone who recently liked our post What is it like to have anxiety?, theseeds4life. Thanks for your ‘like’, and thank you for this.

It really made us think of some of our CASA kids. While the world may see them as broken, in need, or under performing in school or in their social lives we know that many of these kids have already taken their first (and most terrifying) step. Perhaps they finally disclosed their years of abuse. Perhaps they’ve made their first friend (going from the kid who has no friends because you smell since your mother never remembers to bathe you and lets the cat pee on the carpet to the kid with a friend is a HUGE deal). Perhaps they had their first doctor appointment resulting in a clean bill of health. All of these are the beginnings to better wellness and better self esteem. Remember this lesson for the kids CASA serves and for yourself. The first step starts the journey.

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What is having anxiety like?

We wanted to share a snippet from the article at ScaryMommy. Please be aware that NCBI states that, “Findings indicated that there are sizably greater risks among adult (foster care) alumni for PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, and drug dependence (two- to sevenfold increases in risk).”


as seen at

He picked at his dinner and went to go lie in bed. He’s the kind of kid who never goes to lie down in bed. My heart began to beat out of my chest. Everything that had been piling up all day reached a crescendo, and the most irrational thoughts flooded my brain.

I was certain that my son was getting sick. And not just a little sick. And not just the kind of sickness that would pass. No, something that would likely kill him. Some rare virus. Or perhaps a brain tumor? I mean, obviously something was very wrong with him.

See that? It makes no sense to go there, but when anxiety strikes, my mind goes to the worst-case scenario situation immediately.

And the thing is, I could see it happening. I could see how irrational my thoughts were, but I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t stop my heart from racing, my legs from turning to jelly, and the ridiculous thoughts from flying through my head.

Then I began to worry about the worry. I wondered if my son could pick up on how nervous I was. The last thing I want in the world is for my kids to be infected by my anxiety. I know anxiety so well, and it pains my heart to imagine either of my children having to experience it.

So I sat there, hanging out with my son, offering him sips of water, trying to soothe him, trying not to smother him—all while the stress hormones flooded my body, and I felt helpless. All I wanted was to be the calming force in the world for my son who wasn’t feeling too hot himself, and I simply could not do it.”

So Many Elliots

Thank you, Waking Brain Cells, for posting your book review about Elliot. We, who serve so very many Elliots, know there is great need of stories to help children, big and small, understand what is happening to them in foster care and why.

Elliot by Julie Pearson, illustrated by Manon Gauthier (InfoSoup) Elliot was a little boy whose parents loved him very much. But there was a problem, when Elliot cried his parents did not understand why and when he yelled they did not know what to do. So one day a social worked named Thomas came and […]

via Elliot by Julie Pearson — Waking Brain Cells