A Foster Family

We wanted to reblog Humans of Foster Care‘s post- written by Emily, the daughter of a couple who take in foster kids and have for many years. Here is Emily’s story.

Foster Care

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Sentencing for a Predator

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin repeatedly slammed Hastert as a “serial child molester” who not only violated the trust of the boys he’d coached but also tried to mislead federal authorities years later by claiming he was being blackmailed by one of his victims.

“Nothing is more stunning than having the words ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence,” Durkin said.

Hastert, dressed in a dark gray suit and appearing much thinner than his last court appearance in October, showed no outward reaction to the sentence, which was more than twice the high end of what prosecutors had sought. As spectators filed from the courtroom, Hastert remained motionless, not speaking to anyone. He was seated in a wheelchair and outfitted with a leg brace due to recent health issues.

The two-hour sentencing hearing capped a stunning downfall for Hastert, who rose from humble beginnings as a schoolteacher and coach to become the longest-serving Republican House speaker in U.S. history, a powerhouse in Illinois politics who was revered in the small town of Kendall County he called home.

To read the full article click here.

This man, a son of Illinois who chose his victims out of bizarre mix of familiarity and shaming, finally verbally admitted to the abuse of several victims in court. Unfortunately, some of his child victims were already deceased. It was their family members who stood in the courtroom for them to hear the child molestor’s admissions.

In a chilling reminder that this case isn’t exceptional, Child Lures Prevention states that-

How many victims does a child molester average?

Interviews guaranteeing complete confidentiality and immunity from prosecution, conducted by Emory University psychiatrist Dr. Gene Abel*, uncovered that:

  • Male offenders who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each.

  • Men who molested boys had an astonishing average of 150 victims each.

  • Only 3% of these crimes had ever been detected.

Can murderers and convicts raise their children?

criminal-in-handcuffsThis question came to light, glaringly, after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his former wife and a visiting associate. O.J.’s two small children had been living with their maternal grandparents during O.J.’s incarceration and trial. They, too, had been upstairs sleeping when their mother was murdered and her body left near the entrance of the family home.

Once he was a free man, O.J. petitioned the court to regain custody of his kids. This was over the strong objection of their maternal grandparents, who vehemently believed that the children’s father had killed their daughter. However, the judge made the decision in 1996 that no evidence from the murders would be allowed into the custody hearings.

In December of ’96 the judge made the ruling that the children belonged with their father. In a statement she said, “that attorneys for the Browns had “failed to demonstrate clear and convincing evidence” that being in Simpson’s custody would be harmful to the children.

Wieben Stock also described the children’s affection for their father, writing that one of the youngsters had stated an “unequivocal desire” to live with Simpson, while the other had not stated a preference.”

This first judge went on to say, “the children share a relationship with their father that appears to be strong, positive and healthy, with powerful psychological bonding.”

Yet, this wasn’t the end to the Browns’ struggles to regain custody of their grandchildren. Two years later, in 1998, an appeals court judge overturned that ruling, due in part because of the decision to leave out evidence from the murders. This second judge stated, “As a matter of case law, as well as common sense…the question of whether one parent has actually murdered the other is about as relevant as it is possible to imagine in any case involving whether the surviving parent should be allowed any form of child custody. While we understand the incredible pressure the court was under, the fact remains that it made a number of errors…These errors require reversal of the order terminating the guardianship.”

The children, however, did end up living with their father. Once he had custody he moved them to Florida, a distance away from the maternal side of their family. Sydney was heard from again when, at 17 years of age, she called 911 to make a complaint against her dad. According to PEOPLE’s 2003 article, “The 911 caller was young, female—and sobbing. “I don’t want to be with my father,” she cried. “Can’t you do something about that? He tells me he doesn’t f—-‘ love me…. That’s not like an abuse thing?” The operator might have treated the Jan. 18 call as a typical domestic disturbance, but the parent in question was O.J. Simpson, and the Miami-Dade County police rushed five cruisers to the Miami-area home. Officers found Sydney Simpson, 17, distraught in her bedroom, explaining that she’d had an argument with her dad. Within minutes she had left, and O.J. stepped out to offer smiles and handshakes to the officers.

Later, Simpson dismissed the incident as a “nonevent,” a typical dispute between a parent and a teenager, explaining that Sydney was apparently feuding with half-brother Jason, 32, who had recently moved in. “911 is not what you call when you have a disagreement in your household,” he told PEOPLE. “If that’s the worst thing that happens between me and my kids this year,” he adds, “I am going to be one satisfied father.”

It also seemed that O.J. had changed few of his ways. While living in Florida and caring for his and Nicole’s children several calls were made to the police department concerning his domestic abuse of then girlfriend Christie Prody.

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So now that the murders are over twenty years in the past the question remains- Could this happen again? Could an accused murderer be allowed to raise his children with the way “the system” is set up now?

And the answer, though always a grey area, remains the same. Yes. Yes, he could. However, it is also possible that this wouldn’t be the outcome.

For the affirmative- in the eyes of the law O.J. Simpson was an innocent man, a capable provider, and was in full control of his parental rights. His children had their minimum needs met in his care, he had a care plan in place for them when he was unable to be present, and, most persuasively, the children reported wanting to be with him. They had a relationship with their father. There were never reports that he had left marks, bruises, or used inappropriate discipline against them. In fact, he was visited by Child Protective Services after Sydney’s 2003 call to 911 and was found to be an appropriate caregiver. Though he was found guilty of spousal battery in ’89, it was not clear if any of his children were witness to the act.

In fact, in 2013, Joaquim Rams was indicted for killing his 15 month old son by drowning. Rams, who had rights to his child but not custody, had been suspected of two prior murders, that of his own mother and that of the mother of his son.

This article goes on to state, concerning Rams’ case, “Rams was even a suspect in the brutal rape of the boy’s aunt. However, charges against Rams were eventually dropped and police even charged the presumed rape victim with filing a false complaint and mother of Ram’s youngest son with obstruction of justice for corroborating her story.

Judge granted unsupervised visits

After the rape charges against Rams were dropped in 2011, a judge granted Rams unsupervised visitation of his infant son. All of these events compel parties involved to ask how a man twice accused of murder, a count of rape, and charges of child abuse would be allowed any unsupervised visitation with his children?

During a custody hearing over the infant child, proceedings found Rams lied about his employment history, age, and even his real name. Journalists investigating the story draw the conclusion the obstruction charges against the boy’s mother ultimately aided in Rams being awarded visitation of the child by tarnishing the mother’s image.”

So, while domestic violence is reported to authorities more now than ever before and the list of mandated reporters has grown, it is certainly still possible that an alleged violent criminal or murderer could raise his/her children.

 

DCFS, Human Services: Turnover City?

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Why is it that Child Protection workers have such a high turnover rate?

This article, written during a tide of turnovers in Texas, says, “With nearly 30 percent of Lubbock County’s 144 CPS workers quitting last fiscal year, CPS is tasked with training new investigators who will eventually determine if an allegation of abuse or neglect warrants removing a child from his or her guardian. The turnover rate also provides challenges for the remaining investigators who must take over the abandoned cases and quickly adapt to the specialized needs of each family.

“The families that we’re working with are no longer just (dealing with) substance abuse, or only have one singular issue that we’re having to focus on. We’re having to look at the domestic violence and then the substance abuse,” said Leslie Tutino, investigations supervisor for the Lubbock County CPS office. “There’s multiple facets that we’re having to assess for risk and safety so the investigators are out there trying to gather all of the information. … The demands of an investigator are very high.”

This article, written about the rate of employee movement in California’s urban areas, says, “Nearly a third of the Compton office’s social workers were on the job for less than two years.

The problems were also acute in areas of South Los Angeles and Palmdale where child welfare interventions are also often more complex and many workers anxiously await a transfer following what department staffers call their “year of duty.” The three offices also have some of the highest rates of children who die of abuse or neglect — a total of 17 between January 2008 and August 2010.

“High stress levels and distance from employees’ homes contribute to the high staff turnover rate,” the audit said.

Closer to home for us, in Chicago, this article states that, “The analysis also found that nearly 40 percent of DCFS investigators employed five years ago are no longer in those positions, a turnover rate higher than any other job in the agency.”

What it all boils down to is that DCFS and child protection workers have a high stress, high stakes job. If they make the critical decision to remove a child from their home, they are breaking up a family. If they leave a child in an unstable environment and something terrible happens, the worker is often blamed. There is more work than there is time to complete it and, due to the nature of strict confidentiality, workers receive very little support from friends and family when they run into situations they may struggle to deal with.

http://play.syndicaster.tv/v1/widgets/f8aa96b0-58c2-0133-abde-7a163e1f7c79/player.html?vid=6421847&tags=CPS%2Cchild%2Cprotective%2Cabuse%2Cpl_lub_homepage%2Cpl_lub_newsbreaking_news&volume=100&autostart=false&autonext=false

A Personal Tale of Identity and Adoption

What really resonated with us here at the CASA office was, “And that was the best response I could have asked for from anyone. Dory’s feelings of inadequacy and abandonment, her burning passion to find her family, her reunion with her parents, and her acceptance of the fact that as much as she loves her parents, Marlin and Nemo are also her family, mirror any adoptee’s story.

So for parent’s looking to take their children to this film: know this is a very touching, very Pixar movie. Your adopted children might not understand why they’re feeling insecure or sad…but the movie offers both hope and closure. This allowed me to identify with Dory and let me think that maybe there’s hope for me, too.

For older adoptees who want to see the sequel to their favorite childhood movie, I hope that you also see a piece of yourself in Dory, and have the courage and strength to “just keep swimming.”

We can imagine that many of the kids we serve feel these emotions and struggle everyday with connecting who they are now to who they used to be. We hope they too will find ways to “just keep swimming.” While they’re learning, we’ll be here every step of the way. 

An adoptee’s thoughts on Finding Dory… When I was in fourth grade, my classroom had Star of the Week, which meant that one chosen student brought in a poster with pictures of their family and had to fill out a sheet filled with their favorite things: color, animal, ice cream flavor, favorite movie. I’ve never […]

via Finding You, Finding Me — Little Lily, Big World

Help ID Me

CMECHave you heard of the facebook page Help ID Me? If not, go look it up. This page has been mentioned by the Center for Missing and Exploited children and its message is clear. Every child deserves a name. Every child has an identity.

These children did not survive their abuse/neglect. The saddest part? The Missing Kids Blog states, “In fact, 38 percent of the kids NCMEC has identified weren’t reported missing. That’s an astounding number and one that underscores the difficulty of the team’s work. How do you search for someone you don’t know is missing?”

If this doesn’t feel like it hits close to home for you we ask you to remember the case of Kyrian Knox, murdered last year, and taken from Rockford, IL. No one has been arrested for Kyrian’s death. He was found in a lake in Chicago, his body not intact. Kyrian’s mother stated that she left him with friends in Rockford while she moved. Kyrian was reported missing in September of 2015.

MyStateline.com says, concerning Kyrian, “Another reason that this tragic case may have fallen by the wayside is that only a week after the last Knox press conference in November, the video of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer was released, unleashing a chain of events that may have stalled the investigation.

That included the sudden resignation of the Chicago Police Department’s Chief of Detectives, Dean Andrews, and the FBI’s investigation of the CPD after a series of fatal police shootings.

“It’s very frustrating and it’s discouraging that this is going on,” said the member from Mothers of Missing and Exploited Children. “And advocates want nothing more than justice for Kyrian Knox.”

This remains an active investigation and anyone with information is encouraged to contact Chicago’s Area North Detectives at 312-744-8266.”