Saturday, November 21, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
|There are fewer "human teddy bears" in Oklahoma|
Burns with OKDHS says the significant spike in children entering state custody was due to a state- and agency-wide fear factor that frequently resulted in the removal of children from their homes.
“There were a series of highly publicized child deaths that kind of put people in a foster care panic,” she says. “People were afraid to keep kids in families if they weren’t sure they were going to be OK.”
And, the article says,
In the past few years, she says the agency’s focus has shifted to preserving families when it is safe for the child by contracting with private agencies to provide comprehensive home-based services to some families of children at risk for foster care.
For example, a child living in a filthy environment might previously have been removed from his home due to perceived neglect, Burns says. With the new approach, OKDHS might contract with private agencies to help teach his parents cleaning and organization skills that would allow the child to remain with his family.
It's not yet clear how much has been accomplished. Even before the foster-care panic, Oklahoma was taking away children at a rate far above the national average. By 2013, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, the rate of removal in Oklahoma was nearly 70 percent above the national average and nearly triple the rate in states that are national models of child welfare reform.
A story in The Oklahoman reports a small drop in the number of children in foster care on any given day, but it gives no figures for the number of children taken away over the course of a year - the best measure of foster-care panic.
But we know this: Enough progress has been made to close a baby warehouse - and reduce the number of children in many other baby warehouses across the state.
That is cause for celebration.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
|Gov. Kate Brown|
Wow. An independent review and a task force. She really must be serious.
Except she's not. Because, according to The Oregonian, the review will focus on “abuse investigations, licensing practices and how the far-flung agency can better share warning signs.”
In 2014, more than half of complaints were ruled closed during an initial screening, in part because state law strictly limits investigations, usually to cases involving serious injury or an ongoing threat.
‘Neglect’ means negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, or supervision.
With a definition like that, there is hardly an impoverished parent in Oregon who couldn't be labeled neglectful at some point.
Somewhere along the line, someone in Oregon apparently figured this out - because, it seems, Oregon officials are not about to let such a broad, vague definition apply when they are the ones responsible for the placement.
The news accounts don't specify exactly what the definition of abuse is when it happens in foster care, so I don't know if that definition needs to be broadened, as one Oregon legislator is proposing. But the definition that applies to all other Oregon parents needs to be narrowed. And, of course, the definitions should be the same.
Perhaps the task force could get to work on that. And if that's too much for a mere task force, how about a "blue ribbon commission"?
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Thursday, November 5, 2015
There’s still a long way to go, but the NPR stories are getting results
A federal judge has that the state Department of Social Services, prosecutors and judges "failed to protect Indian parents' fundamental rights" when they removed their children after short hearings and placed them largely in white foster care.
According to the suit, some of the hearings lasted less than 60 seconds. The suit says some parents were not allowed to speak at the hearings or in some cases hear why their children were being removed.
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Effective Monday, Nov. 2, I am returning to NCCPR as Executive Director - for now, at least, as a volunteer. Check back for updates about the latest developments in child welfare, as we resume our efforts to keep children safely in their own homes and curb the misuse and overuse of foster care.
Even with no paid staff, there are expenses involved in keeping NCCPR going - but even small donations now make a big difference.
Click here if you'd like to donate to NCCPR.
It's great to be back!