January 21, 2005

DCS announces new child abuse reporting hotline

January 21, 2005 [Star Gazette]
By Terra Temple

It was September 2002 when the Tennessee Department of Children's Services began a new method of reporting child abuse and neglect.

Three years later, that method is making its way across the state.

It will take effect in Northwest Tennessee at midnight Jan. 25.

Now, those referrals in Dyer, Lake, Crockett, Obion, Gibson, Weakley, Benton, Carroll and Henry counties will be made by calling the toll-free number 1-877-237-0004.

That number connects the caller to the Central Intake Unit in Nashville where the call is screened, the decision to assign to the proper county is made and its priority is given.

"Up until this point, we did all of that," said Phyllis Webb, team leader for the Child Protective Services Unit of the DCS office in Dyer County. "Now when it gets here, it will be assigned to an investigator."

Northwest Tennessee is among the last places the CI method has been implemented. DCS hopes to have it statewide by the end of March.

The new process, explained Dianne Mangrum, who became director of Central Intake in January, cuts down on the paperwork done at local offices, giving investigators more time to work on their cases. It also provides the state a way to have a central database system.

When a call comes to CI, the operator asks a number of questions about the situation -- the child's name, age, address, grade and school attended, the parents' names and address and "all the information you can give in regard to the abuse or neglect," Webb said. "The people taking the referral have key questions. You need to provide as much information as you can -- who is doing what -- about the situation. They need all the information possible so they'll know what priority to assign and so we'll know what questions to ask when we get there and so we'll know what to look for."

From the referral given, CI, which through the database can quickly see the past history of the situation, takes the information, filter it through the DCS criteria, assigns it a priority and sends it on to the appropriate office.

"The only thing changing is the number and the way we get it," Webb said of the procedure.

For priority to CI, law enforcement and medical personnel have a separate phone number. However, "in a dire situation, a true emergency, law enforcement can still call DCS directly and we'll let CI know," Webb said. "If law enforcement calls and needs us, we'll go.

Child Protective Services is a unit of the Department of Children's Services. DCS in Dyersburg covers Dyer, Obion, Lake and Crockett counties. Its CPS unit investigates referrals in Dyer and Crockett counties.

CPS reviews reports of abuse and neglect, investigating those reports for 60 days and determining the child's safety.

Webb said they receive approximately 75 to 100 calls a month for Dyer and Crockett counties.

"Those that we screen have to meet criteria for investigation," she said.

That criteria "is lengthy" but depends on three main components -- the situation, the past history and child's age. "If they're 3 and under, we (investigate) no matter what," Webb said.

Cases are assigned a priority number. Priority 1 means the case will be investigated within that day. Priority 2 means it will be investigated within 24 hours. Priority 3 means it will be investigated within five days. All sex-abuse cases are Priority 1.

Once the case is assigned and investigated by CPS, three things can happen:

-- If there is no safety issue, the case is closed.

-- If there is, it then goes to targeted case management where ongoing case managers work on the issues that need to be addressed.

-- If the safety risk is great, the child is removed from the home and then goes to the foster care unit of DCS.

"Our work is short term but it's very intense working within the home," Webb said.

Mangrum noted that investigation process is left to the local level.

"Once we process the referral, we're through," she said. "CI can't assign a case if it doesn't fit the criteria. If there's a disagreement (with CPS), the decision can be revisited. We're there to protect the children and help families."

In the long run, Webb believes the new decision process "will be beneficial. We had a three-prong process here (regionally) as a safety net," Webb said.

But if there are concerns, "there is a process we can discuss the priority (assigned)," she said. "We've done this for so many years and know those we deal with and they know us. Those are the kinds of things that can be worked out."

Central Intake provides the public with a single phone number to report suspected abuse and neglect of children, consolidating and centralizing reports.

DCS began using CI in September 2002 in a pilot program in three regions -- Shelby County, south central and southeast -- operating Monday through Friday. In January 2003, it went 24/7.

Thirteen months later, Davidson County was added. In August 2004, the rest of East Tennessee was added and "calls escalated and went through the roof," Mangrum said. "We find that when we take on a new region, we get more calls than that region ever recorded. As a result, the caseloads go up."

Northwest and Southwest Tennessee were added in January. Knox County and Northeast Tennessee will be added in February. The rest of the state, Hamilton County and the Mid-Cumberland region, will be added by March 31.

"We want people to understand that we're here to help the local (DCS) office protect the children and not be a burden," Mangrum said, noting that almost all CI supervisors have a CPS background and that calls are recorded for quality assurance.

While secretaries took referrals at the Dyersburg office, in many areas the investigators take them. Mangrum noted that by DCS going to CI, it takes that much more paperwork off them.

"When a call's received, the first is decision is by a background check," Mangrum said. "The supervisor will know the number of the reference called in and can see when the case was opened and how many times we've been involved on that child. That takes the people in the local offices a long, long time to do. This will save time in the end when the case is assigned. There's a lot of paperwork that goes with a referral and by taking the reference process off the counties, they're able to do their business -- seeing children instead of having to do a lot of paperwork."

The local DCS office has been aware of the change for a year. Mangrum and other CI representatives came to Dyersburg in mid-December to explain the new process to those working in the field -- school counselors, law enforcement, judges, attorneys, youth workers, etc.

"We found that when we go into a community there are a lot of fears and concerns of calling people that you don't know," Mangrum told them. "We're not taking away from your relationship with local people here. We have the historical data but the information that you have can't be captured in every record. We want to do what we can to protect children. You know what is best for the community and the families you work with."

For emergency cases, calls can still be made to the local office.

"Through the pilot program, we learned in truly emergency situations there's no sense in calling CI, that the local CPS should be called," Mangrum said. "We know that in the time of a crisis situation, time is of the essence. The paperwork can wait. Even if we were called in an emergency situation, we'd get someone out there ASAP."

Calls about child abuse/neglect from the general public can still be made anonymously. Walk-ins can also still come to the DCS office to make a referral; those workers can call CI and help the person file the information. If requested, CI will give notification reports about the case's assignment to the person making the referral.

"It takes a lot of guts for people to make referrals, especially those who aren't in the profession," Mangrum said.

CI operates 24/7 and so far has received approximately 350 calls a day.

"You'll always get a live person when you call," Mangrum said. "If the computers go down, that will do nothing to the quality of calls. We'll go to paper and pencil, call the county and when it comes back up, put it in the system. We're not waiting until it comes up to protect children."

When those referrals come after hours, a paging system is activated until the investigator is contacted.

"They have backups until they get somebody," Webb said. "They'll tell them the situation orally and then send the electronic report the next day."

Webb said from what she's heard from other areas, the response to CI is mixed.

"People always have concerns about changes," she said. "This is the process we've been given and we'll do the best we can with it. I'm sure it will be fine; it'll just take getting used to."

And that is something CI representatives understand.

"We want this to succeed and be good for the community," Mangrum said.


More information about reporting child abuse/neglect and DCS is available at www.state.tn.us/youth/cps/index.htm

Posted by Nancy at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

Background checks considered for Peters coaches

January 19, 2005 [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
By Mary Niederberger

Coaches in youth leagues in Peters will be required to get state police criminal background checks and Pennsylvania child abuse history clearances if the parks and recreation board gives official approval to the idea at its meeting tomorrow night.

It appears the township would become the first in that area to require such checks of coaches in township youth leagues, said Recreation Director Ed Figas. Figas said he polled other area municipalities and could find no others requiring the checks.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has required the criminal history check and child abuse clearances for the past several years for coaches at its schools.

During a joint meeting between Peters council and its parks and recreation board members Monday, council members outlined why they wanted the checks required and recreation board members gave reasons for their hesitation to require both.

Board members did not object to requiring a child abuse history clearance, but said they weren't comfortable requiring a criminal history background check because they didn't want to be placed in the position of determining which crimes from an individual's past should disqualify them from coaching.

Councilman Michael Neville, the most vocal proponent of requiring the checks, said those decisions could be made by parks and recreation staff members and not by the appointed board members.

Neville has long argued that the checks are necessary to protect children and to protect the municipality from liability.

He said a person had to first get a state police criminal history check before he could apply for child abuse clearance.

Figas said the parks and recreation department would not keep the criminal history reports on file. He said prospective coaches would be required to show the criminal record check forms they receive back from the state police and the child abuse clearances they receive from the state Department of Welfare to the designated parks and recreation staff member.

If there is a crime on the criminal history report, then the parks and recreation staff will determine if it's a crime that would affect the individual's ability to coach.

But that information would never be released publicly, Figas said. The only document that will be released to the sports leagues would be a list of approved coaches.

Figas said parks and recreation staff members would meet with the township solicitor to come up with criteria that will determine which crimes would prohibit someone from becoming a coach.

Posted by Nancy at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

Bishop Meets With Baldacci, Lawmakers; Offers Support For Child Abuse Laws

January 19, 2005 [Associated Press]

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Maine's Roman Catholic bishop is pledging support for tougher laws against child sexual abuse.

Bishop Richard Malone told Gov. Baldacci and legislators Tuesday that such laws would help the church repair damage caused by abusive priests.

He cited no specific legislation but noted that several bills being drafted would strengthen efforts of the state and the church to protect children.

In his luncheon remarks, Malone did not tip his hand on the church's stance on a gay-rights bill that Baldacci is expected to propose later this year. But Malone did say he would oppose same-sex marriage, push for improved health care for the poor and try to add a moral dimension to State House debates.

Posted by Nancy at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

Child abuse: how to prevent it

January 20, 2005 [Daily Globe] Ironwood, MI
By Margaret Levra

Sexual predators may come disguised as neighbors, friends or even relatives, and parents should discuss the "what-ifs" with their children.

"There are many 'good touch, bad touch situations out there,' said Iron County District Attorney Marty Lipske. "You should discuss with family members on a regular basis if someone is having bad contact with them, because our best source of finding these offenders would be through their discussions."

Lipske advises parents to have a family photo album available during the discussions. "Perhaps of friends and family. Show these pictures to your children."

Families need to talk about possible sexual assaults. "That is what families need to talk about...if it happens to them," he said.

"The quicker we professionally deal with the issue, the better chance we have to stop the cycle."

According to statistics, one in four girls and one in about six boys will be victims of sexual assault during their childhoods.

About 92 percent of those sexually assaulted know the offender, he added.

Lipske said a large number of the sexually assaulted later become predators.

Parents should also be concerned about use of computers by their children.

"Who's watching you on the Internet? Chatrooms may be a dangerous place to go," Lipske said. "When your child is chatting with someone on the Internet, do you know who's on the other end?" Lipske asked.

He said his department is reviewing "more and more computer issues."

Sexual assaults not only have a detrimental effect on victims, but also weigh heavy on families, friends and others who come into contact with the victims.

"For a child, coping begins with the telling -- the report of the abuse to a trusted adult," said Carolyn Kolson-Janov, director of the Iron County Human Services Department.

The response to the report is critical, she said. "If the child is believed, and is not made to feel guilt or shame, healing may begin."

The support of family members and counseling with a trained professional are also extremely important, she said. The level of the child's involvement in the criminal court process should correspond with his or her age and level of maturity, Kolson-Janov noted.

To help a child victim cope with his or her trauma, it is important to accurately understand the impact child sexual abuse has on a molested child, Kolson-Janov said.

"Guilt and shame eat away at self-esteem. Keeping the secret about the abuse is part of the trauma and contributes to lowered self-esteem, and hence, depression," she noted.

"Other mood disturbances are also prevalent in child victims -- panic attacks, anxiety disorders and personality disorders," she said, noting child victims are also much more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol addictions, and are at significant risk of suicide.

It is unlikely a young victim will survive sexual abuse unscathed, Kolson-Janov said, adding, "It is vital that resources be dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse.

"Current child sexual abuse prevention strategies require children to be in charge of their own protection. They are taught about 'good-touch, bad-touch,' told to say 'no' to those who try to harm them, are asked to relay this information to trusted adults, and are instructed to keep telling until they are believed," Kolson-Janov said.

Rather than relying on children to be the principal line of defense, "It is time for adults to take over the job of protecting children by no longer giving molesters access to the children," she said.

To protect children, "Parents must learn to understand molesters and recognize their methods," Kolson-Janov said.

"Parents and teachers need to learn how to recognize the processes utilized by molesters to lull adults into compliance, and groom their potential victims."

Posted by Nancy at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Meth boosts child-protection needs

Health and Welfare seeks budget increase
January 19, 2005 [Spokesman Review]
Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

BOISE – Idaho's child-protection caseload is up 25 percent from a year ago, mainly because of parents who are abusing methamphetamine.

"You cannot use methamphetamine and be a parent – it just doesn't work," Magistrate Judge Bryan Murray told legislative budget writers this week. "They cannot deal with the needs of their children. Children are at extreme risk where they are in a home with methamphetamine being used."

Murray and other law-enforcement and state officials painted for lawmakers a frightening picture of the world of children whose parents abuse the drug. And while there are increasing numbers of substantiated child abuse and neglect cases in the state, the state Health and Welfare Department hasn't increased its number of child-protection workers since 1992.


The department now wants to add 15 child-protection workers – one of an array of proposals for additional staff in its budget request for next year.

"In our view, the consequences of not funding the child protection program at a level equivalent to the need ultimately will place children at risk," Ken Diebert, administrator of family and community services for Health and Welfare, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

Lawmakers were chilled by the presentation, part of a weeklong series on the inner workings of the huge Health and Welfare Department, the state's largest agency.

"It's distressing to hear the individual stories of the cases that are happening out there," said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, vice chairwoman of the joint committee. "Our job is to make sure that the resources we are utilizing are going where they need to go, and assessing the need for additional resources and where they're going to come from."

Keough said that before she knows if the new workers should be added, "I need some more information." For example, department officials said they hold some positions vacant to move the funding into benefit payments.

New Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Dick Compton, R-Coeur d'Alene, sat front and center for the budget hearing, along with his House counterpart, Rep. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, chairwoman of the House Health and Welfare Committee.

"It's scary, it's absolutely scary," Compton said of the picture officials painted of drug-abusing parents. "It's beyond criminal. It's one thing if they screw up their own lives, poison their own minds, but it's another thing to screw up the lives of these youngsters."

Col. Dan Charboneau, director of the Idaho State Police, told the story of a young girl who was afraid to go home after school, so she brought a friend. The friend saw several children caring for one another in an unkempt environment with no food, and told her parents. Child-protection officials then discovered five children in the home unattended, and a sixth duct-taped to a post in a crawl space as part of punishment from the parents. Large quantities of drugs were found.

Charboneau also shared another story about state police officers who were readying a meth lab bust and observed a young boy in a skeleton costume periodically running up and down the street. They thought the youngster might be watching for the police. But when they went in, they found the parents passed out on the couch.

The child had dressed himself for a school Halloween party in the costume, but wore no shoes, socks or underwear. He told police he'd been running up and down the street trying to catch the school bus.

Posted by Nancy at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Child abuse protocol changes

January 13, 2005 [Ledger Inquirer]
By Harry Franklin

15-year-old guidelines updated to close loopholes

A more comprehensive Muscogee County Child Abuse Protocol was signed and implemented Wednesday.

The measure is designed to improve coordination between agencies involved in identifying, reporting and evaluating child fatalities to determine whether they were accidental, intentional or natural deaths and to see whether they could have been prevented.

Georgia law requires that each county have a protocol in place. Muscogee's had been in effect about 15 years. Work by a group of local agencies began to update the plan in March. The completed document is 61 pages, nearly three times as large as the previous plan.

"It's a lot more detailed on the actions that will be taken and what occurs when a child has been abused," said District Attorney Gray Conger during the morning signing at the Government Center.

The Child Abuse Protocol Team worked to develop an accurate identification and reporting process so that the evaluation of circumstances in child fatality investigations is monitored and implemented in Columbus.

Joanne Cavis, a member of the Muscogee County Child Fatality Subcommittee, said reviewing child fatalities involves much more than child abuse. It includes looking into the deaths of infants when the cause of death is labeled as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or Sudden Undetermined Infant Death.

For a death to be labeled a SIDS death, three things must take place, according to Lori Davis, a field program specialist for Region VIII, Georgia Department of Human Resources, who is in special investigations. A death scene investigation, an autopsy and a clinical/medical history of the infant must be done. If any one of those are lacking, the death of an infant that cannot be explained is listed as SUID.

"Probably the most important message you can send is that infants need to be on their back in a bed by themselves," said Cavis, with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. "The biggest problem we have with baby deaths is infants in bed with adults and other children... . If you want to feel close to a baby, put it in a bassinet next to your bed."

Infants 2-4 months old are at greatest risk, she said. After nine months, the risk drops significantly.

Statistics from the Muscogee County Child Fatality Review show that accidental deaths and homicides of children have declined over a four-year period. But five deaths were attributed to SIDS and three to SUID in 2002. In 2003, five deaths were listed as SIDS deaths and one infant death was unexplained, among 18 child deaths reported and evaluated. Two child deaths were attributed to homicide by the review committee in 2003 and two in 2002.

Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday he will push for 500 more case workers for the state's Division of Family and Children Services, because agency case workers are overloaded, to boost morale and reduce turnover.

"Every county, every municipality, including Columbus is going to get some additional case workers," said DFACS spokesman Bryan Toussaint. "Is there an exact number? No one's going to know, at least right now."

For more information on how to protect infants from sudden death, call the Extension Service at 653-4200

Posted by Nancy at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Complaints air over Oregon's child protection system

January 17, 2005 [Associated Press]

SALEM - Spurred by recent cases involving the death and injury of children in state care, a legislative panel began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."

"We are going to get to the bottom of what these problems are," said Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Meanwhile, the state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.

"The methamphetamine problem alone is driving our system in a way that none of us could have anticipated 10 years ago," said Ramona Foley, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The comments came as Dalto's committeee began looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.

Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl, Jordan Knapp, in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The girl's foster parents face charges of child abuse.

A week later, a 15-month-old boy, Ashton Parris, died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family.

The death is under investigation.

Those cases brought a call from Gov. Ted Kulongoski to review the state's child protection system.

A state team that looked into the case of the malnourished girl issued a report last week criticizing what it said were poor communications and record-keeping, and a lack of coordination among caseworkers.

Some of that same criticism was aired at Monday's committee hearing.

House Speaker Karen Minnis, who attended the meeting, said the Multnomah County sheriff's office has told her the state department at times has been reluctant to share information with local police agencies.

"There is a lot of frustration that law enforcement can't get information" on pending child abuse complaints, the Wood Village Republican said.

The department also drew criticism from one lawmaker who said state caseworkers sometimes remove the child from the home and break up a family without proper justification.

Rep. Gordon Anderson said it such cases, it seems like "overkill" to send two or three police cars to a home to remove a child.

Others on the committee, however, said they sympathize with the enormous task facing state caseworkers who've seen reports of child abuse and neglect climb by 60 percent in the past decade.

In the most recent year, state caseworkers screened more than 20,000 complaints of suspected neglect and abuse.

Of those, more than 9,000 were confirmed.

Foley, in her remarks to the panel, said while people involved in the state's child protection effort at times feel "overwhelmed" they are searching for ways to improve the program. She noted she has asked a team of national child protection experts to review Oregon's program for assessing abuse complaints.

Posted by Nancy at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

Bishop reviews reporting plan for suspected child sex abuse

January 18, 2005 [Tucson Citizen]
By Sheryl Kornman

The spiritual leader of southern Arizona's Catholics meets with clergy to go over the Tucson diocese's policy in reporting incidents of sexual misconduct.

The Catholic Diocese of Tucson appears to have stepped up efforts to make sure suspected child sex abuse is reported to authorities following the arrest in December of a priest on suspicion of failing to report an incident of alleged abuse.

Diocese spokesman Fred Allison said the timing of Bishop Gerald Kicanas' Jan. 10 review with the diocese's clergy leaders of the church's guidelines for reporting sexual misconduct by clergy is not related to the arrests in December of a Tucson priest and a church volunteer for failing to report an alleged incident of child sex abuse.

Authorities dropped the charges, and the priest was reassigned to San Luis, near Yuma, Allison said.

At the Pastoral Council meeting Kicanas covered the diocese's compliance plans, its zero-tolerance policy and the matter of the priests against whom there are credible allegations of sex abuse. The Pastoral Council is made up of clergy and lay people.

What he said was not made public.

To reach more people, a column in the January issue of Catholic Vision, the diocese newspaper, tackles the issue of why clergy or other church personnel may not report allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Paul Duckro, a psychologist and the diocese's director of the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, noted these key points:

  • "The arrests of two of our personnel for alleged failure to report have demonstrated that we ... are not perfect in our response to situations in which we encounter possible abuse."

  • "Lack of education in regard to reporting incidents was not the issue."

  • It was "the way of thinking that could lead to the wrong response."

  • The situation in front of us "is perceived to fall outside the definition of child abuse. It might be seen as a family matter, consensual or between kids."

    Duckro said "abuse is abuse no matter the relationship of perpetrator to victim and no matter the voiced consent of the victim."
    And, he said, clergy can make a mistake when they honor secrecy agreements.

    "The fact is there is no confidentiality in most circumstances for most of us," he wrote.

    A diocese employee who says "I don't have time for this" is making "another mistake that can make perfect sense at the time but carries no weight under the law," Duckro wrote.

    He advised clergy to "take the time now (to report an incident) or risk spending much more time later trying to undo the problem the delay creates."

    Thinking "this could not be true" is not an excuse for not reporting an allegation of abuse. "Make the call," he said. "Let law enforcement sort it out."

    Dukro said that a lack of confidence in how police or Child Protective Services might handle the matter is not a reason to not report alleged child abuse or sexual molestation.
    "Know the law," he advised them.

    Kicanas sent letters to all diocese priests and deacons the week of Jan. 3 asking them "to review the requirements for background checks and fingerprint verification," according to his weekly memo published on the diocese Web site Jan. 10.

    According to the diocese's Web site, "Fingerprinting and criminal background checks will be performed on all priests, deacons, religious, seminarians, diocesan employees, and all volunteers who minister to children, adolescents or vulnerable adults."

    They were also asked to make sure they had signed statements indicating they had received training on the diocesan Code of Conduct and Guidelines for the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Misconduct.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:22 AM | Comments (0)

    Panel begins child abuse hearings

    January 18, 2005
    By BRAD CAIN [Associated Press writer]

    SALEM — Spurred by recent cases involving the death and injury of children in state care, a legislative panel began hearings Monday into a child protection system that one lawmaker said suffers from "an alarming problem."

    "We are going to get to the bottom of what these problems are," said Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, who is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee.

    Meanwhile, the state's top child protection official said the program is struggling to keep up with a rising number of child abuse and neglect cases fueled in large part by Oregon's methamphetamine epidemic.

    "The methamphetamine problem alone is driving our system in a way that none of us could have anticipated 10 years ago," said Ramona Foley, assistant director of the Oregon Department of Human Services.

    The comments came as Dalto's committee began looking for ways to avoid a repeat of two high-profile cases that have put a spotlight on the department's child protection efforts.

    Last month, officials found a 5-year-old girl, Jordan Knapp, in a foster home near Sandy weighing a mere 28 pounds. The girl's foster parents face charges of child abuse.

    A week later, a 15-month-old boy, Ashton Parris, died of head injuries after the state returned him to his birth mother as part of a state-supervised plan to reunite the family. The death is under investigation.

    Those cases brought a call from Gov. Ted Kulongoski to review the state's child protection system.

    A state team that looked into the case of the malnourished girl issued a report last week criticizing what it said were poor communications and record-keeping, and a lack of coordination among caseworkers.

    Some of that same criticism was aired at Monday's committee hearing.

    House Speaker Karen Minnis, who attended the meeting, said the Multnomah County sheriff's office has told her the state department at times has been reluctant to share information with local police agencies.

    "There is a lot of frustration that law enforcement can't get information" on pending child abuse complaints, the Wood Village Republican said.

    The department also drew criticism from one lawmaker who said state caseworkers sometimes remove the child from the home and break up a family without proper justification.

    Rep. Gordon Anderson, R-Grants Pass, said in such cases, it seems like "overkill" to send two or three police cars to a home to remove a child.

    Others on the committee, however, said they sympathize with the enormous task facing state caseworkers who've seen reports of child abuse and neglect climb by 60 percent in the past decade.

    In the most recent year, state caseworkers screened more than 20,000 complaints of suspected neglect and abuse. Of those, more than 9,000 were confirmed.

    Posted by Nancy at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

    January 17, 2005

    Forde appeals to Beattie for abuse victims

    January 17, 2005 By Rosemary Odgers

    FORMER Queensland governor Leneen Forde has pleaded for an extra $2 million from the State Government to ensure her foundation can help child abuse victims.

    Ms Forde said victims of abuse in former state and church-run institutions were being forgotten despite the current focus on Queensland's child protection system.

    Her funding plea came after Premier Peter Beattie announced the government would give $900,000 to the Forde Foundation this financial year.

    The funding boost will take total government donations to the trust to nearly $3 million, but Ms Forde yesterday said more was needed to help the former residents.

    Posted by Nancy at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

    January 16, 2005

    Recognizing and reporting child abuse workshop set

    Newport News, Newport Oregon

    Family Care Connection will present a training on Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at OSU Extension Service Conference Room, 29 SE 2nd Street in Newport. This free workshop is open to child and respite care providers, and other childhood care and education professionals. Lynette Page from the DHS Child Welfare, Newport Branch will present the 2-hour class.

    In Oregon, this is a required training to become a Registered Family Child Care Provider. The training is also required for Certified Family Child Care Homes and for teachers and staff working with children in Certified Child Care Centers. Exempt providers listed with DHS who complete the class may become eligible to receive an enhanced reimbursement rate. A certificate of completion will be given to each participant. Pre-registration is required; call Family Care Connection at 265-2558.

    Posted by Nancy at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

    January 10, 2005

    How to Protect Children in the Tsunami Zone

    January 9, 2005

    Measures to protect children in the tsunami zone from exploitation, abuse, and criminal trafficking are needed immediately to prevent them from slipping between the cracks, UNICEF said today, outlining the key steps essential to protecting orphans and other vulnerable children.

    "The good news is that most of the needed efforts are already underway," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "But we have to move fast," she added. "Those who would prey upon children in this chaotic environment are already at work."

    UNICEF said the most vulnerable of the tsunami generation are those who have lost their parents or have been separated from their families. While no reliable figures yet exist, estimates based on the numbers of dead and displaced suggest there may be thousands of children across the region who fall into these categories. Surveys now underway will help identify the scope of the issue in the next week or so.

    UNICEF said there are five key steps essential to keeping vulnerable children safe from exploitation in the immediate term.

    -- Register all displaced children: UNICEF said that knowing which children are alone or possibly orphaned, and knowing exactly where they are, is the first critical step to protecting them. In India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia -- the hardest-hit of all the tsunami countries -- registration is underway. In Aceh, ground zero of the human catastrophe, five child-friendly registration centers in the camps are now open, and 15 more are planned for next week.

    -- Provide immediate safe care: Children identified as unaccompanied or lost must be placed in the temporary care of adults accountable for their welfare. In displacement camps, separate child-friendly care centers for unaccompanied children may be established. Alternately, children may be placed in community-based children's homes until their families can be located. Such options have already been identified in each of the countries affected, though more may be needed.

    -- Locate relatives: Registering children by name, address, community and birth date allows local and national authorities - working with NGOs - to trace and reunite family members pulled apart in the disaster but who survived. It also enables authorities to find members of extended family - aunts and uncles, grandparents, or older siblings.

    -- Alert police and other authorities: UNICEF said it is essential to alert police, border patrols, teachers, health workers and others to the threat of child exploitation, and to enlist their support in protecting children. This process of public and institutional awareness is beginning to take place in the affected countries. In Sri Lanka, government and key partners, including UNICEF, have raised the issue in the media so that all Sri Lankans are aware of the need to look out for unaccompanied children. In Indonesia, police and port authorities have been put on special alert.

    -- Special national measures: Concerned about the prospect of child trafficking from the tsunami zone, Indonesia put a temporary moratorium on children under 16 from Aceh traveling outside the country without a parent. The government also put a temporary moratorium on the adoption of children from Aceh until all children can be properly identified and a process of family tracing completed.

    The international standard in a crisis is to keep children as close to their family members and community as possible, UNICEF noted. Staying with relatives in extended family units is generally a better solution than uprooting the child completely.

    "Family and community provide vigilance and protection for children," Bellamy said. "With so many families torn apart, and so many communities completely destroyed, we have to pull together other kinds of protections for these youngsters. All people will have a role to play in looking out for the best interests of this tsunami generation."

    UNICEF emphasized that child trafficking, sexual exploitation, and extreme child labor are nothing new. But it warned that the breakdown of institutions in wake of the December 26 tsunamis left an opening for unscrupulous and criminal exploitation of the most vulnerable.

    She noted that the illicit trafficking of human beings is big business, not unlike trafficking in drugs or arms, with real money at stake and powerful interests involved.

    "We have to want to protect children as much as others want to exploit them," Bellamy said. "Based on the quick response of governments to this threat, it's clear they want to provide that protection. But we have to do it together."

    To Help Support UNICEF's Emergency Relief Efforts in South Asia, Please Visit http://www.unicefusa .org or Call 800-4UNICEF

    About UNICEF:
    Founded in 1946, UNICEF helps save, protect and improve the lives of children around the world through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation. UNICEF is non-partisan and its cooperation is free of discrimination. In everything it does, the most disadvantaged children and the countries in greatest need have priority.

    Posted by Nancy at 01:35 AM | Comments (0)

    Child abuse prevention ideas aired

    Teamwork: Task force says better coordination needed between state programs
    January 7, 2005 {The Salt Lake Tribune]
    By Kirsten Stewart

    Utah's $350,000 Children's Trust Fund should become a statewide coordinator of child abuse prevention programs, which are now underfunded and working in isolation, a task force says.

    The Utah Child Abuse Prevention Task Force supports legislation to infuse new life into the trust fund, which uses its state budget to distribute grants to public and private abuse prevention programs.

    Sponsored by Clearfield Republican Rep. Paul Ray, a bill would create a board of directors to reorganize the trust, possibly as a nonprofit, so it can seek donations from private foundations and corporations.

    If the bill passes, the goal is to double or triple the fund's reserves by year's end while placing 10 percent of all donations in an interest-accruing account.
    The task force, created by former Gov. Olene Walker, created its still-developing plan after six months of research and advice from national experts. Its recommendations were unveiled Thursday.

    "Child abuse is a major problem here," said Ed Clark, medical director at Primary Children's Medical Center, citing state statistics showing that child abuse cases in Utah rose 34 percent between 2000 to 2003.

    "We pay for the harms of abuse with our tax dollars, health insurance premiums, lost productivity and reduced resources for other important services like education," said Clark, stressing that child abuse is preventable.

    Task force members say there are promising prevention programs - parenting classes and crisis counseling - scattered throughout the state. The Children's Trust would work to improve coordination between these programs and state-run social services.

    Sen. Chris Buttars also is sponsoring legislation to help abused children. The West Jordan Republican's bill proposes a $200,000 funding increase for Utah's 15 Children's Justice Centers, safe havens where abused children can file complaints with police and be linked with social services, physicians and mental health professionals.

    The task force's call to community action - helping parents succeed at raising safe, healthy children - represents a reframing of the parental rights debate that consumed the Legislature last year. Task force members hope state officials are listening.

    Lawmakers at the unveiling pledged their support, including Senate President John Valentine who said, "This report won't be one that goes in the garbage."

    But details were scarce as to the state's commitment, partly because Utah's Human Services Department is in flux. Its eight-year director, Robin Arnold-Williams, has resigned, and Utah's new Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. might merge the agency with the Health Department.

    Posted by Nancy at 01:14 AM | Comments (0)

    January 06, 2005

    Prevent Child Abuse to hold festival at mall

    January 6, 2005 [Indianapolis Star]

    Prevent Child Abuse Indiana will hold an afternoon of free entertainment geared toward children and families from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at Glendale Mall.

    Kidding Around: Our Community Celebrating Families will feature booths and exhibits ...

    prize drawings and live entertainment.

    Participants will include Rupert's Kids, the Humane Society of Indianapolis, Kindermusik, Head Start, the Indiana Safe Kids Coalition, the Indianapolis Police Department's McGruff mascot and Easter Seals.

    The event is sponsored by the Marion County Committee To Prevent Child Abuse, a volunteer committee of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana.

    Posted by Nancy at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)