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Foster care abuse watchdog has no records

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on Sun, 03/11/2012 - 22:30

Foster care abuse watchdog has no records

A special unit set up to examine complaints against foster carers in South Australia has no records of convictions, says the state opposition.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was set up in 2004 after concerns about the risk of harm to young children in state or foster care.

The organisation investigates claims of abuse against young people in foster care and reports directly to the SA Department for Families and Communities.

SA opposition treasury spokesman Iain Evans has repeatedly grilled the government over its handling of the agency, saying he was only aware of one matter prosecuted as a result of an SIU investigation.

The case involved Tom Easling, a volunteer foster carer for 14 years, who was acquitted on child sex abuse charges in 2007.

Mr Evans said he was advised in January by then SA police minister Michael Wright that no formal records of notifications made by SIU to police were kept until 2008.

"This leaves the period from the establishment of the SIU in 2004 to August 2008 unanswered," Mr Evans said in a statement on Monday.

Mr Evans was advised that since 2008, 146 actions were raised, with 133 "serious care" concerns referred to police.

Six complaints were investigated by the Sexual Crime Investigation Branch, four matters were filed without charge and two matters reported in October 2009 were still under investigation.

None of those cases had progressed to court action.

Mr Evans said it was "unbelievable" there was no record of how the agency operated between 2004 and 2008.

"How can the government establish a SIU to investigate a child abuse matter and keep no records of its performance?" he said in a statement.

16:51 AEST Mon Nov 7 2011


Adoption rates increasing at an alarming rate

Adoption rates increasing at an alarming rate
Myriad of reasons why so many children are waiting in foster care to be adopted
November 7th, 2011 by Sherryl Craig | Permalink

Adoption statistics show that adoption rates are increasing all over the world. When we see this type of rise in statistics, especially in an area that is so critical it brings several questions to mind.

There are over 100,000 in American children in the foster care system awaiting adoption. Photo via Kevin Rohr.

Why is there such a huge increase in the numbers of children in foster care or in need of adoption? What action plan could be taken to control the rising numbers and who should be held responsible?

Lack of education – Some school programs are to vague on the issue of Sex Education and even though the topic may be discussed it is only in general and there isn’t much guidance as to abstinence. With state and federal laws putting so many restrictions on how schools are to handle sex education it is primarily up to the parent to give the education and the knowledge of how to abstain, use safe sex practices if they are active and to some, look, and listen. Stop and think about the consequences of having a child you cannot care for. Look at the number of children already in the foster care system and think about what you will be doing if you add one more child into an already over crowded system. Morals and values are extremely important and when we take the responsibility to have children it is also our responsibility to teach them to have those high morals and values, to respect themselves and others and to strive for positive results for the future.

Poor living conditions – Poverty and the economic strain that faces not just one country but the world plays a major role in the number of children facing adoption today. When the world wide economy began to falter families lost their homes, divorce cases escalated and the lack of money to care for families caused a major break up of the traditional family environment. Single parents especially fall under this category. The heartbreak of having to place your child in foster care because you cannot provide for them is terrifying. Especially if you are not sure you will “ever” be able to provide.

Child Abuse – There are over 3 million child abuse reports in the US every year. This is a major issue with children who enter the foster care programs and eventually are adopted to new families. This is just the number that are documented, there are at least 6 million reports not just actual cases.

Accidents or death in the family- Large numbers of children in foster care are not there due to lack of caring or neglect, or to the woes of our environmental and financial situations. They are there due to the loss of one or both parents. This could be from natural causes or from accidents that cause the death of one or both parents. In some cases there are other family members who can take the children but in some cases there are not. Foster care services try to keep siblings together during the adoption process but, due to the overwhelming strain on families today, sometimes they can only take one.

Lets look at the affects of adoption on children. Some children cope quite well to adoption and others do not. Grief over the loss of parents and or siblings can take hold of even the youngest of children.

Some adopted children may feel abandoned or neglected and have questions as to why they were given up or what was so wrong with them that their own parents did not want them. Please remember this is not true for everyone. Only some experience these types of issues.

Educational issues and relationship issues may arise from children who are adopted or living in foster care. They may not relate well with others due to lack of self esteem, fear of being abandoned again or anger over being in the system with no control over what happens to them or their siblings if they have them.

Knowing a child’s medical history can in some cases be paramount to helping them later in life should they become ill. If you are the adoptive parent it would be advised to find out as much as possible about the birth parents. Note: due to privacy laws this may not always be easily obtained.

The US State Department estimates that over 11,000 children from foreign countries were adopted into US families just in the year 2010 alone. The top five countries that the largest number of adoptions have been obtained are: The People’s Republic of China with an estimated 3400, Ethiopia with and estimated 2600, Russia with just over 1000, South Korea adoptions totaled 863 and the Ukraine came in at number five with 445 adoptions to the US. Please note that these statistics show a decline in adoptions to the US but not a decline in the over all world wide statistics of children waiting to be adopted.

According to the US State Department there are at least 250,000 children who enter foster care in the US alone, every year. The responsibility falls on everyone to take charge of this alarming issue and help to bring down the numbers of so many children needing love and guidance.

What can we do to help change the growing number of children in the adoption system? We can be proactive in our communities. Join Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, join your local church groups and support as many of your local organizations as possible to help in the fight against the enormous burden on our future leaders and parents. They need our support now to help them change the cycle.

Judge: Social workers ignored

Judge: Social workers ignored reports of abuse before slaying of 9-year-old

By Bill Estep —

Posted: 12:00am on Nov 8, 2011; Modified: 3:54am on Nov 8, 2011

State social workers failed to protect a 9-year-old Todd County girl who was brutally beaten to death, ignoring repeated reports by school officials that they suspected she was being abused, a Kentucky judge said in a ruling on Monday.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services had approved the little girl's adoption even though it had substantiated an earlier case of abuse in the home, according to Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd.

Details about the cabinet's involvement with Amythz Dye, who was beaten to death with a jack handle by her adoptive brother, were included in Shepherd's ruling. The opinion ordered the state to release its documents regarding the girl to the weekly Todd County Standard newspaper, which had sued to get the records.

The cabinet first failed to respond to the newspaper's request, then denied it had any records, which wasn't true, Shepherd's opinion said.

"This case presents a tragic example of the potentially deadly consequences of a child welfare system that has completely insulated itself from meaningful public scrutiny," Shepherd said.

A spokeswoman said the cabinet's only response Monday was that officials were reviewing the decision.

Ryan Craig, editor and publisher of the Todd County Standard, said he was happy Shepherd ruled for the paper, but troubled by the abuse the records say Amythz suffered, and by the cabinet's actions in the case.

"Without a doubt, there were several instances where they could have saved this little girl's life," Craig said of social workers.

Craig said Gov. Steve Beshear should act on the findings in the case.

"We're going to be reviewing that decision, along with the cabinet," Beshear told reporters Monday evening in Louisville. "Our cabinet works hard in the area of child protection. They try to balance the interest of the public's right to know with the private interests of the individuals involved."

In an opinion that seemed incredulous at points, Shepherd said the cabinet turned a blind eye to reports of suspected abuse and neglect of the little girl.

He said that in its response to the open-records lawsuit, the cabinet argued it had no jurisdiction to investigate the reports of abuse because it was a sibling, not a caregiver, hurting Amythz.

Shepherd flatly rejected the cabinet's arguments.

"It is stunning to believe that the cabinet will refuse to protect a child from repeated acts of physical violence by a sibling when the parent knows and tolerates such abuse and does nothing to prevent it," Shepherd wrote. "Yet that is exactly what happened here, even if we accept the cabinet's factual assertions."

It is clear under state law that abuse includes situations in which a parent or guardian ignores physical abuse of one child by another, or fails to take action, Shepherd said.

The cabinet also failed to notify police of the abuse reports, as required, and did not do a required internal review of her death, Shepherd said.

In circumstances like the Todd County case, the state Open Records Act is the only method through which the public and legislature can get information "regarding the systemic breakdown of our child protective services that contributed so directly to this child's death," Shepherd wrote.

The case is the second in as many weeks in which Shepherd has been sharply critical of attempts by the cabinet to withhold records on deaths and near deaths of children who have had involvement with the state child-welfare system.

In the other lawsuit, the judge said the cabinet failed to follow the law when it denied access to child-death records that the Lexington Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal of Louisville had sought.

Shepherd also ruled last year that the cabinet had improperly withheld records from the newspapers about its involvement with a 20-month-old Wayne County boy who drank drain cleaner at a mobile home where people had allegedly used the chemical to make methamphetamine.

The roots of the Todd County case go back several years.

The cabinet approved letting Kimberly Dye adopt Amythz in 2006 after she'd been removed from her home in another state because of severe neglect and sexual abuse.

The girl was Dye's great-niece. Dye had two sons who were 10 years older and eight years older than Amythz. She was divorced, but her ex-husband, Christopher, moved back in at some point.

The cabinet had substantiated that Christopher Dye physically abused one of his sons in 2003.

As reports of Amythz being abused "flooded in" beginning in 2007, there is no indication the cabinet looked into Christopher Dye's background, Shepherd said.

Shepherd said the cabinet received at least eight reports from credible sources of suspected abuse to Amythz. Those included reports that one of her brothers had, at various times, thrown her across a bed and kicked her, shot her in the arm with a BB gun, and hit her in the head with a shovel, the ruling said.

Cabinet employees called Kimberly Dye about the reports at times. In one case when an employee called to ask about reports of bruises on the girl's face, Dye admitted telling the girl not to tell anyone, according to Shepherd's ruling.

In another case, the cabinet got a report from a school nurse that the girl had a thumbprint on her face. Amythz said one of her brothers had done it, but that Dye had said she would spank the girl if she told anyone, the nurse reported.

The cabinet took no action to protect the girl despite the reports, despite knowing she was in a home with an adult it had said abused another child, despite knowing one of her adoptive brothers had drug problems and had been caught taking a gun to school, the ruling said.

On Feb. 4, Amythz and her brother Garrett Dye, 17, were outside in the bitter cold, shoveling gravel into potholes in the driveway as punishment, when he beat her to death by hitting her in the head with the handle of a hydraulic jack, said Gail Guiling, commonwealth's attorney for Todd County.

Garrett Dye pleaded guilty but hasn't been sentenced. The recommended sentence is 50 years, Guiling said Monday.

Guiling said the teen offered no explanation for killing the vivacious 9-year-old, saying "I just don't know, sir," when the judge asked him why he did it.

"This really is a tragic case," Guiling said. "I'm convinced she didn't have to die."