Via Brenda Hosman

Is where most people live.


People who think we must have done something to deserve this. People who do not believe the children when the children say they are being abused where they are at. DENIAL is very comfortable for people. Especially when it comes to sexual abuse. Any child abuse. People go to denial. It’s easy, warm, comfortable place for people. It’s warm like a pile of shit. People blame the victim and support the abusers and live in denial. Most of us have lots of friends and family who are in denial. If you do not, your very lucky. People do not want to admit that there government is not out for the best interest, well being of the children. People believed in Hitler for a long time. People want to believe that the system, the courts, the police, the government is doing what’s in the children’s best interest. People believe this even when the truth is right in front of their face. People do not want to believe the truth. Not when the truth is evil, frightening, or scary. People want to pretend everything is just fine. It is mentally hard to realize good children are taken and it is hard to swallow. But it’s the facts and it’s the truth. But humans just love DENIAL

The judges are just evil. They do not look at us at human. We are less than. They do not care if we suffer because they think we don’t matter. They think they are above us and we pay or die, and they don’t care not at all, not one bit. We better love each other because the judges, the government, the very rich, the elite, don’t care if we suffer, if our children suffer, if we die. They really don’t care about us because they think we are less than them. Every person that comes into a court room is looked at as a criminal, even if its family court. Every judge thinks we are less than, we don’t matter, we are expendable, we are to make money for them or die. They do not care if we and our children suffer or die because they look at is as less than them. As no good. As tiny meaningless people. This is how the courts look at us. No matter what your profession or job. If your not a lawyer or a judge or in the government then you are less than and they don’t care if we suffer or die. The only thing we can do is come together in numbers because all of us together can fight this. Not alone. Just telling your story no one cares but if we tell all our stories then they might listen.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Doesn’t Know it Doesn’t Know #OpExposeCPS

This picture went viral on Facebook

The general population doesn’t know what is happening with CPS and  Foster Care and it doesn’t know that it doesn’t know.

(The above statement is derived from the concept of Trans-Formative Thinking.)

Society’s general view of CPS is if they are involved then the family must have done something to get them involved. They are under the impression that CPS comes in offers all kinds of services and then leave. Sadly they could not be much farther from the truth.

Very often CPS becomes involved as the result of an anonymous phone call. Often this call is made by a former spouse or significant other. Or maybe that neighbor that you had a disagreement last week. The school teacher you disagreed with. A doctor when you chose to get a second opinion. Along with numerous other possible sources of intake report. While within most states there are criminal penalties for filing a false report, most still allow anonymous reporting instead of confidential. Therefore it is hard to prosecute. But this is but only one example of something few people know.

Here are a few others:

  • Most states do not require Child welfare workers to take an oath to uphold the Constitution nor the laws.
  • Most states do not define the conditions under which their immunity is void in order to bring criminal or civil actions against them.
  • Most states’ accountability is over seen from within. Basically “The fox watching the hen house.”
  • Federal funding for foster care is uncapped and states are reimbursed 75¢ on the $1.
  • Preventative and Reunification services are capped and less than 10% of Federal funding actually goes toward helping the families.
  • Child removal often creates a need for child support when none was needed before. Opening a revenue stream through Social Security Title IV-D funding to the courts that did not exist had they not intervened.
  • Attorneys, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, child placement agencies and many other entities have created a $40 Billion industry which collects various Federal grants to operate.
  • Many companies that have child placement divisions also engage in the private prison system.
  • Approximately 80% of former foster children will ultimately end up incarcerated at some point in their lives.
  • Within a year of aging out about 50% of Foster children are homeless.
  • Parents of Foster children suffer PTSD at about 4 times the rate of combat veterans. Children’s rates are much higher but not documented.
  • A medicated child draws more funding than one not on psychotropic drugs.
  • The child protection system is thought to be the number one abuser of Medicaid.
  • Undocumented minors increases caseloads preventing American families from getting proper investigations.
  • A wrongfully removed child is automatically an abused child because they will never be emotionally the same again. Within hours PTSD and Parental Separation Disorder sets in.
  • In TEXAS, in 2013 a child was 10.8 times more likely to die in foster care than if they stayed in the home.
TX AB Fatalities

Chart showing Child Abuse Fatalities between FY2003-FY2014 Compiled by Angel Eyes over Texas * Gathered from DFPS Databooks

TX Fatality

Derived by dividing the Gen and Foster Care Populations into their respective fatalities, then multiplying by 100,000 to set a standard Rate/100k. Ratio was calculated by dividing Foster Care by General Pop. Please not that while both fatality rates are trending downward the ratio is trending upward.

AMERICA, we need to wake up. We need to start paying attention to the damage this upside down system is doing to the future of our nation. #OpExposeCPS

Posted in #OpExposeCPS, Abuse, Child Protection Agencies, Constitution, CPS Paradigm Shift, Crimianal Activity, Immunity | 10 Comments

How Child Abuse Laws Were Written To Help Balance State And County Budgets

Via: State of the Nation

How Child Abuse Laws Were Written To Help Balance State And County Budgets | SOTN: Alternative News & Commentary.

The Child Abuse Laws were written to help balance State and County Budgets.

SOTN Editor’s Note:
The following exposé imparts much needed understanding about why the nation’s child abuse laws are in shambles.  These laws are so irrational and fly in the face of common sense so often that there had to be a hidden agenda.  Well, what is presented below is a big piece of that covert plan to use child abuse as a revenue-producing government operation.

The real problem here is how extremely well the government’s misguided program has worked … to the great detriment of hundreds of thousands of children.  Surely the time has come to revamp the whole wretched system, especially the Child Protective Services in every single state.

Read on to find out how Counties can bring in thousands of dollars in excess revenue for each child in foster care and you will understand why there is an agenda to remove children from their families rather than to keep families intact.

CAPTA: The Child Abuse Law Which Could Destroy Your Reputation

By Dr. Mercola February 05, 2011

This article was brought to you by Dr. Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. For more helpful articles, please visit today and receive your FREE Take Control of Your Health E-book!
Child abuse is a horrific act, no matter how you define it.

That’s why we have so many laws, and public and private agencies, set up specifically with the charge to protect children and maintain their safety. It’s exactly why so much funding is directed toward this goal.

Father Assaulting His Son

But did you know that the money funneled to states and child protective services actually encourages them to accuse you of child abuse and even murder, and to take your children, even if you’re not guilty, and even though they have absolutely no proof that you harmed your child?The Legal Abduction of Children
Horrendous as it sounds, it’s true: child abuse has become a business – an industry of sorts – that actually pays states to legally abduct your children and put them up for adoption!

Even more unbelievable is that, instead of pumping the money back into child protective service programs, some states actually are putting it into their general funds to help balance their budgets.

A number of groups have tried to reform this shady practice, but it was a California politician who caught media attention this past summer, when he said that, if elected, he would expose how local governments were amassing billions of dollars in annual reimbursements, in exchange for what amounted to legal abduction of children.

“Most people are not aware of how much profit many of these services provide the county,” John Van Doorn told a San Diego newspaper. “These profits are hard to ignore and even more difficult to pass up. Counties can bring in thousands of dollars in excess revenue for each child in foster care, Van Doorn said – which means they have more incentive to remove children from their families than to keep families intact. “As such … our county government is a major factor in the dismantling of families and/or destruction of children’s lives,” he said. He then cited San Diego CPS for “egregious behaviors” that included accusing parents of child abuse without any evidence. The ugly truth is that San Diego isn’t the only community where false accusations of child abuse occur. Across the nation, the practice has become so blatant that some of the leading experts on child abuse and foster care have started to cry “foul.”

About the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is the federal law on which almost all state and local legislation and funding for child protective services are based. Enacted in 1988, CAPTA directs the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families to provide grants to communities for child abuse prevention programs.

As a federal mandate, CAPTA mandates states to implement child abuse laws on their own, so they can align themselves for the massive funding and grants that go along with the law.

In theory as the years went by, if the goal for this law – to reduce child abuse in this country – had been successful, then today we should need less funding for these programs, not more. Success also should have resulted in fewer children in foster care and even fewer being put up for adoption.

But in reality, the opposite happened. Instead of less children in foster care, the numbers went up for nine years after CAPTA was passed. And, layers and layers of state and federal government programs and agencies whose funding depends solely on child abuse occurring were created.

In 1999 foster care numbers started dropping – but only because of new laws that encouraged states to move children out of foster care and into adoptive homes.

Of course, that legislation came with funding too, giving CPS a new avenue for making more money and creating more jobs and more programs. The tragedy is what Van Doorn pointed out in his campaign: the financial incentives for rooting out child abuse actually encourage agencies to make false accusations against parents, and to tear families apart for something that did not occur.

How this Law Actually has Increased Child Abuse Reports

What happened in San Diego is not an anomaly, nor is it new. In 1991, the bi-partisan National Commission on Children had already figured out that children were being taken from their families “prematurely or unnecessarily” because federal formulas give states “a strong financial incentive” to do so rather than provide services to keep families together.”1

As a result, the federal government and a number of states created legislation that was supposed to keep more families together. But as the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR) reports, those efforts only disrupted more families, and encouragedmore adoptions.

Again, the reason is financial: the new laws give “bounties to states of up to $8,000 or more per child  for every adoption they finalize over a baseline number,” NCCPR reports. And again, all the help goes to foster and adoptive parents. “About the only parents the federal government won’t help indefinitely are birth parents,” NCCPR found.

But the injustices don’t stop there, because in order to get that money, states have to have children to take away and place – and therein lies the incentive to falsely accuse parents of harming their children and to forcibly remove children even when there is no evidence to do so.

“CPS nationally are doing a job they’ve never been trained to do,” saysKim Hart, a trial strategist and facilitator who has been assisting attorneys in defending persons accused of child abuse for more than 18 years. They’re investigating people who have never been charged, and calling them child abusers, and taking kids away, and they get paid to do it. This mechanism is bigger than what most people know. It goes all the way back to the 1980s with legislation that told states they had to develop registries with mandatory child abuse reporting.”

The money that follows a child abuse accusation and subsequent placement of the so-called endangered children into foster care or adoption is the real catalyst for the epidemic of child abuse accusations, Hart said.
“And there is no incentive for any physician or anybody involved to be intellectually honest about this because the law also gives them immunity if they’re wrong,” she said. “So what happens is that the minute CPS is involved – or the second the EMTs are called (for example, in sudden infant death or alleged shaken baby cases), parents are already labeled as child abusers.”

How are States Spending this Extra Money?
According to NCCPR, in FY 2010 the federal government is expected to spend at least $7 more on foster care and $4 more on adoption for every dollar spent to prevent foster care or speed reunification. This is based on President Obama’s $4.681 billion foster care budget for FY2010 – an increase of $21 million over FY2009. The number represents adecrease of 4,300 children a month in foster care.

But this decrease is based on “placement of children in more permanent settings.” In other words, states are getting more money to take care of fewer children by placing more of them in adoptive homes.

The law also increases incentives for adoption by paying out $1,000 to $8,000 extra for certain types of children who are placed for adoption.

The twist is that states are not required to put this money back in to keeping families intact or even for preventing child abuse. Instead, by law, they can use it for non-child-related things, such as delivering meals to senior citizens or for transportation services, or a range of other home-based services!

In San Diego, Van Doorn couldn’t get a direct answer when he demanded that city officials tell him where their $4,000 per adopted child was going. But a look at any state’s budget – from Minnesota to Florida to Connecticut and back to California – can tell you that local governments and states are cutting back or flat-lining children’s services and using these extra federal dollars to balance their budgets

Not Enough Abused Children? Change the Definition of Child Abuse
This certainly is a convoluted way to stop child abuse, if for no other reason than it’s a form of child abuse to tear families apart and take children away from parents who are accused of doing something they didn’t do. It also doesn’t explain one of the newer definitions of child abuse that came along after CAPTA was enacted, Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).

Reliable statistics on SBS do not exist, but according to the National Shaken Baby Coalition (NSBC), as many as 1,500 babies a year are shaken by their parents, and either severely injured or killed.

While the numbers may not seem exceedingly large, they still add another arena in which CPS can seize children from their parents, and place them in adoptive homes – and claim the booty that the federal government gives them for doing this.

On the Backs of Children, an Industry Based on Child Abuse has Arise
In San Diego, CPS proudly announced that due to their efforts, child abuse reports had gone down. But again, Van Doorn busted them – the numbers went down, he said,because the public had begun to catch on to the county’s recent court cases they’d lost in conjunction with false child abuse allegations.

When you apply this same thinking to the national statistics, it makes you wonder how many other states and local municipalities are dealing with false allegations.

The truth is staggering, according to Hart, and is so prevalent that countless blogs have popped up addressing the problem, as well as entire websites devoted to helping people who’ve been falsely accused of child abuse.

Shaken Baby Syndrome – A Convenient Catch-All to Steal Babies Away?
Shaken Baby Syndrome has become an industry in itself, according to Dr. Edward Yazbak, a physician who has devoted the past 10 years to studying the issue and testifying as an expert witness on behalf of parents he believes are innocent of this crime.

“This is an inverted pyramid,” Yazbak says. “It’s an idea that has been added to and added to, but does not stand to science. This shaken baby business has come out of nowhere and become an epidemic, and it’s the other side that’s making money – the child protective services, the funding, the grants that all these people get. It’s obviously a very popular and passionate thing with them. But they’re literally convicting people before they’re even accused. It’s the only crime in the world like this, and many of these parents are perfectly innocent.”

A short Internet search can show you what Dr. Yazbak is talking about. Hundreds of private adoption agencies around the nation are totally dependent on public welfare services supplying them with children – and funds – to keep their “businesses” going.

Likewise, hundreds of state, county and community agencies and governmental jobs are dependent on the same thing – legally abducting children to pay for the programs that have sprung up in the name of protecting children.

Again, the numbers tell the story:

In 1990, two years after CAPTA was created, nearly 2.6 million children nationwide were reported as abused and/or neglected, and referred for investigation.  Despite the law, six years later, in 1996, 3 million children were reportedly abused, and under CPS “investigations.” Today the number varies, depending on how federal authorities define child abuse. Under one definition, statistics show that the numbers have dropped by nearly a third.

But with a “more inclusive” definition, the numbers have stayed the same at about 3 million – or about 1 in every 25 children. In a 2010 report to Congress, the Administration on Children & Families explained how the numbers figure in the face of other data showing a decline in child abuse.

But no matter how you interpret them, or whether the numbers have the stayed the same or dropped, the Congressional report doesn’t explain why the President and Congress have continued to inflate budgets with more money to take children away from their families.

So what can you or I do about it?

According to Hart, this is an issue that can’t be fixed with a single article or a few phone calls. It’s a national problem that’s gone on for decades, that needs local and federal pushes to change the laws that made these injustices possible.

Coincidentally, CAPTA is up for renewal in 2011, with billions more of your money proposed for the kinds of child abuse “prevention” that I’ve talked about here.

In an effort to change this, I encourage you to study the links I’ve included in this article, and then contact your legislators and ask them to take a closer look at the monster that CAPTA has created.

While sunsetting the law or stopping its funding is probably only a dream, Hart believes it’s possible that with enough pressure, you can lobby to have the “immunity” clause removed from this, so that at the very least, agencies who falsely accuse parents of child abuse can’t do so without being held responsible.

1 National Commission on Children, Beyond Rhetoric: A New American Agenda for Children and Families, (Washington, DC: May, 1991) p.290.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Twenty Years and Waiting…. Yet Nothing

parental rights

June 29th marks 20 years since Senator Grassley introduced
THE PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES ACT OF 1995 to Congress. To the best of our knowledge there has not been legislation like it introduced since. It is important to note that this was almost two years before the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. One can only wonder how many lives the Act would have protected or changed for the better… how many lives saved.

The following is the transcript of the introductory speech by Mr. GRASSLEY:

Mr. President, today I am introducing the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act of 1995 to reaffirm the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. While most parents assume this right is protected, some lower courts and Government bureaucrats have acted to limit this basic freedom. The bill I am introducing will protect the family from unwarranted intrusions by the Government. Congressmen Steve Largent and Mike Parker have joined me to pursue this initiative.
While the Constitution does not explicitly address the parent-child relationship, the Supreme Court clearly regards the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children as a fundamental right under the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and religion receive the highest legal protection. Two cases in the 1920’s affirmed the Court’s high regard for the integrity of the parent-child relationship. In Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), the Court declared that the 14th amendment,

[W]ithout doubt, . . . denotes not merely freedom from
bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to . .
. marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship
God according to the dictates of his own conscience. . . .

The second important case was Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925). In this case, the Court declared that:

[In] this day and under our civilization, the child of man
is his parent’s child and not the state’s . . . It is not
seriously debatable that the parental right to guide one’s
child intellectually and religiously is a most substantial
part of the liberty and freedom of the parent.

The Court went on to hold that parents are chiefly responsible for the education and upbringing of their children.

While the Supreme Court’s intent to protect parental rights is unquestionable, lower courts have not always followed this high standard to protect the parent-child relationship. The recent lower court assault on the rights of parents to direct their children’s education, health care decisions, and discipline is unprecedented.

Several examples of lower court cases will demonstrate the need for this bill. A group of parents in Chelmsford, MA, sued when their children were required to sit through a 90-minute AIDS awareness presentation by “Hot, Sexy, and Safer Productions, Inc.” In this so-called group sexual experience students were instructed to engage in activities which some parents considered outrageous and pornographic. When the parents challenged the propriety of the school’s actions, the court held that the parents, who were never told about the presentation, did not have a right to know and consent to this sexually explicit program before their children were required to attend.

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that it was not a violation of parents’ rights to remove an eighth-grade child from her family because she objected to the ground rules established in the home. The parents in this case grounded their daughter because she wanted to smoke marijuana and sleep with her boyfriend. She objected, and the courts removed her from the home. Most parents would consider these rules imminently reasonable. But the court held that although the family structure is a fundamental institution of our society, and parental prerogatives are entitled to considerable legal deference, they are not absolute and must yield to fundamental rights of the child or important interests of the state.

Recent news accounts reported of a father who was accused of child abuse because he publicly spanked his 4-year-old daughter. When she deliberately slammed the car door on her brother’s hand, her father acted promptly to discipline her by a reasonably administered spanking. A passer-by called the police and the father had to defend against the charge of child abuse. While the father won his case, it is amazing to most parents that they could be dragged into court against their will to defend against such an outrageous charge as child abuse for disciplining their child for open rebellion.
Unfortunately, these cases are only a few of the many examples of parents’ rights being violated when trying to direct the training and nurturing of their children. Recent public debate has also contributed to the movement to violate parental rights.

Dr. Jack Westman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison proposes that the State license parents as a means of conveying the seriousness of the parental responsibility. While there is no question of the awesome responsibility to raise and nurture a child, the proposal to have the State license potential parents for the right to have children raises many serious questions. Who will decide what will be the appropriate standards for parenthood? These and other questions stretch the imagination of freedom loving American parents.

With recent lower court cases and the flow of public debate around “Parental licensing”, it is easy to see the need for the Parental Rights Act of 1995.

The goal of the PRA is to reaffirm the parental right to direct the upbringing of their children in four major areas: First, Directing or providing for the education of the child; two, making health care decisions for the child; three, disciplining the child, including reasonable corporal discipline; and four, directing or providing for the religious teaching of the child.
The PRA accomplishes this goal by simply clarifying for lower courts and administrative tribunals that the proper standard to use in disputes between the Government and parents is the highest legal standard available. This standard, known as “The Compelling Interest Standard” means that before the Government can interfere in the parent-child relationship, it must demonstrate that there is a compelling interest to protect and that the means the Government is using to protect this interest is the least restrictive means

Practically speaking, this means that the law in question is not so broad in application that it sweeps in more than is necessary to protect the interest in question.

An example will help to clarify this point. Unfortunately, there are parents who abuse and neglect their children. Clearly, protecting children from abuse and neglect would fit into any reasonable person’s definition of a compelling interest of the State. One of the stated
purposes of the PRA is to protect children from abuse and neglect.

Another stated goal is to recognize that protecting children in these circumstances is a compelling Government interest. Abusing or neglecting your child has never been considered a protected parental right.

Using the least restrictive means available to protect children from abuse and neglect means that a parents who are appropriately meeting their child’s needs could not fall victim to an overzealous State law. The law would be written in such a way that it would cover parents who are abusing or neglecting their children but it would not cover parents
who are not.

If the law is written so poorly that even good, loving parents could be accused of child abuse, it would not pass the test of being the least restrictive means available and would have to be modified. You might ask, “How is the PRA going to work?” It uses the traditional four-step process to evaluate fundamental rights which balances the interests of parents, children and the Government. First, parents are required to demonstrate that the actions being questioned are within their fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their child.

Second, they must show that the Government interfered with this right. If the parents are able to prove these two things, then the burden shifts to the Government to show that the interference was essential to accomplish a compelling Government interest and that the
Government’s method of interfering was the least restrictive means to accomplish its goal.

In these cases, the court would balance the parents’ right to make decisions on behalf of their children against the Government’s right to intervene in the family relationship and decide what was the proper balance.

While it would be better if lower courts and administrative agencies would use the appropriate legal standard outlined by the Supreme Court without Congress having to clarify the standard, the history shows this is not likely to occur. My bill will clarify this standard with finality.

Two specific concerns were raised that I want to address. The first is from child abuse prosecutors and advocates. As we moved through discussions on the early drafts of this bill, I made clear that I firmly believed child abuse and neglect is a compelling Government interest.

With this in mind, I incorporated suggestions from prosecutors and advocates on this issue. I am comfortable that the changes made address their concerns.

The second issue was infanticide and abortion. The National Right to Life Committee was concerned that the bill would overturn the baby doe laws protecting handicapped children after birth. After consultation with other attorneys who agreed that this was a concern, I changed my draft to clarify that the PRA could not be used in this way.

The second point that NRL raised was that the PRA would somehow empower parents to coerce a young woman to have an abortion against her wishes. This is because the PRA allows parents to make health care decisions for their child unless the parents’ neglect or refusal to act will risk the life of the child or risk serious physical injury to the
child. I have consulted with other pro-life organizations and advocates who do not share this concern and have endorsed the bill.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill. It is critical to the proper balance of parents’  rights against the Government’s actions. Without the PRA, lower courts, Government bureaucrats, and administrative tribunals will continue to interfere needlessly in the parent-child relationship.

Posted in Family Rights | 8 Comments

Texas’ Native American Heritage Bill Opens Old Wounds

Johnson kids2 Within hours of the announcement that HB-825 having been sent to Gov. Abbott for signing, a concerned grandmother was contacting Angel Eyes over Texas (AEovrT). Corrine Walker has not seen or heard any news of her 3 grandchildren in close to three years.

The Johnson family, originally from Minnesota had been living in Kansas for two and a half years before coming to Texas on vacation. Nolan was on disability and Bobbi was a stay at home mom who home schooled their three children: Kayla, Wolfgang, and Samira.

The family arrived in Texas just before Mother’s Day in 2011. A few days later both parents had to be hospitalized due to a reaction to chigger bites. The hospital unwilling to wait the 10-12 hours for family to arrive from out of state called CPS instead.

Bobbie only remained in the hospital three days. When she inquired with CPS she found out that instead of simply providing safe haven for the children, they had petitioned the court for temporary managing conservator-ship. Texas law allows law enforcement (or CPS) to provide safe haven for up to 5 days without having to take legal action.

To give you a better understanding please read the UFP News article Rick Webb did on the family for Christmas in 2013 and about a month later Doc Green’s interviewed Bobbie on

Many aspects of this case raises many questions. Exactly how did Texas establish jurisdiction over children who were Kansas residents? They had only been in Texas only a few days, not 6 months as required by Texas law.

Then there is the issue of the parents signing over rights under duress. Last time I checked “coercion” is defined in Texas Penal Code. Add to that the indication that the parents waived their claim to Native American heritage under duress. Under IWCA rules, surrendering parental rights must be done in the presence of a Judge. In this case they were not.

The federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides standards of proof to remove a child from a parent or to terminate the parental rights of a parent if the child is a member of a Native American tribe, is eligible for membership in tribe, or is the biological child of a member of a tribe. ICWA also provides placement preferences to keep children who are members of Native American tribes connected to their tribes if they are removed from their parents. The standards of proof in ICWA are higher than those in parent-child relationship cases for children who are not members of Native American tribes.

HB 825 will require courts to conduct inquiries of any parties involved in a hearing to identify whether a child or a child’s family had a Native American heritage and to identify any Native American tribes with which the child may be associated during:

  • full adversary hearings when a governmental entity takes possession of a child;
  • status hearings after a child has been placed under the care of the Department of Family and Protective Services; and
  • permanency hearings to determine placement of a child.

There is a number of other things that fall under IWCA not covered here. Do your research.

It is not certain rather or not Corrine will get her grandchildren back, but one thing is; any and all families with Native American Heritage should establish their link to their tribe as early as possible. In that manner they better protect their children under the IWCA.

Posted in Eyes on Texas, In the News Texas | Leave a comment

Proposed 2014 Budget

Summary of the President’s Proposed FY 2014 Budget on Select Children’s Issues The major push in the Obama Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget is clearly early childhood education and universal pre-kindergarten. The budget follows up on the President’s State of the Union commitment to a major expansion of pre-K services. The budget, if is enacted would increase child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, pre-K and extend and expand the Title V home visitation block grant. As part of the proposal congress would have to support the Administration’s requested increase in the federal cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack yielding approximately half of the $100 billion (over ten years) in revenue. Child welfare funding and services remain largely intact at the current FY 2013 levels before any cuts imposed by the current across-the-board sequestration cuts. The budget does not indicate how current year funding (FY 2013) will be impacted by the current across-the-board (sequestration) cuts which the Administration proposes to replace through entitlement reforms and increased revenue. The Administration no longer proposes a $252 million child welfare incentive targeted to encourage improvements in the foster care and other child welfare programs. It had been described as a proposal that would have created financial incentives to improve child outcomes in the areas of length of stay in foster care; increased reunification, adoption, and guardianship while decreasing rates of maltreatment recurrence. Despite past budget proposals the actual design of the program was never developed beyond the initial budget descriptions. The Administration does continue to propose a specific fund to promote efforts to reduce teen pregnancy among youth in foster care. The $12 million proposal is nearly identical to last year’s ($13 million) proposal which is funded by using abstinence education funding that is not completely drawn down by eligible states. Currently funding not drawn-down by state will lapse back to the federal treasury. The budget continues its request to designate funding for a competitive grant to address sex trafficking in the child welfare and homeless and runaway youth populations. Last year’s $5 million proposal was included in the Senate appropriations bill but Congress never finished the debate. This year the budget would provide $10 million in addition to the funding provided through the Department of Justice. The Administration continues its request that child support collection recovered from noncustodial parents whose children are in foster care be used to promote the best interest of the child rather than being used to partially recoup federal and state costs for foster care placements. 2 Most of the rest of child welfare including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) funding, Title IV-B part 1 and part 2 (Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families) remain frozen at the FY 2013 pre-sequestration levels. The Administration does propose elimination of funding for the Court Appointed Special Advocate’s (CASA) program and also now proposes elimination of funding for the Victims of Child Abuse program, eliminating $18 million that addresses training of professionals in working with child victims of child abuse. Finally the Administration requests reauthorization of the Adoption Incentive Fund and the Family Connection grants with modest changes to encourage trauma informed care. Here are some select areas of interest for child welfare: Title IV-E, Social Security Act Title IV-E Foster Care Payments As an entitlement, IV-E foster care funding is determined by the level of need and number of claims filed by states for reimbursement at the federal level. For 2014, the Administration projects that Title IV-E foster care maintenance and administrative costs will be at $4.279 billion, a slight increase from the projected cost of $4.286 billion in 2013. Total cost will likely change either upward or downward depending on eligibility and caseload factors. The funding will cover an estimated 147,000 children in foster care, a decrease of 3,000 children from last year. Some of the decease is the result of reduced numbers of children in foster care. However, some is the result of the eroding edibility for federal funding due to 1996 AFDC standards. For federal fiscal year 2011, 400,540 children were in out-of-home (foster care). Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. Child Support and Foster Care Proposal The Administration’s broader child support proposal requires child support payments made on behalf of children in foster care to be used in the best interest of the child, rather than as general revenue for the state. It projects the first year cost to total $2 million in lost revenue to the federal government with total ten year costs of $254 million. It also prohibits the use of child support to repay Medicaid costs associated with giving birth. The Administration indicates this is a practice used by a few states. The Administration argues that recovery of this debt from noncustodial parents can discourage participation by pregnant women in Medicaid and discourage fathers’ attachment. The recommendation is considered cost neutral. Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Payments Title IV-E adoption assistance funding similar to foster care is based on claims filed by states for federal reimbursement. For 2014, the projected cost for Title IV-E adoption assistance payments and administrative costs are projected to be $2.500 billion compared an increase of $94 million from FY 2013. An estimated 451,000 children will be helped by adoption assistance federal funding in FY 2014 which is a projected increase of 12,000. States have the option to extend the age of coverage for special needs adoptions to age 21 under certain conditions. 3 Adoption assistance payments are designed to assist families that may need additional financial support when adopting a child who has special needs. States individually establish the definition of “special needs” children. Children considered special needs could include siblings with a goal of being adopted together, older children, children in care for several years, children with physical disabilities or children with other challenges, developmentally, physically or for health purposes. Most children in foster care are considered special needs. When Congress tied eligibility for foster care funding to AFDC, the same link between AFDC and Adoption Assistance was also created. In 2008, the passage of the Fostering Connections Act (PL 110-351) created a gradual de-link of Adoption Assistance eligibility from the AFDC. Starting in fiscal year 2010, children newly adopted who were 16 or older were eligible without regard to AFDC eligibility. This has been adjusted downward each year. In 2014, all new special needs adoptions for children 8 or older are eligible for federal support. The link to AFDC will be completely eliminated by 2018. Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. Title IV-E Adoption Incentives The Administration requests $39 million for this year’s adoption incentive fund which would be the same total as 2013 not counting the effect of sequestration cuts. If enough funds are not available each states bonus or incentive are reduced accordingly. Funding and appropriations vary by year depending on state success in moving children to adoptive families. When Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), they created an incentive fund under Title IV-E. If states increased the number of children adopted from foster care over a previous year’s high mark, they are awarded an incentive from this appropriation. In FY 2011, 50,516 children were adopted from foster care while an additional 104,236 children awaited adoption. In FY 2011, the number of adopted children decreased by approximately 3,000. Funding is subject to the sequestration cuts. The incentive funded is due for reauthorization by FY 2014. The Administration proposes to reauthorize the program at the current discretionary funding level through FY 2018. The sole modification is to require states to target the use of incentive funds to trauma-informed services to improve social and emotional well-being of children waiting for adoption or those having achieved adoption. Current law requires states to reinvest and earned incentive payments back into child welfare service but there is no documentation or accounting of whether or not states actually reinvest such funds. Title IV-E Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payments As a state optional entitlement, states may establish a program to support kinship-guardianship placements. The Administration projects that 24,000 children will be covered under this program an increase of 4,000 children. The cost of $124 million in FY 2014 represents an increase of $1 million from 2013 and by more than $50 million from two years ago. States have an option to have a kinship-guardianship IV-E program as a result of the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act. Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. Title IV-E John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program The John H. Chafee Independence program is set at $140 million in mandatory funds. The (Title IV-E) Independent Living program is targeted to assist youth who have not been placed in a 4 permanent family and who are aging out of foster care. There is no change in funding or the program. Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. Education and Training Vouchers The Administration continues funding at $45 million for Education and Training Vouchers for youth aging out of foster care. Vouchers are provided to assist youth in foster care with their education and training needs. Funding is awarded to states by formula. The program is funded through the annual discretionary/appropriation process. Funds not fully expended by states are redistributed to other states requesting additional funds. Funding is subject to the sequestration cuts. IV-E Tribal Title The Fostering Connections Act allowed Tribal governments or consortia to apply directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to run their own Title IV-E programs for Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship Care. Funding is provided at $3 million to assist tribal governments in the planning and implementation of such IV-E programs. Funding remains the same. Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. Title IV-B, Social Security Act Title IV-B Part 1, Child Welfare Services (CWS) Title IV-B, Child Welfare Services is funded at $281million the same as last year. It was reauthorized in 2011 as part of the Children and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act at the same authorized level of $325 million annually. It has never been fully funded. Each state share is based on the state’s population under age 21 as compared to other states. Funding can be used for a range of child welfare services, including prevention and early intervention. Some states may use their funds to address adoption and foster care expenses. Funding is subject to the sequestration cuts. Child Welfare Training and Research Housed under Title IV-B, the funding total under this category is $26 million, which is the same as FY 2013 (not including the impact of sequestration). From this total:  $7.2 million has been allocated to promote research and training for the child welfare workforce. Funding helps to provide leverage to institutions of higher learning and other non-profits by supporting their on-going projects. This initiative has been in place for more than a decade.  Child Welfare Innovation. The administration proposes approximately $19 million to continue funding for demonstration projects across the country to reduce foster care placements. Family Connection Grants This is a $15 million competitive grant created as part of the Fostering Connections to Success Act. Matching grants to states and tribes allow funding for kinship navigator programs, intensive family-finding programs, family group decision making and family-residential substance abuse 5 treatment and counseling. Applicants apply to HHS for grants lasting 1 to 3 years. Funding is mandatory and has been fixed at $15 million since its creation as part of the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008. The program is due for reauthorization in FY 2014. Unlike some programs, if the mandatory funds are renewed and extended it will be counted as new spending. As a result some members of Congress may oppose an extension. The Administration is proposing a reauthorization of the program through FY 2016 which would align its future reauthorization with the Title IV-B programs (CWS, PSSF). The Administration’s reauthorization proposal would modify the program to include traumainformed, trauma-focused approach and/or services for children, youth and families experiencing the developmental, behavioral, and mental health effects of childhood maltreatment. Title IV-B part 2, Promoting Safe and Stable Families Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) is a combination of funding streams for different but related services. Like CWS, PSSF was reauthorized last year as part of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. In FY 2014, the President is requesting PSSF funding at the same levels. The funding for the original PSSF program has been divided into four broad categories: family preservation, family support, family reunification and adoption services. In addition, a portion of PSSF funding ($30 million) is allocated for court improvement programs. Furthermore, $20 million is designated for competitive grants to address substance abuse, while another $20 million is set aside for workforce development. These workforce grants are allocated to states if they meet a requirement to visit children in foster care at least once a month. Overall, PSSF receives $345 million in mandatory funding as well as an additional allocation of discretionary spending. The President’s budget allows for the continuation of discretionary funding at $63 million in 2014. After allocating for the various funding categories and combining mandatory and discretionary spending, the approximate totals for FY 2014 will be: $338 million for the four main services, $30 million for Court Improvement, $20 million for competitive grants to address substance abuse, and $20 million for workforce improvements. Funding is subject to the sequestration cuts. Title IV-A, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Social Security Act The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) five year reauthorization ran out in FY 2010. It was extended in January 2013 until the end of FY 2013 on September 30. The Administration proposes another extension and indicates a desire to work with Congress “to strengthen the program’s effectiveness in accomplishing its goals.” The administration anticipates maintaining current spending in the TANF block grant at $16.5 billion. Additionally, it proposes to extend the supplemental grants to states ($319 million) that were a part of the 1996 law and expired last year. Originally, the supplemental grants were allocated to 17 states to address funding disparities between states and rapid population growth. The contingency fund was established to help states address economic downturns as well. Finally, the Administration also proposes a continuation of $150 million for fatherhood initiatives and marriage promotion programs ($75 million each). Funding is not subject to the sequestration cuts. 6 Child Care/Child Care Development Block Grant/CCDG Child Care Funding has three funding streams: discretionary funding, funding based on historic spending, and funding based on states matching federal funds. Discretionary funding is appropriated each year and provided to states both by a population formula while the mandatory funding is written into the TANF law and set for five or six years at a time. This mandatory funding is divided into two sets; one of which is allocated to states based on historic spending, while the second of which is provided to states only if each state provides a match in funding. The President’s initiative: The President’s vision for expanded prekindergarten (Pre-K) and early childhood education involves several pieces that would expand schools through pre-k and coordinate the range of related early childhood programs from home visitation to child care to Head Start. The budget requests major expansions in Pre-K funding and Early Head Start and less increases in child care and Head Start but closely tied to quality improvements. Child Care Block Grant As part of the Administration’s overall Pre-Kindergarten and Early Childhood Education initiative both the discretionary and mandatory funds would increase. The Administration would provide an increase of $500 million in mandatory/matching funds, increasing the current total of $2.9 billion to $3.4 billion. This would require a change to the block grant under the TANF program. Funds would require a match in state spending. In addition, the Administration would increase discretionary funding from the current $2.2 billion to $2.460 billion. The total increase would be $200 million, with the Administration proposing funding be used to enhance and improve the quality of child care. Current child care funding structure generally means that increasing in one area (supply, eligibility, quality, or provider reimbursement) results in less funding for another area or areas. Funding is subject to the sequestration cuts. Head Start Head Start funding is a major component of the President’s plan. Early Head Start, the high quality program that targets infants and toddlers would receive $1.4 billion more in FY 2014 which is projected to increase enrollment to 110,000, a doubling of children served. This expansion would link Early Head Start to center and family based care seeking to significantly improve the quality of services provided. At the same time the Administration would add $222 million to the Head Start program to continue current initiatives to improve the quality of current Head Start programs. Created in the 1960s, the Head Start program provides grants to local agencies with the aim of delivering comprehensive child development services to young children. Additionally, Head Start targets familial needs by supplying the family with essential supports and services. Although the program focuses in particular on preschoolers, in 1995, it expanded its focus to infants and toddlers with the creation of Early Head Start. Funding is subject to sequestration. Pre-Kindergarten The President proposes $750 million to assist states that have no or very limited pre-k programs. The grants would help plan for expansion and implementation. The grants would be competitive 7 and could be used to take steps to build capacity. In addition to these funds the Administration is requesting $1.3 billion in mandatory funds for states that are ready to provide what are considered high quality Pre-K programs. In the first years the federal government would supply the vast majority of funds but would decrease the federal share as the state reached its goals in coverage. The allocation of funds to states would be based on a state’s share of four-year olds from families at or below 200 percent of poverty. The pre-k portion would be funded by increasing the current cigarette tax now at 94 cents to $1.95 cents—a proposal that the Administration sees as both a revenue raiser and a health promotion piece. Increases in the tax have been shown to decrease smoking, especially among the young. 21st Century Learning Centers 21st century Community Learning Centers were created through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). These centers were established to support after-school programs and to expand coverage beyond traditional child care. Eligible programs include local educational agencies (LEAs), cities, counties, and community-based agencies. Applicants are required to plan their programs through a collaborative process that includes parents, youth, governmental agencies, and representatives of participating schools or local educational agencies. Funding is allocated through the US Department of Education. Funding will increase to $1.252 billion an increase from $1.151 billion in FY 2013. Funding is subject to sequestration. Promise Neighborhoods The Promise Neighborhoods program was created under the Obama Administration and is based on the model established by the Harlem Children’s Zone. The goal is to establish a school-based program that joins together public, private, philanthropic and business community interests to develop a comprehensive model. Early on in a child’s life and continuing through elementary and secondary school years, programs will wrap a range of services around the prospective student and family with a goal of preparing students for success all the way to college and later employment. The initial grants were for planning. The Administration is seeking an increase from $60 million to $300 million. Funding is subject to sequestration. Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, Title V Social Security Act Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Enacted in 1935 as a part of the Social Security Act, Title V provides formula funding to all states to address maternal and child health programs. The main block grant will be funded at $639 million in FY 2014 if the Administration’s proposal is approved, approximately the same as the previous year. Of the total, 85 percent of funding is distributed to states with the remaining funds for national programs. States use funding for planning and allocating services to both mothers and children. States are required to work collaboratively with other organizations to conduct comprehensive needs assessments. Once needs are assessed, states must identify priorities to comprehensively address these needs and must serve as the payer of last resort for services that do not receive coverage from any other program. In addition, there are separate funds included under Title V (see Home Visitation below). One other program is Abstinence Education. The Administration proposes to use $12 million from 8 this fund to create a new initiative, which will generate and encourage the development of teen pregnancy prevention programs targeted to youth in foster care. Funding will be based on current evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention models adapted to address the needs of the foster care population, as foster youth demonstrate a higher than average rate of teen pregnancy. Home Visitation Title V Social Security Act Created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, PL 111-148) this program provides funding to all states to promote the use and expansion of home visitation programs. Funding must be used for evidenced-based models with a limited amount of funding available for innovative programs that show promise. To be eligible for funding, states are required to undergo a rigorous planning process and the home visitation programs must undergo substantial evaluation. Funding for the program is mandatory and includes scheduled increases. For FY 2014, funding will remain at $400 million. The program is set to expire after FY 2014 and as part of the Pre-K and early childhood education proposal the President proposes to extend it starting in FY 2015 for another ten years. Funding is subject to sequestration. Teen Pregnancy Prevention The President’s budget includes an allocation of $12 million to a teen pregnancy prevention effort that would target youth in foster care. The new initiative would be a result of a reallocation of abstinence education dollars (under Title V) that are not currently drawn down by states. HHS references some studies that indicate there is a high rate of teen pregnancy among this population. One study referenced showed that approximately half of female youth leaving foster care became pregnant by the age of 19. There is also an increased likelihood that males leaving foster care may have an increased chance of fathering a child in their teen years. Not only are many of these children in foster care lacking a permanent family, their caretakers including case workers, foster parents and other guardians may not know how to approach the topic of teen pregnancy with these young people. Historically $11 to $13 million of title V Abstinence Education funding is not drawn down by states. This proposal would be funded by turning the funds into a discretionary grant program. Similar to successful teen pregnancy prevention models, grantees would be challenged to coordinate key stakeholders, programs and funding sources to address prevention amongst this population Title XX, The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), Social Security Act The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a federal block grant and is an entitlement to the states. In federal fiscal year 2014, it will be funded at $1.7 billion (not including the impact of sequestration). The Administration does not propose any changes. SSBG is generally the biggest federal source of funds of Child Protective Services (CPS), with approximately 41 states allocating around $250 million in funds each year on purported CPS services. Almost all of the states will spend some potion of SSBG on protective services, foster care services, adoption services, services for displaced youth and other child welfare related services each year. However, it can vary from year to year. A significant portion of these SSBG dollars are TANF funds states have transferred into SSBG. SSBG funds can be spent on more than 29 categories of services that range from elderly services (e.g., home delivered meals) to children’s services (e.g., child protection or child care) to disability services (e.g., to transportation or home chore 9 services). States determine eligibility standards and can move dollars from year to year to address their most pressing needs. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), first authorized in 1974 (P.L. 93-247) is the only federal legislation exclusively dedicated to the prevention, assessment, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. It is a continuum of child maltreatment services and supports. The three main funding streams from CAPTA are State Grants, Discretionary Grants for research and demonstration projects, and Community Based Grants to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. The State Grants aim to help states improve their CPS systems and develop innovative approaches. To qualify for these grants, states must meet eligibility requirements, such as having a child protection system in place. Additionally, states must enact laws preserving victim confidentiality, appoint Guardians Ad Litem, and establish citizen review panels. CAPTA discretionary funds support state efforts to improve their practices in preventing and treating child abuse and neglect. Funds support program development, research, training, technical assistance, and the collection and dissemination of data to advance the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. These funds also support the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, the only federal data collection effort to annually determine the scope of child maltreatment. Funding also supports the National Office of Child Abuse and Neglect, the National Resource Center on Child Maltreatment, and the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect. The Community-Based Grants support state efforts to develop, operate, and expand a network of community-based, prevention-focused family support programs that coordinate resources among a range of existing public and private organizations. Funding is allocated to states by a formula based on the number of children in a state’s population. In 2011, CAPTA became a target for legislative attempts to address the issue of child sexual abuse due to the grand jury indictment of a former Penn State University coach. CAPTA requires states to have mandatory reporting laws (i.e., certain professions that come into regular contact with children are required to report suspected abuse and neglect). Various legislative proposals would condition CAPTA funding on extending mandatory reporting laws to everyone or to expand penalties for failure to report suspected cases. The Administration proposes the same level of funding for all three CAPTA grants for FY 2014. State Grants would be funded at $26 million, CAPTA Community-Based Grants to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect would be funded at $42 million, and CAPTA Discretionary Grants would be funded at $26 million. Funding is likely subject to sequestration. Abandoned Infants The Abandoned Infants program is reauthorized as part of the CAPTA reauthorization. Funding is allocated to public and private non-profit programs to prevent abandoned infants and to 10 provide respite care in addition to safe havens for infants. Requested funding for FY 2014 is identical to 2013, $11 million. Funding is likely subject to sequestration. Adoption Opportunities The Adoption Opportunities program was established in 1978 (P.L. 95-266) and was most recently reauthorized in 2003 (P.L.108-36, with CAPTA). Funding provided for Adoption Opportunities is administered by HHS and is distributed through competitive grants and contracts. The program provides grants to address post-adoption services, the recruitment of minority families and the adoption of older children. Programs such as AdoptUSKids are a national example of some of the programs funded through Adoption Opportunities. In 2013, Adoption Opportunities was funded at $39.4 million. It increased from $26 to $39 million when the Adoption Awareness Program ($12 million) was eliminated as a standalone program. (The Adoption Awareness Program was ultimately combined with Adoption Opportunities on account of their shared mission). The $39 million proposed by the Administration for FY 2014 is a continuation of current year funding. Funding is likely subject to sequestration. Non-CAPTA Child Abuse Prevention and Support Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) The Administration continues its efforts to eliminate funds for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). The funding is found in the Department of Justice. They propose to eliminate all funding in FY 2014 with pre-sequestration funding at $6 million which is lower than funding was four years ago. CASA’s are trained volunteer adults who are appointed by the courts as officers of the courts to assist abused and neglected children. There responsibility is to make recommendations to the judge about what is in the best interest of the child. Funding is likely subject to sequestration. Victims of Child Abuse The Administration’s Department of Justice budget also includes a proposal to eliminate all funding for the Victims of Child Abuse program, a cut of $18 million. The Administration suggests that the elimination of the funding could be replaced through larger more open-ended competitive grants. Currently the funds help maintain over 750 Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country. The centers goals are to work with professionals from law enforcement to child protection agencies to ensure that investigations of abuse both physical and sexual are conducted in a way that does not further victimize the child. The National Children’s Alliance indicates that more than 286,000 children were helped in 2012 and that the Centers provided child sexual abuse prevention training to approximately 500,000 people including some school personal. The recent child sexual abuse prosecutions involving a former Penn State coach suggested a lack of basic training of state-mandated child abuse and neglect reporters. Funding is likely subject to sequestration. Vulnerable Children and Youth Exploitation of Children: Domestic Sex Trafficking (HHS). 11 A new additional $10 million, if appropriated, would be for competitive grants to prevent and address commercial sexual exploitation. There are approximately 100,000 children in the United States that are victims of sex trafficking. Many are in federally-funded foster care group homes and in runaway and homeless youth shelters. The funding would equip child welfare agencies and other community-based programs to address and prevent sex trafficking The new program will be focused on providing competitive grants to state, local, and tribal governments and non-profit organizations that already have experience working with trafficking victims, specifically, or that work with populations most likely to become trafficking victims, such as runaway youth or domestic violence victims. Applicants will be expected to coordinate services between various entities that encounter trafficking victims, such as the police and hospitals, and to provide intensive case management service so that victims can receive followup care, such as access to mental health professionals and information on public benefits. Grants will target areas with high rates of domestic trafficking to invest in programs most likely to serve the population, including communities outside of metropolitan areas. Two demonstration projects will focus on establishing effective housing solutions for young domestic trafficking victims who are runaways, homeless, or in the foster care system. Victims of Trafficking (DOJ) Funding for this program would increase from $9.7 million to $10.5 million in 2013. The program is housed in the U.S. Department of Justice (jointly managed by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office for Victims of Crime) and provides grants to local law enforcement and victim service providers to fund collaborative efforts to identify, rescue, and assist victims of all forms of human trafficking. Funding originates from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). The CVF is financed not from general revenue, but by the collection of fines, penalty assessments, and bond forfeitures from defendants convicted of federal crimes. Consolidated Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs This program is actually comprised of two: the Basic Center Program and the Transitional Living Program. The Basic Center program funds community-based programs that provide crisis intervention, temporary shelter counseling and family reunification. Centers will provide up to 21 days of shelter for a maximum of 20 youth. Funds are distributed to states by formula. The Transitional Living Program provides similar grants for youth age 16 to 22 who are living in adult-supervised group homes. Funding lasts up to 18 months. These are youth who cannot live safely at home. Funding for the two programs is again $97.3 million ($53 million for the Basic Centers, $44 million for Transitional Living), which is the same as it was in 2013. There is also a national toll-free hotline that draws its funding through this budget. Funding is subject to sequestration. In addition, for FY 2014, the Administration proposes $3 million for a study of runaway and homeless youth. Education-Prevention Grants to Reduce Sexual Abuse-Runaway Youth This program provides grants to public and non-profit agencies for street-based services to runaway and homeless youth. Services provided to youth include the provision of basic needs, 12 clothing, and aid-packages as well as referrals to shelters and other more permanent services. Funding for FY 2014 is the same as 2013 and is $17.9 million. McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth Funding for this program would remain at the same level in FY 2014 for a total of $65.2 million. Limited funding is provided to states to assist homeless children in continuing their education despite the loss of their permanent home. Along with these funds, states are to meet specified safeguards and requirements, including having a homeless liaison designated in each school district. States must also offer transportation to and from the school of origin, immediate school enrollment if a child has moved to a new school district, continued enrollment in the school of origin if requested, and a prohibition against segregating homeless students. Funding is subject to sequestration. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Infants and Toddlers (IDEA Part C) The President is requesting an increase of $20 million for IDEA Part C, bringing funding to $463 million in FY 2014. IDEA Part C provides formula grants to all states to help create systems of coordinated, comprehensive, multidisciplinary, interagency programs that will provide early intervention to children with disabilities, aged birth through two. The targeted population includes families with infants and toddlers with disabilities that are experiencing developmental delays in one or more areas, including cognitive development, physical development, communication development, socio-emotional development, or adaptive development. The intervention may also include children who have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. States have the discretion to provide services to infants and toddlers who are at risk of having substantial developmental delays if they do not receive appropriate early intervention services. Funding is subject to sequestration.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Ugly Never Ceases

My grandchildren were stolen and adopted out several years ago. The adoptive family still lives in the same area as my grandchildren’s mother and aunt which is Jackson Co Ga. For a while the female in this family watched my page on facebook and she had her so called friends and family watching it as well. I blocked all of them so she had no access. One day out of the blue my granddaughter friended her mother my daughter and all of our family members. Now we know why it was so the adult female in the house could monitor our pages. That was her first mistake. Yes, Donna Webb I am talking about you.

I kept quiet until the next thing happened. Picture this. A public place, as in a public park – that is used by my oldest daughter and her family for recreation and water fun. Remember this is Jackson Co Ga and there is not much to do in this backward county. It is a beautiful place for the children to go and play in the shoals and for my daughter and her husband to cook out with the family and take the bike out for a spin.

As my daughter is coming out of the public again I repeat public restroom and is headed over to check on their bike, she sees my granddaughter that was bought and sold by Jackson Co DCF. About the same time my granddaughter Shawna sees her. Shawna immediately runs over to the woman who now claims parental ownership of of my granddaughter and then this woman who is responsible for the brainwashing of the girls says to my oldest daughter who is by blood the real family of this child, “Don’t even think about it.”

Now bear in mind that my granddaughter is now in her teens, it isn’t like she is a small child not that it would make any difference. The fact is this, they are all in a public place, Donna is being her usual paranoid self, she hates our family with a passion because she knows what she did was wrong on so many levels.

Anyway back to the incident, Brandy, my daughter looked at Donna as if she had two heads. She said not a word and just  turned and walked away because she was not going to speak to Shawna anyway  – that took courage because what she wanted to do was tell the woman off.

The point of this rant is this, Donna knows that my girls still live in this county and that my granddaughters will run into both their real mother and their aunt and maybe even their cousins. She also knows that some day the girls will seek out their real family not the cardboard cut out that the county deems “fit.”

I have been fairly quiet on the subject for a while because it upsets the girls mother, however the more I think about it the more it grates on me. This woman along with the help of the county not only stole the children she is still being paid to own them.

She sends the oldest to spy on us to see what we are doing and to see if we are talking about her via facebook then she doesn’t allow her to speak to us in public. Let me see who has the problem here? Who is using who? If she is that unsure of the affections of my granddaughter it sounds like she has a problem.

I unfriend my granddaughter not because I don’t love her, I do with all of my heart, but because I refuse to use a child, unlike Donna,  to spy on the real family. The means does not justify the end. I don’t need to spy on someone, if  I want to know something I know how to find it out.

That is what these people do not understand, even though I may be over 600 miles away I find out things – I do not need to use a child who is already in turmoil for my ruse.

This is the same woman that changed their names and has done everything in her power to eradicate us from their lives. The girls were named names for a reason- one was an old family name handed down for generations. She stole that from her. But no matter, it has been placed where it can never be stolen again.

What DCF and these people do not understand is that blood outweighs everything else in the big picture. Children want to know where they came from who their real family is, maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but one day. Then there is the medical history to think about. Donna you will never know what this family suffers from, you will never understand any of the medical history of this family because we will never  tell you. Figure it out on your own.

Shawna when you ran to Donna when you saw your Aunt Brandy you hurt her in ways I hope that you never have to experience. Even though by law you carry a name that is not really yours- it is bought- this family will always love you and your sisters. You can take someone out of the clan but you can’t take the clan out of that person. We are a clan- not piece of paper, no judge – no other “family” can take that away.

Donna you can keep the girls away – you can spy on us- you can change their names,  do whatever you will, they are and will always be ours.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Fifth-teen Years And The Money Continues to Flow

cashkids2via America’s Deadly Sins: Adoption For Money And Big Bucks – The Reprint.

What better way to wrap up National Child Abuse Awareness month then to share a post our friends at America’s Deadly Sins shared with this reprint of a May 5, 2000 issue of the Massachusetts News.

About the only thing that has changed is National Adoption month has moved from May to November. Despite articles such as this revealing the truth, this industry has grown to more than $40 billion annually. Many states now collect more in adoption incentives each year then many states have collected from the beginning. Texas in 2012 collected $10,024,00 which is almost 22.5 times  Massachusetts’ $447,126 total since FY1998.  Texas leads the nation in that same time frame with a grand total of $63,592,654 a full 147% of 2nd place Florida at $43,192,496. Texas is also the only state that has collected EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Child Well Being

Child Well Being

Another interesting fact is that according to the 2014 Kids Count Databook, not only does Massachusetts hold the honor of collecting the least in Adoption Incentives but is #1 in actual child well being rankings vs Texas’ #43. Making a person wonder:

“Did Massachusetts take heed when it read this article 15 years ago?”

Maybe the other 49 states should have done the same. Enjoy your read.

Adoption Bonuses: The Money Behind the Madness
DSS and affiliates rewarded for breaking up families

By Nev Moore
Massachusetts News

Child “protection” is one of the biggest businesses in the country. We spend $12 billion a year on it.

The money goes to tens of thousands of a) state employees, b) collateral professionals, such as lawyers, court personnel, court investigators, evaluators and guardians, judges, and c) DSS contracted vendors such as counselors, therapists, more “evaluators”, junk psychologists, residential facilities, foster parents, adoptive parents, MSPCC, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, etc. This newspaper is not big enough to list all of the people in this state who have a job, draw a paycheck, or make their profits off the kids in DSS custody.

In this article I explain the financial infrastructure that provides the motivation for DSS to take people’s children – and not give them back.

In 1974 Walter Mondale promoted the Child Abuse and Prevention Act which began feeding massive amounts of federal funding to states to set up programs to combat child abuse and neglect. From that came Child “Protective” Services, as we know it today. After the bill passed, Mondale himself expressed concerns that it could be misused. He worried that it could lead states to create a “business” in dealing with children.

Then in 1997 President Clinton passed the “Adoption and Safe Families Act.” The public relations campaign promoted it as a way to help abused and neglected children who languished in foster care for years, often being shuffled among dozens of foster homes, never having a real home and family. In a press release from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dated November 24, 1999, it refers to “President Clinton’s initiative to double by 2002 the number of children in foster care who are adopted or otherwise permanently placed.”

It all sounded so heartwarming. We, the American public, are so easily led. We love to buy stereotypes; we just eat them up, no questions asked. But, my mother, bless her heart, taught me from the time I was young to “consider the source.” In the stereotype that we’ve been sold about kids in foster care, we picture a forlorn, hollow-eyed child, thin and pale, looking up at us beseechingly through a dirt streaked face. Unconsciously, we pull up old pictures from Life magazine of children in Appalachia in the 1930s. We think of orphans and children abandoned by parents who look like Manson family members. We play a nostalgic movie in our heads of the little fellow shyly walking across an emerald green, manicured lawn to meet Ward and June Cleaver, his new adoptive parents, who lead him into their lovely suburban home. We imagine the little tyke’s eyes growing as big as saucers as the Cleavers show him his very own room, full of toys and sports gear. And we just feel so gosh darn good about ourselves.

Now it’s time to wake up to the reality of the adoption business.

Very few children who are being used to supply the adoption market are hollow-eyed tykes from Appalachia. Very few are crack babies from the projects. [Oh… you thought those were the children they were saving? Think again]. When you are marketing a product you have to provide a desirable product that sells. In the adoption business that would be nice kids with reasonably good genetics who clean up good. An interesting point is that the Cape Cod & Islands office leads the state in terms of processing kids into the system and having them adopted out. More than the inner city areas, the projects, Mission Hill, Brockton, Lynn, etc. Interesting…

With the implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, President Clinton tried to make himself look like a humanitarian who is responsible for saving the abused and neglected children. The drive of this initiative is to offer cash “bonuses” to states for every child they have adopted out of foster care, with the goal of doubling their adoptions by 2002, and sustaining that for each subsequent year. They actually call them “adoption incentive bonuses,” to promote the adoption of children.

Where to Find the Children

A whole new industry was put into motion. A sweet marketing scheme that even Bill Gates could envy. Now, if you have a basket of apples, and people start giving you $100 per apple, what are you going to do? Make sure that you have an unlimited supply of apples, right?

The United States Department of Health & Human Services administers Child Protective Services. To accompany the ASF Act, the President requested, by executive memorandum, an initiative entitled Adoption 2002, to be implemented and managed by Health & Human Services. The initiative not only gives the cash adoption bonuses to the states, it also provides cash adoption subsidies to adoptive parents until the children turn eighteen.

Everybody makes money. If anyone really believes that these people are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, then I’ve got some bad news for you. The fact that this program is run by HHS, ordered from the very top, explains why the citizens who are victims of DSS get no response from their legislators. It explains why no one in the Administration cares about the abuse and fatalities of children in the “care” of DSS, and no one wants to hear about the broken arms, verbal abuse, or rapes. They are just business casualties. It explains why the legislators I’ve talked to for the past three years look at me with pity. Because I’m preaching to the already damned.

The legislators have forgotten who funds their paychecks and who they need to account to, as has the Governor. Because it isn’t the President. It’s us.

How DSS Is Helped

The way that the adoption bonuses work is that each state is given a baseline number of expected adoptions based on population.

For every child that DSS can get adopted, there is a bonus of $4,000 to $6,000.

But that is just the starting figure in a complex mathematical formula in which each bonus is multiplied by the percentage that the state has managed to exceed its baseline adoption number. The states must maintain this increase in each successive year. [Like compound interest.] The bill reads: “$4,000 to $6,000 will be multiplied by the amount (if any) by which the number of foster child adoptions in the State exceeds the base number of foster child adoptions for the State for the fiscal year.” In the “technical assistance” section of the bill it states that, “the Secretary [of HHS] may, directly or through grants or contracts, provide technical assistance to assist states and local communities to reach their targets for increased numbers of adoptions for children in foster care.” The technical assistance is to support “the goal of encouraging more adoptions out of the foster care system; the development of best practice guidelines for expediting the termination of parental rights; the development of special units and expertise in moving children toward adoption as a permanent goal; models to encourage the fast tracking of children who have not attained 1 year of age into pre-adoptive placements; and the development of programs that place children into pre-adoptive placements without waiting for termination of parental rights.”

In the November press release from HHS it continues, ” HHS awarded the first ever adoption bonuses to States for increases in the adoption of children from the public foster care system.” Some of the other incentives offered are “innovative grants” to reduce barriers to adoption [i.e., parents], more State support for adoptive families, making adoption affordable for families by providing cash subsides and tax credits.

A report from a private think tank, the National Center for Policy Analysis, reads: “The way the federal government reimburses States rewards a growth in the size of the program instead of the effective care of children.” Another incentive being promoted is the use of the Internet to make adoption easier. Clinton directed HHS to develop an Internet site to “link children in foster care with adoptive families.” So we will be able to window shop for children on a government web site. If you don’t find anything you like there, you can surf on over to the “Adopt Shoppe.”

If you prefer to actually be able to kick tires instead of just looking at pictures you could attend one of DSS’s quaint “Adoption Fairs,” where live children are put on display and you can walk around and browse. Like a flea market to sell kids. If one of them begs you to take him home you can always say, “Sorry. Just looking.” The incentives for government child snatching are so good that I’m surprised we don’t have government agents breaking down people’s doors and just shooting the parents in the heads and grabbing the kids. But then, if you need more apples you don’t chop down your apple trees.

Benefits for Foster Parents

That covers the goodies the State gets. Now let’s have a look at how the Cleavers make out financially after the adoption is finalized.

After the adoption is finalized, the State and federal subsidies continue. The adoptive parents may collect cash subsidies until the child is 18. If the child stays in school, subsidies continue to the age of 22. There are State funded subsidies as well as federal funds through the Title IV-E section of the Social Security Act. The daily rate for State funds is the same as the foster care payments, which range from $410-$486 per month per child. Unless the child can be designated “special needs,” which of course, they all can.

According to the NAATRIN State Subsidy profile from DSS, “special needs” may be defined as: “Physical disability, mental disability, emotional disturbance; a significant emotional tie with the foster parents where the child has resided with the foster parents for one or more years and separation would adversely affect the child’s development if not adopted by them.” [But their significant emotional ties with their parents, since birth, never enter the equation.]

Additional “special needs” designations are: a child twelve years of age or older; racial or ethnic factors; child having siblings or half-siblings. In their report on the State of the Children, Boston’s Institute for Children says: “In part because the States can garner extra federal funds for special needs children the designation has been broadened so far as to become meaningless.” “Special needs” children may also get an additional Social Security check.

The adoptive parents also receive Medicaid for the child, a clothing allowance and reimbursement for adoption costs such as adoption fees, court and attorney fees, cost of adoption home study, and “reasonable costs of food and lodging for the child and adoptive parents when necessary to complete the adoption process.” Under Title XX of the Social Security Act adoptive parents are also entitled to post adoption services “that may be helpful in keeping the family intact,” including “daycare, specialized daycare, respite care, in-house support services such as housekeeping, and personal care, counseling, and other child welfare services”. [Wow! Everything short of being knighted by the Queen!]

The subsidy profile actually states that it does not include money to remodel the home to accommodate the child. But, as subsidies can be negotiated, remodeling could possibly be accomplished under the “innovative incentives to remove barriers to adoption” section. The subsidy regulations read that “adoption assistance is based solely on the needs of the child without regard to the income of the family.” What an interesting government policy when compared to the welfare program that the same child’s mother may have been on before losing her children, and in which she may not own anything, must prove that she has no money in the bank; no boats, real estate, stocks or bonds; and cannot even own a car that is safe to drive worth over $1000. This is all so she can collect $539 per month for herself and two children. The foster parent who gets her children gets $820 plus. We spit on the mother on welfare as a parasite who is bleeding the taxpayers, yet we hold the foster and adoptive parents [who are bleeding ten times as much from the taxpayers] up as saints. The adoptive and foster parents aren’t subjected to psychological evaluations, ink blot tests, MMPI’s, drug & alcohol evaluations, or urine screens as the parents are.

Adoption subsidies may be negotiated on a case by case basis. [Anyone ever tried to “negotiate” with the Welfare Department?] There are many e-mail lists and books published to teach adoptive parents how to negotiate to maximize their subsidies. As one pro writes on an e-mail list: “We receive a subsidy for our kids of $1,900 per month plus another $500 from the State of Florida. We are trying to adopt three more teens and we will get subsidies for them, too. It sure helps out with the bills.”

I can’t help but wonder why we don’t give this same level of support to the children’s parents in the first place? According to Cornell University, about 68% of all child protective cases “do not involve child maltreatment.” The largest percentage of CPS/DSS cases are for “deprivation of necessities” due to poverty. So, if the natural parents were given the incredible incentives and services listed above that are provided to the adoptive parents, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the causes for removing children in the first place would be eliminated? How many less children would enter foster care in the first place? The child protective budget would be reduced from $12 billion to around $4 billion. Granted, tens of thousands of social workers, administrators, lawyers, juvenile court personnel, therapists, and foster parents would be out of business, but we would have safe, healthy, intact families, which are the foundation of any society.

That’s just a fantasy, of course. The reality is that maybe we will see Kathleen Crowley’s children on the government home-shopping-for-children web site and some one out there can buy them.

May is national adoption month. To support “Adoption 2002,” the U.S. Postal Service is issuing special adoption stamps. Let us hope they don’t feature pictures of kids who are for sale. I urge everyone to boycott these stamps and register complaints with the post office.

I know that I’m feeling pretty smug and superior about being part of such a socially advanced and compassionate society. How about you?

Posted in Follow the Money, The Money behind CPS | 20 Comments

Fostering Profits: Abuse And Neglect At America’s Biggest For-Profit Foster Care Company – BuzzFeed News

via Fostering Profits: Abuse And Neglect At America’s Biggest For-Profit Foster Care Company – BuzzFeed News.

Fostering Profits

A BuzzFeed News investigation identified deaths, sex abuse, and blunders in screening, training, and overseeing foster parents at the nation’s largest for-profit foster care company.

posted on Feb. 20, 2015, at 10:52 a.m.In the summer of 2004, a 15-year-old boy, needy and eager for attention, was driven down a road that stretched through the endless flatlands of Maryland’s eastern shore. The boy, known in court records as R.R., arrived at a dirt driveway, where a sign on top of a wooden post announced Last Chance Farm.

Four separate couples lived at Last Chance Farm. All were related to one another and all earned money taking care of troubled children who had been placed in foster care, including R.R.

But R.R.’s new guardians weren’t directly supervised or paid by the government. They had been signed up as foster parents by a giant corporation called National Mentor Holdings, which, over the last three decades, has turned the field of foster care into a cash cow. At any one time the company has an average of 3,800 children and teenagers in its foster homes in 15 states around the country.

Stephen Merritt. Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office

Not long after R.R. arrived, Stephen Merritt, the boy’s new foster father, gave R.R. a beer. Then a cigarette. Soon a joint. When the boy was buzzed, his foster father slipped a hand into his pants to fondle him. Then he performed oral sex on the boy.

R.R. had courage. He told the caseworker overseeing his foster placement what was happening. But R.R.’s caseworker, according to the story R.R. told in court records, took no action. The caseworker worked for Mentor too, and instead of filing charges, or even removing R.R. from danger, the caseworker sent him back to Last Chance Farm. It was only after R.R. complained a second time, according to court documents, that Mentor took him from the home.

And there were more indications of sexual abuse at Last Chance Farm. A separate police investigation involving another child had taken place in 2003. Then another in 2006. A psychotherapist sent a letter to Mentor in 2010, warning of “a huge red flag” about Merritt’s interactions with a child.

Even so, the abuse continued, boy after boy. When the police finally descended in 2011, they found sex toys and lube scattered about and victims who told stories similar to what R.R. had told his Mentor caseworker seven years earlier.

The abuse at Last Chance Farm may have been an extreme event, but Mentor’s blunders in screening, training, and overseeing its foster parents are not. A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that the problems at Mentor are not limited to a few tragic cases but are widespread.

Few states make their evaluations of foster care providers public. But government assessments from three states show that Mentor has had troubling deficiencies in selecting, training, and monitoring its foster parents and foster homes.

At least six healthy children have died in Mentor custody since 2005, including the grisly murder of a 2-year-old in Texas in 2013 whose foster mother swung her body into the ground like an ax, and in nearly all these cases there have been allegations that negligence by Mentor contributed to the deaths. Other children have been sexually or physically abused, sometimes after clear warning signs.

Many former workers say they believe the pressure to squeeze profits out of foster care is part of the problem.

Mentor officials strongly disputed the idea that their company provides substandard care or that the drive for profits hurts children. Dwight Robson, Mentor’s chief public strategy and marketing manager, said the company has done an excellent job of protecting and caring for “literally thousands of vulnerable children whose lives we enhanced.” He pointed to Maryland, where, in their most recent evaluations, state regulators gave the company high marks.

Indeed, many, probably most, of the company’s foster parents offer stable and loving care. Moreover, a comprehensive view of Mentor is virtually impossible, because America’s foster care system is fragmented, administered by states and counties that typically do not share information publicly — or even with each other — often citing child confidentiality.

Still, in many places where statistics were available, Mentor stumbles, a BuzzFeed News analysis shows.

In Texas, Mentor ranks dead last among large foster care providers, based on the number of severe violations found by state inspectors. Over the last two years, Mentor racked up more “high” deficiencies — the worst kind — per home than any other provider with at least 200 homes. Mentor’s rate was 170% above the overall rate among other large providers.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Mentor officials contended the high rate could be attributed to the fact that the company has been under greater scrutiny than other providers. So BuzzFeed News calculated the company’s rate of severe problems per inspection, rather than per home, which Mentor agreed was a fairer measure. But that analysis didn’t boost Mentor much at all — it ranked third worst among the 23 providers with at least 100 inspections.

Texas regulators have found more than 100 serious problems over the last two years in Mentor foster homes, including multiple instances of children being slapped, hit with belts, and struck. A baby suffered a broken clavicle after being left unattended on a bed. Another child was taken by his foster parents to an “adult novelty store.” Regulators also found that several children had “inappropriate” sexual contact with members of their foster families. Several others were placed in homes where children were allowed to hit or physically restrain each other.

Mentor also ranks poorly in Georgia, which grades child-placing agencies on a 100-point scale. Mentor has six branches in Georgia. Over the 10 most recent quarters, not one scored an average grade above the median.

In Massachusetts, according to confidential data a children’s rights group garnered in a lawsuit, the company was faulted for 16 cases of abuse and neglect in just one 12-month period between April 2011 and March 2012. That included one fatality in January 2012, the death of a 2-month-old baby, after which a special state investigation found that Mentor foster parents and social workers “were not trained” on safe sleeping practices in caring for infants.

The company said that its scores in Georgia have improved, attaining an average of A- for the most recent quarter. And Mentor’s problems in Massachusetts have been fixed, Robson said. Safety, he said, is “job one.”

He also said that the company performs much better than other foster care operations when it comes to keeping children in stable foster homes where they can thrive, rather than moving them from home to home.

But former Mentor caseworkers and law-enforcement officials said they believe the company sometimes fails children because it is focused on extracting a profit from them.

“You feel the pressure. You have to make those targets,” said a former worker whose name, due to a signed nondisclosure with Mentor, could not be used. “I went there because I care about services for kids. I eventually became a machine that cared about profits. I didn’t care about kids.”

Mentor’s profit margins vary state by state. In Ohio, according to a 2012 spreadsheet obtained by BuzzFeed News, its profit margin, as measured by the common Ebitda method, has been as high as 44%. In Alabama, the document indicates that the margin has hit 31%. That would mean that only 69 cents of every dollar that the state government paid to Mentor was spent on caring for the child and on overhead. Mentor’s overall profit margin, according to its financial disclosures, has been a little over 10%.

Robson denied that the company’s margins ever came close to 31%, let alone 44%, though he declined to say what its margins are, state by state.

Mentor’s foster care business works like this: It receives fees from state and local governments for its services, and it uses some of that money to recruit, screen, and train foster parents, and to pay those parents a daily rate for caring for the children. The money is also used for administrative overhead and to pay the salaries of social workers, therapists, and other staff. But the former workers say that in a bid to increase profits, the company sometimes cuts corners on expensive services that are supposed to ensure the children in its care are safe.

Mentor social workers, for example, may be forced to carry a higher caseload of children than is recommended, sources say. In one affidavit in a court case in Illinois, a Mentor caseworker said she had a caseload of children twice as high as the generally accepted practice.

“Here’s how you cut services: caseloads,” one former Mentor worker told BuzzFeed News. “In therapeutic foster care you are supposed to have 10 kids. So you may have 15 kids. You may have to hire people without licenses because you can get away with it.”

Company officials are quick to dispute any allegations that the quest for profit can cut into the care for children. “We don’t water down services to maintain profits,” insisted the executive chairman, Edward “Ned” Murphy, in an interview. “The idea that we can systematically dilute the quality of services just does not work. We would be out of business.”

In Texas, one of Mentor’s most grisly failings prompted a local prosecutor to call for a federal investigation of the company.

In a one-story rented house in Rockdale, in the cattle country northeast of Austin, a 2-year-old girl, blonde and playful, was murdered by her foster mother, Sherill Small, on a hot evening in July 2013.

Alexandria Hill had been taken from her young parents at the age of 1 by the state child welfare agency. The main reasons, Texas officials wrote at the time, were that her parents smoked marijuana around the child and her mother periodically suffered from grand mal seizures. That convinced the state caseworker she couldn’t care for Alexandria alone.

So the little girl ended up in Mentor’s custody. Texas paid Mentor just $39.52 per day for a child of Alexandria’s age, of which $22 went to the foster family. The company was having trouble finding foster parents.

In November 2012, the company placed Alexandria in her first foster home, where, according to confidential records obtained by BuzzFeed News, she appears to have suffered neglect. When that foster family brought the girl to a supervised visit with her birth parents, the parents were shocked to see that her hair was unwashed and uncombed. She was wearing pants stained with dried feces. Both of her legs were bruised.

Her young father complained to the state of Texas, threatening to call the police, and Texas state workers asked Mentor to place the girl in a different home. That’s when Mentor put her in the residence of 53-year-old Small.

Small spent her own childhood in foster care, and in 2012 she applied to Mentor to become a foster parent. Her maternal instincts were so questionable that even her own sisters were astonished when she was approved by Mentor. “She never even raised her own kids,” said Donna Winkler, one of Small’s sisters. “Her mother-in-law raised her kids, the young ones.”

Bill Torrey, the Milam County district attorney who would end up prosecuting Small for murder, said the company’s vetting process was shoddy. “They didn’t do their homework,” he said. “It was horseshit.”

One example of the gaping flaws in Mentor’s background research on Small: Amber Forester, Small’s daughter, said her mother and stepfather “will make great parents,” and that seemed to carry weight. Forester, after all, said she’d be spending time in the home once Small became a foster mother. But Mentor never requested a background check on Forester herself. If they’d asked for one, they would have learned that she had been convicted in 2002 of aggravated kidnapping and robbery after she and an accomplice kidnapped a pregnant convenience store clerk in 2000.

There were other issues. The Mentor “study” of the family shows that Mentor approved Small’s husband, Clemon, as a foster father even though he had been a longtime crack addict: “Mr. Small shared his past struggle with drug addiction, starting in 1980. He said his drug of choice was crack-cocaine.” He said he had last used the drug in 2000.

Mentor didn’t interview Small’s sisters, who said they would have warned the company.

Sherill Small. Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News

Small was approved and began taking in foster children in September 2012, five in all. By December 2012, prosecutors later found, every one of them had been removed as “failed placements.” Small, according to an internal Mentor document obtained by BuzzFeed News, “reported feeling stressed out, and will express that she is unable to care for the children in the home.” The Mentor document also warns that personnel from the state’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program “felt the children should not be in the home at that time.” It states, “ECI expressed concern about Mrs. Small being very frazzled and not certain what is going on with the children.”

Just a month after that report, in January 2013, little 14-month-old Alexandria Hill, fresh out of her first Mentor foster home, where she had been treated shabbily, was sent to live with the Smalls.

Torrey, the prosecutor, said he was astonished that Mentor would have placed Alexandria there. “How can you justify a report from your people that you apparently don’t read?” he asked. “It’s just a report? What, another piece of paper that goes in the file? No one looks at it? A sixth-grader would have known that you don’t put Alex Hill with these people, in light of Mentor’s own records!”

Mentor’s records, obtained as part of the murder case, indicate that Mentor officials claimed Alexandria was initially flourishing with the Smalls. In June officials wrote that Alexandria was “doing well” and that she is “healthy and playful. She enjoys playing with her toys. She loves to watch cartoons.”

Sherill Small’s sisters Diana Baines and Donna Winkler. Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News

But Sherill Small’s sisters, Donna Winkler and Diana Baines, told BuzzFeed News the little girl was treated poorly. Winkler said Small “hated” the girl, while Baines said that when she visited the home, Small kept Alexandria in a barren room on the second floor where she was allowed to hold her teddy bear, and that was it. “She wasn’t hardly allowed to come outside her room at all,” Baines said.

Baines and Winkler said Mentor did conduct inspection visits, but that they were useless because the visits were always prearranged. Small tidied up the home in preparation, they said, and allowed Alexandria to watch TV so she’d be quiet while the Mentor worker was there. Meanwhile, there was another warning sign documented in Mentor’s own records: Alexandria was pulling at her hair so much she was going bald in spots.

On the afternoon of July 29, Baines visited Small’s home. She waved to little Alexandria, who was standing in a room called the “man cave” that had been formed from a renovated garage. Small told her Alexandria was on a time-out, being punished for waking up too early and taking food for herself. Winkler came by too, and heard the same story: The little girl was being punished.

It was later that day, in the evening, when Small and her husband called 911. When emergency workers arrived, the girl wasn’t breathing.

Once she was hospitalized, a doctor found that the back of her skull had received a crushing trauma. Her real parents, Joshua Hill and Mary Sweeney, were notified. According to her grandmother, Diann Hill, it was while Joshua was sitting anguished in the hospital that an official from the state of Texas arrived. The father asked what he should do.

The official answered, according to the girl’s grandmother: “She’s in your custody now. That’s up to you.” The parents agreed to take the little girl off life support, and Alexandria was declared dead on July 31.

Soon, Small admitted to police that she’d been frustrated with the girl, and described how she’d swung her until her head crashed into the floor in what she said was a tragic accident.

“Obviously we made a poor judgment in that case,” said Mentor’s Robson. “And if we could turn back the clock we would.” But he was emphatic that the disasters in the way the company screened Small, and placed Alexandria with her, had nothing to do with an effort to cut costs to increase profits. And he said the company has learned from its mistake and made improvements in its background checks and other procedures.

Torrey, who has a picture of Alexandria Hill in his office, said he is not convinced. Sherill Small was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, but in his interview with BuzzFeed News, Torrey said that based on what he learned in his investigation, Mentor itself needs to be the subject of a larger probe. “We don’t have a lot of resources in this county, so what I would like to see is someone, an attorney general somewhere, the Department of Justice or a U.S. attorney, someone like that, look at it.”

When Torrey first started investigating the Alexandria Hill case, he was shocked to learn that foster care is a for-profit business. “Money for kids — it’s like a crop, that’s what it is,” he said. “It should not be a business.”

And for most of the last century, it wasn’t. State and local governments, which are largely responsible for children whose parents cannot care for them, often subcontracted the work of placing children in foster homes to nonprofit organizations, including religious groups.

But over the last three decades, for-profit operations have moved into the sphere, with scant public scrutiny. It is a transformation that Mentor has helped drive — and benefited from handsomely — first under the leadership of the company’s founder, Marine Corps veteran E. Byron Hensley, and then under one of its first government partners, Edward “Ned” Murphy, who would later come to run the company.

Hensley, who founded Mentor in 1980 in Boston, said in an interview that he hadn’t started his career intending to work with youth. He was a graduate student in philosophy, but after a rough divorce, he moved to Boston and landed a job running a group home for troubled kids.

Hensley said he quickly became convinced that the teens would do better in private homes than in the dilapidated group home where he was working, and he also figured he could earn a living helping to place them there. He named his organization Mentor, after the wise and nurturing figure in Homer’s The Odyssey who cared for Telemachus, the son of Odysseus.

His chief customer, he says, was the Massachusetts Division of Youth Service, then under the command of Murphy. But within three years, Hensley said, he became convinced a for-profit model would better serve all involved, because it wouldn’t be burdened by the yoke around the neck of so many charities: constantly raising funds from donors.

National Mentor, Inc., a for-profit company, was born.

Within four years, Mentor was also doing business in Ohio and in South Carolina. In 1987, Hensley recalled, he convinced two venture capital firms to invest $700,000. He said he warned them that profits on foster care would be small, just 3–5%, but that was more than made up for by the potential for growth.

The growth was phenomenal. Soon Mentor expanded to Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, and Indiana. By 1997, after some takeovers and corporate restructuring, Hensley said, he left. He said the company he’d founded with $10,000 from the sale of his house in Waltham Mass was then worth $50 million.

In 2001, Mentor was bought by Madison Dearborn, a Chicago-based equity firm with billions under management that specialized in leveraged buyouts. Mentor, Hensley says, began spreading into other ventures in “human services,” including group homes and home care for adults. But its bedrock business remained foster care.

In 2006, the hedge fund Vestar Capital Partners bought out the company, investing $242 million in cash, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Vestar is well-connected in both Republican and Democratic circles. Frederico Pena, a former Clinton Cabinet official, and later a co-chair of the Obama campaign, is a managing director there.

Coming out of the deal, Mentor was burdened with a debt of $520 million. According to SEC filings, 5 cents of every dollar that Mentor made had to go to cover just debt. According to people who worked at Mentor, Vestar has squeezed the company to turn more of a profit. A statement from Vestar said, “We are proud to be associated with an organization that has enhanced the lives of tens of thousands of children and adolescents and adults with disabilities.”

Vestar brought Mentor public last year, and the firm began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the name Civitas Solutions, Inc. It reported $1.2 billion in revenue last year.

In some jurisdictions, such as Illinois and some counties in Pennsylvania, for-profit companies can’t get contracts to run foster care operations directly. Mentor found a way around that, by partnering with nonprofit sister organizations Alliance Human Services and Alliance Children’s Services, both founded by Murphy.

Indeed, the corporate paper trail shows that Alliance group subsumed the original nonprofit Mentor Inc. that Hensley founded in 1980.

Those nonprofits have received contracts in states that bar for-profit foster care operations. And then those nonprofits turn around and hire Mentor’s for-profit arm as a subcontractor to run virtually the whole operation.

In Illinois, for example, Alliance gets paid over $200 per day per child to provide therapeutic foster care to children. But, according to contracts obtained by BuzzFeed News, it has hired Mentor to recruit the foster parents, check their backgrounds, train them, monitor them, and act as social workers for the children.

Mentor’s Robson said that when Alliance was layered into Mentor foster care contracts, it wasn’t a ruse but an effort to make sure federal dollars kept flowing during periods of confusion about whether for-profit operations could get reimbursed. He said state and federal officials knew of the arrangement between Alliance and Mentor. Reached briefly by phone, the president and CEO of Alliance, Mary McCarthy, also defended the contracting, and said, “The reason that we started any of these things were to help states that needed help in getting federal reimbursement.”

Robson said that Mentor does not control Alliance. Still, the two organizations are intertwined at many levels. In addition to Murphy, who founded Alliance and now heads Mentor, another former senior official at Mentor, Doris Davila, is now a vice president at Alliance. In Illinois, Mentor is headquartered in a large office building at 600 Holiday Plaza Drive in Matteson. It’s in Suite 400. Alliance is in Suite 410.

Alliance Children’s Services, which was the charity that subcontracted to Mentor in Texas for 16 years, even reported to the IRS in its nonprofit filings that its books and records were in the custody of the for-profit National Mentor.

Aram Roston / BuzzFeed News

If the murder of Alexandria Hill illustrates Mentor’s failures to select appropriate foster parents, the sexual abuse visited on R.R. and other boys over a period of a decade at Last Chance Farm shows the company’s problems training and monitoring foster parents — in this case, even in the face of multiple warning signs.

The first couple on the farm to get certified by Mentor were Stephen Merritt’s father, also called Stephen, and his wife, Carol, in October 1997.

County health inspectors had warned that the place was too run-down for small children, with peeling paint and hazards. Still, Mentor approved the couple.

The younger Stephen Merritt, then 28, and his wife, Trudy, signed up with Mentor in 1999 at another house in the same compound. Merritt passed a background check easily. He denied any history of drug use despite clear evidence in his file that he had been arrested for marijuana possession.

He even told the Mentor recruiter that he had been kicked out of high school for throwing a desk at a teacher.

And he specified that they wanted boys, not girls, a fact whose significance only became clear years later. “Male, white, any age” was his answer on the questionnaire.

Other Merritt relatives soon joined the foster business as well, with four separate households taking in children on the sprawling farm.

The state of Maryland required Merritt to complete 20 hours of training a year, a heightened requirement because the boys in his care were considered high-need and were in so-called therapeutic foster care.

But in practice, that training was hardly rigorous. In 2008, Mentor awarded Merritt two hours’ credit — and a fancy certificate — for watching the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. In 2007, Merritt didn’t even have to watch a movie: He got two hours’ training, and another certificate, for attending Mentor’s Christmas lunch.

Sarah Magazine, Mentor’s spokesperson, defended the training. “One of the tools we sometimes use are movies to facilitate a discussion,” she said, adding that the portrayal of a troubled family struggling with disabilities make it a popular training film for Mentor and other other foster care organizations.

Meanwhile, in 2003, the police launched an investigation of Merritt at Last Chance Farm, after a 15-year-old foster child said Merritt had unbuckled his own belt while joking about the boy being good with his hands. But the boy recanted later, telling the police Merritt was just joking, and the police said the charge was “unfounded.”

Then, in 2004, R.R. arrived and began getting harassed. As the story, culled from court records, indicates, R.R. told a Mentor caseworker that he was being abused. But since he wasn’t believed, he was put back in Merritt’s custody. After he complained again, he was finally sent to another home. BuzzFeed News could not reach R.R. for comment.

Magazine, the Mentor spokesperson, said she believes R.R. was taken out of the home as soon as he first made abuse allegations.

Still, even after learning of R.R.’s allegations, Mentor kept sending foster children to Last Chance Farm. In retrospect, the company now says, that was a mistake. “Kids should not have been at that home,” said Robson. “We acknowledge that and we accept that.”

In 2006, two years after R.R.’s time at the farm, allegations of wrongdoing bubbled up again. The police learned of a foster child who said he’d been offered marijuana and alcohol at the Merritt farm and had had sex with Merritt. But the police assumed the boy was talking about Merritt’s wife. The boy angrily denied it, and told investigators, “You need to get your shit together before you talk to me.” Police ruled the allegations, again, “unfounded.”

And then in 2010, a psychotherapist named Laurie Rockelli warned Mentor about Merritt. One of her patients was a former foster child of Merritt’s, and Merritt was texting the boy on topics of a sexual nature. Worried, Rockelli sent a letter in February to Mentor’s operation in Maryland. “I’m writing this letter out of extreme concern,” she wrote.

There’s no evidence that Mentor took any action after Rockelli’s letter. In fact, in March, the month after that letter from the psychotherapist, Mentor gave Trudy and Stephen Merritt an updated foster care license.

Magazine said the company did react to the Rockelli letter: Merritt was told, she said, that texting with former foster children “wasn’t appropriate.”

A year after sending Mentor her warning letter, Rockelli learned the truth about what was happening at Last Chance Farms: Her patient, still troubled, finally admitted he’d been sexually molested by Merritt, his former foster parent. Now Rockelli went to the police.

When they brought Merritt in, he folded under questioning, and fast. In the interrogation, he did say one thing that surprised them: They should go look at what his uncle, Tracy Bayne, who lived at Last Chance Farm as well, was doing with his foster son. Bayne was also abusing a boy. And, police would learn, many years earlier the uncle had molested Stephen Merritt.

The prosecutor in the case, Jamie Dykes, now in private practice as a lawyer, said she doesn’t believe Mentor knew what was going on at the farm. But she said the company should have known — and could easily have found out. Mentor, she said, never made surprise visits to Last Chance Farm. She said that when Mentor caseworkers came, “the children knew when they were going to visit, because they were made to clean the house. Clean the house from top to bottom.”

Unannounced visits might have provided a different picture, she said. Dykes recalled that when she served a search warrant there, the scene was “disgusting,” “dirty,” and disturbing.

“In the master bedroom, there are sex toys everywhere,” she said. “Oh god, it was nasty. And KY Jelly and Vaseline. And in the woodshop there was Vaseline. Why do you need Vaseline in the woodshop?”

Stephen Merritt pleaded guilty. Merritt’s defense lawyer argued at his sentencing that although Merritt was guilty, Mentor deserved blame too. “The child welfare system sought out the Merritt home methodically and consistently to place these children in their care,” she said. “Unlike Mr. Merritt, the Mentor program does have the cognitive ability to make sound decisions, but because nobody else wanted these children and the Merritt home was a easy scapegoat, they continued to place the children year after year after year, ignoring disclosures of the victims, ignoring all of the warning signs that were there.”

With additional reporting by Talal Ansari.


Alexandria Hill was murdered in July 2013, after she was taken from her parents in November 2012. A previous version of this story said she was murdered “last July,” and that she was removed from her parents in 2013. Feb. 22, 2015, at 8:06 a.m.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

If This Doesn’t Scare You Nothing Will


This article was posted on a facebook page I follow. According to the gentleman who posted it- this is currently happening in Texas. There are several things wrong with this law. One- what about the rights of the parents and the child. Compound that with the fact that teachers are not doctors, they are teachers. They have no clue as to the inner workings of a child’s mind. If this had been in place when I was in school they would have confined me fast because I think outside of the box, I am an artist, I am creative and I refuse to live by the boundaries of what is considered “the norm”. The Norm is relative.

Teachers should never be given that much authority. It is a slippery slope and one that can not only stiffle a child’s mind- but it runs the risk of putting labels on children- it also puts a target on their back as they grow older. Granted there are some children who cannot be controlled. That being said this is a slippery slope that we are taking. Once that genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back in.

Teachers are taught to teach not analyze they do not have the credentials, the time or the know how to diagnose a child

Dallas, Texas – Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) is once again in the spotlight after submitting yet another Orwellian proposal, H.B. 985.

Villalba first raised the ire of civil libertarians by proposing a bill, H.B. 2006, which would have eliminated the religious exemption for vaccination, essentially creating a forced government vaccination program without exception.

More recently, Villalba was thrust into the national spotlight when he proposed H.B. 2918, which would usurp citizens of the ability to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions. The bill would negate the people’s ability to create an accurate and impartial record of police interactions by restricting citizens from filming within 25 feet of an officer.

Now with H.B. 985, Villalba intends to give school officials the authority to force psychological screenings of students that teachers and staff diagnose as having mental health issues.

Once the process is set in motion by school officials, parents would be forced to take their child to a mental health professional within 30 days, under threat of suspension of the child from school.

“ …the requirement that the parent or guardian, before the expiration of the 30-day period, to avoid suspension of the student under this section, take the student to the nearest local mental health authority or a physician specializing in psychiatry to receive a mental health screening and a certificate of medical examination for mental illness, as described by Section 533.03522(c), Health and Safety Code, that contains the examining physician’s opinion that the student is not a danger to self or others.”

While under suspension the child would still receive an education, but they would be sent to an “alternative school.”

School administrators would be required under the law to provide the student’s name, address, and information regarding the complaint to the local mental health authorities and the police department upon verification of the complaint.

(i) A school counselor or a principal who receives notice
under. Subsection (b) about a student who subsequently is subject to
a notice of intent to suspend under Subsection (g) shall:
(1) provide the student’s name and address and
information concerning the conduct or statement that led to the
notice of intent to suspend to:
(A) the school district police department, if the
school counselor or principal is employed by a school district and
the district has a police department;
(B) the police department of the municipality in
which the school is located or, if the school is not in a
municipality, the sheriff of the county in which the school is
located; and
(C) the local mental health authority nearest the

Teachers have enough on their academic plates without them being forced to become armchair psychologists in the classroom.

Also, it is highly inappropriate and dangerous for unqualified teachers to play the role of child psychiatrists. Unless they’ve had special training and are certified to diagnose the disorders, it can also be illegal.

We are already witnessing the damage caused by parents believing teachers who think that every child who acts out in their classroom has ADHD. It’s called The Ritalin Explosion.

The idea that students’ personal information would be submitted to mental health facilities and police departments for complaints initiated and investigated by only school officials also causes serious concern.

Is it really necessary to criminalize kids based upon a teacher’s unprofessional assessment of a kids mental health? And what about the student that is mentally healthy, but simply defiant?

Perhaps rather than attempting to legislate away this perceived problem by criminalizing “problem” children, there is a better way. Villalba would have been better served by using his position to help create a program to build sustainable bridges of communication between parents and administrators that assist in identifying and combating mental health problems in students.

Instead, like so many tyrants before him, Villalba tries to solve complex problems using the force of the state.


Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on and You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.

Posted in Eyes on Texas | 4 Comments