.jpg photo of Boys Home of the South
Boys Home of the South

Abuse allegations haunt lucrative group homes
By Lauren Sausser

‘Incredibly powerful’ industry

More than 7,000 group homes and orphanages for children across the country pull in about $8.8 billion a year and employ almost 130,000 people, according to an industry report published last year by IBISWorld, a national research firm.

More than 67 percent of this money comes from government contributions and grants.

In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services spent more than $28 million in the 2014 fiscal year placing almost a quarter of all foster children in more than 90 group homes across the state.

Before Boys Home of the South closed in 2014, the Department of Social Services paid the group home nearly $3 million in five years, but other group homes typically make much more.

The Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood made about $11 million in 2013 from several revenue sources, according to public tax records. Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia made $6.8 million. Thornwell Home for Children in Clinton made $8 million. This group home and its related organizations, affliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), compensated its president $196,000 in 2013 — $90,000 more than Gov. Nikki Haley’s salary.

“There’s a built-in source of waste that could be used to fund more supportive foster homes for these kids,” said Ira Lustbader, the litigation director for Children’s Rights, a national advocacy group. “Something is just way out of whack in South Carolina on this issue.”

Sue Berkowitz, executive director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, said group homes make so much money because their interests are well represented by lobbyists and lawmakers.

“It’s no different than nursing homes. It’s more humane and cheaper for us to have community, long-term care and to keep elderly and severely disabled people in their homes, yet the nursing home lobby is incredibly powerful,” Berkowitz said. “Some of them have been just absolutely horrendous.”

Group homes are entitled to make money, she said, but children have been hurt and she doesn’t think the state is doing enough to protect them.

“We’re not doing what we need to do up front to figure out who needs to go where and how they should be placed,” she said.

‘Demonizing DSS’

Some state leaders, including former Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller, tried to reduce the number of children sent to live in group homes with limited success.

In 2009 and 2010, a handful of these group homes in South Carolina closed, and others were forced to scale back operations.

These closures illustrated a national trend. Similar facilities in other states also shut their doors as the number of children in foster care dropped across the country and as federal funding and private donations dwindled. Best practices indicated children were better off living with families anyway. Koller supported this shift away from group homes.

Deborah McKelvey, the executive director of Windwood Farm in Awendaw, remembered Koller and her deputy director addressing group home employees at an industry meeting in 2011. “They said, ‘We don’t value what you provide any more. We don’t need you.’ ”

McKelvey estimated more than 500 group home “beds” in South Carolina were lost over a five-year period.

“Probably a couple of years ago, they really started making the push that they didn’t want kids in residential placements,” she said. “They used words like ‘languish’ — like (group homes) were torture chambers. They’re not.”

Koller resigned last year amid political uproar that the agency was grossly mismanaged and that children were dying on her watch.

Since then, some group homes in South Carolina have bounced back. McKelvey said Windwood is running at full capacity these days.

“Now, an influx of kids are coming in,” she said. “Our phone does not stop ringing all day long.”

All 15 group home beds at Windwood are filled with children in state custody.

“I hear and read enough horror stories to know that (group homes) are not all good,” McKelvey said. “But there’s certainly a place and a need for group homes, for residential care like we have here.”

Paula Fendley, who represents many group homes in South Carolina as executive director of the Palmetto Association of Children and Families, said the whole Social Services agency needs reform. Group homes, which she estimates employ thousands of people in this state, aren’t the problem.

“We need all kinds of levels of care,” Fendley said. “We need to stop demonizing DSS and stop demonizing providers and demonizing advocates and all figure out what we need to do, instead of just blaming everything on DSS.”

Darknet Site Taken Down

“A regularly updated list of active markets is maintained on Reddit.”

Europol announced this morning that, working with Italian law enforcement authorities, it had shut down a hidden service on the Darknet specialising in the distribution of child sexual abuse materials and searched the home of the Italian administrator of the site.

Europol said 14,000 Bitcoin wallets were seized from the administrator as part of Operation Babylon.

Operation Babylon began two years ago when the Italian Postal and Communications Police uncovered a hidden service within the Darknet that was facilitating the exchange of child sexual abuse material. It was also servicing crime by hosting sellers of illegal commodities such as weapons, passport and identity documents, counterfeit and cloned credit cards, hacking services, and close to 210 sellers of drugs. The marketplace administrator earned a percentage from all of these transactions.

Darknet trading sites which operate along the same business model as Silk Road are favoured by criminals because of the anonymity that is built into the transactions through the use of encrypted onion routing and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.

A regularly updated list of active markets is maintained on Reddit.

Investigators discovered thousands of images online of young victims being abused, which were being exchanged by paedophiles in many hidden online locations on the Darknet. The investigation continued with the seizure of this illegal content.

Attorney Questions Changed PA Child Abuse Report

“Other child abuse prevention organizations have raised concerns about the accuracy of the entire report.”

HARRISBURG, PA – Regional statistics in Pennsylvania’s annual child abuse report, posted on the state Department of Human Services website Monday, indicated 66 reported cases were never investigated because case workers missed the 60-day deadline.

Carlisle attorney Jason Kutulakis has dedicated much of his career to fighting child abuse and was on the task force that recommended changes to the state’s child abuse laws. He found the number alarming.

“It may be 66 perpetrators that have not been properly identified, that have the ability to apply to work in environments with children. They will go to get a clearance and appear to be without any history,” Kutulakis said.

A few days after the report was posted, Kutulakis noticed the number had changed.

“The report now indicates that the state or regional investigators only missed two cases, so there is a dramatic change from 66 to two being indicated,” he said. “Where did those cases go? Why were the changes made and is this just a mathematical error? Certainly there was two extra months to develop this report. We would hope that there would be no mathematical errors. If there was one, that is understandable, but why were those changes not made throughout the entire report and why wasn’t the public notified that an error was discovered.”

A spokeswoman said the department noticed the error on Tuesday and corrected it immediately.

“On Dec. 31, 2014, the department launched the Child Welfare Information Solution. Given the transition, we were pulling data from two systems for this year’s report and it took longer to verify the data,” spokeswoman Kathaleen Gillis said. “Unfortunately, the original chart posted on Monday was inaccurate and the accurate information was corrected by Tuesday. We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted.”

Other child abuse prevention organizations have raised concerns about the accuracy of the entire report. Gillis said the department will post a notice on the website to acknowledge the mistake.

Indifference or Collusion: Why Child Abuse Numbers Are Tainted

.jpg photo about Child Abuse
It is time to stop Child Abuse

Why are there so many differing numbers????

These 3 statistics are from Our Child Abuse page:

  • 1,640 children died in the United States in 2012 from abuse and neglect.
  • 686,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment by child protective services in 2012.
  • It is estimated that only 25% of the occurrences of Child Abuse are ever reported.

“In 2012, U.S. state and local child protective services (CPS) received an estimated 3.4 million referrals of children being abused or neglected.”

If you do the math, 3.4 million referrals with only 686,000 Children being found to be victims of Child Maltreatment, is only about 20%.  Yet how is it that only about 2% of the reports of Child Sexual Abuse and the like are found to be unsubstantiated????

That should be very easy to figure out, those 3.4 million CHILDREN are checked by CPS, and 80% are unsubstantiated.  When Our Law Enforcement investigates, only 2% are unsubstantiated.

Bear one very important thing in mind:  LESS THAN 25% of all the occurrances of Child Maltreatment are reported, so that means that instead of 3,400,000 occurrances, there are at least 13,600,000 occurrances of Our Children being Abused!!!!

The following quotes are from the GAO, The U. S. Government Accountability Office:

“However, studies also indicate significant undercounting of child maltreatment fatalities by state agencies — by 50% or more.”

“HHS does not take full advantage of available information on the circumstances surrounding child maltreatment deaths”

“nearly half of states included data only from child welfare agencies in reporting child maltreatment fatalities”

Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. It’s a widespread war against our children that we have the power to stop, and understanding the issue is the first step. Just how bad is the issue of child abuse in the United States?


Department of Justice, National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Journal of Preventive Medicine
Ark of Hope for Children

The Reason Is, You Empower Me

I thought we were ready for this, yet with all the preparation, one HUGE part of my life has been overlooked, NOT IN MY WORLD!!!!
I have all but the bare minimum copied/backed-up, or both, and with a hidden, encrypted fail safe.
As I went over my notes for hopefully the next-to-last time, the words “fail safe” ‎took my breath away. If worst came to worst, and my computers were, for even a short time, unable to be used to take me to my job, here in the teaming mega-city of WordPress, I could post from my TOP OF THE LINE Z30.
I will know the outcome of the last preparation before I…. Oh, I neglected to tell you, I got Windows 10 early yesterday morning. Well, actually that isn’t true, I’ve had it for quiet some time, but not the version I go to work in everyday.‎ Here, I’ll let Gabe tell you, then we will see if this posts.

Hello Windows Insider,

We have begun rolling out the public release of Windows 10 to the world, starting with our valued Windows Insiders. This is a hugely significant milestone for Windows and, thanks to feedback from Insiders like you, we’re proud to say that this will be our best Windows release.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10.
Robert StrongBow
Co-Founder, Webmaster