DHS Ignores Child Safety And Well-Being

.jpg photo of substandard DHS facility
Dauphin County Children and Youth Services

A grand jury probe into the agency…. which was independent of the DHS review, revealed similar issues and children’s safety impacted to the point of death.

Dauphin County Children & Youth inspection marred by 84 citations

Dauphin County, PA – An annual licensing review of the Dauphin County Children & Youth agency resulted in 84 citations for offenses ranging from misfiled paperwork to caseworkers working without required child abuse clearances.

The state Department of Human Services reviewed the agency on several different occasions for its yearly inspection, as well as “for the purpose of investigating complaints” and ultimately placed the agency on a six-month provisional license.  Its report on the ruling was released to the public Thursday.

The inspection process includes a review of a sampling of all the cases under the direction of the county children and youth agency.
“In the past year, the overall level of services with the children, families and service providers has declined,” the state wrote in its review, commenting on the quality of services being provided to area children and families.

The state highlighted a number of problem areas, including issues with screen-out and referral paperwork, missteps in the process of assuring the safety of all children and a lack of family engagement.

Quality of care diminished as a result of an increased staff turnover rate, a restructuring of the agency that did away with specialty units and an increase in cases referred to the agency, according to the state’s report.

Several issues were found with mandated Safety Assessments including, missing entirely or conducting late assessments, not listing all children, children not seen within required timeframes, missing or late supervisor reviews and signatures and children listed as “safe” when their realities should have been deemed and listed as “unsafe.”

Children at risk

Some violations put children’s immediate safety at risk.

In some cases, “there was no indication that the safety of the victim child and other children in the home was ensured immediately,” according to the report.

Caseworkers should also assess the risk under which all children within a targeted home live, but this didn’t happen in all cases.

The findings outline issues that some may find trivial — a forgotten photograph, putting down the wrong race for a child on paper work, not collecting the correct records or signatures and missing case review deadlines by a day.

Others, a bit more troubling — examples of caseworkers finding clear safety threats, but not documenting any protective steps; no proof that families were ever visited and cases where a child was placed in out-of-home care and not put through the “child grievance procedure” to explain what was happening.

Caseworkers closed out cases without seeing and re-evaluating children within the mandatory 30 days of the caseworker ending the case.  A number of cases showed a child was classified as “unsafe” and in placement but was listed as safe on assessment sheets.

Some cases were closed out without a safety assessment or visiting the child’s home at all.

Conversely, in one case, a child was found to be “safe” but a safety plan — which is not necessary for the determination — was still found in the file.

The county submitted a corrective plan to address some of the issues in last year’s licensing rotation, but the violations remained, only to once again be spotted as a problem area during the annual-April inspection.

Dauphin County will undergo additional reviews as the state provides greater oversight until the agency is granted a full license.  A county can receive three provisional licenses before its license would be revoked by the state, but the state also can revoke a license if it finds the agency is negatively impacting the safety of the children it serves.

The county provided the state with a list of cases, to which the department selected a random sample. The findings were enough to downgrade the agency’s standing.

The state considered “the number of violations, the nature and severity of those violations, whether the violations are systemic and cross numerous cases and repeated from one year to another,” according to an email from Kait Gillis, press secretary for the Department of Human Services.

“Violations that impact the safety and well-being of children are given greater weight,” Gillis said.

A grand jury probe into the agency — which was independent of the DHS review — revealed similar issues and children’s safety impacted to the point of death.

On the state’s part, all fatality and near fatality cases are examined for regulatory violations as part of the department’s fatality and near fatality review process.

A number of the violations were repeat offenses that had been previously identified in the agency during other licensing cycles, but the citations did not stop at the case level.

Staff members were hired without proper criminal, child abuse and FBI clearances.  An unnamed caseworker was employed with the agency for nearly a year before termination and the proper clearances had never been supplied. Others waited more than a month to supply the proper clearances to be working with children.

While Dauphin County officials could fight the downgrade, they don’t intend to pushback against the state’s determination.

‘Serious mistakes’

“The department has acknowledged that serious mistakes were made in the past and will not be appealing today’s issuance of a provisional license,” said Amy Richards Harinath, county spokeswoman, in a statement released in response to PennLive’s request for an interview with Children & Youth interim administrator Joseph Dougher and oversight Commissioner George Hartwick.

The agency, Richards Harinath said, is confident that it’s corrective decisions already implemented address all of the violations and, “most importantly, will serve to better protect the children and families of Dauphin County.”

In fact, a majority of the issues identified by the state had “already been addressed” by the April inspection, according to the statement. Richards Harinath acknowledged that several of the violations came down to compliance issues and not quality of care.

“Many [violations] had to do with a failure to properly document how cases were handled and not submitting reports to the state on time,” she said.

By Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico’s standards, the county is “heading in the right direction,” and he called for state officials to address issues that can’t “easily be fixed at the local level.”

“Not all the issues uncovered during the grand jury investigation can easily be fixed at the local level,” Marsico said in a released statement. “Some issues, such as a review of caseworker training and high caseloads need to be addressed at the statewide level.”

DHS will rule again on the status of Dauphin County’s license when the provisional license expires on Jan. 24, 2016.

By the numbers

Dauphin County Children & Youth saw a “significant increase” in staff turnover rate with 28 members of the staff leaving the agency:

  • 1 Administrative Staff;
  • 3 Clerical support;
  • 2 Fiscal staff;
  • 1 Case aide;
  • 1 Legal staff;
  • 20 caseworkers.

The state reviewed the following Dauphin County Children & Youth records:

  • 20 of 988 Child Protective Service records;
  • 30 of 1,961 General Protective Services intake records, including 10 “Once & Done” records;
  • 20 of 296 Ongoing/In-home Services records;
  • 10 of 319 Placement records;
  • 43 agency Resource family home records, including 37 new resource homes
  • 4 of 32 Adoption records; and
  • 169 personnel records, including 24 new employees.

Dauphin County has participated in the Quality Service Review process:

  • First review in 2012;
  • Second review in 2014;
  • Third review scheduled for 2016.

The public welfare agency serves “a diverse population”:

  • About 271,000 residents make up the population.

The Boys of Summer

‎Good Afternoon Little Leaguers

We are almost ready to start Game 1 in Pennsylvania.

Texas was introduced first, then Our Hosts, Pennsylvania was introduced.

I have to say, the singer did a very good job singing Our National Anthem. This is a very important time in Our Country, and undoubtedly could prove to be a pivotal point in the direction we go from here.

It is time to remember what Our Country is: THE HOME OF THE FREE AND THE BRAVE. We need to remember that Our Veterans and Our Active Service Members answered the call, the same call that Our Fore-Fathers not only heard, but also answered, to keep us a free nation.

We need to close ranks, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Our Neighbors and work together to make Our Country as it was intended….

THE HOME OF THE FREE AND THE BRAVE!!!!

Sent from my BlackBerry 10.
Robert StrongBow
Co-Founder, Webmaster
http://notinmyworld.org

Pep rally held to root on Red Land

There is nothing better, or cleaner than school kid sports!!!!

The 2015 Little League World Series runs through Aug. 30 in South Williamsport, Pa. 

Red Land Lewisberry, PA  vs  Texas Pearland West

This is what  Parenting should be all about, and there  will be many, many opportunities for GOOD QUALITY TIME  for Family’s.  This goes through August 30, so that is 2 full days of chances to make MANY GOOD MEMORIES.

We want everyone in Pennsylvania to know that NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! in Dallas, Texas will make several posts Saturday and Sunday backing these 2 great teams.

Just so everyone knows:   Does anyone know where the largest Pencil in the world is????  Pennsyl-vania…. but the way these 2 Teams have played, both have to be swinging some big wood.

Source: Pep rally held to root on Red Land

Detective Reacts To Child Abuse Sentencing

.jpg photo of Abusive Mother
Annette Smith, 33

LAS CRUCES, NM – Annette Smith was sentenced to 21 years in prison yesterday after reaching a plea deal with prosecutor. Smith can be eligible for parol after serving 11 years.

Kacee Thatcher, a retired detective who worked on the case, says she was in disbelief after she heard the decision. She told ABC-7 she believes Smith should’ve gotten a longer sentence. According to Thatcher’s police report, Smith once flipped over the mattress sending the baby flying into the bars of the crib. Thatcher said the two older children were also regularly abused by their mother.

Court records show Smith was charged with child abuse of her two older children in 2007. Those charges were later dropped, under a previous administration.

Thatcher said after the first indictment, Smith went right back to abusing the kids. She said the abuse then escalated to the baby.

“She would be ravenous when they would feed her when they would get home and the baby was not growing,” Thatcher said. “I found out through my investigation that she would lie about how much she was feeding the baby when she was taking the baby to the doctor.”

The district attorneys office would not comment on camera, but in a prepared statement they stated the sentence “is a strong one that serves the interest of justice.”

CPS INTENTIONALLY TAINTING NUMBERS!!!!

Abused Kids Not Destined to Be Abusive Parents, Study Finds

That theory has been supported by past research. But, Widom explained, those studies have been hampered by limitations, such as working “backward” — starting with parents accused of abuse, and asking them if they’d been mistreated as kids.

Conventional wisdom says that abused children often grow up to be abusive parents, but a 30-year study of American families suggests it’s more complicated than that.

In one striking finding, researchers uncovered little evidence that physical abuse is passed from one generation to the next.

“That was extremely surprising,” said lead researcher Cathy Spatz Widom, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in New York City.  “The theory has been that children of parents who were abused are at increased risk of physical abuse.”

That theory has been supported by past research.  But, Widom explained, those studies have been hampered by limitations, such as working “backward” — starting with parents accused of abuse, and asking them if they’d been mistreated as kids.

“The problem there is, you miss the parents who were abused but did not go on to have these issues,” Widom explained.

Her study, published in the March 27 issue of Science, followed two generations of families, including over 1,100 parents and their kids. More than half of the parents had been abused or neglected as children, back in the 1960s and 1970s; the rest had no history of abuse, but were from similar backgrounds.

To see whether the children of abused parents were at risk, Widom’s team used three sources: Records from child protective services (CPS); interviews with parents; and interviews with their children once they were young adults.

Overall, the researchers found, children of abused parents were at no greater risk of physical abuse.  And that was true whether the information came from parents’ or children’s reports, or CPS records.

Based on CPS reports, for example, almost 7 percent of kids born to abused parents suffered physical abuse, versus just over 5 percent of the comparison group — a difference that was not statistically significant.

In contrast, children of abused parents were at higher risk of sexual abuse or neglect, the finding showed.

There’s no clear explanation for the difference between physical abuse and other forms of mistreatment, according to Widom.

“It’s really puzzling to us,” she said. “We need more research to dig into the reasons.”

Dr. Kristine Campbell, a pediatrician who studies child abuse, commended the work.

“This is a very impressive research effort,” said Campbell, an associate professor at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City.

“There has long been acceptance that abuse is passed down through generations, almost like eye color or skin tone,” Campbell said.

In her personal experience, she added, “I’ve seen this presented as a reason to suspect a parent of abusing a child. I’ve also seen parents terrified that they are predestined to abuse their child because of their own histories of maltreatment.”

But these findings show that’s not the case, Campbell said.
Widom agreed. “Parents shouldn’t feel they’re doomed to continuing the cycle of abuse,” she said.

Her team did, however, find that authorities may have a “bias” toward detecting abuse when parents have a history of child mistreatment.

The researchers looked at the rate of official CPS reports among all parents and kids who reported abuse or neglect: When it came to families where parents had been abused, about 30 percent of abuse cases involved an official CPS report; among other families, CPS picked up only 15 percent of abuse cases.

How would that happen?  Widom speculated that parents with a history of child abuse may use more social services in general.

“Each time you’re in contact with social services,” Widom said, “there’s an opportunity to be observed by the people working for those agencies, and they’re mandated to report suspected child abuse.”

But that does not mean abuse is “over-detected” in those families, Campbell stressed. Instead, she said, the findings imply that the system often misses child mistreatment — especially in families where parents have no history of abuse.

Despite that sobering take-away, Campbell also saw “good news” in the findings.

“The substantial majority of parents who have experienced child abuse will never abuse their own children,” Campbell said.

And for those struggling to get past their childhood mistreatment, many communities have programs that help young moms and dads build their parenting skills, she added.

According to Widom, future studies should dig for the reasons why some abused kids become abusive parents, while many others do not.

Campbell agreed. “If we want to work on child abuse prevention, we need to better understand the perpetrators of abuse,” she said.  “My experience is that very few parents who abuse their children can simply be dismissed as ‘monsters.'”