Category Archives: Neglect

Mother pleads guilty to leaving child home alone

Child Endangerment
Vanessa Ramirez

Vanessa Ramirez pleads guilty to leaving child home alone

We all have busy lives; working a full time job, running a household and taking care of our families. From time to time, we all need some adult time, but when we have children, we have to be responsible and put our children’s needs before our own.

According to reports, witnesses state a woman bragged about leaving her 2 year-old toddler at home, unattended, while she was out drinking at a bar.

Today, Vanessa Ramirez had her day in court and pleaded guilty to felony child abuse.

In October, the Omaha Police Department responded to a call in Millard to investigate the allegation of a child being left home alone. Officers then met with the Sarpy County deputies at the woman’s home. There they found Ramirez’ daughter alone in her crib. The toddler had been crying, displayed puffy watery eyes, wearing a soiled diaper.

Ramirez will be sentenced on March 30.

Child abuse is a growing epidemic around the globe. Statistics show a child is abused every 10 seconds and 5 children die each day due to abuse or neglect, but there is hope to end this growing epidemic.

Child abuse is 100% preventable.

Learn how to protect your children from child abuse by learning the signs and symptoms. One organization making a difference in the lives of children is Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. Dreamcatchers is a 501 (c) 3 Michigan based non-profit child abuse and neglect awareness organization, dedicated to educating the public on the signs, symptoms, statics, intervention, prevention to assist victims and survivors in locating the proper resources to help achieve and enable a full recovery.

Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren’t Being Enforced

States tainted reports
Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren’t Being Enforced, numbers are intentionally tainted

Report Finds that Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren’t Being Enforced

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/27/381636056/child-abuse-and-neglect-laws-arent-being-enforced-report-finds

Laws intended to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame. That’s according to a study by the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, which says children are suffering as a result.

The numbers are grim.  Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.

Federal officials say they’re encouraged that the numbers are lower than they were in 2012. But children’s advocates say abuse is so often not reported that it’s impossible to know if there’s really been a decline.

“This is just something that’s chronically underreported,” says Elisa Weichel, a staff attorney with the Children’s Advocacy Institute, which published the report Tuesday.

She says abuse and neglect cases — especially those resulting in death — are often not disclosed as required by law. That lack of information has led to other problems in the system.

“It all boils down to having the right amount of data about what’s working and what’s not,” Weichel says. “And when your data is flawed, every other part of your system is going to be flawed.”

Her group has found plenty of flaws. The institute conducted a three-year study and found that not one state has met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government. Those standards include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse. The institute blames Congress and the courts for failing to get involved.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which reviews state programs, declined to comment on the report.

But there’s broad agreement among those involved in child welfare that the system is in desperate need of repair, agencies are underfunded, and caseworkers are often overwhelmed.

“Whether or not individual states can meet a reporting standard to us is not where the emphasis ought to be,” says Ron Smith, director of legislative affairs for the American Public Human Services Association, which represents child welfare administrators.

“It needs to be on making sure that the kids who need assistance are getting assistance, and the families that need assistance are getting the assistance,” he says.

Smith says state and local officials complain that they spend too much time filling out federal forms and trying to meet requirements that aren’t necessarily best for kids.

Instead, he says, they want flexibility on how to spend federal funds so they can focus more on keeping families together, rather than on helping kids after they’ve been abused and removed from their homes.

Ron Zychowski of Eckerd, a nonprofit company that runs child welfare services in three of Florida’s largest counties, agrees that change is needed. Eckerd has developed a new system to identify which of the 5,000 children under its care are at the highest risk of serious injury or death, so they can fix problems quickly.

“And I’m very pleased to report that in two years we have not had a child death from abuse or neglect in any of our cases,” Zychowski says.

That program is getting lots of national attention, including from a new commission set up by Congress to help eliminate abuse and neglect deaths.

But Zychowski warns, in this field, there’s no silver bullet.
“Bad people will do bad things to children,” he says. “We’re not going to catch them all, and we’re not going to stop them all.”

There was a horrific reminder of that earlier this month. A Florida man was accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter by throwing her off a bridge. Zychowski says the family was not in the child welfare system.

Faulty Reporting, Tainted Numbers

Texas didn’t report hundreds of Child Abuse, neglect deaths

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has not publicly reported hundreds of abuse- and neglect-related child deaths since 2010, raising questions about the accuracy of the state’s official fatality count, an Austin American-Statesman investigation into the state’s child protection system has found.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Department of Family and Protective Services did not publicly report 655 child abuse-related fatalities, even though the department confirmed that those children had been mistreated prior to their deaths. Because Child Protective Services caseworkers decided that mistreatment or abuse did not directly cause those fatalities, state law does not require the agency to publicly reveal those numbers.

Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who authored that law, said he was shocked that legislators were not being provided information on all of the abuse-related cases in the state. “I’m speechless,” he said.  “I want to know who these kids are. Every one of these kids has a name and has a story and would have had a life ahead of them.”

Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins say the agency has followed state and federal laws. And aggregate non-identifying information — such as the ages, genders and types of abuse and neglect — has always been available to anyone who wanted it. But until now, no one has.

Because of the newspaper’s inquiry, the agency plans to publicly report those numbers in the future, Crimmins said.

The finding came as part of a six-month investigation in which the newspaper reviewed nearly 800 child fatality reports from September 2009 through March 2014 that the agency did publicly report.

In 2009, the Legislature ordered CPS to publicly record such deaths in hopes of identifying patterns and discovering ways to prevent abuse deaths. But the Statesman found that CPS has not systematically analyzed those reports, meaning that in important ways, Texas’ child protection workers effectively have been operating with blinders, missing deadly patterns and key pieces of information that could help protect kids.

The newspaper’s analysis found:

  • The agency has not comprehensively tracked how often it saw children before they died of abuse or neglect — a key predictor of potential problems. Of the 779 deaths reviewed by the newspaper, the families of 374 of those children — nearly half — were visited by CPS at least once before the death. In 144 fatalities, or nearly 20 percent of the total, the agency had seen the family at least three times. In 12 instances, CPS had seen the family 10 or more times. CPS had contact with one family more than 20 times before the child died.
  • In 166 cases — a little more than 1 of every 5 reviewed by the paper — a child had been separated from a caretaker because of safety concerns prior to the fatality. In 41 of those instances, it was the same child who later died.
  • In 137 of the cases, about 1 in every 5 such fatalities, a boyfriend or girlfriend of a parent was at least partially responsible for the death. In abuse homicide cases, the number is closer to a third.
  • The paper also found that in 20 percent of child abuse beating or strangulation deaths — the way most children are killed — has been left unsolved, leaving relatives, law enforcement and local communities bereft of closure or justice.
  • Unlike some other states, Texas has not undertaken a detailed analysis of the child deaths to identify families that are at the greatest risk of hurting a child, and the state is not using that information to prevent tragedies.

CPS Commissioner John Specia said the newspaper’s analysis should prove valuable. “I want to see what the patterns are there,” he said. “I’m sure my safety folks will look at it.”

Among the most disturbing cases uncovered by the newspaper was that of 15-year-old Brandon White, who died of asphyxiation after being tied up at his Denison home.

In the years before his death, CPS was warned about Brandon’s family 23 times before he was killed by his mother’s boyfriend.
Caseworkers received complaints as early as 1999 that the Grayson County boy was being restrained, gagged, hit and neglected. His mother admitted whipping him with a belt so hard it left bruises. Still, he remained in his home.

CPS officials say they are making efforts to use death data. A State Child Fatality Review Team meets twice a year to review child deaths in an effort to understand risks faced by the state’s children.

Yet its work has been limited and, in crucial ways, is incomplete. Its information comes from local fatality review teams, charged with analyzing local child deaths and passing on the information for statewide review. The local teams are voluntary, however, and chunks of the state are unrepresented. The cases they review in a given year also typically are two years old.

Even in areas with active local death review teams, reporting rigor varies widely. Last year, 14 of the local teams did not enter any data from their child death reviews. Only 92 of the state’s 254 counties passed along data on 100 percent of their child deaths.
And while CPS is supposed to identify patterns that might help the agency anticipate its future interactions with families, that hasn’t always been done; a 2013 audit of the process found the agency “does not focus on trend analysis.” It wasn’t until December that Family and Protective Services began tracking CPS’ ongoing contacts with families on a statewide level.

“We need to do more,” said DFPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins.
Last year, Specia also created a new Office of Child Safety, designed to analyze in detail CPS’ response to previous child abuse and neglect cases. The results will help direct money and prevention programs to the highest risk families. “Now we have staff looking at those patterns,” he said.

The program has been slow to lift off. Workers are just now being hired, and the office hopes to start its work soon.

Children must be watched and protected

Child dies from poisoning
It is a Parent’s responsibility to teach and protect their Children

N.Y. Toddler Dies From Liquid Nicotine Poisoning

Dec. 15, 2014 — A 1-year-old child in New York State is believed to be the first youngster in the United States to die of poisoning from liquid nicotine, the substance used in electronic cigarettes.

Police said the toddler was found unresponsive last Tuesday after ingesting liquid nicotine at a home in Fort Plain, N.Y., and later died in hospital, ABC News reported.

The death is believed to be a “tragic accident,” according to a statement released by Fort Plain police. They did not say whether the liquid nicotine was associated with an e-cigarette.

With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, health officials are concerned there could be more fatal incidents like this one if steps aren’t taken to protect children, ABC News reported.

Brightly-colored liquid nicotine comes in flavors such as gummy bear or cotton candy, which is appealing to youngsters, health officials warn.

“One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” the American Association of Poison Control centers in a statement, ABC News reported. “Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging.”

In recent years, there’s been a sharp rise in the number of liquid nicotine-related calls to U.S. poison control centers.

Just a small amount of nicotine can cause seizures and other dangerous symptoms in children, Dr. Donna Seger, director of the poison control center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.