Former DCF worker arrested, accused of
falsifying records in Child Abuse case
A former Florida Department of Children and Families worker has been arrested on charges of falsifying records in a case involving a student who came to elementary school with bruises on the face, leg and arm, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Monday.
Doreece Hines, 31, of Daytona Beach documented visits to the home of the child, whose guidance counselor reported the student’s injuries to the state abuse hotline on Feb. 5, 2016. But Hines never actually conducted the visits, according to an affidavit for her arrest.
Hines, a senior child protective investigator who has since been fired, wrote in a report that the child was in “no present danger” and claimed the mother had admitted striking the child with a jump rope, according to the affidavit. She also said the child had a “small mark” on a thigh and an arm, records show.
The counselor, with a school nurse present, took photos of a cut and a bruise on the child’s right cheek and bruises on the right thigh, arm and under the hip, court documents show.
On Feb. 8, Hines wrote in a case report that she had met with the mother and her children, including the alleged victim, a little before 9 p.m. Feb. 6, court records state.
On March 1, a Putnam County Sheriff’s Office detective inquired about the child, including whether Hines had referred the case to the state’s Child Protection Team, which helps investigate child-abuse and child-neglect cases. Hines said she had, but two days later, the detective was told by the team that the referral hadn’t been made and did it herself, documents state.
Hines later told her supervisor she had forgotten to contact the team, documents show.
On March 4, Hines told a DCF supervisor she had made a mistake and hadn’t actually met with the mother, according to the affidavit.
On March 30, Hines changed her case report, stating that her notes initially had been incorrect, according to the affidavit.
FDLE agents say Hines was legally obligated to report the child’s injuries to the Child Protection Team and law enforcement.
Hines was arrested Thursday on the felony records-falsification charges.
“What I found for my ‘State of the Child’ special report is appalling,” DePasquale said. “I’m talking about wholesale system breakdowns that actually prevent (Children and Youth Services) caseworkers from protecting our children from abuse and neglect.”
Centre County was one of 13 counties DePasquale’s office spent time on, talking with caseworkers, supervisors, administrators and families.
According to the data, the number of child abuse reports made in Centre County has gone up 60 percent over the past two years, from 237 in 2014 to 379 in 2016. Of those, 33 were substantiated in 2016.
“Children are being horribly abused and neglected in Pennsylvania every day,” DePasquale said in a statement. “In recent months, we’ve heard of toddlers being kept in cages, newborns left home alone and starving school-age children locked in filthy rooms. There are heartbreaking stories every week.”
According to the report, more than $1.8 billion was spent on child welfare services in 2016, a year in which 46 kids died and there were another 79 “near-deaths.” In Centre County, the expenses came to $997,392.
The “State of the Child” report follows another audit DePasquale conducted in 2016 on the ChildLine system used to report child abuse. That report showed that thousands of calls made to the system were not acted upon.
The new report claims the people doing the responding are inadequately trained, overworked and underpaid, leading to high turnover.
A Centre County case could be part of some increases. DePasquale noted the change in Child Protective Services Law that took place after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which included expanding the definition of what child abuse is, as well as broadening who is required to report it.
That, he said, has led to more cases to handle, with some workloads jumping from “generally manageable” numbers of 12 to 20 cases at a time to as many as 50 to 75.
According to the New York senate, a bill was passed by that body in January that would limit the number of cases per worker to no more than 15, after the death of a young boy showed a need to lower the number of kids each caseworker was responsible to oversee. The concern there was that New York caseworkers were supervising over 25 cases.
Man facing charges in Greywind case convicted of Child Abuse in 2012
FARGO, ND – We’re learning new details into one of the people currently in jail after refusing to cooperate with a Fargo Police investigation into the disappearance of Savanna Greywind.
William Hoehn faces Conspiracy to Kidnap charges in this case, but was also convicted of Child Abuse back in 2012.
According to court documents in the case out of Grand Forks, Hoehn told investigators that his son was acting normal when he picked him up from daycare in early January. No issue with the boy’s head were observed that day. The boy’s mother, documents say, went to work that afternoon, and a few hours later Hoehn called her crying, saying that the boy had a swollen head.
Documents say he asked her if he should take the boy to the emergency room.
Hoehn does just that, doctors finding “a diagnosis of multiple fractures” on the boy’s skull.
Several doctors say in the documents that swelling would have occurred within hours after injuries such as these.
The boy was in Hoehn’s care that day.
William Hoehn faces up to 20 years in jail for this charge if convicted and given the maximum penalty.
HUMBOLDT COUNTY, CA – County authorities are admitting to interagency communication breakdowns and negligent reporting in combating rampant child abuse, but say improvements are in the works.
Officials made the admissions late last week in response to two scathing civil grand jury reports about multi-agency failures by schools, law enforcement and county Child Welfare Services to report and combat child abuse effectively.
The grand jury probe concluded that Humboldt’s social services system is so structured that at times it appears “dysfunctional.”
The panel issued a two-pronged warning in the wake of an eight-month investigation:
“The safety net for our children critically needs improvement.”
“The children of Humboldt County are ill-served by the intake system that is meant to protect them!”
The Union reported in December that the county’s child abuse and neglect rate is nearly 50 percent higher than the California average, according to Mary Ann Hansen, executive director of First 5 Humboldt, the family support and child abuse prevention agency (Union, Dec. 10, 2016).
The weekend edition of the Times-Standard quoted Sheriff William Honsal acknowledging that communications between his office and Child Welfare Services have “absolutely failed over the last couple of years” to react quickly enough to reports of child abuse and neglect. He faulted Child Welfare case workers for lax communications but said the two agencies are at work on shoring them up, the newspaper quoted him stating.
The grand jury report voiced strong skepticism that the promised improvements will materialize.
Times-Standard reporter Will Houston also quoted Chris Hartley, Humboldt County Superintendent of Schools, that school district officials have been meeting monthly for several years with counterparts from the Department of Health and Human Services and that the dual grand jury reports will, belatedly, kick off discussions about coordinating child abuse reporting.
In stinging rebukes, two 2016-2017 civil grand jury reports, “Responding in Time to Help our ‘At Risk’ Children” and “Child Welfare in Humboldt: Getting the Door Open,” fault major problems in how schools, law enforcement and county agencies work to protect highly vulnerable youngsters.
“Lack of timeliness and follow-up can have devastating results,” warns the exposé on slow response times. Among the findings:
School districts struggle with their responsibility as Mandated Reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. They often describe their contacts with law enforcement and child welfare as “frustrating” and “problematic.”
Of the five school districts investigated, comprising numerous schools, all representatives “expressed high levels of frustration with Child Welfare Services in the initial filing and subsequent handling of Mandated Reports.”
The Arcata School District gave high marks to the cooperation of the Arcata Police Department in child abuse investigations, but other districts registered multiple complaints about sheriff’s stations in their locales. Frequently, deputies “do not answer our calls,” “tell us they do not have sufficient personal to investigate” or they investigate “but do not leave a report” of the investigation.
School employees were “vociferous in their complaints” about Child Welfare Services. The grand jury spelled out the critical remarks:
“They often do not return our calls.”
“The Child Welfare hotline is “totally worthless.”
“We don’t go that far South.”
“That is not within our jurisdiction.”
“You should call the sheriff’s office about this.”
School personnel told the grand jury that often they never receive a reply from Child Welfare about a filed Mandated Report. The most common replies, if any, are “does not meet the state requirements for intervention” or secondly, “referred to other services.”
The latter means Child Welfare made an initial inquiry and then referred a family to voluntary social services or another community agency – but did not follow-up on whether the family followed through.
Turning to law enforcement, virtually all the of officers interviewed stated that drugs and alcohol were involved in the majority of the Mandated Report cases they investigated.
Like the school districts, law enforcement cited numerous problems in dealing with Child Welfare. In multiple instances, the difficulty is a severe lack of timely interagency communication.
Two examples, according to law officers (CWS refers to Child Welfare Services):
CWS tends to send a week’s supply of requests late Friday afternoon, making it difficult for the Sheriff’s Office to begin investigations until the following Monday.
In cases involving possible physical or sexual abuse, law enforcement must be contacted within hours, but the sheriff’s office is sometimes called days or weeks after CWS receives an initial report.
The child abuse report voiced doubts, based on past experience, that law enforcement and Child Welfare will improve their mutual openness and communication.
“While the Grand Jury supports apparent current efforts to create a task force to improve transparency and communication, the history of such past efforts gives us reason to be skeptical at this time.”
All of the social workers interviewed “appeared to be seriously dedicated to the work they were doing” with at-risk children, but said the Department of Health and Human Services has overwhelming caseloads, high turnover and lack of experience in dealing with the caseload.
Child Welfare staff dismissed school district complaints, alleging that many Mandated Reporters do not know how to fill out their reports properly or understand the criteria to be followed.
However, the grand jury found that “of the approximately 250 redacted Mandated Reports that we read, not one was filled out inappropriately or inaccurately.”