Tag Archives: Family

KY CPS Files CA On Wrong Father

.jpg photo of family that cps filed a false illegal document of child abuse against in court
Brandon Humphries plays with his three-year-old daughter in their home in Rineyville on a recent Wednesday.

How a stressed out Kentucky social
worker accused the wrong father
of Child Abuse

THESE MISTREATED, OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID WORKERS…. I’m almost in tears….  NOT!!!!  This Dear couple, the Humphries, was most pobably being  setup so these poor mistreated kidnappers could have their Children by now.

Who knows how many Children’s lives have been lost or ruined, and how many Families have been broken up or innocent lives lost because of these people’s above-the law crimes.
Robert StrongBow

On a Sunday morning in late August, while Karin Humphries was still in her nightgown, a sheriff’s deputy knocked at her door.

Karin, 31, was home with two of her four children, including her second youngest — a three-year-old daughter.  Her husband, Brandon, 31, had just left to get a haircut.

Stunned at the unexpected visit, Karin worried something had happened to her two oldest boys, and her stomach dropped.

But the Hardin County sheriff’s deputy was there for a different reason.  Carrying a summons, he asked to speak to Brandon, who had been ordered to appear before a Fayette County judge the following week for alleged abuse and neglect of their three-year-old.

“YOU COULD LOSE YOUR CHILDREN.  YOU SHOULD HAVE A LAWYER,” was printed in bold on the page.

Horrified, never having seen her husband abuse their daughter or noticing any signs of neglect, Karin told the deputy he’d made a mistake.  He countered by referencing the detailed statement their Fayette County social worker, Brittany Philpot, had attached to the petition.

“But we don’t have a social worker, and I don’t even know where Fayette County is,” Karin remembers telling him.  Other than a visit from a child protective services worker several years ago over an issue with Karin’s ex-husband, Karin said they’ve never had any involvement with the state Department for Community Based Services, which handles child welfare matters.

A frantic Brandon, who arrived at their Rineyville home within minutes of Karin calling to say he’d been summoned, began thumbing through the paperwork with the deputy.  His and Karin’s birth dates and Social Security numbers were correct, but he noticed his daughter’s information was correct on some pages but not others. And the legal name of the three-year-old’s listed biological mother was the name of a woman who lived in Lexington that neither he nor Karin knew.  The Lexington woman and Brandon were listed as legal guardians.

“Within 10 seconds of reading it, I knew this wasn’t about us, that there had been a mistake,” Brandon said in his living room two weeks later.

Included in the summons were intimate details about the Lexington woman, a 21-year-old mother with two children, including a three-year-old daughter who shares an almost identical name to Brandon and Karin’s daughter.  The woman later spoke to the Herald-Leader.  Her identity is being withheld, along with her daughter’s name, because they are possible victims of abuse.

The paperwork given to the Humphrieses included the Lexington mother’s address, both her and her daughter’s Social Security numbers, which daycare the children attend, and details of their case, including results of drug tests the mother has taken, recent medical history, currently prescribed medications, instances of potential domestic violence, and details explaining why Philpot, 28, believes the three-year-old is “at risk of harm” in her mother’s home.

“We’re panicking, thinking, you’ve got the wrong kid, and is there a child in need somewhere and you don’t know where she is?” Karin recalled.

Around this time, more than 90 miles away, law enforcement knocked on the Lexington mother’s door with a copy of the same paperwork in tow, where the child the summons was issued to protect lives.  Her copy, like theirs, included the address, birth dates and Social Security numbers of Karin and Brandon Humphries and their daughter.

For the Humphrieses, there was little they could do on a Sunday afternoon.  They made several calls anyway, including to Philpot, whose number was on the summons. She didn’t pick up, so Brandon left a message.

Not knowing how quickly the issue would get resolved and being unfamiliar with the process, the couple was afraid their daughter might be mistakenly taken by child protective services, so they hastily found a lawyer for $250 an hour to appear for them in court the following Wednesday.

That night, Karin and Brandon couldn’t sleep.

“It was terrifying, literally, for two days,” Karin said, “to be sitting, watching your driveway, thinking at any moment someone might show up and take my three-year-old.”

Paranoid when their older children went to school Monday morning, Karin and Brandon asked their teachers to please call them first if anyone showed up asking questions about their kids.

Later that day, Karin phoned the Lexington mother for the first time, and found out the packets they both received were virtually identical.

When Karin shared with the Lexington mother they’d been given the specifics of her and her children’s case, “I was humiliated,” the mother said.

“I still am humiliated.  I just don’t think anyone has the right to know those personal details about me and my children,” she said, adding that in the three weeks since, the state still hasn’t told her of the mix up.  Earlier this week, a state employee called to say her case had been given to a different social worker without explaining why, she said.

At the Humphrieses’ that evening, state officials had begun returning phone messages, including Philpot, who wrongly assured the couple no one else had received their personal information, they said.

Two days later, the Humphrieses’ attorney returned from the hearing saying officials said all paperwork with their information had been collected and digital copies destroyed.  He then handed over what he’d been given in court, which included bits and pieces of summons from other cases, they said.  One of those papers included personal information about the Lexington mother’s son, who has a different father than her daughter.  This led the Humphrieses to wonder, again, whether their personal information had been shared with someone else, perhaps this boy’s father, who lives in Eastern Kentucky.

Philpot and her bosses would later apologize in an interview with the Herald-Leader for her error as an “honest mistake,” but acknowledged it’s a symptom of a broader issue facing Kentucky’s child welfare system: caseworkers continue to struggle with untenable caseload volumes, increasing the likelihood for mistakes and unintended consequences.

In Kentucky right now, the average social worker manages at least double the number of recommended cases — each of which involves the welfare of a child. When Philpot pulled a wrong file that led to the mix up, she was managing nearly five times that amount.

Her slip up led to the spread of personal information, invoking fear and stoking two families’ distrust in the state’s largest branch of government.  And for the Humphrieses, eventually to an ameliorating offer of $5,000 from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to cover at least five years’ worth of credit monitoring and repayment of the Humphrieses’ attorney fees, they said.  Cabinet officials would not confirm the specifics of the proposed settlement.

The offer, though, was extended on the condition that the couple agree not to sue the state, return the mixed documentation and that Karin take down a Facebook post she made about the incident, even though it didn’t include names.

They said no.

“The ability to tell our story is worth more,” Brandon said.

.jpg photo of family that cps filed a false illegal document of child abuse against in court
Brandon Humphries, of Rineyville, helps his stepson, Anders Davenport, 7, with his homework at their home.

‘She made a mistake’

Philpot is a veteran in her profession, despite her young age.  With more than six years as a state social worker under her belt, her tenure more than doubles that of many of her colleagues in Fayette County, one of the most case-heavy regions in the state, where most who leave the job do so after fewer than two years.  That’s in part why she’s chief on her investigatory team, holding the highest position under her supervisor.

Her work history is also sparkling, one of her supervisors, Alicia Miller, said.

“I never have worried about a case that Brittany has investigated, or any of the information she brings back from an investigation,” Miller said.

Philpot took the job immediately after college, earnest and passionate about protecting children.  In the nearly seven years since, she’s seen colleagues buried under hefty caseloads, inadequate pay and high stress spurred by long work hours flee to other professions.  But it hasn’t shaken her resolve, even as she’s seen her own caseload grow to an unmanageable size.  In one recent pay period, Philpot logged 48 hours of overtime, she said.

“I can attest to the caseloads in Fayette County — almost every worker I have has a high caseload and it’s due to staff turnover,” Miller said.

A year-long study completed by a state legislative committee in 2017 found Kentucky to have some of the highest caseloads in the nation, and the annual turnover rate in the profession was 24 percent.  In a report issued this summer, the state average was still about 31 cases per worker — twice as high as the federal recommended standard of 15 to 17.

Raises were given to social workers across the state three years ago for the first time since 2008 as a way to stave off high turnover rates, boost morale, and create an avenue by which employees could work their way up to higher-paying positions. Starting salaries are now around $34,000. Philpot earns $43,090, according to state records.

In 2018, Gov. Matt Bevin’s biennial budget included $22.2 million to fund more pay increases for about 10 percent of social workers, and another $28 million to hire new social workers and replace outdated technology.

But progress is slow going.

Currently, the average caseload size in Fayette County is 33, according to state data. And the number of social workers hired in the area in 2019 compared with how many have quit is virtually break even: between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15, 19 social workers were hired and 16 left.  In the 10 central Kentucky counties that make up the Southern Bluegrass region, including Fayette, 27 social workers have been hired this year, while 30 have quit.

Today, Philpot manages 60 cases — almost five times the federally recommended amount.  Each case represents a family of varying size, meaning she manages well over 100 children, all of whom are in vulnerable and potentially dangerous positions. It’s a workload she admitted “is not doable.”

When she mistakenly swapped the Humphrieses’ three-year-old with the Lexington mothers’, she was managing 56 cases, according to her personnel records.

Philpot erred when she pulled the wrong name from Kentucky’s birth index, a statewide registry with personal information for every person born in Kentucky. That day, she also pulled information for about 10 other children, in order to issue similar juvenile dependency, abuse and neglect petitions to their parents.

Complicating matters, the Lexington three-year-old’s name was spelled incorrectly in the system, “so when I searched her in the birth index, the other child is the one that came up,” and, always tight for time, she didn’t double check her Social Security number and birth date, Philpot said in an interview Monday alongside Miller, Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Eric Clark, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Chief of Staff Tresa Straw, and DCBS Chief of Staff Lesa Dennis.  They all defended Philpot’s work performance and said no reprimand was necessary.

“I made an honest mistake.  I was very overwhelmed,” Philpot said.  “I would never intentionally put stress on a family like this.”

Clark said he and others chose to speak publicly about the incident to admit a mistake was made, and to rebuff the Humphrieses’ notion that accountability means “publicly shaming” Philpot for a simple error.

Workforce retention is a constant struggle for the department, the officials agreed, and it’s likely to be exacerbated now that the Humphrieses are using “this as a platform to ruin a good worker’s career and publicly humiliate her,” Clark said.

“Let’s talk about mistakes.  Let’s talk about outcomes due to high caseloads,” he said. “There are much more egregious things that can happen due to high caseloads outside of mailing something to the wrong address.”

Miller said it’s hard for people outside the industry to understand the toll it takes.

“For someone who doesn’t understand what the agency does and just wants to have an outlet for their own benefit when we’re here trying to protect kids, trying to make sure families have what they need, it puts a bad taste in your mouth.  That there are people out there who have no clue what we do but want to drag us through the mud when we have really good workers who are trying to do their jobs.”

‘Not going to correct what happened’

In the weeks since the incident, Karin and the Lexington mother have been communicating regularly.  She’s due in court for her daughter’s case in early October, and Karin, who said she feels obligated “not to turn our back on her and her kids,” plans to go.

Though Clark wouldn’t provide specifics, he said the state has tried “everything we can” to remediate the issue with the Humphrieses, but to no avail, because what they want is “more precious taxpayer dollars to pay them out for this mistake.”

The Humphrieses, though, said they’re not interested in money, especially if it comes with strings attached, and they don’t understand why they’re being portrayed as exploitative.

What they want is accountability and assurance that this won’t happen again.

“How big of a mistake are they allowed to make before something changes?” Brandon said.  “They still can’t tell us who all has our information.  We understand that mistakes get made, but we didn’t ask to be brought into this.”

But instead of getting bogged down scrutinizing isolated mistakes, Clark said, the department must focus on retaining more of its employees.

A big part of that means standing behind overworked staff by transparently owning minor mistakes and publicly defending them — what he called “a new way of operating.”

“We have got to stop workers from leaving our agency in two years or less,” he said, and figuring out, “how can we create an environment where workers feel supported in spite of high caseloads?”

As for what should happen as a result of Philpot’s mix up, Clark was unequivocal: “There does not need to be a change in how we operate in the Department for Community Based Services,” he said.

Accountability is necessary, he said, but this isn’t what it looks like.

“A new policy, a new procedure, disciplinary action is not going to prevent this from happening again, and it’s not going to correct what happened,” he said.

“It’s important for us to demonstrate to Brittany and our entire workforce that we care about them, because we need them.  We’re not going to let bad outcomes define who we are.”

VA Concerned With Child Abuse And Neglect Numbers

.jpg photo of news graphic of child abuse and neglect deaths
Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise in VA.

Hampton Roads leads region in Child Abuse and Neglect deaths

HAMPTON ROADS, VA  –  Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are dying at an alarming rate.

Child deaths from abuse and neglect are on the rise, and local groups are working to educate parents and make everyone a partner in prevention.

The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team says the rate of kids dying from child abuse and neglect in this area is the second-highest in the state — which is why is they’re working to increase awareness of the issue.

“So many of these deaths are accidental, but some of them are intentional and we have to worry about those, too.  Some people just aren’t safe parents, and we need to protect children from those parents as well,” said committee member Betty Wade Coyle.

The committee says 14 children in Hampton Roads died from abuse or neglect last year.  Five of those children were infants who never reached their first birthday, and five more victims were 3 years old or younger.

The team reviewed 49 cases of abuse or neglect that were investigated by local agencies last year, including the including the death of 5-year-old Levi Robertson in Isle of Wight.

His mother and her boyfriend were found guilty of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in January.

“Our number seems high compared to the rest of the state, but that’s because, in some ways, we feel it’s because we’re counting better than other areas,” explained Coyle.

Coyle says the three factors that contribute to the largest number of cases are substance abuse, mental illness and domestic abuse.

The committee says children are also dying in unsafe sleep environments.
Coyle says the safest way for babies to sleep is “alone, on their back, in a crib.”

Poverty is an underlying issue, but more can be done to help parents, like providing safe housing options and home visiting programs for families who are high-risk.

The Empty Chair At The Table

.jpg photo of Arlington National Cemetery where so many are buried that gave their lives for this country
Arlington National Cemetery, where so many are buried that gave their lives for Our Country.

We will never forget

.jpg photo of red poppies to honor those who died trying to protect our country
In the U.S., people wear the red poppy on Memorial Day to honor those who died trying to protect Our Country.

This is for all those that answered the Call of Duty for Our Great Country, America the Beautiful, the Home of the Brave and the Free, who gave all and didn’t get the chance to bring up their children, or grow old with their spouses, or have careers.

The flag shouldn’t stay at half-staff all day

.jpg photo of our flag as we honor the many that gave their lives trying to defend our country
Today we honor the many people that have given their lives defending Our Country.

Federal guidelines say the flag should be displayed at half-staff only until noon, then go up to full-staff until sundown.

A Strong Successful Family

.jpg photo of a good, happy family graphic
Good caring parents teach by example, always remembering that genuine praise, guidance, and understanding are the mark of a good parent.

Building & Maintaining A Good Family

Building a Good Family

There are basic qualities and values needed to have and maintain a good family.   These qualities and values are:

  • Love
  • Honor, always truth and loyalty
  • Mutual Respect
  • Kindness
  • Communication
  • Consideration
  • Duty
  • Responsibility

The Future of this world

Children are the future of this world.  As a good parent it is your responsibility to teach your children from birth, the above qualities and values, as these are handed down from generation-to-generation, and prepares them to be good family members, good friends, good neighbors, good employees, good leaders, and good citizens.

Good caring parents teach by example, always remembering that genuine praise, guidance, and understanding are the mark of a good parent.  As your child grows, regular family quality time strengthens trust and mutual respect, forging a stronger family bond, where communication grows easier, and good memories are more easily made.

Maintaining A Good Family

The five “L’s” of a good, strong, family:

  1. Love is at the heart of the family.  All humans have the need to love and to be loved; the family is normally the place where love is expressed.  Love is the close personal blending of physical and mental togetherness.  It includes privacy, intimacy, sharing, belonging, and caring.  The atmosphere of real love is one of honesty, understanding, patience, and forgiveness.  Such love does not happen automatically; it requires constant daily effort by each family member.  Loving families share activities and express a great deal of gratitude for one another. Love takes time, affection, and a positive attitude.
  2. Learning – Families are where we learn values, skills, and behavior.  Strong families manage and control their learning experiences.  They establish a pattern of home life.  They select appropriate television programs.  They guide their children into the world outside the home.  They do not let social forces rule their family life.  They involve themselves in neighborhood, school, government, church, and business in ways that support their family values.  Strong families teach by example and learn through experience as they explain and execute their values.
  3. Loyalty – Strong families have a sense of loyalty and devotion toward family members.  The family sticks together.  They stand by each other during times of trouble.  They stand up for each other when attacked by someone outside the family.  Loyalty builds through sickness and health, want and good fortune, failure and success, and all the things the family faces.  The family is a place of shelter for individual family members.  In times of personal success or defeat, the family becomes a cheering section or a mourning bench.  They also learn a sense of give and take in the family, which helps prepare them for the necessary negotiations in other relationships.
  4. Laughter is good family medicine.  Humor is an escape valve for family tension. Through laughter we learn to see ourselves honestly and objectively.  Building a strong family is serious business, but if taken too seriously, family life can become very tense.  Laughter balances our efforts and gives us a realistic view of things.  To be helpful, family laughter must be positive in nature.  Laughing together builds up a family.  Laughing at each other divides a family.  Families that learn to use laughter in a positive way can release tensions, gain a clearer view, and bond relationships.
  5. Leadership is essential.  Family members, usually the adults, must assume responsibility for leading the family.  If no one accepts this vital role, the family will weaken.  Each family needs its own special set of rules and guidelines.  These rules are based on the family members’ greatest understanding of one another. The guidelines pass along from the adults to the children by example, with firmness and fairness.  Strong families can work together to establish their way of life, allowing children to have a voice in decision making and enforcing rules. However, in the initial stages and in times of crisis, adult family members must get the family to work together.

Domestic Violence Call Leads Officers To “Absolutely Disgusting Child Abuse Case”

Children found locked in dog cage, living
in deplorable conditions, Wise County
deputies say

RHOME, TX  –  A father and mother of four children are facing charges after deputies discovered a horrific scene of child abuse and neglect at a home Tuesday morning.

.jpg photo of mother of children found to be abused and neglected.
Paige Isabow Harkings, 24

According to Wise County deputies, they received a call at about 7:20 a.m. on a report of domestic violence at a house off County Road 4930 near Newark, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth.

Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings face four charges of child endangerment, authorities said.

.jpg photo of father of one of the children found to be abused and neglected.
Andrew Joseph Fabila, 24

When deputies arrived at the home, they found cuts to the Fabila’s face and heard children inside a barn, according to Sheriff Lane Akin, with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.

Four children were found inside the barn:  a 4-year-old girl and three boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, Akin said.

The oldest two children were locked in a dog kennel measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, he said.  The other two were found mostly unclothed on the floor of the barn, covered in urine and feces, Akin said.

Akin said it was the worst child-abuse case he’d seen during his 44 years in law enforcement.

“I’ve not worked one where children are locked inside a dog kennel, and I find that absolutely disgusting,” he said.

Inside the barn, the space was “crudely fashioned” into rooms to create some sort of living quarters, Akin said.

“There was plenty of food inside the barn, but the refrigerator and the cabinets had been locked so the kids could not get in to get food,” the sheriff said.

The children were hungry and thirsty when deputies found them, so authorities gave them food and water before they were taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.  Akin said he saw no obvious injuries to the children before they were hospitalized.

The children were released from the hospital Tuesday evening and will be placed in foster care, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said.

Deputies noticed feces scattered throughout the house.

Fabila was sent to the hospital with cuts.  Harkins also faces a family violence charge.

The couple had been staying with the paternal grandparents’ house.  Texas Child Protective Services confirmed that they had previous contact with the family, but would not elaborate.

Multiple agencies are investigating.