Thursday, September 29, 2016

Athletic teen needs loving home

Getting to know Dalton takes time. He’s somewhat shy at first. This 16-year-old has had lots of ups and downs and he’s spent almost his entire life in foster care.

“Since I was 4,” said Dalton solemnly. “I was real little and they couldn’t take care of me and so they gave me to my grandma, but she couldn’t take care of me because she was getting older so she gave me to CPS.”

Years of trauma and uncertainty have taken a toll on Dalton.

“He feels unwanted,” explained Linda Sessions, Program Manager for Youth & Family.

As a result, he’s had to work through some anger issues but is making great progress in foster care.

Sessions said, “He’s a well-mannered kid. He has his problems just like any other normal kid would have, but he’s easy to be redirected.”

Dalton enjoys attending church, video games and sports.

“I like to play basketball. I like to play football. I’m not really good at it, but I try,” he said with a smile.

He also tries his best in school. He’s now in the 10th grade.

“He’s good in biology, so I think that’s his favorite class,” Sessions said.

Dalton needs a family who will understand his past and accept him for who he is – a teen working to reach his full potential.

Dalton said, “I want to be the only kid. I want a mom and a dad. The reason I want to be the only kid is so I get all the attention.”

This young man is looking forward to a second chance at a bright future, and a first chance at experiencing unconditional love from a family who believes Children are a Gift.

To learn more about Dalton, join Gillian Sheridan for her Children are a Gift report, next Tuesday night on CBS 19 News at 6. To inquire about an East Texas child waiting to be adopted, call 903-533-4242 or email

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New York City’s history of failure to prevent fatal child abuse

Lisa Steinberg was beaten to death in 1987. (KEITH TORRIE

a series of broken promises between the city and many of its abused kids.

*In 1874, a missionary named Etta Wheeler heard that a 9-year-old girl, Mary Ellen Wilson, had been routinely beaten by her guardians in their Hell’s Kitchen apartment — and no one could stop them.

Wheeler turned to the only organization able to help at the time — the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

An ASPCA lawyer found a legal mechanism that allowed Wheeler to free Mary Ellen — and for the first time politicians began focusing on child protective services.

Eventually the city formed the Bureau of Child Welfare. In 1969, it was renamed Special Services for Children — the first of many reincarnations for the agency now known as ACS.

*On Oct. 6, 1987, cops responded to an anonymous call that said a child needed help inside a Greenwich Village apartment. Upon arrival, police found a 6-year-old girl, Lisa Steinberg, beaten to a bloody pulp and unconscious. A 16-month-old boy, Mitchell Steinberg, was tethered to a chair and covered in his own filth.

Front page of the Daily News covering the death of Lisa Steinberg.

Police arrested lawyer Joel Steinberg, 46, who had illegally adopted both kids, and his partner Hedda Nussbaum, 45. Lisa died a month later and Mitchell was reunited with his biological mom. Steinberg was convicted of manslaughter in Lisa’s death. He served 16 years in prison and released on parole in 2004. Nussbaum testified against Steinberg and was not charged.

Soon after, Mayor Ed Koch renamed the agency to the Child Welfare Administration.

In 1995, city officals called Elisa Izquierdo's death the "worst case of child abuse they had ever seen." (Murray, Ken)

*On Nov. 22, 1995, horrified city officials reported the “worst case of child abuse they had ever seen” — and admitted they had been warned five times but failed to act. Elisa Izquierdo, 6, born to a crack addict, died after enduring years of physical, sexual and mental abuse at the hands of mother Awilda Lopez, who was convinced the girl was possessed by the devil.

Lopez made Elisa eat her own feces, mopped the floors with the girl’s hair and let her husband, Carlos Lopez, physically abuse the girl.

Elisa died after her mom threw her into a concrete wall. Lopez left the girl overnight while brain fluid slowly leaked from her nose. Lopez was convicted of second-degree murder. She is up for parole in 2018.

The city passed Elisa’s Law, which restructured city protection rules, after the girl’s death. Mayor Rudy Giuliani also renamed the agency yet again. The Administration for Children’s Services was formed and given its own commissioner. Just two years later, tragedy struck again — and repeated with frightening regularity.

Daytwon Bennett was found starved and beaten to death in 1997. (xxxxx)

* On March 29, 1997, 5-year-old Daytwon Bennett was found starved and beaten to death — under the nose of a city caseworker who visited his home 13 times but failed to notice his suffering.

His mother, Jocelyn Bennett, 27, had an eight-year history of child abuse. Daytwon’s emaciated body was covered in welts, including rope burns on his wrists. He was pronounced dead when his mother, using a fake name, took him to a hospital claiming he had a virus.

*On Nov. 8, 1997, Sabrina Green, 9, was beaten and burned to death by her older sister Yvette Green and Yvette’s boyfriend, Daryl Stephens. Sabrina was placed in her 32-year-old sister’s care in March and never showed up for school in September.

Attendance teachers, required to make a home visit after 10 absences, made only phone calls and never attempted to verify Yvette Green’s story that the girl was sick. Green had 10 kids of her own and ACS did a background check — even though Green was already under ACS investigation for abuse of one of her own children.

* On Dec. 3, 2000, a 15-month-old boy, Kyron Hamilton, died after he was beaten and whipped with a belt by his mother, Nicole Hamilton, 25. She said she beat him because he was annoying her while she tried to watch TV. ACS had investigated Hamilton in 1999 after an anonymous caller said she left her infant twins and Kyron’s older brother Tyon alone while she got high.

ACS closed the case after she attended parenting class and was referred to a drug treatment center. Hamilton pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Kyron’s death.

*On June 28, 2001, a 2-year-old Queens girl, Sydney Achan, died six days after she was found unconscious in her mother’s apartment. Sydney died of multiple skull fractures and brain injuries, the result of whiplash and blunt impact trauma.

Her mother, Deborah Achan, 29, hired a lawyer and refused to speak to cops, as did her boyfriend Israel Lopez.

Sydney’s father eventually sued ACS, claiming the agency overlooked his reports of suspected abuse. He noticed bruises on his daughter’s neck during a visit and took her to a hospital, then filed a report that he said the ACS caseworker, a new hire, had ignored.

* On Nov. 5, 2001, 3-year-old Sylena Herrnkind was beaten to death by her mother in the Staten Island home she shared with four siblings.

On the day she died, Sylena had soiled her diaper. Parents Julie and Matthew Herrnkind scrubbed her with steel wool, rinsed her with peroxide, made her eat soap and then dunked her head in ice-cold water. A report after Sylena’s death showed a parade of city caseworkers and therapists missed blatant signs of abuse committed against the girl and the Herrnkinds’ four other children.

*On Nov. 13, 2001, a 4-year-old girl, Signifagance Oliver, was drowned by her mother, who claimed she was exorcising the child of demons. Her mother, Sabrina Wright, 29, had lost custody of Signifagance and her twin sister, Ellagance, as well as two older children in 1997 after ACS found evidence of abuse.

ACS said it didn’t know how Wright came back into contact with the twins or how long they’d been with their mother. ACS had given custody of the twins to an out-of-state aunt in February 1999. In April and December of that year, ACS followed up and found the twins doing well. The case was closed.

* On Nov. 21, 2001, 7-year-old Inez Bennett was found dead inside a roach-infested Bronx apartment. Her jaw was smashed along with both arms. She died of multiple blows to the head. Mom Natasha Anderson, 24, called 911. She and her boyfriend Jason Lewis, 24, also had a 3-year-old son. ACS had gotten a complaint of neglect against the family in 1999 but said it was unfounded. Anderson pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and avoided a prison sentence. Lewis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years.

Jovannie Florestal was convicted of second-degree murder for the death of her son, Colesvintong Florestal, who was starved and beaten to death in 2004. (HERMANN, Marc A.)

* On May 20, 2004, officials got a 911 call to a Harlem shelter, where they found 3-month-old Colesvintong Florestal, starved and beaten to death. He weighed less when he died then he had at birth, and all his ribs were broken, officials said. He had a broken leg and suffered brain trauma from being violently shaken.

His mother, Jovannie Florestal, then 23, was convicted of second-degree murder. His father, Colesvintong Florestal Sr., had pleaded guilty to his son’s murder and got 20 years as well. In 2001, ACS got a “substantial allegation of inadequate guardianship” against the couple for their older son. The boy was placed with a relative.

Sierra Roberts was beaten to death in 2005.

* On October 25, 2005, 7-year-old Sierra Roberts was beaten to death. Her father pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with her death. ACS had investigated the family, but failed to remove Sierra.

Nixzmary Brown was found dead in her Brooklyn apartment in 2006. She died as a result of a blow to the head. (Robert Mecea/Newsday Staff)

* On Nov. 6, 2005, 16-month-old Dahquay Gillians drowned in the bathtub of his apartment. His mother pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. ACS had also investigated the family.

Quachaun Brown died in 2006. His mother and her boyfriend were charged with manslaughter and murder.

* On Jan. 11, 2006, police found 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown beaten to death in her Brooklyn apartment. She died as a result of a blow to the head. Her mother and stepfather were charged with her death. Nixzmary’s stepfather was also charged with sexually abusing her and unlawfully imprisoning her. In the year before Nixzmary’s death, ACS received repeated reports Nixzmary and her siblings were being abused and neglected — but the kids were never removed.

* On Jan. 30, 2006, 4-year-old Quachaun Browne was found beaten to death in his apartment. His mother, Aleshia Smith, 26, and her boyfriend were charged with manslaughter and murder. Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21/2 years in prison. Boyfriend Jose Calderon, 19, was charged with murder. ACS had received six complaints about Aleshia Smith since 2004, and caseworkers visited the house four times in the three months before Quachaun’s death, but failed to save him.

* On Sept. 2, 2010, medics responded to call for a 4-year-old girl who stopped breathing and found Marchella Pierce lying on a bed, weighing 18 pounds, with pieces of twine around the bedposts and blood on the wall.

Myls Dobson died after being starved, beaten and tortured for a week in 2014. (Facebook)

The girl, starved and beaten, was often drugged and tied to the bed by her addict mother. Carlotta Brett-Pierce was found guilty of her murder in 2012. For the first time, the city also charged two ACS caseworkers, holding them criminally responsible for the death of a child.

* On Jan. 8, 2014, an adorable 4-year-old boy died after being starved, beaten and tortured for a week, allegedly at the hands of his father’s girlfriend.

Myls Dobson was removed his mother’s custody by ACS in 2012, and placed with his loving, jailbird dad who had a long rap sheet. Caseworkers visited the boy’s home nine times without realizing his father was behind bars.

Myls’ accused attacker, Kryzie King, who has yet to stand trial, was charged with his death.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Parents Beware: Arizona Court Says Changing Diapers Equals Sexual Molestation

(ANTIMEDIA) If you’ve never had a good reason to condemn a governmental body for its brash policies, both the Supreme Court of Arizona and the state’s legislature may have just come to the rescue.

In a decision that reaffirms a draconian sexual abuse law, the state’s Supreme Court just upheld a statute that defines sexual abuse and molestation of a child “in such a way that intentionally or knowingly touching the genitals or anus of a child or the breast of a female younger than fifteen is a felony,” Matt Brown of Mimesis Law writes.

(ANTIMEDIA) If you’ve never had a good reason to condemn a governmental body for its brash policies, both the Supreme Court of Arizona and the state’s legislature may have just come to the rescue.

In a decision that reaffirms a draconian sexual abuse law, the state’s Supreme Court just upheld a statute that defines sexual abuse and molestation of a child “in such a way that intentionally or knowingly touching the genitals or anus of a child or the breast of a female younger than fifteen is a felony,” Matt Brown of Mimesis Law writes.

Yet defendants “are afforded an ‘affirmative defense’ if they can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that their touching ‘was not motivated by a sexual interest’. … [allowing the defendant to persuade] the factfinder that the ‘criminal conduct’ should be excused.” In other words, Arizona justices upheld the law’s literal meaning while also claiming defendants have a right to persuade them to the contrary, effectively ruling that their own interpretation of the law is unsound.

Chief Justice Bales and Justice Brutnel continued in their dissent, asking the question: “[M]ay the state, consistent with due process, sweepingly criminalize a broad range of conduct embracing both innocent and culpable behavior and assign to defendants the burden of proving their innocence?”

According to Brown, legislators who have worked to make this law a reality appear to believe they are immune to A.R.S §13-1404, or Arizona’s sexual abuse law, trusting that “prosecutors wouldn’t target anyone who matters to them.”

It’s hard to imagine none of the lawmakers involved in passing this law “have ever had children” or known someone who may have had a child, Brown continues. Whatever the case, Browncontests that it’s preposterous to consider these same lawmakers and justices “don’t believe the tremendous power they’ve given prosecutors could be abused.”

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In the decision, the majority of justices dismiss the dissent, arguing the fear that Arizona law enforcers will abuse the law is “unrealistic.” But Brown conteststhat Arizona prosecutors have a history of “pushing the envelope of the ethics rules … often with impunity.”

Referring to the recent case of the state’s most powerful prosecutor being disbarred for abusing his power, Brown defends his position and adds that the justices who wrote the ruling seem to be “unaware” of all the news stories covering the state’s addiction to abusing power.

He closes his argument by emphasizing the court’s lack of professionalism, saying “[t]he majority’s opinion can really be summed up as ‘just trust them.’”

To Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, the regretful ruling on State v. Holle turns Arizona residents “into unknowing criminals,” gutting constitutional rights of parents, nannies, grandparents, and other relatives within the boundaries of the state.

This article (Parents Beware: Arizona Court Says Changing Diapers Equals Sexual Molestation) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under aCreative Commons license with attribution to Alice Sallesand Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. Image credit:Sellers Patton. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Protection From Discrimination

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Protection from Discrimination in Child Welfare Activities

The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to care for their children successfully. While the primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the states, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) supports the delivery of child welfare services through funding of programs and legislative initiatives.   

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws that apply to state, local and federally funded child welfare agencies and some courts.These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex, or age in the delivery of child welfare services:

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VI prohibits federally-funded state and local child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the provision of benefits and services. This includes taking reasonable steps

to provide meaningful access to people with limited english proficiency (LEP).

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Title II and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 504 prohibit state, local, and federally funded child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disability in the provision of child welfare services.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

Title IX prohibits federally funded state and local child welfare agencies from discriminating on the basis of sex (gender) in federally assisted education programs.

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975

This act prohibits state and local federally funded child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against individuals on the basis of age.

The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA)

Section 1808(c) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 amended MEPA, and prohibits state and local federally funded child welfare agencies from using a child’s or adoptive or foster parent’s race, color, or national origin to deny or delay a child’s placement. State agencies must also recruit and retain foster, adoptive, and kinship homes that reflect the diversity of children and youth in the child welfare system.

Provider Resources

HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Issue Disability Rights Technical Assistance on Child Welfare

Circumstances that are grounds for Termination of parental rights in Arizona

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Rev. Stat. § 8-533
Grounds to terminate the parent-child relationship shall include any of the following, with due consideration for the best interests of the child:
• The parent has abandoned the child.
• The parent has neglected or willfully abused a child.
• The parent is unable to discharge parental responsibilities because of mental illness, mental deficiency, or a history of chronic abuse of dangerous drugs or alcohol, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the condition will continue for a prolonged period.
• The parent has been convicted of a felony of such nature as to prove the unfitness of that parent, including murder or manslaughter of another child of the parent, or if the sentence of that parent is of such length that the child will be deprived of a normal home for a period of years.
• The potential father failed to file a paternity action within 30 days of completion of service of notice as prescribed
in § 8-106(G).
• The putative father failed to file a notice of claim of paternity.
• The parents have relinquished their rights to a child to an agency or have consented to the adoption.
• The identity of the parent is unknown and continues to be unknown following 3 months of diligent efforts to
identify and locate the parent.
• The parent has had parental rights to another child terminated within the preceding 2 years for the same cause and is currently unable to discharge parental responsibilities due to the same cause. The following may also be grounds for termination of parental rights: • The child is being cared for in an out-of-home placement, the agency responsible for the child’s care has made a diligent effort to provide appropriate reunification services, and one of the following circumstances exists:
» The child has been in an out-of-home placement for a cumulative total period of 9 months or longer, and the parent has substantially neglected or willfully refused to remedy the circumstances that cause the child to be in an out-of-home placement.
» The child who is under age 3 has been in an out-of-home placement for a cumulative total period of 6 months or longer, and the parent has substantially neglected or willfully refused to remedy the circumstances that cause the child to be in an out-of-home placement, including refusal to participate in reunification services offered by the department.
» The child has been in an out-of-home placement for a cumulative total period of 15 months, the parent has been unable to remedy the circumstances that cause the child to be in an out-of-home placement, and there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not be capable of exercising proper and effective parental care and control in the near future.
• All of the following are true:
» The child was cared for in an out-of-home placement pursuant to court order.
» The agency responsible for the care of the child made diligent efforts to provide appropriate reunification
» The child was returned to the legal custody of the parent from whom the child had been removed.
» Within 18 months after the child was returned, the child was removed from that parent’s legal custody, the child is being cared for in an out-of-home placement, and the parent is currently unable to discharge parental responsibilities.
The failure of an alleged parent who is not the child’s legal parent to take a test requested by the department or ordered by the court to determine if the person is the child’s natural parent is prima facie evidence of abandonment unless good cause is shown by the alleged parent for that failure.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights
This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.
Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Polly Klaas Foundation

How to protect your child from sexual predators

Abuse can be inflicted by coaches, adult volunteers, staff members or teammates. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because a coach is nice. Individuals who sexually abuse children often know they need to create a sense of safety and trust with the people around them, so that concerns are dismissed.

9 warning signs

Commenting on athletes’ or employees’ bodies or appearance in a sexual manner.Giving gifts, money, trips or special favors.Playing body contact games, tickling, giving back rubs or wrestling.Videotaping or photographing athletes or employees in revealing or suggestive poses.Coaches who seem to prefer certain ages or genders of children and who tend to have a “special” relationship with one child.Making sexual jokes, sexual gestures and innuendoes or engaging in inappropriate, sexually oriented banter (e.g., discussion of dating behavior).Sharing sexual exploits or marital difficulties.Intentionally invading an athlete’s or employee’s privacy during nonworking hours or outside of regularly scheduled practice and competition.Excessive communication through email, text messaging, instant messaging or other social media.

What parents can do to help prevent abuse

Ask the sports club or program whether all coaches, volunteers and staff undergo criminal background checks before they are hired. Does the organization also check references, conduct personal interviews and require written applications?Ask whether the club has written policies. Those policies should clearly define coach misconduct, prohibit romantic or other nonprofessional relationships between coaches and athletes, define and prohibit emotional, verbal and physical abuse, bullying, hazing, initiation rituals, harassment and physical punishment by staff or athletes.Ask how the club monitors interactions between its staff and athletes. It should ensure that a coach is not left alone with a child.Ask what the process is for reporting inappropriate behaviors. There should be a formal written policy.Ask whether coaches, staff and volunteers undergo training in professional behavior and in identifying behaviors that they must stop if they observe them.Ask whether the club has an independent athlete welfare advocate or athlete protection officer to whom athletes know they can go in complete confidence to help them address concerns.Ask the coach about his or her coaching history. Does the individual have a child on the team? If not, how did he or she get involved? Does the individual coach other sports, genders or age groups? If you sense hesitancy in answering the questions or you think the coach is uncomfortable with your interest, you might want to pay more attention.As children get older, show up unexpectedly early on occasion and observe how practice is going. Be comfortable setting boundaries, such as limiting one-on-one time with your child.Talk to your children regarding all inappropriate or abusive behaviors and what they should do if they observe or are subjected to such behaviors.Does the club have a policy for traveling to competitions? Athletes should not travel alone with coaches, nor should they share a room or be alone in a room with a coach. There should be a detailed itinerary.

Report suspected abuse

If you have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected, call local law enforcement or the child welfare agency. If you aren’t sure where to report, contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 422-4453.