WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW

INFORMATION ALL PARENTS NEED TO KNOW

Matthew Benson
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 26, 2007 12:00 AM

The deaths of Tucson siblings Ariana and Tyler Payne, ages 4 and 5, were uncommon.

The circumstances surrounding the deaths were anything but.

A broken home. Poverty. A father with a past of domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse. A mother with allegations of meth use. And a Child Protective Services system that appeared overwhelmed and unwilling or unable to give the case the attention it needed. Believing the children were safer with their father than their mother, and despite a court order granting her custody, CPS recommended the children remain with him.
Less than a year later, in February, Ariana's body was found stuffed into a bin in a storage locker. Her brother was never found, though he is presumed dead. In custody and charged with first-degree murder in the case is their father, Christopher Payne, and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales.

Rep. Jonathan Paton said the case, the focus of a House Government Committee hearing Tuesday, is illustrative of the dilemmas that CPS faces routinely.

In the wake of Ariana and Tyler's deaths, as well as that of another Tucson child, 5-year-old Brandon Williams, Paton hopes to offer the agency expanded power and resources, tied to additional accountability and transparency.

Specifically, the Tucson Republican would authorize CPS to require drug testing of parents in cases, such as with the Payne family, where the agency suspects but can't prove drug use. Drug or alcohol abuse is involved in three-quarters of all CPS cases, testified Lillian Downing, a CPS administrator in Pima County.

"If a parent is going to choose meth over their child," Paton said, "the state needs to be able to step in and force that parent to seek treatment or remove the child."

Paton would also open to the public the CPS case files of children killed or seriously injured. Those cases could be closed only with a court order. Currently, the opposite is true.

Other potential legislation would allow CPS to file missing-person reports for children who disappear, and would improve the agency's access to criminal background information through the Department of Public Safety.

CPS officials said understaffing is also critical. They cited case overload as a primary cause of two of the major oversights in the handling of the Payne case. First, the caseworker never obtained the 2003 divorce decree that gave the mother, Jamie Hallam, custody and denied the father visitation. The decree cited his past problems with drug use and domestic violence.

Three years later, CPS closed the case and ended its involvement with the family, even though the children were living with their father in violation of the court order. There had been no court hearing to transfer custody.

Downing noted CPS had no reason to believe the father was a threat to his children. But she also conceded, "In my opinion, we should have maintained the case open until the conclusion of the transfer of custody. We did not do that."

CPS officials wanted to keep the children with their father. They wanted to keep the family intact as much as possible.

Tracy Wareing, director of the state Department of Economic Security, said that's always the goal. And the push-pull between rescuing children from dangerous homes and unnecessarily breaking up families will surely be at the heart of any coming debate on CPS reforms.

"There's a really fragile balance there," said Rep. Steve Farley, a Tucson Democrat who sat in on Tuesday's hearing. "I think (CPS) may have the balance right but just needs more funding to carry it out."

ARIZONA STATE LEGISLATURE

CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES

CASELOAD STANDARDS COMMITTEE



Minutes of Meeting
Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Senate Appropriations Room #109



Members Present


Senator David Petersen, Cochair Representative Gail Griffin

Karen Edmundson Richard Dunton

Mary Gonzales Cindy Hicks

David Mendoza Rusty Woods



Members Absent


Senator Scott Bundgaard Representative Debra Brimhall, Cochair

Senator Victor Soltero Representative Rebecca Rios

Anna Arnold Vivian Kidd

Lisa Watkins



Staff:



Barbara Guenther, Senate Family Services Committee Analyst

Brian Lockery, House Human Services Committee Analyst





Senator Petersen called the meeting to order at 1:40 p.m. and attendance was noted. The members of the Committee introduced themselves.



Discussion on Human Service Workers (HSW) and Child Protective Services Specialists (CPSS) Ratios



David Longo, Financial and Business Operations Administrator for the Division of Children and Families, Department of Economic Security (DES), explained the information contained in a handout he distributed entitled Division of Children, Youth and Families – Child Protective Services Staffing Information (see Attachment A). He stated that in order to obtain staffing within the ideal 1:5 ratio they would need an additional 15 supervisors, 6 HSWs, and 17 secretaries. He noted the authorized case management positions for fiscal year 2000 was 687.5 Child Protective Service (CPS) workers and the new figure for 2001 is 697.5, which includes the 10 new positions they received from the last legislative session.



Mr. Longo noted that the figures regarding case management positions requested for fiscal years 2002 and 2003 reflect that the agency did not ask to "backfill" the shortage of positions that currently exist within the agency to obtain the 1:5 ratio. He indicated the turnover percentage rate for CPSS is increasing each year. He reviewed the Quarterly Vacancy Report and the CPS Recruitment Efforts also contained in the handout. He stated open positions are noticed on the Internet, where a lot of interest has been generated, and they also advertise in different publications and conduct job fairs.



Mr. Longo explained that most of the information contained in the Competitive Salaries for CPS Workers portion of the handout was taken from the Liz Todd Study from a year ago. He indicated the report recommends a pay raise for all CPS Series and also recommends the regrading of the CPS Series and an incentive for workers who obtain college degrees.



In response to Ms. Edmundson, Mr. Longo stated the recommendation of a special recruitment rate of $23,100 for HSWs would include that current employees also receive an increase so that inequities would not be created. In response to Senator Petersen, Mr. Longo stated the increase for the existing worker would be above the $23,100 figure and he believed the recommendation was for at least a 10% raise for any employee currently making under that amount.



In response to Representative Griffin, Mr. Longo stated District 1 encompasses Maricopa County, District 2 Pima County, and District 6 Santa Cruz and Greenlee Counties.



In response to Senator Petersen, Mr. Longo stated he did not have data available today regarding the average length of employment for CPS workers, but he would get back to the Committee with the information. He offered that some of the CPS workers on the Committee might be able to shed some light from a district perspective. He stated from a global perspective they have experienced workers leaving from all levels and added that new employees are not staying that long once they get into the field and see the intense requirements it takes to perform their job. Mr. Longo also indicated he would provide information on the years of experience an employee obtains before being promoted to supervisor.



Ms. Hicks stated she has a sense of what is going on around the district, however, she indicated the district is too large to keep a very close touch on what is going on in every office. She said in her office there are only three people, including herself, who have been there since the beginning of the year. She noted that one of their new employees only stayed about a month and took a job at Rio Salado Community College teaching an adult literacy course for a $12,000 pay increase. She stated they have had both experienced and new employees leave.



Ms. Hicks stated that Vivian Kidd asked her to relay to the Committee that there was not a day that went by in the past month that she did not think of resigning and that she has applied for another job with the Pima County Juvenile Court for more money, and is waiting to hear from them.



Ms. Edmundson asked if there has been any discussion about separating out the classifications for supervisors and CPS Program Specialists, because they are still at the same rate of pay. Mr. Longo referred to the Competitive Salaries for CPS Workers portion of the handout and stated they came up with some preliminary class codes and recommended titles. He indicated they are currently at the same recommended grade and it would be up to the Department of Administration or the people changing the initiative to decide that issue. He stated DES was only looking at how to bring all CPS workers into a new class, not just the CPS Is, IIs, and IIIs.



Ms. Hicks stated one of the problems she has observed over the past several years is that special recruitment rates and general salary increases do a fairly nice job of recruiting people, but once they are hired and find that they are probably not going to be making a whole lot more, it contributes to the turnover rate. She asked if there has been any consideration for step increases. Mr. Longo stated there is no proposal before the agency regarding step increases and he indicated they are trying to be proactive and start some dialogue in this area. He stated the Department of Administration has a plan they are working on, however, it does not include step increases.



Senator Petersen asked what the cost is for recruitment and training of a CPSS from date of hire until they are trained. Mr. Longo stated he did not have an exact figure on the cost because one of the tough areas to determine is the "training period" because CPS caseworkers handle cases on day one. Senator Petersen stated the Department should be able to establish a figure for recruitment and suggested there must be a certain amount of time that could be equated to the salary for training. He indicated it would be beneficial for the Legislature to have that information.



Delores Reed, Assistant Deputy Director, Division for Children, Youth and Families, DES, stated there have been national studies indicating it takes approximately a year from the time of hire before a caseworker can understand the caseload and the rules, regulations and laws that pertain to child welfare. She offered there have been some estimated costs as high as $100,000 per worker for turnover. She emphasized that it is very expensive to have the kind of turnover DES experiences and it gives additional reason to look at the problem and try to retain experienced staff.


Senator Petersen stated he has advocated for pay raises over the last several years and one of the main problems is that other areas of government also need increases because of high turnover rates, specifically the prison system. He stated he would be interested in knowing what the turnover cost is for CPS caseworkers, which he assumed would be higher than most other state positions. He asked what the recruitment and training cost is for the average state worker. Ms. Guenther indicated she would research that information.



Mr. Mendoza noted that a Department of Corrections study found that to recruit and train an officer for the prison costs $9,500 per position. He opined that CPS workers would require a much larger amount of money.



Ms. Reed clarified that the $100,000 figure she quoted earlier includes the salary costs for a full year, not just recruitment and training.



Mr. Longo stated he would gather cost information regarding recruitment and training of CPS workers.



Mr. Mendoza stated a study was conducted by the Auditor General in 1994 which found that the average cost for recruitment and training for a state employee was $5,000.



Representative Griffin stated these questions and issues are very important because there is only so much money in the budget and every agency is competing for those funds.



In response to Senator Petersen, Mr. Longo stated the vacancy rates have steadily increased slightly each year. He noted that the Liz Todd Study from August 23, 1999 indicated that across all classes, all districts and all quarters, in FY 1998-99 the average length for state service for all people leaving was 3.28 years. CPS IIs averaged .99 years of service, CPS IIIs averaged 7 years of service, HSWs averaged 2.52 years of service, and the average length of state service across all districts for supervisors was 12.19 years.



Senator Petersen emphasized that this year is the beginning of the biennial legislative budget, which makes it a critical time for the Committee to make recommendations.



Ms. Hicks recommended instituting step increases and that employees with master's degrees be given some benefit for having acquired those degrees. She stated employees have been encouraged to obtain degrees, yet there has not been any benefit in terms of salary increases, job promotions, etc. She added that another issue for CPS IIIs is job stagnation because once they hit that level there is nowhere to go if they want to remain as case managers. She indicated the merit increases the Legislature has funded over the past several years have barely kept up with the rate of inflation and the largest merit increase in District 1 this last year was 2.8%. She emphasized that workers need to be given meaningful increases or they will continue to leave and the increases should be on a more regular and predictable schedule.



Mr. Woods indicated he is a supervisor of an adoption and foster care program and also formerly worked for the State for ten years making him familiar with the issues within the State system. One of his concerns is the lack of experience for supervisors and also the pay level for the front line supervisor.



Mr. Dunton stated the number one priority the employees in his district expressed is reinstituting the step system, which was discontinued in approximately 1984. They also want incentive pay for college degrees and for those who are bilingual. In response to Senator Petersen, Mr. Dunton said the State does reimburse for tuition. Mr. Dunton also noted that supervisors can advance without an educational degree, whereas a worker cannot go past a CPS I.



Ms. Gonzales stated in her district within some of the different programs within DES there was some monetary incentives put back for the actual workers for programs that had succeeded in certain areas. The money was given back as bonuses to the employees at the end of the year, which she indicated is a very strong incentive for people.



Ms. Edmundson stated agreement with all of the recommendations and added if the Committee was to pick one priority it should be the step program for step pay increases. She stated recruitment is one thing, but keeping employees is a higher priority at this point in time and there is no incentive to become a supervisor because a CPS worker can make more money from overtime pay.



In response to Senator Petersen, Mr. Longo explained that the overtime pay decisions are not made by DES, but rather by the Department of Administration. Different positions are exempt or non-exempt according to federal standards, which have been in place since the early 1960s.



Mr. Mendoza stated the Department of Corrections (ADC) some years back developed a three-pronged approach: One is money to increase the entry level and the second is a step system to keep employees, and the third is to lower the years of service for retirement from 25 to 20 years. The rationale is that if an employee works 8-10 years they will be more inclined to stay another 10 years. He stated ADC has not achieved the latter, but they are working on it. He emphasized that the step system should be a first priority for this Committee. He suggested they look at the other agencies with a step system and see if they have a more stabilized work force.



Larry Chesley, House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee Analyst, stated he wanted to correct Mr. Mendoza by saying, "They did do the three steps and there is still a shortage of 1200 people. The turnover has gone down, but they still cannot fill those positions."



Senator Petersen requested the Committee members submit their suggestions to him and then Ms. Guenther will prepare a letter.



Dian Fleegal, CPSS III, representing herself, stated she has talked with her coworkers about the kinds of things that might help caseload, burnout, and turnover retention problems. She stated one of the problems is the over abundance of private dependency petitions being filed in Maricopa County. She stated the petitions do not have to meet the same criteria as CPS and as a result, they have to do an investigation to determine if they can support the petition, which is very time consuming. She indicated she had approximately ten in the last year and supported only one. Ms. Fleegal said that many times the petitions are for delinquent children who have been passed on to CPS for services. People try to utilize CPS as a social service agency, which it is not, and many times CPS receives requests to do things for families because they simply want services, not because there is a legitimate dependency. She stated they feel the most suitable solution for this problem is to change the dependency laws and make dependencies more difficult.



Ms. Fleegal indicated they are seeing more violations of parental rights in the courts because they are simply courts ordering children into care without an investigation that there is a dependency. Many times parents are not fully apprised either. She stated they would like to see a change to limit the number of private dependency petitions, if not eliminate them altogether. She suggested CPS establish the criteria, in conjunction with the Legislature, for dependency petitions and require that all dependencies go through CPS or redefine what a dependency is.



Elaine Kotrba, CPSS III, representing herself, stated the Legislature should eliminate the private dependency petitions, which would not require any money being spent and would save taxpayers money because of the tremendous amount of time that is wasted on these petitions. She stated they violate parental rights and they do not follow state laws. She noted that CPS is required to notify parents of temporary custody and none of the private dependency petitions have done that. She stated she worked on 10 to12 private dependency petitions this year and only one was valid. She emphasized most of the petitions they work on are a complete waste of time.



Ms. Edmundson stated petitions are not the number one crisis in rural areas, but rather their crisis is dealing with the delinquents who are in detention and parents who refuse to pick up their children. CPS is expected to put delinquent criminal children in foster homes with other children that are abused or neglected. She related a personal experience where she was required to find a place for two children who were in detention at Durango that CPS was court-ordered to remove by 5:00 p.m. One of the juveniles was detained for grand theft auto and the other was for assault. She said her office finally found a shelter for them, but she had to refuse to pick them up and take them by herself to the shelter because it would have put herself and her staff at risk.



In response to Mr. Mendoza, Ms. Kotrba stated not having a step system is a big problem for the workers as there are heavy caseloads and a lot of overtime required for the low pay they are presently receiving.



Senator Petersen asked Mr. Longo if he knew how many hours of overtime has been paid in the last year and if it is also increasing annually. Mr. Longo stated it is an increasing number and he did not have the exact figure, but would estimate it to be over $1.5 million.



Ms. Edmundson noted that they have been directed to keep workers' overtime under control to ideally no more than four hours of overtime per week. She emphasized the increase in overtime should take into account that there is an effort not to approve as much overtime.



Beth Rosenberg, Senior Program Associate, Children's Action Alliance, stated there are many families who need services and sometimes they go to all lengths, including filing private dependency petitions, to obtain those services. She acknowledged it is certainly a drain of CPS resources, however, she indicated the problem should be looked at cautiously. A study should be conducted as to why those families are coming into the CPS system to get services, to figure out what the solutions should be, but redefining dependency will not solve the problems. She stated she certainly sympathizes with the CPS workers who are overwhelmed and the Children's Action Alliance supports the DES request for additional staff for next year and she hopes the original DES request remains the same as the recommendations of this Committee.



Ms. Rosenberg indicated the Children's Action Alliance also supports the request for the CPS training academy that will provide training to workers prior to them obtaining case assignments. They also support the increase in grade levels and salaries – the step program. She stated the compensation issue in the DES budget request is a critical issue and is not part of the budget request per se, but rather is on the third tier of critical issues and any push this Committee can give in terms of looking at that issue would be helpful.



Ms. Rosenberg distributed a flyer noticing a Symposium sponsored by the Children's Action Alliance (see Attachment B) and urged the members of the Committee to attend. She stated the speaker at the symposium is nationally recognized and has worked with other states in terms of what are some of the solutions to resolving some of these problems.



Senator Petersen stated this would be the last Committee meeting for this year and encouraged the members to submit to him any areas of concern. He thanked the members for their hard work. He asked that suggestions to be included in the letter be submitted to his office by Friday, December 15 and stated the draft letter will be faxed to the members on Monday, December 18. He requested responses be back by the end of next week. He suggested the final letter should be sent to the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Governor, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, and John Clayton, Director of DES.



In response to Mr. Mendoza, Senator Petersen stated he would be happy to sponsor legislation regarding the issues identified and stated he would ask Senator Hartley, the Chairman-elect of the Family Services Committee, to co-sponsor any legislation.



Senator Petersen adjourned the meeting at 2:50 p.m.



Respectfully submitted,





_________________________

Rosetta B. Cutty

Committee Secretary



(Tapes and attachments on file in the Secretary of the Senate’s Office.)









---------- DOCUMENT FOOTER ---------

Child Protective Services Caseload Standards Committee

Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Page 7

Policy: 4301 Effective: 09/20/05
Procedure: 4301.08 Replaces: N/A
Chapter: Case Management Dated: N/A

Rule: Coordinating with Child Protective Services (CPS)




Purpose:



The Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC) shall coordinate services with the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) Child Protective Services (CPS) for juveniles who are suspected to be in danger of or a victim of abuse or neglect; are without a parent or guardian; or who are currently dually adjudicated with CPS as their primary guardian.



Rules:



1. When an ADJC youth program officer iii (YPOIII), a Parole Officer, teacher, or another representative reasonably believes that a juvenile is or has been the victim of abuse, neglect, or abandonment (there is no parent, guardian, or custodian who is available, willing, and/or able to safely care for the juvenile), s/he shall refer to Procedure 1160.05, Reporting Suspected Child Abuse and follow the steps described therein.



2. If a dependency petition is filed and if the juvenile becomes dually adjudicated, the ypo iii or parole officer shall:

a. Involve the juvenile’s CPS caseworker or designated representative in all pertinent staffings;

b. Share information with the CPS caseworker as the juvenile’s legal guardian; and

c. Request the assistance of the caseworker in continuous case planning (see Procedure 4320.06, Transition Staffing).

d. The ypo iii, Parole Officer, and the CPS Caseworker shall ensure each agency’s responsibility is identified in the case plan regarding the juvenile’s:

i. Placement;

ii. Education;

iii. Therapeutic needs; and/or

iv. Medical needs.

e. The YPO III, parole officer, and the CPS Caseworker shall jointly monitor the juvenile’s:

i. Progress in his/her continuous case plan goals;

ii. Independent Living plan, if the juvenile is 16 years of age or older.



3. The Parole Officer shall:

a. Collaborate with the CPS Caseworker to follow up with any CPS case plan permanency goal;

b. Participate in family engagement in the Family Group Decision Making process; and

c. Attend all Child and Family Team (CFT) and team decision making meetings.



4. If a Parole Officer or YPO III needs assistance with a CPS investigation or other systems processes, s/he shall contact the assigned CPS District Liaison whose telephone number is available on the ADJC Intranet in the Community Corrections area.



5. The ypo iii and the parole officer shall facilitate CPS contact with the juvenile.



6. CPS shall maintain the role as juvenile guardian until the court dismisses dependency

By Josh Brodesky / Arizona Daily Star

In October 2006, Jamie Hallam, the mother of the late Ariana Payne and her missing brother Tyler, gave birth to a baby who had methamphetamine in her system.

Child Protective Services workers almost immediately placed the newborn in temporary foster care.

But when Hallam did not test positive for methamphetamine, the baby was returned to her and there was little follow-up. Over the following month, a caseworker made a handful of phone calls — never speaking with Hallam — and then closed the case.

The failure to make face-to-face contact, much less speak with Hallam or visit her home, goes against CPS' policy for investigating and managing cases of substance-exposed newborns and raises questions about how safe the home environment was at the time.

Moreover, no one ever checked on the welfare of Ariana and Tyler, who were in Hallam's custody but were presumed to be living with their father, who is now accused of killing them.

It wasn't until the death of 4-year-old Ariana and the presumed death of 5-year-old Tyler were made public in February and March that CPS returned its attention to the baby — removing her from Hallam's home in March even though police have never connected Hallam to her children's deaths.

Because of confidentiality laws, CPS spokeswoman Liz Barker Alvarez said officials could not speak about the handling of the case involving Hallam's baby.

However, speaking generally, Janice Mickens, program administrator with CPS, said while the policy does state that a case manager should make face-to-face contact with the family and investigators should visit the home, in low-risk cases where families do not cooperate the only option is to close the case.

Actions versus policy

Within a day of testing positive for methamphetamine, Jamie Hallam's daughter was placed with temporary foster parents.

Although Hallam denied using any drugs, CPS specialist Maria Del Sagrario Ramirez was skeptical, documents show.

For example, when Hallam at first refused to take a drug test, Ramirez asked her why she would refuse if she was clean.

CPS' policy manual says investigators are supposed to visit the newborn's home if the baby is hospitalized at the time of the report. But there is no indication Ramirez visited Hallam's home or attempted to check on Ariana and Tyler.

Ultimately, Hallam did not test positive and the allegation was found to be unsubstantiated, and her baby was returned to her after a few days. Hallam was given a referral for counseling, but she never made her appointments. Services along the lines of counseling, parenting classes and substance-abuse prevention were offered to the family, but Hallam never followed up on them.

Meanwhile, the case was transferred to Augusta Olaore.

CPS policy states, "At a minimum, the case must be opened for services to ensure the newborn's continued safety and the family's participation in services. While the case is open for services, maintain face-to-face contact with the parent and newborn ... in the home at least once a month."

But there is no indication in case notes that anyone at CPS ever made face-to-face contact with Hallam or the baby. In November, Olaore made a handful of phone calls and sent Hallam a letter, outlining her unreturned phone messages. She then closed the case.

Strangely, a closure form in early November from Our Family Services, which would have provided the "in-home services" to Hallam and her baby, states the family's needs were met even though Hallam never pursued services.

Again, speaking generally, Mickens said case managers "make every effort" to visit the child's home by the time the child is discharged from the hospital to see if there are any outstanding risks. She also noted that in-home service providers should also be checking the home environment.

But what about cases like Hallam's, when the family is not embracing in-home services?

"We cannot force families to participate in those services even though we may in our gut believe that family is going to come back to our attention," she said.

Considering the handling of the case, state Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican leading upcoming legislative hearings on CPS, said he would like to see some of the agency's policies, such as making face-to-face contact with a child's caregiver, written into law.

"Right now a lot of those things are in a rule, and maybe they should be in statute or law," he said. "There needs to be some tightening up."

Substance-exposed babies

It's unclear how many substance-exposed newborns CPS deals with, but the majority of CPS dependency cases in Pima County involve parents who are abusing substances, particularly methamphetamine.

At the close of 2006 there were 1,527 open-dependency cases in Pima County, and almost 70 percent of these involved parents who were using substances, according to the 2006 annual report for the Pima County Juvenile Court Center. Methamphetamine was the drug of choice for nearly half the parents.

Dr. Susan Stephens, medical director of the Comprehensive Medical & Dental Program, which provides healthcare to children in foster care, said newborns most often test negative for substances, but that doesn't mean substances aren't in their system.

Rather, she said, the testing thresholds for newborns were "arbitrary" amounts chosen in the 1980s by politicians hoping to show a drop in the number of substance-exposed babies.

The testing thresholds are the same for babies and adults.

"So it doesn't matter if we are looking at urine tests on a 300-pound man, 100-pound woman or a seven-pound baby, they are all the same," Stephens said.

As such, "When we have a positive urine screen on the baby, that baby is just totally intoxicated in whatever substance we are testing for," she said.

While it's less likely that a baby will test positive for substances, when one does test positive it's relatively common for a parent's test to be clean or at least inconclusive.

Urine tests on mothers will only identify drugs used a day or two before the test, and many drug users are adept at falsifying tests, Stephens said.

Still, Stephens said a child's positive test isn't any more valuable than a mother's test. It should be seen as a part of the larger decision-making process coupled with information about the child's home, siblings and the backgrounds of parents along with any ethical medical issues.

Ariana and Tyler

In February, Ariana Payne's decomposing body was found in a trash bin. Her 5-year-old brother, Tyler, has not been found but police believe he is dead.

Their father, Christopher Matthew Payne, and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, have been charged with murdering both children.

It's unclear when Ariana died, but police believe the death occurred between March and September.

In the case files for Hallam's baby, which are dated in October and November, there are a number of references to Ariana and Tyler living with their father in another part of Tucson.

"Ariana and Tyler Payne are with Chris Payne," one case note from Oct. 6 states.

At an Oct. 11 meeting where Hallam's baby was returned to her, it's also noted that two of Hallam's kids are with the father.

Case notes show no evidence there was any discussion about the welfare of Ariana and Tyler or if there were efforts to check on them even though they were still in the legal custody of Hallam. The children were living with their father at CPS' urging. When children are placed with a different caregiver, the agency's policy manual says they should be checked on once a month.

At a recent news conference, Ken Deibert, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, said CPS had no reason to check on Ariana and Tyler when the report about Hallam's baby was made because they were not living with Hallam at the time.

But Paton questioned that rationale.

"They had all the reason in the world to believe those children could have gone back to their mother," the legislator said. "The whole thing is illogical, and I honestly don't understand the actions in this case because it's being explained in hindsight.

"But as you walk through it as it happens you can only come to the conclusion that they didn't want to put time in to investigate," he said.

Paton is pushing to have hearings on the Payne case made public, and he and the agency's heads will be meeting this week to discuss that possibility.

Barker Alvarez, CPS' spokeswoman, said the agency will support open hearings provided they follow confidentiality laws designed to protect children, like Hallam's baby, from public embarrassment.

"In terms of CPS, we want to have the hearings be as open as possible and be able to share as much of the information to the public as possible," she said.

● Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or jbrodesky@azstarnet.com.

Bud Foster KOLD News 13 Political Specialist

A new report released Thursday about three Tucson children killed in our City. Their deaths happened while the children and their families were under the watchful eye of child protective services.

Five- year- old Brandon Williams died after being given a huge dose of adult cough medicine. His mother Diane Marsh and her roommate Flower Thompson are accused in Brandon's death.

The body of 4-year-old Ariana Payne was found February in a Tucson storage locker. The body of her brother, 5-year-old Tyler has never been found but investigators accuse the children's father Christopher Payne of killing them both.

In the report released by The Department of Economic Security Division of Children, Youth and Families it states that safety intervention was not a formal model existing in Arizona.

Which means that CPS spent a lot of time on these two cases, but never developed family circumstances which might have pointed to danger for the children. The 34 page report was done by an independent expert following accusations CPS did not do enough to protect the childern.

The report says CPS was focused on family reconciliation. So CPS officials never determined whether the children would be safe with the father, who when arrested admitted to heroin use and child abuse.

CPS says it has adopted new policies which now say safety can be a central driving influence during investigations. The report say CPS will now consider the safe/unsafe environment of a family.

RYN GARGULINSKI
Tucson Citizen
More light has been shed on the suspected child abuse death of 5-month-old Jayher Holguin, including Child Protective Services' several attempts to visit the boy's family before his death, according to a CPS report released Friday.
Jayher was found dead in his mother's South Side home Jan. 19 after he was left in the care of her boyfriend while she was at work, a Tucson police spokesman said.
The mother's boyfriend, Alejandro A. Alvarez, 21, was subsequently arrested and booked into Pima County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse, Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said.
CPS said it received a report of Jayher being abused on Dec. 18, about a month before his death, also while under Alvarez's care.
The report said that Alvarez had reportedly been drinking that day and that "he gets violent when he drinks."
Tucson police Officer Frank Amado could neither confirm nor deny reports of Alvarez being under the influence of alcohol during the Dec. 18 or Jan. 19 incidents.
The Dec. 18 abuse report was from University Medical Center, which contacted CPS when Jayher was brought in with a bruise on his thigh, CPS said.
The report stated Alvarez admitted picking up the child by the thighs and grabbing one side harder than the other.
No other injuries were noted by the hospital, which also performed an X-ray of Jayher's leg, CPS said.
CPS said it had attempted to visit the family's house, in the 6200 block of South Campbell Avenue, on Dec. 19, Dec. 21 and Jan. 9. but no one was home.
An investigator spoke briefly with Jayher's mother Dec. 24, CPS said, when she called the number left on a business card in her door.
The two were supposed to talk again Jan. 2 to set up a home visit, the report said, but she did not return the investigator's call.
CPS' last attempt to reach the family was Jan. 15, when an investigator left a voice message that went unreturned, the report said.
The next time CPS received information regarding Jayher was Jan. 20, the report said, after the child was dead.
CPS and Tucson police continue to investigate the infant's death and Alvarez remains in the Pima County Jail on $750,000 bail.

Tucson Region
Another 2 local kids die under CPS' watch
Intervention was attempted for infant, 4-year-old boy
By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.10.2008

http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/224406


Two Tucson children who died in January under questionable circumstances
had been under the watch of Child Protective Services.


Officials with the state agency confirmed last week that a child-abuse
hot line report had been filed for 5-month-old Jahyr Holguin, who died
on Jan. 19. His mother's live-in boyfriend, Alejandro A. Alvarez, 21,
has been charged with first-degree murder and child abuse.


The second child, 4-year-old Fabian Silva, had been under CPS' watch
since Halloween after family members say he was taken to a hospital for
a concussion and other injuries. His mother was not home at the time,
and he was being watched by her live-in boyfriend.


The boy's grandmother said doctors at the hospital alerted CPS after
noticing some suspicious bruising. CPS officials confirmed that they had
a file on Fabian, but they would not say who called them or release a
case summary because the death is still under investigation.


Fabian was taken to the hospital again on Jan. 26, arriving at
University Medical Center "life less" according to police reports.


Again, the mother was not home, according to police reports. Fabian died
the next day.


The case remains under investigation, and no one has been charged in the
boy's death.
Although Fabian's grandparents said the CPS case was closed the day
before the boy died, CPS officials said they have an open case on him,
but they wouldn't elaborate.


CPS officials also refused to comment on the Jahyr Holguin case or
release the case report, even though his mother's boyfriend already has
been charged.


Spokeswoman Vicki Gaubeca said the file would be sent to the Pima county
attorney for review to make sure its release doesn't hinder the
prosecution of the case, in accordance with agency policy.


However, four days after the file was requested, she was uncertain
whether it had been sent it to the County Attorney's Office yet, or when
it would be available. "But we want to get that to you as soon as
possible," she said.


The two boys are the fourth and fifth Tucson children to die in the last
year despite having some type of CPS involvement. The agency has been
under intense public scrutiny since the deaths last February and March
of Ariana Payne, 4; Brandon Williams, 5; and the presumed death of Tyler
Payne, 5, whose body has never been recovered.


The deaths also come at a time when state legislators are considering a
number of changes in CPS regulations, including making CPS records —
particularly those involving child deaths or near-deaths — more open to
the public.


"Five kids in a period of a year is a red flag by anybody's standards,"
said state Rep. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican who has led
legislative hearings on CPS. "And it calls out the need to have access
for these records."


While CPS officials have acknowledged that the agency was involved with
both Fabian and Jahyr in the times leading up to their deaths, the
extent of that involvement remains unclear.


"We can confirm we have an open case," Gaubeca said of Fabian's death.
However, the records can't be released because "there is an ongoing
investigation that is looking into the circumstances of the death," she
said.


But she said that just because there is a case doesn't mean there was
necessarily abuse or neglect. "The circumstances around the death are
still being looked into."


CPS officials would not comment on the nature of the original hot-line
complaint that led them to Jahyr.


Alvarez, the live-in boyfriend charged with murder in Jahyr's death, has
said the baby was injured when he fell from a bed onto a magazine rack,
according to Star archives.


Efforts to reach Jahyr's mother, who was at work at the time of her
son's death, were unsuccessful.


Reportedly rebuffed by CPS
In the case of Fabian, several family members have said they asked to be
interviewed by CPS officials after the initial report of abuse on
Halloween but were rebuffed.
They said they were concerned that CPS would separate the 4-year-old boy
from his older brother, and they were worried about the safety of both
children.


"They never came over here to interview us," said Martin Rodriguez, one
of Fabian's grandfathers. "How can CPS conduct a good investigation with
only interviewing the mom and the boyfriend?"
Rodriguez said he and his wife, Marina, saw their grandchildren nearly
every day and felt they could have at the very least provided insight on
the family and expressed concerns they had. They made numerous efforts
to speak with the investigator, they said, but they were never formally
interviewed.


Since making those attempts to speak with CPS, there has been a split
with their daughter, they said, and during the months leading up to
Fabian's death they were not able to see the boy. If they had, Rodriguez
said, they would have done "spot checks" on their grandchildren.


"Once CPS puts their nose in that situation, they are obligated to make
sure the child is safe," he said. "We're not trying to put the ax to
CPS, but you learn from your mistakes. You correct them and improve."


Fabian's father, Oscar Silva, also said he never was interviewed by CPS.
Silva acknowledged that he wasn't very involved with his children at the
time, but he did see them on occasion. After Fabian's first
hospitalization, he said that he questioned Fabian's older brother about
what was going on in the home, even asking his older son to write down
any problems that might have existed.


"I was never interviewed," he said. "They felt that I wasn't there at
the present time, and they felt that I shouldn't be interviewed at all."
Gaubeca said she couldn't respond to the family's criticism because of
the ongoing investigation.


Rodriguez said Fabian's older brother has been placed with another set
of grandparents. Efforts to reach those grandparents and Fabian's mother
were unsuccessful.


Gaubeca said CPS rules require investigators to interview all children
and adults in a home, as well as anyone else who might have information
on the case.


Pending legislation
Several legislators have proposed legislation that, to varying degrees,
would make CPS records more transparent.
Paton, the Tucson Republican who has led recent legislative hearings on
CPS, said these new deaths, and the lack of information available, only
underscore the need to make CPS records public.


In Fabian's case, "the grandfather felt there were issues, and we have
to see the record in order to determine that's correct or not," he said.
In addition to opening CPS records in death or near-death cases, Paton
has proposed requiring CPS workers to follow protocols in terms of
contacting prosecutors and law enforcement when criminal issues arise
during CPS investigations.


Fellow state Rep. Pete Hersh- berger, also a Tucson Republican with
long-standing ties to the non-profit sector, said Paton's proposal is
too broad and doesn't take into account concerns about the privacy of
siblings.


He has proposed an alternative that would leave it to county attorneys
and the courts to decide if information should be made public.


Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or jbrode...@azstarnet.com.


CURRENTLY CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES VIOLATES MORE CONSTITUTIONALLY
GUARANTEED LIBERTIES & CIVIL RIGHTS ON A DAILY BASIS THEN ALL OTHER
AGENCIES COMBINED INCLUDING THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY/CENTRAL
INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WIRETAPPING PROGRAMS....


CPS Does not protect children...
It is sickening how many children are subject to abuse, neglect and even
killed at the hands of Child Protective Services.


every parent should read the free handbook from
connecticut dcf watch..


http://www.connecticutdcfwatch.com


Number of Cases per 100,000 children in the US
These numbers come from The National Center on
Child Abuse and Neglect in Washington. (NCCAN)
Recent numbers have increased significantly for CPS


*Perpetrators of Maltreatment*


Physical Abuse CPS 160, Parents 59
Sexual Abuse CPS 112, Parents 13
Neglect CPS 410, Parents 241
Medical Neglect CPS 14 Parents 12
Fatalities CPS 6.4, Parents 1.5


Imagine that, 6.4 children die at the hands of the very agencies that
are supposed to protect them and only 1.5 at the hands of parents per
100,000 children. CPS perpetrates more abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse
and kills more children then parents in the United States. If the
citizens of this country hold CPS to the same standards that they hold
parents too. No judge should ever put another child in the hands of ANY
government agency because CPS nationwide is guilty of more harm and
death than any human being combined. CPS nationwide is guilty of more
human rights violations and deaths of children then the homes from which
they were removed. When are the judges going to wake up and see that
they are sending children to their death and a life of abuse when
children are removed from safe homes based on the mere opinion of a
bunch of social workers.


CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, HAPPILY DESTROYING THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT
FAMILIES YEARLY NATIONWIDE AND COMING TO YOU'RE HOME SOON...


BE SURE TO FIND OUT WHERE YOUR CANDIDATES STANDS ON THE ISSUE OF
REFORMING OR ABOLISHING CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ("MAKE YOUR CANDIDATES
TAKE A STAND ON THIS ISSUE.") THEN REMEMBER TO VOTE ACCORDINGLY IF THEY
ARE "FAMILY UNFRIENDLY" IN THE NEXT ELECTION

SHERYL KORNMAN
Tucson Citizen
Editor's Note: This is the first in an occasional series examining Child Protective Services and the state's child welfare system.
Poverty and drug addiction along with intergenerational abuse and neglect are common to Tucson families who end up in court in child dependency cases.
Add to that an overworked child welfare agency and waiting lists for mental health and addiction treatment, and the challenges facing the state's child welfare system become clear.
Child Protective Services has come under fire recently because the organization had been involved with the families of three children who were killed this year: Brandon Williams, 5; Ariana Payne, 4; and her brother Tyler, 5.
CPS workers in Pima County struggle daily to keep up with their caseloads and always go home knowing more must be done in a case, said Cheryl Russell, a CPS unit supervisor in Tucson.
Russell called it a stressful but rewarding job.
Caseworkers here routinely are assigned more cases than the recommended national standard.
Most CPS workers in Pima County carry 14 or 15 cases at a time while the national standard is 13 cases, said Russell, who has a master's degree in social work. She's been with CPS in Tucson for 6 1/2 years.
Russell has oversight of seven caseworkers and an aide who handle 92 cases involving 172 children. Her CPS office is one of several in Tucson.
CPS receives dozens of calls a week from residents, police, schools and others about the welfare of a child. The agency follows a complicated screening process to review each call and determine which need investigating.
Once a file is opened, any number of outcomes are possible. Most cases are resolved with the children remaining in the home, and the parents required to follow a case plan that often involves drug and alcohol counseling, parenting classes or mental health treatment. But some cases result in the child taken from the parents and either placed with relatives or in the state's foster care system.
A large network of nonprofit social service agencies supports CPS. But Russell said the lack of access to addiction treatment and other services hinders the agency's ability to accomplish its mission.
"That's the toughest, most difficult thing I struggle with, trying to get appropriate services for families," she said.
Russell said it's difficult to get outpatient treatment for parents who don't qualify for AHCCCS, the state's version of Medicaid.
It is also hard to get individual psychotherapy - as opposed to group therapy - for clients who need it, she said.
"A lot of times we come up against brick walls with the mental health system," Russell said. "There's waiting lists. Sometimes they don't qualify for individual therapy" and end up in group therapy, which may not work well for clients in some cases.
"The mental health system has standards for individual therapy, which don't always match up with ours," she said.
Russell said she sees intergenerational patterns of abuse, drug use and "incivility" in CPS clients.
"We do have a lot of domestic violence, people in poverty and dependent teenagers who get into the drug thing just like their parents, and then we have to remove their children."
Russell said the overriding goal of caseworkers is to keep children at home whenever possible and "engage the family in services." That is what is best for children, she said.
"Historically, we've moved kids around too often. It deters their bonding, their developmental growth and wreaks havoc on their schooling when they are moved from place to place."
Children who must be removed because they aren't safe at home are moved when possible to a "willing, capable relative's home instead of to a foster home or group home," Russell said.
Taking kids from their home and placing them with a stranger is always tough on children, she said.
"When you remove them, you're taking them from everything that is familiar and putting them with strangers," Russell said.
Judge Stephen M. Rubin, a Pima County Juvenile Court judge who hears child welfare cases, also sees widespread illegal substance abuse in his caseload.
Rubin said about 70 percent of cases involve some type of substance abuse or addiction.
Most of the cases involve neglect of children, not abuse, said Judge Patricia Escher, Pima County's presiding Juvenile Court judge.
The parents are preoccupied with their drug use and children aren't fed, bathed and attended to as they should be, she said.
Rubin is immediate past president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which sets voluntary national standards for child welfare proceedings.
Rubin has been helping to direct reforms of the child welfare system here, based on those standards, through the Juvenile Court's Model Court program, one of about a dozen nationwide.
Rubin said that for nearly 11 years, the court has been working to improve the child welfare system, but some problems persist that make it difficult for families to repair themselves.
"If you sit in our courthouse on any given day and you watch the cases that come in and you look at the financial affidavits of the parents involved, many of them are unemployed, they have a history of unemployment, they have no transportation and they have no resources."
These factors contribute to children being abused and neglected, he said.
"When people are under stress, they do bad things, and it's very unusual to find someone who is not under stress on the end of a child abuse and neglect petition.
"It's very emotional work," Rubin said of his work overseeing these cases. "You can't do this job and not become involved in the lives of these families.
"It's our job to make sure families are provided the services they need and given the opportunity to reunify (with their children) when appropriate," Rubin said.
What the community needs to help families with substance abuse problems is more neighborhood-based treatment facilities, he said.
"We need to provide it in a way they can actually access it.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense if somebody lives at Mission and Ajo (roads) to send them to a therapist at Kolb (Road) and Broadway when they don't have a car."
Rubin said the state's child welfare agency, the Department of Economic Security's Division of Children, Youth and Families, and the publicly funded behavioral health system "have worked very hard together to utilize the assets that they have in the most effective way possible to provide treatment.
"Certainly they are operating on very limited budgets," he said.
"We know that prevention works, yet funds for prevention programs don't come in to the level that we need them."
Even without more funding from the state and federal government for treatment, Juvenile Court judges here remain committed to working with families who are "disadvantaged socioeconomically and educationally," he said.
Escher said difficult child welfare cases reflect generations of individuals who "have not been parented," who do not know what to do with a baby or even how to structure their time.
With little formal education and limited job skills, some parents who end up in court in a dependency case need help simply to learn how to be better parents, she said.
Rubin said CPS workers here have a tough task.
"The attempt to nurture and educate people who have not been nurtured and educated is an enormous job," he said.

The Department of Child Services is investigating the death of a Marion County infant who died while in foster care.
Seven-week-old Destiny Linden, who died April 28 at Riley Hospital for Children, is at least the fourth child under DCS supervision to die within the last five months in Marion County.
Susan Tielking, spokeswoman for the department, said the agency has opened an investigation into the death.

She also confirmed DCS had an open case involving Destiny at the time of her death, but said she could not provide any details of that case because of state confidentiality requirements.

Tielking said DCS records from the initial case, which apparently resulted in Destiny being placed in foster care, could not be released unless the new investigations determines she died as a result of abuse or neglect.

That fact that a child dies while in state custody, alone, is not enough under state law to trigger the release of DCS records, she explained.

The cause of Destiny’s death has not been determined, said Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew. She said initial indications point to a potential unsafe sleeping situation, but the final determination is pending results of toxicology and other tests, which will not be available for several weeks.

Ballew said the child was found unresponsive on an adult bed and, after attempts to revive her, was placed on life-support at Riley for about two days before being pronounced dead.

According to an IMPD report, police and medics were called to a home in the 8400 block of East 34th Street at 2:56 p.m., April 24 on a report of a possibly dead child. When authorities arrived, Everette Coleman, 43, identified himself as Destiny’s foster parent and said he called 911 when he discovered she had stopped breathing.

The report says officers collected a quilt, blanket and bottle from the bed where Destiny was laying, gathered a sheet from the baby's crib and a bottle from the living room floor.

Destiny initially was taken to Community Hospital East, according to the report.
Tielking said Coleman and his wife, Kim are licensed foster parents in good standing with the department.

Others children under DCS supervision who have died recently in Marion County include:

>> TaJanay Bailey, 3, who died Nov. 27, just weeks after she was returned to her mother and the woman’s boyfriend by DCS.

>> Miyanna Chowning, 3, who died Dec. 31, while in foster care.

>> Christine Miller, 8 weeks old, who died Jan. 21, while her family was involved in an active child protection case.

Tielking said she could not say how the four deaths in five months compare to past trends because the agency does not track the deaths of all children who are in state care, such as those who die from natural causes or accidents.

Dawn Robertson, spokeswoman for the family rights group, Honk For Kids, which works with parents dealing with the child welfare system, said the state should be able to say how many children in its care have died, regardless of the cause.

“They should be held to a higher standard,” she said. “They have taken these children from their parents because they believe they will be safer with the state. The public certainly ought to know when one of these children dies, even if there was nothing done wrong.”
Call Star reporter Tim Evans at (317) 444-6204.

Here's another item from the police reports, passed along by P-I breaking news reporter Casey McNerthney.
When a church youth group counselor tells you to clean up, you'd better really clean up.
The following happened last Wednesday at a church youth group meeting somewhere in the city, according to a general offense report filed with the Seattle Police Department. As the meeting was wrapping up, three boys decided to go outside and hang out, according to what one of the boys later told police. One of their counselors yelled at them to come back inside and clean up.
They did, one of the boys told police. Then they went back outside.
The counselor didn't like that. As one of the boys tells it, the counselor got a "crazed look in his eyes," yelled some profanity, grabbed this boy by the neck and "either punched or slapped him on the left side of the his face." When one of the other boys told him he couldn't do that, the counselor picked him up "by his collar" and said "he could kill him right now."
The first boy still had two scratches on the side of his neck when his mother submitted the report, according to the police officer who filed it on May 6. The mother told police she was under the impression that a church attorney had advised the church to file a report with Child Protection Services, who would then tell police. That never happened, she told police, so she filed her own report.
According to the report, church staff told the boy's mother that the counselor would no longer work with the youth group.
Posted by Monica Guzman Monica Guzmanat May 9, 2008 12:54 p.m.
Category: Crime and courts

Posted: May 12, 2008 09:49 AM MST
Updated: May 12, 2008 01:38 PM MST
Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News
Marion County - An Indianapolis mother spent Mother's Day weekend defending herself to police. Social workers removed her children after police say one of them wandered the streets.
Tasha Woodson, 33, is angry about social workers from Child Protective Services taking her children. It happened Mother's Day weekend as she returned home from the grocery store.
"I was at the grocery store. They lied talking about I didn't have no food. You want to come in my house and check my house," she said angrily. "Going around taking people kids for nothing and that's what I mean."
Woodson and her husband showed us inside their home which appears neat and in order.
"It ain't the Ritz or the Hilton," she said.
The Woodsons also showed us their refrigerator. There is bread, milk, hamburger patties and other staples like luncheon meats. In fact, nothing else would even fit in the freezer.
But the weekend brush with the law started after someone on East 10th Street spotted their son walking alone and crying.
Woodson's six-year-old son told officers he was lost. Woodson says he left his aunt's house with cousins.
"He spent the night over there, so basically he was in her care," Woodson said.
Woodson's son navigated six blocks to show police his home on Eastern Avenue.
This is how officers described the house in their police report:
"The toilet wasn't working. There was dog feces throughout the upstairs. Very little food if any. Just conditions you wouldn't want to have four children in," said Lt. Jeff Duhammel, IMPD.
The same officers found a one-, four- and five-year-old alone. Police say the babysitter showed up about 30 minutes later.
"When you found the person who admitted she was watching the kids, why didn't you lock her up for child neglect or abandonment?" said Woodson.
In 2005, Child Protective Services investigated Woodson for improper supervision. She argues this time she's done nothing wrong.
Tasha Woodson has eight of her nine children living with her. She has a CPS court hearing Tuesday about getting the four children back.

In the case of a boy paddled 36 times, the state Supreme Court says the practice is legal unless punishment is excessive or cruel.
By ROCHELLE OLSON, Star Tribune
Last update: May 31, 2008 - 12:34 AM
Three years after Shawn Fraser landed in court for paddling his unruly son 36 times, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that spanking a child isn't necessarily abuse.
In a unanimous decision released Friday, the court declined to adopt a "bright-line rule that the infliction of any pain constitutes either physical injury or physical abuse, because to do so would effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children by their parents."
And the state, wrote Justice Alan Page, "did not intend to ban corporal punishment."
Shawn Fraser found himself in the midst of controversy in 2005 when he tried to curb the behavior of his son Gerard, who was then 12 and weighed 195 pounds. When other discipline failed to work, he took a wooden paddle -- in 12-blow increments -- to his son's upper thighs. The spanking followed an incident in which Gerard ran away from home and lied about his whereabouts.
The boy called authorities after the paddling.
The Hennepin County District Court determined Gerard and his younger brother, Caleb, needed protective services, but the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, determining the parents weren't physically abusive.
The Supreme Court's decision affirmed the Court of Appeals.
"We're elated," said Natalie Fraser, Shawn Fraser's wife. Shawn Fraser could not be reached for comment. As a condition of keeping the boys during the appeals, their father agreed not to spank them, said Jill Clark, who represented Natalie Fraser.
On Friday, Gerard Fraser, now 15, said he's glad the case is settled, because it was stressful for his family.
"They didn't, like, abuse us or anything," Gerard said. "I was a really bad kid."
Gerard said he doesn't get into much trouble anymore but if he and his brother, now 14, misbehave, their father withholds their allowances or revokes other privileges.
In its ruling last year, the Court of Appeals determined that, given Gerard Fraser's age and weight, the force used on him was moderate and the discipline was not cruel or excessive. The Court of Appeals also determined that the Hennepin County District Court finding that the home was a "dangerous environment" was premised on the erroneous finding of abuse.
The Court of Appeals said that for intervention to be justified, unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances must be used. Hennepin County appealed that ruling.
Friday, the Supreme Court said that the evidence was insufficient to determine whether the boys were mentally or physically injured.
The Supreme Court declined to return the case to the district court for further findings.
"Almost three years have passed since the incident at issue, during most of which time the children have been living at home without apparent further incident," Page wrote.
A determination now as to whether the boys needed protection three years ago "seems a needless use of judicial resources."
The county attorney's office deferred requests for comment to the state Department of Human Services, which did not return a call late Friday.
"My client is very happy the long nightmare is over," said Jill Waite, Shawn Fraser's lawyer.
Staff writer Patrice Relerford contributed to this report. Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

Unallocated List Doubles After Restructure
Peg Putt MP
Thursday, 5th June 2008
For Comment: State Parliamentary Offices of the Tasmanian Greens, (03) 6233 8300
The Tasmanian Greens today are calling for urgent action because recent changes to child protection services on the north west coast have seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of children on the unallocated list in the past month, now at around 90 children reported as likely to be suffering abuse or neglect who have not been investigated.
Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MP said that as of 21st April workers in the child protection response teams responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect allegations have been cut from thirteen to six, as two teams were reduced to one based in Burnie, and the Devonport team disbanded.
Ms Putt believes that two children have suffered a further assault whilst awaiting investigation – one being in relation to a family violence incident known to police.
The Greens are also concerned that the child protection workers are now expected to work in the field alone, rather than with another staff member, raising issues of personal safety for staff working in isolated areas without mobile phone coverage and sometimes entering volatile situations.
“The restructure of child protection services in the north west is having an adverse impact as the unallocated list has risen dramatically from ten to around 90 in the last month, which is unacceptable and requires an urgent remedy,’ Ms Putt said.
“Until the 21st April there were two teams, one in Devonport and one in Burnie, to carry out the legal obligation to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect, but their numbers were halved when the team was consolidated in Burnie resulting in this blowout in the unallocated list despite bureaucratic blather about greater efficiencies.”
“To hear that two children have been re-assaulted whilst awaiting assessment is very upsetting.”
“The Greens also are worried that these child protection workers have now also been told to go alone into isolated areas without mobile phone coverage to deal with touchy situations, as this raises concerns about their personal safety.”
“What will Minister Giddings do to deal with this disastrous situation, having last week claimed that things were on the up and up in child protection? The children at risk in the north west deserve better,” Ms Putt concluded.

Posted Thu Jun 5, 2008 2:21pm AEST
The New South Wales Government is extending the deadline for the special commission of inquiry into child protection.
Commissioner James Wood has asked for another three months to process the amount of information he has gathered.
He has so far chaired more than 20 forums across NSW and received more than 600 submissions.
The report is now due at the end of September.

Updated: June 3, 2008 05:34 AM MST
CORPUS CHRISTI-On Monday morning, a judge in San Angelo signed an order clearing the way for the more than 400 children taken from a west Texas polygamist compound nearly two months ago to be reunited with their parents.
Parents, and lawyers representing them, picked up their kids they had not seen since April. Under guarded watch, parents walked out with their kids in hand.
Legal aid attorney Nancy DeLong told 6 News, "My clients are very thrilled to be going home with their children. I'm an attorney picking up my client." When asked who her client was, Delong replied, "She's one of the mothers who's been held as a child."
The Ark Assessment Center set up a makeshift office in a recreational vehicle, where guardians began the release process, showed their IDs, and, as John Lennan of Child Protective Services described, "sign some paperwork, list addresses where they can be contacted, then each one of the parents were photographed with their children. Then they were allowed to leave."
Case workers carried out bundles of supplies to cars, while others exchanged last minute hugs. One by one, those who stayed at the shelter finally headed home.
The little ones made sure they did not leave anything important behind, while a mother in the background filmed the whole event with a smile.
Lennan said his department was pleased with the court order, adding, "Number one, it helps to reunify the children with their families in a safe manner. The second thing the court order allows us to do is to continue our investigation into the safety of the children."
For now, the families will head back to the ranch and the lives they know. As for the rest of the kids spread out across Texas, it could be at least a week before all are reunited with their parents.
KRIS 6 News learned that just one child remains at the Ark Assessment Center in Calallen of the group staying at the shelter.
Online Reporter: Melissa Monti

GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) -- Child safety officials said six months after being returned to his parents, a 21-month-old Georgetown boy has died after being shaken and hit on the head.
Elizabeth Arellano, 21, reported Thursday that her son Christopher Barcenas had been choking on a chicken nugget while in her care at home, police said. He was rushed to a Georgetown hospital and then flown to Dell Children's Medical Center, where he died Friday.
Parents Arellano and Sergio Barcenas, 22, told investigators they could not explain how Christopher had received his injuries.
"The child suffered blunt-force trauma to the back of the head, and that caused the child's death, and that the explanations do not match with that kind of injuries, so that's why we are looking at this as an abuse-related death," said Darrell Azar with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
The couple's other two children were taken into protective custody again Thursday after Child Protective Services reported finding significant chest injuries and bruises on Christopher's twin brother while at the hospital.
"It's very disheartening, I think, for our staff and everyone involved when you have a situation where you think you have done everything you could, you've taken every reasonable precaution, and the family seems to be on the right, and then something terrible happens," Azar said.
CPS had removed Christopher and his two siblings from their parents' home in 2007 from February to December after reports of neglect and domestic violence. During that time, CPS officials said Arellano and Barcenas underwent treatment to regain custody of their children.
The couple had taken parenting classes and underwent psychological evaluations as part of their treatment. Monthly home visits by CPS were performed until March.
In April, the family's case was dismissed after CPS officials said they felt Arellano and Barcenas had made great progress through their parenting classes.
"We look for honesty, we look for cooperativeness, we look for whether or not they actually do what they say they are going to do," Azar said. "They complete services that we feel are necessary to strengthen their family."
Georgetown police said they are investigating the incident, but charges have not been filed in connection with the toddler's death.
CPS plans continue its investigation.

Canandaigua, N.Y. -
An Ontario County Social Services worker has been suspended without pay after being accused of a romantic involvement with a man she was charged with investigating.

A complaint filed with the county claims that Child Protective Services worker Jill Winter investigated a domestic fight in which a man allegedly physically and verbally abused his ex-wife in front of their preschool son. Winter was in a relationship with the man, Eric Perryman, at the time, the complaint alleges.

Perryman, a Shortsville resident, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of second-degree harassment for that alleged incident on March 16. He is also accused of pushing a male neighbor who tried to stop the incident, which took place in his ex-wife’s Canandaigua apartment.

Perryman was sent to the Ontario County Jail and bailed out by a family member the same day. On April 7, he was jailed on a forgery charge accusing him of using the credit card of his ex-wife’s mother. He was jailed again and this time bailed out by Winter. Jail officials verified that Winter posted $5,000 cash on Perryman’s behalf on April 16.

Winter declined to comment and efforts to reach Perryman were unsuccessful.
The complaint about Winter, dated May 13, was filed by Perryman’s ex-wife, Patricia Perryman. She said Winter came to her home a day or two after the alleged attack to find out what happened.

“She’s ringing my doorbell telling me she’s from Child Protective Services, they want to make sure my son isn’t living in an abusive situation,” Patricia Perryman said of Winter. “She said, ‘You’re not under investigation, it’s your ex-husband.’ She was nice as pie, she was like sugar.”

Patricia Perryman said Winter sat on her living room couch while she shared the details of the alleged early-morning attack, in which she claims her son was awoken and screamed, “Daddy, stop it!, Daddy — no!”

About a week later, Patricia Perryman was told that the Child Protective Services worker had been seen around Canandaigua with her ex-husband.

Then she learned that Winter had posted his bail on the second arrest.

“I’m literally disgusted that she had the nerve to come to my house, sit in my living room and judge me and my son,” Patricia Perryman said. “She should have said ‘No, I can’t take this case, I have a conflict of interest.’ She did not do that. ... I don’t know how anybody would have such nerve.”

In the complaint, Patricia Perryman said Winter completed and closed her investigation into Eric Perryman with a letter, dated March 31, “saying it was unfounded.” No one from the county would verify that, and it’s not clear if the investigation is complete.

Then, in April, Patricia Perryman said Winter “made verbal threats” toward her and other relatives in front of county employees during a meeting at the Department of Social Services. Perryman requested the meeting with Winter and her supervisors.

Eileen Tiberio, the head of the Department of Social Services, said she could not discuss the matter since it is personnel related.

County attorney John Park said of Winter, “The caseworker in question has been suspended without pay and disciplinary proceedings are in process.”

John Garvey, the director of human resources for the county, said that investigations are conducted whenever the county receives complaints alleging employee misconduct. He said it’s something of standard procedure that “the employee is removed pending investigation.”

“If a complaint is founded, we have a process for corrective and disciplinary action,” he said.

As a union member, Winter is being represented by Civil Service Employees Association Labor Relations Specialist Bob Leonard, who would not comment on the case except to say, “it’s confidential until the resolution of the whole thing."

Patricia Perryman, meanwhile, said she now has a court order of protection barring Eric Perryman from contacting her or their son.

Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at jpierce@messengerpostmedia.com

Texas child welfare officials criticized
Published: June 1, 2008 at 5:42 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, June 1 (UPI) -- The decision by Texas Child Protective Services to remove more than 460 children from a polygamous sect's compound has drawn criticism from some observers.

While officials say they were following the letter of the law in removing the children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' ranch near Eldorado, Texas, critics say authorities failed to grasp the case's scope, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

"Treating this case like it was any other case was obviously an error," said Jack Sampson, a University of Texas law professor who helped write the state's family code. "That's why one could, in retrospect, say it was too ham-handed. They should have been more nuanced."

Sampson said child welfare authorities should have considered the case's political and social ramifications.

Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said the child welfare agency has only itself to blame.

"Their blundering, and their hubris, created this mess," Wexler said.

He said the case shows the broad powers child welfare officials are given in many states.

"The families to whom this normally happens are overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately minority," he said. "They rarely have good legal representation. And everything happens in secret."

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

Texas child welfare officials criticized
Published: June 1, 2008 at 5:42 PM
Print story
Email to a friend


Font size:
AUSTIN, Texas, June 1 (UPI) -- The decision by Texas Child Protective Services to remove more than 460 children from a polygamous sect's compound has drawn criticism from some observers.

While officials say they were following the letter of the law in removing the children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' ranch near Eldorado, Texas, critics say authorities failed to grasp the case's scope, the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

"Treating this case like it was any other case was obviously an error," said Jack Sampson, a University of Texas law professor who helped write the state's family code. "That's why one could, in retrospect, say it was too ham-handed. They should have been more nuanced."

Sampson said child welfare authorities should have considered the case's political and social ramifications.

Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, said the child welfare agency has only itself to blame.

"Their blundering, and their hubris, created this mess," Wexler said.

He said the case shows the broad powers child welfare officials are given in many states.

"The families to whom this normally happens are overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately minority," he said. "They rarely have good legal representation. And everything happens in secret."

© 2008 United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be reproduced, redistributed, or manipulated in any form.

Parents honored for service

By John Lowman
The Facts
Published June 2, 2008
LAKE JACKSON — Rose Acuna wants to make Southeast Texas a better place, one child at a time.

The Angleton resident, 47, and her husband, Wenceslao, 52, have been taking in foster children for about four years. They currently have two — 7-year-old and 14-month-old girls — plus five children of their own ranging from 18 to 30 years old.

Rose Acuna’s own youth was troubled, coming from a home broken by divorce that she said was “dysfunctional to say the least.” Foster-parenting children is a way to keep others from basing their lives on something that doesn’t work, she said.

“I didn’t want to see other kids go through that,” she said. “We wanted to give them a little bit of normalcy and routine. When you’re in a miserable situation, you portray misery and tend to do that for your kids and that’s bad. We’re trying to break the cycle they’re in and give them a little bit of what normal life is.”

Acuna was among a half-dozen foster mothers honored this week at Dillard’s in Brazos Mall in celebration of Foster Parent Month. Caregivers received gift baskets with items from Dillard’s, Johnny Carino’s, El Toro, Ryan’s, Chili’s, Dido’s, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Valero, Mario’s Hair Salon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, The Grape Taste, Sears and Samuel’s Jewelry.

Dillard’s is happy to help honor foster parents, Lake Jackson store manager Mary Kay Gutknecht said.

“It’s amazing people have the ability to do this,” Gutknecht said before presenting the gift baskets. “Kudos to everyone who does.”

Brazoria County Child Protective Services staff member Fannie Williams helped arrange for the thank-you baskets.

“We tried to come up with a way to do something just for them,” Williams said. “This gets the whole community involved.”

Family service officials are always looking for such involvement, especially from foster parents, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said. Child-care professionals appreciate all current parents and there’s a need for others in the county. Anyone wishing to become a foster parent is encouraged to contact the service, Carter said.

Parents must meet some requirements to be considered, including age, financial stability and background checks, Carter said. Thanking those foster parents who qualify for all they do is the least those in the business of child welfare can do, she said.

“They answered the call of ‘Why not me?’ by taking the time to meet the requirements of becoming a licensed foster parent,” Carter said. “There is no gift or words which can thank these foster parents for their love and dedication to abused and neglected children in the community.”

Tanya Nichols of Freeport currently has two foster children and has hosted 27 over the past several years. Foster children create a deeper level of communication to family relationships since they usually bring with them another culture or set of circumstances, Nichols said.

“I enjoy taking care of kids,” she said. “If I don’t have any in the house, I feel lost. We teach them, but they teach us a lot. But when I have them, they’re mine. They just become part of your family.”

Lillie White of Freeport doesn’t currently have foster children in her home but is ready for more.

“I love children,” White said. “This is just something I really enjoy.”

Acuna and her husband have had 40 foster children over the years, ranging from babies to teenagers with babies. They’ve decided to stick with children 6 and younger as a personal preference, but letting go at any age is never easy, she said.

“We go through training, but it doesn’t train you how to feel when it’s time for them to go,” she said. “We’re told when you get a foster child, it’s a temporary situation. We know that, but it doesn’t dry up your tears.”

But the joy of having the children, for however long, always is worth the worry of their leaving — especially when a child is reunited with parents who might have lost their way for a little while, Acuna said.

Such faith is at the center of foster parenting, she said. Acuna and her husband attend Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Angleton and try to provide that structure for “their” children — while youths are in the home, and hopefully for their future.

“It teaches us to be compassionate and humble,” Acuna said. “We’re taught to be good stewards and we have to act in that manner. Faith is the foundation of the relationship, and of the home.”

John Lowman covers Brazoria County for The Facts. Contact him at (979) 849-8581.

---

FOSTER A CHILD

• Must be at least 21 years of age, financially stable mature adult

• Complete an application

• Share information regarding background and lifestyle

• Provide relative and non-

relative references

• Show proof of marriage and/or divorce

• Agree to a home study which includes visits with all household members

• Allow staff to complete a criminal history background check and an abuse/neglect check on all adults in the household

• Attend free training

For information, call Gwen Carter at (713) 394-4010 or visit dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Protection/services.asp

Please Make Note

Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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