Roundup: Pittsburg, PA, model for fixing child homelessness? Child sex abuse case goes from “founded” to “unfounded”; Does your state prohibit employers from firing DV victims?

Lincoln High School staff member Brooke Bouchey in supply room full of food, clothes, blankets, backpacks, and sleeping bags donated by Walla Walla community.

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Last week I visited Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA. I’ll post more about the conversations with teachers, counselors, staff and students at another time. One of the show-stoppers was a storage room full of food, soap, towels, blankets, backpacks and sleeping bags. With 25 percent of their students homeless, and not enough shelters in the community, they do the best they can to help the kids survive. So this post from Ralph da Costa Nunez on Huffington Post last week caught my eye. Nunez, who’s president of the Institute For Children, Poverty & Homelessness had just returned from giving a talk at Homeless Children’s Education Fund‘s “Summit III: Impact of Poverty on Learning & Brain Development for Children & Youth Experiencing Homelessness” in Pittsburgh, PA. He said that Pittsburgh was a model for dealing with child homelessness, because HCEF was working with U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, “and together they have made addressing the needs of homeless children a priority, shifting the conversation to rightly define childhood poverty and homelessness as a civil rights struggle.” His post is intriguing — it provides lots of data about how many kids are affected, but doesn’t say much about the solutions that HCEF and Hickton are pursuing.

KUDOS TO DES MOINES REGISTER COLUMNIST Rekha Basu for going the distance in examining a court case which on the surface looks like a “tug-of-war lawsuit over children”, but upon further investigation raises serious questions about the child protective division of the state’s Department of Human Services and the district court judge that issued a ruling on the case.

But many documents in the voluminous court files, including extensive reports from the child protective division of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), force troubling questions to be asked: Is the state meeting its obligation to protect children from alleged sexual abuse by a parent? Did a judge have undue influence on DHS over the department’s conclusions in the case? And did the judge mistakenly rule after hearing evidence only from the father’s side?

It’s worth a read, if nothing else in that the category “unfounded” for child sex abuse cases, has always bothered me. Read Basu’s post and see what you think about how “unfounded” was used in this case.

INDIANA’S BUSINESSES AREN’T HELPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE victims if they fire a woman after she obtains a restraining order, according to this very thorough story by Indystar.com reporter John Tuohey. The state isn’t one of the fifteen that prohibits an employer from firing people because they took a legal action against a spouse or significant other. Tuohey describes how Kristianne Rouster obtained a protective order against her boyfriend, who had beaten her and threatened to kill her. Since the order covered her workplace, she told her supervisor at Pitney-Bowles. The company fired her a month later, telling her they were scared, according to the story. With no job, she became homeless. She sued. You can check out the link to find out what happened to Rouster.

Tuohey talked with Pitney Bowles representatives, and includes information about federal policy. It looks as if Indiana may catch up to the other fifteen states:

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, who authored Indiana’s unemployment and restraining order bills, said she might introduce legislation prohibiting the firing of domestic violence victims after hearing of Rouster’s situation.

She said it hadn’t occurred to her that such a bill was necessary.

“At the time we passed those bills, no companies came forward and said we don’t think domestic violence victims should not be protected,” she said. “I heard from a lot of companies that have good programs for victims. Had I known this was going on, I would have written that into the bill.”

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