Indiana child services in hot water; OK wants to stop child abuse deaths; Washington, DC, homeless families risk CPS probe; CA man charged after video shows he hit son with belt

Youth Opportunity Center juveniles walk through the hallways to their different classes. The Muncie facility was one of those to be closed in plan to “right-size” network.

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It’s abandoned a plan to “right-size” the state’s network of youth treatment centers, but the Indiana Department of Child Services is still facing criticism, according to this detailed story by Keith Roysdon and Douglas Walker on Starpress.com.  Many people say that centralizing parts of its operation — including a centralized call system for reporting child abuse and long-distance oversight of local cases — is just not working.

This story aptly demonstrates how a policy of dealing with problems downstream instead of instituting

solid prevention approaches costs communities and states economically, and results in many kids living lost lives.

A SPECIAL REVIEW COMMITTEE IS TAKING a broad look at how to decrease child abuse deaths in Oklahoma, according to this writeup on NewsOK.com by Ginnie Graham for the Tulsa World. The committee, which began deliberating in January, meets for eight hours a month. It’s expected to submit recommendations in the fall.

After the first round of case analysis, Oklahoma County District Judge Roger Stuart wrote a note to suggest a different framework.

“In addition to asking what DHS could have done differently, we ask, ‘What could the rest of the family, the community, including other public and private agencies have done to prevent the situation?’” Stuart said. “It is a call to the rest of government and the public for help in protecting our children.”

It’ll be interested to see if the committee does indeed recommend taking a different approach, or if it’ll be the same approach that all states seem to be stuck in: that a child has to endure quite a bit of trauma, and caregivers have to go beyond their breaking point long before any help appears.

Michael Williamson of the Washington Post took this photo of Shakieta Smith, a mother of two who was told she’d be investigated for child abuse for seeking space in a homeless shelter.

IN THE WHAT-COULD-THEY-BE-THINKING category, comes this story from the Washington Post’s Annie Gowen:

When Shakieta Smith, a homeless mother of two, called the District’s shelter hotline in March, she was told the city’s shelters were full — and then the intake worker added a chilling warning: If she and her kids had nowhere safe to sleep, she’d be reported to the city’s Child and Family Services Agency for a possible investigation into abuse and neglect.

Since then Smith has spent her days looking over her shoulder and her nights worrying about her family’s uncertain future. Could Child Protective Services investigators find her and her two kids at a cousin’s apartment in Southeast, where they often stay? Would they sweep in and take Da’Quan and Da’Layah from their elementary school one afternoon? The fear haunts her.

Talk about a way to traumatize already traumatized kids and families.

ONE WAY TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE is to do video of an incident and post it to YouTube, as a neighbor did when Anthony Sanchez repeatedly hit his stepson with a belt while playing catch with the boy. The result: Sanchez resigned from his position as district director of California’s Imperial Irrigation on June 9, three days after the video was posted and went viral, and one day after he was arrested for child abuse. On Friday, he was charged two felonies: suspicion of corporal injury to a child and child abuse, according to Imperial Valley Press reporter Elizabeth Varin. He will be arraigned on July 10. The event got quite a bit of attention on TV news. Here’s one example, from KTLA in Los Angeles.  It’s interesting to see how many videos of child abuse have been caught and posted to YouTube. Just do a search for “child abuse” and you’ll see.

It’ll be interesting to see how the case turns out, and if it makes it to a jury. In a recent jury trial in San Francisco, a man who hit his son with a belt was acquitted of child abuse, according to this brief on MercuryNews.com.

4 responses

  1. If we are going to have an impact on the abuse and trauma that are plaguing our children, we have to start with our politicians. There are no laws that protect our children from irresponsible parenting. Parents are allowed to neglect, reject, emotionally abuse, abuse substances, on and on, and we allow parents the right to parent as they choose, leaving our children vulnerable and full of toxic stress. I believe that we have to start calling our politians out on their neglect to protect our children that are in homes of abuse.

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