Saturday, June 30, 2012

Florida Uses Kids For Politics

The State of Florida is parading around in the news that it has been rated in the top 5 as one of the best state child welfare systems.

I found this 2012 Right For Kids Survey to be quite odd considering that I never heard of this before and the fact that Florida's child welfare system is not doing so well with how it treats its kids and how it deals with its contracts as shown below.

The Florida Department of Children and Families (Florida, DCF)appeals a determination by the Administration for Children andFamilies (ACF) disallowing $1,076,006 in federal financialparticipation (FFP) for the period January 1, 2002 though March31, 2005. Florida claimed this FFP in the costs of trainingpersons for employment as social workers with private agenciesthat deliver foster care services under contract with Florida. Florida claimed the costs as training expenses under the fostercare program of title IV-E of the Social Security Act (Act), forwhich the Act provides 75% reimbursement. ACF disallowed Florida’s claims at the 75% rate on the ground that funding fortitle IV-E training costs is not available for training persons for employment at private agencies.

Upon further investigation I found that the Right For Kids Survey, which only began this year, named Florida to be in the top of states with the best child welfare system, to be out of Florida.

The name of the group is the Foundation For Government Accountability who is linked up with conservative backers of the Parental Rights Amendment which has nothing to do with parental rights.  It has to do with a propaganda cover up campaign to continue doing what it has always been doing.  Selling chattel.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Congress Holds AG In Contempt For Defending Childhood

This is one of those times when I have to sit back and laugh at the absurdity of child welfare law.

If I may put forth an assumption for political ruleouts on why U.S. Attorney General Holder did not release documents requested by the majority, I am quite sure both sides of the political aisle will scratch their heads in awe with the power of child welfare law.

Some of the straw gun buyers in the "Fast and Furious" DOJ scandal were kids.  Because DOJ Arizona Prosecutors found that there were no laws being violated for multiple purchases of guns, there could be no prosecution.  This means, under child protection law, the youth who were involved were mandated to have their privacy protected.

Basically, Congress voted to hold the U.S. Attorney General in contempt for defending childhood.  Gotta love it.

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Holder Contempt Vote A Partisan Distraction; House Should Focus on Job Creation Legislation

(WASHINGTON)—Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement following the vote in the House of Representatives to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.  

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“This Attorney General has gone to extraordinary lengths to accommodate Congress’ request for information by appearing before it 9 times and providing over 7,000 pages of documents.  Moreover, the night before the Oversight Committee voted to send this measure to the floor, Attorney General Holder made a compelling, good faith offer to answer any remaining questions the committee may have regarding Operation Fast and Furious.   

“Instead Chairman Issa rejected that offer in favor of pursuing a small set of deliberative documents that have nothing to do with the matter that started the investigation in the first place.  In fact, Chairman Issa has admitted that there is no evidence that the Attorney General approved or even knew of Operation Fast and Furious nor that the Attorney General lied in order to shield the Department from Congressional scrutiny.  This investigation has degenerated into an attempt to score political points during an election year.   

“In deciding to go along with this partisan stunt, House Republican Leadership has broken from this body’s tradition and its obligation to reach an accommodation with the executive branch.  As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during  the 110th Congress, in an attempt to reach a reasonable compromise with the Bush Administration on the U.S. Attorneys scandal, I waited six months between the Judiciary Committee vote recommending contempt and the final vote for a contempt citation on the House floor.  That good faith effort to reach an accommodation was essential to the House’s success in enforcing the contempt citation in court.  In contrast, House Republican leadership has waited only seven days between the Oversight Committee vote and the vote on the floor today.      

“The House should be spending its time considering measures important to our constituents such as job creation legislation.  But clearly this Majority is more concerned with scoring political points than focusing on the economic problems facing the American people.” 

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Enderle hails Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act

Contact: Lance Enderle, 517-285-3376

LANSING – In what is becoming a standard split Supreme Court ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning upheld as Constitutional the Affordable Care Act – President Barack Obama’s pre-eminent domestic policy accomplishment.

“This is an important day for the American people,” said Lance Enderle, Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional District. “Today we are one step closer to securing the inalienable right of health care for all Americans. Health care is a right for every citizen, not a privilege for the privileged. I will continue to fight for the preservation of this right.”

In spite of a vocal minority of astroturf opposition the law, Enderle noted, the actual components of the law remain remarkably well received by the vast majority of Americans. Factors like the 80/20 regulation (requiring that 80% of the money citizens pay into health insurance actually goes to treatment and care, while only 20% can go to corporate overhead; right now most insurance companies have those figures reversed), allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans for a longer period of time, and the provision that insurance companies cannot refuse to insure people on the basis of pre-existing conditions are all extremely popular. (According to NYTimes/CBS polling data.)

“Clearly the Republicans – including Mike, my opponent – were wrong on this issue ,” says Enderle. “All the huffing and puffing and bloviating of the Republican echo chamber and the Fox News grumble channel could not do one simple thing – change the U.S. Constitution. Mike would do well to remember, we are a country of laws, not corporate power. SCOTUS has spoken, health care reform is Constitutional. It’s time for the GOP, and Mike, to apologize for ripping the fabric of America apart with lies, deceit and misinformation in order to garner partisan points.”

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Enderle Condemns GOP Call To Arms Comment

For immediate release: June 28, 2012
Contact:  Lance Enderle 517-285-3376

“Reasonable Americans can disagree, vehemently, about political decisions.  But when the rhetoric turns to armed rebellion and violence, it is no longer dissent.  It’s yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater, and it’s a crime against the United States.  Inciting violence is not protected by the First Amendment.  The Michigan GOP and the Mackinac Center should immediately condemn Mr. Davis for his violent, dangerous, and frankly illegal conduct,” Enderle said. 

18 USC 2385 states that “whoever knowingly or willfully prints, publishes…[or] distributes any printed matter advocating…or teaching the propriety of overthrowing any such government in the United States by force or violence…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the next five years.” 

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Conyers: Health Care Decision is a Historic Victory for the American People

(WASHINGTON)—Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, which upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.   

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today is a historic day.  The Affordable Care Act can now takes its rightful place among this nation’s other critical efforts to ensure that the basic human needs of all Americans are met.  Just as our Social Security and Medicaid systems provide a critical safety net to older Americans, the Affordable Care Act will help make health care more affordable and accessible for all.  This law ensures that health insurance bureaucrats can no longer deny a child health care because of a pre-existing condition and millions of young Americans can now receive coverage on their family plans until they are 26.  And longstanding disparities and discrimination in health care for women and minorities will come to an end.  I am also pleased that the Court upheld the law’s provisions expanding Medicaid to 15 million additional Americans.  The decision provides a strong incentive for states to comply with the law.   

“I am heartened that the Court upheld the rule of law and adhered to long-standing legal precedent.  I encourage individuals of all parties to seize this opportunity to set aside our differences and move forward together to implement this landmark achievement for the American people.”   

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Annie E. Casey Foundation Makes Child Welfare Accountable

As the nation awaits the final report of the DOJ Defending Childhood Initiative Task Force's final report, it can be seen that the departure from "doing business as usual" in child welfare is coming to an end.

Cutting out the bloated middle layer of child welfare administration and shifting funding to direct service providers is testament to the fact that the current system does not work.  Child Placing Agencies do not need more laws to challenge its decision making and operations, they need to be eliminated.

If it does not work, get rid of it.  This includes workers who lacked compassion and common sense.

With the growing population of foster children who are aging out with no place to go, it is finally recognized that many of these state programs have failed.  Not only that, how society has addressed the needs of older youth has proven to be ineffective as the traditional procedure is incarceration or contained environments.

The move to home-based/community-based services is what should be considered as best practices in child welfare, not the cookie-cutter methods for alternative placements.  It should only be in the most serious circumstances a child is removed from a home and the time has come to end the culture of layering on more unnecessary policies which have nothing to do with the transformation of child welfare.

Eliminating funding to child placing agencies is a cost-effective shift which eliminates fraud, waste and abuse.  Invest in children, not privatized administrations which have proven to justify sunken costs and fraudulent billing.

Another opportunity that comes from shift is the creation of jobs.  In many instances, direct service providers are community based home businesses run by people who actually care.  These are the partnerships that can successfully meet the needs of tomorrow's workforce.

I commend the Annie E. Casey Foundation for its bold initiative and can only pray our elected officials take notice.  Announcements such as this give me moments of satisfaction that I am on the right path.

Annie E. Casey Foundation to Phase Out Funding for Casey Family Services

The Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation has announced that it will stop providing direct foster care services through Casey Family Services under a new grantmaking strategy focused on helping nonprofit human services agencies improve their child welfare practices.

The move will eliminate two hundred and eighty jobs and, according to theChronicle of Philanthropy, free up some $20 million a year for other nonprofits. While CFS will transition the majority of the children and foster families it currently serves to other providers by the end of the year, the agency will remain open through June 2013 to support cases that require additional time.

Founded in 1976, New Haven-based CFS has provided therapeutic foster care services as well as family preservation, reunification, and post-adoption supports under state contracts in Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. AECF's new strategy is aimed at scaling and sharing with the field best practices and lessons learned in finding permanent families for children and serving older and high-needs youth through effective recruitment of stable, nurturing foster families, intensive counseling, and careful planning for their aging out of foster care.

To that end, the foundation will partner with child welfare providers to develop or scale proven models; spread effective practices by building awareness, providing education and technical assistance, and supporting efforts to secure federal and state funding for such practices; and create materials and tools that leverage the accumulated knowledge of direct service providers and the expertise of foundation staff. The foundation also plans to expand its partnerships to providers in other human service fields such as community change, juvenile justice, mental health, substance abuse, and workforce development.

"As the human services environment changes, we see an opportunity to help strengthen the work of frontline staff who often make life-and-death decisions on behalf of vulnerable children and families," said AECF president and CEO Patrick T. McCarthy. "We are proud of the contributions Casey Family Services has made in supporting families, working with foster parents, collaborating with public agencies, and providing outstanding care to children. This success is due to a skilled and dedicated staff, and we deeply regret the impact this transition will have on them. We will honor the legacy of CFS and its people by continuing to work diligently to build better futures for children and families across the country."

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Why Is the Best Attorney General Receiving the Worst Treatment?

By U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Tomorrow, the House is expected to vote on whether to holdAttorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over internal deliberative documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.
Last week, the attorney general -- who has testified on this matter on nine separate occasions and has provided more than 7,600 pages of documents already -- offered to resolve the dispute by turning over to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform internal deliberative documents responsive to the Committee's key question. The Department ofJustice stood ready to brief the Committee and to answer any questions that might come up regarding the documents. Chairman Issa responded by saying, "I can't accept the [deal theattorney general offered]. No other chairman would."
I must beg to differ. As a former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I accepted a similar deal with the Bush administration. The issue arose in connection with my investigation into the involvement of the Justice Department and the White House into the peremptory firing of nine U.S. Attorneys in early 2007.
As a former chair of both the Committee on Government Operations and the House Judiciary Committee, I take a back seat to no one in the vigor and completeness of my investigations. At the same time, I appreciate the need for both Democratic and Republican administrations to have some breathing space when they respond to congressional oversight. In the U.S. Attorneyfirings investigation, we were interested in learning how the firings came about, who made the decisions, and why. We were less interested in obtaining documents detailing what members of the Bush administration thought about our efforts.
With regard to the Justice Department, we worked out an agreement to access certain internal deliberative documents that were created before the Judiciary Committee's oversight investigation began. These documents were germane to our efforts to learn why the United States Attorneys were fired and who was responsible for it.
Getting to the bottom of White House involvement in the scandal proved more difficult. President Bush made a blanket assertion of executive privilege, refusing to turn over any White House documents or make any key administration witnesses available for testimony. The Judiciary Committee successfully challenged President Bush's sweeping privilege assertion incourt. In March 2009, after the administration changed, we negotiated an accommodation with representatives of the former president that met our needs and respected theirs.
Our Agreement of Accommodation provided that the Judiciary Committee would receive White House documents generated prior to the commencement of our investigation on March 8, 2007, but we were only able to review (without retaining copies) a very small subset of the White House documents generated after that date. In short, we were able to conduct legitimate oversight into the actual allegations regarding the U.S. Attorney firings while respecting the Administration's ability to deliberate in confidence over how to respond to my investigation.
This basic respect for confidential communications is well established. In the 1974 U.S. v. Nixondecision, the Supreme Court reasoned that compelled disclosure of deliberative material would discourage executive branch officials from giving candid advice, because "those who expect public dissemination of their remarks may temper candor with a concern for appearances and for their own interests to the detriment of the decision making process." From President Reagan to President Obama, every administration has sought to protect this material and, for the most part, Congress has balanced its oversight needs with the need of executive branch officials to advise the president in confidence.
There are two principal differences between my deal with the Bush administration and the dealAttorney General Holder has offered to the Oversight Committee. First, it took us far longer, and required far more legal process, to bring the Bush administration to the point where it would agree to the deal. Attorney General Holder has sought, in good faith, to head off this conflict for weeks now. Second, Attorney General Holder has offered to turn over outright (rather than just make available for review) some of the documents that were generated in the course of the Department's efforts to respond to the Oversight Committee's demands.
Attorney General Holder has made a compelling offer -- one that serves the needs of the investigation, and one that is quite similar to the deal I accepted last Congress.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Fridays in Ottawa County’s courts — when criminal defendants often are arraigned without legal representation — are referred to as “McJustice Days.”
In Sault Ste. Marie, attorneys representing the poor have little time to prepare and wait in line to meet with their clients in the courthouse’s unisex bathroom.
In Wayne County, court-appointed attorneys haven’t received a raise in decades and say they often take on more cases than they can handle.
And in a report approved June 22, the Michigan Advisory Commission on Indigent Defense urged the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder to increase funding and implement statewide standards for the state’s system of providing attorneys for indigent criminal defendants — a system that has been criticized as one of the worst in the country.
The panel advised that an additional $50 million per year is needed just to bring Michigan up to the national average for legal defense work.
Lawmakers should create a permanent commission and staff to set and enforce minimum standards, urged the commission, which was created by Snyder last October. The state also should assume part of the cost for court-appointed attorneys now borne entirely by the counties, the commission advised.
“I will review the recommendations and look forward to working with the Legislature to ensure that all criminal defendants, regardless of ability to pay, receive effective legal representation in our state,” Snyder said in an official statement.
Indigent defense currently rests in the hands of the 83 counties, which has led to a wide variety of approaches. A few counties have public defender offices to represent the poor, others contract out indigent defense to law firms, while many rely on private attorneys appointed by judges.
“It’s a patchwork quilt of all different kinds of arrangements,” said James Fisher, former chief judge of the Barry County Circuit Court who led the commission. “The way lawyers are compensated and the rates of compensation vary widely across the state. The system as a whole has not been adequately funded.”
While some counties do a satisfactory job of providing attorneys for indigent defendants, others “do a very poor job of it,” Fisher said.
Under the microscope for years
A 2008 review commissioned by the Legislature found that Michigan ranked 44th among the 50 states for per-capita spending on indigent defense. The review also found Michigan was one of just seven states that left indigent defense funding for trials fully in the hands of counties. Michigan spent $7.35 per resident on indigent defense, or 38 percent less than the national average.
In its unanimously approved report, the governor’s commission found that the state — not the counties — is constitutionally obligated to assure indigent defendants receive adequate representation. In many counties, the current system does not meet the American Bar Association’s “Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System,” the commission stated.
It added that “the current delivery of indigent defense results in a public defense system that is too often subject to errors at the trial level, and, at its worst, results in a wrongful conviction. Michigan taxpayers are exposed to millions of dollars in unnecessary expense in these most egregious cases.” For example, the State Appellate Defender’s Office said that between 2003 and 2007, it caught sentencing errors missed at the trial (county) level that would have meant nearly $70 million in additional prison costs.
Snyder charged the 14-member commission of defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, legislators and others with recommending how to improve the state’s indigent defense system.
“On balance, the testimony presented to the commission from Michigan indigent defense practitioners, judges and prosecutors (including those defending their own systems) confirmed that the ABA Ten Principles are not met in Michigan,” the report stated.
County practices vary widely
In some counties, including Wayne, attorneys are appointed by judges to represent indigent defendants. Wayne County hasn’t increased the rates it pays court-appointed lawyers for 30 years, according to the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association.
“The reality in Wayne County is lawyers have trouble making ends meet with what they are paid,” said Frank Eaman, one of the attorneys in a class-action lawsuit that claims the state’s current indigent defense system is unconstitutional. “They try to make up for it with volume.”
As a result, many lawyers are so overworked that they are unable to spend enough time on any case to adequately defend their clients, he said.
Court-appointed attorneys often lack the training and experience to handle complex criminal cases, the commission found, and most county systems do not evaluate their performance or require them to undergo continuing legal education.
The report estimated Michigan’s counties spend a combined $74 million a year on indigent defense. While the commission did not recommend a specific amount, it estimated it would cost an additional $50 million a year to bring Michigan up to the national per capita average. (For context, $50 million is about half of what the state will spend on the Legislature in the current budget year, and works out to about $5 for every man, woman and child in the state.)
Michigan should continue delivering indigent defense at the local level, with the counties and state sharing the cost, the panel advised. Each county should be required to maintain at least the average it has spent on indigent defense for the past three years adjusted for inflation, it recommended. The Legislature should appropriate enough money each year to bring funding up to minimum standards, the commission said.
The Michigan Association of Counties does not oppose the commission’s recommendations, but has some reservations, said Ben Bodkin, the association’s director of legislative affairs.
“The problem that we have is if there are new requirements that come out, those ought to be paid for by the state,” he said, noting that the Legislature has a history of breaking promises for additional funding. Any new requirements should come with a guarantee that “if the Legislature doesn’t fund it, then the requirements don’t have to be met,” he said.
Various organizations and individuals have raised concerns about Michigan’s indigent defense system for years, warning it is so inadequate that it likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, which assures all criminal defendants assistance of counsel, and 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.
Despite such warnings, the Legislature has failed to improve Michigan’s indigent defense system, which prompted Snyder to create the Indigent Defense Advisory Commission.
Former Chippewa County public defender Julie Beck told the commission that the Chippewa County Commission fired her after she warned that it was not spending enough for her office to adequately defend its clients. The two attorneys in her office handled 1,009 cases in 2010 — far above national standards — and often waited in line to meet with clients in the courthouse’s unisex bathroom, she testified.
“This issue really strikes at the heart of what it means to be a democratic society,” said Peter Cunningham, executive director of the Michigan Campaign for Justice, a nonprofit group formed to promote a fair public defense system. “Government can’t unfairly take away your freedom.”
He added, “It’s easy to get everyone in the room to agree there are problems withMichigan’s indigent defense. The stumbling block has always been, how do we pay for it? To me, the question is, are we going to ignore the constitutional rights because we don’t have the money?”
This is one issue that unites conservatives and liberals, said Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills and a member of the governor’s panel. He is preparing legislation to implement the commission’s recommendations. McMillin stopped short of predicting the Legislature will go along with the recommendations, but he said the issue “transcends party lines, I hope.”
“When we’re talking about taking away a person’s liberty, that’s a pretty high priority,” McMillin said. “As a conservative, I understand this is one of the things that we should get right.”
A class-action lawsuit — Duncan v. State of Michigan – now before the state Court of Appeals claims the current system is so inadequate that it violates the constitutional rights of indigent defendants. If the state loses that case, it also could lose control over its indigent defense system.
“The best way to address the issue,” said Fisher, the commission’s chairman, “is for the Legislature to step up to the plate and adopt the commission’s recommendations.”

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Conyers Office Engages In False Claims Of Child Welfare

U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. Office announced an error that only I can properly identify.  My heart has grown heavy with the incompetence and indolence of his staff, particularly William Isaac Robinson, who was paid with federal money to launch his mother's campaign with congressional resources and attempt to run it by stealing from Mr. Conyers's federal campaign contributions.

Rarely do I come to the defense of the State of Michigan regarding its child welfare system, but this is a special occasion.  Michigan is making strides for certain areas, but I shall not allow the residents of the state to become subject to false claims through fictitious legislative initiatives for the sole purpose of getting someone elected.

I must protect the people I love, and that includes Mr. Conyers, so with that said...

The following is my communication with Congressman Conyers' Office:

This is worse than I expected.  Are you aware that federal cannot make state policy in child welfare????  States have to adopt its own policies.  The notification is already written into Michigan law.

Enhancements?  Through unfunded mandates or with increased reductions of the federal percentages?  Perhaps there shall be incurred greater attorney fees with with this prolific publication of legal violations.  Here are some codified enhancements already in place:

Then, there is included the religious component.  There is no religious preference in placement; this is federally codified.  Compliance comes down from HHS on the funding side with penalties in FFP rates, Block Grants and educational funding opportunities.

Close your eyes an imagine Michigan being denied, again, for any future "educational enhancements" like the "Race to the Top" grants.  Non-compliance of Title IV-E placements is why Michigan lost.  Guess with this legislative action, no one will forget the state is still non-compliant and loose more public school funding.  This is why Michigan is moving to a state wide educational authority.

Is anyone even aware that this code is already on the federal books?  Is anyone even aware that Michigan is under federal monitoring which jeopardizes releasing the state from federal oversight in the Children's Rights case? Does anyone realize that Michigan has an appeal into the HHS DAB on this matter?  A legislative action of this magnitude puts the State of Michigan in jeopardy of loosing hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Is anyone even remotely aware that Wayne County Department of Children and Family Services and Detroit are currently under investigation with its child welfare service contracts?  Is this an attempt to interfere with a federal investigation?

Does anyone even know that the U.S. AG has the Childhood Initiative Task Force, of which I have been working with since its inception last year, where its findings report will be published next month to launch new initiatives of departing from the current child welfare system as we know it?  This is a severe insult to the work of the AG and the multi-agency collaborative of POTUS Cabinet.

Did anyone even talk to the Congressional Children's Caucus or the Congressional Foster Care Caucus for input?  Obviously not because there are no co-sponsors.  

Did anyone talk to George Sheldon?  Of course not because if you did you would know that there are 2 out of 28 states that took advantage of the federal waivers that were approved a few years ago.  Why are the states not taking advantage of the waivers?  The answer is non-compliance.  That is why there are issues with the states on relative placements.  

The issue is how and why children removed from the home.  Here is a bit of background to what is going on in DC, just to bring you up to speed.  Please note the date.

For the last two years I have been engaging this office to offer my subject matter expertise in this field, specifically the funding and compliance.  It is now quite apparent that JC's constituents have no representation in DC as reflected in political and economic climate of his Congressional District.

I am so embarrassed.  I am utterly speechless with the topor research of this Bill.  I was never conferred.

I truly hope Isaac Robinson's future State Senate campaign tactic proves to be for naught for his mother's, Rose Mary Robinson. campaign of which he is running, both out of Congressman Conyers' offices, and please note the plurality of my allegations.  This is nothing more than an empty campaign promise in hopes of securing campaign contributions from the tears of temporary joy for a sine die legislative action.

I shall make it a point to illuminate this throughout my international networks.  I have an obligation to the truth.  I lived through this and must still experience the episodes of my children suffering with their battles of survival, daily, from the results of apathetic, self-serving malfeasance of Detroit political miscreants.  

I am very passionate about the issue of child welfare and for the well-being of Mr. Conyers, so, please forgive me for being deeply disturbed with the wretched advisement of this office, but then again, it is not a secret.

On behalf of the Congressman, I would like to thank you for another riveting chapter in our book.

The following is the missive press release of Isaac Robinson:

Conyers Introduces Legislation to Improve Placement Decisions in Child Foster Care Programs  

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced H.R. 6021, the “Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2012.”  The Act will enhance the existing federal policy of encouraging state foster care programs to place children in the care of willing and able relatives.  This legislation accomplishes this goal by requiring States that receive federal funding for foster care programs to add certain procedural enhancements to their foster care programs so as to ensure a more fair placement decision-making process.  Rep. Conyers released the following statement following the bill’s introduction:

“In 1985, Rehab and Ahmed Amer lost two of their children to Michigan’s foster care system after Rehab had been subject to criminal charges related to the death of her two-year-old son Samier, who died because of head injuries resulting from a fall in a bathtub.  Although Rehab had been acquitted in August 1986 of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Samier’s death, the State refused to return the Amers’ other two children to them and, in fact, removed a third child from the Amers’ custody four months after Rehab’s acquittal.

“As a temporary alternative, Rehab’s brother petitioned to be a foster parent to the Amers’ three children, but was denied his petition even though he had previously served as a foster parent for other children.  It is important to note that the Amers are Muslim.  Nevertheless, the State, rather than placing the Amers’ children with a foster family of the same faith and cultural background, sent them to live with an evangelical Christian family, which re-named the Amers’ children –  Mohamed Ali, Sueheir, and Zinabe – with Christian names and raised them as Christians.

“Today, only the oldest of the Amers’ three living children, Mohamed Ali, now known as Adam, communicates with them.  In reaction to the Amers’ story, Michigan enacted what became known as the ‘Amer Law.’  That law requires foster care placement agencies in Michigan to consider and give special preference for relatives when making a foster care placement decision.

“The Amer Law is consistent with federal foster care policy, which also seeks to give preference to a child's relatives and, for Native American children, a family of the same cultural background as the child, when making placement decisions.  The Amer Law, however, has several provisions that go beyond current federal law to ensure due process.  In sum, this law gives parents, relatives, guardians, and the child in certain cases additional procedural rights, including the right to written notice and an explanation of a placement decision.  In addition, it authorizes judicial review of a placement decision by a foster care agency. 

“My legislation simply adds these enhanced due process features of the Amer Law to existing federal foster care law.
“The best interests of the child should always be the overriding consideration when making foster care placement decisions.  That standard, however, should also require foster care agencies to give special preference to placing a child with relatives, where the child can be raised in the same culture or religion as his or her own, all other things being equal.
“I thank Rehab and Ahmed Amer for bringing this issue to light and for their tireless efforts to make the foster care placement process fairer for everyone, first in Michigan, and, now, nationally.”

The Rehab and Ahmed Amer Foster Care Improvement Act of 2012 would require that a State, within 90 days after it makes a foster care placement decision, to provide notice of such decision to the following affected parties:

                             the child’s parents;
                             relatives who have informed the State of their interest in caring for the child;
                             the guardian;
                             the guardian ad litem of the child;
                             the attorney for the child;
                             the attorney for each parent of the child;
                             the prosecutor involved; and
                             the child if he or she is able to express an opinion regarding placement.

Additionally, States must establish procedures that:

                             allow any of the parties who receive notice of the State’s placement decision to request, within five days after receipt of the notice, documentation of the reasons for the State’s decision;
                             allow the child’s attorney to petition the court involved to review the decision; and
                             require the court to commence such review within seven days after receipt of the petition and conduct such review on the record.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Michigan Medicaid Program Stands To Loose $1 Billion Dollars

The Michigan Auditor General released #391-0100-12 - Financial audit, including the provisions of the Single Audit Act, of the Depart ment of Community Health for the period October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2011.

To give a better understanding, Michigan has no functional oversight of its Medicaid programs.  This is known as fraud, waste and abuse.  Everyone has their hands in the cookie jar and as such, has spilled good cookies all over the ground that no one can eat.

So the feds said, "Bad Michigan!  We have told you over and over again not to do that.  Now you have to take responsibility and pay us back to learn your lesson."

What Michigan did was to take money from the general fund, money that is suppose to go to the people by cutting programs and put it in a trust fund to pull interest for when the federal ruling on their appeal to pay it back.

The story does not end there.

Michigan still has yet to pay back hundreds of millions in fraud, waste and abuse in its Medicaid programs.  Because of this, the feds are attempting to make Michigan to stop being naughty in its lack of oversight of its Medicaid program by penalizing the state in funding.

Yes, Michigan lost and stands to loose hundreds of millions more in its Medicaid programming because it refuses to get its act together.  It's called non-compliance.

This is just another reason why many, many people do not want me to go to Lansing.

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Michigan Praised For Covering Up Its Child Welfare Horrors

It is a very sad day when there is praise and that praise is accepted on the state of affairs in Michigan's foster care system.

Youth are still facing the reality that there is a lack of mental health services in placement leaving them without educational services or records.

No one is speaking about the rapes or suicides in child welfare.

No one is speaking upon the youth getting pregnant in foster care.

No one is even mentioning the questionable billing, the overmedication or the lack of due process in the courts.

What about the lack of oversight for contractual debarment, license revocation, or recovery of false claims.

But these items were never part of the Children's Rights action.  The case was about children in the foster care system.  No one mention was made of the Michigan Children's Institute in the legal proceedings.

So, let's stand up and give Madame Maura Corrigan her due credit for painting another pretty masterpiece to distract the world of the fact that very little has really changed.

If these changes are to be praised, let's see if there someone is going to do a longitudinal study to measure these improvements. Ask yourself this question: Would you trust your child in Michigan's foster care?

Much more needs to be done and we need to begin by letting the truth out for all to see.

State wins praise for improvements to child welfare efforts

Michigan continues to move forward with a top-to-bottom overhaul of its child welfare system four years after it settled a lawsuit that accused the state of running a "depleted and overburdened" system that threatened children's lives.

In a federal courtroom Monday afternoon, both a court-appointed monitor and the group that brought the lawsuit, New York-Children's Rights, lauded several recent measures by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Among them:

• Extending foster care until youths are 21

• Establishing a centralized hotline for abuse and neglect reports

• Ensuring that youths transitioning out of the system have health insurance

• Hiring more than 700 child welfare workers

Just 18 months ago, the state repeatedly had failed to meet benchmarks set out in a settlement agreement signed in 2008 by DHS officials. The agreement, which dictated sweeping reforms in the system, settled the suit by Children's Rights. U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds said she wanted to give the state's new administration a chance to address the chronic problems. By July last year, Edmunds said changes were back on track.

DHS Director Maura Corrigan told the judge Monday that she hoped Edmunds would dismiss the agreement by the end of 2014.

Edmunds noted what she called "a different day, a different mindset, and a different atmosphere" in the courtroom compared to the struggles at the beginning of the reform efforts.

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Conyers Announces Department of Justice Grants For New Police Hiring in Dearborn and Hamtramck

This only happened by allowing me to work with the Hamtramck Police Department, Hamtramck Community Initiative and its Community Policing.

Our focus was to secure funding for a youth officer.  Fortunately, I was able to open the doors to the U.S. Department of Justice to target more opportunities to help our youth.

I thank the Hamtramck Police Force and the community for their dedication to the community and the future of youth.

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement applauding the Department of Justice’s decision to award Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants to the City of Dearborn and the Hamtramck Police Department.  The City of Dearborn will receive a $1,125,000 grant and the Hamtramck Police Department will receive a $441,682 grant.

The COPS Program has funded the hiring of more than 123,000 state and local police officers and sheriff’s deputies in communities across America since its enactment under the Clinton Administration.  During a time of local budget shortfalls, the COPS program has helped stem the tide of officer layoffs by state and local law enforcement agencies and helped address the jobs crisis facing the U.S. today.
Studies have shown that the COPS program is a sound investment of taxpayer dollars.  A 2005 GAO Report found that for every dollar spent on COPS hiring per capita, there was a drop of 30 index crimes per 100,000 persons.  The program also provides resources to train police officers in community policing.  Community oriented policing helps law enforcement officers form vital partnerships with the local community, which stretches policing capabilities and improves the quality of policing services.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am pleased to announce that, as a result of these grants, the citizens of Dearborn and Hamtramck will soon have additional officers on the streets to ensure that these communities remain safe and secure,” said Conyers. “The COPS program has been a successful nationwide effort to stem the loss of valuable police officers and jobs due to local budget shortfalls.

“In addition, by introducing H.R. 4098, the Shield Our Streets Act, I have proposed to do even more to fund state and local law enforcement, including hiring more police officers, particularly in areas facing high crime rates.” 

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Knocking Sense Into Social Workers - Baby LK Report For June 24th 2012

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry.

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Friday, June 22, 2012


There is another reason why Michigan over prescribes psychotropic drugs to its children:

 Keep in mind when reading this story that there is no report on the amount that was spent on Michigan's child welfare services which go hand in hand with the prescriptions.


Michigan’s prescription for foster kids: drugs
WHAT'S BEST FOR KIDS?: Jannie Johnson, who has fostered children in Michigan for more than 20 years (inculding Randy Turner, right, and Jaxx Nichols), says the use of prescription drugs to deal with mental and emotional issues is a "quick fix." (Bridge photo/Lon Horwedel)

That report comes as some scientists are concluding such drugs are over-prescribed to children.Taxpayers have spent more than $70 million in a single year in Michigan on psychotropic drugs for foster kids and other children on Medicaid. And, nearly a quarter of Michigan foster kids were on psychotropic drugs to counteract behavioral problems and diagnosed mental illness in 2008, according to a recent government report.

“The medication is a quick fix,” says Detroit foster mom Jannie Johnson, regarding children needing psychotropic medications to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. “There are a lot of bad side effects.”

report from the Government Accountability Office last December stated that foster children are twice as likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs — medications for anti-anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, psychosis — than other children on Medicaid. The reasons include greater exposure to trauma, frequent changes in placements and varying state oversight policies, the GAO said in a review of five states, including Michigan.

Twenty-one percent of the state’s foster children were prescribed psychotropic medications in 2008, while 7.9 percent of nonfoster children were, the GAO found. While most of the prescriptions were to children ages 6 to 17, 4.4 percent of foster children under age 5 were prescribed a psychotropic drug.
By comparison, a separate study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia of nationwide data between 2002 and 2007 found psychotropics prescribed for one in six foster children.

Dr. David Rubin, director of PolicyLab and attending pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the goal of the hospital’s article was to start a conversation about types of treatment available for children in mental health systems. Some communities are limited to providers only offering basic psychiatric treatment, or “med checks.”

“In that type of environment, it’s common to have that type of drug use to control behaviors. We’re hoping that the article prompts a response at the state level and in communities to think about other types of treatment options — to broaden other options for families.”

Michigan spent $72.8 million through Medicaid to pay for psychotropic medications prescribed to foster and nonfoster children during 2008. Michigan had just over 20,000 children in the foster system at the end of 2008; an additional 913,000 children were in the Medicaid system, according to state figures.

Foster parents such as Johnson have seen firsthand what happens when a child is separated from a parent, and is left to deal with the multitude of issues that can follow. Johnson has cared for foster children — mostly infants and toddlers — for the past 23 years, adopting three of them. One of her adopted daughters required both medication and therapy to manage what Johnson called a “very severe” case of ADHD, while the other two adopted children only needed therapy.

Dr. Jeanette Scheid, a psychiatrist with the Michigan Department of Human Services, told Bridge via email that the GAO report is correct that more foster children are being prescribed psychotropic drugs than nonfoster children, and that more research must be done to determine why.

Scheid said many children in Michigan’s foster care system have a higher genetically based propensity for psychiatric disorders on top of more exposure to abuse, separation from loved ones and separation from support systems such as schools and medical providers.

“Research findings have shown clearly that each of these factors increase the risk of developing psychotropic disorders and that exposure to multiple factors multiplies the risk,” Scheid stated. “Each of these complicating factors might explain the differences in prescribing patterns. However, it is critical to develop systems that respect and attend to the complex needs of youth and families in DHS.”

Among the GAO’s other findings:

* Michigan was the only state of the five examined that does not have established training requirements for child welfare, court personnel or foster parents to make them advocates.

* Michigan does have policies identifying who can give consent for medicating foster children, but there is no standardized consent form to help inform consent decisions.

* Michigan meets only one of the guidelines recommended, but not mandated, by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

* 1.5 percent of Michigan’s foster children under age 1 were prescribed a psychotropic drug, compared to 0.3 percent of children on Medicaid who are not in the foster system. (Researchers did note that some of the medications in the psychotropic drug category, such as antihistamines, could have been prescribed to treat a non-mental health issue such as allergies or a rash.)

* Michigan foster children under age 17 were three times more likely than for non-foster Medicaid patients to receive drugs at dosages exceeding maximum guidelines based on FDA-approved labels.

* Michigan foster children were far more likely to have five or more psychotropic prescriptions at the same time than non-foster Medicaid patients. “Increasing the number of drugs used concurrently increases the likelihood of adverse reactions and long-term side effects, such as high cholesterol or diabetes, and limits the ability to assess which of multiple drugs are related to a particular treatment goal,” the GAO authors noted.

“The nurturing and one-on-one contact that the foster parent does matter,” said Johnson. “A lot of these things can be minimized if you put in the time and work with that child; you can overcome practically anything. They will give the drugs if you allow them to. I feel like if you medicate a child at an early age, you don’t know what the problem is. If the child is doped up, the child can’t let you know.”

In January, DHS released a medication policy that requires documentation of diagnosis, treatment target, medication side effects and alternative treatment options. The policy also requires a signature of an authorized person before new medication is given, requires guidelines for maintaining the medication regimen, and outlines an oversight procedure. The Michigan Department of Community Health also has launched an oversight pilot program for all Medicaid recipients.

“These initiatives, as well as efforts to improve the coordination of care across systems, are intended to ensure that DHS, working with its partners in the Department of Community Health and private agencies, will achieve the goal that DHS youth will have access to high-quality assessments and appropriate treatment,” Scheid said.

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