Friday, March 29, 2013

Michigan Court of Appeals Overturns Wayne County Judge’s Decision to Terminate Parental Rights

Michigan Court of Appeals Overturns Wayne County Judge’s Decision to Terminate Parental Rights

Regarding In the Matter of Clarmont, Minors; a respondent appealed as of right termination of her parental rights under MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i), (g), and (j). The Court of Appeals opinion is dated February 19, 2013. The lower court is the Wayne County Juvenile Division.
First, the respondent had an expected prison release date within a span of only five months. In establishing grounds for termination, the petitioner wholly relied upon the respondent’s criminal history and substance abuse (which occurred before the commencement of the child protection hearings); the fact that she was imprisoned; and also the difficulties she would face after her release date.
However, In re Mason held that imprisonment with a possible release date in less than two years plus the respondent having a criminal history are not alone sufficient grounds for termination under MCL 712A.19b(3)(c)(i), (g), and (j) except under specific circumstances not implicated in this case. In Mason, the Court found significant factors like the respondent maintaining contact with his children through the exchange of cards through the mail; the respondent also engaged in prison services; and he lined up housing and employment for after  his release from imprisonment.
In the instant case, the respondent was required to have a relative sponsor in the state to acquire an interstate compact and transfer of her probation to Michigan. Due to this, the respondent had not yet arranged housing that would enable her to care for her children. Furthermore, an unknown factor was whether respondent would be able to find post-release employment and housing.
Yet, similar to Mason, the respondent completed all available prison services including parenting classes. Moreover, the respondent sent monthly letters to her children. A corrections officer even testified that the respondent did not exhibit any serious behavioral issues in prison—and that she earned all available good time. Notably, the respondent had a nonviolent criminal history that was not directly related to her parenting ability as well. Only limited evidence was introduced by the petitioner pertaining to the respondent’s parenting ability prior to incarceration. Moreover, the caseworker admitted to not evaluating the respondent’s current parenting skills either.
The Court of Appeals found the termination premature under Mason. The trial court clearly erred in finding statutory grounds for termination. Therefore, the case was reversed and remanded.
Also, the Court stated the children should be temporary wards of the court while reunification or termination efforts are ongoing with more information required concerning the respondent’s ability to provide proper care to her children in a reasonable time after her release from prison. Additionally, the Court noted that separation related to the imprisonment weakened the child/parent bond, and that the children would benefit from permanence. Therefore, the lower court did not clearly err in its best-interest determination.
With nearly one hundred years of combined experience, the attorneys of Kronzek and Cronkright, PLLC, aggressively protect the parental rights of clients all across the lower peninsula of Michigan, including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Port Huron, Flint, Detroit, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, and more.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Allies Issues and Action Meeting - Congressman John Conyers - 3/12/2013 Part 1

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SCOTUS Day 2 Oral Arguments On Gay Marriage


Facts of the Case 
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in 1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law, the words “marriage” and “spouse” refer to legal unions between one man and one woman. Since that time, some states have authorized same-sex marriage. In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the rationale.
Edith Windsor is the widow and sole executor of the estate of her late spouse, Thea Clara Spyer, who died in 2009. The two were married in Toronto, Canada, in 2007, and their marriage was recognized by New York state law. Thea Syper left her estate to her spouse, and because their marriage was not recognized by federal law, the government imposed $363,000 in taxes. Had their marriage been recognized, the estate would have qualified for a marital exemption, and no taxes would have been imposed.
On November 9, 2010 Windsor filed suit in district court seeking a declaration that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. At the time the suit was filed, the government’s position was that DOMA must be defended. On February 23, 2011, the President and the Attorney General announced that they would not defend DOMA. On April 18, 2011, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives filed a petition to intervene in defense of DOMA and motioned to dismiss the case. The district court denied the motion, and later held that DOMA was unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.
Does the executive branch’s agreement with the lower court that the act is unconstitutional deprive the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to decide the case?
Does the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives have standing in the case?
Does the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines the term “marriage” under federal law as a “legal union between one man and one woman” deprive same-sex couples who are legally married under state laws of their Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection under federal law?

  United States v. Windsor - Oral Argument
Download MP3
UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 28 March 2013. 

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SCOTUS Oral Arguments On Gay Marriage

Day one audio of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments on the issue of gay marriage.  On of the main arguments of petitioners who are against gay marriage is that it is not "in the best interest of children".

Some of their arguments are hilarious with roaring laughter from the gallery.

I still want to know if anyone is going to address the scientific definition of sex.  Is it phenotypical or genotypical?


The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 March 2013. 

Facts of the Case 
In 2000, the citizens of California passed Proposition 22, which affirmed a legal understanding that marriage was a union between one man and one woman. In 2008, the California Supreme Court held that the California Constitution required the term “marriage” to include the union of same-sex couples and invalidated Proposition 22. Later in 2008, California citizens passed Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to provide that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized by California.”

The respondents, a gay couple and a lesbian couple, sued the state officials responsible for the enforcement of California’s marriage laws and claimed that Proposition 8 violated their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law. When the state officials originally named in the suit informed the district court that they could not defend Proposition 8, the petitioners, official proponents of the measure, intervened to defend it. The district court held that Proposition 8 violated the Constitution, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

Do the petitioners have standing under Article III of the Constitution to argue this case?
Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit the state of California from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman?

  Hollingsworth v. Perry - Oral Argument

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Russia's adoption ban costs families their tax credit

Russia's adoption ban costs families their tax credit

The Suhs already adopted one child (pictured here) from Russia, and they were hoping to adopt another this year -- until the country's new adoption ban stopped them in their tracks.

Russia's ban on American adoptions has taken an emotional toll on families looking to adopt -- and a hefty financial one.

Many have lost tens of thousands of dollars on adoption-related expenses, and now they are unable to qualify for a tax credit of up to nearly $13,000 to help offset those costs.

Kurt and Ann Suhs, from Johns Creek, Ga., had been saving for years to adopt a second child and were finally going to realize their dream.
But in December, a month before their first trip to Russia to get matched with a child, the news broke that Moscow was banning American adoptions of Russian children starting Jan. 1. The Suhs were forced to cancel their trip, and the adoption has been postponed indefinitely.
"It was disbelief at first," said Kurt. "We just wanted to be a mom and dad."
At least 1,000 other families have been left in limbo as well, said Chuck Johnson, president of the National Adoption Council. And, with the typical Russian adoption costing around $40,000 or more to complete, many of these families are not only saying goodbye to their dreams of parenthood but tens of thousands of dollars.
The Suhs, for example, are probably out the roughly $20,000 they spent on adoption agency fees, a home study (a screening process that entails home checks and interviews), health tests and immigration paperwork.
To make matters worse, they won't be able to receive the adoption tax credit they had been counting on to offset some of the expenses.
The credit grants eligible taxpayers up to $12,650 per child for adoption expenses. And families with domestic adoptions can still qualify for the credit even if an adoption didn't happen. But under federal law, foreign adoptions are ineligible unless they are finalized -- meaning the final court decree must be received.
Due to this small difference in the tax code, many families who were unable to complete adoptions of Russian children before the ban will be out of luck.
"It would be a huge benefit to get some money back," said Kurt. "We basically cashed [out] our savings."
Kurt said an IRS agent told him he could write to the agency requesting the credit anyway, explaining his situation and expenses.
If the IRS denies him, the agent told him he could appeal the decision in court. The IRS told CNNMoney, however, that the law provides no exceptions to the adoption tax credit requirements.
Under Russia's new law, only those in the final stage of adoption, meaning they had already received a court ruling and final adoption decree and were just waiting for the child, will likely be allowed to proceed. The State Department estimates that only around 50 families meet this description.
Certain adoption agencies will allow families to transfer fees to adopt a child from another country, but other agencies are Russia-specific so the fees can't be recouped.
"Money is secondary in all of this, but [it's] one more bitter pill these families have to swallow," Johnson said.
Courtney and Natasha Fong had already spent more than $10,000 on a Russian adoption when the ban was imposed. But since they were only in the beginning stage of the adoption process, they decided to start over and adopt a child from China instead.
While the money they spent on the failed Russian adoption is lost, they expect to spend even more money completing the Chinese adoption and therefore hope to receive the full $12,650 credit.
Meanwhile, the Suhs plan to wait a couple months before pursuing a new adoption, just in case the Russian government has a change of heart. After already spending $20,000 and losing the $13,000 credit they had been expecting -- which Kurt said they could have even put toward a new adoption -- going down this road again will be tough.
"We're just hopeful that the U.S. government and the Russian government will allow families who are in the process [of adopting a Russian child], who have invested financially and emotionally, to finish," he said. To top of page

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Medicaid and Children in Foster Care

The only issues missing are fraud, waste and abuse.
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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stomping On Your Parental Rights - Baby LK Report For March 24th 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Michigan Announces Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan

Michigan Announces Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan

Michigan Autism Council released the Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) State Plan. This plan represents another major step to addressing the many needs of the 16,000 students with ASD in our public school system.

"Today marks another significant day for Michigan and our efforts to help families and individuals with autism," said Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.

"It was an honor to sign the autism insurance legislation last year and I'm glad to see that our efforts have not stopped there. We have a great opportunity in front of us with this plan. I'm eager to see the progress Michigan will continue to make."

The Michigan ASD State Plan was created by development and advisory committees, led by Amy Matthews, Ph. D., of Grand Valley State University. The committees were comprised of 51 individuals including the Michigan Departments of Community Health, Education, Human Services, and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, parents, adults on the autism spectrum, educators, agency/ organization professionals, health care providers, university faculty, state grant project staff, and state government personnel.

"This important first step, the Michigan ASD State Plan, will make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals with ASD and their families," said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH.

"Implementing the recommendations identified in this plan will require collaborative efforts across public and private sectors, and we know that as we work towards applying these goals in our state, we will be better equipped to serve Michigan residents."

Data used in the preparation of the plan was gathered from a variety of sources including literature reviews, other published reports and recommendations, parent and professional surveys, public input, and expert opinion. "It is our hope and belief that this plan will prompt many individuals and organizations to be actively engaged with us to address the significant needs of all individuals with ASD in Michigan," said Colleen Allen, Ph.D., Chair of the Michigan Autism Council and President/CEO of the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

"The development committee gave years of volunteer service researching the needs of Michigan families and creating a plan that will greatly improve our systems of care for individuals with ASD and their families. The key focus areas identified in the Michigan ASD State Plan are:
  • Infrastructure: System, Service, and Resource Coordination
  • Family Engagement and Involvement
  • Early Identification and Intervention Services
  • Educational Supports and Services
  • Adult Supports and Services
  • Physical, Mental, and Behavioral Health Care
  • Training and Professional Development
The development of the plan included identifying current best practices in supporting individuals with ASD of all ages, reviewing current practice in Michigan across key priority areas, identifying gaps between best practice and current practice in Michigan, and making recommendations for improving services and outcomes. The ultimate goal of this plan is to guide future planning, decision making, and resource allocation to meet the needs of individuals and families living with ASD.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reps. Conyers and Peters Request GAO Investigation of Michigan Emergency Managers

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman C. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation into emergency managers in Michigan. Reps. Conyers and Peters issued this statement following their transmission of the letter to the GAO:

John Conyers, Jr.: “It is difficult to identify a single instance where an emergency manager has succeeded in turning around the financial fortunes of a city or jurisdiction. The history of the emergency manager Law in Michigan is replete with fiscal mismanagement and conflicts of interest.  In the absence of any sort of checks or balances at the state level, it is vital that the GAO examine the law and its impact, particularly the impact on federal funding.”

U.S. Representative
Gary Peters
Gary C. Peters: “By focusing only on short-term budgetary patches, emergency managers have failed to address the long-term systemic issues confronting older urban areas. The consistent record of poor results we’ve seen from emergency managers is why I’m joining with Congressman John Conyers in calling for a GAO review.

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Court Monitor Says Safety Still A Concern For Michigan's Foster Care System

The Children's Rights case has to do with the care of children under the auspices of the State.  Little to nothing has been done to address the poor, if any, mental health and education services to this population of youth, but, bet your bottom dollar, Michigan is billing for it.
Just a point of clarification, foster parents are not eligible for the SNAP (food stamps) as they already receive funding feed and clothe the child.  This is one of the reasons Michigan was hit with HHS audit on its pathetic administration of its SNAP and TANF programs because it supplements foster parents.
DHS Director Maura Corrigan continues to cover up a culture of fraud, waste and abuse in child welfare by publicly shifting the blame on the most vulnerable of society.  
I will wager that Michigan will not get from under this consent decree anytime before 2020.

A court appointed monitor says Michigan still needs to do more to keep kids in foster care safe.
The state was sued six years ago over the treatment of kids in the foster care system and a federal court is still keeping tabs on its progress. The state's Department of Human Services and the advocacy group Children's Rights were in court today to talk about the latest report.  
The report says there have been some significant improvements, most of them made in the last two years. But Michigan still misses the mark on keeping kids who have already been abused or neglected safe in their new homes.
Sara Bartosz, the lead attorney for Children's Rights, says over twelve months, 260 kids under state care were found to be abused or neglected.
“That comes out to almost a child every single business day of the year.
“Things are moving in many areas in a positive direction, she says. “But again, you can't be satisfied until kids are basically safe and their well-being is being assured. And so there are areas where this team, with all the hard work they're doing, needs to focus even more energy."
The report also found more than a quarter of kids in the system don't get monthly visits by a caseworker.
The court appointed monitor will continue to follow the state's progress for the next few years.

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