Monday, June 29, 2015

2 charged with embezzling from Detroit school program

And people wonder why Detroit children do not fare well in school.

2 charged with embezzling from Detroit school program

Detroit — The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has charged a high school principal and a nonprofit chief operating officer with embezzling money that was targeted toward at-risk students at Detroit schools.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Western High School principal Rudolfo Diaz and Esperanza Detroit COO Cecilia Zavala with stealing money from Esperanza Detroit.

The agency provides services and in-house counselors to at-risk students at Western International High School and other Detroit public schools.

According to Worthy, in April 2014, the DPS' Office of Inspector General noticed irregularities with some checks issued by the organization.

A member of Esperanza Detroit took an internal audit and turned findings over to the Detroit Police Department, which then turned it over to the prosecutor's office.

It is alleged that from November 2011 until May 2014, Zavala, 35, of Wyandotte, embezzled more than $100,000 from Esperanza Detroit for her own personal use, including using the organization's credit and debit cards without authorization to pay for restaurants, jewelry, a car and stays at hotels.

From October 2013 through May 2014, it is alleged that Diaz, 35, of Lincoln Park, received checks totaling $10,400 written on the Esperanza account and used it for his personal use. It is also alleged that he aided and abetted Zavala in embezzling money from the nonprofit.

Zavala has been charged with embezzlement more than $100,000, embezzlement more than $1,000 (nonprofit) and embezzlement more than $1,000.

She has also been charged with conspiracy embezzlement, using a computer to commit embezzlement more than $100,000.

Diaz has been charged with embezzlement more than $1,000, conspiracy embezzlement, embezzlement more than $1,000 (nonprofit) and conspiracy to embezzle.

"The allegations in this case reveal a complete disservice to and disregard for the students and the community as a whole," Worthy said in a statement.

Zavala and Diaz are expected to be arraigned at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in 36th District Court.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Will U.S. Senate Probe Non-Profit Child Welfare Orgs, Too?

QUESTION:  If the U.S. Senate Finance Committee can probe the nation's largest for-profit foster
care firm, then how come it cannot probe the nation's largest non-profit foster care firm?

ANSWER:  Because you cannot audit God!

On the non-profit side, Medicaid fraud is the biggest revenue stream, oops, I mean, cost-reimbursement in child welfare, yet no one wants to probe it but me.

Here is a list of the biggest non-profit Medicaid fraudfeasors in child welfare:

Catholic Charities

National Council of Jewish Women

Lutheran Services of America

There are many, many more religious-based, non-profits, which, allegedly, provide child welfare services.  I call it being paid for torture and rewarded through fraudulent billing practices.

I have submitted a formal request for a pdf of the letter sent to The MENTOR Network and will post as soon as it arrives.

For more "deeply disturbing news articles" on the horrors in foster care, go to Legally Kidnapped or just keep coming back here to stay on top of all news dealing with Medicaid fraud in child welfare.

Like us on facebook. Legally Kidnapped  Beverly Tran


US Senate Committee Probes Nation’s Largest For-Profit Foster Care Firm

The leaders of the powerful US Senate Finance Committee last week sent a six-page letter to the nation’s largest for-profit foster care company, National Mentor Holdings, requesting detailed information about the firm’s business practices and treatment of the thousands of children in its care.

That request to Mentor marks the latest step in the committee’s sweeping inquiry into privatized
foster care, which began in April when the committee, citing BuzzFeed News’ reporting, asked all 50 state governors about their foster-care contracting practices. The letter to Mentor, signed by the committee chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah) and ranking member, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) cites “deeply disturbing” news articles that focus on “what appear to be serious deficiencies” in the company’s foster care operations.

BuzzFeed News has published extensive reporting about the foster-care giant, detailing problems such as deaths and abuse in foster homes run by Mentor in Maryland and TexasIllinois, and Massachusetts.

Yesterday, a week after the Senate letter was sent, the company announced it was pulling out of foster care operations in five states. In a statement, Mentor said that the move was the result of a “comprehensive review” that began in January “to ensure we are delivering service excellence to every child in every home, while maintaining stable, sustainable financial performance.” Mentor will continue to provide foster care in at least seven states.

The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange as Civitas Solutions LLC, and markets itself as The Mentor Network. It is controlled by New York-based private equity fund Vestar Capital Partners.

In outsourced foster care, states pay organizations such as Mentor to recruit, train and oversee foster parents. The organizations even get paid to provide caseworkers and clinicians to monitor the children in their care.

As BuzzFeed News has reported, the firm has turned privatized foster care operations in the US into a profitable business over the last three decades. But there have been troubles, including at least six child deaths in the company’s homes since 2005, as well as cases of sex abuse. An investigation into a baby’s death in Massachusetts found “serious violations of child placement regulations.”
Investigators in Illinois found a “culture of incompetence.” A prosecutor in Texas has called for a federal investigation of the company after a two year old was murdered by her foster mother, who had been hired by Mentor.

Senate Review
The Senate committee’s new focus on Mentor shows that it is looking not just at state governments but at private contractors as well. As of late last year, the company said it had 3800 children in its care in 15 states.

The Senate letter cites “tragic consequences” resulting from “serious errors in judgment by Mentor.” The letter requests information on how much federal money, from the so-called Title IV-E funds, which are meant to support foster care, Mentor receives. That’s something that even the federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the program, doesn’t know, because the funds are distributed directly to states, which don’t have to report which contractors they hire.

The letter also requests information about whether Mentor uses non-disclosure agreements in settling cases with children who may have been harmed in its care. “Since January 2005, has Mentor entered into any agreements concerning non-disclosure/confidentiality clauses with the legal representatives of children who were, or who are now, placed in Mentor foster care homes?”

Sources have told BuzzFeed News that former employees of Mentor sometimes have signed restrictive confidentiality clauses, and that the firm has required confidentiality when it settled lawsuits with children harmed in its homes. A Mentor spokesperson said that the firm does not have the ability to keep an incident a secret.

The letter also requests information about Alliance Human Services, a non-profit organization that frequently works with Mentor. As BuzzFeed News has reported, some states contract with Alliance, which then subcontracts the work to the for-profit company, Mentor.

And the senators asked about whether Mentor pays bonuses for placements of children at homes, or whether there are targets, or quotas. Former employees have alleged that pressure for profits drove the company to cut corners on care — a charge Mentor denies.

In its statement, Mentor said it is “engaged in an on-going dialogue with the Committee” and would continue to respond to the committee’s questions.

Mentor Pulling Out of Five States
In a filing Wednesday with the SEC, Mentor announced it will be pulling out of foster care in Texas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana and North Carolina. It says it will “transition” the 1000 children living in its foster homes in those states to other facilities.

Sarah Magazine, the company spokesperson, said there was no relationship between the Senate’s questions to Mentor and the timing of the announcement that the firm was pulling out of foster care in five states. It also said that BuzzFeed News’ reporting did not influence its decision.

One Texas prosecutor who has called for a federal investigation of Mentor said he was delighted to hear that the firm is getting out of the child welfare business in his state.

“That’s wonderful,” said Milam County District Attorney W.W. Torrey. “It’s super.”

Torrey prosecuted a Mentor foster mother named Sherill Small in 2014, who murdered her two year-old foster daughter, Alexandria Hill in 2013. Torrey has said Mentor should never have placed the little girl with Small.

Mentor put the girl in Small’s custody despite the fact that five children had been removed from her care as “failed placements.” An internal Mentor document stated that Small “reported feeling stressed out, and will express that she is unable to care for the children in the home.” Mentor has expressed regret about the “poor judgment” it made in that case.

“How could they have been any more negligent?” he said. “Abject negligence!”

The firm said the move out of the five states would “strengthen financial performance” and help it improve its services. “I am confident,” said CEO and President Bruce Nardella, “that these changes will make us a better provider and a stronger company.”

Earlier this year, the company also stopped providing foster care in Illinois, where it had custody of 485 children. The firm said that move had nothing to do with a scathing state investigation that found a “culture of incompetence” at the company and denied that it had such a culture.

Indiana is one of five states from which Mentor is pulling its foster care business. An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that Georgia was one of the five states. Jun. 24, 2015, at 4:32 p.m.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Sweeping It Under The Rug - Baby LK Report For June 28th 2015

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

Yet Another Reason Why Michigan Child Welfare Should Remain Under Federal Oversight

Michigan does not care about its children, nor does it care about a child's future.
Michigan foster youth

Michigan Attoreny General Bill Schuette does not care about the state's children, nor does he care about their future.

The reason Governor Snyder signed the Religious Adoptin Bills, allegedly,  was because the majority (just about all of them) of Christian child placing agencies threated to shut down, which would have put the state in direcgt violation of the federal consent agreement and cause the state to lose millions in federal funding.

What bothers me the most is not the fact that LBGT kids in foster care are beated, raped and drugged (billing Medicaid) and the state does nothing about it,not even reporting these transgressions.

Nor is it the fact that these victims of the state eventually run away or age out to live on the streets because these Christian child placing agencies do not condone the existence of these youth.

It is the simple fact that the Michigan Democratic Party has done absolutely nothing, for years, about the horrors in Michigan Child Welfare.

Governor Rick Snyder needs to be impeached for simple fact that he allowed the state to be strong-armed, neigh, blackmailed, by these contracted religious organizations to defraud the federal court and violate the civil rights of Michigan citizens.

This is just another reason why federal Judge Nancy Edmunds should not allow Michigan to be released from its federal oversight.

What about LGBT kids?

Calin is 17, slight, with a close-cropped haircut and delicate features that suggest he's younger than his years.

He's smart, well-spoken, and can describe the despicable things that have been done to him in the calm, firm voice of a survivor.

Calin is transgender — born with female anatomy, he identifies as male — and in foster care at a residential placement center. He's one of hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Michigan children in the state's care who seem completely overlooked in decisions about state adoption policy.

Earlier this month, the state Legislature passed a law, promptly signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, allowing adoption agencies the right to refuse service to prospective LGBT adoptive parents. It was a preemptive move designed to dilute last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Some faith-based adoption agencies, which account for about half of the $20 million Michigan spent last year on adoption services, threatened to close shop otherwise. It was a threat lawmakers couldn't ignore. Because the law passed, those agencies say, they'll stay in business.

But none of them — state lawmakers, those adoption agencies — seem to realize there are kids like Calin.

In the child welfare system, neither sexual orientation nor gender identity must be considered when placing a child in foster care. So finding a safe home for an LGBT kid is a hit-or-miss prospect.
Take LGBT families out of the mix, as Lansing did this month, and it becomes even harder.

"We're taking young people who have few options, and giving them fewer options," says Jerry Peterson, executive director of the Ruth Ellis Center, a Highland Park-based youth social services agency.

Statewide, there are more than 13,000 kids in care. About 2,200 of those kids are seeking adoption.
Conservative estimates suggest 5% to 10% of kids in care are LGBT, but Peterson believes — as a 2014 study on foster kids in Los Angeles County found — that it's as much as one in five, about twice as many as in the population as a whole.
When a placement fails, it's hard for the child.

"Not only have these young people been rejected by their families of origins, they have been rejected by five or six foster families as well, if they come out while in care, and the families say you can't live in my home," Peterson said. "I struggle with a child welfare system that claims to have the safety and well being of the child as paramount concern, when in fact the system perpetrates trauma over and over again by refusing to acknowledge who they are."

Adopted as an infant by a family member, Calin, which isn't his real name, says he suffered years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his adoptive mother. Before he knew he was trans, he came out as a lesbian. He says his mom didn't respond well. She started taking him to church more often, and told him he risked going to hell. She took away his phone and computer, wouldn't allow him to spend time with friends. And the physical abuse continued.

When Calin realized he was trans, he thought things might get better. He'd always acted like a boy. Knowing he was trans, Calin thought, might help his mother make sense of him.

It didn't. Increasingly isolated, in despair, he attempted suicide, taking so many pills he went into acute kidney failure and came close to causing permanent damage. But after he got home from the hospital, things seemed OK. His mom, he thinks, was scared she'd lose her child.

Then it got much, much worse.

There was an argument, over a cell phone Calin pays for himself. Calin says his mother pushed him into the bathtub, trying to take it from him. He said she hit him, scratching his face, and when he climbed out, his uncle tripped him, pinning him on the ground, slapping his face and choking him.

The police came. Calin went to the hospital.

And his mother left him there.

In a court hearing, he listened as a social worker testified that his mom had said she didn't care what happened to him, that she wouldn't take him home.

Now he's in care, waiting to age out of a system that isn't built to accommodate kids like him.
For Calin, adoption isn't the goal. He says he's not scared of his mother any more. But he can't go back home. Calin dreams of starting his own business, maybe in California, where he believes he can find acceptance. He turns 18 early next year. The end of this — and the beginning of adulthood — is in sight.

But he knows what he has lost.

"Sometimes, I wish I could be in foster care, with a foster family," he said. "For the simple fact that you still get to be a kid."

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Michigan Christian Child Welfare Medicaid Fraud Laws

It has taken me a moment to reiterate what I have been proselytizing for years about Medicaid fraud in child welfare, but, for now, I can give another reason why no one will talk about it.
I cannot respout links on every issue in this faith-based adoption bullshit, but I can reiterate the eminent problems with privatization.

I cannot respout the links on every issue in this faith-based adoption privatization bullshit, but I can reiterate the eminent problems with Medicaid fraud in child welfare.

I can, also, remind the good Christian-based child placing agencies in Michigan that I know what you do and I know what happens with parents who are gay and end up with a child abuse case, just because they are gay, and it is not good.

I can, also, remind the good Christian-based adoption agencies in Michigan that I know what you do and I know what happens with foster children who are gay, and it is not good.

This has everything to do with covering up Medicaid Fraud in Child Welfare, in the name of God.

That is why no one will listen, see, or speak upon Medicaid Fraud in Child Welfare...too much frederal money would be lost and too many would lose their jobs and the name of God.


Snyder signs controversial faith-based adoption bills

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder signed a controversial package of bills Thursday allowing faith-based agencies to turn away gay and lesbian couples seeking state-supported adoptions.

Snyder signed the bills without ceremony, just one day after the Legislature sent him the legislation. The law goes into effect immediately. The ACLU of Michigan vows to challenge it.

The new law allows faith-based adoption agencies to invoke their sincerely held religious beliefs in denying adoption placement services to gay and lesbian couples who want to be parents. The agencies would be required to refer gay and lesbian couples to another adoption agency.

In a statement, the Republican governor emphasized the bills puts adoption practices, already in use, into law.

Snyder’s quick signature of the bills came after Senate Republicans held an unexpected vote on the legislation Wednesday that was not on the chamber’s published agenda. The bills cleared a Senate committee in late April.

The swift passage and gubernatorial signature took opponents by surprise and left little time for members of the business-dominated Michigan Competitive Workplace Coalition to get direction from corporate leadership on whether they could oppose the bills, said Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the ACLU of Michigan, a member of the coalition.

“By the time they all tried to get it through the hierarchy of where they would be on these bills, they were being signed by the governor this morning,” Weisberg said Thursday. “They moved so fast. I had no inkling they were moving until Wednesday morning.”

The coalition was formed last year to lobby Snyder and the Republican-controlled Legislature for a ban on discrimination in hiring, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Snyder’s office said that adoption rates in Michigan have continued to increase in recent years. In the 2014 fiscal year, 85 percent of children in the foster system were adopted, up from 70 percent in 2011. As many as 13,000 children reside in Michigan’s foster care system at any given time, according to lawmakers.

“The state has made significant progress in finding more forever homes for Michigan kids in recent years and that wouldn’t be possible without the public-private partnerships that facilitate the adoption process,” Snyder said in a statement. “We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.”

In fiscal year 2014, Michigan spent $19.9 million on contracts with private agencies for adoption services, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It accounted for about 85 percent of the $23.2 million the state spent that year on adoption support services.

Seventeen of Michigan’s 62 adoption placement agencies are faith-based, according to the Michigan Catholic Conference.

The ACLU said Thursday it is preparing to challenge the new law in court by contending the adoption agencies serve as agents of state government when placing children under contract with the DHHS.

“It’s illegal for the state of Michigan to discriminate in these placements,” said Rana Elmir, deputy director.

Paul A. Long, president of the Michigan Catholic Conference, praised the governor’s action Thursday, saying the new law “will ensure the state does not discriminate against social service agencies that serve the poor and vulnerable while providing foster care and adoption services to the general public.”

Critics have said the new law gives faith-based adoption agencies a legal license to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“Gov. Rick Snyder has proven today that he has utter disdain for the welfare of children in Michigan and that he cares only about empowering backwards discrimination,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. The group placed a full-page ad, “Shame on Gov. Snyder,” in Friday’s The Detroit News.
Opponents of the new adoption law have compared it to the religious freedom law Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed in March that caused a national uproar because it would have allowed private businesses to refuse to serve gays and lesbians. Pence later reversed course and signed a second law banning discrimination against gays and lesbians for public accommodations and business services.
“We hope that Gov. Snyder is prepared for the same amount of backlash that was seen in Indiana when they passed similar RFRA-style legislation and we encourage the people to raise up their voices in protest,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement Thursday.

Snyder has vowed to veto a Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill modeled after Indiana’s ill-fated law if it’s not tied to a bill adding sexual orientation to Michigan’s law banning discrimination in workplaces, housing and public accommodations.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Saturday, June 27, 2015

John Conyers Discusses His Healthcare Vote

John Conyers Discusses His Healthcare Vote by showerwaterpolo

 NOTE: He said blog.

 Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Attorney General Bill Schuette on same-sex marriage ruling

Pay attention to the last words of Michigan Attorney General Schuette.

I am quite sure when the first child welfare case comes up in dealing with "loving parents", these words will come back to haunt the privatized, religious state agencies who will continue to disparagingly treat gay children as having psychological disorders (Medicaid billable), becaues we all know, these "gay kids" just may grow up to be married one day.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Friday, June 26, 2015

Conyers Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

Washington – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the following statement after the United States Supreme Court announced that same-sex marriage is legal in a 5-4 decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“In this landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has yet again confirmed that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to equal protections of the laws.  I applaud this decision recognizing marriage equality as a constitutional right.  It affirms the essential role of the Constitution in protecting the right to make our most intimate decisions and upholds our human dignity.”
# # #

In March, Congressman Conyers signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality in theObergefell case. 
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Conyers: Compassion and Common Sense Prevail in the Case of King v. Burwell

Veteran Congressman Applauds Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Key Component of Obamacare

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement after theSupreme Court announced its 6 - 3 decision to uphold a core tenet of the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Fifty years ago, I was proud to cast my vote for the creation of Medicare.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents the most important expansion of Americans’ access to lifesaving healthcare since that time.  For the second time, the United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the ACA is the law of the land and ensures that millions of Americans can continue to access affordable health care.   

“Today’s decision—that all Americans, regardless of their home state, have the access to tax credits to afford essential healthcare—is a victory for compassion and common sense.   

“Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted five years ago, more than 16 million Americans have gained coverage and the nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever –11.9 percent.  More than 5.7 million young people now have health insurance through their parents’ plans and as many as 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage.  The ACA has also allowed 9.4 million seniors to save $15 billion on prescription drugs.

“After years of debate in Congress leading to passage of the law and two Supreme Court rulings upholding the law, it is time for Republicans to stop attempting to deny Americans’ access to healthcare by attempting to repeal the law.  Recent polling demonstrates that more than half of Americans – including 80 percent of Democrats and a quarter of Republicans – support expanding healthcare further to a ‘Medicare for All’ model. 

“Earlier this year, I was proud to reintroduce H.R. 676 ‘The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act’ to build on the proud legacy of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act to allow Americans to access the same high-quality, cost-effective, and equitable care that’s the standard throughout the industrialized world.  

“Half a century ago, addressing the convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Martin Luther King Jr. declared, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’  Today’s ruling reinforces our crucial work to combat this cruel inequality.”  
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Statement of House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. Criminal Justice Reform Listening Session

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“I commend Chairman Goodlatte for convening today’s listening session on criminal justice reform.  For decades, we in Congress reacted to the justifiable concern of our citizens about crime.  We developed and enacted legislation intended to make us safer and to achieve justice.  Over time, it has become increasingly apparent to citizens and public officials from across the political spectrum that some of our laws are not achieving these goals.  In fact, some of them are actually counterproductive from the standpoint of public safety, fairness, and fiscal responsibility. 

“There are a number of areas that urgently require reform, as the Chairman has acknowledged in the materials we jointly issued inviting Members to testify.  I want to highlight several areas that I hope will be priorities for action:
“We need to take steps to ensure that sentences are appropriately long, but are not set beyond levels that no longer serve legitimate criminal justice purposes.  Our prisons are overcrowded because of one-size-fits-all sentencing policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing leads not only to unjust outcomes for individuals, but also has serious systemic consequences by contributing to the problem of overincarceration. 

“We must take additional steps to address the collateral consequences of incarceration and other involvement with the criminal justice system.  We are not adequately preparing those in prison for successful reintegration into the community, and consequences such as the loss of voting rights and diminished employment prospects are needlessly hindering the ability of too many of our citizens to productively participate in society.

“We must also take action to improve the relationship between our police and the public they serve.  That is why the Ranking Member on the Crime Subcommittee, Ms. Jackson Lee, joined me and others yesterday in introducing the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. 

“This bill provides incentives for local police organizations to voluntarily adopt performance-based standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct will be minimized through appropriate management, training and oversight protocols and that if such incidents do occur, that they will be properly investigated.  Our nation’s police officers face danger on a daily basis to protect us from harm and to bring criminals to justice. 

“They deserve our respect and support – and I believe this bill will serve to strengthen the critical bond between communities and those who enforce our laws. 

“We need to address these issues, as well as all of those Chairman Goodlatte and I have outlined as we announced the process for considering reform proposals.  We will hear a wide range of proposals from our colleagues today to address these and other critical issues, and I look forward to working with the Chairman and other Members of the Committee to expeditiously consider legislation to improve our criminal justice system.” 

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

House Judiciary Committee to Hold Criminal Justice Reform Listening Session

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, June 25, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee held a criminal justice reform listening session. At the listening session, any Member of the House of Representatives who had an idea or proposal for criminal justice reform was invited to present his or her proposal for five minutes, or submit a proposal in writing. Following the listening session, the Judiciary Committee will give due consideration to all proposals offered by interested Members on this topic.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee announced the formation of a criminal justice reform initiative.  Over the coming months, the Judiciary Committee, which has primary jurisdiction over the U.S. Criminal Code, will take a step-by-step approach to address a variety of criminal justice issues, including over-criminalization, sentencing reform, prison and reentry reform, protecting citizens through improved criminal procedures and policing strategies, and civil asset forfeiture reform.

Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers issued the following joint statement on the Committee’s listening session:

“This week marks the first of many steps in the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative.  On Thursday, the Committee will hear from any Member of the House of Representatives who has an idea to improve our nation’s criminal justice system. The goal of the Committee’s criminal justice reform initiative is to produce strong legislation to ensure that our criminal justice system better reflects core American values and works for America.”

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Michigan Child Welfare Fraud Training Courses

For anyone who wants or even claims to be an advocate for child welfare reform, I strongly encourage you to enroll in these free training sessions.

Every state offers continuing education courses for the legal profession and social workers.  The public is also allowed to take these courses.

If you are going to publicly put yourself or your organization out there as a child welfare expert, then become an expert.  Take the programs and learn what it is you are complaining about.  Otherwise, continue spouting the propagansa garbage being rammed down your throat.

Interesting fact: The Michigan Child Welfare Training Institute used to be manned by a small group of community college sophomores who would "cut and paste" stuff from the internet which had absolutely no relevance to Michigan, let alone the problems in child welfare.

I will report on the integrity of the courses and to see if civil rights are still excluded from this area of law.

Upcoming Off-Site Programs
Review the list of programs below. Click on each program title to review a summary of the program and featured faculty.

Enrolling in an Upcoming Off-Site Program To enroll click on a program title below then choose "Register" in the summary box. Complete the registration form as requested and click "Continue".

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©


WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) issued a letter to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenburg requesting details concerning the use of “cold consent” searches, particularly at transportation facilities.

The letter cites a report released by the Justice Department Inspector General earlier this year in January which examined the DEA’s use of “cold consent” searches – which typically entail an officer asking for consent to speak with an individual and, if the agent thinks it’s warranted, to seek consent to search their belongings.  In some of these encounters, cash is seized. 

As the Inspector General states, such “cold consent” encounters can raise civil rights concerns, and the Department of Justice itself recognizes that “cold consent” encounters are more often associated with racial profiling than contacts based on previously acquired information. 

While not solely attributed to “cold consent” searches, as stated in the letter, “…from 2009-2013, DEA interdiction Task Force Groups seized $163 million in 4,138 individual cash seizures.  21 percent of these seizures were contested and in 41 percent of those contested cases all (or a portion) of the seized cash was returned – a total of $8.3 million.” 

According to press reports, DEA agents seized $16,000 in cash from Joseph Rivers, a young African-American man who was traveling from Michigan to Los Angeles to film a music video.  Mr. Rivers’ attorney states that agents boarded the train and began asking various passengers where they were heading and why.  When Rivers replied that he was travelling to Los Angeles to film a music video, the agent asked to search his bag and Rivers complied.  Despite the cash being in a bank envelop and the agents’ phone call to Rivers’ mother, who corroborated his story, the agents seized all of the cash.  Rivers stated he was the only African-American passenger in his portion of the train and believes he was racially profiled.

Letter to DEA Re Cold Consent Searches 6 23 2015
Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

IRAQ WAR PROTEST: Interview w/Rep. John Conyers 2007

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Monday, June 22, 2015

Happy Real Fathers Day - Baby LK Report For June 21st 2015

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

Bush Forgot Medicaid Fraud When He Privatized Florida Child Welfare

While this was a nice, snippet piece dealing with a preseidential candidate's background when dealing with issues of child welfare, the actual picture of the State of Florida's child welfare system is much dirtier in its levels of administration of its contracts.

The issues of Medicaid fraud in child welfare in Florida have continued to be ignored by the #DOJ and HHS health care fraud task force.

If Jeb Bush wants to take credit for launching privatization of Florida's child welfare system, then he better be man enough to talk about the Medicaid fraud that came with it...and the reasons why he did nothing to stop it.

Jeb Bush’s Florida Lost 500 Kids  
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

As governor, he inherited the worst foster-care system in the country and tried to change it. For some of the most vulnerable, it was too late.

Everything about Rilya Wilson’s death was horrific. She entered the Florida foster system a bright-eyed toddler, and disappeared when she was about 4 years old. And it took the state Department of Children and Families—responsible for vulnerable children like Rilya—two years to realize she was gone.

A witness in an ensuing criminal case said the girl’s caretakers locked her in a dog cage, beat her with switches, and tied her to her bed at night. Authorities never found her body. And an uncontroversial conclusion emerged: that these horrors destroyed Rilya because of the failure of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Jeb Bush was the governor during Rilya’s disappearance and death. Now that he’s campaigning to be president, he talks often about the importance of taking care of society’s most vulnerable.

In his announcement video, he said that his core beliefs “start with the premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line, not the back.”

And in a June 19 speech to social conservative activists, he mentioned the state’s child welfare system and then said his administration “put the most vulnerable in society at the front of the line, guided by my faith.”

Few are more vulnerable than foster children, and as governor, Bush oversaw some sweeping policy changes that angled to get those kids better care.

And though the governor seems to relish all the wonky minutiae of immigration and education policy, he rarely if ever discusses foster care on the trail in any detail (none of the potential presidential candidates do).

Bush inherited one of—if not the—worst foster systems in the nation, and he changed it. A lot. But in the state, there’s still deep disagreement over whether or not he rectified the wrongs that let Rilya vanish and die.
“It has gotten worse over time,” Dr. George Rahaim, a psychologist who worked with the Department of Children and Families,said in May of 2002. “It is worse now, in my opinion, that it ever has been.”
When Bush became governor in 1999, Florida was a horrible place to be a foster child. Timothy Arcaro, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, wrote a detailed and gut-churningpaper in 2001 laying out the enormity of the system’s flaws.

In his report, Arcaro cited one 1998 grand jury report that said, “[T]he problems facing the Department are extensive and so systemic that the children in the custody of or under the protection of the Department are in peril.”

Broward County’s foster care system was particularly bad.

“In addition to physical, emotional, and mental abuse, foster children in Broward County also suffered sexual victimization,” Arcaro wrote. “[A]n eight-year-old child forced to commit sex acts in foster placement; an eleven-year-old girl lured away by another foster child and then gang-raped by several men; a sexually aggressive teenager placed in a foster home with three younger children subsequently charged with sexually abusing one of the younger children, a four-year-old girl; foster parents gave a child a whistle to blow if older children in the foster home tried to sexually molest him.”

That grand jury report concluded that the children for whom the Department of Children and Families was responsible were “in peril.”

In other words, being ‘protected’ by the DCF was dangerous.

When Bush became governor, he made Kathleen Kearney the secretary of the department. And she wasn’t coy about its problems.

“We are on the Titanic,” Kearney, a former circuit-court judge, told the Sun-Sentineleditorial board. “We’ve been on it for decades.”

But the editorial board wasn’t impressed with Kearney’s plan for making things better.

“She’s showing skills better suited for re-arranging deck chairs on her favorite luxury liner,” they opined, concluding that her plans weren’t impressive and that she “may well become the next DCF secretary to go down with the ship.”

They were right.

After Rilya’s case became a national scandal—Bill O’Reilly tore into Bush over his connection to it—Kearney gave the governor her resignation. At the time, the department didn’t know the whereabouts of 500 of the children supposedly in its care. Comparing it to the Titanic might have been generous.

And during Bush’s first years in office, observers said the department’s problems metastasized.
“It has gotten worse over time,” Dr. George Rahaim, a psychologist who worked with the department, said in May of 2002. “It is worse now, in my opinion, that it ever has been.”

The department had an epidemic of caseworkers lying about checking in on the children in their charge. The Miami Herald reported that in the years before 2001, the department’s performance “in virtually every category” got worse, even though its budget had grown.

“[F]oster children continue to be abused at alarming rates,” the paper noted.

Observers couldn’t overstate the situation’s grimness.

“There is no place in the country where it is worse to be a foster child than Florida,” Richard Wexler, director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, told Time in May of 2002.

Bush seems to have known it. Emails show him and staff going back and forth—in a very limited fashion—about foster kids’ deaths. At one point, he forwarded spokeswoman Katie Muniz the text of an AP story about 16 children dying while in the department’s care in 2001.

“let us discuss,” he wrote.

“sigh,” replied Muniz.

Twenty minutes later, he fired back.

“I would like an explanation of this,” he wrote.

In another email, he told Muniz to have Kearney call him. That phone conversation obviously wasn’t public record—as his emails are—but one could speculate it was tense.

Foster children weren’t without advocates, but their efforts often came up short. In the summer of 2000, children’s rights advocates sued Bush, Kearney, and the Department of Children and Families in federal court. The case, Foster Children Bonnie L. v. Bush, charged that the state showed “deliberate indifference” to the children’s rights. The plaintiffs also charged that the department treated black foster children worse than their white counterparts, and put less effort into trying to find them adoptive homes.

“One toddler from Flagler County is now partially paralyzed after being beaten by a foster parent,” reported the Sun-Sentinel, describing more details of the suit. “Two sisters from Manatee County were tied by their wrists and ankles to their beds by their adoptive parents and made to sleep on concrete surrounded by a brick cage. A 14-year-old Hillsborough County girl lived for a nearly a year in an overcrowded foster home where children were punished with hot sauce on their tongues and head dunkings in toilets.”

The suit also said that one plaintiff, 14-year-old Tanya M., shared a bedroom and a single dresser with seven other children and suffered “harmful weight loss” because she didn’t get enough to eat. Tanya eventually ended up back with her biological parents, and her father assaulted her and broke her arm. She then went back to an overcrowded shelter, and her caretakers planned to put her in a wilderness program designed as a “moderate risk delinquency commitment program”—in other words, a program for troublemakers —“even though she is not delinquent and has not committed any violations of law.”

Tanya ran away. She was one missing kid out of hundreds.

Ultimately, the United States Florida District Court dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims on the grounds of states’ rights, wrote John Pardeck (who was professor emeritus in Missouri State University’s school of social work) inChildren’s Rights: Policy and Practice.

The lawsuit’s small win was a promise from the Department of Children and Families “to reinforce a nondiscriminatory policy toward African Americans and older children,” Pardeck wrote. The attorneys appealed the dismissal of the other charges, but the Supreme Court refused to take the case.
So Bush won in court. But he knew things still needed to change.

His predecessor, Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles, had overseen the beginning of a movement toward privatizing the Department of Children and Families, which oversaw foster care.

On this front, Bush went all in. In a 2001 speech to the Dependency Court Improvement Program Summit,  Bush proclaimed that his state was “leading the nation in the quiet revolution of child welfare reform.”

That revolution doubled the funding for the state’s child welfare services, privatized the state’s entire child welfare service system and subcontracted out the work of caring for foster kids, Robert E. Crew Jr., an associate dean of Florida State University’s College of Social Sciences, wrote in Jeb Bush: Aggressive Conservatism in Florida.

These actions essentially moved all the responsibility for the provision of child welfare services to the private, nonprofit sector, said Michael Dale, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and an expert on juvenile and children’s law.

Each area of the state got a community-based corporation, or lead agency, to provide services, conduct evaluations, provide social workers, and subcontract further with other private providers.  
The state agency’s role shrunk dramatically, limited to contracting with private agencies, conducting oversight of them, providing lawyers for the department to litigate cases involving abuse or neglect, and handling the initial investigations in new cases.

Dale said he wasn’t impressed with the outcomes of Bush’s changes and he doesn’t think privatization was the right move.

“I don’t think it was a good idea, because it promised things that didn’t happen,” he said. “There is no evidence that it has succeeded in doing what it was supposed to do.”

Others defend Bush’s changes. Buddy MacKay, a Democrat who ran against (and lost to) Bush in 1998 and later spent a few months helming the department, praised the governor’s move.

“I think it's one of the finest things that has happened,” he told the Sun-Sentinel in 2011.
And that paper reported that Bush’s move to privatization brought good outcomes.

“By many existing yardsticks, the private agencies are doing better than the state did,” the paper reported in 2011. “Adoptions are up 200 percent, kids are being returned from foster care to their families faster and fewer children are harmed again once they go home, statistics show.”

Dale said he’s skeptical of any analysis like that.

“There have been public changes in policy after every major visible public event,” he said, referring to situations like Rilya’s disappearance and death. “I can tell you that to my knowledge, there has never been an objective evaluation of the impact of any of these things that have been done.”

And Rilya’s death was far from the last. In March of 2011, the Palm Beach Postreported that more children’s deaths had spurred debate about the wisdom of a privatized system.

In February of 2011, 10-year-old Nubia Barahona was found dead in her adopted father’s truck. Her adoptive parents have been indicted but not yet convicted. And the Department of Children and Families has drawn scorching criticism for failing another child.

Two weeks after Nubia’s death, the bodies of two more kids—Jermaine McNeil and Ju'Tyra Allen—were found. A community-based corporation was responsible for making sure they were safe in their home, but the Palm Beach Post noted that it never ascertained that the children were living with a convicted felon who could have been putting them in danger. The Sun-Sentinel reported that man’s case is underway.

The reality is that Florida has failed a lot of kids. Though Bush’s oversight and innovative policy-making might have helped protect children, the data isn’t clear. And more vulnerable Sunshine State kids are likely to face the same fates as Rilya, Jermaine, Ju’Tyra, and Nubia.

But that’s not good campaign trail material.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©