Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon lawmakers ask scathing questions about foster kids

Please be advised that this is not exclusive to Oregon. It happens in all the States and in many instances, we are dealing with Medicaid funding..

The only difference with the rest of the States is that some elected officials in Oregon finally started to listen.

Oregon lawmakers ask scathing questions about foster kids


SALEM — Oregon lawmakers have begun casting a critical eye on the state's foster care system, pressing officials to defend their ability to protect thousands of vulnerable children.
The issue flared this week when the Senate's human services committee confronted the Department of Human Services over accusations that a publicly funded foster care agency abused or neglected children with little apparent oversight from state officials.

Those accusations — that the agency denied food and clean bedding, used improper force, rewrote reports, tolerated mold and rodents — have prompted an internal review as well as scathing questions from lawmakers who worry children served by other providers might be experiencing similar treatment. More hearings are planned before February's legislative session.

The committee's chair, Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, said her concerns have been building for months. In June, The Oregonian/OregonLive found the department had struggled to report a basic means of keeping children safe: monthly visits from caseworkers charged with checking for signs of abuse.

"Every child has the same right to safety, security and dignity," Gelser said in an interview, making clear her fears stretch beyond one provider's alleged misconduct. "How do we make sure that whatever safeguards failed in one place aren't failing someplace else?"

For now, scrutiny is being heaped on Northeast Portland's Give Us This Day, which continued to take in foster children despite deep financial problems, reports of abuse and a state Department of Justice investigation over its nonprofit status. Willamette Week detailed the agency's struggles this month.
State officials stopped referring children to Give Us This Day this month, citing the justice department's investigation.

On Monday, Gelser invited a woman identified as a former employee, Rachel Rosas, to testify. Rosas offered fresh accusations that left lawmakers and Department of Human Services employees stunned.

Rosas accused Give Us This Day staffers of doctoring time sheets and rewriting incident reports to cover up potentially abusive conduct. She said children and workers at one group home dealt with rats, flies and mold. Groceries and grooming products sometimes were lacking. Mats, without clean sheets, filled in for beds.

She said the agency added cameras to bedrooms to monitor employees' use of force. But some rooms, she said, had the cameras taped over. Rosas said state workers typically dropped children off without venturing past the home's nicely renovated intake area.

And if employees complained, Rosas said, managers threatened to fire them.
"You've painted a pretty dismal condition for this building," said Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby. "Why wasn't DHS able to see through this smokescreen?"

Rosas replied: "The problem is people aren't coming around to ask questions. This program had been in question before, but somehow they still keep getting clients."

Give Us This Day's director, Mary Holden, said she wasn't invited to the hearing and didn't remember Rosas working for her.
"Every child has the same right to safety, security and dignity. How do we make sure that whatever safeguards failed in one place aren't failing someplace else?" — Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis
She defended her nearly 40-year-old agency, pointing out that the black-owned nonprofit accepts difficult foster children — kids with gang ties or sexual-abuse victims — whom other agencies often refuse to take.

Holden accused the state of contributing to Give Us This Day's struggles by not promptly paying reimbursements. She said the accusations of abuse and neglect are fabrications from disgruntled workers, and she equated the hearing with "public lynchings."

Lois Day, the state's child welfare director, met with Rosas after the hearing. Day faced questions from lawmakers alongside the Department of Human Services' lead licensing and abuse investigation managers.

Olsen and Gelser said the department's license inspections, which happen every two years, need to be more rigorous.

"We get greater scrutiny when we want a car loan," Olsen said. "Putting children in a facility that can't afford to feed them, can't afford to pay staff — to me that would be paramount when licensing a facility."

Day repeatedly told them the department was looking into its rules around licensing and abuse complaints to make sure they're stringent enough.

Overall, the state is responsible for more than 8,000 foster children on any given day. Beyond checking for obvious harm, caseworkers use regular visits to ensure children are receiving proper health care and adjusting to new schools.

After the hearing, Gelser said the Give Us This Day case shows "a consequence of not doing" regular check-ins.

The state made sure 83 percent of Oregon foster children received a monthly visit from a caseworker in May. That's up from a little more than half after 2011 but still below the state's target.
Gelser said she's waiting to see what the Department of Human Services' review turns up. She worries other providers might be awash in similar accusations.

"What kind of message," she said, "does that send to these kids?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Conyers: Health Insurance Mergers Must Be Questioned

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today released the following statement after the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law concluded a hearing that examined proposed health insurance mergers and the possible consequential impact on marketplace competition:

Dean of the U.S. House
of  Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
 “Currently, we already have highly concentrated health insurance markets as highlighted recently in an updated study by the American Medical Association (AMA).  Further consolidation of multi-billion dollar health insurance companies could result in higher premiums and reduced quality care.  Moreover, healthy competition in the marketplace also allows physicians to bargain for enhanced contract terms that relate to all angles of patient care and services. 
“Currently, we already have highly concentrated health insurance markets as highlighted recently in an updated

“In 2010, in my home state of Michigan, the U.S. Department of Justice challenged a potential merger by Blue Cross Blue Shield with an in-state health insurer claiming that the deal would greatly reduce competition for the people of Michigan that would have increased premiums across the board."

“As we have always seen in our economy, healthy competition in the marketplace ensures lower premiums and provides incentives to insurers to increase the quality of service and care, and pay physicians on time.  I encourage the Department of Justice to scrutinize these potential mergers carefully.”

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Michigan Gives More Power to Steal from Foster Kids

So many questions.  So little time left in this Legislative session.

Here you have an honorable Michigan House Bill which, I guess, is an attempt to address foster children being victims of identity theft.

Great, but the real issue is:
Caseworkers guarding SS#'s of foster children

Q:   "Who has access to foster children's Social Security Numbers?"

A:   Caseworkers.

Allow me to clear the air before further examination.

This Bill gives the power and authority to Caseworkers to do annual credit checks on a child's credit history.

Mind you, the Bill has no referral mechanism to the Office of Attorney General to investigate how the foster child's information was breached nor is there any mandate to prosecute.

No training requirements specified for the caseworkers or child placing agencies have been even slightly mentioned.

Identity theft is a federal crime.  Considering the fact that foster care is a federally funded program, one would think there would be some form of collaboration with federal authorities to, at least, intervene and assist in the prosecution, and in certain circumstances, recovery.

There is not even a whisper about generating an exclusionary database to revoke licenses, sanctions, prosecution or recovery, for individuals who engage in fraud against these foster youth.

So now, within this Bill, there will be annual credit reports, which will be billed to some unidentified funding source, which more than likely be Medicaid, to generate stock piles of more documentation to be lost in the paperwork shuffle of a foster care case, with multiple individuals having undocumented access to the files,

There is no mention of Michigan Children's Institute and its role as the sole, legal guardian for more than 3,000 in its care.

So why is it that there was the need to even introduce a Bill such as this?  Is foster care identity theft that rampant where there is such a need for intervention?

If child welfare was not such a secret operation, there could be much more collaboration and reduction in numbers of children who are in state care.

Foster care Social Security Numbers can be used in more ways than with credit to commit fraud.

Watch this video to find out Medicaid Fraud in Child Welfare and why Michigan is letting the  "fox guard the hen house":

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Happens After Foster Care.

This is an insightful, moving video about a, caveat, I guess you would call it, on Holocaust survivors.

When they were released from concentration camps, there was relatively nothing for them, similar to survivors of foster care.

My bucket list contains a strong yearning to hold consortia to open dialogue on what happens to parents and children who have survived foster care.

My focus would be on the economic implications.

Currently, there are no data.  There are no studies.  There are no voices.

More than a moving story: a true life lesson.Thank you Francine. #WhatMakesUsHUMAN
Posted by HUMAN on Friday, September 25, 2015
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Congress Should Heed Pope Francis' Call to Answer the 'Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor'

By John Conyer

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
This  summer, Pope Francis released one of the most important and eloquent works of our time: Laudato Si.  A meditation on modern culture and our responsibilities to our creator and one another, it directly confronts the sin and injustice of continued environmental degradation and inaction on climate change.

Wednesday, Pope Francis delivered that urgent message directly to the American people. Speaking at the White House, he applauded President Obama for his work to repair our "common home" and he encouraged us to consider the world we leave our children and which we create for others.

A man of peace and a man of the poor, Pope Francis speaks out of obligation because to him our situation compels it. He recognizes that our planet "groans in travail" at the "sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life." He reminds us that our climate, "a common good, belonging to all and meant for all" is imperiled by greenhouse gases. He sees our failure to consider the environmental threats to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters as pointing "to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded."
The pope uses reason matched to principle to point out a simple truth -- climate change is happening and it will hit the weakest the hardest because they lack the resources to prepare.

Examples of this inequity are abound. Drought in California makes produce more expensive, but it leads to famine in sub-Saharan Africa. Storm surges and flooding will destroy the coastal homes of the wealthy, but will kill those without transportation as it did in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward. Wealthy countries with political and capital reserves remain stable during tough times, but resource shocks can drive developing nations to war and destruction. Extreme heatwaves are tolerable with air-conditioning, but are deadly without it. These challenges can drive migration that presents its own dangers.

As leader of a church with 1.25 billion members and two thousand years of institutional history, Pope Francis cannot remain silent -- many of those at greatest risk are part of his flock. But he is also worried about those whose disrespect for creation and preference for comfort over sacrifice drives climate change skepticism. He must make them hear too the "cry from the earth and cry from the poor."

That means calling upon the freest and strongest country in the world to account for its timid skepticism. Pope Francis' sternest reminder falls upon wealthy countries, like the United States, where our public moral and religious dialogue all too frequently ignores the inconvenient truth that our comfort and prosperity threatens lives at home and elsewhere.

Congress could do worse than to rise to Pope Francis' challenge and stand up for the most vulnerable in the face of fierce opposition by powerful interests. Because while we may not always see eye to eye with the Pope on matters of theology or public policy, America was founded, as President Ronald Reagan said, "a shining city upon a hill". If we truly believe that destiny -- in American exceptionalism itself -- then we have a duty to sacrifice and act exceptionally. As America's greatest theologian, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

I am glad that Pope Francis has asked us directly to measure where we stand in these challenging times. His is a needed reminder and an act of good conscience. As he becomes the first Pontiff in history to address the United States Congress, I appreciate his wise counsel on the issues that our nation and the world must confront and I join millions of Americans in welcoming him to our nation.

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Marcia Yakes, Detroit Pioneer in Mass Transit and Community Relations, Passes

It is with the deepest regrets that I have to share the news of a dear friend, Marcia Yakes, Board Member of Transportation Riders United of Detroit, has left us her legacy. 

Always there to help someone in need...In need of being called out, In need of an ear, in need of ruffling feathers of local officials...

I guess the Lady in the Dungeon (what my kids used to call her) decided she could have greater mobility in spirit to go around cussing folks out for doing stupid stuff. I got this, woman. 

Still on the mission...

Detroit Black Out 2013
(PHOTOS:  Lyle VanBelle)

I can hear her now, yelling at me, laughing wildly.

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Floor Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. in Opposition to H.R. 348, the “Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2015"

            “Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 348, the ‘Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2015’ or so-called RAPID Act.  

            “H.R. 348 has many flaws.  Most critically, this measure could jeopardize public health and safety by prioritizing project approval over meaningful analysis that currently is required under the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA. 

            “By giving the proponents of construction projects greater control over the environmental approval process, this bill is the equivalent of giving Wall Street the authority to write its own regulations for financial responsibility.

“The bill accomplishes this result in several respects.

            “To begin with, H.R. 348 – under the guise of streamlining the approval process – forecloses potentially critical input from federal, state, and local agencies as well as from members of the public to comment on environmentally-sensitive construction projects that are federally-funded or that require federal approval.

            “The bill also imposes hard and fast deadlines that may be unrealistic under certain circumstances.

            “Moreover, if an agency fails to meet these unrealistic deadlines, the bill simply declares that a project must be deemed approved, regardless of whether the agency has thoroughly assessed risks.

“As a result, H.R. 348 could allow projects that put public health and safety at risk to be approved before the safety review is completed.   

            “This failing of the bill, along with many others, explains why the Administration and the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, along with more than 40 respected environmental groups vigorously oppose this legislation.

            “These organizations include Public Citizen, the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

            “Likewise, the Administration issued a strong veto threat.  Stating that the bill will “increase litigation, regulatory delays, and potentially force agencies to approve a project if the review and analysis cannot be completed before the proposed arbitrary deadlines,” the Administration warns that if H.R. 348 became law, it “would lead to more confusion and delay, limit public participation in the permitting process, and ultimately hamper economic growth.”        
“Another concern that I have with this bill – like other measures that we have considered – is that it is a flawed solution in search of an imaginary problem.  And, that is not just my opinion. 

            “The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, for instance, states that highway construction project delays based on environmental requirements stem not from the National Environmental Policy Act, but from ‘laws other than NEPA.’ 

            “In fact, CRS found that the primary source of approval delays for these projects ‘are more often tied to local/state and project-specific factors, primarily local/state agency priorities, project funding levels, local opposition to a project, project complexity, or late changes in project scope.’ 

            “Undoubtedly, the so-called RAPID Act will make the process less clear and less protective of public health and safety.

            “My final major concern with this bill is that – rather than streamlining the environmental review process – it will sow utter confusion. 

            “H.R. 348 does this by creating a separate, but only partly parallel environmental review process for construction projects, which will cause confusion, delay, and litigation.

            “As I noted at the outset, the changes to the  National Environmental Policy Act’s review process as contemplated by H.R. 348 apply only to certain construction projects.

            “The National Environmental Policy Act, on the other hand, applies to a broad panoply of federal actions, including fishing, hunting, and grazing permits, land management plans, Base Realignment and Closure activities, and treaties. 
“As a result of the bill, there could potentially be two different environmental review processes for the same project.  For instance, the bill’s requirements would apply to the construction of a nuclear reactor, but not to its decommissioning or to the transportation and storage of its spent fuel.

            “Rather than improving the environmental review process, this bill will complicate it and generate litigation.

            “But, more importantly, this bill is yet another effort by my friends on the other side of the aisle to undermine regulatory protections.   
            “As with all the other regulatory bills, this measure is a thinly disguised effort to hobble the ability of federal agencies to do the work that Congress requires them to do.  I strenuously oppose this seriously flawed bill and reserve the balance of my time.”

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Child Poverty Policies Do Not Work By the Numbers

According to the federal report for 2013 fiscal year, there is an increase in the number of children who have entered foster care.

According to the federal report for 2013 fiscal year, there is a decrease in the number of children who live in poverty.

These data lag by 2 years and have lots of missing data; whereby, the statistics are skewed.

The numbers are significantly higher nationally, by geographic regions and by certain populations.

Child Poverty by Race and Ethnicity
Note: Hispanic includes children of all races. White, Not Hispanic does not include any Hispanic children and starting in 2002 excludes White, Not Hispanic children reporting multiple race categories. Black or African-American includes Hispanic children and starting in 2002 includes Black or African-American children reporting multiple race categories.
Children in African-American, Hispanic, and Non-Hispanic White Families
  • For African-American children, the poverty rate in 2013 was 36.9 percent. The poverty rate for African-American children in 2013 was 5.4 percentage points higher than a decade earlier in 2002.
  • For Hispanic children, the poverty rate in 2013 was 30.4 percent, a decrease from 33.8 percent in 2012. The poverty rate for Hispanic children in 2013 was 3.5 percentage points higher than the recent low in 2006.
  • For non-Hispanic White children, the poverty rate was 10.7 percent in 2013. The poverty rate for non-Hispanic White children in 2013 was 1.6 percentage points higher than the recent low in 2000.
If you lump the"children of color", the disparities become an even more apparent reflection of current economic and social policy failures.

Children of color are labeled as "Targeted Populations", a codification of racial profiling.

Number of US children in foster care up sharply

New federal figures show that for the first time in a decade, there was a notable increase last year in the number of U.S. children in foster care.
The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services, released Wednesday, tallied 415,129 children in the foster care system as of September 30, 2014, up from about 401,000 a year earlier. The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002, and the number had dropped steadily since 2005 before rising slightly in 2013.
The long-term drop resulted primarily from shifts in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoided being removed from home in the first place.

It is time to include child welfare in justice reform discussions.

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Conyers and Lofgren Issue Statement Regarding Syrian Refugee Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), issued the following joint statement in response to a small announced increase– from 75,000 to 85,000 – in the refugee admissions levels for the next fiscal year:

Dean of the U.S, House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The Administration is right to take action to increase resettlement of the world’s most vulnerable refugees.  We hope to work with the Administration to do more.  There are currently 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, 7.6 million internally displaced persons, and 4 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.  They are fleeing a war waged by the brutal Syrian regime on one hand and the barbarism of ISIS on the other.  For these refugees, safe haven in Europe, the United States, or other welcoming countries is their best and only hope. 

“In the 1980s, the United States resettled one million Vietnamese, at times taking in more than 10,000 per month.  During the 1990s, we accepted hundreds of thousands of religious and political refugees from the former Soviet Union.  Yet today, with more refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons than at any time since World War II, the need for an historic response has never been greater.  Our commitment to resettle only 10,000 Syrian refugees falls short when weighed against our nation’s proud history protecting those fleeing violence and persecution.

“The Administration cannot be alone in this effort.  Congress must also act to support resettlement, and we should also encourage private funding to support resettlement efforts.  Additionally, as Pope Francis has urged, now is the time for Churches, Parishes, and houses of worship across the country to volunteer and bring their resources to bear in helping global refugees.
“Just over 75 years ago, a ship called the St. Louis, carrying nearly a thousand Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, sailed so close to the United States that passengers could see the city lights of Miami.  But rather than welcome these refugees, the United States turned them away.  Many later died in concentration camps.  We should not repeat the mistake of rejecting those fleeing for their lives.  The United States has long been a symbol of freedom and hope for the World’s most vulnerable.  In today’s global refugee crisis, we must now act boldly to fulfill that promise.”

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lets Sue CPS!!! A special look at a few of the most current lawsuits against CPS and their Cronies

From the desk of Legally Kidnapped...

Lets Sue CPS!!! A special look at a few of the most current lawsuits against CPS and their Cronies

I don't know how many parents I've hear were going to sue CPS in the years I've been doing this.  I've heard about people wanting to get together and start a class action.  I've had parents send me copies of their paperwork proving fraud, lies and failures that they were going to use to sue them.

Unfortunately CPS Agents and all of their cronies are protected under Good Samaritan type immunity laws and can't be sued.    That is, of course, with a few exceptions, which we will take a look at now.
In Kansas, parents are jumping on a potential class action lawsuit that is claiming CPS is wrongfully removing children and placing them in abusivefoster homes.
In Maine, DHHS dropped the ball when it failed to warn parents about an ongoing child abuse investigation at a daycare last year.  Now the parents want to sue for failure to warn them so that they could keep their kids safe and because they didn't pull the license of the daycare.

In order to file this suit, however, they need permission from the Legislature due to implied immunity laws.
In Maryland, the infamous parents of  the Free-Range-Kids who were charged with "unsubstantiated neglect" for letting their kids play at and walk home from the park are preparing to sue for harassment.
And of course we all hope they win.

In Washoe County, Nevada there is a potential Wrongful Removal lawsuit going on that's worth taking a look at.  Snatching a newborn without a court order.  Imagine that.
A couple of New Jersey homeschooler's are suing for an unwarranted home intrusion.
And... Two New Jersey CPS Agents sued CPS for unpaid overtime.
They are appealing though.

In Oregon, CPS is being sued for failure to protect a little girl who was molested by two boys in her foster home.
In Pennsylvania, a few child welfare agencies have gotten together and sued the Governor's Administration for cutting their funding during a budget impasse with the legislature.
In South Carolina, a lawsuit has just been filed against CPS for not snatching a kid who was hurt pretty bad by a mothers boyfriend.
In Washington CPS got hit with a $1.75 million dollar lawsuit for placing a child with a foster care provider who had a criminal record and ended up raping her.
I should also remind you that there is a lawsuit happy group of CPS lovers who are totally in it for the money,  Child Advocacy Group called Children's Rights who file mega lawsuits against whole states child welfare systems, collects huge legal fee's and million$ in federal oversight reimbursements while forcing states to pump tons of money to hire new CPS Agents, more foster care providers, services, etc.  

Here's the latest, although the link above just about covers it. 
Although there have been many lawsuits filed against CPS over the years to grace the files of Legally Kidnapped I have to remind you that suing CPS is extremely difficult.  Most of them are protected from such lawsuits as a condition of their employment.  

There are exceptions to this rule of course.  That's not the point.  I urge you to read up on some of these cases further.  Perhaps you'll find a precedent that works for you.     

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