Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Gotta Pay The Bills: How Arizona Legally Kidnaps Children Of The Poors

Q: Why did the Arizona Child Protective Services worker snatch the kid?

A: To pay the light bill.

Of course, the issue of sustainability for these child placing agencies is a bit more complex, well, not really.

It is like this.

Child poverty is a multi-billioin dollar industry where these so called think tanks, like Center for American Progress, come up with some really sophistocated crap to create another layer of service programs, training, and whatever other pop up ancillary, unecessary administrative operations to bill Medicaid, complete with the fraudulent billing, so they can pay the best interests of the child in those social impact bonds.

Notice in this video that the reporter makes no mention of the horrific treatment of these kids in foster care nor does it even address the trauma of being legally kidnapped, even if it was just for a few days, for no reason, or for just being poor.

But, the worst part of this story is that the State of Arizona sees nothing wrong with how they treat children of "The Poors" (always said with clinched teeth) and has made no effort to address the human trafficking epidemic in the state.

But, you know what they say, "Gotta pay the bills."




Judge: All children in DCS care are now part of class-action lawsuit

A lawsuit that seeks improvements in Arizona's foster-care system will apply to all Arizona children in the system, now as well as in the future, a federal judge has ruled.

U. S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver granted class-action status, below, in the litigation
, filed 2 years ago against the state, on behalf of a number of foster children.

The ruling late last week means the federal lawsuit can proceed. A trial is expected in spring 2018.
"It's no longer about one, two or three foster children," said Anne Ronan, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, which brought the suit. Rather, it's about the thousands of children in Arizona's foster-care system, as well as any children who will enter the system in the future, she said.

Arizona had nearly 17,000 children in foster care as of March 31, 2017, its latest report shows. In August, 900 children entered the system when they were removed from their homes due to allegations of abuse and neglect, according to the Department of Child Safety. In the same month, another 1,068 children left the system, primarily by being returned to their parents or through adoption.

DCS, in a statement, said the ruling did not reflect on the merits of the case. It said it looks forward to showing the court the improvements it has made over the last three years, which its said "have solidified an enduring commitment to ensuring children in state custody receive the care they need and deserve.”

AHCCCS, the state's Medicaid program, is also named in the suit. That agency declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

AHCCCS is charged with providing physical, mental and behavioral-health care to kids in the system. The suit seeks improvements to the system to ensure that children are well cared for and their physical and behavioral-health needs are met.

The state argued against class-action certification. Among its objections: Many of the children named in the original complaint have since been adopted. Because of that, there is no legal standing for advocates to sue on the children's behalf, the state said in court filings.

DCS Director Greg McKay also cited his agency's plans to improve the system to the point that foster children would no longer face what he called "substantial risk of serious harm," saying those plans make the grounds for the lawsuit meaningless.

But Silver noted while four of the children named in the original complaint have been adopted, two have not. Besides, the judge wrote, "Children in the foster care system are inherently transitory," and therefore could come in and out of state care.

That has been the case for at least one of the children, a 12-year-old girl identified only by her initials, "B.K."

DCS also argued that the two children remaining in the complaint had not shown any personal harm from the state's care, something the judge rejected.

"McKay's argument overlooks the seven pages in the (complaint) dedicated to outlining the injuries B.T. and B.K. personally suffered," Silver wrote. It also ignored the numerous exhibits presented in court filings that show personal harm the children suffered, she added.

For example, the girl was separated from her siblings and placed in a group home on what was supposed to be a short-term stay. Instead, she remained in the home for more than two years, the lawsuit alleges.

Likewise, the 16-year-old boy identified as "B.T." has been shuttled among various group homes and other placements during his eight years in state care. When his aunt told AHCCCS the child was not getting the mental-health services he needed, the state moved him to an emergency foster home rather than providing services, Silver said, citing the plaintiffs' lawsuit.

In another instance, the judge cited a 2013 incident in which the boy grabbed the steering wheel of van driven by a worker at the group home where he was living at the time. The boy said, "I want us all to die," according to the lawsuit. But on the same day, the therapists working with the child reported "with a few exceptions, B.T. is doing well over the last two weeks."

Silver said the filings offer evidence that children suffer personal harm while in state care, enough to help establish a class-action claim.

Ronan said the plaintiffs had discussions with the state about a settlement, but they went nowhere.
DCS is seeking $3.8 million in its budget for the next fiscal year to cover its expenses as it defends against the lawsuit.

Kris Jacober has a front-line view of the foster-care system in her role as a foster parent as well as executive director of the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.

She said there's a disconnect from the state's reports of improving conditions and what she sees on a daily basis.

"The numbers are going down," she acknowledged, noting state reports that show a decline in the number of children removed from their homes and an uptick in the number of adoptions and family reunifications.

But looking at individual cases, "I'm not aware the situation has changed for families dramatically," she said.

"Thirty kids are going to come into foster care today," Jacober said. "Day in, day out, we still answer the phone for grandmas and grandpas who say they don't have the money to keep food in the refrigerator."

The lawsuit is proceeding as other child-welfare agencies have faced similar legal challenges.
In July, a federal judge released the state of Tennessee from oversight of its child-welfare system, ending a lawsuit that started 17 years ago. The suit was brought by Children's Rights, a New York-based advocacy organization that is part of the lawsuit against Arizona.

In 2015, Clark County, Nevada, settled a similar lawsuit brought on behalf of seven foster children. The California-based National Center for Youth Law filed the initial complaint.

Ronan said those developments don't indicate a trend: Litigation over foster care has existed almost as long as foster-care systems have operated, she said.

In 2016, when the number of children removed from their families peaked at over 18,000, the Arizona Community Foundation gave The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com a three-year grant to support in-depth research on the topic. As part of that effort, reporter Mary Jo Pitzl and our other staff experts investigate the reasons behind the surge in foster children and the systems meant to support and protect them.

Are you part of the system? We want to understand your story. Go to childwelfare.azcentral.com.
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