Child Welfare in the News

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Hello Members!
We hope that everyone had a nice break this week and was able to stay dry and warm! For the introduction this week we would like to call attention to the needs of the Children Advocacy Centers of Collin and Denton County. Many children are removed from their homes with very little clothing and hygiene products available. A warm jacket could mean the world to a child, or even a toothbrush.

Rainbow Room


“The Rainbow Room is a dedicated space for meeting emergency needs of the children and families we serve. Children who are removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect often leave home with nothing but the clothes on their back. Non-offending family members caring for a child who has been a victim of abuse may struggle to meet the unexpected needs of a child in crisis. The Rainbow Room provides immediate access to clothing, shoes, hygiene, products and baby items completely free of charge. It is also accessible for our partners from Child Protective Services to access the things they need to ensure safe environments for their clients.”

Current Needs:

Girls:
Tops: Newborn; 0-3 months; 6-9 months; 12 months
Bottoms: 12 months; 18 months; 2T, 3T

Junior Girls:
Pants: 3; 5; 7; 9

Boys:
Pants: 18 months, 5, 7, 8
Shirts: 6; 7; 8

Shoes:
Boys’ sizes: 9.5; 11; 13.5; 1; 1.5
Men’s size: 7.5

Girls’ sizes: 3; 4; 8; 11; 12.5; 13
Ladies’ sizes: 3; 4; 4.5; 6.5; 8.5

Hygiene:
​Hairbrushes

Size 5 diapers

Click here to visit our Rainbow Room Wish List on Amazon

http://www.caccollincounty.org/give/rainbow-room

 

Denton County Wishlist

CACDC cannot accepted used items. However, we partner with Charity Recycling Partners. CALL 1-888-891-4344 to schedule a curbside pick up. Tell the operator that your donation is for CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER FOR DENTON COUNTY. CACDC will receive a monetary donation based on every donation.

Donations of the following items are accepted at the CACDC’s Lewisville office, 1854 Cain Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.

  • Cereal
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Oatmeal / Cream of wheat
  • Canned chicken
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned soup
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Pasta sauce
  • Spaghetti / Pasta noodles
  • Canned Fruit
  • Cake mix / Flour/ Baking items
  • Baby formula
  • cases of water, juice boxes
  • Snacks in individually wrapped packages – (ex:: granola bars, fruit chews, potato chips, pretzels, Goldfish, Cheez-its, peanut butter or cheese crackers)

Food Pantry (Hygiene):

  • Toothpaste
  • Body wash – men’s, women’s, kid’s
  • Soap bars
  • Body lotion
  • Q-tips / Cotton swabs
  • Women’s deodorant
  • Feminine Products
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Diapers (all sizes)

PitStop (Clothing Closet)-Items must be new with tags

  • Comforters, all sizes
  • 6x (boys & girls)
  • 12-14 (boys & girls)

Therapy Supplies

  • Paper craft bags
  • Tempra paint
  • Colored sand
  • Small glass bottles (Various shapes & sizes)
  • Sharpie® markers
  • Post-it® Easel Pads, 25″x30″
  • Lap desks
  • Glitter Glue
  • Drawing Pads
  • Stress Balls

Office & Building Supplies

Childcare

  • Multi-player E-Rated Video Games for PS2
  • DVDs rated PG (appropriate for tweens and teens)
  • Children’s Toy Medical Kits
TO MAKE A DONATION TO THE AGENCY, PLEASE CALL (972) 538-9618.

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Now For The News:

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 Colorado selects next child watchdog

Former Ritter deputy chief of staff is new child protection ombudsman

By Jennifer Brown
The Denver Post

POSTED:   11/25/2015 12:11:07 PM MST | UPDATED:   3 DAYS AGO

Stephanie Villafuerte

Stephanie Villafuerte (Denver Post file)

A former prosecutor and governor’s deputy chief of staff will become Colorado’s new child watchdog, in charge of investigating the way child welfare workers handle cases of abuse and neglect.

Stephanie Villafuerte, who for the last five years ran the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center representing kids in the foster system, was appointed Wednesday as the state’s next child protection ombudsman.

Villafuerte, who was Gov. Bill Ritter’s deputy chief of staff and a Denver chief deputy district attorney, fought for the ombudsman’s independence as a state agency, a contentious battle settled by legislation this year.

The legislature created a child protection ombudsman in 2010 and the office’s contract was controlled by the Colorado Department of Human Services, which also oversees the state child welfare system. This year, lawmakers removed the ombudsman from the purview of state human services and made it an independent state agency within the judicial department.

The human services department had been overseeing the ombudsman’s budget, contract and legal counsel, a structure that child advocates — including Villafuerte — and former foster children said hindered the ombudsman’s autonomy. Officials accused the state of interfering with an ombudsman investigation into the death of a toddler who died despite being known to child protection workers.

Besides overseeing the state child welfare system, the ombudsman also has the authority to investigate cases handled by county child welfare departments and make recommendations for improvement.

Villafuerte was among several candidates — including current ombudsman Dennis Goodwin, hired in May 2013 — who applied for the position. She was selected by the Child Protection Ombudsman Board.

Villafuerte, the third person to serve as ombudsman, thanked previous ombudsmen and released a statement saying the office “can serve a vitally important role in child protection by bringing stakeholders together to problem solve on behalf of Colorado’s abused and neglected children.”

The ombudsman’s office moves to the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in January.

Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, jenbrown@denverpost.com or @jbrowndpost

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/ci_29165584/colorado-selects-next-child-watchdog?source=rss

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U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe: Let’s extend the blessings of adoption to more children

Posted: Friday, November 27, 2015 12:00 am

By  U.S. SEN. JIM INHOFE

          Across our nation, Americans are commemorating November as a month of thankfulness. It’s a period of time where trials fade into the shadows while we pause to celebrate ways in which our basic needs are being met, whether it’s having food on the table, a season of good health or a home to rest in.

As both history and science confirm, the foundation to these blessings is most often derived from the love and support of a committed family.

         Today, more than 400,000 children in America and 10,000 in Oklahoma are in need of a loving family and a place to call home. In light of these facts, it is appropriate that Congress over the past decade has chosen November as a month for our nation to also celebrate the hope and blessing that comes from adoption.

          As a member and former Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I have had the honor of working with my colleagues in the Senate to unanimously pass legislation each year to give advocates a dedicated national adoption day and month to promote and educate our nation about the benefits of adoption and the needs of children in the U.S. and abroad who are without a permanent home.

        This year, Congress has also advanced adoption policy to help ease the financial burden and red tape that slow down or cause unnecessary barriers to both domestic and international adoption.

The Adoptive Family Relief Act is the most recent piece of legislation Congress passed that was signed into law. It offers American families visa renewal relief when in the process of adopting overseas and confronted with extraordinary circumstances.

          With a granddaughter brought into our family many years ago from Ethiopia, I was proud to cosponsor this legislation that will give American families peace of mind as they navigate the cost and commitment of international adoption.

          This year, I also joined forces with a colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce The Protecting Adoption Act, which would provide for a defined process to help expedite the placement of children into stable, permanent families by creating a National Responsible Father Registry.

          Action is not just happening on the federal level, but in Oklahoma as well with the state’s recently announced Oklahoma Fosters Initiative, a campaign to recruit more foster and adoptive families for children in our state.

          While governments must continue looking for ways to help advance the life of every child in need of a family, it ultimately takes every-day people to be the solution. Whether it’s opening up your home and your family, extending your resources or taking the first step of being educated on what adoption entails, I hope you will take a moment this month to not only be thankful for what you have been given, but to also look for ways you can extend those blessings to the children around you in need.

Together we can stand in the gap for these children and give them a chance at a brighter future that they each deserve

http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/readersforum/u-s-sen-jim-inhofe-let-s-extend-the-blessings/article_93c0a8f9-23fd-543b-bdde-308911de0efe.html

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Court Blocks Effort to License Family Detention Centers as Child-Care Facilities

 

The Texas-based organization Grassroots Leadership on Friday won a temporary injunction in its suit to stop the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from licensing family detention centers in Karnes and Dilley as child-care facilities under an emergency rule.

The emergency rule would eliminate minimum child safety standards applicable to all child-care facilities in Texas, according to advocates. The detention centers must now go through the traditional licensing procedure, which will enable both the public and advocacy organizations to offer feedback during that process.

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which works to end for-profit incarceration and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention, told RH Reality Check that the state of Texas issued an emergency rule in September allowing the licensing of these detention centers very quickly and under lower standards than normal child-care facility standards.

“What happened on Friday is that [district Judge Karin Crump] ruled there was no emergency because the facility [Dilley] has been open for more than a year and the state government had known about family detention facilities since Hutto, which operated as a family detention facility between 2006 and 2009.”

Libal said the state didn’t want to license detention centers as child-care facilities because there was an actual “emergency” or for the welfare of children; it sought to expedite the process and reduce the standards to meet the facilities’ needs.

Otherwise, it would have had to make the federally contracted facilities comply with state standards related to child welfare.

In an October letter, more than 140 people and organizations urged Texas officials to deny child-care licenses to private prison companies, outlining how the push to license the detention centers was merely an attempt to assist the federal government in complying with the federal district court’s order in Flores v. Lynch, which confirmed that children arriving to the United States with their mothers should not be held in unlicensed secure detention centers.

Advocates say that licensing facilities by exempting them from the Texas minimum care standards does not meet the child welfare concerns raised by the federal court and the 1997Flores settlement agreement.

“The licenses would serve two purposes that have nothing to do with child protection: 1) supporting the federal government’s litigation position in defense of the facilities, and 2) ensuring continued profit to The Geo Group, Inc. and the Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison companies that own and administer the Karnes and Dilley detention centers. Investing taxpayer dollars to license detention centers that are currently subject to ongoing lawsuits is reckless and is inconsistent with a conservative use of limited public resources,” the letter said.

“The Flores settlement basically said you cannot detain children in unlicensed detention centers; these places have to be licensed,” Libal said. “After that ruling, the state of Texas basically scrambled to try to provide a justification for these detention centers in order for them to meet the needs of the settlement requirement. So, the ‘emergency’ for the state was that there might be a court order to close them [detention centers].”

Both Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City and the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley have documented histories of human rights abuses, including the abuse of children.

Advocates say that allowing detention centers to operate as child-care facilities would mean that conditions that would never be acceptable to the children of American citizens are being requested to become more lax for the children of undocumented parents, despite findingsfrom the Women’s Refugee Commission and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service that found family detention cannot be carried out humanely. The report, Locking Up Family Values, Again: The Continued Failure of Immigration Family Detention, stated that conditions at detention centers are entirely inappropriate for mothers and children and that detention traumatizes families, undermines the basic family structure, and has a devastating psycho-social impact.

The letter sent to Texas officials outlined how licensing detention centers as child-care facilities and reducing their standards would adversely affect the children detained there. The size of these detention centers—2,400 capacity at Dilley and 1,100 planned for Karnes —contradicts evidence-based child welfare practices of avoiding large, congregate care facilities for children, according to the letter.

The organizations report that research has shown that children do better with their families in their communities. The conditions in the facilities run afoul of some of the most basic DFPS requirements for licensees that are not exempted by the emergency rule, including standards requiring access to basic medical care.

Both Karnes and Dilley have numerous documented failures to provide appropriate medical treatment to the mothers and children detained there.

“Licensing under reduced standards will not ensure child protection but condone neglect and abuse,” the letter continued. The exemptions seriously compromise children’s safety by permitting unrelated families in single rooms, requiring unrelated children of different genders and ages to sleep in the same enclosed space with unrelated adults. At least two instances of sexual abuse of children have already occurred at the detention centers and according to the letter, it was likely a result of the housing arrangements.

“Reducing the standards does nothing but codify the existing detention system,” Libal said. “This is really like putting the State of Texas’ seal of approval on a system that is harmful to children.”

 

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/11/24/court-blocks-effort-license-family-detention-centers-child-care-facilities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=court-blocks-effort-license-family-d

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Understanding the Refugee Crisis

Stay Informed and Welcome Others

In light of the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, there have been varied reactions to the way countries address the influx of refugees, ranging from acceptance, to fear, hostility, and significant backlash.

As an organization that has a 90-year history of serving vulnerable populations that include refugees and migrants from a variety of countries, ISS-USA believes that refugees should be welcomed and helped rather than feared and discriminated against. It is often due to reasons related to violence, persecution, and terrorism that refugees are forced to flee their home countries and try to find a safe place for themselves and their families.

It is the responsibility of individuals to stay informed about the current refugee crisis and understand the complicated process by which refugees are resettled into another country.

We would like to arm our readers with resources by other experts in the field that address these topics in order to adequately understand these issues, create positive outcomes, and ultimately welcome others whose lives have been disrupted by violence and persecution.

• According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), up to 700,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea alone this year. More than half of them — an estimated 53% — are from Syria.
UNHCR published a Global Trends Report and this series of infographics through its UNHCR Innovation division, demonstrating the scale of the global displacement crisis.
• Lutheran Services in Georgia helps us understand how we should respond to the refugee crisis in light of the recent attacks in Paris & Beirut in this post .
• Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) produced a variety of helpful tools, articles, and infographics such as the one below to help us understand the refugee crisis in Syria, including this helpful Fact Sheet.
International Rescue Committee disbanded various myths that endanger refugees in this post.
lirs syrian crisis

While the attention now is on refugees in Europe, we can still help here in the U.S. by staying informed, welcoming others, and giving back to organizations who are advocating for, and providing humanitarian aid to, refugees.

http://iss-blog.iss-usa.org/understanding-the-refugee-crisis/

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 What Are the Signs of Abuse?

Children who are abused might show physical signs or sudden changes in their behavior or school performance. These signs don’t prove that children are being abused, but they could be a signal that the children or their families need help.

When children talk about being abused, take them seriously. Take steps to get help!

General Signs of Abuse

Abused children might seem:

  • Nervous around adults or afraid of certain adults.
  • Reluctant to go home (coming to school early or staying late, for example).
  • Very passive and withdrawn or aggressive and disruptive.
  • Tired a lot, or they might complain of nightmares or not sleeping well.
  • Fearful and anxious.

Signs of Neglect

  • Missing school a lot.
  • Begging for food, stealing food, or stealing money for food.
  • Lacking needed medical or dental care.
  • Being frequently dirty.
  • Using alcohol or other drugs.
  • Saying there is no one at home to take care of them.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained burns, bruises, black eyes, or other injuries.
  • Apparent fear of a parent or caretaker.
  • Faded bruises or healing injuries after missing school.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Difficulty walking or sitting, or other indications of injury in the genital area.
  • Sexual knowledge or behavior beyond what is normal for the child’s age.
  • Running away from home.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Acting overly mature or immature for the child’s age.
  • Extreme changes in behavior.
  • Delays in physical or emotional development.
  • Attempted suicide.
  • Lack of emotional attachment to the parent

 

ARE YOU AT RISK FOR CHILD ABUSE?

Being a parent is hard, and every parent needs help from time to time.

  • Are your kids driving you crazy?
  • Do you yell at them a lot?
  • Are you stressed out?
  • Trouble paying the bills?
  • Are drugs or alcohol a problem?
  • Feeling hopeless and don’t know where to turn?

Abuse and neglect affect people of every age, race, and family income level. The majority of parents who abuse their children love their children, but many factors can lead them to do things they regret.

  • Trouble managing stress. Problems with work, money, or relationships put a strain on family life. If a parent or caretaker has trouble managing stress, it can lead to abuse.
  • A lack of parenting skills. Some parents might not understand how to care for a child’s basic needs or they might have unrealistic ideas about a child’s abilities and behavior. They might punish behavior that is natural for a child.
  • A history of abuse. Many child abusers were abused or witnessed abuse as children.
  • A problem with alcohol or other drugs. Alcohol and other drugs impair a person’s ability to act as a responsible, caring parent. They can also make it harder to control emotions—especially anger.

These factors can be overcome, and abuse and neglect can be prevented. Don’t lash out when you are angry with your child—instead:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Call someone or ask a friend to watch your kids while you calm down.
  • Call one of the hotlines listed on this website to find someone to talk to.
  • Find a parenting class in your community to learn about ways to handle the stresses of dealing with kids.
  • Use this website to find programs in your area to help you resolve any underlying issues, such as alcohol or drug abuse.

When parents get help, there’s hope for kids.

Information provided by:

Help For Parents. Hope For Kids.

http://www.helpandhope.org/default.asp

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Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect:

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_protection/

1-800-252-5400
If this is an emergency and you are deaf and equipped with a Teletypewriter (TTY), call Relay Texas by dialing 711 or 1-800-735-2989. Tell the relay agent you need to call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
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We are their voice!

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The Gift of Giving.

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Today is “Black Friday”. If you happen to be out shopping today, remember those less fortunate. Today would be a great day to pick up something for donation. Angel Trees are already set up in several locations:
 
 

2015 ANGEL TREE MALL LOCATIONS

Date: Nov 06 – Dec 09, 2015
Location(s): Collin Creek Mall, Galleria Dallas, Golden Triangle Mall, Grapevine Mills, Hulen Mall, North East Mall, NorthPark Center , Ridgmar Mall, The Parks at Arlington, The Shops at Willow Bend, Town East Mall
Share on facebookShare on twitter
 
The 2015 Salvation Army Angel Trees are now in area malls!
No other local program provides Christmas assistance for as many children as The Salvation Army Angel Tree. Angel Tree allows people with big hearts to fulfill the Christmas wishes and needs for nearly 60,000 individuals. Through your compassion and generosity, you will make the difference for a parent and a child who need your help at this particular time in their lives.
Angel tags are printed for each individual showing their needs and wishes and placed on the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Generous donors can visit an area mall, select one or more Angels, purchase the gifts and return them to the Angel Tree by or before Wednesday, December 9, 2015.
Eleven local malls are hosting Angel Tree Adoptions this year. The Trees will be open Monday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm-6:00pm.
Collin Creek Mall – Upper level center court balcony (near sprint)
Galleria – Level 3 Nordstom’s end (near Belk’s and Play Area)
Golden Triangle Mall – Macy’s wing Mall entrance corridor (near Barnes & Noble)
Grapevine Mills – Corridor near Entry 2 (near Neiman’s Last Call)
Hulen Mall – Lower level Macy’s corridor (near Express)
North East Mall – Nordstrom’s wing corridor (near Forever 21)
NorthPark Center – Corridor between Macy’s and Dillard’s (near The North Face)
Ridgmar Mall – Upper level balcony in Macy’s court area
The Parks at Arlington – Lower level corridor near Starbucks
The Shops at Willow Bend – Upper level center court (across from Neiman Marcus)
Town East Mall – Lower level LBJ side corridor
Thanks to you, an Angel will enjoy Christmas!”
 
We are their voice,
C.A.P.S.

Child Welfare in the News

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Hello Members!

My name is Leslie, I am a crisis intervention specialist. My job allows me to witness and hear a variety of different catastrophic situations which impact people’s lives in a negative way. Time and time again I have received calls from police officers all around Denton County informing me about sexual assaults involving kids. No matter how many times I receive those calls, and no matter how many times I go through the process and call the SANE nurses to provide exams for the victim my  heart breaks time and time again. 1 of 6 girls, and 1 of 8 boys experiences some sort of child abuse in the U.S. We need to need to be the voice for those who can not speak. Be the voice to end all harm against those innocent kids. WE ARE THE VOICE! BE THE VOICE!

《This week’s introduction is by Leslie Castillo, C.A.P.S. Public Relations Specialist.》

Now for the news

*The following articles have been compiled from several different sources. Links to articles are provided at the end of each article.

Data: Heroin Leading To Foster Care

November 16, 2015
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

The most recent data from the Ohio Job and Family Services and Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services shows that child protective serves said heroin was the reason they intervened more than 25,000 times between 2009 and 2013.

Southwestern Ohio has seen a particular increase in heroin related interventions in that time. Montgomery County, which includes Dayton, reported a more than 130-percent increase and Butler county jumped more than 180 percent. Clark County rose nearly 30 percent.

Some children are taken from their parents and put into the care of family members, child services professionals say, while other youngsters are placed into foster homes.

Kim Fore, a Hamilton woman who has fostered six children in nearly seven years, said she thinks most children that come into foster care custody are from drug-related cases. She said the mother of one of the children she fostered was addicted to heroin. That girl, now 6, and her brother, 4, have seen too much drug addiction, she said.

“He knows how to put a needle in his arm,” Fore said. “They know way too much. They know more stuff than I know.”

Heroin addicts stop spending money on things other than drugs, including necessities like food, rent, power, and water, said Lesley Keown, district manager for Montgomery County Children’s Services. Children sometimes start wearing dirty clothes and parents often sell furniture to pay for the drugs.

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Emotional child abuse may be just as bad as physical harm

(Reuters Health) – When it comes to psychological and behavioral health, both physical and emotional abuse can be equally damaging to children, a new study suggests.

Even though doctors and parents often believe physical or sexual abuse is more harmful than emotional mistreatment or neglect, the study found children suffered similar problems regardless of the type of maltreatment endured, researchers report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

“The abused children had all types of problems, from anxiety and depression to rule-breaking and aggression,” lead study author David Vachon, of McGill University in Montreal, said by email.

His team was surprised, he said, that “different types of abuse had similar consequences; physically abused children and emotionally abused children had very similar problems.”

To compare the impact of different forms of child abuse on mental health, Vachon and colleagues studied almost 2,300 kids who attended a summer camp for low-income children between 1986 and 2012.

Roughly 1,200 children – slightly more than half – had experienced maltreatment.

Campers were assigned to groups of children their age, with about half the kids in each group having a history of maltreatment. The kids didn’t know which of their fellow campers had experienced abuse.

Counselors and other campers assessed each child’s behavior during camp, and every kid also completed a self-evaluation.

Overall, children with a history of abuse and neglect had much higher rates of depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and neuroticism than campers who hadn’t been mistreated.

This difference held true for kids who were victims of all types of abuse, including neglect as well as physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment.

The effect was most profound for children who suffered from all four types of abuse, or from the most severe forms of maltreatment.

Results were similar for boys and girls and across racial groups.

Shortcomings of the study include its reliance on official documentation of abuse and the lack of data on psychological disorders children may have had prior to experiencing maltreatment, the authors acknowledge.

Even so, the psychological and behavioral effects of abuse may be similar because both physical and emotional mistreatment – whether it happens within a family or among peers – can have common elements, said Dr. William Copeland, a psychiatry researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“This study is about righting a longstanding error and prejudice about the differences between these common childhood adversities,” Copeland, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“It suggests that whether we are talking about prevention, screening or treatment, our notions of childhood mistreatment need to be broader and more holistic than they have been,” Copeland added. “There are no hierarchies when it comes to child maltreatment.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/1PCjLIs JAMA Psychiatry, online October 14, 2015.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/19/us-health-childabuse-emotional-idUSKCN0SD2C720151019#uYk3U8ViPztzsFpq.97

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Study counts kids who seek help under new sex trafficking law

IssuesSasha Aslanian · Nov 17, 2015
Numbers offering an initial glimpse of how Minnesota’s new “Safe Harbor” law is working suggest that more than 150 children have sought help in the law’s first year from the Minnesota Health Department’s front line workers, called “regional navigators.”

DSS visits to child care homes causes 56 to close so far

By SEANNA ADCOX Associated Press
Nov 14 2015 9:36 pm
COLUMBIA — Nearly 60 child care homes statewide have been forced to close since legislators passed a law last year allowing inspectors to make unannounced visits, and dozens more have been targeted for closure, according to the Department of Social Services.
Leigh Bolick, director of the agency’s early care division, said the law helps protect children.
“We’re thrilled to go out,” she said. “We’re basically going to ensure the health and safety of kids while their parents are at work.”

Before July 2014, social workers had no authority to step inside a day care registered for fewer than seven children unless someone filed a complaint. Such homes represent the bulk of day cares operating in South Carolina.
The law was changed following the February 2014 death of a 3-month-old girl who suffocated in a crib at a Greenville County day care. Owner Pamela Wood insisted she was watching only six children, but deputies found 14 other children hiding in the basement, two kids unsupervised in a bedroom where a loaded gun sat on a bookshelf and another toddler no one was watching in the backyard, according to arrest warrants.
Wood pleaded guilty child neglect and other charges and was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest, five years of probation and 20 days of public service.
The law that passed the Legislature unanimously allows one unannounced inspection yearly at registered child care homes.
According to DSS, all such homes have since been inspected. DSS began the visits in October 2014, starting in the Greenville area. Between May and September, the agency hired 21 employees specifically to conduct the inspections.
After the agency mailed an announcement of the law change, some day care owners voluntarily closed before an inspector could arrive. There are 1,001 day care homes statewide registered to keep up to six children, 258 fewer than when the law passed.
Bolick said the agency gives a day care owner 90 days to fix problems found during an unannounced visit. During those months, the inspector returns weekly.
“Unless something is really, really egregious, we really try to work with a provider to fix it,” she said.
To owners who don’t, DSS sends a letter informing them their registration is being withdrawn.
According to DSS, 56 day care homes have been closed so far; 25 others are in the appeals process. The facility can remain open throughout that process, which can end up in Administrative Law Court.
Most of the 56 were due to the facility continuing to keep more than six children, Bolick said.
The agency did not answer questions on how many children were kept at those day cares or provide a list of those shuttered.
While the agency can revoke a registration, it can’t by law access names of the children’s parents, so the agency can’t notify them. DSS must rely on the day care owner explaining the situation. Inspectors go back to verify the facility’s closed, Bolick said.
Conducting annual inspections was among recommendations made earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after an audit of 20 day care homes in Charleston, Greenville and Richland counties last year. Auditor Truman Mayfield said the report reflects the criteria in place when the inspections occurred.
Among instances of noncompliance with state guidelines, auditors found broken and dirty toys, stairs lacking handrails, garbage within the reach of children and unclean kitchen surfaces.
“We didn’t find anything I would call egregious,” Mayfield said. “We didn’t find anything that would put children in immediate harm where we would feel the need to remove the children.”

http://www.aikenstandard.com/article/20151114/AIK0105/151119667/1002/AIK01/dss-visits-to-child-care-homes-causes-56-to-close-so-far

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Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect:

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/child_protection/

1-800-252-5400
If this is an emergency and you are deaf and equipped with a Teletypewriter (TTY), call Relay Texas by dialing 711 or 1-800-735-2989. Tell the relay agent you need to call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
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We are their voice!