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Category Archives: Biological parents v. Foster Parents

Surry County Foster Father, David Lynn McMillian, has appealed his conviction, December 9, 2011,  for taking indecent liberties with a child (two children…foster children to be precise) and is scheduled to appear in the Surry County Superior Court June 5, 2012.

David Lynn McMillian

McMillian was arrested 14 months ago after two of his teenage foster children informed the resource officer at their school that they were being sexually abused by their foster father.

The resource officer contacted the Surry County Sheriff’s Department and the Surry County Department of Social Services and the subsequent investigation, which also involved the SBI, resulted in McMillian’s arrest for four (yes four) felony counts of  taking indecent liberties with a child.  

According to law enforcement the abuse had been on going since 2007!

More information on this case will be posted on the 5th of June.

 

Judge hears mom’s plea, orders DCYF to return newborn, reunite Woonsocket family

 

http://www.projo.com/news/content/LAOTIAN_BABY_RETURNED_12-11-09_MAGO5ED_v24.3985c1b.html

By W. Zachary Malinowski

Journal Staff Writer

On Monday, Netvilai Vixaisak of Woonsocket made her way to the Garrahy Judicial Complex in Providence to hand deliver a note to Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr.

“Right now, I have so much pain in my heart and it is hurting a lot due to what [the state] is doing to me. I want to be with all of my kids all in the same place,” she wrote.

After reading the note, Jeremiah emerged from his chambers to speak with the young mother, who broke down and cried in his fifth-floor courtroom.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’m on your side. I’m fighting for you.”

The judge was deeply moved to learn that Vixaisak, 28, gave birth to a daughter, Isis Diamond, on Dec. 2, at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence. Two days later, as she prepared to return home and breast-feed the baby, she learned that the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, which already had custody of her three other children, had placed a “hold” on the newborn. She said she “cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.”

She visited the baby at the hospital on Sunday, Dec. 6. The next day, the infant was placed in DCYF custody, and Vixaisak reached out to Family Court for help.

Jeremiah scheduled an emergency hearing on Wednesday and summoned three DCYF officials into his courtroom: Jorge Garcia, DCYF’s deputy director; Martha Kelly, the agency’s legal counsel; and Mary Cameron, a social worker who has been assigned to Vixaisak and her family.

During the hearing, Jeremiah repeatedly interrupted Kelly, suggesting at one point that DCYF was going to extremes to keep the family apart. She said that the baby was taken away because the three other children are in DCYF custody. She also said that the three children had been removed because of “issues of domestic violence.”

Jeremiah shot back that DCYF removed the three children because they did not have any electricity in their apartment.

Kelly relented and said that “the department is willing to return the infant to her mother and father.” She said that the other three children could be returned by Christmas.

That wasn’t good enough for Jeremiah. He ordered that the baby be returned immediately and the other three children must be reunited with their parents no later than Friday.

Jeremiah said that he wanted to see the family reunited for the holidays.

The judge said he felt DCYF officials were heavy-handed in their decision to remove the children because they lacked electricity in their apartment. He knows that Vixaisak, who suffers from depression, and her husband, a convicted felon, are facing an uphill battle, so he assigned a home health aide to make daily checks on the family to make sure things are working out.

“We always have concerns,” he said. “We have to worry about the safety of the children.”

On Thursday, as Vixaisak waited for her baby’s arrival, she said she is thrilled at the thought of having all four children back. She is confident that she’s prepared for the challenges of raising four children.

“I’m ready to do this,” she said. “I’ll do anything DCYF wants me to do. I love my kids so much. I’ll do anything.”

Stephanie Terry, DCYF’s associate director of child welfare, refused to second-guess Jeremiah’s order or discuss the removal of the baby or three other children from the family. She said that confidentiality policies prohibit her from talking about the case.

“These cases are complicated, and there are lots of facets to it,” she said. “I can’t get into case specifics. We have worked with this family, and we will continue to work with this family. Our objective is always, foremost, to safely return kids home.”

There’s no question that Jeremiah is taking a chance.

According to an affidavit filed with the court, Cameron, the family’s social worker, said that the baby should not be allowed to return home with Vixaisak “due to information they have indicating a risk of physical harm to the child.” The sworn document also mentioned that the mother “has a history of mental health issues and she has been prescribed psychiatric medications.”

Cameron also wrote that the husband, Daothiam Phiensinh, 45, “has substance abuse and domestic violence issues.” She also pointed out that he’s on probation for 12 years for a past conviction of assault with a deadly weapon.

In late summer 2008, DCYF removed the three children from the couple’s home and placed them in separate foster homes across the state. The removal followed several run-ins that Vixaisak had with DCYF, the Woonsocket police and school officials.

On Sept. 5, 2008, DCYF reported in court documents that Vixaisak appeared at the elementary school in Woonsocket where two of her children were students and “made threats to bomb the school and DCYF.” That same day, she barricaded herself in her apartment with her children and refused to allow the Woonsocket police in.

At another unannounced visit, Cameron, the social worker, reported that the apartment had no gas or electricity.

Vixaisak’s lawyer, Frances K.R. Munro, managing attorney for Rhode Island Legal Services, said that her Laotian client is a very emotional woman, but she believes that DCYF may misinterpret her outbursts.

“I think there is a cultural issue,” she said. “It’s not wrong. It’s cultural.”

On Thursday, Vixaisak went out for two cans of baby formula and diapers so she would be ready for her week-old daughter. She’s looking forward to a beehive of activity in her living room as the holidays near.

About 2 p.m., Cameron, the social worker, delivered the baby and a bundle of new clothes.

“I feel happy,” Vixaisak said. “I have the energy to do things now. I’m so, so happy.”

bmalinow@projo.com

North Carolina Child Protective Services illegal and unethical practices?

 

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-29636-Surry-County-CPS-Examiner~y2009m12d2-North-Carolina-Child-Protective-Services-illegal–and-unethical-practices#

Do you know a child who has died during or after a DSS investigation in North Carolina?

Do you know a child who has died after reports of abuse where made to DSS? Did DSS ignore your report and fail to protect the child?

Do you know a child who has died in foster care or after being adopted from foster care due to child abuse or neglect?

Are you the family member of a child that died during or after DSS involvement?

Are you a family member of a child who has died as a result of DSS policy violations or inaction when it came to investigating reports of abuse?

 

To read more of this article please visit the above link…more importantly, if you have a complaint against North Carolina DSS, in any county…visit the above link and contact the reporter.

Sick Child in CPS Custody Dies

 

http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/investigates/091123-foster-care-child-death

Updated: Monday, 23 Nov 2009, 5:45 PM CST

Published : Monday, 23 Nov 2009, 5:45 PM CST

RANDY WALLACE

Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON – All the little dresses and sweaters Chanel Hall bought for her only daughter will never be worn. All the toys will never be opened. Even a huge closet can’t hold all the “what if’s” that haunt the grieving mother.

“Of what things could have been and would have been for Jasmine,” Hall said.

Hall didn’t get much time with Jasmine. Soon after her medically fragile child was born, Children’s Protective Services took custody of her.

In an ironic twist of fate CPS takes Jamine away from her mother due to medical neglect, then Jasmine dies because her state appointed care giver is allegedly neglectful in her duties.

“It’s appalling, it’s more than ironic it’s shocking,” said Amira Jackmon, Hall’s niece and attorney.

“This wasn’t a mother who abused her child, neglected her child, this is a mother who had a disagreement with the hospital,” Jackmon said.

Jasmine was born premature which caused several medical problems.

“She had water on the brain and blood on the brain at one point,” Hall said.

The hospital contacted CPS because Hall wouldn’t consent to a tracheostomy for Jasmine.

“I never said no to the surgery,” Hall said. “I just asked for a second opinion and that was all.”

But Hall’s refusal to consent to the surgery quick enough to please the hospital prompted CPS to take custody of Jasmine. According to a lawsuit filed by Hall, CPS told the court Jasmine needed the surgery immediately.

“Or else there was a huge risk to Jasmine,” Jackmon said. “Then why did they wait two or three weeks to perform it?”

With a tracheal tube attached to her throat, CPS said Jasmine needed 24 hour medical care so she was placed in a foster home operated by a company called Lutheran Social Services of the South.

On July 16th Jasmine died and according to CPS documents her death could have been avoided. That document states the caregiver admitted she was documenting paperwork while the child was playing therefore she was unaware if the child pulled the tracheal tube out of her neck and she was unaware when the tracheal tube actually came out.

“Jasmine was suppose to be under 24 hour supervision, if she was doing paperwork she should have been in the same room as Jasmine,” Hall said.

CPS declined an on-camera interview or comment citing the lawsuit Hall has filed against them as well as Lutheran Social Services, which closed the foster home it operated here in Houston shortly after Jasmine’s death.

A spokesperson for Lutheran Social Services also declined comment.

“She was my last baby and my only daughter,” Hall said.

All she has now Hall said is a closet full of dresses with no little girl to wear them.

‘You can’t know the things people hide’

 

http://www.kval.com/news/local/70420352.html

By Laura Rillos KVAL News

EUGENE, Ore. — Members of Lane County’s foster parent community are shaken by allegations a foster parent sexually abused two of his children.

Joshua Thomas Friar, 26, was arrested after two of his foster children alleged he had sex with them.

According to Oregon State Police investigators, Friar met the boys while working at Jasper Mountain, a facility for children with emotional problems.

According to court records, the boys were 9 and 12 when the abuse allegedly started.

“It frustrates me and angers me to know something like this could happen to the children in our foster care system,” said Tammy Hadley, a foster parent and president of the Foster Parent Association for Lane County. “It angers me really badly.”

To become a foster parent, Friar had to go through a Department of Human Services screening. It included a criminal background check, checks with references as well as interviews and home visits.

Friar also passed the screening process at Jasper Mountain.

However, until his arrest Saturday, Friar had no criminal record.

Patricia Feeney, a DHS spokeswoman, acknowledged their system is not foolproof.

“I think, for the most part, I would say to you, children are safe in foster care,” said Feeney, who said she could not comment specifically on Friar’s case.

When asked if DHS had plans to evaluate the foster parent screening process, Feeney said, “Actually, we’ve already done that. We’ve changed. It’s a much more rigorous process.”

She believed those changes took effect this fall and said they are stricter than they were when Friar became a foster parent. She would not disclose when that was.

Hadley believes the system works as best as it can.

“You can’t know some body’s heart,” she said. “You can’t know the things people hide.”

 

Hadley fears this case will give people a bad impression of the foster care system.

“There are good and bad people, there are good and bad foster parents, there are good and bad news stations,” she said. “And you know, it’s a hard, hard place. It breaks my heart.”

Friar has not yet entered a plea, as a grand jury has to decide whether or not to indict him.

He is being held on $2 million bail.

Jurors find LV woman guilty in foster son’s death

 

Medical experts present conflicting testimony

 

http://www.lvrj.com/news/jurors-find-lv-woman-guilty-in-foster-sons-death-67506132.html

By FRANCIS McCABE

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The woman accused of causing a fatal head injury to her 7-month-old foster son in 2006 was convicted of first-degree murder late Thursday night.

A Clark County jury of nine women and three men deliberated for more than four hours before returning a guilty verdict against Melanie Ochs in the death of Baby Boy Charles.

 The family of Baby Boy Charles attended the reading of the verdict and could be heard sobbing in the background.

Ochs, who was taken into custody after the verdict was read, faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. A sentencing date was set for Jan. 28.

The trial, which lasted nearly two weeks, presented jurors with contradictory testimony from medical experts and graphic photos and details from the baby’s autopsy.

Ochs also testified on her own behalf. She admitted that when she first reported the baby’s injuries to authorities, she concocted a story that fixed blame on her older children.

On Tuesday, she told the jury that Baby Boy Charles suffered a head injury after he fell from the top of the washing machine to the floor of her home, near Sahara Avenue and Fort Apache Road.

Prosecutors have maintained that a fall such as the one Ochs described would not have killed the infant. Authorities contended that some type of abuse was involved.

The baby suffered a skull fracture and swelling of the brain. Doctors who treated him found a high likelihood of non-accidental trauma to be the cause of the injuries.

Ochs denied intentionally hurting the baby.

Ochs said the injuries to her foster son were an accident, which happened after she left him alone on top of the washing machine to check on her two other children in a bathroom. Ochs said she was gone for about 30 seconds. She heard a thud and came back to find the baby on the floor.

During the trial, prosecutors called four physicians who testified that Baby Boy Charles had suffered two separate traumatic injuries to his head. They each agreed that a single fall might explain one of the injuries but not the other.

The physicians also testified that the fall from a washing machine, a drop of about three feet, was unlikely to cause the severe kind of fracture sustained by Baby Boy Charles.

The defense also called medical experts who testified that the kind of fall described by Ochs could fatally injure a baby.

In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Vicki Monroe said nobody but Ochs will ever know what caused the injures to Baby Boy Charles, but she cautioned the jury against believing the defendant’s testimony.

“She’s hiding something. She doesn’t want to tell you what she did to that baby that caused those injuries,” Monroe said.

Monroe suggested the two injuries suffered by Baby Boy Charles could have been caused by a blow to one side of his head, which caused the other side of his head to slam into a wall.

Ochs’ attorney, Robert Langford, told the jury that while Ochs originally lied to authorities, she told them the truth. Langford said Ochs had no history of child abuse. He also said the state never proved she committed such an act.

“The doctors should be ashamed of themselves,” Langford said after the verdict was announced, referring to the medical experts who testified for the prosecution.

Langford had argued during trial that the science regarding short falls of the type described by Ochs is changing.

“This was a tragic accident,” Langford said. “Shame on the system.”

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

Holly couple arrested for child neglect in Florida

 

Kimberly Simmons

Kimberly Simmons

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.freep.com/article/20090721/NEWS06/90721063/1008/NEWS/Holly-couple-arrested-for-child-neglect-in-Florida

By GINA DAMRON • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • July 21, 2009

A Holly couple was arrested Friday for child neglect in Florida after they left two young foster children they were caring for in a hotel room while they went to the resort’s pool.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Kimberly and Stephen Simmons left the children, ages 2 and 4, unattended at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for more than two hours and only returned after being asked to do so by resort staff.

A housekeeper found the children alone, without food or water. Security from Walt Disney World contacted police, according to a sheriff’s office incident report.

The report says “the children could have opened the door to the room and wandered the grounds of the resort. The room is on the second floor with a railed balcony the children could have slipped through.”

Security tried calling the couple and searched the resort for them. The Simmons were eventually located at one of the swimming pools and asked to return to the room.

Kimberly Simmons, 41, told police she had placed the children down for a nap and then went to the pool with their 6-year-old nephew. Stephen Simmons, 49, according to the report, “also seemed okay with this arrangement.”

The couple was arrested for neglecting the children.

Each posted $2,000 bond and were released from jail, said Allen Moore, a spokesman for the Orange County Corrections Department. The couple has not yet been arraigned. Moore said that typically occurs about 30 days after the arrest.

Carrie Hoeppner, spokeswoman for Florida’s Department of Children and Families, said protective services officials from Michigan picked up the two children Monday and brought them back to Michigan. The nephew was picked up by family, Hoeppner said. Colleen Steinman, a spokeswoman for Michigan’s Department of Human Services, said she couldn’t comment on “what our involvement is.”

According to police reports, the couple has had custody of the children for nearly two years.

Kimberly Simmons also told police that she’s a counselor in Michigan for a school, has a master’s degree and “indicated she was aware of what she had done and how to care for children.” (Which she sure has demonstrated here!)

Toddler’s legacy is review of Missouri’s foster care system

 

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/2D8E55EC734E4C98862575DF000049AB?OpenDocument

6a00d83451b1b869e20115715023f6970b-200wi

Dominic James

 

 By Nancy Cambria

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

06/24/2009

Seven years after a toddler was killed in a Missouri foster home, his legacy lives in a final push to gain accreditation for the state agency that failed him.

Missouri has spent nearly $17 million reorganizing and upgrading its Children’s Division to gain the New York-based Council on Accreditation’s stamp of approval. That designation is expected as early as this fall, making Missouri one of a handful of state child welfare agencies to be fully accredited.

Reviewers completed their audit of the St. Louis division of the state Children’s Division last week. The visit marked the end of three years of on-site reviews of the division’s 45 offices and its headquarters in Jefferson City.

Lawmakers mandated that the division gain accreditation after Dominic James, 2, was shaken to death by his Springfield foster parent in August 2002 — three months after state caseworkers removed him from his parents’ home. An investigation revealed that caseworkers and managers ignored strong claims by his father, Sidney James, and court advocates that Dominic was being abused in the foster home. That review also cast doubt on whether Dominic should have been taken from his parents.

“I didn’t know enough about the system and who to talk to,” explained James, who now lives in north St. Louis.

Officials with the Children’s Division said the designation is like a gold standard.

“This does mean something for families,” said Paula Neese, Children’s Division director. “It gives them a feeling that certain standards have been met. We feel like we owe that to our most vulnerable children and families.”

But at least one child welfare watchdog said accreditation doesn’t guarantee safety or fairness.

Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform said the accreditation focuses on paperwork, not people.

“It accredits file cabinets,” he said.

The Children’s Division, an arm of the Department of Social Services, is responsible for child abuse and neglect investigations and the care of about 9,700 children in state custody.

State officials say accreditation will better ensure communication, fairness, proper services and safety for people who come into contact with the division and its employees.

The state Legislature has so far appropriated $16.8 million to comply with the council’s standards. Many of the improvements have been in facilities, staff training and education. Regulators found early on that levels of staff education were too low and office facilities inadequate, Neese said.

About $60,000 went directly to the council to pay for the review. The state also pays expenses for site visits.

Reid Scher, head of accreditation with the council, said reviewers looked to see if procedures were being consistently followed and clients given the proper information and services they needed. No major problems were found during reviews of individual offices, and no offices needed extensions to comply with standards. Missouri was far ahead of most other states with programs, he said.

But skeptics like Wexler argue that accreditation focuses too heavily on procedures and not enough on the actual experiences of foster children and their parents. He points to Kentucky, which also earned national accreditation. Even with the designation, state officials there released a scathing report on its children’s division, accusing it of unjustly taking children from poor families and manipulating caseloads to meet accreditation standards.

“What is crucial here is what they don’t measure,” Wexler said of the reviewers. “They don’t look face to face enough with foster children. There’s nothing in those standards that asks, did you make the right decision when you decided to remove a child from a home?”

Scher said that assessment is unfair. Reviewers do meet with foster parents, biological parents, caseworkers and children in prearranged interviews. They also randomly pull one or more case files during reviews and visit foster homes to interview clients on little notice.

But Wexler said that is a small window to gauge an enormous state system.

He noted state accreditors do not review foster care cases or residential homes managed by private child welfare agencies, though many of those agencies are individually accredited. In Missouri about a third of its foster care cases are now contracted out to those agencies, and all of its residential facilities are run independently of the state.

Nevertheless, Wexler and state officials agree the Children’s Division has come a long way since Dominic’s death. The number of children in state custody has shrunk by 17 percent, and Wexler noted the state does a good job of not mistaking poverty for neglect — a common reason children are unfairly placed in foster care.

James, now a volunteer with Joyce Meyer Ministries’ Dream Center in north St. Louis, said he’s on the mend after sinking into drugs and alcohol following his son’s death. Clutching a fading photo of Dominic, he says he doesn’t know what accreditation means — though he’s glad Dominic’s death has prompted action.

He hopes to one day open a homeless shelter for men with children — a place that he said could have saved Dominic from “the system.”

 

 

The sad legacy of Dominic James

 

http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2009/06/the-sad-legacy-of-dominic-james.html

The name is probably familiar, but most people have probably forgotten why Dominic became a news story. Back in 2002, state officials removed the 2-year-old from his parents’ home in Springfield and placed him with a foster home — where he was later shaken to death.

There were big questions about Dominic’s removal in the first place. But the most damning fact is that his dad and court advocated warned case workers that Dominic was being abused at the foster home.

Missouri’s elected officials were outraged. So they set aside almost $17 million and told the state Children’s Division to get its act together. Now, after significant upgrades in training and facilities, Missouri is expected to get full accreditation from the Council on Accreditation. We’ll be one of the few states to have that distinction, the Post-Dispatch reports.

Of course, other watchdog groups are warning people not to get too excited. The accreditation is nice, but it mostly looks at paperwork and not people — and it’s people that failed Dominic James.

Texas CPS ‘Bringing Back the Dads’ program aims to re-engage fathers in their children’s lives

 

http://www.star-telegram.com/metro_news/story/1444095.html

By ALEX BRANCH abranch@star-telegram.

 

When police and Child Protective Services investigated whether a man’s daughter was abused by his ex-wife’s boyfriend, the father says no one called to fill him in.

In fact, he said, he struggled to find information even after he learned of the investigation.

“I couldn’t get anyone to call me back,” said Paul, whose last name is not being used to protect his children’s identity. “It felt like no one really paid attention to the fathers. It was about the mothers.”

At a time when more American children than ever live in homes without biological fathers, it is a tendency that should change, child welfare officials say.

A pilot program called “Bringing Back the Dads” strives to engage nonresident fathers with their children. The effort trains CPS workers to better reach out to fathers and offers classes to dads exploring how they can be more involved in their children’s lives.

The Fatherhood Coalition of Tarrant County and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are collaborating on the project.

Tarrant County was one of four areas in the U.S. to get a three-year, $100,000 grant from the U.S. Children’s Bureau for the program. If successful, it could be instituted nationally..

“We have a very maternal system,” said Elna Vanderberg, executive director of NewDay Services for children and families in Tarrant County, a member of the coalition. “The idea is to make a better effort to reach out to these fathers and appeal to those fathers’ hearts to understand the value they can have in their children’s lives.”

’Brighter outcomes’

One of the program’s goals is to identify obstacles caseworkers face while engaging fathers. Among the most common is finding them, said Karen Bird, who coordinates the project.

“It can be double the work to track them down and try to make contact with them,” she said.

Making the task more challenging are heavy CPS caseloads as well as time restraints set by the Legislature on how quickly decisions must be made, Vanderberg said.

Paul said he was involved in his children’s lives but still wasn’t contacted. To add to his frustrations, he said, he tried calling the police detective investigating the case and was told that his ex-wife had to first give the investigator permission to speak to him.

“I saw my kids every weekend,” he said. “But no one told me anything anyway.”

A national study of almost 2,000 children removed from homes where the father did not live found that 88 percent of the fathers were identified by caseworkers. But just more than half of the fathers were contacted.

Only about a quarter of the fathers contacted expressed interest in the child living with them, according to the National Quality Improvement Center.

This year, NewDay Services has trained 400 CPS investigators and supervisors from 19 counties in Texas on how to engage fathers, Vanderberg said. The project was launched in January 2008, but much of the first year was spent developing curriculum. The grant lasts until 2010.

Studies show that children with absent biological fathers are, on average, two to three times more likely to be poor; to use drugs; experience emotional, educational and behavioral problems; and to engage in crime.

Marissa Gonzalez, spokeswoman for CPS in Tarrant County, said the agency is hopeful that the project will result in “better, brighter outcomes for children.”

“CPS knows that outcomes for children are better when families work together for the well-being of the children,” she said. “Historically, however, much of the focus has been on mothers and not fathers.”

Fathers’ willingness

Success will greatly depend on the fathers’ willingness to participate.

Some are so removed from their children that officials say it’s like turning an aircraft carrier. Sometimes hostility between parents is so severe that the fathers feel forced aside.

“A roadblock is the mindset of some fathers in society, who seem to think they have become redundant in the lives of their children and that all that is required is to provide financial support,” Vanderberg said.

“We are telling them how important their relationships with their children are.”

The classes are voluntary and focus on nonresident fathers whose children were removed from their mother’s house by CPS. The fathers must not have criminal records.

Among other things, classes offer an overview of how the court system works, how to manage relationships with CPS and how to handle visitation, said Tommy Jordan, NewDay’s fatherhood program director.

“From the outside looking in, the system is a mystery,” Jordan said. “It can overwhelm and intimidate people. We have to overcome this and learn to capitalize on the father who is often standing right in front of us.”

 

Study The “What About the Dads?” national study included 1,958 children who were removed from homes where the father did not live. Telephone interviews with 1,222 caseworkers indicated that:

88 percent of nonresident fathers were identified.

55 percent of fathers were contacted by caseworkers.

30 percent of fathers visited their child.

28 percent expressed interest in their children living with them.

Source: The National Quality Improvement Center

ALEX BRANCH, 817-390-7689

Custody hearing for Lorrie Thomas’ children continues, fathers argue for their rights

 

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/06/custody_hearing_for_lorrie_tho_3.html

by Shannon Murphy | The Flint Journal

Tuesday June 16, 2009, 3:01 PM

Arguments continued Tuesday about where to place the five children and two grandchildren of a woman accused in the death of her 9-year-old adoptive daughter.

In a Family Court hearing, attorneys for Lorrie Thomas’ children and their fathers argued that the children, who range in age from 15 to 2, should be living with family.

Thomas is in jail on charges of second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of her adoptive daughter and niece Shylae Thomas. Shylae’s body was found April 22 in a storage bin in Vienna Township. Authorities said she died of malnourishment.

Shortly after the discovery, Thomas’ remaining children, plus her eldest daughter’s two children, were placed in foster care homes around the area.

Fathers of four of the children were in court Tuesday and their attorney, Rochelle Thompson, said it’s “absurd” that the children still are in foster care and not with their fathers.

“There are no allegations of abuse of neglect against (these fathers),” she said. “All they want is their children and no one is looking at their housing.”

Department of Human Services officials said during the hearing that all four fathers were looked at and home studies conducted when the children were removed from their home. But, DHS said none of the fathers’ homes were appropriate.

At least one of the men has a criminal history, two live out of state and one owes child support. But Thompson argued none of that is a reason to keep them from their children.

Judge John Gadola adjourned the matter until June 30 so all attornies could review home placement studies. The children will remain in their current foster care homes.

Also on Tuesday, Gadola set Thomas’ parental termination trial Aug. 14. Gadola said he wanted to wait until the preliminary examination in her criminal trial was completed.

Thomas was in court Tuesday, but did not speak. Her attorney, Mark Clement, said after the hearing that he is ready to go to trial in the termination case and doesn’t believe Thomas should lose her parental rights.

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