Thursday, January 18, 2007

Caseworker with conflict of interest

Meet the players in this scenario:
-Rochelle Kidd was an abusive parent. As a result, in March 2004, she and her husband, Victor Anderson, lost temporary custody of their four children. Since that time, Rochelle has complied with her case plan by acquiring and keeping a full-time job, moving out of public housing and renting a four bedroom house, completed an anger management class and continues to attend parenting classes.

-Na'Sheema Hillmon was the social worker assigned to her case. Na'Sheema began appearing in court about this case in April 2004. She continued to handle subsequent court cases, right up until Rochelle lost permanent custody. She repeatedly advised Rochelle to give the children to her husband, telling her that she really didn't have a choice.

-What about the father?
-Victor Anderson divorced Rochelle Kidd on June 3, 2005.
-He was granted sole custody (thanks to Na'Sheema) of his four children on June 6, 2005.
-He married Na'Sheema Hillmon, the social worker, on July 25, 2006.
-His new wife Na'Sheema went to court on August 2005 and filed an affadavit that the children should stay with Anderson, and that no further services were needed for this family.

The children currently reside with Anderson. He and his new wife reportedly do not live together, because that would prevent him from collecting Social Security disability payments.

Who knew that social work was a job that came with such benefits?
Na'Sheema was a single mother with three children of her own. She resigned from the Cauyahoga County Department of Children's Services when the department found out about her marriage. She has responded to reporters by saying, "I'm just going to be honest with you... I found happiness, and I'm sorry it was at somebody else's expense."

I'm just hoping that it wasn't at the children's expense. How did Na'Sheema's personal relationship with the father compromise her custodial recommendations? I'm not certain that those children belong with their mother -- but I'm not too sure about their father, either.

Both parents have criminal convictions: the father for selling drugs and domestic violence, and the mother for two assaults. Na'Sheema herself is currently under investigation by a county agency which doles out welfare money for fraud.

What's the outcome?
1.) Judge Allison Floyd has denied requests for the custodial case be independently renewed. Perhaps she, too, has something to hide? Judge Floyd did not sign off on her magistrate's June 2005 decision to grant Anderson custody until last month -- which indicates the many months that she procrastinated in taking time to personally review it.

2.) Children and Family Services Director Jim McCafferty says his department reviewed the case and found Anderson to be a fit father. However, this "review" did not include sending an unbiased social worker to check on the four children, now ages 6-12 years old, to make sure that they were safe.

3.) Meanwhile, because Na'Sheema Hillman resigned her position before she could be fired, she remains free to work as a social worker anywhere in Ohio. This is unconscionable, considering her flagrant abuse of power.

Dissel, Rachel and Diane Suchetka. Custody fight descends into atrocious case: Woman says social worker took her kids and husband. Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jan. 7, 2007, pg. A1.
A little social work on the side. Cleveland Plain Dealer, Editorial, Jan. 17. 2006.

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Comments: can this have been allowed...wouldn't that case be reviewed and possibly overturned? Wait I know the answer to that....ugggh. Poor kids.
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