Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Third child dies in Michigan foster care


Photograph from myfoxdetroit.com


This is the face of a child whom foster care has failed.


Three-year-old James Bradley was placed in foster care, assumedly to keep him safe.



Instead, he became the third Michigan child to die while in foster care within the past nine months.

James Bradley's death has been ruled a homicide. Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that James died of blunt-force trauma to the head as the result of the illegal action of another person.

TIMELINE:
-August 16, 2006: Isaac Lethbridge died in foster care.

-August 17, 2006: Isaac's four-year-old sister was hospitalized. Bruises were found on her back, midsection, spine, thighs and ankles.

-September 21, 2006: Allison Newman was hospitalized, due to a traumatic brain injury. Her foster mother, Carol Poole said the child fell from a second-story loft onto the first floor while she swung the child by her feet over her head and between her legs.

-September 22, 2006: Two-year-old Allison Newman was removed from life support.

-October 2, 2006: Carol Poole, the foster mother of Allison Newman, was charged with felony murder, first-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter.

What's going on in Michigan?

In 2006, state investigators discovered:

- 26 out of 84 foster homes had expired licenses
- At least five investigations of abuse or neglect were never investigated
- Seven children were in dangerous or unacceptable placements


Investigators could not immediately locate or verify where 21 of the agency's 106 foster children were, though all were eventually found.

It's all about the money
This week, the Governor Jennifer Granholm proposed adding $35 million to the Michigan Department of Human Services' budget, in order to add staff members, conduct more staff training, get certification for family caregivers and subsidize permanent guardianships,

Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate subcommittee proposed cutting the department's budget by $20 million, slashing more than 800 staff members and privatizing most of the foster care and juvenile justice systems.

Elizabeth Carey, executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, which represents private nonprofit agencies, said, "It's not that Michigan doesn't know how to deliver good services to kids; it's that we're not delivering the scope of services and intensive services that we used to."

Shortcomings in resources and services hurt children. Even the efforts to reform the Michigan foster care system by suing the state only result in less money for the state to provide adequate services to children and their families.

The New York-based Children's Rights filed a lawsuit against Michigan's foster care system.

Among the allegations:
- 63,000 children available for adoption are being raised as wards of state
- 40% of children in foster care are living in unlicensed foster homes


The lawsuit listed by first name many of the children whom foster care has failed:
- Lisa, a nine-year-old sexually abused by her foster father
- Dwayne, a seven-year-old placed in eight different homes since he was a toddler

The 19.000 children in Michigan's foster care system need more money, not less. Why consider budget cuts while children are dying? And, even regarding the lawsuit, it is unfortunate that money is being spent on attorney fees, rather than on children.

Sources:
Death of child in foster care ruled homicide. Detroit: FoxTV, April 18, 2007.
From our readers losing Isaac: Blame goes all the way to the top. Detroit Free Press, Feb. 2, 2007, pg. A10.
Group Files Suit Against State Over Foster Care. WLNS, Feb. 16, 2007.
Judge to grant class-action status in Michigan foster care suit. Lansing State Journal, Feb. 15, 2007.
Kozlowski, Kim. Class-action status for foster care suit. Detroit News, Feb. 15, 2007, pg. B5.

Kozlowski, Kim. Settlement talks end in dispute over state's foster care system. Detroit News, April 12, 2007.
Kresnak, Jack and Tina Lam. Agency had lengthy list of alarming problems. Detroit Free Press, Jan. 29, 2007, pg. A11.
Kresnak, Jack. Death of foster child, 3, ruled a homicide. Detroit Free Press, April 18, 2007.
Kresnak, Jack and Tina Lam. Isaac not the 1st child center had failed. Detroit Free Press, Jan. 29, 2007, pg. A11.
Newman, Allison. Foster mother charged in death of 2-year-old. Associated Press, Oct. 14, 2006.

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Comments:
You have been nominated for the thinking blogger award. I actually have no idea what the award might be or how voting is done, but since jblieu tagged me, I thought I would pass it on. So, uh… Tag, you’re it… congrats!
By the way – should you want to pass this on to 5 other lucky bloggers, there are 3 rules which go like this:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

PS – Disclaimer: this is a one time deal – I do not, as a rule, play these games, pass chain letters, send jokes or humorous stories or any kind of forwards for that matter.

PPS – If you want your name and link off my blog, let me know
 
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