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With Death and Injustice for All

Our county was supposedly established on freedom. Justice. The pursuit of Happiness. However, when it comes to welfare and safety of children, we have failed and we have done so immensely. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.

In the great state of Pennsylvania...

Jan. – Dec. 2015:

Child Fatalities: 34

Child Near Fatalities: 58

58% of the families of fatalities were already known to Children and Youth Services (CYS) - (had an active case, had been reuinified, or the case had been successfully closed.) 55% of the families of near fatalities were already known to CYS.

 Jan. – Dec. 2016:

Fatalities: 46

Near Fatalities: 79

Of the fatalities and near fatalities, 66% of these families were already in CYS’s care or had been successfully closed, 22% had not been known to CYS, and 12% were not specified.

 Jan. – May 2017:

Fatalities: 42

Near Fatalities: 73

No reports have been given at this time regarding how many of these families were already known to CYS, and 7 months still remain in this calendar year.

Look at the numbers. Just look at them. Even to an untrained layman, it is more than obvious that there’s a rise in fatalities and near fatalities of children each year – and that the statistics for 2017 were only for the first 5 months of the year! It is also quite clear that each year, CYS is aware of these cases in over half of the families who have had fatalities or near fatalities. They've had active cases, had “successfully” closed cases, or the children had been taken from foster care and reunified with their birth parents, only for those children to wind up dead or severely wounded.

If these numbers aren’t enough to cause some kind of emotional reaction in our communities, then I fear for all of us, not just our kids.

In the 2017 records, 86% of the children who died and 60% of the children who nearly died were under the age of 5 years old. These are children who have not yet entered school. Also in 2017, 74% of children who died and 77% of children who nearly died were under the age of 3… children that CYS themselves determine are too young to self-report, therefore they continue to be harmed until they are hospitalized or they pass away. In fact, just last year, the state of PA put in their own annual statistics that out of the children who died in 2016, 94% of the time, the perpetrator was a parent of that child. For near fatalities, 89% of these cases listed the parent as the perpetrator. These children are with their perpetrators for most, if not all, of their time until they enter school. These very kids may have no other safe person set eyes on them if not the caseworkers in charge of determining their fate.

In 2016, 44,259 reports were made to Child Protective Services (CPS) in the state of Pennsylvania. Of these calls, 37,853 were made by mandated reporters – individuals trained to know the signs of abuse and neglect in children. And out of these calls, CYS determined that only 4,597 of these allegations were substantiated. That means that the other 33,256 calls made by doctors, teachers, day care workers, therapists, nurses, and police officers are deemed to be not severe enough for CYS to even open a case, let alone remove a child from the home. This is despite the fact that 1,952 calls made were cases of repeated abuse. In these cases, even though CYS already knows the family from prior dealings, only 13.6% of these cases of repeated abuse were substantiated and a case was opened.

In addition to the 44,259 CPS reports made in the same year, 151,087 General Protective Services (GPS) reports were made. GPS reports are “those reports that do not rise to the level of suspected child abuse but allege a need for intervention to prevent serious harm to children. The department is responsible for receiving and transmitting reports where GPS concerns are alleged” (page 24 in the dhs.pa.gov 2016 reports). Of those calls, 48% of the reports were screened out and not assessed at all, whereas 21% were validated, requiring CYS to attempt to visit the home at least once. The state provided no information on what happened to the other 31% of calls made to GPS.

However, of the calls that were looked into by Children and Youth Services, they found that the highest percentage of problems in these homes (by more than double) was due to parental substance abuse. This information is increasingly frustrating when you factor in the comment made by a Beaver County CYS worker that if a parent is a “functioning addict and there are no broken bones” they cannot and will not intervene. Knowing that these “functioning addicts” are the biggest reason that children are dying or nearly dying should make that a difficult comment for anyone to wrap their minds around.

Also in 2016, 166,971 calls were made to Childline, the crisis hotline for abused and neglected children. These calls go to the local CYS agency, the local police (who have informed me that they do not receive these reports for at least several weeks after a call has been made), and the District Attorney. Of these calls, 155,911 were answered, 10,957 calls were abandoned (there is no description as to what this means on the government website), and 103 calls were deflected due to not meeting abuse or neglect criteria. Since the state of PA was given $1.811 billion in funding for child welfare services, and since there appears to be such a high number of calls by trained professionals regarding abused and neglected kids, it shocks me that only 13% of this budged was used for investigations into these allegations (this 13% INCLUDES the salaries for personnel that work these investigations).

(As I live and work in the Western Region of PA, this is where my main focus has been. However, if you are interested in looking at the statistics for your own counties, the links to the necessary government websites are listed at the end of this post.)

Fatality and Near Fatality Accounts of 4 core Western Region Counties:

Allegheny County:

1)      18-month-old female died of serious physical neglect by her mother. Mom was on heroin and morphine which the child ingested because the drugs were left on the bed next to the child. A sibling was then placed with a grandparent. Mom was sentenced only 30-60 months in jail.

       Prior history with CYS over 6 years (7 GPS calls made).

2)      2-year-old male nearly died of physical abuse by his maternal uncle. Prior to this, the family had a case with Beaver County CYS where the child was placed in a foster home and then given to the maternal uncle and aunt as a kinship placement. The child was shaken severely because the uncle caught him going through the garbage. This lead to a brain bleed and a seizure. The child and a sibling were placed back with the previous Beaver county foster home.

       Both the bio mom AND kinship uncle had previous history with CYS. Mom had reports made on her of sexual abuse, lack of supervision, mental instability, inappropriate discipline, and physical abuse. The uncle’s family had reports made of physical abuse, the oldest 4 of 6 children were acting out sexually, no food or beds, the uncle is an alcoholic, and the aunt has mental health issues).

3)      2-month-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by mom’s boyfriend of 2 weeks. He was tossing the baby 4-5 feet in the air and catching her when her head snapped. Baby girl had internal bleeding, 3 rib fractures, bruises on face and butt, and has shaken baby syndrome. Boyfriend is in jail and the baby is in kinship placement awaiting reunification with mom.

       The family was previously known to CYS.

4)      2-month-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by mom’s ex-boyfriend. Outside in March, the baby was wearing a onesie and a light blanket and ex-boyfriend was reportedly erratically swinging the baby in the car seat from side to side. The male appeared under the influence when police arrived, but he denied using anything and no blood or urine tests were taken. Baby girl was blue and lethargic and had injuries from being violently shaken. She developed seizures, blood clots, and was put on a ventilator. Ex-boyfriend is in jail and child is with bio mom.

       Family was not previously known to CYS.

5)      18-month-old near fatality due to physical abuse by babysitter. Investigations seem to point to it being accidental, but the sitter is still being questioned for possible medical neglect.

       History of CYS with Mom but not babysitter.

6)      3-month-old male near fatality due to physical abuse by mom and step-mom. Baby had bone fractures in skull, rib fractures, retinal hemorrhages, and retinal folds – these injuries are believed to have occurred between 7 and 10 days old according to the doctors. Step-mom was arrested and is awaiting trial. Baby and 2 siblings were placed with grandparents before being reunified with mom 2 months later.

       History of CYS with mom for deplorable housing conditions and mom throwing things at the children.

7)      23-month-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by an unknown individual (probably an in-home nurse). Baby was born with multiple health issues and was receiving 16 hours of medical in-home care each day. A non-regular nurse for the child did an 8-hour shift and somehow the child ingested about 1 cup of salt, which her ill body couldn’t process.

       The family had no prior CYS contact.

8)      8-year-old male died due to physical abuse and neglect by his mom and her boyfriend. Child was unresponsive and had blood around his mouth, bruising all over his body, severe brain trauma, and hemorrhaging at the brain stem. Boyfriend is in jail awaiting trial and 2 other siblings were placed with grandparents.

       Prior CYS history for physical maltreatment. This was apparently unfounded so no services were provided.

9)      6-month-old male near fatality due to physical abuse by mother. Baby had skull fracture, scalp hematoma, multiple brain bleeds, and a seizure. Mom admitted to hitting the baby in the head with a hard plastic bottle and punching his head 5-6 times while frustrated with one of the victim’s 6 siblings. She also body slammed him 2 times. Baby was placed in foster care and mom was placed in the psychiatric unit while she awaits trial. Other siblings were placed in kinship care.

       History of CYS due to lack of supervision and maltreatment towards an older sibling. Mom and victim child both tested positive for marijuana at the time of birth as well. CYS couldn’t assess the family because they moved to Ohio. CYS then closed the case with no follow up or forwarding to the Ohio child welfare system.

10)  3-week-old male died due to serious physical abuse by mom. Baby died smothered next to intoxicated/high mother who had passed out on the bed with the newborn. (GPS and CPS reports were already filed due to mom being on drugs and alcohol.) Kinship care was given for other siblings, then they went to a shelter, and then they went to their dad, who also was using drugs and alcohol. Mom was incarcerated for 5 weeks before she was released and sent back to jail for 4 months.

       Prior history with CYS for 9 years. GPS reports made for drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, and the oldest two children were previously in foster care. 1 CPS report was made for physical maltreatment, which was unsubstantiated.

11)  17-month-old male died by physical abuse from mom and dad. Mom threatened to harm and kill the baby and 2-year-old because the dad had allegedly had an affair. Mom sent text messages of this to the dad but he didn’t take her threats seriously. Mom then sent text pictures and videos of her harming the children and smothering the baby with a pillow, causing him to die. The 2-year-old was placed with dad until CYS found out he had failed to intervene in the harming of the children. She was then placed with an aunt and is awaiting adoption. Mom was arrested and awaits trial. Dad was arrested and released on bond.

       Prior history with CYS and current CYS involvement. 2 GPS reports regarding parental substance abuse and allowing a sex offender to have access to the children – a case was opened briefly and mom was ordered a drug and alcohol assessment but no further actions were deemed necessary.

12)  2-month-old male near fatality due to physical abuse by mom and dad. Baby ingested methadone and was given Narcan to revive him. It was more methadone than was possible to have been in breastmilk. Baby was placed in foster care, then kinship care. Both parents were in jail and then released awaiting trial.

       No prior CYS history.

13)  5-month-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by male babysitter. Baby had hemorrhaging, bruised chest, and retinal bleeds. Babysitter awaits trial.

       Prior CYS with family – 5 GPS reports made between 2013 and 2016 when the baby died. Reports were for domestic violence and an older sibling being grabbed by the father. The father how has a protective order against him and the kids reside with the mom.

14)  2-year-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by mom. Mother left a bag of suboxone and other medication out on a table while she went to help her other child get ready for school. Baby ate numerous pills and was given Narcan 2 times for survival. Baby was returned home with a safety plan, which mom violated. Kids were sent to an aunt’s house and then to their father. Dad had a prior PFA and was ordered in-home services and batterer’s therapy. Mom awaits trial.

       History of CYS – 3 GPS reports in 2015 for physical maltreatment and housing issues.

Beaver County:

15)  2-year-old male near fatality due to physical abuse by mother. 1 week prior, GPS was made for deplorable housing, little food in the home, and mom was suspected of using heroin and pain pills. Multiple reports were made that the child had bruising on his face and was locked in a room. Police and CYS brought the child to the doctor and he had burn marks on his skin, scratches, bruises, and internal bleeding. Mother admitted to abusing him and he was placed with his grandparents.

       History of CYS involvement due to drug use and not caring for the child – the child had a prior skull fracture and torn frenulum in his mouth. CYS followed up for 6 months at the home and then closed the case.

16)  3-month old female near fatality due to physical abuse by mom and dad. Baby had a skull fracture, hemorrhages, cerebral edema, acute AND healing rib fractures, fractures to both legs, and retinal hemorrhages. These then led to seizures and deep vein thrombosis. She was sent to her grandparent. Mother admitted to shaking the baby while mad at the baby’s dad. Dad didn’t intervene to stop her. Mom was arrested and awaits trial. Dad was not arrested.

       History of CYS involvement for physical abuse of her older 6-year-old child.

Lawrence County:

17)  2-month-old female died due to physical abuse by mom’s boyfriend. Baby had cardiac arrest due to blunt force trauma to the skull. Boyfriend was arrested and awaits trial and the sibling is with the mother.

       History of CYS with the family from 2010-2016 – 3 GPS reports and 1 CPS report for inappropriate discipline, substance abuse, deplorable housing, and physical abuse by mom and boyfriend. Mental health evaluations and parenting instructions were offered.

18)  2-year-old female near fatality due to physical abuse by dad. He said the toddler fell down the stairs while mom was at work but the doctors reported that the injuries couldn’t possibly have occurred from that. The baby had hematomas, an inflamed colon, abnormal liver enzymes, retinal hemorrhages, and left arm fracture due to violent shaking. Mom supported dad’s story. The investigation continues.

       Prior CYS history for parental drug and alcohol abuse, poor home conditions, lack of supervision and limited food. This was not substantiated, however.

My Observations:

1)   Most accounts of fatalities and near fatalities occurred with families known to the CYS workers and were getting services, had been successfully closed out, or abuse couldn’t be substantiated.

Birth parents are given so much leeway that kids are dying or being severely injured while they “work to get themselves together”.

The “services provided” to these families are obviously proving ineffective. (By the way, services are often recommended but cannot be mandated unless the case proceeds to court, which is avoided at all costs, leaving treatment up to the choice of the perpetrator!)

Prior CYS involvement and multiple GPS/CPS reports are being ignored until children die.

2)    When children and families change counties or states, cases are often closed and not transferred.

3)    Almost all fatalities and near fatalities are by parents.

Therefore, parenting classes and evaluations are not working.

4)    Drugs and Alcohol abuse are the highest leading contributor in validated GPS reports (twice the percentage of the next highest contributing factor)!

Drug and alcohol evaluations and classes (again, if they are even mandated) are also not working.

5)    The way the state determines successful permanency is through adoption or reunification.

Reunification can be done quickly, but adoption usually takes well over a year.

Statistics from the previous year determine the funds for the coming year.

Caseworkers are told to reunify instead of placing children in foster care or adoption at all costs to show a higher success rate of permanency for the year.

This leads to increased CYS funding instead of a decrease in funds for the following year.

6)    Why are so many cases not assessed or screened out since most of the calls are made by mandated reporters who are trained to know the signs of childhood abuse and neglect?

Are these weeded out so that hard cases don’t effect funding?

7)    Since many of these death and near death rates can be proven inaccurate (on the low end) by local newspapers and police reports, I would question the integrity of the agencies and workers writing up reports, filing reports, and completing the annual documentation.

And now that you know, what are you going to do about it?

Here are some solutions! First of all, we have to start with our local politicians. Commissioners oversee Children and Youth Services (CYS) and yet they are never notified of these issues. Following up with local DA's (District Attorneys) and the Attorney General are next. Working with your state legislative office to help promote new laws to protect children or change existing laws - and on the state level, we have to find a way to get the state treasurers to re-quantify how "success" is determined for the counties. If we take away the burden of finding permanency for a removed child within the same year, CYS can actually focus more on adoption as an option. But right now, adoptions take longer than a year and reunification doesn't - so they reunify or don't remove children at all in order to not lose their budget (and hence, their jobs) the following year. We also have the option of raising awareness via the news, protests, and getting national attention from sources willing to take on causes like this.

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_241811.pdf

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260880.pdf

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260881.pdf

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_260882.pdf

(These reports were divided into 4 quarters over the 2016 year.)

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It's a Book Launch!

     So, this week has FINALLY arrived! And I want to cordially invite all of you to the launch and first signing of my new book, The Children Who Raised Me. (Insert all manner of joyous sounds here!) Come and join me for some light refreshments, a brief reading, and time to chat with the author! I will be signing books as well and will have a limited number for purchase if you haven't already bought yours (books are $20). This is a family friendly event, so feel free to bring your friends, family, and random people from the street (as long as they agree - no abductions, please).

WHEN:  Saturday, April 8th, 2017 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm

WHERE: The 1st Baptist Church of Ellwood City (220 Fountain Ave. Ellwood City, PA 16117)

     Additionally, if you're interested in having me come speak at your church, agency, school, or group - contact me HERE to schedule! I love to share information on Adoption, Foster Care, Mental Health, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and ways to improve our Child Welfare Systems.

     See you all Saturday!!!

     XOXO,

     Shivonne

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Our Children Are Dying, And No One Will Help

It seems that Children and Youth Services of Pennsylvania have been under severe scrutiny as of late. Over the years, countless news articles have been done depicting uninvestigated child abuse, fatalities of children, and the lack of response to child lines being made. Sadly, Beaver county CYS has been facing the most recent allegations of nonchalance when it comes to the safety of local children.

Just one month ago, WTAE Pittsburgh Action News conducted a special investigation into several local CYS agencies, one of which was Beaver county. The report showed that had CYS responded to child lines that were conducted, several children in the county would still be alive to this day. And whereas the other agencies sent spokesmen to make a statement, Beaver county refused to reply to the story.

The CYS Bench book, which is the reigning guidelines to be followed by each employee of the agency, states this on page 11: “All children have the right: to be happy, thriving, self-actualized, educated, healthy, and content; to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as individuals capable of healthy relationships and productive lives; and to have a fair chance in life with opportunities for healthy, balanced, and well-rounded development.”

If this is the case, then why is CYS ignoring reports made from doctors, police, therapists, teachers, guidance counselors, eye witnesses, and the children themselves? If all children have the right to safety, then why are these children dying? Why are they allowed to remain in homes where they fear daily for their safety? Where they watch domestic violence and are exposed to drug deals, prostitution, and gross negligence?

And just as important, why are the higher powers turning a blind eye?

STATS from the PA Child Protective Services Annual Report of 2015 (which is the most recent) and the PA Partnerships Annual Report of 2015:

·         In 2015, only 10.4% of abuses reported in PA were substantiated by CYS (meaning they were looked into and abuse or neglect was proven).

·         Out of the 10.4% substantiated, 2.2% of those ended in fatality (34 cases) or near fatality (58 cases).

·         Of the 34 cases that ended in fatality, 58% of those families already had CYS involvement or the case had been closed “successfully”.

·         Of the 58 cases that ended in near fatality, 55% percent of these children had CYS involvement or the case had already been closed “successfully”.

·         Of the fatalities in PA, 27% of the children had been removed from foster care and given back to biological parents. Of near fatalities, 19% of children had been reunified with parents and removed from foster care.

·         1 fatality occurred in Beaver county in 2015 – the family was known to CYS through multiple abuse reports. This mother had threatened the week prior to murder her children and then herself. Her children were not removed from her care until the 2-month old was killed.

·         1 near fatality (19-month-old that now has traumatic brain injury) also occurred in Beaver county – No charges have been filed and no parenting or anger management classes were completed.

·         Out of the 40,590 reports of abuse and neglect, 35,313 (87%) were made by mandated reporters – people trained in the symptoms of abuse and neglect; people that are mandated to report their sightings; therapists, foster parents, drug and alcohol counselors, psychiatrists, law enforcement, etc. And yet only 10% were deemed actual abuse by CYS caseworkers (an occupation with a turn-over rate of an average of 2-years, many straight from college and in any field of study).

·         In 2015, PA law enforcers reported 12,608 crimes against children where the adults didn’t qualify as a “perpetrator” to CYS. All of these crimes were then forwarded to the District Attorney’s office instead of CYS and the children remained in their homes.

·         In 2015 - 181,371 children received in-home services provided through CYS.

·         In 2015 – 22,980 children entered foster care or remained in foster care from the previous year.

·         In 2015 – 2,544 children re-entered foster care after having already been reunited with a parent previously during their lifetime.

·         In 2015 – 24.1% (a quarter) of all biological family reunifications failed.

Not in the CPS Report:

·         According to the Beaver Falls police department, so far multiple young children have died in Beaver County at the hands of their parents – no charges have been filed, CYS was aware of complaints made against the families, and the siblings of the deceased children remain in these homes. The police department also stated that CYS is not sending all of the child lines to them, as stated in the protocol. And according to the Franklin Twp. Police department in Beaver County, if they get the reports at all, they are multiple weeks after the date of the report, and they have already been cast aside by CYS.

·         After a conversation in 2016 with a CYS caseworker, I was informed that if a guardian is a “functioning addict” and “there are no broken bones”, there is no way that CYS will step in and assist the children.

·         Even as recent as this week, after well over a dozen reports from professionals AND the children themselves made to CYS regarding a particular case of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, neglect, drug abuse, and drug dealing – CYS talked to the suspected abuser about those involved in making the child lines and asked if the guardian would agree to a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation. When the father vehemently refused, CYS said that they couldn’t mandate it. And then they left the children in the home.

Following the Money:

·         In 2015, the state of PA received $344 million dollars in federal funds for child welfare, $1.036 billion dollars from the state, and $388 dollars from their local funds (on average) – totaling $1.769 billion dollars statewide for child welfare purposes.

·         Of that total, $43.5 million dollars were used for investigating child abuse. That left $1.726 billion dollars for salaries, trainings, and child abuse clearances.

·         Of that $43.5 million, $2.3 million was used for Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence county investigations of abuse and neglect.

·         If the average county has 50 caseworkers (what I was informed was the average number) that average $35,000 per year (what I was told was the average pay) in all 67 counties, that would add up to $117,250,000 dollars.

·         Child abuse clearance costs totaled $6.017 million for the state of PA in 2015.

·         MAXIMUM foster care subsidies given out in 2015 was $138 million dollars.

·         The state’s total amount of estimated caseworker salaries, child abuse investigations, foster care subsidies, and child abuse clearances equals $304,767,000.

·         Minus that from the $1.769 billion dollars given to PA for child welfare and you have a remaining balance of $1.464 billion dollars – WHERE IS IT GOING? (I realize that the state is paying for caseworkers to go to college, facilities and their utilities, trainings, etc. But obviously the actual functions of the agency are being used so sparingly in comparison the $1.5 billion used elsewhere.)

·         According to the State of PA’s government salary reports, The Beaver County Director of CYS made $104,000 in 2014 while she complained that they were understaffed. This amount is more than double that of what any of the surrounding county CYS directors made in the same year or since.)

·         According to two previous CYS caseworker in the local counties, both were told on multiple occasions NOT to remove children until the end of the fiscal year… if they remove more or less than the allotted amount, the county would get less funding for the following year.

·         According to a current CYS caseworker, she has been forced to close out cases that still needed child welfare assistance because the case could currently be closed “successfully”, whereas if they waited another month, the family could “blow up” and throw off their numbers of successful reunifications.

It’s important to note that these are just the reports for BEAVER COUNTY. Children are dying and being severely abused in all of our surrounding counties, including Lawrence County. Also in this county are caseworkers who are committing fraud - writing up reports about visiting children in their biological or foster homes monthly, even though they haven’t been to the home in a year or more. And when these are reported to the supervisors, nothing is done. In fact, foster parents are threatened to never receive future foster children, be banned from all potential adoptions, and even told that their current children can be taken from them if they continue to advocate “too much” for the foster children in their care.

Due to this statewide abuse of power in the system, there is a yearly drop in quality foster families. Good people who provide love, support, and safety for these children in need are being forced out of the system due to the horrific treatment by the agencies sworn to help these very kids. And when the counties can say “we would help more children if we had any foster homes to put them in!”, we know the truth. If it weren’t for CYS supervisors, County Commissioners, District Attorneys, and crooked police focusing so much on lining their own pockets and following their own political agendas, we may have more people willing to step up to the plate for these dying children.

And until that happens, we will continue to live in a society where money, power, and corruption trump the lives and well-being of the very children that we see in our schools, our parks, and our streets. Because when it comes right down to it, our local counties have decided that some children are only SOME children have the right: to be happy, thriving, self-actualized, educated, healthy, and content; to have the opportunity to reach their full potential as individuals capable of healthy relationships and productive lives; and to have a fair chance in life with opportunities for healthy, balanced, and well-rounded development.

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We Are ALL Called To Take A Stand

This is not my typical post… I normally focus on hope by encouraging parents, children, and system workers. But today, I cannot do that. I refuse to do that.

You see, I have been on all sides. I have been a child, a parent, and a social worker. I have felt fear, helplessness, and injustice while living through each of those roles. Whereas it is my heart’s deepest desire to see our system fixed, our governments united and focused on safety, I could not live with myself nor tolerate my own soul if I didn’t speak truth of this very brokenness It's in my hopes that by not staying silent, we will trigger change.

Fact: There are many systems at play when it comes to keeping people safe in our country.

Fact: Those systems are inherently forced to take the word of the other systems working alongside of them, even when evidence points elsewhere.

Fact: Our child welfare organizations are given large tasks, too few hours to complete them, and are backed into corners by insurance company protocols and antiquated laws.

Fact: Our law enforcement, commissioners, CYS offices, and district attorneys are inundated with a relentless supply of complaints, tips, and reports of abuse.

Fact: Because of all these well-meaning organizations and laws, our children are no longer safe.

If you’d like to argue any part of this post, feel free to contact me and I will invite you to come and live with me, record all my phone calls, and review all the data. I will show you that CYS has told me (and others) one thing, while telling the state police the exact opposite. Whether it’s falsifying data to cover up wrong-doings, being compensated to dismiss information, or just simply lying to cover up that they have missed the mark – I don’t care what the reason is, but I do know that by advocating for abused children, you stand the risk of being told that YOU’RE the one who is wrong… that all those things you have proof of, those things that you know for certain are wrong, cannot be correct because government officials couldn’t possibly do the things I’m accusing them of.

“Because it would be illegal,” I was informed.

It would be illegal, indeed.

I’m sure this is the first time the government has ever done anything “illegal” or “off the record”. I’m sure it’s the first time an agency has “corrected” documentation dates or “doctored” reports to appease supervisors or even insurance companies. I mean, if both of our presidential candidates (the people WE ELECTED into these positions) are being accused of unlawful actions, how dare we assume that our menial little county agencies could ever do anything corrupt or dishonest?

So then why does the local CYS system turn their heads when multiple eye witness reports are made, when schools and therapists and neighbors are all reporting severe abuse and substance use in a home? Why does the CYS worker insist they’ve had an open case with a family, when myself and another person were both assured just days prior that there was no case open? Why does CYS tell the state police that they’ve received one concerned citizen phone call when, in fact, they’ve received multiple reports AND numerous child lines? Where have the child lines gone? Why did they report that they sent a caseworker to the home instead of to the school as requested, when they were told repeatedly that doing so would endanger the children?

These are things I cannot answer. All I have are the facts. And my facts match those of the other agencies working to truly advocate for abused children. (For the record, I know many amazing caseworkers through CYS that would love to do their job in a way they'd see fit, but they're unable to due to our legal system). However, I cannot say the same thing for our local government. Tell me they’re too underpaid, but I’ve seen the salary list. I know otherwise. Tell me they didn’t have proof, but I presented it to them along with others in the community. And when a child ends up in the hospital, bloodied and with bones broken, tell me that they did all they could, because I will know for certain that “their best” consisted of little more than filling holes and covering their own behinds.

I am not a bitter woman. But I am passionate. And when a system allows children to be brutalized and repeatedly exposed to illegal substances, I couldn’t care less what anyone calls me. Because I will not go away. I will continue to watch, continue to listen, continue to pray.

My honest hope is that people get the help that they need, accept treatment, and find Jesus. But that’s a choice allowed to each person. What shouldn’t be a choice, however, is allowing innocent children to live in these conditions of fear and abuse. If we are okay with living in a society that is satisfied with that “choice”, then we are no better than the abusers themselves.

Until we all agree that we will not shut up, despite being told to stand down – until we all agree to fight for children who feel that adults cannot be trusted because they continuously refuse to listen to both their spoken and unspoken words – until we all agree that a child’s safety trumps a parents’ personal freedom of choice, our country will continue to fall apart.

If you see it, hear it, or suspect it, call it in. Call your local police, call child line, call CYS. Inform them all.

Together, we cannot be ignored forever.

#endchildabuse

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