Category Archives: Prevention

Senate Looks At Children’s Service Gaps, Trafficking & “ReHoming”

On Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the Subcommittee on Children and Families of the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on “Falling Through the Cracks: The Challenges of Prevention and Identification in Child Trafficking and Private Re-homing”

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) opened the hearing with remarks that focused on two key goals: prevention and identification in regard to both issues. In the first, addressing the issue of trafficking, she said that the victims are frequently “hiding in plain sight” in our schools and other common areas. She also raised the need for training saying that currently there is very little information and training for key personnel found in the schools, among health care providers and within social services community. Her comments heavily emphasized the need to better train and involve education and health care systems. Senator Hagan then discussed the issue of “re-homing” a term that came into focus after some recent reports by the Reuters News Service along with NBC News focusing on instances whereby a parent or parents placed their adopted child through the use of the internet into another home, frequently in unsafe circumstances.

Senator Hagan was joined by Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) who indicated he was interested in learning more on both topics with a focus on what the federal role should or could be in addressing either challenge. The witnesses included: JooYeun Chang , Associate Commissioner, Children’s Bureau, HHS, Abigail English , Director, Center for Adolescent Health & the Law, Chapel Hill, NC , Jenee’ Littrell , Grossmont Union High School District, San Diego County, CA , Megan Twohey , Investigative Reporter, Thomson Reuters, News

In her remarks Commissioner Chang outlined what HHS has done in regard to the re-homing issue, indicating that states have been advised to examine their child abuse laws since some of the instances documented in the news series were cases of child abandonment or abuse. She also indicated that there was a need for more post-adoption services and that while there were some federal funds available it was a growing need. She also highlighted the efforts of HHS to encourage states to build capacity, training and screening in regard to the issue of trafficking.

Abigail English, from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) highlighted the recent report by the IOM released last fall, Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States. She indicated that the committee made the recommendations into three principles 1) trafficking should be understood as abuse, 2) they should not be considered criminals and 3) when you’re identifying victims of sex trafficking do no harm. She described the diverse background of those children who are victims with a range of incomes, race, geography, histories of sexual abuse, gender identity issues, unstable housing, substance abuse-related backgrounds, homelessness, juvenile justice and foster care histories.

Jenee’ Littrell from the San Diego high school district, talked about the efforts that that school system has implemented across several schools, partnerships between law enforcement, human services and the private sector. She testified that there strategy has four key components: 1) increased staff awareness and education on the indicators and the nature of the crime; 2) increased parent and student awareness of the risks and realities of trafficking; 3) clearly articulated district policy and protocol for identifying a suspected victim or responding to a disclosure from a suspected victim; and 4) strong working partnerships with law enforcement, child welfare, probation and social service agencies.

Megan Twohey , Investigative Reporter, Thomson Reuters, re-caped her earlier investigation that identified more than 260 instances where children were being “rehomed,. a term borrowed from the animal world with people attempting to place a pet in another home through the use of the internet. Twohey said, “We discovered that over this five-year period, in this one forum alone, a child was offered to strangers on average once a week. The activity spanned the nation: Children in 34 states had been advertised. Many were transferred from parents in one state to families in another. At least 70 percent had been adopted from overseas, and many were said to suffer from physical, emotional or behavioral problems.”

In regard to the issue of re-homing, members struggled with solutions curious as to whether adoptive families should be singled out or how to change and require changes I regard to state family law which varies in regard to the rights of families and the placement of their own children,

To read the testimony or view the hearing go to Subcommittee on Children and Families and to read the HHS guidance on how to address re-homing go to IM-14-02.

Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities to Hold Public Meeting in Tampa, Florida

Here is the Latest:

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF), a federal advisory committee established by the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (P. L. 112-275), will hold there next meeting next week.If youwant to participate register now!

Meeting time: Thursday, July 10, 2014, from 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. EDT.
Location: Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, 1002 East Palm Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605.

Interested members of the public may listen by calling 1-866-928-2008, and entering passcode 556476.

To attend in person or listen to the teleconference, please register by 5:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 3, 2014: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7JCP6W9

Meeting agenda: The purpose of this meeting is for Commission members to gather information to better understand the extent of, and risks associated with, child abuse and neglect fatalities. The Commission will:
• Hear from researchers regarding strategies for improving national data and preventing fatalities.
• Learn more about the federal policy framework for addressing these fatalities.
• Gain a better understanding of confidentiality issues and possible solutions.
• Hear about child welfare, law enforcement, health, and public health strategies for addressing the issue of child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Attendance: Individuals interested in attending the meeting in person must register in advance due to limited space (see link above). The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. The meeting also will be accessible via teleconference. Members of the public will not have the opportunity to ask questions or otherwise participate in the meeting, either on the phone or in person.

For further information:

Visit the CECANF website: https://eliminatechildabusefatalities.sites.usa.gov/

Or contact Patricia Brincefield, Communications Director, 1800 F St., NW, Room 7003D, Washington, DC 20006.
Phone: 202-818-9596
Email: pjbrincefield@comcast.net

Update on Re-Homing

Recently CWLA has highlighted news reports on re-homing through Reuters, NBC News and other outlets. Last year we gathered over twenty thousand signatures on an on-line petition that was sent to Congress urging them to address this issue. Re-homing is a practice by some individuals and families who have sought to relinquish their adopted children (generally children adopted through an international process or placement agencies). The reports were frightening and tragic.

We want to forward onto you a just-released guidance by the Department of Health and Humans Services in response to this challenge. The Information Memorandum (IM) clarifies states abilities to use current child welfare funding but it also urges states to recognize some of these practices as cases of child abuse and neglect. It also urges states to more globally review their family law and family law practices beyond just child welfare laws.

The IM specifically promotes the use of federal title IV-B and IV-E funding to support families who have adopted domestically or internationally. It states, “These services may be provided to any child or family the state title IV-B agency deems is in need of them and may include families who have adopted internationally”.

We are pleased to see the federal department issuing this important guidance and are hopeful this will lead to further action by the Administration and Congress.

Commission on Child Fatalities Holds First Of Series of State Hearings Monday

The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) will hold the first of a series of local hearings starting today. The hearings will allow the Commission to examine the range of issues that have been raised so far. The first meeting is in San Antonio, TX followed by a hearing on July 10, in Tampa, FL and a third hearing on August 28 in Detroit, MI. Additional hearings may be held in the fall of this year. The meeting details for the San Antonio meeting is , Monday, June 2, 2014, from 1:00–5:30 p.m. CDT, and Tuesday, June 3, 2014, from 8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. CDT, held at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Downtown Campus, 501 W. César E. Chávez Blvd., Southwest Room, Durango Building 1.124, San Antonio, TX 78207. Although late, it may still be possible to register to phone in at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5WLJYWH. A call-in number is available upon registration. The first day will be dedicated to actions and policies in the state of Texas and will include policy and practice presentations from various Texas-based presenters including comments by commission-sponsor, Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Tuesday will focus more attention on national policy and perspectives.

The state of Texas has had the highest number of child deaths in each of the past five years with 215 child fatalities in 2012 according to the 2012 Child Maltreatment report. According to rates, the fatalities rate at 3.08 per 100,000 children ranks the state lower than New Mexico, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Florida and Arkansas with the last two states at approximately four and a half child deaths per 100,000.

The Commission is expected to have a website up and running by this week which should include tools to submit comments. You can also send comments via the mail to: Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, c/o General Services Administration, Agency Liaison Division, 1800 F St., NW, Room 7003D, Washington DC 20006.

According to the enabling legislation, the commission’s work includes an examination of best practices in preventing child and youth fatalities that are caused due to negligence, neglect, or a failure to exercise proper care; the effectiveness of federal, state, and local policies and systems aimed at collecting accurate and uniform data on child fatalities; the current barriers to preventing fatalities from child abuse and neglect, how to improve child welfare outcomes; trends in demographic and other risk factors that are predictive of or correlated with child maltreatment, such as age of the child, child behavior, family structure, parental stress, and poverty; methods of prioritizing child abuse and neglect; and methods of improving data collection and utilization, such as increasing interoperability among state and local and other data systems.